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Take steps to make it easier to exercise year-round.

If “get fit” is one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2014, you’re not alone. Losing weight and getting fit always rank near the top of the list of most popular resolutions for Americans. And for many people, getting fit means exercising more.

Getting and staying motivated to exercise, however, can be a challenge. Here are some things you can do to find and keep the motivation you need to exercise throughout the New Year.

Have Realistic Expectations

Don’t set a goal of having a toned body too quickly, or losing a lot of weight fast. Setting goals too high makes you more likely to stop exercising if you don’t see the immediate results you hoped for.

Choose the Right Environment

If exercising outside your home, look for a gym or club that's:

Exercise with Other People

Exercising with a friend or with a group of people makes it easier to stick with an exercise regimen. You can take large classes at a club or work with a trainer in smaller groups. You can get even more social support by posting your activities and progress on social media websites.

Consider a Personal Trainer

If you find it hard to motivate yourself, a personal trainer may be the answer. A trainer can:

  • Tailor exercise to fit your needs
  • Offer encouragement and praise as you strive for your goals
  • Serve as a good role model for someone just beginning to exercise regularly

At North Hills Hospital, we know the value of exercise for promoting good health. Whatever health concern you might have, we have the doctors, nurses, and staff who can help. If you need a physician referral, call us at 1-855-5NHILLS.

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How to Stay Fit in the Heat

 

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Stay active in winter months to combat the symptoms of arthritis.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area doesn’t see as much severe winter weather other parts of the country do, but temperatures still fall, which can impact arthritis sufferers. One study showed they experience more pain with each ten-degree drop in temperature, and fewer hours of daylight during the winter means many people spend less time exercising than they do other times of the year. A 2011 study confirmed this among arthritis sufferers in Chicago.

If you have either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, you probably already know that exercise is one way to ease the pain of your condition. Given that, here are some ways you can stay active during the winter months.

Exercise Outdoors

On warmer winter days, you can take part in a variety of outdoor activities that help reduce arthritis pain. These include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Cycling
  • Doing yard work
  • Playing golf

If you choose to exercise outdoors on cold or damp days, take precautions to keep your joints warm. Some things to do include:

  • Wearing loose layers of clothing
  • Putting on gloves or mittens
  • Using waterproof shoes or boots to keep feet warm and dry

Exercise Indoors

When winter weather is more severe, you can get your physical activity through a variety of exercises. Classes for some of them might be offered at community or recreational centers, while others you can do at home. Some of these include:

  • Practicing yoga, tai chi, or Pilates
  • Swimming or doing water aerobics
  • Using a treadmill or stationary bike
  • Working out with free weights or weight machines
  • Walking indoors at a mall

Stay Active Throughout the Day

Often you can get the physical activity you need as part of your daily routine. Some ways to do this include:

  • Doing household chores
  • In public buildings, using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or escalator
  • Doing simple exercises while watching TV
  • Dancing to your favorite music

At North Hills Hospital, we know how arthritis can make the simplest activities painful. Staying active year-round is one way to cope. But at times, joint replacement might be necessary. In those cases, our Joint Replacement Program is ready to help. You can reach its resource line at (817) 255-1691.

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Take steps today to keep diabetes at bay.

You can’t see it, but you’re surrounded by a growing health threat. About 79 million Americans—more than 25 percent of the population—have prediabetes. You, a friend, or a relative might be one of them. Prediabetes increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is linked to a variety of health problems.

November is American Diabetes Month, so it’s a good time to look at five things you can do to reduce your chances of developing prediabetes or diabetes.

Know the Risks

Certain factors make it more likely that you might become diabetic. These include:

  • A family history of diabetes
  • Ethnic and racial background
  • Being over 45 years old
  • High levels of bad cholesterol and/or low levels of good cholesterol
  • For women, experiencing diabetes during a pregnancy (gestational diabetes)

Control Your Weight

You should learn your body mass index (BMI) and see if your weight is appropriate for your age and height. You can find a BMI calculator here, and this chart indicates what weight might put you at risk for diabetes. If you’re overweight, losing just seven percent of your current weight can reduce your risk.

Avoid Certain Foods

Foods linked to diabetes include:

  • Fried foods
  • Fatty and processed meats
  • Whole milk and whole-fat dairy products
  • Lard, shortening, and margarine
  • Crackers and desserts, such as cookies, cakes, and pies
  • Candy
  • Sugary soft drinks or beverages with sugar added
  • Canned foods that are high in salt

Eat More of Healthier Foods

Foods that promote health and lower the risk of diabetes include:

  • Olive, canola, and soybean oil
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocadoes
  • Some fish, such as herring and salmon
  • Whole grains
  • Beans and lentils
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli
  • Fruit

Exercise

To reduce the risk of diabetes, experts recommend that you do 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week. Exercises that you can try include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Strength training with weights or resistance bands

As you can see, preventing diabetes requires monitoring many parts of your health. At North Hills Hospital, we’re ready to help. If you have a health concern or need a physician referral, call 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Find out what habits can boost your health and lower your risk of disease.

