June Timely Topics- Relaxation, Recreation, and Remembering

Where I live, the school year has ended and summer vacation has started, although summer will not officially arrive for a few more weeks, at least on this side of the equator. The swimming pool in my neighborhood is open, and the days are definitely longer and warmer.

two people dangling their legs into a pool.
Don’t let water related illness spoil your summer fun. photo from stock photo site- Lightstock.com- affiliate link

For June topics we’ll look at summer safety and wellness. We often call winter the cold and flu season, so we could call summer the poison ivy, sunburn, and blister season.

Here in the United States we have several important observances in June. One we share with Europe is June 6, known as D-Day. This was the day in 1944 when Allied troops invaded France to free the country of Nazi occupation and ultimately to end World War II. Every year since we honor the bravery of those who gave their lives that day for the cause of freedom.

We also honor freedom by remembering those who suffered in slavery for too long and the day their emancipation was finally achieved-Juneteenth.

We honor our flag on June 14th, calling it appropriately Flag Day. There is a famous story about our flag, and its connection to our national anthem; we’ll look at that story.

And let’s not forget the day we honor dads, Fathers Day, the 3rd Sunday in June. Many men “father” us in multiple ways, whether our biological father, or an uncle, brother, teacher, coach, or friend. We thank them and make them feel special this day.

a man reading to two young girls, sitting in a woman's lap
Thanks Dads for all you do for us.

Here are links to get you started enjoying the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.”

Don’t drink the water-how to avoid water related illness

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

5 insect repellents to keep you safe this summer

Words for Fathers’ Day

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer – Nat King Cole (LIVE)

Nat “King” Cole

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Winning on the water-a book review of Boys in the Boat

In Boys in the Boat the United States Olympic Rowing team of 1936 beat incredible odds to win the gold medal. But the meat of the book reviews in detail how each man came to be in that boat, especially Joe Rantz.

Why do we like books and movies about sports? Have you noticed how many sports stories there are? (This post offers multiple affiliate links to sites that offer a commission to this blog for purchases made there.)

Some sport stories are about fictional characters and situations-

  • Rocky
  • Field of Dreams
  • Bleachers
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Million Dollar Baby

But the ones that most catch our attention and our hearts are those about real people.

  • Seabiscuit
  • Chariots of Fire
  • A League of Their Own
  • The Blind Side

Rowing- athletes in a boat

Most of us know something about the big sports, like football, basketball, and baseball. We probably know less about horse racing, boxing, track, and ice skating. But rowing , rarely if ever on the sports pages or television broadcasts, isn’t one most of us know at all.


The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

In Boys in the Boat the United States Olympic Rowing team of 1936 beat incredible odds to win the gold medal. But the meat of the book reviews in detail how each man came to be in that boat, especially Joe Rantz. Based on interviews of him by the author, we learn Joe’s painful early family life, struggle to pay for college, and the grueling physical challenges of preparing for competitive rowing.

At that time the sport of rowing was dominated by the sons of wealthy families and the Ivy League colleges they attended. By contrast, the University of Washington athletes who made up the 1936 Olympic rowing team came from working class families and had to work their way through college. That they did so in the midst of a depression makes their achievement even more remarkable.

You may be surprised to learn how much the sport of rowing physically and mentally challenges the human body. To be competitive, the crew’s eight rowers must work synchronously as the leader, known as the coxswain, calls out commands to set a pace that is fast enough to win but sustainable for the length of the race.

Nazi Germany’s Olympic games

Interspersed in the boys’ stories, Daniel Brown outlines the events unfolding in Germany, as Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power. As part of their plan to dominate Europe and eventually the world, they plan to make the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin a showcase of German wealth, knowledge, power, and athletic ability. Specifically, Hitler hoped the German rowing team would beat England and Italy, the teams historically likely to win. The story of his reaction to an American team that not only challenged but upset the status quo completes a book worth reading.

My reaction to Boys in the Boat

From reading this book, I gained an appreciation for this sport that I previously knew nothing about. My husband and I listened to the audio book while on a 12 hour car trip and it kept us interested and entertained. We were inspired by a story where perseverance, courage, loyalty, and commitment were celebrated and rewarded.


This story proves history lessons aren’t dull, boring, or outdated, but can offer us information and inspiration to help us explore the HEART of health

the BOYS OF ’36 documentary

A PBS video documentary The BOYS OF ’36 is available on Amazon Video, free with Prime or available to rent.

Your comments welcome

If you read the book or watch the video, please contact me with your thoughts. I might use your comments in an update.

