Friday, February 17, 2017

Signs That You May Have Body Dysmorphic Disorder

An animated woman standing in front of a mirror. Her reflection shows a much larger "fatter" version of herself.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Today, I want talk about Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

BDD is a serious mental health condition that affects 1.7% to 2.4% of the population, or about 1 in 50 people. While many people associate the disorder with low self-esteem or insecurities related to one’s appearance, it’s actually a lot more serious than that. Allow me to explain.

While everyone has physical insecurities, most of us don’t allow that to interfere with our daily lives. For example, while we may find that our nose is a little crooked, we still go to work every morning, still pick up the kids from school, still attend social events, and still go shopping. That’s not the case for people with BDD.

In fact, one of the signs of BDD is frequently skipping school, work, social events, or other daily activities due to issues related to one’s appearance. In other words, BDD actually hinders a person’s ability to complete day-to-day responsibilities.

But that’s not the only sign. Due to obsessing over one’s perceived flaws, people with BDD often suffer from anxiety and/or depression. It’s not uncommon for the mental and emotional stress to become so overwhelming to where the affected person begins to contemplate suicide.

Other signs may include compulsively checking mirrors, or completely avoiding mirrors all together. People with BDD also tend to excessively groom themselves. And finally, those with BDD may take a keen interest in cosmetic surgery.

Treatment options for the disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy and anti-depressant medications. For those who aren’t able to afford these options, there are several informative and helpful books written on the subject matter. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends the following publications:
  • Feeling Good About the Way You Look: A Program for Overcoming Body Dysmorphic Disorder, by Sabine Wilhelm, PhD (Guilford Press, 2006)
  • The Broken Mirror: Understanding and Treating Body Dysmorphic Disorder, by Katharine Phillips, MD (Oxford University Press, 2005)
  • Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder, by Katharine Phillips, MD (Oxford University Press, 2009) 
As always, I offer myself up as a resource if anyone needs someone to talk to. You can reach out to me via the comments below or on Twitter @SunshineNDaisy. Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Heart Health Month: What You Need to Know

Tiny red hearts juxtaposed against a black background.
Image courtesy of clogsilk at Flickr Creative Commons
Hello, all! In honor of Heart Health Month, I want to share some important statistics and information with you. Before I begin, let me remind you that it’s National Wear Red Day. You might have noticed that #GoRedForWomen is trending on Twitter right now. This is done in effort to raise awareness about women’s heart health.
While heart health is equally as important for men, the public is specifically focused on women right now due to the fact that cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the number one killer of women in the United States. The problem is so rampant that it kills an estimated one in three American women.
This has to stop. That’s why I’m doing my part to help educate you on what you can do to prevent cardiovascular disease.
The first thing you should know is that cardiovascular disease is preventable. While there are hereditary factors that can significantly increase your risk of developing CVD, the vast majority of CVD cases can be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices.
According to the World Heart Federation, some of the biggest risk factors for developing heart disease are: smoking, physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet, and excessive consumption of alcohol. Notice that all four of these factors are within your control.
Even if you’ve never experienced any of the symptoms of heart disease, you should still be wary. Heart disease can start developing years before symptoms arise.
This is serious stuff, guys. I hope you don’t think that I’m preaching at you or judging you for your lifestyle choices. I only write about this because it is an issue that’s dear to my heart.
A couple of years ago, my grandmother passed away from CVD at the age of 72. She was a long-term smoker, and doctors believe that smoking was the main cause of her condition.
I would have killed to have her around even if just for a few years longer. Nobody should lose a loved one due to a disease that is largely preventable. So please, please, please take this blog post seriously and take good care of your body.

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Review of the ‘Sworkit’ Personalized Workout App

A photo of a woman looking at her phone as she works out.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
I recently came across the Sworkit app while watching an episode of Shark Tank. I have to say: so far, I’m really impressed with it!

What’s neat is that with Sworkit, there are literally no more excuses for not working out. Can’t afford a gym membership? That’s fine. Sworkit is free. Don’t have any exercise equipment? No worries. Sworkit exercises don’t require equipment. Don’t have time to exercise? Surely you can spare at least five minutes out of your day. That’s right, Sworkit has myriad of personalized exercises that range anywhere from 5-60+ minutes.

