Welcome to Self Soul Space! This blog is designed to bring you healthy lifestyle tips. A true healthy lifestyle, embodies a healthy mind, body, spirit, and environment. Thanks for stopping by to check out my way of living.

Friday, March 23, 2012

"What's got your pressure up?"

What on earth, has got your pressure up? Have you noticed that it seems like high blood pressure is affecting everyone? Is it stress? Genetics? Race or gender? Is it the food we eat? Beverages we drink? How about age? We will discuss the who, what, when, and how's of high blood pressure, and more importantly how to prevent it!

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition. It basically means the force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause damage or health problems. Someone can have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke. In most cases, High blood pressure develops over many years, and it affects almost everyone eventually. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. Once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.

There are two main types of hypertension:

Primary (essential) hypertension- For most adults, there's no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This type tends to develop gradually over many years.

Secondary hypertension- Some people have high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition. This type tends to appear suddenly and cause higher blood pressure than primary hypertension.

Various conditions and medications can lead to secondary hypertension, including:
-Kidney problems
-Certain defects in blood vessels you're born with
-Certain medications, such as birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs
-Illegal drugs, like cocaine and amphetamines

Do you think you might have hypertension? What do you do? How do you know?

Most people have their blood pressure taken as part of a routine doctor's visit. Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18 (learn & know your numbers). He or she will likely recommend more frequent readings if you've already been diagnosed with high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Children age 3 and older will usually have their blood pressure measured as a part of their annual checkups. Although high blood pressure is most common in adults, children are at risk, too. For some children, high blood pressure is caused by problems with the kidneys or heart. But for a growing number of kids, poor lifestyle habits, like an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise, contribute to high blood pressure.

If you don't regularly see your doctor, you may be able to get a free blood pressure screening at a health resource fair or other locations in your community. You can also find machines in some stores, like pharmacies, that will measure your blood pressure for free, but these machines can give you inaccurate results.

Are there any Symptoms to give me a heads up?

No, not really, but some people with early-stage high blood pressure may have dull headaches, dizzy spells or a few more nosebleeds than normal. Keep in mind, these signs and symptoms typically don't occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe, life-threatening stage.

Who usually gets high blood pressure? What are some of the triggers? Am I predisposed to it?

Age. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Through early middle age, high blood pressure is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after menopause.

Race. High blood pressure is particularly common among blacks, often developing at an earlier age than it does in whites. Serious complications, such as stroke and heart attack, also are more common in blacks.

Family history. High blood pressure tends to run in families.

Being overweight/obese. The more you weigh, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.

Not being physically active. People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction, and the stronger the force on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being overweight.

Using tobacco. Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls. This can cause your arteries to narrow, increasing your blood pressure. Secondhand smoke can also increase your blood pressure.

Too much salt (sodium). Too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.

Too little potassium. Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells. If you don't get enough potassium in your diet or retain enough potassium, you may accumulate too much sodium in your blood.

Too little vitamin D. It's uncertain if having too little vitamin D in your diet can lead to high blood pressure. Vitamin D may affect an enzyme produced by your kidneys that affects your blood pressure.

Drinking too much alcohol. Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. Having more than two or three drinks in a sitting can also temporarily raise your blood pressure, as it may cause your body to release hormones that increase your blood flow and heart rate.

Stress. High levels of stress can lead to a temporary, but dramatic, increase in blood pressure. If you try to relax by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may only increase problems with high blood pressure. Instead try yoga with meditation, physical activity that reduces stress!

Certain chronic conditions. Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, including high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease and sleep apnea.

*Sometimes pregnancy contributes to high blood pressure, as well.

So what can you do?

High blood pressure, can affect anyone, you and/or someone you know. Honestly, there are some things you can't change; age, race, and family history. But if you know your numbers and your family history, eat right, live a healthy-active lifestyle, reduce stress, limit alcohol, cut tobacco; you'll be off to a good start preventing high blood pressure.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekends: healthy, fit, and fun for everyone

It's the weekend, and what are you going to do? I find myself trying to think of something to do every weekend. Things we can do as a family, things for just my husband and I, things for me and my girlfriends, and honestly, things for just me to do too. After a long work week, the last thing anyone wants to do is rush around, and not enjoy their weekend. But how do we stay active, eat healthy, and still relax over the weekend. Here are some of my ideas for healthy weekend activites, whether it's date night, family day, girls/guys night out, or a "me myself & I" date.

Bowling: this is a guaranteed strike, when it comes to healthy activity for people of all ages, anytime of day, anywhere. It's fun as a pair, or with a group.

Cooking/baking class: learn to make different cuisines, there are even ones for kids... If you're in the DE area check out Chefs Haven in Hockession, DE (http://www.chefshavenonline.com) or even your local Williams Sonoma.

