Overcome the Struggles that Weigh You Down

Throughout life, challenges present themselves in various forms. For some, it is a constant battle with weight that leads to chronic health issues. For others, it is not making enough income to support your monthly bills. While both wear on you, the good news is that with perseverance, you can overcome and achieve success. The way to win the battle is to approach it with optimism. Forget the negatives and focus on how you can change things. After all, it is within your power.

For instance, if your situation is related to credit matters, avoid viewing what you owe as a lump sum. This will leave you shaking your head and may provoke you to throw in the towel. Rather, methodically dissect your finances into categories. Lists do work and it is time for you to evaluate where your money goes. Write down all of your monthly bills including your mortgage, rent, car payments, utilities and credit cards then move on to the others expenses such as food, gas and so on. A visual image of all your expenses will open your eyes to what you are really dealing with.

If your credit score is still intact, you can borrow against your home or if you rent, you can take out an unsecured loan to consolidate the debt. This will eliminate all the small payments that add up and give you a single monthly payment to deal with. If you’re in dire straits and your credit score has taken a hit, you still have options to get back to the black on your monthly budget. It’s just going to require you to step up to the plate and either borrow from a family member to consolidate or, if that’s not possible, take on a second job. While you will have to work more than you may want to, it will only take as long as you need to eliminate the debt.

With matters that involve being overweight, the same approach works. The only difference here is that you are going to have to list the times and amounts of food you eat daily. Once you see that you have developed a pattern of unhealthy and excessive snacking on paper, you can begin to find your weak times and patterns of self-destruction. For example, if 3:00 p.m. is your downfall time, create a satisfying and healthy snack that fills you up until dinner. This one step alone will pay off big. From there, move to reducing the plate size. As silly as this may sound to you, it works. Here, the visual plays an important role. When you see a full plate in front of you, you immediately feel as if you are eating enough and not dieting. Reducing the plate size reduces the intake without you ever feeling as if you are giving up on quantity.

Whether you struggle with weight or finances, the outcome can be a positive one with a focus on how to fix the problem versus giving up on the situation. Unlike mental illness, these areas are within your control and with perseverance and dedication, you can achieve success and reward yourself with lasting benefits.


Savvy Ways to Save on Insurance Costs


The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that, as of 2013, 61 percent of adults said the main reason they don’t have health insurance is because the cost is either too high, or they lost their jobs. Meanwhile, the personal finance site NerdWallet did a survey on auto insurance and found people overpaid by an average of $368. But paying for insurance isn’t a concrete formula. It can be negotiated, lowered and sometimes turned into a tax-deductible advantage. Slashing your bills from homeowners insurance to car insurance takes time and research, but can save you thousands a year. Here are some of the lesser known ways to score a deal on your insurance costs.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Take a look at a compilation of the average homeowner’s insurance premiums from Value Penguin. Florida ranks at the top of the list at an average of $1,991 a year while Wisconsin’s is only $610 annually. Fortunately there are ways to lower your premiums without skimping on coverage. Investigate strategic renovations that help protect your home while simultaneously giving it an upgrade. For example, a new roof can reduce your premium by as much as 20 percent.

The security of your home and neighborhood can also impact your homeowner’s insurance price tag. Some policies offer lower rates if you live in a gated community. Typically gated and secured areas have fewer incidents of vandalism and theft. According to Realtor.com, installing deadbolts and security cameras can sometimes lead to a homeowner’s insurance deduction. To save even more than just your monthly insurance bill, install a system from Lorex and purchase it outright instead of paying a monthly subscription fee.

Health Insurance

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that workers spend an average of $951 a year for out-of-pocket health insurance costs. Meanwhile, average health premiums for a family exceeded $16,800. Keep health insurance within reach while keeping your family healthy. To lower your costs, combine a high-deductible policy with a tax-deductible health savings account (HSA). This tip can lower your monthly insurance bill while saving and earning interest toward medical needs. You can also take your HSA with you even if you switch health insurance providers.

