Category Archives: Mind•Body•Soul

The Sun is More Fun When Playing Safe

Temperatures are high this summer, and Southwest Virginia is filled with outdoor activities to enjoy with family and friends. The Roanoke Alleghany district of Virginia’s Department of Health encourages you to follow key tips to remain healthy while enjoying the sunny, warm weather this summer.

Summer offers many opportunities to explore the great outdoors and enjoy fun-filled activities with your family and friends, but taking precautions against the dangers of sun and heat-related illnesses is critical to keeping you adventure-ready for the long haul.

The human body is made up of at least 60 percent water, and when Virginia summer temperatures rise into the 90s and above 100 degrees, the body cools itself by sweating. To continue to keep cool in extended periods of high heat, it is important to replace the water expelled through sweat. And, to know that under some conditions, sweating isn’t enough to keep cool. The following symptoms could indicate a serious condition:

  • thirst-1474240_1920Dehydration—During extreme heat your body loses fluid through sweating.  Dehydration results from the excessive loss of water and salts from the body, due to illness or from prolonged exposure to heat.  To prevent dehydration drink more water than usual, 2 to 4 cups of water while outside.
  • Heat Cramps— Muscle cramps may be the first sign of heat related illness. Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy physical activity in hot environments. Muscles most often affected include those of your calves, arms, abdominal wall, and back. If you are suffering from heat cramps, rest for several hours and drink clear juice or a sports drink that contains electrolytes.
  • Heat Exhaustion— Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much water and salt from sweating during hot temperatures. The elderly, people who work outside and people with high blood pressure bear the highest risk. Symptoms include sweating, skin that’s cold and pale, fainting, nausea/vomiting and a rapid weak pulse. If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler location and lie down. Apply cool, wet cloths and sip water.
  • Heat Stroke— Heat stroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by doing physical activity in hot weather. Sweating has usually stopped and your body temperature becomes too high. Skin is red, hot, dry or moist. Pulse is rapid and weak. It is important to know that body temperatures can reach dangerous temperatures (as high as 106 degrees) in just 15 minutes. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical attention.  Call 911. Do not give fluids.

Throughout your community there are resources available to help you know when to prepare for high temperatures. Local newspapers and meteorologists will announce when excessive heat is headed your way. These terms can help you understand the science of high heat warning signs.

  • Heat Index: is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature.
  • UV Index: indicates the risk of overexposure to solar UV radiation on a scale of 0 (low) to 11 or more (high)
  • Excessive Heat Outlooks: Excessive heat event predicted in the next 3-7 days.
  • Excessive Heat Watches: Excessive heat event predicted in the next 24 to 72 hours.
  • Excessive Heat Warning/Advisories: Excessive heat event predicted in the next 36 hours.

To avoid the complications of sun and heat related illnesses, protect your family with these key prevention tips:

Wear Sunscreen
Always apply UVA/UVB sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or greater to exposed skin at least 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours.

Drink water
When the temperature rises, it is important to drink plenty of water. Drinks that contain caffeine, large amounts of sugar or alcohol should be avoided because they can cause dehydration.

Stay Indoors
On hot days, prevent illness by keeping cool indoors. If your home is not air conditioned, try to spend the hottest hours of the day in a cool public place such as a library, movie theater, or store.

summer-877464_1920Dress for the heat
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats and sunglasses or to use an umbrella.

Limit physical activity
Avoid excessive physical exertion in hot temperatures, especially in the middle of the day. If you must work outdoors, stay hydrated by drinking 2-4 glasses of water each hour and take frequent breaks in a cool place. Even a few hours in an air-conditioned environment reduces the danger of heat-related illness.

Do not keep children or pets in cars
Temperatures inside a car with windows up can reach over 150 degrees quickly, resulting in heat stroke and death.

Check on your neighbors
Although anyone can suffer heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. People aged 65 or older are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses and complications that can result during periods of high temperatures and humidity.

If you are experiencing symptoms, please visit your local healthcare professional or dial 911.

For additional public health Information visit the Virginia health department website at www.vdh.virginia.gov or the national Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov.

