Tuesday, June 14, 2011

For the Ladies!

OK, I promised that my next blog would be devoted to the ladies and that I would be talking about health and wellness. So, here is the next blog and I'm doing...as promised.  Now ladies, if you wish to add to any of the basic principles and information I have outlined here please feel free to contact me and I may be able to do another blog on this important subject later.

I have always felt like and said that women are built more like a Ferrari and men more like a good old Ford truck. The woman's overall body make-up is such that it is a finely tuned machine that requires only the best and most advanced knowledge to keep it running at optimal performance, whereas with men some duct tape and Velcro can fix most of the issues guys face (cue canned laughter).
I try my best to read most of what comes across my desk in the health and wellness area as I truly believe that this is one of the major keys to helping all of us in the way of medical expenses and keeping costs down.  Many times people are unhealthy by their own hands and many times a simple adjustment to eating and exercise could be worth pounds and pounds of cures for the body.  How many times have we heard of someone contracting cancer and not wanting to go through the usual chemo and radiation "poisoning" process.  They drastically adjust their diet to only be fresh foods and weeks later the cancer seems to be gone. The person successfully eliminated agents from their body that the cancer fed on to spread and by eliminating the agents eliminated the cancer. The real question is, why would we wait until the clock strikes twelve to do something when there are little, non-life altering things we can do each day to give us at least a better chance at a healthier lifestyle.
Here are a few things to think on for the ladies (guys, you might be able to pick up on some things here too):
1 - Women who exercise regularly have a lower risk of dementia. Nothing earth-shattering here.  We all know exercise is good for our bodies but as the obesity levels rise in our country we just throw our hands up and catch the remote and grab a bag of chips. The NFL had it right when they started their "Move 60" program.  Just an hour a day of some type of movement can have a huge effect on our lives and health. I even talked to a lady awhile back who taught a basic exercise class and she called movement "wiggling" just to make it fun. She said we all needed "wiggle time" each day. PLEASE NOTE...it does not say if you exercise regularly you will be a super model. We are talking about our brains and one of the scariest and most unsettling things that can happen as we age...dementia. Get that blood pumping and "stay with it" for years to come.
2 - SEVENTY percent of those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are women. Many things could attribute to this fact. To better understand, do some research on what causes arthritis as age increases. Fighting this off revolves around eating right and staying active. If your joints stay well lubricated and you feed the Ferrari the right fuel, you can help keep this at bay.
3 - Menopausal hot flashes and night sweats could lead to greater risk of osteoporosis. Fight this back with exercise (do you see a theme here yet?) and a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D (do some research on what foods are rich in these...it just might surprise you).
4 - Women are more likely than men to experience lesser known heart attack symptoms, like shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain. In my meetings I have, I often kid that the reason I believe women have a larger propensity to heart conditions is because we men drive you nuts. While that may be part of it, don't take these minor symptoms lightly. I feel the reason God may have given women the lesser symptoms is because they pay attention to when their body tells them something is not right. Guys need the full on stabbing pain to the chest to get the point (cue awkward laughter).
5 - The risk of breast cancer is 30 percent higher in smokers than nonsmokers. Wait, smoking is bad for your overall health? Who knew? I'm being sarcastic of course but come on ladies...it's a no-brainer. Also, a little side note here...if you would like people to find you more attractive then drop the smoking. You don't look any cooler or prettier.
6 - Fiber helps reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol. It also helps you feel full on fewer calories. FIBER IS SOMETHING WE ALL NEED DAILY! There, I said it. Growing up, I thought fiber was that stuff old people needed to keep their bodily functions steady as they aged. I could not have been more wrong. Look at any good eating program and it's usually loaded down with good and healthy fiber options throughout your day. Don't ignore this important part of your daily food regime. You might make a few more trips to the bathroom but if the result is better blood flow, increased metabolism and weight loss then I say grab an extra magazine or two for your restroom breaks.
7 - Migraines happen to three times as many women as men. So ladies, guess what...saying "I've got a headache is a VERY legitimate reason (more awkward laughter).  If you have them, start keeping track.  Journal them.  When you have them, there may be a pattern that starts to emerge. Guess what the best way to fights migraine is...start handling it before it starts. Reasons could be food, stress, odors, too much or too little sleep, smoking, or good old hormonal fluctuations.
8 - Fighting fatigue. Fatigue strikes twice as many women as men. So while many women wear MANY hats and fill many roles this can lead to fatigue. Want to have a better chance of lasting out the day?
 - Try rising with the sun. While many of you may not be "morning people", getting up with the sun and avoiding that nasty snooze bar can set in better sleep patterns and gives your body a chance to get in sync with your busy life. Remember, Ferraris are finely tuned and require constant maintenance.
 - Snack attack. Get healthy snacks to much on through the day. Keeping that metabolism up all day is a good way to be sure you make it.
 - Exercise. Shocking right? Not really. Getting the heart pumping can make your metabolism crank way up and get you through some serious time where you might really want to slow down. Instead of giving in to that, take a short walk and see what happens.
 - Breathing. No, not the run of the mill stuff. Deep breathing. Deep cleansing breaths can go a long way to regain some vigor and also help you clear your head. It should be done for a few minutes when you feel fatigue coming on, but it may just help you make it over the slump hump.
 - Get OUT. Being outside for some fresh air might be exactly what the internal body ordered. Remember the Ferrari? You can't just let it sit in the garage. Sometimes you have to get it out and let it breathe.

