When Obsession Becomes Compulsion

Thursday May 28, 2015

Life with OCD.

You’re ready to turn in for the night, so you do your nightly routine. You walk through the house, make sure the lights are off, the doors are locked, and the alarm is on. All of these steps are completely normal ways to ensure your house is in order and your family is safe. But what if you were so obsessed with the fear of intruders that you checked the doors multiple times before bed even though you knew they were already locked? Or what if you flipped the door lock from locked to unlocked to locked to unlocked over and over, just to make sure the door really is locked?

A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) performs repetitive behaviors like this in an effort to control distressing thoughts, feelings, or images, but the opposite ends up happening. In the end, the obsessions take control of the OCD person. Unfortunately, it is hard for an OCD sufferer to accept this, as the rituals and behaviors temporarily relieve his or her fears and anxiety, reinforcing the action.

A mental illness that traps a person in a never-ending pattern of thoughts and behaviors to the point of interfering with his or her quality of life, OCD is a serious condition that requires serious medical care.

Common Obsessions and Compulsions

The fear of intruders and checking locks is just one example of obsessions and compulsions, expresses a health professional from Independence Boot Camp. Other common obsessions include the fear or dirt or germs, the fear of hurting someone else, the fear of being embarrassed or making a mistake, the fear of thinking thoughts that go against one’s religion, an extreme lack of self-confidence and the need for reassurance, and the need for things to be in order or symmetrical.

These obsessions lead to compulsive behaviors such as frequent bathing or hand washing, never being willing to shake hands or touch doorknobs, saying words or prayers over and over, doing the same task multiple times, eating foods or getting dressed in the same order every time, arranging and rearranging items in specific ways, or hoarding junk.

What Makes a Person OC?

The cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder seems to be a combination of environmental and biological factors. Enduring extreme stress such as abuse, illness, death of a friend or family member, moving, or relationship, work, or school problems may trigger or worsen symptoms of OCD.

Biologically, OCD seems to run in families. Other possible causes include miscommunication in the brain between the areas that control judgment with the areas responsible for body movements. Studies have also discovered a link between OCD and an untreated, recurrent infection from Streptococcus bacteria.

Who’s at Risk?

Symptoms of OCD typically appear during childhood, the teenage years, or young adulthood, with most people with OCD being diagnosed before the age of 20. Both men and women and people from all races and socioeconomic standings are equally susceptible to this disorder.

A personal trainer in Independence Fitness Center also discovered that people with OCD often suffer from other conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, or eating disorders, but it doesn’t necessarily couple itself with other conditions.

Help for the Helpless

You can’t overcome this disorder on your own and it won’t someday go away by itself. But the good news is those with obsessive-compulsive disorder can live a normal life through a combination of ongoing medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Medications include antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. Cognitive behavioral therapy sessions enable patients to confront their fears and obsessions without engaging in the compulsive behaviors. Early diagnosis provides greater chances of successful treatment, so see your doctor if you suspect OCD.

In extreme situations and as a last resort option, electroconvulsive therapy (induced seizures) or psychosurgery involving deep brain stimulation may be used to treat OCD.

Wonder if you have OCD? People with this disorder spend an hour or more each day thinking about or acting on obsessive thoughts to the point it hinders their quality of life. If this sounds familiar, Independence Fit Body Boot Camp suggests that you get started on an OCD-free life today by seeking professional assistance.

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Babies and Blood Sugar

Tuesday May 26, 2015

As if a healthy pregnancy wasn’t hard enough.

Around week 24 of pregnancy, many women develop high blood sugar levels. When this occurs, it’s known as gestational diabetes mellitus—a.k.a. GDM. This doesn’t mean a woman had diabetes prior to pregnancy and it doesn’t mean she’ll necessarily have the disease after the baby is born. But it does mean the mother and baby need special monitoring and care. While this may cause concern for mothers-to-be, the right treatment ensures the pregnancy can progress smoothly and the baby can be healthy and full term.

