3 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Beauty Routine

You’re making efforts to live your healthiest life. You’re careful about what you put into your body and focus on eating healthy, wholesome foods. You make the time to exercise. You meditate. And all of these efforts are rewarded with a fuller sense of health and wellbeing.

But are you paying close attention to what you put on your body? After all, most of us use quite a few beauty and body products, and they could be undercutting all your other efforts.

Think about your daily beauty routine, from the body wash you use in the shower to the face cream you apply every night. After all, that lotion is from a “natural” product company and that fresh grapefruit on the label looks mighty convincing!

Unfortunately, many cosmetics are hiding a dirty secret. In fact, hormone disruptors and toxic chemicals are lurking in everything from our shampoo and body lotion to our mascara and foundation makeup. What’s worse, many of these products tout their “natural” ingredients on the front of the label while hiding their not-so-innocent chemicals in fine print on the back.

Thankfully, just as with your diet and exercise, you have a lot of control over the products you choose to apply on your body. That’s why we’re sharing our top 3 tips for cleaning up your beauty routine by recognizing and weeding out harmful toxins in your beauty products.

1. Watch Out For Greenwashing

Let’s talk about our example above: the “natural” face cream with fresh fruit on the front label. It may tout “natural grapefruit extract” and say it’s “paraben free” to sound safe, but if you peek at the ingredients list, you may find a plethora of hard-to-pronounce chemicals listed in fine print. Have you been bamboozled? Certainly. But there’s another name for this deceptive marketing tactic, and it’s called greenwashing.

Greenwashing is when companies market their products as eco-friendly, natural or organic when they are anything but. This type of marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that a company’s products or policies are safe, natural and environmentally friendly. Terms like “organic” and “natural” are not well regulated in body products, and just because a product contains an organic or natural ingredient doesn’t mean it’s free of chemicals.

So don’t take any company at its word. Look beyond the front-of-package hype and dig into the ingredients list.

2. Avoid Endocrine (Hormone) Disruptors

Many common beauty and household products are packed full of chemicals that are known to be hormone disruptors, and this is a serious problem. After all, what good is using an anti-aging cream if it’s making you sick in the long run?

These hormone disruptors interfere with the endocrine system and can cause major issues in the body. Some of them are even known to cause cancer, immune problems and neurological disorders.

So how do you spot one of these toxins in your beauty products? Look for the following chemicals hiding in the ingredients list:

Parabens
Look for words ending with “paraben” such as butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, and isobutylparaben. Parabens can even cause reproductive problems, which is why many pregnant women are cautioned against using paraben-based products.

Phthalates
These toxins are tricky because they can cause problems when applied to your body as well as when breathed in through the air. Phthalates are found in a number of popular air freshener plug-ins, candles and sprays as well as all sorts of body products and cosmetics. While there are more than 20 types of phthalates, the most common to see on a label is diethylhexyl phthalate DEHP/DOP. Avoid this, or look for a product that is phthalate-free.

Synthetic Fragrances
Avoid anything labeled as “fragrance” or “parfum”. Some 95% of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances come from crude oil production and contain carcinogenic and hormone disrupting compounds.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Also labeled as SLS, it’s found in everything from shampoo to engine degreasers. SLS has been linked to endocrine disruption as well as neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin allergies and cancer.

Triclosan
This widely-used antimicrobial chemical can be found in toothpaste, antibacterial soaps, and deodorants. It’s a known endocrine disruptor and can especially affect thyroid and reproductive hormones.

3. Use Technology to Your Advantage

It used to be easy for companies to pull the wool over our eyes, but these days, investigating a product is as easy as a few taps on your phone.

Download the Think Dirty app on your phone, and you’ll be able to scan or search products to find easy-to-understand info on their ingredients. The handy rating system lets you know where a product falls on a scale of safe to harmful.

Similarly, the cosmetics database at Skin Deep offers ingredient details, safety ratings, and product recommendations for a variety of body and beauty products.

With these few simple steps, you’ll take back control of your beauty regime in no time, and you’ll be healthier for it!

6 Power Foods To Fight Inflammation

Whether you have chronic pain from arthritis or a joint injury, inflammation is painful and can make performing daily tasks hard.

Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” And he knew what he was talking about! What we eat has a dramatic impact on our health and how we feel.

Last month, we posted this blog that shares 5 inflammatory-causing foods to avoid. This month, we’re highlighting 6 power foods that reduce inflammation in the body and help you feel better.

Eat More Of These 6 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

1. Fish

Salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies are incredibly rich in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which are powerful at reducing inflammation. They can also reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, the Omega-3 found in these fish interfere with immune cells called leukocytes and enzymes known as cytokines, both of which trigger an inflammation response in the body.

Eating a 3 to 6 ounce serving of these fish 2 to 4 times per week can go a long way toward reducing inflammation and keeping your heart healthy. To vary it up, try different recipes. One night, try this Asian Salmon with coriander, ginger, and honey. Another night, try this Lemon Pepper Turmeric Salmon. There are so many ways to make fish interesting and delicious!

2. Berries & Cherries

Berries pack a powerful antioxidant punch! Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that help your body lower inflammation levels. And cherries (especially the more tart ones) are rich in anthocyanins, a phytonutrient that is great at fighting pain and inflammation.

Work a handful of berries and cherries into your diet each day by getting creative. Add them to granola, oatmeal, acai bowls, or smoothies for a healthy jump start to your morning, or keep them on hand as an afternoon snack. Check out this smoothie bowl recipe for an easy morning routine.

3. Avocados

Avocados (and avocado oil) increase the absorption of healthy antioxidants called carotenoids. These are powerful at fighting inflammation, protecting your body from free radical damage, and building up your immune system.

Try sliced avocados in a salad or atop a black bean and quinoa bowl. Or, mash one up with a little lemon juice and black pepper for a delicious avo toast spread. They also make a creamy and delicious smoothie base! For an extra anti-inflammatory boost, add ginger, turmeric, and coconut milk. You’ll find a great avocado smoothie recipe here!

4. Fresh, Organic Vegetables

When you’re fighting inflammation, it’s best to avoid processed and pre-packaged foods. Instead, head to your nearest farmers market!

Cruciferous veggies are packed with beneficial nutrients that fight inflammation. To get these benefits, add more broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy into your diet. And dark, leafy greens are your best friend, so be sure to load up on the kale, mustard greens, collard greens, and spinach.

Broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are delicious roasted in the oven with a bit of olive oil. Meanwhile, lightly sauteed greens make an excellent addition to a wholesome quinoa bowl.

5. Healthy Nuts

While peanuts can actually contribute to inflammation, other nuts are healing champions. Opt for a handful a day of raw walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and almonds, all of which contain healthy fats that reduce inflammation and give you a protein boost. Raw walnuts, in particular, are incredibly rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

To work them into your diet, grab a handful as a snack, or use them to top off a fresh salad, oatmeal or veggie bowl.

6. Sweet Potatoes

Unlike white potatoes that cause inflammation, sweet potatoes are a highly beneficial food. They are high in vitamins C and E and contain the carotenoids alpha and beta carotene, both of which reduce inflammation. They’re also rich in potassium, calcium, and other healthy nutrients.

And while their name may suggest they are too sweet to be healthy, they are actually ranked low on the glycemic index–much less than their white potato counterparts.

You can eat them steamed, boiled and mashed or baked, giving you plenty of options to work with. I personally love this recipe for baked sweet potatoes with avocado, kale, and onions.

Cheers to healthy, delicious eating… and to overcoming inflammation!

Have Painful Inflammation? Here are 5 Foods to Avoid.

Inflammation hurts. If you have arthritis, an autoimmune disease or some other condition that causes inflammation, then you know it can cause tremendous pain and suffering.

While it may be tempting to reach for the medicine cabinet first, pain medication merely soothes the symptoms. To get to the root of your discomfort and prevent further inflammation, you’ll need to evaluate what’s in your food pantry and refrigerator.

When you consume high amounts of sugar, highly refined carbs, and processed foods, it can cause a sudden spike (and subsequent drop) in blood glucose levels, which activates your body’s systemic stress response. This triggers a normal inflammatory response in the body.

However, when these foods are eaten on a regular basis, the result is ongoing, painful inflammation that begins to affect your daily functions and quality of life.