Finally, I can't talk about women and their health without addressing one of the biggest fears most women have and that's about breast cancer. Every week people hear about a friend or relative who was just diagnosed. Maybe you went for a yearly exam and the doctor saw something "not quite right" (which always takes 2-6 weeks to get an answer...kill me now!). I am going to mention some basic myths and facts about breast cancer:
FACT - 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
MYTH - If you find a lump, it's probably cancer. (CUE LOUD BUZZER NOISE). While a lump or thick spot on your breast or near your armpit is one possible sign of breast cancer, many times these lumps are non-cancerous. Worried about something you haven't seen or felt before? Go to the doctor and get it checked. Again, more often than not it's something non-cancerous.
MYTH - Most women who get breast cancer have a family history of it. This myth kind of set me back because it seems that often times in my insurance business I have talked to women who are worried about breast cancer because their grandmother had it and then their mom and even their older sister. They just knew their time was coming around. Truth is one one-fifth to one-third of women with breast cancer have a close relative with it. We can't change our genetic makeup but we can control some other factors that can be attributed to cancer. Things as simple as decreasing your weight drinking less alcohol could help prevent breast cancer. In fact, women who have 2-5 drinks daily have one-and-a-half times the risk for breast cancer as those who stay alcohol free.
MYTH - Breast cancer rates are increasing. Good news ladies, it's down to like 2 percent. Why the decrease? Interestingly it seems that it's because menopausal women are taking fewer hormones during this time. A 2002 study showed hormonal therapy increased the risk for breast cancer, and women in general listened and acted.

I have done my best with this and I hope you might find some of this information helpful. Most of the basic information came from goodneighborpharmacy.com. I added my own twist on it for you but there is a ton of good info on that site and many others.

As always, I try to add a video that goes along with my topic. Nike helped me out with this "Make Yourself" video. Sure, the ladies on here are athletes but they have to push themselves to do something just like we all do. I hope it inspires you in some small way.

Again, if you would like to add to this article or help me create another blog feel free to send me links and communicate with me so I can try to help the many who will read my blog. Thank you for reading this installment of "The Ramsay Bugle".
Please remember that I'm always a phone call (205-370-8453) or an email (gene@generamsay.com) away.  If you feel i can help your business or someone individually, I am here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Worrier or Warrior?

You know, in the hectic world we live in it's easy to get all caught up in the "little stuff". The little stuff becomes big stuff in our minds and the next thing you know we just entered worry-mode. What is worry? The best definition I've ever heard is when a a dog has a bone and keeps going and going with it they say that dog is "worrying" the bone.  In other words he will not let it go until he's completely satisfied that there is no more good quality to it so that no other dog can take it from them and enjoy it. Many times this worrying can lead to the dog actually splintering the bone and causing sharp edges and the next thing you know the dog is bleeding from the mouth...unaware that anything has changed as the animal barrels on toward the goal.
Obviously, this is not a healthy practice and must usually be stopped before harm can be done to the dog..  Are we that way sometimes? We get something in our heads and we just keep thinking on it and worrying over it day and night. We let the worry consume us to the point of losing sleep, becoming irritable and high strung in other areas that should keep us balanced.  It permeates every area of our lives until we are metaphorically bleeding as we continue to worry over this situation. Just like the dog, the more we continue to worry it, the worse it becomes.

Let's contrast that with a warrior. A warrior is usually depicted and thought of as a fighter. Someone with a strength to them to take on all things great and small. The warrior either attacks or is being attacked. The warrior must be ready at all times for whatever may be coming that day. The warrior is always at the ready and never backs down.
However, a warrior may sometimes come up against a foe that can not be beaten. The warrior was not ready or was not properly trained to handle the attack and they lose. The warrior usually does not give up nor do they die, but they walk away having lost.  They lose pride, dignity, and a battle they know they should have won. The warrior does not sit around and worry about it. They heal and evaluate and then they train to be ready the next time. Oh sure, they may have the opponent who beat them in their minds at all times, but they approach it from a standpoint of doing all they can to be better prepared...not worry. They don't worry so as to make the situation worse for themselves. The warrior realizes that if they prepare themselves properly and think on the mistakes they made that they can come back even stronger and better the next time they face something potentially stronger than they are.
You see, being a worrier can consume you. Being a warrior can drive you. Warriors do not worry...they prepare to fight. No matter the outcome, they fight and move on. They don't dwell on or worry and throw themselves into a tailspin. They work to be better versions of themselves all the time.
So, which are you? Are you a worrier or a warrior?

Now, who is up for the best non-worry song ever?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The POWER of Social Media...Should It Have So Much?