All pregnant women should be screened for GDM between week 24 and 28 of their pregnancy, unless they’re high risk. In that case, they should be screened as early as possible. The test involves drinking a sweet liquid and having a blood test one hour later to monitor blood sugar levels.

With gestational diabetes on the rise, knowing all you can about the condition now will ensure a healthy pregnancy later.  With the help of fitness professionals from Bloomfield Fit Body BootCamp, you can be in the know about this condition. 

What Causes GDM?

It’s largely unknown why most women sail through pregnancy with normal blood sugar and others develop high levels. However, research has provided some clues as to what causes gestational diabetes. The baby receives nourishment and hormones from the placenta. These hormones also work to block the mother’s insulin, slowing the conversion of glucose to energy so the mother maintains her blood sugar levels. When too much of these hormones are produced and the mother’s pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to counteract their effect, glucose levels rise and the mother is diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

How Does GDM Affect the Baby?

Since gestational diabetes doesn’t set in until late in the pregnancy, it doesn’t pose a risk for birth defects. Leave it untreated, however, and the baby will be exposed to extra glucose and other potential health problems. Initially, the baby’s pancreas will produce high amounts of insulin. All this extra energy will be stored as fat and can cause the baby to grow to a large size, resulting in a more difficult delivery. Babies born to mothers with GDM may have low blood sugar levels, breathing problems, and jaundice at birth, and are at an increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.

How Is GDM Treated?

To protect the health of the baby and mother, GDM must be treated by controlling blood sugar levels through diet and regular exercise. The mother’s glucose levels may have to be checked daily and insulin injections may be necessary.

Managing GDM means eating frequent, small meals throughout the day. Fried and fatty foods should be avoided and carbohydrates should make up only 40 to 45 percent of the day’s total calories.  A healthy professional at Bloomfield fitness center also suggests that high-fiber foods, plenty of water, fruits, and vegetables are important parts of the diet.

All pregnant women should include mild to moderate exercise in their routine three to four days a week. But be careful! If you’re living with GDM, you’ll need to monitor your blood sugar following exercise to make sure you stay in a safe zone.

What Can You Do to Lower Your Risk?

Women who are overweight before becoming pregnant are at the highest risk for GDM. Other risk factors include a family history of diabetes, having previously given birth to a stillborn baby or a baby weighing more than nine pounds, having had GDM in a previous pregnancy, and being of a certain ethnic group (Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American). Many women are diagnosed with GDM even though they don’t have any risk factors.

The best way to decrease your chances of developing GDM during your pregnancy is to lose a few pounds if you’re overweight and to avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy. A well-balanced diet and regular exercise are the best ways to stay healthy and maintain a proper weight.

Risky Business.  Bloomfield boot camp also found that if a woman has gestational diabetes in one pregnancy, she’s 40 to 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes in subsequent pregnancies.

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The Sport for a Lifetime

Thursday May 14, 2015

Young or old, you can enjoy tennis for the many physical, mental, and social benefits it offers.

Rightly regarded by many as the “sport for a lifetime,” tennis is one of those activities anyone at almost any age or fitness level can play and enjoy. All you need is a racquet, a few tennis balls, a partner, and access to a court. When running on the treadmill day in and day out gets old, you’re tired of lifting weights at the gym, or your workout isn’t providing the results you hoped, it might be worth a shot to give tennis a try. You’ll get a full body workout, improve your fitness, and burn a ton of calories, while your mind will be stimulated and you’ll have fun competing against your partner.

El Paso Fit Body Boot Camp provides a list of reasons why tennis is an activity you should add to your list of workout options.

