Thursday, January 31, 2013

Obesity: It ain't so

You know the old saw about losing weight I love the most--just eat 500 cals a day less than you need and you will lose a pound a week. 3500 cals "equals" a pound. You know that one.

Everyone who has ever been on a "diet," knows you may 3-4 lbs the first week (water weight, people sniff), then nothing, then maybe a pound, then plateau. Etc. It's not like it's one to one--eat one less hamburger, yipes there goes a pound.

Now an international team of researchers headed by a guy at the University of Birmingham has looked at seven "myths" about weight loss.

1. Small, sustained changes in calories or how we burn them will accumulate to big losses over time. Truth: This does not continue to happen--as you get smaller, the small changes work less well.

2. Setting realistic goals of how much to lose is better. Truth: Ambitious goals are more inspiring.

3. Quick weight loss is more likely to be regained. Truth: After several years, people who had quick loss are more likely to weigh less.

4. Patients need to be "ready" to lose..and docs should see if they are. Truth: Readiness neither predicts loss or makes it happen.

5. PE in schools is important in preventing childhood obesity. Truth: No evidence of this.There is evidence that exercise and activity programs in the family work

6. Breastfeeding protects against obesity. better.Truth: No evidence.

7. One episode of sex burns 300 cals per person. Truth: Sorry--1/20th of that--about as much as sitting on the couch. Not that there are not other pluses--or uses for that couch.

There are more, too. Skipping breakfast does not make you fat. Eating fewer calories does reduce weight. Exercise can contribute--but it has to be "non-trivial." That means intense.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why people go to the doctor

Man, these health plans--at least some of the Medicare ones--want you to go to the doctor. Mine even has a zero copay now.

I like to go when I am sick. But they call me and ask do I know what day it is. No? Go to the doctor! Luckily I knew the day.

Anyhow, I do what I want (but you know that). The only time I need to be forced into it is when I need my BP med renewed. Then they get me.

Mayo Clinic studied this--what motivates people to go? The big three reasons are skin problems, joint disorders, and back pain. After that--people of all ages go because of cholesterol, respiratory problems (incl asthma), anxiety/depression/bipolar, chronic neurological disorders, and high BP. After that come headaches and diabetes.

But skin problems were king.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hospitals no place for sick old people

Liz Szabo, USA TODAY, says nearly one in five Medicare patients leaves the hospital and then has to come back within a month--most with a new problem caused by the earlier hospitalization.

Say the hospitalization was for pneumonia--the lack of sleep for blood draws and vital signs may so weaken the person, they fall when they get home and break somehing.

Patients come to the hospital with one thing, leave with another, one doc said.

Even people who have good mental health can become psychotic in the hospital. One patient said she thought the ICU nurses were trying to kill her.

I always feel sort of scared and tentative when I leave the hospital--what if I need help?

I also remember being admitted to the hospital one time and saying, "I am glad to be out of the ER because everyone there seemed to have the flu." The nurse laughed and said, "What do you think everyone up here has?"

Monday, January 28, 2013

Five foods to make you zippier

Docs at the University of Birmngham (AL) say you can make a difference in your health and energy just by adding five foods to your rotation.

Before you flip out, read what these are.

First, bulgur. This is whole wheat--and a substitute for rice or taters. Eight grams of fiber and six grams of protein (a lot) per cup and only 150 cals. Check the rice and bean aisle.

Chick peas are good--garbanzo beans. What a great word--garbanzo! These have 13 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein. Throw them in salads.

Kale. Ah, yes, kale--a robust green full of vits, including Vitamin K, so watch it if you are on a blood thinner.

Spaghetti squash is the fourth one. The innards separate into strands like spaghetti. But is has a lot fewer carbs.

And last--sunflower seeds. Cheaper than other nuts and full of vitamins. These are caloric, so go a little easy.

I don't eat any of these. OK, OK--don't nag.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Caring for the flu bitten

If someone in your family gets this terrible flu thing, you may have to take care of them.

First, designate one person--keep the rest of the family away.

Be sure the sick person stays home and remains there until 24 hours after the fever lifts.

Set up one sick room. If more than one person is sick--they can be in the same room.

Have the sick people use one bathroom.

Get tissues, line a wastebasket with a bag that lifts out. Get an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Put drinks in an ice cooler in the room to cut down on trips. You may want a humidifier to make it easier to breathe.

If the sick person leaves the room, he or she should wear a mask.