Thanks for visiting Watercress Words; I’d love for you to follow-use this form to get email alerts when I post something new. about the HEART of health.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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A 5 year love affair-with healthy eating

I still enjoy food.  Very much.  Maybe even more than before because now I appreciate my food as fuel to live a healthy and active and even beautiful (in the eyes of the beholder) life!  I still enjoy the tastes, even more so because I choose only the best.  My plate is colorful with roasted veggies and fresh fruits and salad greens.  I enjoy grilled lean chicken, steak and seafood.  My carbs are high fiber, full of flavor and texture.  I no longer long for the processed foods full of white flour, sugar and fat.

 

One of my all time most viewed posts is a story about my friend Pam and her weight loss journey using the Weight Watchers program.  After successfully reaching and maintaining her weight goal, she started coaching others who have been equally successful. Recently, she was honored for 5 years as a coach.

a smiling woman holding flowers
Pam’s clients showed appreciation for  her for 5 years of service.

 

 

Many of us would like to weight less than we do, but some people struggle with severe excess weight that threatens their health and keeps them from enjoying life as they would like. These are usually people whose BMI, body mass index, is 30 or more. For people with diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and osteoarthritis, even lower BMI can put them at excess disease risk.

Body mass index chart
A BMI of 30 or more represents obesity. BMI Chart created by Vertex42.com. Used with permission.

 

 

The United States Preventive Services Task Force, USPSTF,  recently reviewed weight loss methods and made a recommendation to physicians about how to help patients with weight.

The Task force encourages  doctors to refer patients for  “intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions” to successfully lose weight. 

What exactly does “intensive, multicomponent” mean? 

 

 

A Patient Page in JAMA explains it this way- Interventions that are

  • done in a group or individual setting, provided in person or virtually, and use print or online materials
  • occurs over 1 to 2 years and with 1 to 4 sessions per month
  • includes counseling about nutrition and exercise as well as education about how to self-monitor both of these components.
  • includes help to identify barriers to weight loss, and  help with problem solving related to challenges
  • support from other people who are also working on weight loss
  • education  focused not only on weight loss but also on weight maintenance after interventions are completed.

 

 

Here is a link to the page-

Behavioral Interventions for Weight Loss

 

 

a lady in bare feet standing on a scalefeet in sports shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t used Weight Watchers but from what I understand about it, this is the type of program they offer. I’m not necessarily promoting WW, as they are called now, but if you want to lose weight I suggest looking for a program that includes these features. It certainly has worked for Pam and those she coaches.

“If we want to be people’s partners in what healthy means to the, it has to be about more than just weight. It has to be a total approach to how they can live their healthiest, best lives.”

Mindy Grossman, CEO of WW, quote taken from TIME magazine, October 15, 2018

 

 

And here is my story about Pam and her break-up with junk food.

How I “broke up” with junk food

and fell in love with healthy eating.

Meet my friend Pam. My husband and I met Pam and her husband in a ballroom dance class. I was immediately captivated by her radiant smile and Southern charm. Since then I have learned more about her and watched an amazing transformation in her life.

Pam and I attending a wedding at the dance studio
Pam and I  at the dance studio

 

 

Pam graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Mississippi State University in 1980. With a major in Communications, she started her career as a writer and Account Executive for advertising and public relations agencies in Mississippi and in Oklahoma where she moved after marrying.  She was the Marketing Director for a large medical clinic for several years. Since 1995, she has enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom with involvement in PTA, church and community. In 2012, she was named Volunteer of the Year by her community public school system.

But despite such a charmed life, there was a struggle, one that Pam shares with many people. In this blog I have discussed the physical and emotional consequences of excess weightyou will be encouraged by Pam’s success story which she so generously shares with me and you.

“Breaking up is hard to do. ” By Pam Whitson

“I was happily married to the love of my life and should have been having the time of my life.   Sadly, my self-confidence and my happiness had been stolen, and I was the thief.

For over two decades, I robbed myself of peak energy, vitality, health and beauty by totally disregarding my intake of food.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I thought about what I should do.  I spent money on self-help tapes, gym memberships and weight loss programs from the practical to the extreme.  I whined and wished about it constantly.  And it didn’t help knowing that I was not alone; almost half of adults are overweight or obese.

And I had occasional moments of success.  Like the time I was within four pounds of leaving the “obese” category. (Obese is a BMI, body mass index, of 30 or higher)  After months of hard work, I ran to Glamour Shots for the mid-1990s version of a sequin and big hair make-over.  On the way home from my triumphant photo session, I stopped by my favorite barbecue place and started eating my way right back to where I was before.  I gained all the weight I had lost back and more.

I joked my way through feelings of depression, because  I had an unhealthy relationship with food.    I thought about it way too much.  I ran to it for instant gratification.  I was too in love with the tastes, the textures, the sheer delight of food.  Even now, I love to grocery shop.  One of my favorite places on the planet is the cereal aisle of the grocery store.

cereal boxes in a store
“One of my favorite places on the planet is the cereal aisle of the grocery store.”

