Deflate the Spare Tire

waistline

So many of us fight it—the spare tire—that bulging belly that seems to increase every year—especially around the holidays.

 

You may see it as an inevitable part of aging, but too much of a spare tire could leave you with a major health blowout.

 

The American Cancer Society has released a report linking wider waistlines with dramatically greater risks of dying from cancer and heart disease. Similarly, people with the smallest waist sizes had the lowest risk.

 

The message here is watch your waist size regardless of your weight.

 

If trimming your waistline is a New Year resolution, here’s my tip: the best way to reduce belly fat is to balance caloric intake with physical activity and restful nights of sleep. In other words, eat wiser, sleep better, and exercise more—my New Year’s recipe to help you deflate your spare tire.

 

If you would like to see other blogs by Dr. Walt on this topic, click here and then click on today’s story.

Addicted to Caffeine? The Impact of So-called “Energy Drinks”

Can you overdose on caffeine?  Yes, it is possible.

Reporter Cody Lyon at Upwave.com says according the experts, the trick is to know your body, pay attention to what else you’ve ingested, and do your homework on energy drinks.

There have been plenty of reports that say caffeine is beneficial. Some studies call it a potential protector from diseases such as Parkinson’s, and even some forms of cancer.

A safe dose of caffeine is ususally considered 200 to 300 milligrams, or two to four cups of coffee per day.

Energy drinks like Red Bull usually contain around 80 milligrams of caffeine in an eight-ounce can. Some of the bigger cans (such as a 16-ounce Monster) have up to 240 milligrams.  Meanwhile, a 16-ounce cup of coffee packs about 300 milligrams.

Barbara Crouch, executive director at the Utah Poison Control Center, says that unlike coffee drinkers, energy drink consumers (especially young people) like to chug down not just one, but two or three to get a good jolt on before a hardcore workout, a soccer practice or a night of dancing.

She says “When you pound down more than one energy drink verses sipping a cup of coffee, you’re not metabolizing it the same way.”  She points out that factors like size, age, sex, drug interactions, hydration levels and the amount of food in the stomach can mean different outcomes for different people when on a caffeine binge.

Crouch says: “Yes, there is absolutely such a thing as caffeine poisoning, and the dose essentially makes the poison.”

All the press about energy drinks led the FDA to take a fresh look at caffeinated food — and it plans to focus on how energy drinks impact young people.

So if you think YOU’VE got a problem—step away from that can of Red Bull!

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

One More Gift

volunteer

Christmas is over, and your trash may be stuffed with wrapping paper, but there is one more present you can give this holiday season.

Volunteering is a great way to give to others who need you, but did you ever consider you need them? A study found over three-quarters of people who volunteered over twelve months reported volunteering has made them feel physically healthier.

One patient of mine improved her blood pressure, blood sugar and pulse after only five weeks of helping at a shelter.

There is an even stronger connection between volunteering and mental or emotional health. It can cure loneliness and raise self-esteem.

So think about helping the needy where you live or serving at your church or faith community. Give a portion of your time, treasure, and talent to others less fortunate—and unwrap the best present of all.

If you would like to see other blogs by Dr. Walt on this topic, click here and then click on today’s story.

Patient Rights

healthrights

A patient asked me, “With all of the changes in the healthcare system, do we still have any rights left?”

Well, there are a lot of changes. But one thing isn’t changing—you have a long list of rights—that you have a right to know about, to help you and your doctor work together better.

For instance, you have the right to receive courteous and civil care—and you have a right to go elsewhere if you don’t receive that. And you also have a right to receive care that respects your social, emotional, relational, and spiritual beliefs.

Your doctor should also fully inform you of your diagnosis, treatment options, and prognosis … plus, fully inform you of treatment risks, benefits, and costs.

I could go on, but I think I’ve answered this question with a resounding “Yes” when it comes to your rights. Policies or politics should never take these away.

If you would like to see other blogs by Dr. Walt on this topic, click here and then click on today’s story.

Dealing With an Intrusive Landlord—Who is Also Your Mother-in-law!

Dear Dr. Bill,

My husband and I have been married for 7 months, and we currently rent our home from my mother-in-law who lives within driving distance of us.  The problem is that she comes over all the time without calling first — even though we’ve asked not to.  My brother-in-law does the same thing.  What should we say to our family about this situation without offending them?

–Reyna

Dear Reyna,

Ah yes, the old “uninvited relatives dropping by” scenario!  To be honest, you’re in a rather unique situation since you are renting your home from your relatives.  If they are giving you a great deal on the rent, that complicates things even further.