Spa Night: you can go out to your favorite salon for a spa night, or you can do one at home for more fun and on a budget. Manicures, pedicures, facials, or even massages. Check out www.wholeliving.com for their At-home Spa Guide, or find a Mary Kay consultant in your area.

Home Improvement: this is a great way to get the blood pumping while improving your Space. A great time to recruit friends & kids to help. Gardening, spring cleaning, and painting are easier ways, but if you want to remodel your bathroom, have fun!

Bike Ride: go for a bike ride, solo or with someone/a group. Look for scenic locations; beach, lake, park, historic areas, or even just your neighborhood... For a special treat, ride your bike to your favorite ice cream or frozen yogurt shop, for a sweet reward!

Yoga class: take a yoga class. This is a wonderful way to work and relax the body all at the same time. There are even family yoga classes. Namaste!

Walk & a Picnic: pack a healthy meal in reusable containers, and head out to your favorite park or beach. Enjoy the time with a leisurely stroll and a yummy meal. If you're with another, pack a frisbee or some kites. As the weather gets warmer, some parks offer live music, bonus! But don't forget your picnic blanket!

Book Stores: antique or your neighborhood Barnes & Noble, are wonderful ways to spend your weekend. Grab a coffee or a tea, find a good book, snag a cozy chair, and let your mind drift into the pages. With kids, this is another awesome way to show them reading is fun!

Walking Tour: whether your visiting or it's your hometown, go on a walking tour. You'll see and learn things your never knew before. In DE, there are tours of the historic houses & buildings of Dover, Old New Castle, Lewis, and Georgetown. Amazon.com even sells books/maps so you can take your own walking tour where ever you are without a tour guide.

Botanical Gardens: visit, enjoy, learn, and breathe in all of the wonderful smells and the beauty these gardens have to offer. Longwood Gardens in PA is one of our favorite places to visit, all year round (www.longwoodgardens.org), they have a spectacular Christmas display. Plus you get in about 2-3 miles worth of walking.

Group Sports: these can be as fun or competitive as you want them to be; volleyball, basketball, flag football, and an oldie but goodie, kickball. Get some friends, kids, family members together and get moving!

Dancing: time to put on those dancing shoes, and get boogieing! Leave the robot at home though. Don't feel like going out, try Just Dance for the xBox or the Wii... It is soooooo much fun, I work up a sweat every time !!

Volunteer: this is a great way to giveback, which is very healthy for your soul and space! Find places in your area that need your help, we have a great website in DE, www.volunteerdelaware.org that connects volunteers with the organizations.

Roller/Ice Skating: when was the last time you put on a pair of skates? It's fun, family friendly, and some rinks even have adult only skate times. This is not only a good workout for your body, but for your soul as well because you will laugh and let go, every time you or someone else with you falls.

Museums: visit a art or historic museum, learn and take in the culture, relax in the quietness... Unless your at the Delaware Children's Mueseum, then let your inner child out and have fun!

These are just some of my ideas for having a healthy, fun, and fit weekend. By no means should you squeeze them into one weekend, then your back to a jammed packed-non relaxing weekend. Grab your partner, your kids, your friends (or leave them all at home) and go have fun! Stay healthy this weekend, Self, Soul, and Space!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blog Vacation: Family Quality Time

Sorry Friends, it's been a week and a half since my last blog post. I had a week and two days in between auto shows after not being home for almost the entire month of February, so I decided to take that time and spend quality time with my family, my friends, and myself.

I fell right back into the grove, mom-duty in full effect. My daughters and I played princesses, read stories, practiced yoga, made dinner together, went to 2 basketball games, played school with real learning, played games, went shopping, and enjoyed the wonderful weather the east coast had to offer. We even went for family pedicures at our local nail salon. My husband and I, are always secondary, I'm afraid to admit. However, we were able to have our usual quiet time after the girls went to bed. Good conversations, NBA, and our new favorite show, T.I. and Tiny: Family Hustle. We, as a family, ate dinner together every night; which is so important to us and our relationship with each other.

I even had the opportunity to spend time with my long lost mom-friends, with a dinner at CPK. I spent time with my cousins as we supported our favorite athlete, Taylor Reynolds & Newark High School Basketball. The girls and I also enjoyed visiting with my 97 year old grandmother. I ate lunch and spent a day with my mother and my cousin Arthea (p.s. Happy Bday!).

This was a jammed pack week, but I still found time for myself. I attended my favorite BodyFlow and yogilates class at my local YMCA, plus some really good runs. I registered myself for the Delaware marathon, and had a physical at the doctors. I spent time catching up on my magazine subscriptions, and reading a new book. You already know, my local favorite Starbucks was visited, as well. I went to bed every night happy and relaxed after good meditation sessions, and woke up refreshed. I took the time to turn off technology, and enjoy my time at home with my family. My time at home was wonderful, I can't wait until April 16th, when I am off from auto shows for the summer!!

