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Florida teen defies odds, survives brain-eating amoeba

Despite all odds, a Florida teenager diagnosed with a brain-eating amoeba was treated at Florida Hospital in Orlando and survived.

A combination of rapid medical care and a pill distributed by an Orlando company saved 16-year-old Sebastian DeLeon's life.

>> Read more trending stories

DeLeon was swimming in a south Florida lake in late July. Days later he complained about a crippling headache while with his family in Orlando. He was at Florida Hospital within hours, where an astute lab technician found a brain-eating amoeba in a lumbar fluid sample.

"We are all detectives," Florida Hospital lab technician Sheila Black said. "We literally had to look at this and study for it awhile."

The amoeba, found in warm freshwater, has a 97 percent fatality rate.

>> Related: Fourth case of 'brain eating' amoeba reported; infection can happen after freshwater swims

DeLeon was put into a coma and his body was chilled to 32 degrees in order to freeze the amoeba. But it was Orlando company, Profounda, that learned of the amoeba and delivered medication that is believed to have been key in saving DeLeon's life.

"The idea I came up with was rather than just leave it in warehouse lab, let's get the drug out into the community," Profunda CEO Todd Maclaughlan said. "As many hospitals as we can, that way the drug will be available."

Profounda's pill, Impevido, is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it is not readily available in hospitals. Despite a six-month crusade by Profounda to stock the pills for free, hospitals across the country have not done so -- largely because the amoeba is cited as being too rare, even though patients can die in a matter of hours.

"We are talking to one hospital at a time, basically getting it out, targeting groups getting it out," Maclaughlan said.

Florida Hospital officials said they have become crusaders for Impevideo since treating DeLeon. The hospital now plans to keep the pill stocked and to promote it to other hospitals.

Out of 138 people that have been infected by an amoeba, only four survived, and three of them took Impevido.

The CDC keeps the medication in Atlanta and has to fly it out to hospitals.

