Please tell me you’ve seen the videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on themselves (or others) on TV or all over social media. If you haven’t, I’m talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. These viral videos saturated the web and local and national television for most of August 2014. The videos encouraged participants to dump buckets of ice water on themselves and challenge others do to the same in an effort to raise awareness and funds for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
So, what is ALS again? Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” “is a terminal neurological disorder characterized by progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain…it is one of the most devastating of the disorders that affects the function of nerves and muscles. ALS does not affect mental functioning or the senses (such as seeing or hearing), and it is not contagious. Currently, there is no cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. There are three variations of ALS: sporadic, familial, and Guamanian.”(hopkinsmedicine.org)
While the excitement over the challenge may have waned as the campaign ended and the ALS Association’s (ALSA) bid to trademark the challenge (recently rescinded), the videos are still coming in from around the world. People are still taking and making challenges today.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was an ingenious idea that came out at just the right time and with the right approach. Fun, accessible, and packed with great storytelling. A personal story and a direct call to action makes all the difference when it comes to bringing about change. I’m sure other organizations and causes will be hoping for some of that ice bucket luck as they craft their newest fundraising campaigns. ALSA’s brilliant August campaign raised over $111,000,000.
But where is all this change (money) going? Well, toward the ALSA mission. Research, trials, operating budgets, outreach, and patient navigation are important aspects of their mission that require funding. According to their site, ALSA is the only national non-profit fighting ASL on every front. That’s a pretty big claim and I’m certain $111 million can do a lot of good.
If you’re curious about ALS research and the importance of collaboration check out what the CDC has compiled concerning the National ALS Registry. And if you’d like to get involved with ALSA (ice bucket or not) visit ALSA.org.
Also, if you are so inclined, you can see my personal #ALSIceBucketChallenge video here (taken on Aug. 21, 2014). Remember, if you participate use #ALSIceBucketChallenge!
JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.
“Food is a powerful arsenal against disease,” says Lynda McIntyre, R.D., L.D., an oncology nutrition specialist with Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Consuming plant-based foods, which are rich in antioxidants, helps to protect the body’s cells from damage and decrease your risk of cancer.”
HCGH Oncologist Nicholas Koutrelakos, M.D., agrees, also noting that “eating fruits, vegetables and grains that contain beta carotene and vitamin C can help prevent cancer-causing carcinogens from forming and help to reduce obesity and heart disease.”
“I encourage patients to ‘eat the rainbow;’ in other words, eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants,” says McIntyre. “Try to consume seven to eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day (three servings of fruit/four servings of vegetables). A serving size is a half cup, and you should try to eat at least one cup at every meal.”
Add Color and Spice To Your Diet
Foods that are orange and dark green (high in beta carotene): spinach, mangoes, carrots.
Oranges! One orange contains every anti-cancer phytochemical that has been discovered. Part of the power of the orange is in the zest – adding it to salads increases the nutrition density of that food.
Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli and kale (four to five times per week).
Vitamin C-rich foods daily: strawberries, citrus, mango, bell peppers, kiwi.
A variety of fruits and vegetables – not just one color – but three to four colors.
Plenty of fiber: 30 grams per day from whole grains, whole wheat, beans (kidney, red, lentils, garbanzo, legumes) and peas.
A combination of foods. Certain foods can maximize nutritional impact when combined. Foods containing beta-carotene, combined with certain fats, bolster nutrition. For example, carrots dipped in hummus and sautéing spinach in olive oil increases the absorption of the beta-carotene. When we combine foods that contain iron with those containing vitamin C, the absorption of iron is increased. For example, a spinach and strawberry salad.
Foods containing Omega 3 fatty acids. “Our bodies do not make these,” says Dr. Koutrelakos. “They have great nutritional benefit and are only found in foods that we eat, such as fish and beans.
Herbs and spices (dried is acceptable and has more concentrated antioxidant benefit):
Turmeric and curry are healthy additions.
Cinnamon: Just a half teaspoon has as much antioxidant properties as a half cup of raspberries. Add cinnamon to everything you can think of – cereal, apples, coffee – and it will increase the nutrition density of your food.
Thyme and oregano are powerful antioxidants – just a half teaspoon provides a lot of health benefits.
Beyond Fruits and Vegetables
Eat lean protein: turkey breast and chicken breast. You can include lean red meat once a week.
Your cooking method is important. Keep it “slow and low” temperature whenever possible. Be careful when grilling not to char.
Marinades with lemon and rosemary or wine and beer help to decrease cancer-causing agents in grilling.
Limit alcohol intake to three to four times per week.