Consider shopping around for a cheaper policy with a higher deductible to immediately lower your health insurance bill. Next, shop around for your medical needs instead of picking the biggest hospital in town.

Car Insurance

Ask your car insurance provider if they will cut your rates when signing up for automatic payments. Offer to pay your premium yearly instead of quarterly or monthly in exchange for a discount. Next, look into lowering your car insurance, and all of your other policies, by researching multi-line policies. Purchasing your homeowners insurance with your car insurance can trim your monthly bills and put more money in your pocket.

There’s another way to completely eliminate your auto insurance. If you live in an urban area, ditch one or both of your vehicles and rely on Zipcar, Uber, public transportation or your bike! This way you only pay when you use a car or bus and can drop auto insurance altogether.


Why Blood Sugar Control Benefits the Heart

When there’s talk about high blood sugar level, concerns are usually associated with diabetes. But did you know there’s a strong link between heart disease and blood sugar level as well?

Heart disease symptoms may not be present in diabetes patients, but diabetes, when managed poorly, is already causing hardening of the arteries, and damaging the blood vessels, which contributes to heart damage.

According to a study cited by WebMD, individuals whose blood sugar level was high enough to meet the criteria of being diabetic had a 50 percent greater possibility of death within a month than individuals whose blood sugar level was in the “normal” range. Individuals with raised blood sugar level also had a high risk of death from cardiovascular disease, even if the blood sugar readings were only slightly above the normal range.

Another study found that females with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease compared with women of similar age who aren’t diabetic. Also, cardiovascular disease followed by stroke or heart attack is the main cause of death in males and females with diabetes.

How to manage cardiovascular factors and blood sugar?

Regular exercise, meditation along with reducing the consumption of smoking and alcohol are some measures that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. As for managing blood glucose levels, Dexcom’s blood glucose meter and other monitoring devices can be used to gain insight on average glucose levels and hypoglycemia risk. This high-quality data can help you assess the quality of your glycemic control so you can take appropriate steps to bring down blood glucose levels.

For instance, if the data points towards high blood glucose levels, you can lower the intake of high-glycemic foods such as cereals and bread. The data can also be used to see which foods increase your blood sugar and vice versa. Diet modifications along with an active lifestyle is the key to reducing chronic diabetes and heart-disease risks.

Why diabetics have a greater risk of heart disease?

High blood sugar is now regarded as a strong risk factor for heart disease. Individuals suffering from this condition have increased susceptibility to damaged blood vessels because of the inadequate control of blood glucose levels on the tissues over a long period, or due to cell damage caused by diabetes.

Obesity is also a reason. Having poor blood glucose control and a sedentary lifestyle can increase chances of abnormalities in blood lipid profile (increase in bad cholesterol and decrease in good cholesterol) and blood pressure (in the high range). Diabetic patients may also suffer from some inflammation in their arterial lining, which contributes to blood vessel modifications causing cardiovascular disease.

While this is a growing concern, the answer to what is the best solution for diabetics to lower their cardiovascular risks remains a matter of debate. The promising outcome is the advice to aggressively control high cholesterol and hypertension. Controlling and monitoring blood-glucose will further reduce the risk of heart disease.

Research conducted on diabetic vets revealed a significant reduction in the measure of strokes, heart failure, heart attacks and circulation-related amputations among the individuals who were maintaining blood sugar levels for 5.5 years on average. The most encouraging part is most of the benefits can be achieved via modest, rather than high, drops in blood sugar levels.


Free Health Screenings at Sam’s Club

Women often cite time as a key barrier in getting themselves to the doctor. Many women today are just so busy taking care of their family, friends, and careers that they unintentionally deprioritize taking care of their own health. With this in mind, Sam’s Club is offering free health screenings to both members and the public on Saturday, October 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., as a convenient way for women to get a wide range of tests.