Not only can some foods you eat cause and trigger inflammation, but others can help reduce it. As a general rule, avoid heavily processed and packaged foods, and opt for a healthy variety of fresh, whole foods.

If you’re ready to get a handle on your pain and inflammation, here are 5 foods to avoid, starting today.

5 Inflammatory-Causing Foods To Avoid

1. Sugar

Sugar can be hard to resist. But that breakfast pastry, after-dinner dessert, and sugary soda are not your friends. And even if you don’t have an insatiable sweet tooth, sugar can be hard to avoid. After all, it’s found in everything from juices and cereal to condiments like ketchup.

That’s why it’s important to become a label reader. Sugar is a sneaky culprit and goes by many names on labels, so look out for fructose, sucrose, and corn syrup.

And if you can’t help but sweeten your morning cup of coffee, opt for an anti-inflammatory sweetener like local honey. Contrary to sugar, honey has a long medicinal history and is beloved for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Trans Fats

Trans fats — often listed on labels as partially hydrogenated oil, hydrogenated soybean oil and more — are another cause of inflammation. They are often found in products such as margarine and other processed foods to extend shelf life.

Opt for healthy fats and oils (such as olive oil) instead.

3. Refined Carbohydrates

While carbohydrates are an essential, energy-producing element of any healthy diet, refined carbs can be problematic. Research suggests that consuming refined carbs can increase inflammation as well as the risk of obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and higher blood sugar.

Avoid eating “white” fiber–such as white bread, pasta, rice, and pizza dough. Opt instead for high-fiber, unprocessed carbohydrates such as 100% whole grain bread and pasta, and plenty of fiber-rich beans, vegetables, and fruits.

4. Omega 6 Fatty Acids

While Omega 6 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid that our bodies require, it’s important that they are consumed in moderation and well balanced with Omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, studies suggest that Omega 6 fatty acids can cause inflammation, while Omega 3 helps to reduce it. And while not conclusive, some research suggests that too many Omega 6 fats can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory, and autoimmune disease.

These Omega 6 fatty acids are found in everything from fast food, fatty meats, and peanut butter to salad dressings and vegetable, peanut, soy and corn oils.

5. Gluten and Casein

You don’t have to be diagnosed with Celiac Disease for gluten to cause problems in your body. While gluten may not be a problem for everyone, many who suffer from inflammation find relief from cutting out gluten and casein.

Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye and it’s found in many of the foods we eat. Avoiding foods like pasta, bread, crackers, wheat bran, and gluten-based flours can help. Opt for fresh, whole foods and choose gluten-free options when it comes to packaged foods.

Now that you know what to avoid, keep an eye out for our next blog, which will highlight healthy, anti-inflammatory foods to eat more of!

Fun Ways for Seniors to Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Home

New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to mean dressing up and heading out the door for a long night of dancing and celebration. You can stay in the comfort of your home and create a night that’ll end the year with laughter, love, and happiness. Here are a few ideas:

Grab your photos and reflect on the past year

Whether you keep all your memories on your phone or in an album, New Year’s Eve is a great time of year to take a walk down memory lane. Grab all your snapshots from 2018 and reflect on all the great times you had.

If you’re hosting family and friends, share the experience with everyone — it makes for great conversation starters at the table. In fact, ask each guest to pick their favorite photo and talk about what else they’re looking forward to doing in the new year!

Try a new recipe

New year, new meals, right? Expand your palette by trying out a new cuisine. Let’s say you usually to stick to Italian dishes. Try Indian fare tonight! You can find delicious, easy-to-cook recipes that range in various spice levels, so you don’t feel too outside your comfort zone.

Not much of a chef? Get takeout or delivery from an international restaurant you haven’t tried before, like Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe or Saigon Le in Memphis.

Have a champagne and countdown brunch

We get it. Staying up late to catch the guitar drop is near impossible nowadays, so instead of watching the festivities in between flickering eyelashes, host a champagne countdown brunch at your house.

Keep it simple too! Ask your guests bring a bottle of bubbly and a brunch dish. At 11:59 am, get ready to start the countdown to noon!

