Camp Jump Start Blog - Camp Jump Start

Goodbye and good riddance 2020 and HAPPY NEW YEAR to all!!!!

Let’s start 2021 off right! Have you thought about your New Year’s Resolutions?

Are they the same ones you made last year? Lose weight. Exercise More. Eat Healthier. If you are like many of us, these three are at the top of our list and may have been for several years. The fact is, four out of five people who make these New Year’s resolutions will eventually break them before the end of January!

So, here’s an approach that has a far greater chance of success. First think about the reason you want to reach a specific health goal. Wanting to avoid diabetes, heart disease, cancer or Alzheimer’s are admirable goals, but let’s be honest, you do not really believe these bad things will ever happen to you. So, ask yourself, “Why am I really making this resolution? Is it because I want to wear a certain little dress, have more energy, walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding, hold my grandbabies, climb to a mountain top, swim with dolphins?  Figure out your “why”, then capture how that looks in your mind. Write it down on paper and place it on your refrigerator. Share your resolutions with your loved ones. Motivation comes from within the person, telling someone else makes it a commitment, writing it down will remind you daily and this is how you will reach your goal. 
Here are some baby steps you can take to a healthier lifestyle.

Make just ONE resolution and understand your “why”. You will have success if you concentrate and put your energy into just one resolution.  More than three resolutions and your chances of success in any of them is greatly reduced. This year set yourself up for success and focus on one resolution. At the end of this year you can celebrate without regret knowing that you have successfully improved your life circumstance.

Start your day with steel cut oatmeal topped with flaxseeds and fruit.  Focus on making this one easy healthy meal and let it become a new habit. You do not need to overhaul your entire daily menu at once! If you make one good choice to start the day, then the rest of the day it is easier to make healthier choices. This breakfast choice will keep you full until lunch and will help your body run efficiently.

Always start your lunch and dinner with a soup (watch the sodium) or salad. Americans today eat mostly “fake food” and we are suffering from malnutrition. The highly processed food industry has taken out all the good stuff needed by our bodies and replaced it with potentially harmful substances causing us distress. We need the micronutrients and phytochemicals from plants to avoid dietary deficiencies and over consumption. Food is fuel and we all must choose wisely for our bodies to run well. 

Make over one meal each week. Once oatmeal has become routine for breakfast then improve the health content of one more meal each week until you have 3 weeks of healthier options. Focusing on one meal at a time is easier than trying to overhaul all of your daily eating habits at once.  It is important to cut down on animal protein if you truly want to avoid heart disease and cancer so try to plan for a “Meatless Monday”.

Buy a monitor.  People who track their food intake and activity will be more accountable by wearing a monitor. We all play mind games. For instance, we overestimate the amount of exercise we do and we underestimate the amount of calories we eat. The math is not always easy calculating calories in and those calories we burn, but you should track this to the best of your ability if you want to reach your goals. Just wearing a monitor will remind you to make better choices in all parts of your life.

Try new things. We can get stuck with all things in life. Buy and experiment with unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. Take a new exercise class or participate in a new activity. Meet new people who are trying to do what you are doing. Challenge yourself!

Play with the kids in your life.  It means more exercise for all. Combine this with trying new things. You do not have to be an expert on all things; let these children teach you something new! Play tag, jump rope, dance, learn different sports or just go for a walk or run together.  Even physically interactive video games can be beneficial. 

Make time for rest.  Rest, relaxation and sleep are all components of a healthy lifestyle. Plan to get at least 7 hours of good sleep per night. It takes time for your body to rest and repair.

Be a role model.  Children do as we do and not as we say. Role model these baby steps so the children in your life will grow up not having to make this same resolution.  Because of you, they will be in the habit of living a healthy lifestyle.

Wishing you health, happiness and hope for a better life in 2021! We have all been looking forward to this new year!

What Health Professionals Are Doing To Avoid Severe Covid-19 Infections

During this pandemic, day in and day out, our frontline healthcare professionals are exposed to this new invader known as Covid-19. Although we call them Health Care Heroes, not one has a superpower against this virus. What are they doing to avoid infection when cases are soaring?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is their uniform to avoid contact with the virus.  Yet, we all are likely to come into contact with this virus either on or off the job at some point in time. It is the personal habits of each individual that will likely determine the course of illness. Those embracing a healthy lifestyle are less at risk for complications.