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This article is part two of a five-part series from the Alleghany District of the Virginia Department of Health meant to inform local residents about the risks and preventive measures they can take to protect the health of their families and friends this summer. 

The Roanoke Alleghany Health District is working to prevent epidemics and the spread of disease, protect the environment, prevent injury, promote and encourage healthy behavior, respond to disasters and assist communities in recovery, and assure the quality and accessibility of health services for all members of our community.

The MELT Method

Exercise is an important daily component to life. It increases energy levels, while still providing many positive health benefits. However, working out doesn’t have to be all about running, burpees, or weights. Exercise is meant to be peace for the body and should require little to no pain.  The MELT Method combines pain-free healing for the body that most fitness plans can’t offer.

Sue Hitzmann, MS, CST, NMT, is the creator of the MELT Method. Her main goal for the treatment technique was to stop and prevent chronic pain in aging, active bodies. Hitzmann’s yoga based method has proven to improve bodies with her MELT Method 3-disc DVD set. The DVD is the companion to the New York Times’ bestselling book, The MELT Method. With Hitzmann’s techniques, a soft body roller, and four different compression balls, MELT can help restore your body to its natural health.

Roller bentIn the instructional DVD’s, Hitzmann outlines the method to her breakthrough self-treatment. It’s important to have a balanced nervous system and healthy connective tissue to live without chronic pain.  She outlines the 4 R’s of MELTing– reconnect, rebalance, rehydrate, release. These components help reach the goal of a balanced nervous system and healthy connective tissue.

It’s time to try a different exercise routine to something more calming for the body than the usual elliptical! Regular exercise is essential, but it’s also essential to enjoy what you’re doing to keep in good health. This technique can be a great element for mind, body, and soul. In order to relieve stress in your life, you have to find things that put you at ease and not just temporary fixes.

Want to try out the MELT Method? You can pick up your kit to get started here.

Written by Stacy Shrader

Stop Suffering in Silence

Perhaps it isn’t the first choice of conversation when you meet up with your girlfriends, mother, or your sister, but it is important. There are options out there to treat and prevent vaginal discomfort that often accompanies aging or illness, and they are not the old wives tales whispered over coffee so as not offend anyone. A real, safe, and easy solution exists. However, to find it, you first have to talk about the problem.

We live in a world where it is ok to discuss erectile dysfunction and treatment options for men, but many women still feel some sort of stigma attached to talking about gynecologic health. If you are living with vaginal discomfort resulting from pelvic floor disorders (PFDs), breast cancer, or hormonal changes, you are not alone. There is no reason that you should remain silent and continue to suffer.

The longer you wait to see a doctor, the more valuable weeks, months, and even years you will sacrifice. There is a better way, and it begins with understanding that you have no reason to be ashamed and seeking treatment.

At Blue Ridge Urogynecology, Dr. James Daucher and his staff want to help you get back to your living your life and feel like a woman again. They use a procedure called MonaLisa Touch to deliver gentle laser energy to the vaginal tissue. It stimulates a healing response in the vaginal canal. The procedure is virtually painless, and is similar to your annual exam. It requires three treatments over the course of 18 weeks, but each one only takes about five minutes. Many patients have reported that they experience relief right way. Most experience it by the second treatment.

For Melissa Zimmerman, Practice Manager at Blue Ridge Urogynecology, the choice to undergo the procedure was easy.

“As a premenopausal woman who is bound and determined to go through the process without HRT due to a family history of breast cancer, I figured I might as well avail myself of the newest treatment in my own backyard,” she explains, “I work hard to maintain my physical fitness, eat right, and care about my appearance. In short, I won’t age without a fight.”

“I have a great marriage and enjoy an active sex life, which is another thing I did not want to be robbed of as I entered my 50’s and became menopausal,” she adds. “Vaginal atrophy and dryness happen to all of us as our estrogen declines and I want to be proactive in that respect as well.”

“The procedure lasted less than ten minutes. It was painless and produced great results. I worked out the day after and then rode and showed my horse from Thursday on, so there was literally no down time.”