Whether you have every day at home, a couple hours every day, or a couple days a month/year... Take the time to spend quality time with yourself, your family and friends. Don't dwell on the negatives and the fact that you have to leave again, instead make the time special and positive, and look forward to more special quality time in the future. Quality time is good and healthy for your Soul!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Penne with Spring Vegetables

Since today was Meatless Monday and National Nutrition Month, I decided to make s yummy filling pasta dish for my family for dinner.  Penne with Spring Vegetables is a great, fast way to get creative with your favorite veggies, or even clean out your fridge.  The overall reviews from my husband and kids were positive; however, D'reardon wished it had chicken in it, and Mia after eating a few veggies switched to just eating the penne.  Jordan and I loved it, we ate seconds!!  Here's the recipe... Enjoy!

Penne with Spring Vegetables
Serves 6-8

1 box Whole Wheat Penne Pasta (or any short pasta, bowtie-rotini-etc)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Chopped White Onion
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 bunch Asparagus, trimmed + cut into 1in pieces
1/2 pint Grape Tomatoes, cut into halves
1 small Yellow Squash, cut into small chunks
1 small Zucchini, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup Vegetable broth (or Chicken broth)
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 fresh Basil Leaves, cut into ribbons
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Cook pasta according to package.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet, over med-high heat.  Add onion and garlic. Saute 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add asparagus, and continue cooking for 3 minutes.  Add zucchini and squash, saute an additional 2-3 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes, cook until tender. 
Season with salt and pepper. Add broth, and reduce heat to simmer, until cooked through.
Drain pasta, and add it to skillet.  Toss, sprinkle with fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve, and enjoy!!

Bonus- D'reardon just went into the fridge for a snack, and he pulled out the leftovers... and ate it cold.  "this would be a good pasta salad, too"... Hot or Cold, get creative with your Pasta and Vegetables.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

National Nutrition Month

Yay, it's March... Finally! And it's National Nutrition Month; is it me, or does it seem like there's a "month" for everything?!?  However, NNM is a good month to celebrate.  The USDA recommends for proper nutrition, we (as adults) eat a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free/low-fat milk & milk products.  It should include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. A diet that is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.

What does it all mean?  What's a proper serving size?  How do I make sure I'm getting enough?  How do I make the most out of my meal, nutritionally? I Prefer not to eat meat, now what?  Are these are some of your questions?  Here are the nutritional breakdowns by MyPlate & the USDA, and some of my suggestions:

Fruits & Vegetables: Should take up half your plate
Daily Serving Recommendations:
Fruit: 1.5-2 cups; 1 large banana/orange/apple/peach/pear = 1 cup; 1/2 cup of dried fruit = 1 cup equivalent
Veggies: 2-3 cups; 1 cup of cooked/raw veg; 2 cups dark leafy greens = 1 cup equivalent
Salads are a great way to add both fruit & veggies to a meal
Juicing is another great way to get both a serving of fruit and veggies in (carrot, apple, pineapple one of my favs)

Grains-Whole & Refined: At least half of grain daily serving should be whole grains
Daily Serving Recommendations: 5-8oz; 1 slice of bread, 1 cup cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked rice-pasta = 1 oz equivalent.
Whole Grains: Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm.
Refined Grains: Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins; i.e. white flour
Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal are great options
If weight-loss is a goal in addition to nutrition, limit refined grains.

Protein: Lean meats, eggs, beans, and nuts are great options
Daily Serving Recommendation: 5-6.5oz; 1/4 cup cooked beans, or 1 tbsp of peanut butter = 1 oz equivalent
Vegetarian/Vegan: Vegetarian options in the Protein Foods Group include beans and peas, processed soy products, and nuts and seeds.
Buy lean meats in pre-portioned amounts, to avoid over eating
Try meatless options, even if your not a vegetarian; Beans & rice are a yummy meal
Greek yogurt has protein in it too!

Dairy: switch to fat-free (or low fat/1%) milk & dairy products
Daily Serving Recommendation: 3 cups; 1 cup of milk-soymilk, 1 cup of yogurt, 1.5 oz hard cheese, 1/3 cup of shredded cheese = 1 cup equivalent
Try soymilk, its a yummy addition to cereal
Cheese sticks are a great snack, that counts as 1 serving
Greek yogurt, is a double duty food, counts for both protein & dairy serving

Overall, good nutrition is imperative to a healthy lifestyle.  Enjoy your food, but eat less; avoid oversize portions; increase fruits and vegetables; eat whole grains; limit fat, processed, sodium-rich foods; and drink more water!! So, why not take a month, better yet, take a year and dedicate it to eating healthy!

p.s.  Healthy food can taste good too, get creative!!