You see it in the news almost daily.  You may have friends who have been affected by it.  Almost all of us use it and everyone should be aware of it.  It's social media.  Whether you are on MySpace, or Facebook, or LinkedIn.  Whether you post or like or tweet, you are a member of the social media empire.
Social media has taken the world by storm.  Business is conducted by it.  People are introduced and re-introduced through it.  It's really inescapable in today's society. It's a valuable tool and a great way to find and connect with people from all over the globe who either know you or would like to communicate with you on things that connect you (hobbies, likes, loves, etc.).
I started my stint in social media when MySpace first came out.  Needless to say that was short-lived as I quickly realized that most people were misusing the platform to try and "hook up" rather than connect.  So, upon deleting that account I said that social media and sites like that were NOT for me.  Fast forward to almost 2 and half years ago. I got word that my high school band director had fallen very ill.  He and the band meant so much to me that I decided to start collecting memories and reconnecting with classmates from that era that I had, like many of us, lost touch with.  Since time was if the essence with my band director's health I needed my connections to be quick.  I hesitated but soon joined Facebook.  I found quite a few people from the high school days and that quickly turned into hundreds.  I kept waiting for the "evil" of it all to hit me but found that I had more control over who, what, and why.  With this connection through Facebook I connected with people not just from high school, but even elementary school and college.  Family connected with me and soon I was a part of the Facebook phenomena.  In fact, as I started to see the potential in this for my insurance business I built a page just for that where people who are interested in that part of my life can "Like" it and follow as I put information out there for people to see and possible use.  This led to joining LinkedIn, and then Twitter. MySpace even revamped their site and I rejoined there with some better securities and ability to decide who I wanted to connect with.
Connections were happening and the experience was going well.  Then I started to read articles written about Facebook and blogs and how people were being fired from their jobs or not even considered for employment because of their social media life.  It really kind of took me by surprise.  While I am the last person to support a liberal view on certain things, this seemed to almost fly in the face of the rights of others to have a life.  Social media was supposed to be all fun and games and maybe some business on the side but to get fired for a certain post or photo? I still think on this subject quite a bit and wonder where this all came from.  When did social media start bleeding into all the facets of our lives to the point where we are almost afraid to be who we are for fear someone might see who we really are?
To be "preachy" for a moment...I know people sometimes do silly things.  Some people even don't think before they do or say something.  It's a human epidemic. However, I believe in the power of others to change.  Many people change daily.  Some don't realize they need to. Is it fair for a society to base their total picture of someone on their Facebook posts and pictures?  Is it any more fair to judge someone based on their looks or ethnicity? Someones looks are hard to change, but people's opinions and values and thoughts can change daily.  It's what makes us human.
Social media is powerful.  It can connect in the click of a button two people who have nor seen each other in decades.  It can be an avenue of sharing the good and the bad of life to help make it all more meaningful and bearable. Should it get someone fired?  Should it cause people to tune you out because you are venting about a major event in your life and you are searching for perspective from anyone who might listen?  I'm not totally sure.  I struggle with this daily, as I stated earlier.  However, I do do believe social media has enough power that those of us who choose to exercise it need to be responsible.  Here are just a few things you may want to keep in mind before you click "Update" or "Tweet" the next time:

 - Be careful who you connect with. There are so many people out there in the social media realm.  Some are legit people and others are just looking to connect and then wreak havoc on your life.  The good news is, with social media those troublemakers are one DELETE button away.  However, if you will use your wisdom and the wisdom of others you can save yourself the nuisance by being careful before you "Accept" anyone.
 - Think before you post. There is good and bad news about social media.  The good news is that people read your stuff.  The bad news is...people read your stuff.  If you are going to put it out there for the world to see, understand that the minute you do you will most likely make a friend and an enemy.  It puts a line in the sand on who you are and to most it reflects the person inside who wrote it.  It can't be helped...it's just the way it is.
 - Pictures are worth a thousand words...but can cost you even more than that. Just because you take the photo does not mean you have to post the photo. Photos are kind of like the words we type. They reflect an image of who we are.  Some of those photos could be unflattering or too revealing for the general public to consume. Too many good teachers have lost their jobs because during Spring Break they decided to wear a bikini at the beach and post their photos to share.  Too many possible clients have lost the deal because of the birthday bash photos showing people drinking tequila shots off some body's navel. When you post those photos, people will see them.  Be cautious how much you want everyone to see.
 - Just because you have the right to post doesn't mean you should. Ah yes, the freedom of speech mantra. It's true but you have to understand that some things are best left unsaid, unwritten, or unposted. Getting into a text war with your ex on your Facebook page may not be your best plan if you want the general population to think of you as a class act and someone they would like to get to know. While certain things in your life many be true, it does not necessarily mean everyone wants or needs to know about it. We all have our issues and feelings...but sharing them with the world is where we have to draw the line between using our right or using our head.
Should social media have the power it does? Not sure, but it does anyway. It has become what we have fed it and how much we have put stock in it. It's just the way it is now. Just remember, your social media can not have any surprising power over you if you are wise in what you choose to share. While we all appreciate honesty, it doesn't mean sharing it all is your best decision in the long run. If you want to vent or speak loudly on something or show off that great tan, go old school and meet for coffee. Then maybe share the photos of you and your friends having a good time together and NOT the crazy photo of you throwing the TV off the second floor balcony.