These screenings can easily be worked into regular weekend errands and are available at all Sam’s Club locations with a pharmacy (612 locations nationwide). They are valued at $150 and include tests for:


  • Blood pressure
  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Glucose
  • Body mass index

Living with Diabetes: Getting Started with Fitness

Ask any healthcare provider and they will tell you that exercise is an important part of staying healthy with diabetes. Physical activity has several benefits including lowering blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for heart disease and stroke, and improving your overall wellness. But not everyone is excited about the prospect of exercise—especially if you are new to exercise or are just returning to a more active lifestyle.

The good news is that getting started is easier than you may think.  The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with type 2 diabetes exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Adults with type 1 diabetes can follow the same recommendation as long as they are careful to balance their insulin doses with the amount of activity performed to prevent high or low blood sugar levels.

Here are some ways you can get started on a fitness routine:

–Keep safety in mind. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine.  Make sure your heart is healthy and can tolerate activity—if you are approved, work out with confidence.

Track your blood sugar levels carefully. Until you know how exercise may affect your blood sugar levels, watch them closely. Sugars may swing high or low for up to 24 hours after activity and it’s important to respond to them promptly. Using an insulin pump is a great way to have insulin available at all times.  If you haven’t looked at pumps in a while, they have gotten significantly smaller and easier to use in recent years, including touch screen options like the t:slim and t:flex Insulin Pumps. Alternatively, low blood sugar should be treated with a quick acting source of glucose.

–Take it easy. No one is recommending that you start with an aggressive, high-intensity workout. You may want to start with a few things as simple as stretching and trying to stand more during the day. When you’re ready, you can start walking. Take a stroll past your neighbor’s house or down the block and back. This is a good start. Move at a pace that’s right for you.

–Try a pedometer.  It can be very encouraging to see your progress and set fitness goals. Try to choose a number of steps you want to take each day and then work toward that goal. On days you haven’t reached it, take a few extra minutes to get out and move.

–Wear your medical ID. If you exercise alone or with other people who may not be aware of your diabetes (like in a gym) make sure to wear your medical ID necklace or tag and keep a cell phone with you in case you need to call for help.

–Keep an eye on your feet. Remember that diabetes can affect the health of your feet and slow healing if they are injured. Make sure to check the inside of your shoes before you put them on. Feel for any sharp edges, rocks or foreign objects that might be inside. Make sure your shoes fit well and wear socks that pull moisture away from your skin (not cotton).  You should also check your feet for any signs of bruising, blisters or injury after a workout and report any problems to your doctor.

Even with diabetes, you can get out and get moving with the right precautions. If you are still unsure about where to start, talk to your healthcare provider. He or she will be able to recommend activities that are right for you and your specific healthcare needs.



The Unexpected Benefits of Meditation


What if you could improve your brain function, cut stress, get a better night’s sleep, build up a strong immune system, improve your metabolism and add more years to you life? If there was one way to do all of these things, would you do it? There’s no magic pill, no free-trial, no special diet. It’s simply meditation.

History of Meditation

The exact date when meditation was first practiced is unknown; however, according to The Chopra Center, the earliest documented records citing meditation practice are dated 1500 BCE. It’s likely that these early teachings stemmed from the Vedas in ancient India. Between 600 and 500 BCE, meditation expanded to both Buddhist India and Taoist China. Japanese Buddhism began to evolve in the eighth century, after the first meditation hall opened in Japan in 653 CE. In the 18th century, teachings expanded to the West, and meditation began to grow widely popular in Western culture throughout the 20th century. Today, it’s easier to locate meditation groups, instructors and classes about meditation teachings. A new body of research has began to form around meditation, and it continues to grow.

Meditation and Immunity

According to a study published in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, people who meditate have higher levels of antibodies (a blood protein that protects against viruses and bacteria), than those who do not. The study took place over the course of eight weeks, and the study participants practiced mindful meditation on a weekly basis.