 

 

Finally, at age 53, after twenty years of carrying way too much weight for my 5’7 ½” (1.7 meters) (yes, the half inch counts!) frame, I was ready for a change.  Really ready.  Change isn’t easy.  Change hurts.  I walked into Weight Watchers and pretended it was my first time ever.  I read everything.  I listened and participated.  I went to every meeting.  I hung around afterwards and pestered my leader for every little nugget of information I could cling to.

Pam before weight loss
Pam and her daughter

 

 

I rejoined Weight Watchers in July, 2012, with 20 pounds (9 kg) still off from a previous Weight Watcher effort. I lost 40 pounds (18 kg) in 4 1/2 months to be at goal before Thanksgiving! I learned to maintain this loss during the required six week maintenance period with Weight Watchers and became an official Lifetime Member before the year’s end of 2012. This meant a lot to me because my birthday is New Year’s Day. How wonderful to start the year at a healthy weight!

At Weight Watchers I learned I could change.  I could change what I put in my grocery basket.  I could change what I ordered in restaurants.  I could change how much I moved.

I could change my relationship with food for good.

I still enjoy food.  Very much.  Maybe even more than before because now I appreciate my food as fuel to live a healthy and active and even beautiful (in the eyes of the beholder) life!  I still enjoy the tastes, even more so because I choose only the best.  My plate is colorful with roasted veggies and fresh fruits and salad greens.  I enjoy grilled lean chicken, steak and seafood.  My carbs are high fiber, full of flavor and texture.  I no longer long for the processed foods full of white flour, sugar and fat.

By pairing healthy eating with increased physical activity, I changed my weight dropped from 226 lbs (102 kg) to 150 lbs (68 kg).  Now 70 pounds (31 kg) lighter and at a healthy BMI of 23, I feel so much happier and healthier.

But once I started eating better, even before I was near my goal weight, my self-esteem and confidence were instantly restored.  Just knowing that I had a plan gave me optimism and excitement.  I’ve been at goal for almost three years and I wouldn’t trade it for the world (or even a crisp cookie). And I now stay about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) below goal as a safety net.

Pam on a well deserved vacation
Pam on a well deserved vacation

 

 

In addition to my daily walks, I enjoy ballroom dancing, Jazzercise, swimming and an occasional bike ride.  I wear a Fitbit and accomplish 15,000 steps a day.

I’ve been a Weight Watcher leader for two and a half years and just LOVE it! I never imagined I would do this; you might as well as told me I would become an astronaut. While helping me stay at a healthy weight, I enjoy the privilege of making new friends and helping other people be their most confident and healthy selves.

Just for fun, I’ve started a Park Walking group that explores different parks in our city every two weeks. We took a summer break (Oklahoma gets real hot in the summer) but will be back on the trails in September. Along with my awesome Weight Watcher members, I’m enjoying a new healthy relationship with food for good. ”

Pam leading a Weight Watchers meeting
Pam is now a WW coach

 

 

Weight Watchers may not be the answer for everyone, but Pam’s idea of changing our relationship with food should be a part of any weight management plan.  Our eating habits affect our health in other ways, so even if you are not overweight, using food appropriately is important.

Physical activity  has health benefits beyond weight loss. I joined Pam’s walking group and find it a fun way to exercise and make new friends. (My favorite walking shoe is Go Walk by Skechers.)  In addition to social dancing with our husbands, Pam and I were in a ladies dance team. We performed a Western theme dance routine to the song “These Boots are Made for Walking” . That’s so appropriate for someone who walked her way from a BMI of 35 down to 25. If she can do it, so can you.

( This post contains affiliate product links; purchase through these links pays a commission to this blog; thank you)

 

Our son introduced my husband and I to Hello Fresh delivery meal kits and we’ve enjoyed the convenience, taste, variety, and quality. The meals feature lots of fresh vegetables with vegan  and “fit” choices. We think we are eating healthier and ever with less work. Here is a link through which you can get $40 off your first order.

HELLO FRESH OFFER 

 

Thanks for letting me introduce you to my friend Pam. We would love to hear your weight management stories. Please share in the comments or send me a message if you want it kept anonymous. Remember, support from others is an important step toward success.

Dr. Aletha 

 

How smoking and sun affect your skin’s look and feel

You can buy products to maintain youthful skin, restore youthfulness to aged skin, remove blemishes, lighten/brighten/darken skin, minimize or eliminate wrinkles, and tighten sagging or puffy skin. But as effective as these are, they work better on skin that is already healthy.

Skin health and beauty- big business

Browse social media or news sites online and you notice skin health and appearance is a priority for most people. Sales for skin care and appearance products and services is a multi-billion dollar industry. If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen posts from friends who are involved in direct selling companies for skin care, maybe you are also.