There has never been a better time to move towards a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle consists of four areas in daily living:

  1. Eating plan—Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans will give your body the fuel needed to put up the best defense. Make sure you are well hydrated too.
  2. Exercise—Raising body temperature during intense activity helps kill off viruses. Make an effort every day to work up a sweat for an hour. 
  3. Stress Management—Learn to control what you can control and then give up the rest. Get into nature by hiking or just walking around the block so you get sunshine and this will help your mood too.
  4. Sleep—Sleeping well will allow for rest and rejuvenation. The body can put all effort into searching for the virus and destroying it.

Do these four areas in life well and you will reduce the impact of viruses, not just covid-19. It reduces infection rate and sets you up for faster recovery.

A lot of smart physicians have come up with their own “cocktail” to stay well during the pandemic. This is taken from Eastern Virginia Medical School with the disclaimer:

“Disclaimer: The information provided in this protocol is primarily to provide information to physicians on a protocol that we found to be highly effective in damping down the hyperinflammatory cytokine “storm” that is the cause of mortality and morbidity in COVID-19. Our guidance should only be used by medical professionals in formulating their approach to COVID-19. Patients should always consult with their physician before starting any medical treatment.”

To aid in prevention, they suggest taking these supplements and over-the-counter medications and again, they suggest you consult with your physician:

  • Vitamin C 500 mg twice a day
  • Quercetin 250 mg once a day
  • Zinc 75-100 mg once a day
  • Melatonin (slow release) beginning with 0.3 mg increasing to 2 mg at night
  • Vitamin D3 1000-3000 iu per day
  • Famotidine (Pepcid) 20 – 40 mg once a day (This helps prevent what they call the “cytokine storm” which is the body starting to attack itself and not the virus.)

And when this does not work and the Health Professional becomes infected what do they do? They immediately get tested and quarantine until results are known. They notify those that they have been in contact working with their local health department, so those people can take precautions as well. They focus on eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, maintaining an easier exercise routine and sleeping to the best of their ability. They learn to sleep on their belly so that their lungs can expand better. They continue their “cocktail” of supplements and over-the-counter medicine, possibly increasing some dosages and add aspirin unless contraindicated. (Always consult your physician!) Every two hours while awake they take 5 deep breaths—breathing in through their nose and blowing out through their mouth as if blowing into a straw. After 5 deep breaths then they cough hard as long as they are isolated. This helps prevent pneumonia. If they experience shortness of breath symptoms or chest pain, they call their doctor and/or go to the emergency room.

This is how many health professionals practice self-care during this pandemic.

The last topic to discuss is the importance of achieving your optimal weight. Being overweight—not even obese—increases the complications of Covid-19. Those joking about gaining the “Covid-10, 20, 30 or 50” have put themselves at higher risk during this pandemic and that is no joking matter. Fat cells have Ace2 receptors which increases your chances for a severe case of Covid-19 infection. This may explain why some populations are affected more than others with poor outcomes. We still have much to learn about this virus.

Now is the time to set up your home environment to avoid further weight gain and create habits to reduce your weight if needed. Keep all junk food and highly processed foods out of your house! Enforce kitchen rules—eat only in one place and only during mealtimes. “Only eat when you eat” meaning no television or electronics during meals. Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. Always drink a glass of water before eating anything. End your day of eating once you have finished dinner by brushing your teeth. 

Small choices can end up with big results. Let’s stay healthy together!

News You Can Use This Flu Season With COVID-19 Present

The good news is that the COVID-19 virus today is different from the COVID-19 virus at the beginning of the year. Most of the coronavirus strains seem to have weakened but remains aggressive. And although the death rate is approaching 210,000 people in the United States, this is far less than predicted when it first originated.

The bad news is that flu season is upon us and people will begin staying inside gaining more winter weight. This is not a good combination while COVID-19 rages among us. Most people remain susceptible to this virus and one of the major risk factors involves another unspoken pandemic—obesity! 

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors with COVID-19.  We determine overweight and obesity by using weight and height to calculate the “body mass index” (BMI). Although not absolute, the BMI gives us a good starting point in determining our body make-up. For most Americans, our body fat is out-of-control. The average BMI of an American is roughly 29 which is very close to becoming obese. The most recent data is always about 2 years old so in the year 2018, 32.5 percent of American adults were overweight and 42.4 percent were considered obese. That means that at most only one out of four Americans are a normal body weight! This may explain why COVID-19 has wreaked mayhem on our population.

