November 2011 Challenge: Creative Approaches to Life

‎2011 November

End of the year is coming fast.  I can’t believe that we are already in November…..
Last Thursday, the 3rd of November was Culture Day (文化の日) in Japan –  to celebrate and promote culture, the arts, and academic endeavours.  Festivities typically include art exhibitions, parades, and award ceremonies for distinguished artists and scholars.

The first part of this month’s challenge is (hopefully) fun – every day this month, do something creative that you can share.  A friend of mine writes prose after our paddling events and posts them on Facebook, another has decided to take a picture every day and post it.  Do something like this and post it in an album on Facebook (if you use this) or some other way to express yourself to the world around us and for everyone to see….  Have fun with it and push yourself to be expressive and creative.

The second part of this months’ challenge may be a little “daunting” for some, myself included.

Do you ever think about why, when, or what you eat?  

It may be as simple as you are hungry, tired and your stomach is rumbling.  At times, it might you may eat because you are bored, sad, or happy, just because it’s lunchtime, or because that candy bar never looked so good.

Do you ever ponder why your body needs food, or what kind of foods you need in a day?  Many of us were exposed to the great food pyramid in grade school, but do you really remember more than its shape?  Do you ever think about why good nutrition is important?

The foods you eat provide the energy you need to function.  Just like you need to put fuel in your car or recharge your cell phone battery, your body needs energy sources every day.  The main form of energy for your body is carbohydrates.

Your body has the easiest time digesting carbohydrates like sugar and starch.  Carbohydrates are broken down into individual glucose, fructose or galactose units.  Glucose is your body’s favorite form of energy.  If you don’t get enough carbohydrates, your body can make glucose from protein or fat — and if you get too many carbohydrates, your body is very good at storing them as fat.

So this month – I want you to log your food consumption.  Research what you eat and log in for each time you eat (at a minimum):
Food – # of servings consumed – Calories per serving – Total Calories consumed – Total Fat – Sodium – Carbs – Protein
Ex:
Banana – 2 – 105 calories –210 cal consumed – 0.4g fat – 1.2mg sodium – 27g carbs – 1.3g protien

Try to figure out what you are eating and note the time you eat.  You can figure out how much you eat in a day, and then compare it to calories burned through the day.  Research how much you should be consuming each day – good research.  Do not “cheat” and be honest with yourself on what you eat and drink!!

You will then be able to see how “well” you eat, and how to improve your life through proper nutrition.  If you want, make a posting to share with others and turn it into something that you can talk about and push eachother to live better.

ALSO – track your weight each day (try to weigh yourself at the same time each day) and how it changes with your food intake.  See if you can plan for your food consumption more than going into the kitchen and looking for something to eat.   The first week, record and notice how things are going.  The second week, see if you can schedule your meals and predict what you consume.  Last two weeks – try to challenge yourself to set eating goals and live with them.  However, it is very important to not starve yourself or cut out the fuel your body needs.

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October 2011 Challenge: Know your blood

This month’s challenge should be very simple, but could have a significant impact in the future. However, it is going to be a multiple part equation, and something that you should keep a record of. It is also a good idea to share this information with family or a loved one(s). There are also many other items that you should be aware of, as this is only a springboard for discussion and encouragement…..

First, if you don’t already know, find out your blood type.

Even though blood typing is standard procedure for medical situations, knowing one’s blood type can help the process or you can verify that there has not been a mistake.

Blood typing is important to know about if you are thinking about conceiving a child. A second child can develop RH Disease – the body can produce antibodies, which attack the growing unborn child with a variety of results. In a sense, the mother’s body is allergic to the baby’s blood type. For this reason, women who have a negative RH are given a vaccine after the birth of their first child, which can prevent such a reaction.

Knowing your blood type is important, as there is a constant need for blood donations. Certain rare blood types have access to less supply than the most typical O positive blood type. Being O negative is of great asset to one’s community since one is considered a universal donor.

Second, know your blood pressure and protect your heart.

High blood pressure is an easy disease to overlook. There are often no visible signs or physical symptoms. Because of this, it is important to have your blood pressure checked. Regular visits to your health care provider or even some local pharmacies will allow you to keep track of your blood pressure and ensure that it is not too high.

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of the arteries. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers—the systolic pressure (as the heart beats) over the diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats). Normal blood pressure is less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic.

At any given hour, a person’s blood pressure may vary. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure remains high over time. High blood pressure is a silent condition because people often do not know they have it.

About 35 million American women have high blood pressure, and a third of them don’t know it. High blood pressure is truly a silent killer. In fact, a heart attack or stroke may be the first sign that you even have a problem. That’s why it’s so important to get your blood pressure checked every time you go to the doctor — especially if you’re a woman.

Become knowledgeable about your cholesterol level.

High cholesterol level in blood is almost undetectable, as it has no symptoms. That’s why a lot of people don’t even realize that they have a problem with their cholesterol level. All you need to do is visit your doctor regularly for a cholesterol check or even a general check for your health. It is important to know how your cholesterol level is, otherwise you never know what will happen to your heart. And how health it is. Keep cholesterol level in a stable condition, means ideal conditions will lower your risk of getting heart attack. No matter from what age level you are, your cholesterol level should be monitored.

The amount of cholesterol in your blood has a lot to do with your chances of getting cardiovascular disease (CVD). High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors this illness. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk for developing CVD or having a heart attack.

High blood cholesterol does not cause symptoms; so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high until it has caused symptoms of cardiovascular disease. That’s why it’s important to find out what your cholesterol level is. If your level is high, you can take steps to reduce it, and thus reduce your risk of developing CVD, or of dying of a heart attack if you already have heart disease.
– LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
– HDL (“good”) cholesterol, which helps keep LDL cholesterol from building up in the arteries
– Triglycerides, which are another form of fat in your blood
– VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins) and a cholesterol/HDL ratio may also be included in the profile.

Monitor your weight.

Simple enough to think about, but more times than not, we don’t want to know our weights. Even if you are not planning on adjusting your diet for weight loss or gain, it is important to keep track of your weight. Rapid weight changes can be a symptom of a larger issue that may need medical attention.

Concluding this month’s rambling is an item that is a very personal issue, and is one that I feel strongly about – In addition to knowing all about yourself – I would strongly encourage all of you and to embolden others to do – register to be an organ donor.
For a little while now, our family has been confronting this head on. As much as we try to wish away any bad situation, sometimes it is not enough. We have member of our family that has been dealing with declining health, to the point that a transplant was needed.

Then just a couple weeks ago as a result of the amazing generosity of another, we were brought together and were fortunate enough to have our family member gain a new “lease on life” through a major transplant. We are still working through it, but there is nothing that has created more waves in my world than going through this experience. I can only hope that in the far, far, far (ok, one more far for good luck) future, I am able to help another family out in their time of need.

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