Host a dessert party

Organizing a dinner party is tough work. And why end the year cooking up a storm and cleaning up a big mess? Host a dessert party instead! Ask each guest to bring their favorite baked good and start indulging before all those healthy resolutions kick in. The prep and clean-up are easy while the results are delicious and sweet.

Host a game night

Whether it’s just you and your significant other or the whole family, a classic board game night is a fun way to kick-off the New Year! Have a long-time favorite like Monopoly, Life, or Mexican Train? Bring it out of the closet for some fun, healthy competition — or go for the gold. Whatever is your style!

Have dinner in bed and watch your favorite movies

It’s been a long year of ups, downs, highs, and lows. How about resting easy and enjoying some peace and relaxation? Whip up a quick dinner, snuggle up close in bed, and watch all your favorite movies. Plus, who said breakfast is the only meal you can have in your jammies?

Dance to Auld Lang Syne

Grab your spouse’s hands and twirl into the New Year with a classic tune. Dress up, dress down, have dinner out or in. However you choose to celebrate the night, end it by dancing close with the person you love.

Are you celebrating New Year’s Eve at home? Tell us your ideas on Facebook!

Don’t Have Dental Insurance? Here are 3 Ways to Afford Care.

There aren’t many places on your body that’s left untouched from the effects of aging, and that includes your teeth.

Unfortunately, once you retire or hit 65, you’re on your own when it comes to cleanings, X-rays, and procedures. Medicare doesn’t cover it and finding affordable coverage is tricky.

But, your teeth need tending — no one wants to deal with pain or decay. So, how do you afford the quality dental care you need (and deserve)? Here are three ways.

Use Free or Public Dental Providers

You have a couple of options when it comes to finding free or low-cost dental services.

For example, many charities, faith-based groups, and professional dental organizations will donate their services to meet the overwhelming need of people who need care but don’t have insurance to afford it.

The wait time can be lengthy, and some only serve seniors, people with medical conditions or disabilities, or low-income patients. However, volunteer dentists and specialists make sure you get quality care. You can contact your local branch of United Way to learn more about what’s available in the Greater Mid South area.

Alternatively, you can find taxpayer-funded clinics that are run by local and/or state healthcare departments or community health centers. These clinics charge low prices, fixed rate prices, or they use a sliding scale that determines what you pay based on what you can afford. Offering free exams, cleanings, X-rays, fillings, crowns, and surgical tooth extractions, this is a great option if you have a suitable income to pay for services to some extent.

If you aren’t eligible for either of the above, some dentists operate on a sliding pay scale. You can contact the American Dental Association to find out who does so in Tennessee and Mississippi.

Search for Coupons

You can also save money at your next dental appointment by checking out deals on sites like Groupon and Living Social. Or, you can sometimes find coupons in the Valpak you receive in the mail.

And, hey, and why not call up your favorite dentist and ask if they’re running any specials, deals, or savings in the next few months? Many dentists understand seniors can’t rely on their Medicare coverage for dental care, or that sometimes, dental insurance just isn’t affordable.

If you’ve been a loyal patient over the years, you may be surprised what your dentist can do to help make sure you can afford the care you need. Let him or her know your position and see if you can get a discount or if they can refer you to someone who may be able to do so.

Visit a Dental School

You can help aspiring dentists gain experience and save money on dental care by visiting a local dental school.

For example, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center offers routine dental care provided by their students, special services from graduates, and treatments and procedures from their staff. They also assist with emergencies. You can visit their website to learn more about services, cost, and scheduling.

Free and public dental clinics, coupons, and dental schools are three easy ways to take care of your teeth when you don’t have dental coverage. As a hormone therapy clinic that believes insurance-driven healthcare is a quick way to get lackluster service anyway, we strive to help you find alternatives that are equal in quality and results. Want to learn more about aging with grace and vitality? Give us a call today!

Swap This for That: 3 Comfort Foods You Can Make Healthier

So, you want to eat clean? But, you don’t know where to start when it comes to cooking up dishes that are clean, low calorie, and good for your heart. Plus, it’s discouraging to think about all your favorite comfort foods you’re going to miss out on eating!

Don’t worry. Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up on delicious foods that warm your soul. Often, you only need to make a few tweaks, substitute some ingredients, and swap out the fryer for the oven to create a healthy, yummy dish.