Simply, obesity puts you in the danger zone not just with COVID-19 but with other obesity related diseases including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. These co-morbidities complicate the course of infection from this virus and that is not expected to change.

So, what can you change TODAY to alter the course of your own destiny with COVID-19? 

First, do not wait for someone else to protect you! All the measures taken so far were to “flatten the curve”. It was never expected that people would forever avoid getting it. We simply wanted to kick the can down the road until we learned more about the virus and we developed treatments. Waiting for a vaccine will not give you the same protection that you can give yourself and it is likely that each of us may get some strain of COVID-19 eventually. So, plan for it and be ready! 
This virus is much like the flu. Even with a vaccine, flu shots are only 40 percent effective because the virus mutates. This is exactly what the COVID-19 virus is doing, so do not bank on the vaccines protecting you. 

Your secret weapon is making good lifestyle choices!
You must start today moving the scale numbers down to a healthy weight—

  • Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water and if still thirsty have coffee or tea. Eliminate all sugary drinks or diet drinks. Eat the fruit instead of drinking juice.
  • Get rid of the junk food in your house. Do not tell yourself that you can never have the junk food ever again as this will make you want it more. Instead make access to it difficult or tell yourself that you will only have it on special occasions but never allow it in your house. 
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables so your body gets the nutrients that it needs to function at peak performance. Food is fuel. We need to increase consumption of good-for-you foods while decreasing room for the bad-for-you foods.
  • Continue to move to the healthier side on the Camp Jump Start Eating Plan continuum by cutting out dairy and decreasing meat, sugar, salt and all oils. 
  • Calculate your fiber intake and aim for 35 -50 grams per day by eating the naturally high fiber foods which will fill you up but also help remove substances that make you sick.

Other tips for this flu season—

  • Continue social distancing, hand washing and wearing masks. 
  • Always think about your masking procedure—wash your hands before putting it on, do not touch the outside of the mask EVER, wash your hands before taking it off and wash them again once the mask is removed. Determine an area to keep the mask and avoid contamination by cleaning and storing as instructed.
  • Get your Vitamin D level checked with a blood test and talk to your doctor about supplementing if you are low. Low Vitamin D levels set you up for viral infections due to your decreased immune response to them.
  • Have zinc lozenges available and use every two hours while awake if a sore throat develops.
  • Continue regular outdoor activity even if it is cold. Healthy activity will cause you to work up a sweat and we need to do this every day for about an hour for maximum benefit. Bodies were meant to move so “get up, get out and move!”
  • Pay attention to your mental health. Seek joy in your life and do the things that you love. Read, listen to music, look at family picture albums, walk, dance, do yoga, meditate and try new things. Find new interests by looking for ideas on the internet. And always remember to balance physical inactivity with exercise time. The best medicine for depression is exercise but if that does not help your mood then seek help.
  • Connect with other people in new ways like Zoom and facetime but use old-fashioned phone calls too.
  • This year get a flu shot! You cannot get the flu from a flu shot. If you got sick after getting a flu shot previously, it is likely that you were exposed prior to receiving the vaccination. This year avoid exposure by practicing social distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask while standing in line for the flu shot.
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid sick people.

My hope is that COVID-19 and this pandemic encourages us all to value our health. It has given us an opportunity to get fit and embrace a healthy lifestyle. The decision is yours to make and either way you are the only one that will either reap the rewards or suffer the consequences by the way you choose to live. I hope you live well.

Staying Healthy When Viruses Are In the News

This is a preview of our Spring Newsletter Feature Article.  It is news that you can use now!  We hope these tips keep you and your family healthy!

At Camp Jump Start our whole health education strengthen bodies.  When you take care of yourself by eating the right foods (and avoiding the harmful ones), getting enough exercise, dealing with stress effectively and getting enough sleep then you are able to ward off illness.  You may still get sick but you will likely get well faster and avoid complications.

Remember that we must follow the data for this new Coronavirus and avoid hysteria.  Depending on your source, the flu takes the lives of 20,000 to 69,000 people each year.  The people at risk are typically our youngest, our oldest, those with compromised immunity and underlying diseases.  The best defense is a good offense so be proactive and set up healthy habits to control what you can control.  Then stay current with information from a reliable source and ignore those trying to incite panic.

Best Ways to Stay Healthy When Viruses Are In the News

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed but this is the time of year when people are in close contact and germs spread.  In the news we hear about the Coronavirus and strains of influenza (flu) that are deadly and it scares us. Physicians treat symptoms of these viruses and most get better, but the real prevention and healing must come from you so let’s be proactive and prepare!