My sister and mother once--many moons ago--had the Hong Kong flu. I was the caregiver. My advice: Don't give them a bell to ring to summon you. Once they feel a little better, they can ring it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Slippery when wet

Mayo Clinic has some tips on bathing newborns.

First, they point out, the little guys are vulnerable and slippery--and I might add, based on my own child, may not love the water at first.

They need time to adapt--and for their skin to get used to air. Daily baths are not recommended for newborn babies. In between, you can gently wipe face and skin with a warm washcloth.

When you do dunk the whole baby--put it all the way in the water except for head and neck--this keeps them warm. Be sure water is below 120 degrees. We used to test with an elbow--why not?

Often babies will sort of go wide-eyed when the water hits. This is funny!

Usually plain water is fine--if you must use a product, find one with neutral pH.

Diapers should not be left on more than four hours after being soiled. Clean the area with tap water. If you must use a wipe--find one without alcohol or lanolin. If a diaper rash develops--use Zinc ointment. This forms a barrier between the acidy stuff and the skin. If the rash worsens, ask the doctor.

I would add--always smile and talk to the baby while bathing. Make it fun and pleasant. For both of you.

PS You know all the stuff you get at a baby shower--one thing I really used was the bath towel with the hood in the corner waiting for a wet little head.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Moooom, my food is touching

Picky eaters. Some kids. I have heard of tots who will only eat...well, tots of the tater variety. Or only nuggets.

My own child loved artichokes but after an unfortunate experience with bad Chinese, will to this day not eat--or even say the word--rice. She calls it the R-thing.

For some reason, she also will not touch a pea.

So how do you get some variety into your kid's diet?

First--co-opt them. People approve of what they helped to create. Take them shopping, get them going measuring and mixing.

Don't give too many choices of food--maybe two.

No TV at the table. Also no negative subjects--such as discipline. You don't want dining to be stressful.

Share positive memories of food--remember Grandma's German chocolate cake?

Go heavy on the finger foods--mini-pancakes, tiny carrots (with dip).

Offer a food 10 times over six mos--if the answer is "the face," then drop it for six months.

Artichokes, anyone?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The kind of angels bringing health

That group from the commercials, Visiting Angels, has created a "Fight the Flu Kit" for sick oldsters.

Apparently, this flu is attacking older people like mad--and killing them.

The group also will come into the home and flu-proof it--sanitizing, taking the residents to the doctor, and running errands so people with low immunity don't have to go out among coughing crowds.

You could probably assemble your own kit:

Paper towels--better to use in the bathroom than cloth.

A thermometer--over 102, could be the flu!

Vitamin C or orange juice in a box--ups immunity.

Pens--using a public pen in a bank or someplace can transfer germs.

Lysol spray for door knobs and light switches.

Hand sanitizer wipes--Baby wipes don't have the virus killing power.

Places to avoid: Public restrooms, the mall, grocery store, restaurants, and of course--surprise--the Library!

Who wipes off a book?

Visiting Angels was created in 1991 to help seniors on their homes. Check out

Friday, January 18, 2013

HGH--worth the risks?

Ken Alltucker writes about the so-called miracle stuff--human growth hormone--in the Arizona Republic, Jan 19, 2013.

First come all the raves--I feel 20 again! I lost weight! Yay!

You probably know someone on the HGH diet--well, the food plan is 500 cals a day--so that could account for weight loss.

Most people want more sex...supposedly this restores libido.

Supposedly Baby Boomers want to maintain sharp focus, bike ride a lot, run, and get a lot of loving.

Even the drug companies are into it with their dopey "low T" thing. T is for testosterone, in case your focus is not sharp.

Of course, there is a downside. Most people getting hormones don't "need" them. Some slowing down is normal aging.

Testosterone can worsen sleep apnea, red blood-cell counts can surge, risk of stroke may increase.

Increased risk of prostate cancer can be a risk.

Comprehensive treatment can also cost $4,000 a year. Usually the blood tests--and there are a lot--will be reimbursed eventually. Some post-menopausal women also wear estrogen patches or get bio-identical hormones.

So, my advice would be to go slow. Remember the commercial--"It's not NICE to fool Mother Nature."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vaseline--I love you

They say never to put petroleum products on your face. So, naturally, I do.

Now comes a doc who actually recommends Vaseline for winter-skin care.

 I don't know about you, but my skin is kissing my body good-bye this winter--and it never goes below 50 degrees out here in the Sonoran Desert.