Exercise/activity is as important as diet. Studies have shown that people who are sedentary and obese are at a higher risk of getting colorectal cancer. Obesity also can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
“Maintain a normal body weight. Seventy percent of my patients are overweight,” says Dr. Koutrelakos. “That is directly related to cancer. I am seeing cancer in younger patients, too, who are eating the wrong foods and foods that are too high in fructose (sugar) resulting in an increased body mass index (BMI).”
Keep fat intake low. High fat intake can increase your risk of developing some types of cancers.
You know how hamsters spend countless hours on that little wheel in their cage? Ever feel like this on the treadmill or elliptical, getting nowhere, minute after boring minute? If you find yourself stuck focusing on training in that “fat burn” zone, seeing very little progress, welcome to the club. To top it off, you spend all this time and see little progress.
Let’s examine the animal kingdom for a minute or so. Think about the body of an elephant vs. the body of a cheetah. Pretty sure the body fat of an elephant far outweighs the body fat of a cheetah. Why and how do these two animals move differently? Well, elephants walk and wander, cheetah’s sprint and pant. That walk and wander resembles those hours on the cardio machine while the sprint and pant resembles interval training at its best.
For years, we conditioned women to believe doing cardio for endless minutes in that enjoyable fat burn heart rate zone resulted in success. Instilling the fear of “getting big and bulky like a man” if we lifted weights. How about a show of hands on who enjoys those countless, boring minutes? Well, consider this your permission to get off the treadmill for hours on end and shorten your workouts with interval training. Keep in mind, this does not mean using the “fat burn” or “cardio” workout options on that same treadmill or elliptical. This may require a little pushing of buttons and paying attention on your part! It’s okay, keep reading, I provided you with some guidelines.
First, let’s define interval training a little better. Interval training uses specific periods of higher intensity exercise mixed with lower intensity recovery time. You can use the very same machines or you can take it outside. Start with a defined time for each interval, even though it may feel easy in the beginning. Set your higher intensity interval at a level you can only maintain for a short period of time (to be defined later!). Your lower intensity allows you to recover your breathing and heart rate. You may need to play around with the exact level to find your right intensity. On a scale of 1 – 10, you want to feel like your intensity falls around 7-8 on the higher intervals and a 4 – 5 on the recovery.
Now, on to the nitty-gritty details. An interval workout last about 30 – 40 minutes… Yes, that’s all you need on the interval training days! Use your first 5 minutes to warm up at a level around 2 – 3 on the 1 – 10 scale. For the next 20 – 25 minutes, start with a 1 minute work and 90 second recovery. Maintain this for the entire 20 – 25 minute workout. Your increased intensity could be faster speed or higher incline/level depending on the type of exercise.
Editor’s Note: This post is for informational purposes only. Please consult your primary care physician before undertaking any exercise regime or diet program.
Lisa Martin founded the Girls on the Run program in Howard County in 2009. Lisa is AFAA & NSCA certified, has more than 15 years of personal training experience, and practices a multidimensional wellness approach at her studio, Salvere Health & Fitness. Lisa says that one of the best things about being in the health and fitness industry is watching people accomplish things they never thought possible.
Monday, Sept. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.
Monday, Sept. 8, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Mommy & Me at Miller Branch. Mommy and child participate in a fun-filled activity, led by instructors from Sykesville Tae Kwon Do, while developing movement awareness, motor skills, balance, coordination, flexibility, and agility. Wear athletic shoes, and loose fitting pants or shorts. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form is required.
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Miller Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding a baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Well & Wise event – In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.*Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.
Monday, Sept. 15, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.
Tuesday, Sept. 16, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Elkridge Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088.
Starts Tuesday, Sept. 16, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Healthy Weight Connection. Kick-start lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, to help you reach a healthier weight. Receive personalized guidance from a certified dietitian. Classes run in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Tuesday/Thursday through Nov. 6. Cost is $195.
Johns Hopkins OB/GYN Francisco Rojas, M.D., discusses various types of breast lumps and what you can do about them.
Q: How common are lumps in the breast?
Breast lumps are common, particularly in young women in their late teens and early 20s. Women also may feel a breast lump during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Lumps in older women tend to be less common but more dangerous.
Q: What causes breast lumps?
Most breast lumps are benign or “normal;” however, breast lumps also can be caused by cancer. We cannot always explain what causes benign breast lumps.
Q: What are the different types of breast lumps?
Fibroadenomas are benign masses in the breast. They are not cancer and will not become cancer. They occur most often in younger women but also can happen in later years. Cysts are fluid-filled lumps that may cause pain and are usually benign. Other tumors are less common, can be benign or malignant and should be removed. The important thing to remember is that breast cancer also can present as a lump.
Q: What should you do if you detect a lump?