(By way of disclosure, I am a consultant for a direct selling company offering skincare products and makeup but won’t discuss any of those products in this post. However there will be other affiliate links through which this blog can earn a commission if you make a purchase through them.)

As a family physician, I treat skin problems frequently. Some of these are primary skin problems, but some are the result of lifestyle habits, other medical conditions, and even medical treatments. While some of these may be unavoidable, others are preventable.

This post will look at two avoidable risks to skin health and appearance-smoking and ultraviolet light. 

HOW SMOKING AND SUN AFFECT YOUR SKIN'S LOOK AND FEEL

Skin Deep- cells and layers

First let’s take a deeper look at our skin, it’s more complex than you may realize. It has two layers-

the top layer, the epidermis

the lower layer, the dermis

Layers of the Skin diagram

The layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis), as well as an inset with a close-up view of the types of cells in the skin (squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes). Source: National Cancer Institute Creator: Don Bliss (Illustrator) This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source and, where possible, the creator listed above.

Skin disease and trauma involve damage to one or both layers of the skin- the dermis or epidermis, or to the individual cells- squamous cells, basal cells, or the melanocytes-the cells with pigment that give our skin color.

Cancers can develop in any cell of the skin. Melanoma is cancer of the melanocytes.

(This photo is for illustration only and should not be used to diagnose a skin lesion. See a physician if you have a skin lesion that concerns you. )

photo of melanoma skin cancer

a melanoma skin lesion-Source: National Cancer Institute Creator: Unknown Photographer- This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source

Smoking

I’ve previously discussed 7 reasons to be smoke free. One of those is skin health.

By decreasing circulation, smoking robs skin of nourishment and oxygen; this weakens skin , making it susceptible to infection, cancer, and aging.

Skin experts wrote in the Journal of Dermatological Science

“Smoking is associated with many dermatological (skin) conditions, including

  • poor wound healing,
  • premature skin aging,
  • squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma,(cancers)
  • acne,
  • psoriasis, and
  • hair loss

Tobacco’s effect on  skin appearance include

  • Facial wrinkles and furrows (eg, crows’ feet at corners of the eyes,  smoker’s lines around lips)
  • Baggy eyelids and slack jawline
  • Uneven skin coloring: grayish, yellow with prominent blood vessels (telangiectasia)
  • Dry, coarse skin.

Long term, the skin of a 40-year-old heavy smoker will resemble that of non-smoking 70-year-old. !

Other potential hazards from tobacco use include

  • increased risk for bacterial, yeast, and viral skin infections
  • impaired circulation increasing the risk of frostbite, Raynaud’s syndrome, and blood clots (thrombosis)
  • thrush and gingivitis

DermNet NZ offers this gallery of photos illustrating these ways tobacco use can damage our skin.       ALERT: These photos are graphic.

No Smoking sign with pumpkins

Ask your doctor about safe and effective ways to help you stop smoking.

Ultraviolet light

Basking in sunlight may enhance our mood, but too much of it can damage our skin.

The signs of photo-aging are obvious to physicians-

  • yellowing or sallowing of the skin complexion
  • dry and rough texture with wrinkling,
  • unevenly pigmented skin tone with dilated blood vessels.
  • stretched out
  • easy bruising

Visit this link from the Canadian Dermatology Association to see what photoaged skin looks like

Photoaging

Photoaging is premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV), primarily from the sun but also from artificial UV sources, such as tanning beds. Besides aging, excess sun exposure can cause

  • Burns
  • Rash due to increased sun sensitivity when taking certain medications
  • Cancers- skin cancers are the most common type of cancer.

How to limit UV light exposure 

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher
  • Wear hats, sunglasses, sun protective clothing
  • Avoid sun exposure, especially from 10 am to 4 pm
  • No tanning bed use.

Learn more about the effects of sun exposure from familydoctor.org at this link.

What sun exposure does to our skin.

In future posts, I’ll talk more about what hurts our skin, and what helps our skin.

As always, I appreciate your time and interest in exploring and sharing the HEART of health with me. And I would especially appreciate if you will share this post wherever you hang out.

Thanks!

Dr. Aletha

a cute monkey checks out his face in a mirrow

We all care about our appearance, including this cute monkey. Photo by Andre Mouton on Pexels.com

How to stop motion sickness and enjoy a cruise to Alaska

Fear of motion sickness causes people to forgo activities like airplane travel, boating, amusement park rides, and car trips. But sometimes these activities are unavoidable or people just want to enjoy them.