A doc at the Montefiore Medical Center in NY says bacteria love to colonize skin cracks--and get into your body as a whole. This is a big no-no.

Shower once a day for less than 10 mins--and don't turn on the heat full force. No harsh scrubs. Don't leave kids in the tub to steep for a long time either. They can get crud in winter even if they don't have skin problems.

When your skin is wet, slap on some Vaseline, then towel dry. The water then goes back in your skin. This will not be too greasy--try it!

 Also, try for more B vitamins..turkey, tuna, whole grains, lentils and bananas. Beer or alcohol depletes the B's and can make skin worse. Also--more vitamin C--citrus.

And even though it's cold--don't forget the sunscreen, SPF 30 and UVA protection.

Also--I rarely do this--but have you tried a thick cream called Working Hands? It's inexpensive and works to close those icky cracks.

Working Hands and the big V--Vaseline. That's the best skinny.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How long should a cough last?

If you said a week--wrong!

Acute bronchitis can last 18 days or more.

Thing is, coughs are horrible--they interrupt your sleep, bother everyone, and can make you wet your pants--so people demand treatment.

A cough from a cold is a virus--antibiotics won't cut it. Yet, some people treat clinics and doctors as Z-Pac clinics--demanding the few-day Zithromax treatment.

Too often doctors pass out the Z-Pacs to get rid of people.

Well, that lets some organisms build up resistance to antibiotics--and you know what that means. When you are sick with a bacteria-based illness, the meds may not work.

Some doctors put up posters discouraging antibiotics for coughs. I am saving you a trip to see that poster. You need to tough it out.

Hot tea, maybe cough medicine or drops--but not antibiotics. Or at least ask the doctor.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nuu muu?

This is billed as athletic wear--so it must have undies under...not sure. But it is sort of retro flexible dressing with a mid-century flair.

As any sentient person in the Western World knows, I love my mid-century!

It is also American-made. I love my America, as least as it used to be.

So check it out.

Is this as comfy as a muu-muu? Well, be real.

And we do have jeans made of sweatpants now, so the standard has been relaxed considerably.

You know what this reminds me of--I saw that HBO show "Girls" on a free HBO weekend--that left-wing girl Dunham wears the ugliest clothes--sort of like this.

So it may be in style!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Still time to get the flu shot

I don’t see the tables with nurses at the grocery store, but we asked the pharmacist and after 20 minutes of calling and paperwork—the pharmacist gave us the vaccine. So ask.

Everyone is getting sick—even the vaccine is only 62% effective. Worth a try, though, if you see how sick people are.

The flu comes on fast—not like a cold. You wake up with a dry cough, no phlegm, fever, chills, aches.


Now they also say that Tamiflu stuff—prescription—is not the big woo they once said.

Fingers crossed—my readers and I, don’t forget me, will be passed by.

By the way, it takes two weeks for the shot to cut in.

Oh--and the flu can kill people. Many have succumbed.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bedtime yoga

Ashley Miller,, says some light yoga before bed can help you sleep.

They rounded up some insomniacs and tried some poses. Some can even be done in bed--such as the legs up the wall pose, the goddess stretch and the child pose.

Breath control is also the centerpiece of yoga--and can be done when thoughts begin to overwhelm.  Lie quietly, breathe in and out, let thoughts and worries pass by like fish in an aquarium, keep inhalations and exhalations the same length, then gradually exhale a few seconds longer, then longer, until exhalations are twice as long as inhalations.

I often count my breaths--and either stop because I am bored or...wait...I am asleep!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The older we get, the better we feel? Hmmm

According to researchers at the University of California San Diego, the fastest growing segment of us oldies are the over-80s.

They looked at 1000 older adults (redundant?) with a 25-min phoner and an questionnaire.

In addition to rates of disease and disability, they looked at how the people thought they felt.

They decided the "most relevant" findings came from the latter.

Lack of resilience and depression have a significant being. Well...not to be rude...but duh.

Those with higher education and cognitive function seemed to be more optimistic.

They were asked to what extent they "successfully aged." and concluded that those with physical problems and no depression ranked up there with physically healthy people with depression.

Good grief (love that phrase), what am I talking about? They also concluded that those who work with the aging, take an optimistic approach.

Well, I am not thrilled with aching knees and walking like the Tin Man. I often have no resilience. I laugh, I cry. But everyday you get up alive is at least a little OK.

