Injury-Proof Your Next Snow Shoveling Chore

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 in Cardiac, Safety | 0 comments

Avoid caffeine, shovel fresh snow and lift smaller amounts to avoid injury and strains on your heart. Plus More.

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My No-More-New-Year’s-Resolutions Resolution

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 in Reviews | 0 comments

Remember January 1st, the fresh new year spread out before you, brimming with heady promises and possibilities of a newer, sleeker, much improved version of yourself? You tried to convince yourself you’d stay on track. Deep down you knew that your faith in the efficacy of these lofty resolutions flew in the face of factual evidence from previous years when nary a resolution had been kept. Those past years’ resolutions were long forgotten, not even worthy of another Auld Lang Syne. No, you had not changed. Alas, you were and still are imperfect. Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Isn’t this what we do every year when we jump on the resolutions bandwagon proclaiming that THIS will be the year the resolutions will finally stick and we will achieve perfection? News Flash: There ain’t no perfect people, people! Soon, January will be a distant memory. Was it really only a few weeks ago that you vowed to make a total life transformation by means of a numbered list called “My New Year’s Resolutions”? Yet, only last night you found yourself sprawled lazily on the couch, staring woefully into your pint of Half Baked FroYo, berating yourself for failing at yet another vague, perfunctory set of annual to-do’s, only days into what you are now certain will turn out be an annus horribilis. Well, join the club! Broken resolutions are cliché, but then again you knew that. Don’t be so hard on yourself, please. If resolutions actually worked, we would not feel compelled to keep making the same ones over and over each year. To be sure, I am not saying that setting goals is not a good thing, or that we should not strive to be the best and healthiest individuals that we can be. All of us who enjoy this blog know how very important good health is. As the old saying goes, good health truly is your wealth. Anyone who has navigated through a major health crisis can tell you just how true that adage really is. What I am proposing is that instead of making big yearly pronouncements (inevitably forgotten faster than you can say Jack Robinson), let’s make it our goal to embrace small, daily acts of self-care that build upon each other to create a chain of healthy, long-lasting habits with real staying power. You can make a fresh start every day of your life. I find this idea to be so freeing because mistakes happen. Back-tracking happens. Reverting to the old comfortable ways happens. Yet, every morning you can wake up to a fresh start with a clean slate. You can choose the healthy options that work for you, whether that looks like more servings of fruits and vegetables, more physical activity, or more time devoted to cultivating that certain joie de vivre. Thank goodness, there’s no need to wait until next year to start anew. You don’t even need to wait until morning to hit that reset button. Get going now! By developing this mind set, you will learn to be more forgiving of yourself and you will learn to celebrate simple successes. Focus on the small scale, achievable, healthy lifestyle choices on a daily basis, and the big results will take care of themselves. So, won’t...

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Heartburn Holding You Hostage? 7 Tips To Break Free

Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 in Health | 0 comments

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux disease is a chronic digestive disease that occurs when stomach acid or other stomach contents flow back into the esophagus irritating the lining. Over time, the inflammation can wear away the esophageal lining, causing complications such as bleeding, esophageal narrowing or Barrett’s esophagus (a precancerous condition). What are common causes? Causes include an abnormal weakness or relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter — a circular band of muscle around the bottom part of your esophagus that allows food and liquid to flow into your stomach — or structural problems, e.g., hiatal hernia, which weaken the mechanism that prevents acid reflux into the esophagus. What are signs and symptoms? Symptoms vary and include: Burning in the chest, throat or upper abdomen (heartburn) Acid reflux into the throat causing voice hoarseness, cough, throat irritation; and/or angina or chest pain How is it diagnosed? Your doctor may be able to diagnose GERD based on frequent heartburn and other symptoms. Other tests include pH testing, endoscopy and X-rays of the upper digestive tract. What sort of lifestyle changes can help? Maintain a healthy weight. Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus. If you are at a healthy weight, maintain it. If you are overweight or obese, work to slowly lose weight. Avoid tight-fitting clothing. This puts pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter. Avoid food and drink triggers. Everyone has specific triggers. Common triggers such as fatty or fried foods, tomato sauce, alcohol, chocolate, mint, garlic, onion and caffeine may make heartburn worse. Eat smaller meals. Too much food in your stomach may put pressure on your esophageal sphincter and not allow it to close. Don’t lie down after a meal. Wait at least three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed. Elevate the head of your bed. If you regularly experience heartburn at night, put gravity to work for you. Place wood or cement blocks under the feet of your bed so that the head end is raised by six to nine inches. If it’s not possible to elevate your bed, you can insert a wedge between your mattress and box spring to elevate your body from the waist up. Wedges are available at drugstores and medical supply stores. Raising your head with additional pillows is not effective. Don’t smoke. Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to function properly.   Common GI Procedures, What you Should Know: March 23, 2016, 7-8:30 p.m. Register now for this free seminar presented by Rudy Rai, M.D. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. How is it treated? Most people can manage GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications that neutralize stomach acid. Antacids alone won’t heal an inflamed esophagus damaged by stomach acid. Overuse of some antacids can cause side effects, such as diarrhea or constipation. Medications to reduce acid production, called H-2-receptor blockers, don’t act as quickly as antacids, but they provide longer relief and may decrease acid production from the stomach for up to 12 hours. Stronger versions of these medications are available in prescription form. Proton pump inhibitors are stronger blockers of acid production than are H-2-receptor blockers and allow time for damaged esophageal tissue to heal....