Here are a dozen ways that you can take control over your health destiny and avoid communicable illnesses.

  1. Wash your hands vigorously and frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Use lotion too if you are prone to chapped skin.
  2. When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with bent elbow or tissue—immediately throw the tissue into a closed-container and wash your hands.
  3. Our hands touch many things throughout the day like light switches, doorknobs, gas pumps and small office items like pens.  Stop and think of where germs transfer from yourself or others then clean those areas frequently using a disinfectant wipe. Viruses can live a long time on hard surfaces but die quickly on soft surfaces.  Make it a habit not to touch your face as this is a direct path for a virus to infect you!
  4. Avoid close contact and keep a 3 to 6-foot distance between you or someone else who is sick. Turn your head away from those coughing or sneezing.
  5.  In your home try to isolate the person who is ill—sleep in a different room and do not share a bathroom when possible; use paper products when eating or drinking then dispose of all trash in a designated container.  Avoid intimate contact until everyone is healthy again!
  6. Choose whole, plant-rich foods to boost your immune system and keep hydrated by drinking plenty of plain water.  You should drink ½ of your weight in ounces of water a day so your cells work efficiently.  Then you can drink other beverages.
  7. Eat your vitamins instead of taking unnecessary supplements!  Vitamin C produces interferons that are needed to activate the immune system against viruses.  These foods may help prevent or shorten the course of illness: broccoli, spinach, leafy greens, bell peppers, watermelon, tomatoes, potatoes and tropical fruits.
  8. Make time to de-stress. Researchers report that a person’s psychological wellbeing effects the body’s resistance and resilience to infection: 
  9. Get enough sleep. Researchers have found that tired people are more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections.  Lack of adequate sleep can make your cold symptoms worse and the illness will last longer too.
  10. If you develop symptoms seek medical care early and stay home.  You will get better quicker and prevent the spread of the virus. Be fever-free for 24 hours before resuming your life.
  11. Exercise that causes you to sweat every day will also kill germs and remove toxins from your own body.  Always clean gym equipment before and after using it!
  12. When outbreaks like the Coronavirus occur, find a credible source you can trust like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website ( so you stay informed and get up-to-date news you can use.

If we keep our mind, body and spirit healthy, the viruses will be far less likely to make us sick.

Broken-hearted Kids

Heart disease remains the number one killer of Americans.  It is even more tragic when it relates to our children.  Three out of four children between the ages of 9 – 11 years old already have the beginning stages of heart disease.  We are seeing the streaky fat deposits in their young blood vessels setting them up for a lifetime of illness and early death.  All children are at-risk if they are living the typical American lifestyle. 

In previous years heart disease in children typically was associated with a congenital heart defect or some odd complication due to an infection. Heart disease was not related to lifestyle, but all of that has changed in one generation.  We are afraid that our kids will be snatched off the lawn, so we isolate them inside the house under the guise of keeping them safe.  They long for personal interaction so they turn to a virtual world to fulfill these needs.  They become sedentary for hours on end as they immerse themselves in a world of gaming competing with unknown rivals.  Young people long for deep emotional ties to peers but instead develop and maintain a certain social media persona. 

They discuss their private thoughts with strangers online and use emoji’s to communicate feelings.  They long for acceptance and believe they find it in people that they will never meet in person. 

Is it a shock then that our kids have “broken” hearts? 

A lot has changed in the world since Camp Jump Start began in 2003.  Most parents with overweight kids recognize the unhealthy path and want to change course but they lack the knowledge to do it.  Camp Jump Start has helped put families back on track to health but Camp Jump Start is no longer trying to prevent heart disease; Camp Jump Start is working to reverse heart disease in our children! 