For many women, the option to have this procedure is a priceless reassurance that life can return to what it was before events like breast cancer, PFDs, or menopause. If you are interested in learning more about MonaLisa Touch, please visit www.blueridgeurogynecology.com.
Also, join them for their open house on Friday, September 2 from 4-7pm, where they will be serving light appetizers and refreshments. We’ll see you there!

Embracing Summer on the Road

Summertime is popular time for travel: no school for kids, no packing heavy coats and boots, no denying that the iced-coffee in your cup holder will be consumed faster than your go-to cappuccino. It’s a great feeling to pack up the car, hit the road, and breathe in the warm, flowing air of the day ahead. Depending on where you’re headed, you could be in the car for quite some time.
To prepare you for all the best, somewhat-spontaneous and impromptu road trips this season, I’ve compiled a short list of my gotta-have-em’s for the road (or the air, or the train, or the camping trail).

Portable phone charger
When you’re on the go, especially in the car, it’s easy to find yourself scrolling through the day’s latest tweets and posts on your smart phone to pass the time. With music, maps, and camera all accessible at your fingertips–it’s understandably enticing–and arguably necessary for some. That battery will drain fast if you’re not careful, leaving you phoneless upon arriving to your destination, out and about.
To avoid any miscommunication with friends and family, I pack a portable phone charger: light, easy-to-store in a bag or purse, and at times, a total lifesaver.

No-mess snacks (high in protein and, of course, water)
If you’ve ever found yourself in the seat of a car for multiple hours, you’re probably familiar with the pains of ‘road munchies.’ Always hitting when you least expect them, cravings of salty, vending machine chips and chocolate-covered-something’s from the gas station checkout lines will wash over you like a wave of mini-vans on the way to Myrtle Beach.
To avoid unnecessary stops and overpriced filler-foods, try packing a few protein bars, nuts, or other non-messy snacks that are high in protein to get you through your trip. You’ll save money, time and feel more alert as you chug along to your next destination. Don’t forget to hydrate too, always keeping water on hand.

IMG_8205Upbeat music
I’m all too familiar with the car slump that comes from static conversations and repetitive, rolling window scenery. Wake yourself up, get excited for the trip ahead and laugh with friends and family over some classic, throwback tunes.
The high-energy music puts anxious travelers in a good mood, passes the time, and leaves the car feeling more energized and happy – because yes, we all know the collective, previous state of forehead-pressed-against-window wasn’t doing much for the car’s energy.

A pillow
We are human, and when in the car for extended periods of time, we will sleep. Be sure to pack a small travel pillow or blanket to rest your head against in the tight space. This will prevent any neck pains of headaches from unexpected bumps and unnatural positions of rest.
Your neck will thank you later and friends will dub you ‘pro-traveler’ of the group when you show up prepared, relaxed, and excited for the trip ahead!

Written by Emily McCaul

Getting Back on Track

I have a confession.

In 2015, somewhere between the trappings of convenient fast food and a juicer that was painstakingly complicated to clean, I found myself growing more comfortable with visiting my oldest and most faithful friend: the drive-thru.
I am not a huge sweets person, nor do I drink soft drinks. I thought I was safe by choosing chicken and the smaller order of fries (after all, a girl should indulge every now and then). At first, the only real difference I noticed was that my jeans were getting a little tighter. Gradually, however, I began to notice an increased sluggishness. I did my best to tackle it with more caffeine and ignore the old familiar side effects of a diet high in fats, preservatives, and other chemicals.
I’m not proud of it, but with a jam-packed schedule, it was just easier. And it would have continued, but two things saved me:

  1. root-617409_1920The official “push” was that I brought in the New Year with a cold.
    For me, juicing ginger is a healthy and inexpensive way to combat “the sniffles.” I don’t always have time to visit the doctor, and I’m not a huge fan of antibiotics when they aren’t necessary. So, I bought another juicer that is easier to clean and use. I’ve been juicing ginger, apples, carrots, cucumbers, and pears for two weeks now. In addition to eating better,  juicing and taking vitamins has helped me make sure my body has the nutrients it needs. Not only is my cold gone, but I’ve dropped a few inches from my waistline. I also have more energy.
  2. Now that I feel better, sticking to juicing isn’t always appealing. You may have noticed our new minimalism section in the January issue. As I explore the concept of minimalism, I am noticing that the discipline it requires is positively influencing other aspects of my life. Ultimately, eating healthy is a lifestyle change to which you must fully commit in order to benefit from and enjoy. I only bring good things that inspire joy into my home. There is no reason that I shouldn’t treat my body the same way.

