Aspiring to work at a major fashion magazine since she was a child, Lauren Finney saw her dreams almost crumble when she was devastated by the diagnosis of lupus about five years ago.
Within weeks of her moving to New York and pursuing a career in the fashion industry, Lauren developed a hard, painful, red and growing rash all over her neck and face—a horror for someone trying to excel in a field so focused on appearances! This first warning sign was followed by extreme fatigue, hair loss and a multitude of doctor’s visits. But, after multiple opinions and doctors, two hospitalizations, a strict medicine plan, and—thankfully—the enduring support of her fashion colleagues, Lauren was finally diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that impacts the skin, joints, kidneys and other organs.
Lauren may have broken into the competitive fashion world, but not without simultaneously enduring a diagnosis that felt confusing, frightening and dream-destroying. But she is hardly alone; 1.5 million Americans suffer from lupus, 90 percent of whom are young women. Lauren’s work with the SLE Lupus Foundation has allowed her to help others cope and find hope through research that’s taking place. Here, she answers a few questions about her experience:
Q: Why do you think more people don’t know about lupus?
LF: Lupus is such a weird topic. Every time I told someone I have it, they say,” Oh, I know someone who has it…what is that?” People know it’s out there, but what manifests as symptoms and issues in one person is not necessarily the same for someone else. This makes lupus hard to spot, hard to diagnose, hard to treat and hard to understand.
Q: Is the difficulty you had in getting diagnosed with lupus typical?
LF: Yes, it’s entirely common for someone to have trouble getting diagnosed. The symptoms one sees with lupus are often symptoms of other disorders and diseases. It takes on average three years for someone to get fully diagnosed. I feel lucky it only took a year for me.
Q: In your experience, what did you find to be the most common misconception about the disease and how did you overcome it?
If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you’re in luck! We got some tips from FOX Business Network’s Melissa Francis on health and wellness deductions you might be able to make. Check out her tips to save some cash below.
1. A lot of people don’t know that can you get credit for medical expenses as long as they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. That’s not a tough hurdle considering how quickly bills add up. Put together your receipts for the doctor and the dentist and don’t forget about eye doctors, chiropractors, psychologists and even acupuncture sessions! The IRS takes non-traditional medical practitioners into account as well.
2. Another reason to kick a bad habit: You can deduct what it costs to join a smoking-cessation program.
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- We’ve tried hot yoga, but what about hot Spinning, kettlebell and Pilates classes? Get ready for your workouts to get even sweatier. – NYTimes
- Dude. Broga (yoga for men) is gaining popularity. Does this mean we won’t need to drag our boyfriends to take a class? — Yahoo! Shine
- Chocoholics rejoice: chocolate-eaters tend to be thinner, according to a new study. -- CNN Health
- Mom puts 7-year-old daughter on strict diet to lose weight. Would you put your kid on a diet? — Washington Post
- Movie critics say Jennifer Lawrence is too big to play Katniss. We say: WTF? — Slate
Last week, America’s Got Talent host (not to mention actor, radio personality, DJ, rapper, and dad — phew!) Nick Cannon announced that he was stepping down as host of “Rollin’ with Nick Cannon” at the 92.3 NOW New York radio station. Cannon was hospitalized in January for kidney failure and faced another health scare this February, this time involving blood clots near his lungs. Cannon tweeted that his doctors told him to slow down and stop working so hard.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about my fitness, the mental checklist I go through usually involves: How many times have I worked out this week? What nutritious meal can I have for dinner? Did I take my multivitamins? Am I getting a cold? Whether I’m feeling too stressed or getting quality sleep is usually last (if at all present) on that list.
But Nick’s diagnosis reminded me just how important it is to slow down and relax, too. To add a little more balance to my lifestyle, I’m promising myself at least one yoga session a week and a walk in the middle of every day as a health break. It’s no vacation on the beach, but I’ll take it!
Try these 3 simple ways you can relax whether you’re at home, work or on the go:
- Release tension while at work with these 5 easy stretches.
- Get glowing with 5 DIY relaxing beauty rituals.
- Loosen up with this 15-minute yoga-dance workout.
Before you go off and celebrate Fat Tuesday, you might want to read these shocking stats first. According to the American Heart Association someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds, with 1 in 3 women being at risk for heart disease.
That’s why Jenny Craig celebrity brand ambassador Mariah Carey is partnering up with the AHA in its healthy living initiative, My Heart. My Life. They’ve set a goal to reduce Americans’ risk for cardiovascular disease by 20 percent by 2020. To help, Jenny will be launching My Heart. My Life. My Jenny, which will help educate the public on weight-related diseases including cardiovascular issues and stroke. Check out the first PSA with Mariah below and then then get moving! You can sign up for one of 350 AHA walks around the country in 2012, get training plans, heart-healthy tips and more at jennycraig.com.
For more information on My Heart. My Life visit myheartmylife.org.
The debate around whether or not consumers should be taxed more for soda continues to spread, as the journal Nature recently published additional expert opinions. A few of their points, which are in line with numerous other reports:
- More and more scientific evidence suggests chronic sugar consumption has a slow-moving, complex—but devastating—role in metabolic syndromes, such as hypertension and diabetes.
- This class of diseases cost the U.S. $65 billion a year in lost productivity and $150 billion in medical care.
- A levy on added sugars would help meet the growing costs of sugar-related health problems and discourage consumption.
Tobacco and alcohol are both already taxed differently, and we can’t help but understand why scientists (and the government) feel that soda might be the “new” cigarette or scotch.