Here are a dozen ways to help your child heal a “broken” heart- 

  1. Weigh every family member on Friday morning and track a healthy weight for each.  Reward accomplishments! 
  2. Know lab values.  Track A1c and lipid profiles-pay attention to each level for how it is trending. 
  3. Know blood pressures.  Aim for below 120/80. 
  4. Drink water until your urine is pale yellow to maintain good hydration.  Straight water is recognized and needed by your body.  It keeps blood from becoming “thick”. 
  5. Include a large variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans in the diet. 
  6. Decrease or eliminate extra sugar, salt, oil and animal products—especially dairy in the diet. 
  7. Routinely eat/prepare food from home so you know what you are really eating.  Treat yourself once every two weeks to a meal outside of the home. 
  8. A child must SWEAT every day for an hour!  Let them choose the activity-team sport, individual sport like running or dancing to name a few but remember that they must sweat.   We want them to be challenged so their heart muscle remains strong and we rid the body of harmful toxins. 
  9. Manage stress as much as possible.  Kids need help with organization and coping skills. Intervene if stress becomes unhealthy from school or activities.  Exercise can relieve stress too! 
  10. Know your kids passwords and who they communicate with online.  Disconnect from social media on a routine basis.  It is your house and you pay the bills so kids live by your rules!  
  11. Help them sleep without disturbance.  All electronics must be removed from the bedroom at night so set up a charging station somewhere in your home away from the bedrooms.  Then lead by example by keeping your cell phone there too. 
  12. You cannot be your child’s friend.  Kids can make friends, but they only get a few parents.  Be their parent and guide them.  Help your child find their “people”.   Help them fit in but always remember that we do become like the people we surround ourselves with….so choose carefully. A community like Camp Jump Start and Living Well Village can be a lifeline for many kids and families, but again to remain successful, kids and families must stay connected to us. 

May February be the month that your family decides to put an end to heart disease in your family.   

Skip the Kids’ Meal

As leaders in the industrial world we have developed the perfect recipe for cancer.  It is called a kids’ meal.  It is packed full of saturated fat, refined carbs and dairy all of which raises the hormone Insulin Growth-like factor-1.  IGF-1 increases cell growth.  It is a non-discriminatory hormone because it causes proliferation of all cells including damaged and renegade cells. 
How often you choose this food for your child matters.  It is dose dependent meaning that the more they eat, the greater the risk.  If you eat out a lot and order kids’ meals for your child, this is risky business.   Saving money on a kids’ meal does not save money in the long run.  It will cost your child their health down the line.  We are now seeing childhood cancers escalate. Causation or correlation?  Do you really want to wait to find out when your child’s health is at stake? 

It was 2015 when the International Agency for Research on Cancer, one of the arms of the World Health Organization (WHO,) came out stating that processed meat is a class 1 carcinogen.  This was determined by 22 experts from 10 countries after reviewing over 800 studies.  This puts processed meat in the same category as asbestos, arsenic and tobacco. This research is why the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends very little, if any, processed meat be consumed.   

In America though—and yes, we have exported it—our standard American diet is full of highly processed foods which includes highly processed meat.   

“Processed meat” is the term given to meat that is salted, cured, fermented, smoked or preserved in a way which enhances flavor.  Various methods used in preserving these meats have also been shown to cause cancer in laboratory studies.  Some common examples of processed meat are: 

  • Hot dogs 
  • Bacon 
  • Bologna 
  • Corned beef 
  • Pastrami
  • Deli meats
  • Lunch meats
  • Ham
  • Sausage
  • Pepperoni
  • Salami
  • Chorizo

There is strong evidence that serving even small amounts of processed meat may lead to certain cancers.   

Typically, these meats are high in calories which causes weight gain.  Being overweight and obese is a risk factor for at least 12 types of cancer. 
Cutting down on processed meats is a good idea and cutting them out completely is best of all!  In order to avoid processed meats it will take only a little thought and experimentation.   So what will you eat if you avoid processed meat?  People are creatures of habit so you must develop a plan to change your usual habits.  Look closely at your grocery list.  Scratch out the risky items then write in healthier alternatives.  When shopping, if those processed foods start “calling your name”, simply acknowledge them and state that was your old choice but now that you know better you recognize that they are poison to you and your family.  Then keep walking!   Over time, one good choice will lead to another.  Eventually you will not even be tempted. 

Skip the kids’ meals!   

  • Instead of school lunches, send your child with soup or salad, veggie wrap or bean burrito.  Encourage your child to be the leader in this food revolution by being a role model to others. 
  • Have fast food ready at home.  Batch cook for the week to save time and money.  Always have in the refrigerator salad ingredients and beans with a big bowl of rice or quinoa to make “bowls” or have leftovers in the freezer to reheat. 
  • If you do eat out then do your homework on what is the healthiest (smartest) option on the menu. Make up your own kids’ meal from the “sides” – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.
  • And always, always make your beverage of choice WATER!

Help your child develop healthy food preferences and praise them when they make healthy food choices.  It is the single most important gift you can give your child! 

