From losing weight, to quitting smoking to relieving stress, The Doctors offers tips to help you keep your New Year's resolutions and make 2010 your healthiest year yet!
Two-thirds of Americans are currently overweight or obese, and according to a study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the number is expected to climb to 86 percent in the next 20 years.
Obesity can negatively affect your health in a number of ways, such as increasing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, depression and cancer. If you want to drop those extra pounds, The Doctors is here to help!
"That's why we have New Year's resolutions," E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "We can make a change!"
Small modifications to your lifestyle, like adjusting your diet, can help start the process of losing weight and becoming healthier. "You all know that you need to watch your calories," Dr. Travis says. "But the problem is a lot of times, people don't realize how many calories [they] may be overeating with simple little things like, maybe, [their] nightly dessert."
One brownie, for example, can contain 243 calories and 10 grams of fat. If you eat one every night for dessert, you consume an extra 1,701 calories and 70 grams of fat per week!
"It doesn't matter if you're eating healthy all the other times," Dr. Travis says. "That's going to add up."
Rick, 46, has struggled with his weight his entire life. He weighs 330 pounds, and his wife Regina is afraid he will one day die because of his obesity.
"My biggest concern is that he's just put on so much weight, and it's all in his tummy," Regina says. "I'm just scared to death that he's going to drop dead of a heart attack."
For 2010, Rick wants to slim down. Dr. Travis explains that Rick's goal weight is 205 pounds, and that he should drop his body mass index (BMI) from 40 to 25 and his blood pressure from 120/100 to a healthy 120/80.
"I've battled this too long, I'm getting too old. I've recently had grandchildren born, and I want to be around to see them graduate high school and one day, get married," Rick says. "I'm dedicated to my grandkids and my family to get this done, once and for all, and quit being lazy about it."
To help Rick achieve his health resolutions, The Doctors provides him a year of personal training from 24 Hour Fitness.
"The absolute first step to losing weight is starting to become more active," Dr. Travis says. "You can't be a couch potato."
If a personal trainer is too expensive, doing fun, everyday activities such as walking, running, aerobics and even dancing can kick-start your weight loss. Changing what you eat will aid you in dropping the pounds, as well. Eating an apple before a meal will help you consume 15 percent fewer calories because it fills you up, while eating a handful of almonds over the course of the day will help you metabolize fat faster than usual. Also, research has shown that women who consume higher quantities of flax seed have lower BMIs.
Tobacco kills five million people every year worldwide, which is more than car accidents, suicide, AIDS, drugs, alcohol and murder combined! Nearly 50 million Americans are trapped by their addiction to smoking, and many are looking for a way to kick the habit.
Smoking affects your body in a number of ways, including causing respiratory problems, premature aging and increasing your risk for heart disease, vascular disease, stroke and cancer. By quitting, you can reverse the health problems caused by lighting up.
Debbie, 54, has been smoking since she was 15 and smokes a pack of cigarettes a day. Her father was also a smoker, and he died of lung cancer. "It was a terrible death," Debbie says. "I don't want that to happen to me."
Nicotine addiction specialist Dr. Linda Hyder Ferry performs tests on Debbie to determine how much damage she has done to her lungs.
"Debbie's [test] results in our laboratory indicated that she has a very strong addiction, meaning she has a brain disease. That's the most important thing to remember," Dr. Ferry says. "This is based on an addiction, and her scores were very high for a woman. As a result of that, she's developed evidence of risk for cardiovascular disease, and because of her [family history of cancer], she has a 28-times higher risk of developing lung cancer than a woman who doesn't smoke."
In addition to her increased risks for cardiovascular disease and cancer, Dr. Ferry explains that Debbie has a high risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and already has a precursor to osteoporosis, thinning of the bones.
By quitting the habit, you can significantly decrease your risks for many diseases brought on by the addiction. "Within 24 hours of quitting, your risk of a major heart attack is decreased in half," Dr. Travis says. "It may not feel like you're making progress, but in one day [you make significant progress]."
While giving up your nicotine fix is important for your health, quitting the right way is essential.
"You don't have to get abnormal tests to decide to quit," Dr. Ferry says. "That's the biggest mistake my smokers make, is [saying], 'Oh, I'm not ready to quit now because there's nothing wrong with me. I'll wait until I have to quit.' Don't do that. Go get professional help. Don't try and stop smoking on your own. Get evaluated for how severe your addiction is, and [find out] what's trapping you. For example, get a screen for depression. Up to one-third of all smokers experience mood, anxiety or depressive symptoms that trap them into the need of needing nicotine."
On top of the internal health benefits from quitting smoking, the outside of your body will experience a change as well.
"If you stop smoking, you're going to look so much better," plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says. "When people come into my office to talk about their face, I know if you're a smoker. It ages your skin, it changes the color of your skin and creates certain lines that are a dead giveaway that you are a smoker. If you stop smoking, your skin, your circulation, is going to improve immediately.
"You [also] lose your sense of taste and smell by smoking," Dr. Ordon adds. "If you quit, you're going to get the benefit of those senses back."
If you need help quitting, you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit BecomeAnEx.org.
If you feel excessively stressed, you may be putting your health at risk. Stress is often triggered by a stressor, such as finances, marital problems or work. It can cause a number of problems, such as high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, hyperventilation, ulcers, vomiting and fertility issues.
"Some level of stress in your life is what gets you off the couch; it's what gets you to work hard," Dr. Travis says. "I want to say that short-term bursts of stress can be good for you. But here's what's really important: You can't change your circumstances. You can't always change your job, you can't always change how much money you make. But you can change the way you respond to circumstances."
Learning to better cope with stress will improve every area of your life, including your health. Simple solutions for reducing stress include deep breathing, meditation, writing down your problems, increasing your vitamin C intake, adding spinach to your diet and smelling pleasant aromatherapy, such as a lemon scent.
"There is one simple thing that can help you stick to your New Year's resolution, no matter what your resolution may be," Dr. Travis says. "It's been proven to help you lose weight, helps control your tobacco cravings and fights stress and depression. This is truly a magic potion. It's probably the most wonderful thing we have going: being active! Simply being active."