Here are three comfort foods you can make healthier.

Swap Fried French Fries for Baked

Butter, oil, and salt — it’s no wonder french fries get a bad rap when it comes to clean eating. Not to mention, if you’re rolling through a fast-food joint, your “small snack” is jam-packed with preservatives and other add-ins that bump up the calorie count and strip the potato of its health benefits (yes! Potatoes CAN be healthy).

So, if you’re craving french fries, swap the deep fryer for an air fryer — or even just your oven. This one switch will cut down on all those fats, inflammatory oils, and sodium. And leave behind vitamin C, potassium (more than a banana!), and vitamin B6. Plus, when you leave the skin on freshly cut potatoes, you also get a boost in fiber.

Here are a few more tips:

  • Invest in an air fryer for a healthier version of all your favorite dishes.
  • Or follow a baked french fry recipe like this one.
  • You can toss your freshly cut potatoes in avocado or olive oil for extra crisp.
  • And sprinkle with a little sea salt, garlic powder, and chili flakes for added flavor with no additional calories.
  • Swap Stuffed Twice-Baked Potato for Sweet Potato

    We get it. Stuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes are what dreams are made of…and also a calorie nightmare. But, if you swap out some of the ingredients for healthier choices, you can sleep well knowing what you’re eating isn’t packing on the pounds.

    First and foremost, swap out those baked potatoes for sweet potatoes! Yes, we did talk about how baked potatoes have health benefits, but since this dish is stuffed with other goodness, you can cut down calories in this area.

    Plus, sweet potatoes keep your immune system strong, provide potassium, and keep blood sugar spikes at bay.

    For starters, you can swap sour cream for lower-fat greek yogurt. And add veggies, like spinach, kale, onions, or whatever you have on hand for additional nutrition. We really love this twice-baked potato recipe and this one.

    Swap Southern Fried Chicken for Baked “Fried” Chicken

    If you don’t eat fried chicken, are you really a Southerner? Sure, it’s a staple dish in any Mid-South home, but like french fries, the oil, fat, and salt can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

    However, you can take a few steps to satisfy your taste buds without compromising your health. For example, buy skinless drumsticks and thighs or remove the skin yourself. This step results in less fat in your dish.

    Then, substitute flour with bread crumbs for fewer calories. And much like those french fries, you can use an air fryer to achieve that crispy “fried” taste or bake the chicken in your oven. Here are two recipes you can follow to get your southern fix without the guilt: Oven-Fried Recipe and Air-Fryer Recipe.

    Eating clean can seem like a daunting task. Or, as if, you’re giving up all the foods you love. But, by making a few tweaks to your cooking (and cooking at home instead of dining out), you can enjoy all your favorite comfort foods while boosting your nutrition, losing weight, and staying healthy.

    Of course, exercising is also important, so before you go, check out our tips for a pain-free exercise routine.

    The Importance of Advocating for Your Health So Your Kids Will Too

    “Adulting” has become a buzzword among young adults and millennials. It means what it says: to carry out the duties and responsibilities expected of a fully grown individual.

    But ⅔ of young people don’t feel prepared for the milestone, according to a survey by Bank of America and USA Today. In fact, one of the age group’s most popular jokes is not knowing how to make a doctor’s appointment. So, it begs the question, how do we make sure our children will be prepared to take charge of their health once they leave the nest?

    When You Advocate for Your Health, Your Kids Learn to Care for Themselves Too

    If you’ve ever heard a toddler repeat a cuss word, you know kids want to emulate everything their parents say and do. At a young age, children learn by picking up attitudes, behaviors, and interactions.

    Teens and young adults are no different — they may need a little more pushing to pay attention, though. So, the best way to prepare your 18-year-old for the big, wide world of health care is to be an advocate for your own health. Here’s what you can do:

    Understand Your Health Insurance

    Health insurance is complicated even for us doctors. But understanding your policy can help you cut down on unexpected, costly bills. If you familiarize yourself with terms like deductible, copay, out-of-pocket maximum, and coinsurance, you’ll be ahead of most Americans.