I know there will be days when fast food creeps back into my life, but my goal is to make sure that it never becomes a habit again. This way of life is far more rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade the extra energy I have at the end of the day for anything I can get from the drive-thru window–even a small order of fries!

 

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Pick up our January issue for more reasons to love minimalism, easy ways to eat healthy, and tips for staying active in cold weather! 

Sticking to Your New Years Resolution

January is the month of resolutions. As another year begins, the gym is filled with men and women determined to lose weight, get a six­pack, or stay fit. Although this tradition is widely popular–45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions–only 8% are successful.

Even the most noble of resolutions, whether it be self-­improvement or financial ambitions, can fade away after the excitement of a new year dwindles. However the issue isn’t in the goal itself, but the planning and enforcement to achieve it. To keep from losing motivation, follow these tips:

One step at a time.
It’s easy enough to tell yourself you’re going to lose 20 pounds or eat healthier. To accomplish this, however, break up your goal into smaller parts. For example, go to the gym every Monday and run on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Make it a priority to eat a fruit and vegetable with every meal, and so on. Taking smaller steps will help you reach your ultimate goal easier.

Recruit support from family and friends.
When it’s hard to motivate yourself to slip on those running sneakers or put down that chocolate cupcake, ask close friends or family to step in and help. Their encouragement (or chiding) can go a long way. You can even invite them to hit the gym with you, or ask them to text you at a certain time in order to remind and inspire you.

Reward yourself for partial successes.
Along with taking smaller steps towards your resolution, don’t be afraid to allow yourself small pleasures that won’t ruin your hard work. This will help you feel better about your efforts, and motivate you to do it again. Just beware of ‘rewarding’ yourself too much, and succumbing to whatever temptation you’re facing (like sweets or skipping the gym).

Written by Madison Correiro

A Few of Our Favorite Things

Fall is right around the corner and the holidays (aka the busiest time of the year) are soon to follow! You can prepare your body and your mind for the changing seasons and crowded planners by making a few small adjustments to your habits. You may be surprised at how much better you will feel!

Get Healthy
clarity_pink_frontStaying hydrated is the most important way you can pamper your body this fall. Drinking enough water each day will add to your energy levels, help with your appetite, and improve your skin. Pumpkin spice lattes are great, but looking and feeling your best at the pumpkin patch with your friends and family is even better! A cool water bottle might be just the inspiration you need to stick with it. Check out these unique colors and styles from Avex.

617qqRONuxL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_And, speaking of pumpkins, did you know that pumpkin seeds are technically a superfood? If you are interested in fueling your body with natural recipes that include pumpkin seeds, coconut milk, beets, and more, you are going to want to pick up a copy of Superfoods by Julie Montagu! Filled with suggestions for delicious creations, this book is the flexible approach to eating more superfoods.

Learn Something New
51yYpWj7XaL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
Technology can be a little overwhelming and distracting–especially as your schedule fills up over the next few months. Instead of spending your evening at home, glued to the computer or your phone, pick up a book or take on a new hobby. Cath Kidston’s Sewing Book is great for those interested in learning how to sew. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to make a gift that your friends and family can treasure for a lifetime!

Be Mindful
Little-Book-of-Mindfulness3It can be very difficult to stay mindful during this time of year, but it is necessary to maintain your sanity and some sense of organization. We keep a copy of The Little Book of Mindfulness in our office, and recommend it to everyone. You can open this book to any page and find inspirational advice on hot to focus, slow down, and destress. And, after all, isn’t that the best way to enjoy life?