Both genders can benefit from the same general health advice, but it's important to know the best ways to take care of certain aspects that are specific to women. Learn which habits to adopt in order to live a long, healthy life.

Eat a balanced diet
Dieting isn’t always about losing weight, although you should talk to your doctor about safe ways to get fit if you are currently overweight. To focus on health, you need to focus on a diet that offers you balanced nutrition, reasonable portions and meets your dietary needs. Learn how to read nutrition labels.

Get your annual exams and screenings
Check in with your healthcare provider every year for a basic exam, including a pap smear. These crucial screenings are an excellent way to stay on top of your health. Use this appointment as an opportunity to bring up any concerns you might have.

Even if you’re not at the age that doctors begin recommending mammograms and colonoscopies, you can still get screened for cancer. Talk to your dermatologist or general practitioner about screening for signs of skin cancer. Perform self-exams on your breasts.

Prioritize sleep
There are many proven health benefits when it comes to getting enough rest. Make it a priority in your life to get enough sleep at night. This means talking to your doctor if you’re experiencing chronic sleep issues.

Seek mental health care
If you’re frequently stressed, depressed or anxious, don’t hesitate to seek help. Talk to your doctor about finding the right kind of therapist or counselor to get support from. Open up to friends and practice self-care. Sometimes this means saying no to obligations.

Stay active
It’s crucial to stay active as you age. It’s recommended that adults get about 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, so find ways to get moving that don’t feel like work. It may take some experimenting to figure out what kinds of physical activity are right for you.

Take control of your health with North Hills Hospital and schedule your yearly exams. Call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral to get started today.

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Learn how to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

According to the National Cancer Center, over 230,000 women will develop breast cancer. An estimated nearly 40,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2013. In the face of these sobering statistics, discover the top three ways you can lower your risk of breast cancer.

1. Screen for breast cancer regularly
While this won’t prevent you from developing cancer, it can help you catch cancer while it is still in a more treatable state. Perform a self-exam on your breasts regularly. If you’re not sure if you’re doing it right, ask your doctor to guide you through an exam during your next well visit. Talk to your doctor about when you should start getting mammograms in addition to having a clinical breast exam during annual visits. If your genetic risk is high or you’ve had breast cancer before, your doctor may also want you to have an MRI to screen for breast cancer.

2. Limit your risk factors
While many risk factors of breast cancer are unavoidable, such as race, age and family history, there are factors you can control. According to WomensHealth.gov, the more alcohol a woman drinks, the greater her risk of breast cancer. Limit alcohol use. If you’re of childbearing age, consider breastfeeding. This can lower your risk.

3. Keep your body healthy
Obesity and limited physical activity can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. Exercise regularly and talk to your doctor about healthy ways to lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Focus on ways to lose weight that are gradual and sustainable. Consider working with your friends to establish fun ways to work out that you’re more likely to stick with throughout your life.

You have the power to take control of your health. Learn more about breast cancer from North Hills Hospital's online health library. If you would like to find a doctor to speak with about your risk factors, please call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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This post is part of our series meant to encourage women in various stages of their lives and to remind each other that as women, we’re all in this together. I hope this series will provide you with new ideas, or at least the reassurance that not everybody’s home looks like those pictures on Pinterest

Meet Meredith– wife, part-time employee, and mom to two beautiful little girls. (You can also check out Meredith’s blog, where she documents daily life with her sweet family.)

 

Meredith, tell us a little about your family.

I have been married to my college sweetheart, Walt, for six-and-a-half years.  I stay at home part-time with our two beautiful girls, Eloise Betty, two-and-a-half, and Emerson Caskey, one-and-a-half.  We also have a sweet little yorkie named Gracie Mae, who is almost seven.
 
As a mom, how do you find balance? 

Goodness, I think I struggled with this a lot once my second child came, seeing that my girls are only 14 months apart.  My husband travels a lot for his job, and we live no where close to family.  I love being a mom, and it definitely is the missing piece to our family link; however, I knew that I still needed to be able to live out my passion, which is teaching.  So, I found balance in staying home 2 1/2 days a week, and working 2 1/2 days a week. I feel I have the best of both worlds now…I have an identity as Eloise and Emerson’s mom, but I also have my own identity as a teacher, friend, and colleague in my work environment.  