    You probably won’t get your teen to read the policy with you. But, as you go to visits or checkups, have your child go through the process of payment with you. Talk to them about why there’s a copay, how much you’re paying, and what that’ll mean in regards to the final bill (i.e., you won’t be out-of-pocket).

    Be Prepared for Your Visit

    If you see a general practitioner, your doctor is likely pressed for time and will only have around 7 minutes to listen, diagnose, and treat. Arriving prepared to your appointment can help you make the most of that visit and ensure you get treatment that’s aligned with your goals and desires.

    Create a list of questions to ask your doctor. You may want to list out your symptoms, when you first noticed them, and any other relevant information you think could be pertinent to the diagnosis. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Doctors have a wealth of knowledge and tend to talk over your head. But, when you ask, they’ll stop and explain it to you.

    Maintain Your Health Records

    We know someone who showed up to his doctor’s office to get his weekly allergy shot — something that can’t be missed — only to read a sign that said the office was now closed. Luckily, he already had access to his medical records via an online portal (and owned the vials for his shots), but if he hadn’t, he would have missed an injection and potentially have to start the treatment over.

    Transferring records can be a hassle, but when you maintain your copies, they won’t get lost in the shuffle. And you can see what your doctor is seeing.

    Communicate Financial Concerns

    Errors in medical billing are more common than you think. So, firstly, demonstrate to your children that it’s important to review all your bills (even if the visit was fully covered).

    Secondly, don’t be shy about bringing up financial concerns with a doctor. Many doctors have medication samples, coupons, or even know of financial programs that can help you afford the care you need.

    Your young adult will likely encounter a situation where he/she can’t afford care. Teach your children to speak up if money is an object. Physicians do have options, and they will help you.

    Understanding your health insurance, being prepared, maintaining health records, and communicating are all very important ways to be an advocate for your health AND model responsible behavior to your children.

    What other ways do you teach your young adults to, well, adult?

    31 Day Challenge: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone (and why you should)

    You’re familiar with the saying, ‘use it or lose it’. And you probably understand the importance of keeping your mind sharp as you age. If not, check out this 2013 study. Results showed adults who were productively engaged in learning a new skill showed improvements in memory.

    The comfort zone has always been a hot topic for researchers because people learn more, stretch their creative muscles, and are more productive in that space. Stepping outside your comfort zone doesn’t mean sending yourself into a frenzied panic or facing your worst nightmares.

    It’s developing the flexibility to respond to the new changes and challenges you’ll experience as you age. And it’s breaking habits, so you can live life to the fullest and achieve goals you thought were too late to reach!

    So, to help you step outside your comfort zone, we’ve created a 31 Day Challenge so you can age with grace and vitality. We suggest starting the challenge on a Sunday and inviting a friend to complete the challenge with you.

    31 Day Step Outside Your Comfort Zone Challenge

    Day 1: Sign up for a local class and try something new. For example, you could take a golfing lesson or join a cooking class.
    Day 2: Whether you’re using your phone or the car radio, listen to something different. Find a new station, podcast, or album in a genre that’s not usually your style.
    Day 3: Go to the library. Ask the librarian what his/her favorite book is and read it!
    Day 4: Take a 20-60 minute power nap for a boost in alertness and productivity today.
    Day 5: Headed somewhere? Take a different route!
    Day 6: Dress boldly today. Wear bright accessories, a colorful tie, or a quirky hat…anything that’ll make someone smile, laugh, or ask ‘where did you get that?’
    Day 7: Say ‘yes’ to everything. You can figure out the details later.
    Day 8: No-tech day! Lock up your phone, computer, and TV for 24-hours.
    Day 9: Wake up early and meditate for at least 30 minutes.
    Day 10: Reconnect with an old friend (online or in person).
    Day 11: Try a new recipe. We love Allrecipes.com for finding new dishes.
    Day 12: Reverse your morning routine. Are you a shower first, eat breakfast second person? Not today!
    Day 13: Watch a foreign film. And yes, subtitles are allowed.
    Day 14: Volunteer for a cause that’s close to your heart.
    Day 15: Try a new cuisine — Indian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Japanese, what haven’t you tried before?
    Day 16: Share a secret with a friend. We won’t tell.
    Day 17: Send a handwritten letter in the mail (bills/invoices don’t count).
    Day 18: Invite a coworker you don’t know very well to have lunch with you.
    Day 19: Ask for a discount on something you buy today. Coffee? New TV? What’s the worst they could say?
    Day 20: Paint your nails an outrageous color or skip shaving and rock the 5 o’clock shadow.
    Day 21: Dress in your finest clothes, go to a luxury car dealership, and drive the swankiest car on the lot.
    Day 22: Grab your hunny or friend and have a picnic in the park.
    Day 23: Write a love note to someone else…or yourself!
    Day 24: Toss a coin to make decisions today — heads is ‘yes’ and tails is ‘no’.
    Day 25: Seek out an opportunity to make someone’s day. Here are a few ideas.
    Day 26: When someone asks how you are, respond with, ‘Outstanding! How are you?’
    Day 27: See a movie by yourself. Maybe even get an extra large bucket of popcorn!
    Day 28: Hire a photographer to update your family album.
    Day 29: Act like a kid for a day — finger paint, go to the zoo, color, whatever your inner child would love to do!
    Day 30: Send someone flowers…just because.
    Day 31: Film yourself dancing. Bonus points if you post it online!