I read all comments on my posts, like this one in response to

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

Rhonda Gales (@RhondaGales) blogger at Mother 2 Mother 

Your photos are great! I want to do a cruise to Alaska next year, but I’m a little leery. The last cruise that I took, I was sea sick the entire cruise. Any advice on how to avoid it this time, and thanks for sharing on Sunday’s Best.

Dr. Aletha

Thanks Rhonda we’ve also cruised to Alaska, it was beautiful. You might look for a facility offering desensitization training for motion sickness. Otherwise drugs work but can cause unpleasant side effects. Talk to your doctor.

Rhonda

Thanks for your advice. Would love to see pictures of your Alaska Cruise. This post was quite popular with my readers.

white and yellow roller coaster
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

 

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness is the unpleasant sensation of motion, either with or without motion actually occurring. Those of us prone to it wonder why some people seek out experiences  like roller coasters.  Symptoms include

  • sweating
  • nausea with or without vomiting
  • dizziness
  • imbalance
  • general unwell feeling

Fear of motion sickness causes people to forgo activities like airplane travel, boating, amusement park rides, and car trips. But sometimes these activities are unavoidable or people just want to enjoy them.

Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage

How to stop motion sickness and enjoy a cruise to Alaska-watercresswords.com

 

 

Preventing motion sickness

If you don’t want to completely forgo activities that might cause motion sickness, manipulating the situation to minimize or change the motion can help.

Sitting toward the front of a vehicle and facing forward will help.

  • Airplanes- sit over the wings
  • Boat- sit level with the water facing the waves
  • Bus/Van/Car- nearest the front
  • Train- lowest level

Use your eyes

  • Don’t read
  • Focus on the horizon if possible.
  • Keep eyes closed (especially if not able to see the horizon) and/or wear sunglasses.

Maintain general wellness

  • Be rested, sleep if possible
  • Stay hydrated, eat lightly
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Keep the environment  well ventilated, avoid strong smells
  • Listen to soothing music
a seaplane with a cruise ship in the background
No roads lead into Juneau, the capital of Alaska , so people there depend on boats and airplanes.

 

Using medications for motion sickness

One option is to use medication, either for prevention or to treat the symptoms once they occur (not as effective.)

Prevention- using the patch

There are herbal patches  but this one is  prescription only, and most likely to be effective.

Transdermal Scopolamine patch (Transderm-Scop)

  1. Apply behind one ear at least 4 hours before travel
  2. Replace patch every 72 hours
man and woman standing next to a helicopter on a glacier
When our cruise ship stopped at Juneau, we took a helicopter ride over a glacier-and then landed on it.

Other prescription medication

Promethazine (Phenergan) for nausea and vomiting

woman walking over icy terrain near a mountain
exploring the surface of a glacier

 

Available OTC- over the counter

(These affiliate links are for information only and are not a recommendation to use unless advised by your personal physician.)

a village by the shore flanked by mountains, Alaska
Sailing through Alaska’s Inside Passage, we were never far from breathtaking scenery.

 

 

 

 

 

Habituation and Desensitization

The more I travel , the less likely I am to suffer motion sickness without using drugs.  I use the tips above- I don’t read in the car, I sit in the front of a bus. If an airplane encounters turbulence, I lean back, close my eyes, and direct the cool air toward me. I have gradually become habituated to motion, although I still do not ride roller coasters.

There are programs available to desensitize people to motion; the military uses these since pilots and sailors will constantly be exposed to motion and must be able to function.

A former NASA flight surgeon  and fighter pilot developed such a method, naming  it after himself. Dr. Sam Puma developed the Puma Method. 

“The PUMA METHOD consists of a series of simple yet very effective warm-up and conditioning exercises.

These exercises raise your tolerance level to a variety of motion sickness producing activities such as reading in a moving vehicle, riding in a small boat or cruise ship, or flying in an airplane. This process is called habituation.

The exercises use your body’s own habituation mechanism to prevent motion sickness. You don’t need any drugs, so there are no negative side effects.”

(quote from the website)

(This is an affiliate link to  the product. Otherwise, I have no personal, professional, or financial connection to Dr. Puma or the Puma Method.)

a street in Ketchikan Alaska with a sign-The Salmon Capital of the World
Fortunately for us, we love to eat salmon.

 

 

Motion Sickness Treatment Makes Waves

This article from Scientific American explains how NASA and the U.S. Navy are finding new ways to help everyone overcome motion sickness.

“Researchers  and those who work with pilots and the military’s most frequent flyers, are especially keen to find better ways to treat motion sickness. And the many civilians who face nausea in cars, planes, boats or even the tamest amusement park rides would welcome a cure without the common side effects of current medications, such as sleepiness, or the questionable efficacy of alternative treatments, such as pressure bracelets.

The path to those ends remains bumpy and filled with more than a few green faces, but new research is closer to finding the best treatments to keep both side effects and lunch down.”