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Foster Understanding by Reading

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Reviews | 0 comments

What must it feel like for a sixth-grade girl with a smile as big as the sun to be physically battered by classmates for wearing religious clothing to school? Or for teens to endure rock throwing, offensive touching, and abusive name-calling – all while teachers stand by condoning such attacks? In the aftermath of Paris and San Bernardino, some of the most emotionally scarred people in the U.S. are American Muslim kids and their parents. You want a resolution you’ll stick with in the New Year? Get out your library card and check out a book for your kids (and yourself) about what it’s really like to be Muslim and American right now. Then pass it on. Children, Ages 4-9 The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter Alia is a spunky librarian in Basra, Iraq. When the “whispers of war grow louder,” Alia decides to rescue every book in her beloved library. After all, in the Qur’an, the first thing God said to Muhammad was ‘Read.'” Mirror, by Jeannie Baker, is a mixed media collage which uniquely depicts the commonality between two boys of different cultures. One in Australia and one in Morocco. Their mutual day unfolds from sunrise to moon up, and in few words young readers realize how much we all share with one another – no matter where we’re from.   Middle Grades Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah. When Muslim-Australian, Jamilah bleaches her hair blond and sticks blue contact lenses in her eyes it’s for one thing only – to appear less ethnic. This is the very thing she would be mercilessly teased for at school. In fact, no one knows she is Lebanese until… Well, let’s just say this book is a satisfying and very funny look at why teens conform to the culture at large. Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera is the story of an ordinary British teen, post 9/11. He’s picked on a little too much by his teacher, worried over by his mother, and indulged by his father. Typical. Right? Until the moment this second-generation fifteen-year, on a family visit to Pakistan is kidnapped, then arrested (without formal charging) as a terrorist and sent to the Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp. His Crime? He’s Muslim. A powerful and harrowing story every teen and their parents should read. Adult Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris A stiletto and a lone camel are the only clues in the disappearance of a young Saudi heiress. It’s now up to a devout Bedouin tracker, and a lonely forensics expert, to unravel a cultural conundrum that Ferraris has woven into an exquisite mystery. The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber captures the ache of Abu-Jaber captures the ache of displacement and the longing for a home far away in this tender memoir about her Jordanian father struggling to root in upstate New York with his American wife and children. Funny, warm, and all-embracing, Abu-Jaber shares with readers what her father taught her: that the taste of cumin, lamb, and pine nuts is a way for anyone of any culture who has immigrated to this country to “hold on to the shadow of memory.” Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s...

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Unraveling who really needs a gluten-free diet

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 in Health | 0 comments

For those with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet isn’t a fad. When they consume gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine.