Get Toned

Playing tennis competitively burns more calories than cycling, inline skating, or aerobics. On the tennis court, you can burn 500 calories an hour and have fun doing it! Tennis offers both an aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) workout. The jogging and easy swinging provide a great cardio workout that improves endurance, but it’s the quick bursts of sprinting and swinging followed by a rest period that increase your calorie burn and muscle gain. This is the perfect combination for weight loss, fitness, and muscle toning. In fact, the movements of tennis provide one of the best workouts to improve heart health, strengthen your core, flatten your abs, build arm and leg muscle, and increase flexibility. Sound good? Then grab a racquet!

Maybe you’re into another sport but want to take your performance to the next level. A personal trainer in El Paso believes that tennis is a great way to reach this goal because it requires speed, strength, jumping, lunging, agility, hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor control, balance, and quick reaction time—all skills needed for other sports.

Train Your Mind

It’s not just your body that benefits from tennis, but your mind as well. Unlike the mindless repetition of running on the elliptical machine or pedaling a stationary bike, tennis sharpens your mind. Being good at tennis requires alertness and strategic thinking, brain exercises that create new nerve connections in the brain. Every time the ball is hit toward you, you’ve got to respond quickly and map out your strategy—where and how hard you’ll hit the ball to outsmart your opponent.

While the rules are fairly straightforward and easy to learn, improving your tennis skills will exercise your brain as you practice new moves, hone your skills, manage mistakes, anticipate your opponent’s moves, play under pressure, and learn to compete.

Time with Friends

Two to four players are needed to play a game of tennis, so if you’re the type of person who finds exercise more enjoyable when done with others, tennis may fit you well. Call up a friend or three, and head to the courts for a friendly, competitive game. What better way to socialize than to spend time outside, feel the warm sun, and get your exercise?

Maybe you’re looking for a workout you can enjoy with your spouse. Why not try tennis? Wish there was an exercise activity for the whole family? Take the kids along and let them practice hitting a ball back and forth over the net on one court while you and your spouse play a competitive game in the next court. The next warm weekend, El Paso Fitness Center encourages you to plan a tennis date with your spouse or make it a family affair and take the kids.

“Tennis takes care of everything. It requires agility and quickness to get to the ball, core strength to get power into your shorts, and stamina to last for an entire match. In addition to toning your arms and shoulders, it’s a total body workout for your legs and abs and works your heart and core unlike any other sport”—Samantha Stosur

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A Case of the Measles

Tuesday May 12, 2015

If unvaccinated, you’re at risk too.

The recent rise in measles cases traces back to a popular amusement park in California that is an international tourist attraction. Nearly every year the virus returns to the U.S. via unvaccinated travelers (foreign or American), who then spread measles to other unprotected individuals. Recent years have seen an increase in the number of cases in the U.S. (644 were reported in 2014) due to outbreaks in other countries and exposure of the virus to groups of unvaccinated people.

Hearing news of a measles outbreak can be unsettling. You may wonder how effective the vaccine is or if there could be a measles outbreak in your own community.  Belleville Fit Body Bootcamp believes it’s important to know the symptoms and complications of this virus and how it spreads.  

Why to Get Vaccinated

In the early 1900s, 6,000 people died each year in the U.S. alone from the measles. In the decade leading up to 1963, when the vaccine was introduced, up to 4 million Americans were infected each year and of these, an average of 500 people died, almost 50,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 suffered from encephalitis (swelling of the brain). In the year 2000, the measles virus was eliminated in the U.S. due to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination program.

School-aged children who’ve received the recommended two doses of the MMR vaccine and most adults and preschool-aged children who’ve received one dose are considered 93–97 percent protected from the virus. Only three out of 100 vaccinated people will contract the virus if exposed, but these individuals will experience a milder illness that is less contagious.

In the past 15 years, an increasing number of parents have chosen not to give their children an MMR vaccine due to the fear it’s somehow connected to autism, though numerous scientific studies have proven the vaccine to be safe and unrelated. The rise in the number of unvaccinated people increases the country’s risk of continued and more widespread outbreaks.