The food as well as the dining service was always excellent, and one of our favorite parts of the cruise.

If you didn’t visit it already, you may want to read my previous post-

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

Travel comments please

Please share your cruise experiences, good or bad.  How have you coped with motion sickness on any trip? I may share some of your insights in a future post.

boats in a harbor with a mountain in the distance

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exploring the HEART of healthy travelling

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

Dr. Aletha 

woman standing by pink flowers
At our final stop , Victoria, Vancouver Island, touring Butchart Gardens. Yes, an Alaskan cruise stops in Canada.

How to dress for an Alaskan cruise

Blogger Cathy Lawdanski offers these tips on what to pack for an Alaskan cruise, which is not as easy as packing for a warm weather cruise. Read her helpful tips based on her experience at this link.

Here’s what you should know about what to wear on Alaskan Cruises

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

As a physician, I tend to view experiences in medical terms and did on this cruise. I was impressed with the rules and procedures that were directed at keeping the guests and crew healthy and safe.

You’ve probably seen the movie, Titanic. I recently visited the Titanic museum in Branson, Missouri and it was a sobering experience. The loss of so many lives is staggering, especially since it could have been prevented with better preparation, including enough lifeboats for everyone on board.

Titanic museum, replica of ship and iceberg
The Titanic Museum

Earlier this summer I went on a cruise vacation which fared far better than the Titanic. This was the third cruise I have ever been on, but the last one was long ago enough that I had forgotten some of the details.

(This is not a sponsored post, however there are affiliate links not connected with the cruise line. Using them does not cost you extra and will help fund this blog. Thank you. )

As a physician, I tend to view experiences in medical terms and did on this cruise. I was impressed with the rules and procedures that were directed at keeping the guests and crew healthy and safe.

elevators on a ship

I’m not revealing the cruise line’s name, but it is one of the large well known ones, with a good reputation as far as I know. I can’t vouch that this cruise is typical of all cruise companies, so I offer these observations as things that you might want to evaluate if you ever go on a cruise.

BLOGGER'S PIT STOP Featured Winner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safety drill- lifeboats, jackets

the side of a ship with 2 lifeboats

Before the ship left the dock, we participated in a safety drill where we all had to assemble at our assigned stations where we would go in the case of an emergency. Once there, the crew took role by check our ID cards (more on this later) to make sure we were all there. We had life vests in our room and there would also be life vests at the stations in case we weren’t in our room at the time the alarm sounded. Unlike the Titanic, we were assured there was room on the lifeboats for everyone on board.

Security, photo id, room key

Upon checking in, they issued us a photo ID card that was also our room key and a charge card for onboard purchases. When we left the ship at the ports, we showed the card which was scanned, then showed it again to get back on the ship.

a line of people boarding a ship
showing ID to return to the ship after a day in port

Children-arm bands

We weren’t travelling with children ourselves, but children wore armbands with identification in case of getting separated from their parents.

Food allergies and preferences.

Food is plentiful on a ship and a wide variety of choices. Some venues are buffets but in the sit down dining room the wait staff always inquired about food allergies and special diet needs before we ordered our meal.

a couple sitting at a table by a window with an ocean view
We enjoyed lunch with an ocean view.

Here is a link to my post on How to manage food allergy with confidence

Hygiene

Antibacterial hand gel was everywhere, along with reminders to use it.

Outside of every food venue there were containers and a crew member there to dispense it to you.

There were strict warning about what not to put into the toilets. As we heard at the introductory session, “If one toilet on a cruise ship backs up, they all back up.” Not a pleasant thought.

a sign- IMPORTANT-please do not throw foreign objects into the toilet bowl.

A daily newsletter with cruise information and schedule was delivered to our cabin every day. This note about health was posted daily-

Medical experts tell us that the best way to prevent colds, flu, or gastrointestinal illnesses-such as Norovirus-is to simply wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. After restroom breaks and again before eating.

Should you experience any symptoms of gastrointestinal illness (vomiting, diarrhea) do not go to the ship’s medical facility. Call the medical staff for a complimentary consultation and treatment. A member of the medical staff will see you in your stateroom.

Medical facility on board

If you do need to go the medical station , there is a doctor on duty 3 hours in the morning and afternoon. (On a previous cruise, I visited the medical station for a tour. It looked modern and well stocked.)

Smoking- designated areas only

Smoking is not allowed in any of the cabins or balconies, including electronic cigarettes. There were designated smoking areas outside and in the casino.

Here are some reminders on why it’s wise not to smoke-

7 surprising reasons to be smoke free

Stop Smoking For Dummies

Fitness and Sports

If you wanted to exercise, there was ample opportunity.