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Be Realistic

Posted by on Dec 29, 2015 in Reviews | 0 comments

It’s that time of year, again. Most of the holiday celebrations are wrapping up and the New Year is just a couple days away. Many people reflect during this time and make promises to “be better” in the coming year. Here’s one piece of advice for you as you mull over your possible resolutions: be realistic. If you’re 50 lbs. overweight and want to lose those L-B’s, make a plan that you can execute. If you want to stop eating out so much and cook more at home, make a plan that fits your lifestyle. If you want to work on your relationships, take steps that you can actually accomplish. Basically, don’t make promises to yourself and others that you simply cannot keep. So, here are some suggestions gathered from myriad books, articles, and personal experiences that could help as you draft your own resolutions for the New Year. Read Do your research. Read up on your topic of interest. Visit your local library, take a look at their recommendations or look at the best-sellers. You could check out prominent, credible authors’ works or (dare I say it?) briefly search online. The latter of these is best done with high scrutiny, or best yet, with your favorite library staff. Gathering information is always the best thing you can do when you’re not sure where to start. Consult Expert(s) If you’re looking to improve your health in any way, visit your primary care physician. Get a physical. Visit a nutritionist. See an endocrinologist, a dermatologist, or a psychiatrist. Whatever your health needs are, take steps to find the specialist who can help you. Remember, finding an expert is like giving an interview. It can take time to find the right expert for your needs. Advocate for yourself and don’t settle for anything less than what’s best for you. Write it down! Literally! Write down your goals. Be as specific as you possibly can. Instead of writing down, “Lose weight.” Consider writing, “I will exercise for 30 minutes, three days a week. I will eat a healthy breakfast every morning. I will check in with my doctor to monitor my progress.” Post them where you can see them daily or keep them in a journal. Be committed to that promise to be better and do better in the coming year. Words are incredibly powerful and when written (and read) can provide the inspiration you need to change. It’s real now. Make it happen! Get Support There are few things in life you can do alone. Big goals require big support. Little goals require big support. Make sure someone outside of yourself holds you accountable. Tell your family, listen to your experts, and find others who’re on the same journey. It’s proven that those who have meaningful support as they tackle their goals are significantly more successful than those who hide under the table and go at it alone. Every single one of Mark Hyman’s books goes over this; read his works! Measure Progress, Adjust to the Real World How do you know you’ve been successful? Well, when you wrote your specific goals down, you should be able to say whether or not to were able to achieve those goals. If you can’t identify whether or not your were successful, it’s time...

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Simple Ways to Fight Flu (and other germs) this Holiday Season

Posted by on Dec 22, 2015 in Health | 0 comments

Holiday and flu won’t do! Strategies to keep you healthy as you mix and mingle this festive season.

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Flu Myths Dispelled

Posted by on Dec 8, 2015 in Health | 1 comment

Treat your flu with these physician tips so flu doesn’t take you over this winter.

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Picture Books about Rainy days

Posted by on Dec 1, 2015 in Reviews | 0 comments

Rainy weather should not stop us from getting our exercise. Remember being a child, and playing in the rain? Jazmin is all set to lead the neighborhood parade. She flings the door open and encounters a big problem: the weather. Wind and thunder are followed by rain: “Slap! Rain poured down in buckets.” Thus begins Jazmin’s tale of disappointment and frustration as she waits for the storm to stop. ” Mounting frustration leads Jazmin to step outside and shake her fists at the rain and stomp her feet. But frustration gives way to fun as she kicks and chases the rain down the sidewalk: “I am Jazmin, the Rain Stomper!” Other youngsters come outside to watch; they urge her on, laughing and clapping. By the time Jazmin has finished, the sun has come out and the cheering children end up having their parade after all. “And so it was that Jazmin, the Rain Stomper outstomped the rain.” Large letters in white, black, or red and in different sizes emphasize the sounds and rhythm of the rain and thunder (“BOOM walla BOOM BOOM!”; “clink, clink WHOOSH!”). A delightful read-aloud that deals with making the best of a disappointing situation. It’s time to put on your rain gear for a rainy-day romp! It’s time to put on a raincoat, grab an umbrella, and head outdoors. The worms like rain, and so do the fish and frogs. But what about the cat and dog? In this lyrical picture book, one spunky little girl discovers just who likes rain–and who doesn’t–as she explores the rainy-day habits of the world around her. The rhyming text (and often the illustrations) provides clues to her guessing game, so young listeners will easily guess the answers: “Who likes rain? / Not Papa’s old truck. / Who likes rain? / Quack, quack… / It’s a duck!” Grab your umbrella (and shiny rain boots) and take a walk in the rain. You never know who you might see out there on the walking paths of Howard County! A child and an adult look at rain from both sides. A grumpy elderly man resents the rain (“Dang puddle”); meanwhile, his young neighbor is overjoyed by it (“It’s raining frogs and pollywogs!”). The boy happily and energetically responds to the greetings of his neighbors as he hops like a frog into the puddles. The man snaps at everyone and harrumphs his way through the streets. An act of kindness and a bit of role playing lead to a change of heart, a happier outlook and a big splash. Text and illustrations are beautifully constructed and perfectly complementary. Ashman imparts the essence of the tale in just a few well-chosen phrases. Robinson’s renderings fill the city setting with crisp details. The boy and the man move briskly through the pages along with a cast of supporting characters and passersby, all of whom are depicted with expressive individuality. It’s all about attitude, isn’t it? Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this...

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6 Health Tips for a Thinner Thanksgiving

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in Eating Right, Health | 0 comments

Your thinner Thanksgiving starts with staying hydrated and eating breakfast. Read on for more healthy tips this holiday.

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