You didn’t mention in your e-mail WHY they come by.  Is it to do maintenance on the house, do yard work, or get tools out of the garage?  Since they are the landlords and you are the renters, they certainly have a right to do those things, provided they give you a reasonable amount of advance notice.

On the other hand, if they are simply dropping in to chat or hang out, that needs to be addressed differently.  And since we’re talking about your in-laws, your husband is the one who needs to bring it up.

Hopefully this can be solved with a good-natured, non-defensive family discussion.  I suggest your husband start the conversation by telling his mother and brother how much you love them and appreciate the opportunity to rent their home.

But he should explain that as newlyweds, you are trying to establish your new life together, and that you need a certain amount of privacy.  Let them know that they are always welcome to come by, but they need to let you know ahead of time.

If you are met with defensiveness, you may decide that living in an apartment on the other side of town is looking more and more attractive.

Thanks for writing, Reyna.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “questions” tab on the Family Expert page.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Diet Deception

diet

“Lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks.”

“Eat all you want and still burn away fat.”

What do these statements have in common? Well, they may be more attractive after weeks of holiday eating—but that’s not all. These fat-busting claims stretch the truth leaving many to eat a diet of lies.

In fact, a government panel says, “Whether it’s a pill, patch, or cream, there’s no shortage of ads promising quick and easy weight loss without diet or exercise. But the claims just aren’t true, and some of these products could even hurt your health.”

Americans continue to spend millions for a quick fix for fat loss, but there simply isn’t a quick one that’s healthy. A proper diet, a good night’s sleep, and regular exercise together provide a steady and safe, no-frills way to a healthier you. Don’t fill up on empty promises.

If you would like to see other blogs by Dr. Walt on this topic, click here and then click on today’s story.

New Year’s Advice for Christian Parents

As we get ready to kick off a new year, here’s a question for you:  do you want your kids to grow up with a strong, vibrant, Christian faith?

If so, you’ll need to be intentional about building healthy, lasting relationships with other Christian families.

When I was growing up, we knew our neighbors.  My parents watched out for the other kids in the neighborhood and the other parents on the block watched out for us.

If my brother and I were doing something we weren’t supposed to be doing and someone spotted us, my parents would get a call from one of those neighbors.

I believe my brother referred to them as “snitches” or “narcs.”  ;-]

But today, the sad truth is that in most suburban neighborhoods we DON’T know our neighbors—or at least we don’t know many of them.

Neighbors come home at the end of the day and the garage door goes up, the car pulls in, and the garage door goes down.

In our disconnected world we need to be deliberate about building solid relationships with other Christian parents who share our values regarding things like entertainment, internet use, drug and alcohol use and sexual purity.

By the way, new research has found that if teenagers have other Christian adults in their life who care about them—in addition to their mom and dad—they are much LESS likely to abandon their faith when they go off to college.

Drs. Chap Clark and Kara Powell at the Fuller Youth Institute recommend that in addition to their parents, every Christian teen should have 5 other adults in their life who will commit to building relationships with them.

These adults can pray for that young person, be a listening ear during times of conflict, and reinforce the values held by the teen’s own parents.

To learn more about this research, go to stickyfaith.org.  I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Give Yourself

giveyourself

Christmas can be a special day of reflecting on your faith, enjoying loved ones, and exchanging gifts. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, here’s a gift you can give to impact your entire family’s health.

Give yourself.

Your children and your spouse need quality time and quantity time from you, to fully thrive. And in the big picture, relational health is just as important as physical or emotional health. In fact, poor relationships can lead to depression, stress, and even addictions.

It may be Christmas, but giving yourself to others, investing in their lives, practicing good conflict resolution and forgiveness can be a gift you give starting today, and the positive results can last for the rest of your life.

You’ll be amazed at the impact you’ll see in your health, as well as the health of those you love the most.

If you would like to see other blogs by Dr. Walt on this topic, click here and then click on today’s story.

Sharing the Christmas Story with Your Kids

Well, Christmas day is finally here—and my kids can hardly believe it!

I pray that you will set aside some time to thank God for the incredible gift of his Son.

If you’ve never read the Christmas story to your kids, you can find it in the first two chapters of the book of Luke.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!   

And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in highest heaven,and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  

After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.

All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.

Merry Christmas, from all of us at Shine.FM!

Listen to today’s audio here.

SACKed Dec. 24, 2013

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