Swimming and other water sports

a swimming pool on a cruise shop

  • A fully equipped gym
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Walking/jogging path outside.

exercise equipment on a cruise ship

  • Classes in yoga, stretching, cycling, and dance.
  • Competitions in volleyball, table tennis, dodge ball, basketball
  • Ice skating
  • Dance venues
  • Miniature golf

a mini golf course with a beach theme
beach theme mini golf

Spa services

In addition to the usual spa services  like hair and face treatments, they offered

  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Teeth whitening
  • Anti-aging treatments
  • “Detox”

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation-watercresswords.com

Potential health risks

Were there any aspects to a cruise experience that might be detrimental to one’s health? Consider these things.

Sun

This ship sailed in a tropical climate so there was ample sun, both while on the ship and in the tropical ports. So obviously there was a risk of sunburn, dehydration, and long term development of skin cancer due to sun exposure. Sunscreen was a must if you stayed outside.

Noise

There were multiple musical venues on just about every deck, as well as the general noise generated by thousands of people. For people who have sensory issues to noise, sensitive ears, or hearing loss the noise level might be uncomfortable.

Motion

We were fortunate to have smooth sailing except for a few hours when the sea was rough, causing me to feel off balance but not seasick. If you are highly sensitive to motion, sail on a small ship, or hit rough seas, you may get seasick, which is not pleasant.

Sea and Motion Sickness

Addictions-food, alcohol, gambling, shopping

If you tend to be compulsive or addicted to  activities like eating, drinking alcohol, gambling, or spending money, a cruise may not be the best place to vacation.

Food is abundant, delicious, varied, and “free”- meaning it’s all inclusive with the price you paid (although there were some special meal venues that cost extra.)

a promenade on a cruise ship
On the promenade there were food and shopping opportunities.

Alcohol  is not included  but is easily purchased in the dining venues as well as bars. (However, they strictly enforced not providing alcohol to minors.)

Gambling was available in the centrally located casino , open from morning until late night.

Shopping on the promenade and in the ports- clothes, jewelry, art, liquor, wine , souveniers, and who knows what else.

an art gallery with bright colored pictures

the art gallery, where they had auctions every day

There were so many activities offered it was impossible to try them all. And there were places where one could escape for some quiet time to read, play a game, or just sit and enjoy the view.

a small chapel
The chapel offered a peaceful quiet place or meditation.

Please share your cruise experiences, good or bad. If you’re going on one soon, let me know how it goes. I may share some of your insights in a future post.

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health on a cruise ship with me. Please share this post and follow Watercress Words.

Dr. Aletha 

waves behind a ship
THE END!

 

Featured Blogger-Sundays Beat Linkup -www.mother2motherblog.com
This was a featured post at Sundays Best Linkup at Mother 2 Mother blog.

Surprising effective ways to relieve back pain

What is the most common disability world wide? What most commonly causes workplace absence?

Would you be surprised that it is low back pain?

What is the most common disability world wide? What most commonly causes workplace absence?

Would you be surprised that it is low back pain?

Pain in the spine, including the neck and back, affects 85% of people at some time. I’ve had it, my husband has had it, and likely you have too. Low back pain causes $7.4 billion in lost revenue from lost or decreased workplace productivity. Add to that the health care costs and it exceeds $100 billion.

Let’s explore  what causes back pain, and what we can do about it, focusing on non-drug non-surgical methods.

 SURPRISING EFFECTIVE WAYS TO RELIEVE BACK PAIN -WATERCRESSWORDS.COM

 

 

BASIC POINTS

This post will explain some of the treatments which are backed by medical studies and recommended by medical experts.

We should use medication and surgery when appropriate, but when these can’t be used or are not helpful, we can consider alternative methods, or what I and other doctors prefer to call complementary or integrative treatment.

This post focuses on symptom relief, not necessarily curative treatment.

Herbals and supplements are drugs and can be effective for certain conditions, but this post will discuss non-drug treatments only.

Many cases of back pain improve spontaneously with no specific treatment.

Almost everything works sometimes.

There are few if any down side to any of these treatments. Used under supervision they are unlikely to have adverse side effects or result in long term complications.

The most important ingredient in managing a chronic or persistent condition is having a therapeutic relationship with your physician and other healthcare professionals- physical therapist , mental health counselor, nutritionist.

doctor holding a patient's hand

I do not recommend you pursue any of the treatments mentioned in this post without first consulting a qualified health professional about your condition.

What causes back and neck pain

Pain in the spine results from many medical conditions, ranging from minor to life threatening. Most cases are due to routine or excessive physical activity or a minor injury causing strain of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and will go away with no or minimal intervention in less than 12 weeks.

a human skeleton
The spine connects the head to the rest of the body. It extends from the skull to the pelvis and legs, and along the way attaches to the shoulders and rib cage.