Any change in the breast should be evaluated by your physician or provider. Your provider will need to know when you noticed the lump and if it has changed in any way; also tell your provider about any changes in the skin or nipple discharge and if you notice any other lumps or changes in the breast or armpit. Tests such as an ultrasound, mammogram or MRI may be ordered.
Q: How are breast lumps treated?
Treatment is determined by the type of breast lump. Most often, a biopsy of the lump will be needed to determine the type. Fibroadenomas can be watched over time for changes. Cysts can be drained with a needle to remove fluid. Other tumors and breast cancer must be removed by a surgeon.
Q: Is there anything you can do to prevent breast lumps?
You may not be able to prevent breast lumps, but for your breast and overall health it is important to eat a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables. Do not smoke, and consume alcohol only in moderation. Exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Perform self-breast exams once a month and have breasts examined annually by a medical provider. Report any changes in your breasts to your provider as soon as you notice them.
Q: Who is at the greatest risk for developing breast lumps?
Anyone can develop a lump, but people who have a prior personal history of breast cancer or family history of breast cancer are at a higher risk of developing a malignant tumor.
Both my kids played indoor soccer this past year, and what an eye-opener it was for me. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me start by saying that I have one kid who will quite visibly cringe when the ball approaches and another who will very enthusiastically run up and kick the ball in absolutely the wrong direction. Needless to say, they get their great athleticism from me. But I do want them to be active and have the opportunity to learn about team work and good sportsmanship. And these were not teams or leagues being scouted by major-league recruiters or anything. So imagine my surprise when I encountered what I thought was only a thing of the past (and/or bad movie stereotypes)…poor-sport parents.
Let me clarify, no one was booing or name calling (mostly) or throwing things at the opposing team; it would seem that most sports associations have nipped that behavior in the bud, thank goodness. And my kids’ coaches were fair, encouraging, and focused on learning and fun. But parents who were attempting to “enhearten” members of their child’s team, or even their own child, were sometimes a bit aggressive in their “cheering.” There was a lot of “coaching” from the sidelines, a lot of outwardly expressed “frustration” when the “fan’s” team did not do as hoped, and even some not so subtle “rejoicing” when the other team missed. (That may be the greatest number sarcastic quotation marks I’ve ever used in a single sentence.)
Also, to clarify, I am very much opposed to giving out trophies for just showing up. I think competitive environments can be very good for children. All people need to learn to deal with disappointment and frustration in graceful ways (just as they should learn to deal with advantage and success in gracious ways). I am not at all questioning the kids, the parents, or the coaches in their competitive feelings, which I think are quite natural and can even be healthy. What I am questioning is the way that some people (adults in particular) express those feelings. Are we teaching our kids civil ways to communicate and providing the best examples of self control? And what is behind some parents’ lack of control?
In the book Pressure Parents, Stressed-Out Kids, Wendy S. Grolnick, Ph.D. and Kathy Seal discuss the psychological phenomenon known as “ego-involvement.” “Ego-involvement is a tendency to wrap our self esteem or ‘ego’ around successes or failures… [and] we occasionally wrap our egos around our children’s achievements.” This sometimes occurs “when our protective and loving hard-wiring collides with the competition in our children’s lives, prompting us to wrap our own self-esteem around our children’s performance…[giving] us our own stake in how well our child performs.” Gronlick and Seal go on to explain how this ego-involvement adds another layer of pressure on parents, making them subject to more ups and downs in their own self-esteem and weakening parenting skills because the parents are too distracted from their child’s needs.
The idea of ego-involvement is reinforced in Sport Psychology for Youth Coachesby Ronald E. Smith and Frank L. Smoll. The authors talk about the positive or “Mastery” approach to coaching that encourages athletes to continue desirable behaviors by reinforcing or rewarding them. But Smith and Smoll eschew the negative approach that attempts to eliminate mistakes through punishment and criticism. They state that the negative approach is “often present in an ego-based climate.” They also acknowledge that it is not just coaches who can create ego-based environments. Smith and Smoll suggest ways for coaches help curb parents’ ego-involvement and best deliver the message to parents who pressure their child too much that this can “decrease the potential that sports can have for enjoyment and personal growth.” They even quote Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky who said, “Parents should be observers and supporters of their athletically inclined children, never pushers.”
So, I don’t have any great solutions to poor-sport parents. Many sports organizations have come a long way at informing parents what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Sadly, however, this doesn’t always eliminate the behavior (and, rightfully, most coaches are paying more attention to the players rather than policing the parents). And there is no sure-fire method to eliminate any negative comments that may take place off the field. Maybe the best place to start is to look at oneself and ask, “Am I guilty of ego-involvement? Am I putting my kid’s needs first? Am I a ‘pusher’ or a model of civility and good sportsmanship?”
Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.