Ten Things That Kids Really Need

This time of year, children are making their list for the newest gizmos and gadgets, toys and treats but what do children really need? 

Love.  Children need love.  They need to know your love is unconditional.  They need to see your face light up when they come into a room.  This builds the foundation of their own self-worth and trust in relationships.

Respect.  Children need respect.  They need to know that their emotions, abilities, qualities and achievements are recognized and admired.  They need to know they are accepted for who they are without judgement. 

Open communication.  Children need to engage in open communication with adults and peers.  This is how they develop emotional and intellectual intelligence.  Becoming a good communicator will lead to success in all areas of life.  It helps build strong, committed relationships. 

Time. Children need your undivided time.  Throw out your over-scheduled activities and spend one-on-one quality time with your child.  Have mother-child or father-child nights out to try new things together.  Bonding early with a child will likely prevent struggles later in life. 

Structure.  Children need structure.  Structure gives your child a sense of security as they learn to know what to expect.  Even for those children who complain about schedules, they tend to thrive with structure in their daily routine.  Point out your observations to your child so that they can have a clearer picture of how others see them.  When children know what to expect, they do not suffer from worry and anxiety as much. 

Boundaries.  Children need boundaries.  Boundaries teach your child self-control, social standards and provide safety lines for them.  Setting boundaries will also help them get what they need and prevent others from taking advantage of them as they grow up. 

Coping skills.  Children need to be taught coping techniques and be encouraged to use these skills.  Every day stress requires management.  Children suffer from anxiety and depression many times because they lack these learned skills.  Take the time to listen to their concerns and then help them think through the situation so they can learn to problem solve on their own.  Teach relaxation techniques so they can grow into healthy, productive adults. 

Inclusion.  Children need to be included.  They need to be a member of many groups. Seek out the groups that are important in your own life which may include family, school, sports teams, clubs and churches.  Help your child find “their people”.  They need groups where they feel like they “fit” and are celebrated for their unique qualities. 

Coaches.  Children need coaches and mentors.  They need adult role models who can help them figure out life.  They need people who they look up to and trust.  Choose wisely who you allow to help mold your child.  Surround your child with positive role models who will help guide them throughout the many stages in life. 

Purpose.  Children need to find their purpose.  Everyone needs to feel their life is valuable and the job of a child is to learn what they have to offer.  They must develop confidence in their uniqueness.  They need to know that their life matters.  We all need to be involved in something bigger than ourselves.

Take Control

Like many people, Carol is anxious at the doctor’s office.  She feels out-of-control the minute she walks into the lobby. As a result, she has suffered from “white coat syndrome or hypertension” for years, which is a temporary increase in blood pressure. The first time it happened Carol was concerned, but her doctor told her not to worry because one high reading was not a problem.  Now, every time her annual physical comes around, she and her doctor discuss her blood pressure. It continues to be consistently high in his office and Carol is certain that her blood pressure goes up due to her anxiety in anticipation of the visit. Her doctor is not so sure, as he believes that white coat hypertension is a forerunner of real hypertension.  They agree to disagree as Carol refuses to take medication for it anyway.  Other factors can contribute to faulty readings. Carol’s blood pressure may not have been measured accurately during those early visits.  Health professionals may not always use the best technique as they hurry through their day.  

Carol can take control of her own situation. She can learn to take her own blood pressure and keep a record of her readings at home.  One does not have to be a physician, nurse or tech to measure a blood pressure and once she learns the proper technique she is likely to get more accurate readings in her familiar and comfortable home setting.  Tracking these readings will be much more valuable to Carol as she and her doctor determine the best course of action to take related to her blood pressure in the future. 
Carol needs to purchase an automatic, cuff-style, upper arm monitor found at any pharmacy or medical supply company.  It is VERY important to get the correct cuff size for her arm as improperly fitted ones can give inaccurate readings. 

At home she needs a staging area with a high back chair (not a sofa) and small table next to it.  She will place the machine on this table along with pen and paper calendar to keep a record of her readings.
Before sitting down to take her blood pressure she needs to remember to avoid exercising, smoking and drinking anything with caffeine for 30 minutes prior to taking the reading.

When ready, she will first go to the bathroom to empty her bladder.  Then Carol will put the cuff snugly on her BARE arm (not over clothing) and sit straight with her back completely supported by the chair and both feet flat on the ground.  

She will sit in this position breathing normally and consciously relaxing for about five minutes.  She should not talk to anyone during this time of relaxation. 