Some cases are due to serious but treatable conditions like

  • Infection
  • Major injury, causing broken bones (fractures) or more severe injury to the muscles and nerves.
  • Cancer of the spine, which may have started somewhere else in the body and spread to the bones, called metastasis.
  • Various forms of arthritis- degenerative, rheumatoid, psoriatic
  • Disorders of the intervertebral discs, the soft jelly like cushions between the bones of the spine, the vertebrae
  • Fibromyalgia– a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.

 

Managing pain in the neck or spine

The first step in treating back pain is to identify the underlying cause and treat that appropriately, which might involve anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or injections.

But sometimes pain persists after these treatments, or none of those treatments are appropriate or effective.

Medications for back pain

Patients often expect, and doctors have traditionally turned to pain relieving medications starting with the non prescription drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and the anti-inflammatories called NSAIDS. A muscle relaxer might be added if muscle spasm is present. If those are not sufficient, the next step was often narcotics or opioids.

But we know that the benefit and effectiveness of these drugs do not always outweigh the side effects and risks so we look harder at non-drug methods to relieve pain. And studies comparing them indicate they can be as effective if not more so than drugs.

More about this at my related post

7 overused drugs

 

 

Integrative medical treatments for back pain

 

Lifestyle changes

Back pain sufferers should start by avoiding or modifying activities that cause or aggravate back or neck pain .

  • In  the workplace- more frequent breaks, limits on lifting, a different chair, adjusting the height of a desk or computer monitor or keyboard.
  • At home- changes in performing chores like vacuuming, mopping, gardening, laundry.
  • Smoking may not cause back pain, but use of tobacco seems to increase the risk of developing back pain. Another good reason to not start or to stop if you already start.     7 surprising reasons to be smoke free
  • Excess weight also contributes to back problems,maybe by putting more stress on the spine, or by limiting physical activity. Losing those extra pounds or kilograms may decrease pain. Obesity and pain- you can lose both this year

 

sign says NO smoking, wilderness area
When walking, wear proper shoes; and NO smoking.

 

 

Physical activity/Exercise for spine pain

All guidelines for back pain treatment encourage continued physical activity rather than bedrest, and agree than any activity is better than nothing.

a bed in a room
Rest in bed only for severe pain and for short intervals.

Some of the frequently recommended activities include

Meditative movement therapies are exercises that include body movement or positioning and focus on breathing and relaxation. Examples include Tai chi and yoga.

Other types of exercises which involve a combination of stretching and strengthening, as well as aerobic conditioning. This includes Pilates and other exercise, walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, and many sports.

jogging trail sign
Get up and move more.

When using any exercise to treat back pain you should consider working with a certified instructor who is aware of your condition. Don’t do any positions or movements that cause or aggravate the pain.

 

 

 

 

 

Topical therapies

    • Heat and/or ice applications
    • Hydrotherapy or aquatics – the use of water or an aquatic environment (includes exercise in water)

 

 

 Manual therapy

  • Massage
  • Spinal manipulation, osteopathic or chiropractic

 

 

Acupuncture/Acupressure

Acupuncture, a staple of traditional Chinese medicine, which is becoming more popular in the Western world, uses very fine needles to stimulate various pressure points around the body and re-shift the body’s balance of energy. The practice is also thought to improve blood flow and increase levels of the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals. Acupressure uses the same principle with pressure instead of needles.

 

 

An acupressure mat (affiliate link)

 

 

Dr. Michelle Ramirez explains more about  acupuncture and its uses at this link.

A look at acupuncture

 

 

 

Mindfulness based stress reduction/CBT(cognitive behavioral therapy)

Does the way you think affect pain? Apparently so. Studies show that “mind-body” approaches that reduce stress and enhance relaxation can reduce functional limitations and distress from back pain.

WebMD explains how this works-

“Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps people identify and develop skills to change negative thoughts and behaviors.

CBT says that individuals — not outside situations and events — create their own experiences, pain included.

And by changing their negative thoughts and behaviors, people can change their awareness of pain and develop better coping skills, even if the actual level of pain stays the same.”

Managing Chronic Pain: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Approach

 

 

 

 

 

The North American Spine Society offers

10 Tips for a Healthy Back

feet in sports shoes
Don’t let back pain keep you from  being active and enjoying life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The product links in this post are for illustration only, and do not imply endorsement.

Please share this post on social media and follow this blog.

In a future post I will talk about how to manage other types of pain, and use of non-drug treatments for other conditions.

exploring the HEART of health with you.

    Dr. Aletha  

 

 

 

I’m pleased to share this post at

Encouraging Hearts and Home
a link up of family friendly blog posts every Thursday

 

 

This affiliate link can help you get fit at home on your own terms. I am enjoying working out with the Aaptiv trainers. Give it a try.