    Did you take our 31 Day Step Outside Your Comfort Zone Challenge? Let us know on Facebook!

    Here Are Some Tips for a Pain-Free Exercise Routine

    Exercise needs to be a priority for everyone in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. In fact, one study proved the benefits of strength training for 90-year-olds.

    It doesn’t matter if you’ve never exercised, have an existing injury or illness, or lament the days when you were once an accomplished athlete. Exercising three hours per week can increase a person’s lifespan by about five years.

    If you already make exercise a priority, you’re in the right mindset. But maybe you’re now experiencing ongoing pain and discomfort while at the gym.

    You’ve given up because it hurts too much. But combined with the natural effects of aging, your muscles are getting smaller and your belly bigger.

    As you’ll soon learn, there are ways to make gains without the pain. In this post, we’ll give you tips on how to warm-up, exercise, and stretch to decrease the chances of injury or discomfort.

    Start with Small Changes

    When you were younger, you could walk into the gym, lift 200 lbs or play a game of touch football…even after weeks of sitting on the couch. But now that you’re older, it’s important to start where you are, not where you want to be.

    First, don’t try to do everything at once — starting a diet, exercising, and taking supplements. Make small changes so you’ll stick to your goals and decrease the chances of injury or pain.

    For example, for one month, commit to exercising three times per week. This could be walking for 30 minutes every evening. And the next month, add in a 30-day diet (one that’s approved by your physician)– you’ll be surprised how easy it’ll be to stick to your new habits after the 30 days are up!

    Get a Health Check

    Before starting an exercise program or diet, get medical clearance from your doctor. Keep in mind the following:

  • Do you have any past or present injuries or chronic illnesses?
  • What’s your current level of activity?
  • Have you ever lifted weights?
  • Are you a cardiac patient or on high blood pressure medication?
  • Some exercises can be harmful or detrimental depending on your condition or current level of activity. For example, abdominal crunches can be risky for people taking heart or hypertension drugs, while Crossfit isn’t appropriate if you have a weak back. Your doctor can advise you on the best program and nutritional plan for you.

    Warm-Up Twice As Long

    Warming up is a vital part of any exercise routine, and even more important as you age. A dynamic warm-up can improve range of motion in the hips, shoulders, and upper spine. Plus, it reduces the risk of injury and pain while improving your performance. Here’s an example of a dynamic warm-up:

  • Walk for 3-5 minutes and swing your arms
  • Alternate walking/jogging for 3-5 minutes
  • Skip for 50 meters
  • Sidestep for 20 meters
  • Combine Interval & Strength Training

    Most people think endless cardio is the fastest way to lose weight. But doing the same exercise for an hour can hammer your joints. The best approach is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). You perform a movement for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off.

    For example, you squat for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds; repeating this for three or so rounds. Here are a few more examples of HIIT workouts.

    Water-based HIIT is a big trend this year as it builds muscle strength and endurance while reducing pressure on the joints. Pilates and yoga are also great for strengthening the core and increasing flexibility.

    But remember to add weight training into your routine! Doing this will strengthen the muscles that are getting weaker as we age.