 
What steps do you take to maintain your own health?

I try to be as active as I possibly can.  I make sure that I walk or run every day when I am home with my girls.  If it is too cold or rainy outside, then we turn on music and have a dance party.  I participate in afterschool workouts with other teachers on the days that I work.  I also make sure that I eat dinner when my girls do. This means eating early, but it has really helped out  because I am not eating late at night, and this has made a huge difference. 
 

Are your kids picky eaters?

My oldest, Eloise, is a picky eater.  I have had to be pretty creative with this little girl.  I’ve made “pictures” out of food, I have her “help” me cook, I’ve done cheers for her when she tries something new, and I have pureed vegetables and put them in sauces, batters, or breadcrumb mixtures.  Thankfully now, she watches me eat dinner and she wants to try what I am trying. If you have a picky eater, as hard as it is, don’t get worked up if they don’t want to eat something, and always have something healthy on their plate that you know they will eat. 
 
How do you create healthy eating habits for your children?

My girls watch what I eat, and I try to eat healthy, so I think this plays a big role in their eating habits. 
 
What tips do you have for managing your time in the midst of so many responsibilities?

I have a routine. My children have been on this routine since the day they came home from the hospital, and yes, there are days when the routine is messed up, but tomorrow is always a new day.  I have a life planner that I use to plan out my daily activities and keep appointments together, and a food calendar so that I know exactly what we are eating every day of the week. My children go down every night at the same time unless we have a prior engagement or we are out of town visiting family.  I have to do this so I can have time at the end of the day with my husband.  I also have certain days of the week where I clean my house.  Routine, schedule, routine, schedule.

How has being a mom made you view sleep/rest differently?

You know, at first, it was difficult. It really was, but I had to tell myself that every day will get easier and better, and it did.  Now, since I have my girls on a schedule, they sleep 12-13 hours a night. So, I can’t really complain about lack of sleep anymore.  But, there are some days where I am just beat. Maybe we did certain experiments or activities that really just wore me down, or I’ve been trying to clean a house and take care of 2 girls…so when they nap, I nap. I don’t feel guilty about that one bit. If my body is telling me, “Hey, I need to lie down for a bit,” I’ve learned I better do it, or else I will end up worn down and sick.

  
 
What mistakes did you make that you wish you could go back and fix?

Probably not to worry so much at the beginning.  I was so worried about when my girls were going to start sleeping through the night, or when was the right time for them to give up their pacifiers. One day I was at work and I realized, none of these kids have pacifiers, they all sleep through the night, these things will come.  I was not living in the moment the way I should’ve been.


What does a balanced life for you look like?

A balanced life for me is one where I hear laughter coming from the playroom, a husband who is happy and has a full tummy and the laundry has been folded and put away. 
 
What advice do you have for fellow women? 

Make sure you always do something for yourself…you always deserve it!

We know. It's hard to get motivated to set aside time for the gym or a daily walk. Do you need some great reasons why you should renew your commitment to exercise? How about these: the days are longer so there is more time to work out, your health is worth it, and it is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! Did that convince you? If so, here are some easy ways you can get fitness back into your life.

1. Be realistic.
Sometimes the hardest part about getting fit is simply starting a routine. It is important that you are realistic about your physical activity. Don't try and start something you won't stick with. Remember, any physical activity is better than none at all. Try adding a 15-minute walk to your lunch break or to your evening after work. If you maintain this and start feeling the benefits, then you will consider adding more.

2. Do a little more.
If you already go for a walk once or twice a week, try upping it to three or four times a week. Or try a new route that is a little longer. Again, keep your fitness routine realistic, but try to increase the length or regularity of your routine when possible.

3. Make it fun.
We so often dread our exercise routines. So, we recommend that you do anything you can to make it fun. Workout with a friend, put together a playlist of your favorite songs, try a Zumba class or workout in a scenic park. Get creative!

4. Change it up.
Don't just work out the same way every time. You are bound to get bored and then be less inclined to stick with it. Try yoga one week and strength training another. Try a spin class for a while and then try biking with a friend along a local waterfront on a regular basis. Variety will keep you motivated!

5. Make it a priority.
No matter how you slice it, you need to make time for fitness. With family commitments and busy careers, this isn't an easy task. It is up to you to find the time and make your health a priority. If you can make time for a chat on the phone or a game of Words with Friends, then you can carve out 20 minutes of your day for fitness. Try it! You have nothing to lose but everything to gain.

North Hills Hospital is committed to helping our patients maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight. Are you looking for more information about weight loss and bariatric surgery? Please visit us online or call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

Do you want to take control of your health, but are unsure about how to really do that? We asked Dr. Jonathan Snead, OB/GYN, about the basics of living a healthy lifestyle, and he offered some advice that everyone can benefit from.