How It Looks

The measles virus typically begins with respiratory symptoms including cough, sore throat, runny nose, a high fever, and red, watery eyes. Two to three days later small white spots (Koplik’s spots) may be seen in the mouth. A day or two later the fever spikes and a rash that looks like flat, red spots appears on the face and spreads to the neck, chest, back, arms, legs, and feet until it covers the entire body. Sometimes the rash includes small raised bumps as well as the flat spots. A personal trainer in Belleville says that the fever goes down and the rash slowly fades in a few days. 

Why It’s Dangerous

Thirty percent of measles cases develop complications. School-aged children and teens are less likely to develop complications but are still at risk. The most common problems associated with measles include ear infections and diarrhea, but 1 in 20 children with measles develops pneumonia (a lung infection) and 1 in a 1,000 is at risk for encephalitis (swelling of the brain that can cause convulsions, deafness, or mental illness). A rare neurological disease called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is also connected to childhood measles.

How It Passes

Since the virus lives in an infected person’s throat and nose, it’s easily spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. A person is considered contagious four days before and four days after a rash develops. You can become sick by simply breathing infected air or touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Because of the ease with which it travels, Belleville Fit Body Boot Camp discovered that an overwhelming 90 percent unvaccinated people who come in contact with measles will get sick.

Deadly Serious. Across the world each year, 20 million people are infected with measles and 146,000 people die from it. That is 17 people who die from measles every hour.

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Indoor Air Pollution

Thursday May 07, 2015

Hunting down the sources of air pollution in your home and ways to improve the air quality.

It’s easy to think of air pollution as an outdoor problem in big cities. When you hear about pollution, words like smog, ozone, factory emissions, or car exhaust likely come to mind. But did you know the air in your home or workplace is easily more polluted than the air outside? This is bad news considering that modern homes are built to be airtight, trapping pollutants inside, and people today spend a lot more time indoors than in years past.

Indoor air pollution is mainly caused by things that release particles or gases into the air we breath. A lack of fresh outdoor air to dilute indoor pollution, high indoor humidity levels, and high temperatures combine to increase the concentrations of pollutants. This causes negative health effects such as respiratory problems, headaches, asthma, fatigue, dizziness, lung disease, infections, heart disease, and cancer.

Now you can be in the know when it comes to indoor air pollution and take necessary steps to protect your family – Buford Boot Camp shows you how!

Main Sources

The five main categories of indoor air pollution include combustion sources, building materials, household cleaning and personal care products, biological pollutants, and outdoor pollutants. Combustion sources refer to things that burn, such as oil, kerosene, coal, wood, gas, or tobacco products. Examples of their pollutants are secondhand smoke and dangerous gasses emitted from malfunctioning or unvented stoves, fireplaces, and heaters.

Formaldehyde, largely useful in the biology laboratory, is a chemical found in numerous household materials such as carpet, upholstery, plywood, and particleboard. Asbestos is another dangerous chemical commonly found in materials used to make pipes, walls, roofs, insulation, floors, and ceilings.

You may just want the air to smell like vanilla, your floors to be absolutely sparkly, no more spider webs in the corner, your laundry clean, and your walls painted with a fresh coat of paint, but many of the products used for cleaning and maintaining your home emit hundreds of harmful chemicals into the air.

Mold that grows in an unwashed shower, pollen that settles in the spring, dander from your dog’s fur, dust particles from bugs, and radon (a dangerous radioactive gas found in soil that can make its way into any home through holes in the foundation or drain openings) are biological sources of indoor air pollutants.

Lastly, outdoor pollution finds its way into your home through air cracks, open doors, on your clothes, or on your shoes.

Improve Air Quality

Want to keep dangers out of your home? Buford Fit Body BootCamp provides steps to help ensure you and your family breathe fresh air with these steps.

First, don’t smoke inside your home. The smoke from cigarettes contain upwards of 4,000 chemicals that are known to cause multiple health problems.