Meditation and Stress

The Mayo Clinic recommends meditation as a way to combat stress, citing that meditation reduces negative emotions and gives practitioners a new perspective on stressful situations. The health experts suggest practicing mindful meditation or yoga to cut stress. Before practicing, participants should make sure they are free of all distractions, including notifications from cellphones. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 offers a nifty feature called “Block Mode” that allows users to experience a moment of zen.

Meditation and Anti-Aging

One way to reduce aging is to reduce stress; and we’ve established that meditation is a great way to combat stress. Additionally, the EOC Institute notes that meditation increases melatonin (a highly beneficial hormone that can reduce signs of aging). Melatonin also leads to better sleep, more energy and possibly stopping the advancing effects of some cancers.

Meditation and Brain Function

An entry from the journal of Psychiatry Research cites that just 30 minutes of meditation for eight weeks can change the physical makeup of the brain for the better. Most changes were present in the vital gray matter areas, impacting emotions, learning ability, memory and perspective.

Meditation and Fertility

The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada links meditation and fertility. It explains that women who practice meditation, which turns off stress hormones and encourages relaxation, may increases their chances of conception.

Meditation and Happiness

According to the experts from Action for Happiness, practicing meditation allows people to get in touch with their emotions and increases how optimistic and happy they feel. Meditation also allows people to accept who they are, developing a strong sense of self and increasing their sense of fulfillment.


How To Diffuse A Patient Bomb

OK, so the title is funny, but the situation isn’t. We have all been there you are trying to help a patient, but they are getting increasingly frustrated and angrier. They are in pain, and probably very worried, and you can see in their eyes that they have had enough of waiting. You know that things are going to escalate and that the patient is going to turn nasty.

If you have ever worked in the emergency department, over the weekend, you know exactly what I mean and have seen this situation many times. A mix of long waiting time, pain, fear and the effects of drugs and alcohol is a cocktail for trouble, sometimes violence.

Nurses are facing this situation more and more, especially in emergency departments. Something the statistics back up. In the UK, eight NHS workers are attacked every hour and the number of attacks is rising by 8.7% per year.

So what is being done to keep your safe? And what can you do to diffuse the situation?

Changes in the workplace

Often the things that keep us safe when things go wrong and a patient gets a bit aggressive are subtle. For example, lanyards for those working in the NHS have been adapted so they breakaway if someone grabs them. It is an important safety feature, but don’t show a young patient that trick. I did once with a four year old and every time I saw him, he yanked my lanyard off and squealed with delight. Funny the first few times, less so weeks later.

The introduction of security staff in key areas is also helping. People think twice before becoming violent when they know there is someone there who is equipped to deal with violence.

More surveillance cameras are also being introduced, which is helping to prosecute more of those who do hurt staff or others in clinical settings. The introduction of zero tolerance policies is helping people to realise that nursing staff are not fair game. The word gets out and the mindset of those arriving in A&E is changing, which is helping.

What you can do

It is important to get things in perspective. Whilst there are more attacks on staff, we are still talking about less than 20 in 1000 healthcare workers being attacked in the UK, so the danger is there, but it is limited. It is important to keep things in perspective, so that you can remain confident, calm and relaxed while at work. The more relaxed you are the less likely patients are to be defensive. People tend to mirror the behaviour of those around them.

Take advantage of conflict training

Conflict training is definitely the best way to gain the skills you need to recognise the danger signals and quickly diffuse the situation.

Be empathetic

Often an angry patient is frightened and finding it hard to accept what is often bad news. Recognising the patient’s agitation and asking them about it gives them a healthy way to vent. Using reflective statements like “I understand your frustration/concern/distress” helps to calm many patients down.

You may still have to tell them the wait is going to be long, but doing so in this way helps to calm the patient. Remaining calm and non-judgemental also helps people tend to mirror your behaviour speaking harshly or raising your voice will only escalate the situation.

Keep your distance

Staying back a little from an agitated patient will allow you to simply take two steps back and get out of their reach if they attack. When people are agitated they can interpret the close physical proximity of a person as threatening.




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