    Focus on Form

    But, don’t load up on weight quickly! Focus on your form to increase mobility and range of motion. Perform high reps with low weight and follow the 10% rule. Only increase your weight by 10% each week to help your body safely adjust to the new load.

    Stretch for 10 Minutes After Every Workout

    Finally, stretching is incredibly important. It reduces muscle fatigue, increases blood circulation, and aids in injury prevention. Here are a few stretches you should incorporate into every post-workout routine:

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Hip stretch
  • Calf stretch
  • Buttocks stretch
  • Lower Back stretch
  • Are you ready to start a pain-free exercise routine? Schedule your consultation to learn more about whole body health and treatment.

    Joints Hurt? Here Are a Few Reasons Why

    Do your knees pop when you stand up? Or do your joints hurt when you wake up in the morning?

    We see this complaint all too often at our clinic. Our patients aren’t living life to the fullest because it’s difficult to get up and get moving.

    If this sounds like you, there are several reasons why you’re experiencing pain, stiffness, tenderness, or swelling in your joints. Here are the 5 most common reasons we come across every day.

    Why Do Your Joints Hurt?

    Osteoarthritis

    Osteoarthritis is the most common form of degenerative joint pain. When you age, the cushion between your joints, called the cartilage, begins to wear down. Your bones to rub together, triggering pain, tenderness, stiffness, and swelling.

    While this mostly affects people who are middle-aged or older, you can be at a higher risk if you’re obese or overuse a joint due to sports or intense exercise. Over-the-counter pain relievers, braces, and gentle exercise can reduce symptoms and help you maintain an active lifestyle.

    Rheumatoid Arthritis

    An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis also affects the joints, but for a different reason. Your immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s tissues and affects the lining of your joints. This causes painful swelling, inflammation, bone erosion, and joint deformity.

    People usually feel symptoms in their smaller joints first, for example, the fingers and toes. And then as the disease progresses, pain and inflammation can spread to wrists, knees, elbows, etc.

    You may feel pain more frequently in the morning or after you’ve been resting; however, symptoms can also last all day. While it may seem difficult to get moving, gentle exercise can help you maintain your strength and flexibility.

    Vitamin D Deficiency

    Nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is considered a pro-hormone and not a vitamin because it can be synthesized when sunlight hits the skin. So, if you needed another reason to head to the beach, here’s your sign.

    Either way, it plays a vital role in many functions of your body, particularly bone health. In fact, research shows low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of arthritis. And studies found low blood levels of vitamin D in patients who have osteoarthritis of the hip and knee.

    If you want to improve symptoms of arthritis or your overall health, increase your sun exposure or consider a supplement.

    Hypothyroidism

    Hypothyroidism indicates an underactive thyroid gland. Due to an autoimmune disease, radiation treatment, or surgical removal of the thyroid, your body isn’t getting enough of the hormone. Your thyroid, which is located in the lower front of your neck, produces hormones that help your body use energy, stay warm, and keep organs working as they should.

    Approximately, 10 million Americans have this condition, but It’s more common in women who are over the age of 50. You may experience swelling in certain joints, joint pain, stiffness, and carpal tunnel syndrome. But, symptoms also include fatigue, weight gain, and decreased libido.

    Hypothyroidism is diagnosed with a blood test and treatable. Thyroid hormone replacement is the best treatment, but pain relievers, like ibuprofen, can help relieve some pain.

    Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder, often triggered by emotional or physical stress. It affects the muscles and soft tissues and causes pain and tenderness to touch, sometimes over the entire body. It affects 2-4% of people, most of whom are women.

    There’s no test to detect fibromyalgia, but it has shown to be genetic. Symptoms include sleep disturbances, fatigue, muscle pain and aches, and pain in the joints. While there’s no cure, medication, cognitive behavioral therapies, and gentle exercise can help relieve symptoms.

    Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, vitamin D deficiency, hypothyroidism, and fibromyalgia are four potential reasons your joints count hurt, but there are many more possibilities.

    While this will help you ask your doctor the right questions, we suggest scheduling a consultation to explore all the possibilities. To learn more about the benefits of hormone replacement therapy, check out our recent article here.