Keep your home clean. Vacuum your floors and upholstered furniture regularly with a vacuum containing a HEPA filter to reduce the amount of lead, toxins, allergens, and dust mites in your home. Mop non-carpeted floors with microfiber cloths that capture dust and dirt without the use of cleaning products. And keep a mat by the door to wipe off shoes, preventing dirt, pollutants, and pesticides from entering your home. Better yet, take off your shoes at the door.

Run the bathroom vent during showers, vent the dryer outside, fix leaky pipes, or run a dehumidifier in the basement to reduce the humidity in your home to prevent mold growth.

Purchase fragrance-free products and avoid the use of aerosol sprays. On warm, sunny days open the windows for fresh air circulation and keep a few indoor houseplants in your home to naturally filter the air. As an added precaution, test your home for radon.

Radon Radar. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that can find its way into any home, new or old.  A personal trainer in Buford found that, in the U.S., radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer, killing 21,000 people a year. Buy a test kit today.

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The ABC’s of Skin Cancer

Tuesday May 05, 2015

How to check your skin for melanoma.

Remember back to your childhood. How many times did you get bad sunburn? Maybe you don’t have to think back that far to know you’ve gotten burned more than a few times. Having five or more sunburns when you’re young increases your risk of developing melanoma by 80 percent. Five or more sunburns in your life and your risk doubles.

While only two percent of skin cancers are melanoma, it’s the most fatal form of skin cancer. And don’t think you’re only at risk if you’re older. Melanoma is the most common type of cancer for people in their late twenties, with the vast majority of melanoma cases caused by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation or tanning beds.

Like any cancer, the earlier melanoma is detected the better your chance of successfully treating it. But unlike many other cancers, there are simple ways you can detect melanoma and protect against it without ever going to the doctor. Being familiar with the warning signs and checking your body regularly will help in early detection.  Thanks to Concord Fit Body Boot Camp, you can perform a routine check on yourself, to ensure you stay healthy year round.

What You Need

In order to detect something abnormal, you have to know what normal is. To do this, perform a skin self-exam each month to watch for changes in the appearance of your skin, freckles, and moles. You’ll need a full-length mirror, a smaller hand-held mirror for inconspicuous body parts, a bright light, and a brush or blow dryer to help inspect your hair.

People with a high risk of skin cancer may benefit from taking pictures of their moles every few months to monitor any changes. All adults over age 40 should have a full-body skin exam each year by a physician.

Where to Look

There’s no part of your body immune to melanoma. It can grow anywhere from your scalp and inside your nostrils to under your fingernails and the spaces between your toes. While most melanomas are found on body parts that have been exposed to the sun, some are found in hidden places that rarely see the light of day, making them harder to find.

During your skin self-exam, a personal trainer in Concord advises you to start at the top of your head in your hair (for those who still have it) and slowly work your way down your body to the soles of your feet.

What to Look For

In most cases, melanoma first appears as a change in a preexisting mole, a change in the color of your skin, or a growth on your skin. The acronym ABCDE can help you identify melanoma. Cancerous moles may not exhibit all characteristics, but Concord fitness center believes that one or two is enough to warrant a visit to your doctor. Here’s what to look for.

Asymmetry. Normal moles are symmetrical, meaning they have the same shape on both sides if you were to fold it in half.

Border Irregularity. Moles should have smooth-shaped edges, not ragged, irregular, or hard-to-see edges.

Color. A normal mole is uniform in color, usually tan or brown. A mole that has multiple shades or is various shades of white, black, blue, or red is a warning sign.

Diameter. Moles should be oval or circular in shape and smaller than the diameter of a pencil eraser (a quarter inch).

Evolving. New moles or changing moles could signal melanoma.

Suspicious. Any time you’re unsure about the health of a mole, have it checked out.

Your risk for melanoma increases if you have fair skin, have had one or more severe sunburns, visit tanning beds, live in high altitude or near the equator, have more than 50 moles on your body, have a weak immune system, or have a close relative who’s had melanoma.

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