To begin the reading Carol will sit in the same above position and place her arm extended straight at heart level with palm up resting on the table.  She will then press the button with her other hand and begin the reading. Carol will continue to breathe normally and attempt to keep her body relaxed including her arm as the cuff is inflated.  The cuff is supposed to gently hug her arm, but for some people the hug can be uncomfortable. Again, she will need to focus on her breathing and relaxation.

Once the air is let out of the cuff and the reading is complete, then Carol will write the time she took the blood pressure, and in which arm it was taken, along with the reading.

At Carol’s next appointment with her doctor, she will take this calendar with her.  She now will have accurate and concrete numbers to show which may or may not indicate White Coat Syndrome.  Her record keeping will give her and her doctor a better understanding of what is happening to her and this will allow them to have a meaningful discussion on the appropriate course of action for Carol.

In today’s busy world, each of us must take an active role in our health care just as Carol did!

Roadmap To Health

Thirteen year old Daniel’s four weeks at Camp Jump Start have turned into much more than the pounds and inches he lost. They have turned into a roadmap to better health for Daniel and his entire family.

In his four week session this summer Daniel lost 17 pounds and 13 inches off of his body. His fitness improved as well. When he first arrived he ran a mile in 17:22 minutes but on the last day of camp he had shaved almost 5 minutes off his time. His confidence grew and his smile got bigger.

Once he returned home he could not wait to go clothes shopping for school. This year he would not have to shop in the husky department and could wear what his classmates were wearing without feeling fat. Well-fitted clothes also gave him a way to gauge when he was veering off course. His family vowed not to buy bigger clothes if the new clothes became tight, so when the clothes began to feel uncomfortable Daniel recognized that he had to up his commitment. He would have to exercise more and skip the foods that were causing the weight gain. The feel of how his clothes fit was a practical reminders and motivator to stay on course.

Daniel’s changes led to bigger changes at home; he was eager to share what he had learned. Daniel took the lead in helping his family make lifestyle changes. To be successful they would have to work together. Daniel was their role model and he inspired everyone around him because he had worked hard ant that hard work paid off in reaching his goal.

While this new way of living began at camp, his parents were serious about helping Daniel so they completed their own homework. They cleaned out all the junk food from the kitchen cabinets and bought smaller plates and tall, skinny glasses. They re-set their kitchen by replicating the Camp Jump Start system. They had prepped foods for quick meal assembly in the refrigerator. They bought measuring cups to keep the family honest with portion control. They centralized all electronics in their family room removing televisions and computers from the bedrooms. They also set up the charging station for cell phones in the family room so that no one slept with phones next to their bed any longer.

Daniel came home and helped meal plan. The family began making a shopping list before going to the store and then stuck to buying only the items on the shopping list. This saved them money. They would have 4 days worth of food with mainly fruits and vegetables readily available. This would mean an extra trip to the grocery store in a week but they were willing to make this habit change. It was a surprise when they became efficient at shopping and stopping for groceries became a quick trip saving them time for other activities. They would also prep the food once they returned home so that it was ready for busy nights. They had their own “fast food” always ready which really cut down on family stress. They began to realize that they had been over-scheduling the family with activities that really were not as important as their own family time.

Soda became a thing of the past in this household. Each family member had a water bottle that they took with them everywhere they traveled. The beverage of choice was always water with green tea a close second. When water became boring then they added some fruit or vegetables in it to add a little more flavor which can be refreshing. They no longer missed or craved the soda that they once automatically chose.
The family rule was three meals and one snack.

  • Breakfast was always steel cut oatmeal with a tablespoon of milled flaxseeds and some berry on top. Soy milk was their dairy of choice.
  • Every family member took a bag lunch to work or school which always included a salad. Instead of feeling like a freak, they became the example of healthy living. People began to copy them when they saw it was an easy switch to something that tasted good and was easy.
  • Dinners always began with a soup or salad. The plate was covered in ½ cooked vegetables. They began slowly with one meal a week being meatless. As time went on and meal planning with new plant-based recipes was made easy then these meatless meals became more common. They had no idea how good it could all taste!
  • That ONE snack either came from the fruit bowl after school or they all saved it for a dessert that they all shared following dinner.
  • Special occasions-which the family defined together-allowed for an extra snack.

It was important that the body had time in between meals to rest and repair instead of constantly digesting food. Grazing became a thing of the past for Daniel’s family. They would all brush their teeth after dinner signaling that eating for the day was over. Then the body really had time to concentrate on time to heal itself.