Successful aging--not even sure what that means. Being all perky? Bah!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Six miles--whoa babies

Ever think of walking a 10K? That's 6.21 miles to the non-metrically inclined.

Julia Williams wrote about how to train in

First, you need to walk. Start with four days a week, 40 mins a day.

After three weeks, add five minutes a day.

Do some cross-training. This means two days a week you bike, swim or do Pilates for 30 minutes.

Walk slowly at beginning and end of each session. stretch--face a wall, one leg bent and gently stretch the other behind.

Choose good walking shows.

AND--do nothing one day a week. Your muscles need to regroup.

C'mon, that part is doable, right?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Baby needs a new pair of shoes

Ready to roll the dice on new athletic shoes? Nah--I am not athletic. But some people are.

Micehlle Talsma Everson wrote about this in the Arizona Republic, Jan 2, 2013. She quoted a trainer saying there are three things never to skimp on--mattresses, vacations, and shoes.

Ninety percent of people wear the wrong size--one pedorthist said. Pedorthist?

Shoes provide four forms of support--motion control, stability, neutral, and cushioning.

This means you need to key the shoe to the activity. Flast-soled, hard rubber shoes are good for weight lifiting.

Trail/hiking shoes--outdoor activities involving well, hiking.

Running shoes are for running and walking--not side to side like other sports, say basketball.

Speciality shoes are needed for the latter and for soccer, golf, etc.

A shoe lasts a year or 400 miles.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Surprise--the govt wants all your money

Remember how Obamacare was supposed to cut waste, regularize things, help us? 

Not so fast, bunky!

This morning it was reported that premiums are going up double-digit.

High earners (over $250K for a couple) will pay more for Medicare.

High earners will also pay more on investment income.

Next fall, it gets REALLY serious. October 2013 will mean people will start shopping for insurance in the so-called exchanges--many companies will drop what they have and send people over there. You will have your own IRS agent. You will be on a first-name basis.

Flexible spending accts will be capped at $2500--starting now.

Medical devices will be slapped with a tax--you know, things like pacemakers you need to live.

Also on the chopping block--over time anyway--retiree drug or even all health benefits for retirees.

Good news--the doughnut hole closes a little.

Hand me a doughnut! And be quick about it!

Friday, January 04, 2013

This is not a resolution--it's barely a thought

I once had a doctor tell me to walk one hour a day--no gym, no diet. I could not think of a good reason why not, so I did--for years. I did not lose an ounce but I guess it did me no harm--EXCEPT I now have painful knees and don't want some medical jackpot to maybe (or maybe not) fix them.

 Sooo...I cannot walk to the mailbox, much less for an hour.  

But I keep reading that exercise is good for arthritis--which I assume I have. But doesn't arthritis come from repeat stress on joints?  

I am thinking of at least entering a gym and asking some trainer.  

Me, a gym.  

I get it free under my health plan. Silver Sneakers or some such chirpy name.   What do you think?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Those doctor rating sites

Millions read those doctor ratings like Healthgrades and Vital Signs--but the evaluations are based on maybe two or three patient experiences. This according to Loyola.

They looked at 500 randomly selected urologists--almost 80% were rated by at least one of the 10 free sites. Eighty-six percent had positive ratings, 36% HIGHLY positive.

Be cautious, the researchers said. This is very subjective.

They cited a comment that said--"He needs to retire, he can barely walk."

Another comment was--"Best checkup in a long time." Meaning...?

Is the patient qualified to comment in this way?

I have seen one that said--"Go after lunch, he takes his antidepressants at lunchtime."

Then, I thought--how does the patient know?

I would make so many, many comments..."The wait was so long they offered diabetic patients food."

Or: "He rushed me by making the basketball signal for 'traveling.'"

These things happened, but are they necessarily an indicator of quality?

I also check with the state medical board online--but they take complaints off after 5 yrs and lets doctors shed negatives if they come here from another state. So they are pretty meaningless.

Those magazine things--50 top doctors? The doctors nominate each other! How do THEY know?

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

How much electricity did YOU produce?

All that running--and what to show for it? The ECOFIT Networking System and Display revolutionizes (their word) the equipment in clubs and hotels, showing users what their exertions have produced on "green" message boards.

Users can compare their output in contests. Their scores go on social media.

Users also get personal data cards.

The electricity produced goes back on the grid for slugs to suck it up with their TVs.

Is this making you tired?

I guess it could be kinda fun if it's your thing.

Go to for more skinny.