The convenience is what originally drew me to the app. I travel quite often, which means I don’t always have access to a gym. The app is almost like having a personal trainer with you wherever you go.

And that’s exactly why it’s called Sworkit. The app name is derived from the phrase “simply work it,” since it’s so easy to use.

There are currently over 170 different exercises in the app’s database. These exercises were designed by a multitude of fitness experts, including: doctors, physical therapists, personal trainers, and physical education instructors.

Users can design their own workout based on five fitness categories: strength, stretching, cardio, yoga, or Pilates. The app also has the capability to sync workouts to Health, Google Fit, and MyFitnessPal. There’s even a separate app designed specifically for kids.

The only downside is the ads. It’s annoying for sure, but at the same time, I understand that the founders of the app need to make money somehow. I mean, they are offering all of these services for free, so the least I can do is sit through a 15-second ad.

According to the Sworkit website, 20 million people have already downloaded the app. I highly recommend it myself, and since it’s available at no cost, the user has virtually nothing to lose but pounds.

*Sworkit is available on iOS and Android devices.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Yale Graduate-Turned-Trucker Works to Improve Truckers’ Health

A photo of a semi-truck cruising down the highway.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Siphiwe Baleka is a remarkable man. Aside from earning his degree in philosophy at the highly prestigious Yale University, he was also the first African American to make it onto the First Team All-Ivy League Swim Team. But that’s not what makes him remarkable.

Baleka, who is now in his 40s, fell on hard times about six years ago and decided to take on a job as a trucker. But after only two months in, the former athlete noticed he had gained 15 lbs.

"Life on the road is tough. It's lonely," Baleka stated. "There's not a whole lot to make you feel good. So eating is one of the things you kind of have some freedom with, to make you feel good."

Baleka did everything he could to lose the weight. He even resorted to doing exercises inside of his cab. But no matter what he did, nothing seemed to work.

Baleka’s struggle to gain back control of his health almost made him quit his job. It’s an all-too-common phenomenon in the trucking industry. In fact, a recent survey conducted by HireRight Transportation found that 21% of drivers leave the industry due to health concerns.

But after experimenting with several different weight loss programs, Baleka finally found success in a low-carb, high-protein diet combined with short bursts of high-intensity workouts. And now that he’s back to being fit, he wants to help other truckers get healthy, too.

So Baleka developed a wellness program that’s specifically designed with drivers in mind. Inspired by the technological devices that are already used in the industry, he decided to develop one that’s capable of monitoring the driver’s health.  

"At that time, the only thing that we didn't have any real-time information on was the driver—the physiological state of the driver," Baleka stated. "These digital health devices now allowed me to do that. I can monitor the physical condition of the driver just like we do with a truck."

So far, the program seems to be doing well. Hopefully it will inspire other trucking companies to institute wellness programs as well.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Stress, Diet, and Genetics: A Recipe For Adult Female Acne

A woman with acne all over her jawline.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Researchers from Italy may have just uncovered the mystery behind adult female acne. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, acne in women is caused by three main factors: stress, diet, and genetics.  

The study looked at 500 women over the age of 25. Researchers found that these women had a few things in common. For one, they had diets low in fruits and vegetables. Secondly, they had a family history of acne. And thirdly, they reported chronic levels of stress and anxiety.

For Dr. Debra Jaliman, none of this is surprising. Jaliman is an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She said it’s quite common to see adult women with acne.

“Women tend to get adult acne more often than men. It’s often due to changes in hormone levels and or hormonal imbalances,” Jaliman stated.

But she’s also well aware of the link between acne and diet. Jaliman said that she’s seen plenty of people, both men and women, whose acne is caused by poor eating habits.

“We see that people who have a diet of junk food tend to break out more,” Jaliman explained.

Interestingly enough, the study did not find any connection between acne and dairy. Some dermatologists theorize that the hormones present within dairy cause imbalances in humans that lead to acne. However, the researchers in this study found no evidence to support that claim.

Rather, researchers suspect that high glycemic index foodssuch as sugar, white bread, chips, and pastasare to blame. High GI foods cause blood sugar levels to spike, which can disrupt hormone levels.

So on the bright side, two out of the three factors are completely within one’s control. As for the genetics aspect? Well, mom and dad can take the blame for that one.