A Lesson From Long Lake

A year ago, I was given a gray t-shirt depicting two bears, a mother and baby, across the chest. They were printed in white, and the words “Long Lake” stretched beneath them like a path. It was a gift from my boyfriend, Robby, who visited me where I worked as a camp counselor. He had just returned from a trip to his family’s cabin on Long Lake’s shore. The lake is tucked safely away in Adirondack State Preserve, located in upstate New York.
As I unfolded the t-shirt, stories began to fly.
“You would love it there, Hannah,” he said. “My sisters and I went there all the time as kids. We used to pick blueberries from the bushes outside and my dad would make incredible pancakes.”
Long Lake sounded like something out of a fairy tale. Water so still that you could hear a far-off whisper, tiny islands with names like Pancake and Feather, chipmunks eating popcorn kernels right out of your hand.
“Next summer, we’ll go,” he said.
This past July, his statement came to fruition. We made the twelve-hour haul up to Long Lake with Robby’s three roommates. Toward the end of the drive, the air got cooler, the sky got brighter, and the tiny service bars on our phones began to drop.

IMG_0656“The cabin’s pretty isolated,” said Robby. “There’s no cell service or electricity.” He had said it before, but as buildings turned to houses and houses gave way to trees, the word “isolated” began to crystallize around us. I looked at my increasingly useless phone, realizing with a twinge of shame just how much time I let my world shrink to a five-and-a-half inch screen. Scrolling through Twitter and Youtube had become a go-to activity in between daily events. While I once painted or wrote or did yoga at random times during the day, I now found myself increasingly complacent, drawn into the hypnotic, humorous worlds behind the square-shaped apps. My battery was nearly dead, my laptop was back in Virginia, and I smiled calmly at the thought of being unplugged. Every few minutes, another phone would lose service and its owner would join the growing conversation.
A grocery trip and a boat ride later, we were floating up to the cabin in the suddenly-pouring rain. Two people jumped out of the boat and secured it to the dock with ropes, and the five of us ferried in backpacks, hiking boots, and cases of beer. When we were done, I walked back outside to look at where I would be living for a week. It was exactly as Robby had described. Wide planks of dark brown pinewood formed the walls of the cabin, and a green roof the color of aged copper stood in a high triangle. Simple, unadorned windows lined the sides of every wall, and a small deck wrapped around a corner. The entire thing was hidden shyly behind pine trees and blueberry bushes.
“What do you think?” Robby asked when I went back inside.
I smiled and said, “This place is perfect.”

IMG_0671And so began the delightful withdrawal from civilization. This particular group, excluding myself, was made up of video game enthusiasts. Gaming is used to bond and entertain, but also to fill the time in a way similar to what my iPhone had become. With zero access to anything electronic, the hours were filled with cooking, fishing, boat rides, and swinging in hammocks. It wasn’t until the fourth day there that I realized how much my lack of a cell phone had impacted me. It was the first time since our arrival that the weather had been anything but clear and sunny, and someone dusted off the board game “Risk.” I had never played Risk due to a deep and genuine loathing for strategic board games. I was handed dozens of tiny red pieces and told to learn as we went.
Playing a board game on a rainy day is an instance where I may frequently check out of the game and into my Twitter account, but I was left with no other option but fully engaging. I loved the game and almost won. Each person spent the whole time laughing and strategizing and pleading and making bets, as opposed to wasting significant chunks of attention on cell phone screens.

IMG_0657Conversations throughout that week were more meaningful, not split between a person and a device. With no alternative for distraction, we learned to really listen to each other, and creative outdoor activities replaced what would certainly be a Netflix binge for some. In a way, it was heartbreaking to see how different things could be without the widespread addiction to technology. It does not take a genius to distinguish between cyberspace and real life, but I required a brief withdrawal to observe the sheer power that my phone has over me.
Since that week of quiet water and leaping fish, stunning sunsets and group cooking efforts, I have tried to be less attached to my phone. My goal is to only go to it when I truly need to communicate with another person. When I find my eyes roaming automatically toward it, I try to catch myself. I breathe and picture a birch tree surrounded by blueberry bushes. It’s not always successful. It’s tough when I’m alone or when others around me are absorbed in screens of their own. However, my prayer is that people will collectively rediscover the value of human interaction, the value of silence, even boredom. Flicking off the screens gives me an incentive and venue for reflection, creativity, and friendship building. With this in mind, I pull on my Long Lake t-shirt and leave the phone at home.

 

Written by Hannah Bridges