Should there be a tax on soda? Tell us what you think, below!
Approximately 30 million Americans have some sort of thyroid gland disturbance, and more than half of those people are unaware that anything is wrong. Why is this so important? The thyroid, a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the lower neck, produces hormones that affect nearly every cell in the body and play a large role in metabolism. Thyroid disease is more common than heart disease and diabetes, so why do we rarely here about it? The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists is out to change that this month, marking January as Thyroid Awareness Month.
To learn more, we spoke with Jeffrey Garber, M.D., President-elect for the American College of Endocrinology and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Dr. R. Mack Harrell, M.D., secretary for the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and physician at Memorial Integrative Endocrine Surgery in Hollywood, Florida.
Did you know?
- Six percent of miscarriages are linked to thyroid issues during pregnancy. Since the thyroid hormone crosses the placenta to help with the growth of the fetus, you’ll need 50 percent more iodine then when you’re not expecting. Speak with your doctor about finding a prenatal vitamin with the proper balance of vitamins and minerals.
- While about five percent of the general population is at-risk, 15 to 20 percent of those with diabetes are likely to develop thyroid disease.
- Women are more likely to be affected than men.
- If thyroid disease goes untreated, it may lead to elevated cholesterol, heart disease, infertility or osteoporosis.
- If you’re active on a regular basis, you can use your performance and recovery as a barometer for your internal health. If you feel weaker, can’t reach your typical speeds or are more sore or longer than usual, it may be a sign that an organ system is malfunctioning due to a thyroid issue. Time to check in with your M.D.!
- Thyroid disease is genetic, so ask tell your doctor about any related issues in your family tree and ask if a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test is a good idea.
- You should be performing a neck check, like a breast self-exam, on a regular basis to keep tabs on your thyroid health. Click here to find out how to do it.
Click below for more details about the different types of thyroid disease.
I’ll admit, I’ve definitely dozed off with my contact lenses in, but after hearing these two recent studies I’m about to make a healthy change for my peepers. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that 99 percent of contact lens wearers don’t wear their contacts appropriately and another survey from Bausch + Lomb discovered 20 percent of contact lens wearers have used alternative liquids such as beer (seriously!), baby oil, coke, petroleum jelly, fruit juice and their own saliva to moisten their lenses.
Creative, yes, but is it safe? Not so much. Here’s why – the average adult harbors 500 to 650 different types of bacteria and when you use your own spit to lubricate a lens, that bacteria is going straight to the last place you’d ever want to see it – your eye. Using tap water, juice, or any other kind of substance other than solution has been linked to Acanthamoeba keratitis, a corneal infection that often resists treatment.
After Googling what this infection looks like (search at your own risk!) I’m making it a point to take my contacts out every night to soak in a lens-approved solution like Biotrue Multi-Purpose Solution, and to pop in a new pair in when recommended, not when I feel like it and/or lose one. Follow suit to keep your eyes in check this year, because they’re just as important as keeping the rest of your body germ-free. Besides, the only unconventional thing we should be using beer for is this recipe!
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Put your laundry list of resolutions away and just have one goal this year, to be healthy. Easy enough, right? Don’t worry—there’s an app for that now. The Macaw Health and Fitness App will help keep you on track by transforming your smartphone into your own personal health hub in 2012.
Macaw takes all your separately downloaded health and fitness apps—everything from pedometers to glucose monitors and sleep logs— and keeps them in one place for easy tracking and viewing. With a quick seven question health assessment Macaw will also set up a personalized goal plan for you while sending automated preventative screening reminders based on your gender and age. Need some more incentive? Try the weekly fitness challenges the app provides to unlock some freebies. Goodies for getting fit? We like!
The Macaw app is free to download and is available at the iPhone App Store or Android Market.
Now tell us: What fitness and health apps are your favorite?
More from FITNESS: Get Express Workouts on Your iPhone
By Ellen G. Goldman, Health and Wellness Coach, SparkPeople.com
Lori, a client of mine, recently called me angry, upset and discouraged. She had just returned from her yearly physical, which she had been eagerly anticipating. Even though she hadn’t reached her weight-loss goal, Lori had made many lifestyle changes to promote good health: She had begun exercising on a regular basis, made some subtle shifts in her dietary habits that made her feel better, and had even begun a weekly yoga/meditation class to manage stress.
The results of the physical demonstrated her efforts had been paying off. Her blood pressure was in the normal level for the first time in years, her blood sugars had dropped, and her cholesterol profile had greatly improved. However, once the exam was complete and she was sitting with her physician in his office, rather than commenting on the improvements, he stated, “Lori, I was really hoping you would have dropped a lot more weight since our last visit. If you don’t get serious about taking off the extra pounds, your risk of early disease will continue. Have you tried dieting?”
There is a presumption that if an individual is overweight they are also unhealthy. Research clearly supports that being overweight is a major health risk factor, contributing to an increase in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and many types of cancer. So can we assume that if you are hauling around extra pounds that classify you as overweight, it will destine you to a future filled with illness and disease?
Not necessarily. An intense debate has emerged in the last few years amongst obesity researchers, asking the question, “Can people be overweight but still be healthy?” Is the number on the scale the only thing that counts, or should we take other factors into consideration? Scientists are now dueling over the relative importance of “fatness vs. fitness” when it comes to determining the health of an overweight individual.
A small but vocal group of researchers have been…
And then tell us below: Are you or do you know someone who is overweight but in better health than a skinny person? What are your opinions on if an overweight person can be healthy?
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