Every Friday the entire family weighs themselves in front of each other before breakfast. They keep a chart hanging in the bathroom closet. This keeps them accountable to their new lifestyle. If they maintain their weight, they celebrate with mini-rewards from a goody bag containing small coupons for outings and family events that they had brainstormed together. The coupon might be redeemable for a pick a game night, a trip to the theatre or a park outing. All the coupons are family-based activities. If they lose more weight, they receive TWO coupons that week. The weigh ins evolved from seeming like a punishment to a time for anticipation with reward for hard work. The family also has a long term goal which includes a family get-away if they all maintain their success for a year.

Every day they track their activities on a family calendar.The rule is that no one goes to bed without having 10,000 steps listed on their pedometer. Sometimes that means climbing the basement steps over and over. They each decided out to fulfill their fitness requirements whether it meant going to the gym or playing on a sports or dance team. Steps were non-negotiable and everyone agreed to this. Peer pressure for not letting the family record slip was a great motivator because no one wanted to be known as the “slacker”.

Daniel has now lost 33 pounds total. He has no signs of heart disease or diabetes. He has energy and a newfound zest for life. He is looking forward to the school year instead of dreading it like so many overweight or obese kids do. He has friends. He has what all parents wish for their child-health and happiness.

To date, the family of four has lost a total of 112 pounds. They are feeling better than ever and are a tight knit family. They are enjoying life. Whenever they start to return to old habits, they simply have a family meeting at breakfast on Friday morning following weigh-in. They make a toast with their big glass of water in the tall, skinny glasses to health and happiness. They are immediately back on their healthy lifestyle roadmap and this one healthy choice will lead to other healthy choices throughout the day. They know that the only time you fail is when you quit trying and they committed to make today count.

Men’s Health Month Is A Family Affair

Today, our modern lifestyle has us suffering from degenerative and life shortening diseases.  Our uninformed, uneducated and deliberate choices are killing us!

Guys, let’s face it, when it comes to going to  doctors for preventative care, you are the pits! Sure you have your reasons. “I don’t want someone pointing the obvious out to me,” you say. “It’s a waste of time because I know the doctor is going to tell me to change the way I eat, or to start exercising or stop smoking.”  You are convinced that you are not going to make the changes anyway so why bother.

Your female counterparts are doing a much better job of self-care. A national survey found a woman is three times more likely to see a health professional on a regular basis compared to a man.  It is a fact that a woman will schedule a doctor appointment more often than a man; yet, men cost our society much more for medical care beyond age 65. All too often men are opting out of preventative care and instead wait until  a medical crisis occurs which may include hospitalizations, surgery and rehabilitative services and this can be costly. There goes not only your personal health but also your family’s financial health!

Avoiding doctor’s visits and putting your head in the sand regarding healthy lifestyle choices puts you at greater risk for life altering diseases. Instead of making simple changes to diet and lifestyle you increase the possibility of being diagnosed with one of the top 10 leading causes of disability and death related to lifestyle choices.  Ignoring the warning signs of these conditions puts you at risk for undesirable and likely permanent life change for you and your entire family.

Did you know that high blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 360,000 Americans in 2013 – that’s nearly 1,000 deaths each day?   The numbers are likely worse today!

Did you know that 79 million people live with pre-diabetes?  The numbers are growing with 25 million people in the U.S. already having the disease and 7 million of these do not even realize they have it!

Did you know that a woman has a 38 percent lifetime risk of developing cancer and if you are a man that risk increases to a 45 percent chance in your lifetime?

Did you know that the projected number of people suffering from dementia in 2030 will be 75.6 million people and it is expected to triple by 2050 to 135.5 million people?  

What about the cure?  If you have heart disease, diabetes, cancer or dementia, don’t you want the cure?  Understand this–the cure is not coming! Sick care is BIG business so you will find new treatments, new procedures and new products only.  

The best health care is SELF-care.  And whether you are a woman or a man let today be the day you choose wisely.  Take baby steps to improve your diet and lifestyle. Begin seeing a health care professional routinely so issues can be addressed and warning signs can be identified then maybe you can avoid these diseases all together.  Prevention is not a 100 percent guarantee of good health, but small changes in life can help prevent a medical crisis.

A man taking care of his health makes a positive impact on the whole family. Kids look to their parents for examples of how to live. If you live a healthy lifestyle so will your kids.