First and foremost, he suggests that you look at your habits and ditch the unhealthy ones. For instance, stop smoking, no matter what it takes. Even a cigarette or two is bad for you. In addition, resist the urge to overeat and overdo the alcohol.

Another important component is getting enough exercise, but as Dr. Snead notes, “The hardest part of exercise is committing to a routine. Push past the first two weeks; it will get better!  dr.sneadExercise improves cardiovascular health and helps you lose weight, which lowers your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.” He suggests that you exercise 5–6 times each week for at least 30–45 minutes. Switching between cardio and weight training is a good mix, working your heart and building strength.

As for your diet, be on the alert when you eat out. Don’t hesitate to ask how many calories are in the foods or how the meals are prepared. “Portion sizes are out of control at restaurants,” Dr. Snead warns. “You will be amazed at the amount of calories in the choices you think might be ‘healthy.’ ”  He suggests staying away from fried foods such as fries and onion rings, sugary foods such as doughnuts and soda, and fatty meats. Watch the salad dressing, too, since some versions can add hundreds of calories to your healthy greens. Instead, stick with super-fruits such as avocados and blueberries, lean chicken and fish, raw or steamed vegetables, and whole grains. Another nutritious diet staple? Try unsweetened almond milk, which contains up to twice the calcium of regular milk.

Even if you exercise and eat right, your health can be compromised if you’re not getting enough sleep. Though requirements vary from person to person, most experts suggest 7­–9 hours of sleep a night. If you get less than 4–5 hours or more than 11–12 hours of sleep, you may increase your chances of accidents and illness. Lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain, mood swings, cravings for carbs, and heart disease. If you have insomnia, make sure you practice good bedtime habits: make your bedroom a calm and inviting place, and avoid watching TV in bed.

Finally, Dr. Snead suggests that there is a spiritual component to good health. “There are multiple studies that demonstrate prayer (or meditation) may improve people’s health,” he says. So look within yourself to create your healthiest life.

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It’s about to start. Thanksgiving is just a few days away, so the holiday season will soon be officially upon us. Although this can be a fun time of year, it can also be stressful. You may feel like you have a million things to do—and not enough time to do all of Stock Photo them.

Before you get caught up in the holiday madness, take some time to devise a game plan. These next few weeks don’t have to wreak havoc on your health, so consider these suggestions:

· Be Creative. If you’re planning the holiday menu, offer a variety of heart-healthy foods. Lean turkey is great, as are roasted vegetables. Flavor dishes with onions, celery, and spices instead of high-sodium broth. Steer clear of creamy casseroles and cheesy sauces. For dessert, be sure to make fresh fruit an option.

· Think Ahead. Before you attend a get-together, treat yourself to a low-calorie, high-protein snack (try peanut butter on apple slices). This will prevent you from being quite so hungry when the hors d’oeuvres are served.

· Watch Your Portions. At holiday dinners and parties, you’ll be surrounded by an array of high-calorie and high-fat foods. You should try to focus on fruits, veggies, and lean protein, but that can be tough. If you just have to indulge in the stuffing and gravy, make it a spoonful or two. And no seconds!

· Go Easy on the Booze. This time of year, nearly every host will be handing you a glass of wine or eggnog. You may want to take part, but don’t overdo it. Most doctors recommend no more than one drink a day for women, two for men. Remember that drinking alcohol may encourage you to eat more—and it can lead to a much-regretted hangover the next day. Who has time for that?

· Be a People Person. No matter how elaborate the buffet table is, remind yourself that eating does not have to be the main attraction of every party. Instead, spend time catching up with friends or playing a game with the kids.

· Stick to Your Routine. When you’re busy, does exercise take a backseat? Don’t let it. Do everything you can to carve out your 30 minutes of exercise each day. Remember that breaking a sweat will help you manage stress—and it will burn off that sliver of apple pie you couldn’t do without.

· Write It Down. Between shopping and entertaining, you may feel overwhelmed. One way to combat the craziness is to make a list. Keep a running tab of all the things you need to accomplish and check them off as you go. It’s a simple idea, but it will help you stay more organized.

· Put Your Feet Up. Do you feel obligated to say yes to everyone? Try not to. Consider all the causes and events you’re invited to, and attend only the ones that really matter to you. Take a night off just to read a good book or watch a movie with your family.

To learn more about good nutrition year-round, contact North Hills Hospital. Serving North Richland Hills and surrounding Northeast Tarrant County, we’re here to answer all your questions.

Sources:

EatingWell

American Heart Association

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