This Is What a Panic Attack Really Feels Like

It always starts the same way. I sense my heartbeat speeding up, as if it’s going to burst out of my chest. At the same time, my chest feels tight but also huge; it’s like my ribs and lungs have expanded to capacity and are being forced to stay there—and the tension hurts. Next come the thoughts. The uncomfortable physical sensations start a quick succession of questions and worries: What’s happening? Why am I feeling this way? What if I can’t calm down? What is my boss/boyfriend/this random stranger on the train going to think? Am I always going to feel like this? Am I going to die? It has teeth and claws, and it pins you down and waits for you to just stop struggling. Then my stomach joins the party. It’s doing Olympics-level backflips, and I have that gagging feeling in the back of my throat, except I’m not actually gagging so I get no relief. My thoughts latch onto this new symptom and race ahead of me: Oh f*ck, now I’m nauseated. Where are my ginger pills? What do I do if they don’t help? What if I can’t get this under control and I have to cancel my plans? When is this going to end? All of this happens in less than a minute. If I’m lucky and can get somewhere where I can take a few minutes for myself, I can practice belly breathing and gradually slow my heartbeat and my thoughts. But if I can’t do that or if I feel I need to hide what’s going on, then Houston, forget a problem—we have a freaking disaster on our hands. During a panic attack, it becomes incredibly difficult to distinguish where physical symptoms like nausea and hyperventilating end and racing thoughts and fears begin. This is because a panic attack is precisely that: You’re terrified and panicking, and that fear is very real. It has teeth and claws, and it pins you down and waits for you to just stop struggling. If I’m unlucky, the belly breathing doesn’t work and I get hit with the following symptoms all at once and with startling intensity: dry heaves, diarrhea, crying so hard I give myself a headache, being so on edge that all of my muscles are clenched. At the same time, my thoughts are rushing at me so quickly that I barely finish one before another has started. Underneath the what if's and this sucks is the sense that I am quickly losing control, losing my mind, losing all grasp of who I am. During my most intense panic attack to date, in the bathroom at my boyfriend’s parents' house, it seemed like there was no way this was happening to me—it had to be happening to someone else. It was like I didn’t know who I was anymore, and it was absolutely terrifying. In reality, panic attacks don’t last long. But when you’re experiencing one, every second feels like years, and you start to think that this is inescapable, that you will feel this way for the rest of your life. Panic attacks take over your brain; they hijack your thoughts and convince you that, without a doubt, the worst-case scenario will happen, and there is nothing you can do about it. You know you can’t will yourself to feel better. Distracting yourself won’t help, and neither will anything else. It’s futile. You’re trapped. Eventually, your brain and body start to calm down on their own, usually because you’re exhausted and your brain starts to shut down, or because you’ve given up and just stopped fighting what’s happening to you. Ironically, giving up is the thing that’s most helpful: When you surrender to what’s happening, you give up the idea that you can control it, and you stop fighting it. You stop adding to the tension that you’ve been creating with your thoughts, which are in opposition to what your brain and body are doing. Ask anyone who has panic attacks, and they will tell you that a lot of what they fear is losing control: of their minds, of their bodies, in public, in front of loved ones. Your brain tells you that you will faint/look like an idiot/go crazy, and people will judge you for it. There are a host of other symptoms too: dizziness, inability to concentrate, insomnia, chills, hot flashes, dry mouth, irritability, excessive sweating. A panic attack is comprehensive; it’s not just racing thoughts or just stomach cramps. It is everything all at once in a deluge. A panic attack is like an orgasm—you may not know what it was at the time, but it is not an ambiguous experience. It’s not just racing thoughts or just stomach cramps. It is everything all at once in a deluge. Even when the panic attack itself is over, you’re still not “better.” You’re still highly sensitized, and you’re also afraid of having another attack. This creates more anxiety and uncomfortable physical sensations, and you’re right back to where you started. This is called the panic loop, and it is very, very easy to get trapped in. Remember: There is nothing wrong with having a panic attack. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or broken or flawed. Panic attacks are your brain telling you that there is danger. Your anxious brain is wrong 99 percent of the time, but it’s trying to keep you alive. Your brain is wired differently than other people's, and there is nothing wrong with that. You’re not a bad person, and you haven’t done anything to deserve it. This is something really sh*tty that’s happening to you. Some good news? While I'm not a certified mental health expert, I've found some tips that really work for me. If You're Experiencing a Panic Attack: 1. Speak to a therapist. This doesn’t mean that you’re locked into therapy for the rest of your life; it may only take you a few sessions to get to the root of your panic attacks. (Here's why everyone—even happy people—can seriously benefit from therapy.) 2. Pick up calming habits. Try preventative and stress-relief strategies like yoga, regular exercise, and/or meditation. They can teach you breathing techniques and other habits that you can use in the middle of a panic attack to help your body to calm down more quickly. You’re not a bad person, and you haven’t done anything to deserve it. 3. Write it down. Panic attack workbooks, like this one, are also great, because they help you break down the fears and symptoms, and tailor your treatment to your specific fears. 4. Reach out to a friend or family member. It’s really helpful to have someone that you can text, call, or go see when you feel an attack coming on. This person can remind you of the things you can do to help yourself calm down, and they can also help you keep perspective. I usually call my sister, and every time she reminds me that it’s not an indication of who I am—it’s just a thing that is happening to me. If Someone Else Is Experiencing a Panic Attack: 1. Ask how you can help. But just that. Don’t overwhelm them with a bunch of decisions and options; people having a panic attack usually can’t focus beyond their immediate experience for more than a few seconds at a time. 2. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want help or are irritable. Again, they’re going through something really uncomfortable and scary, and it’s unreasonable to expect them to be polite or to act like their normal selves. If they don’t want help, respect that. Let them know you’re there if they need you, and then leave them alone. 3. Don’t tell them to “calm down.” Or “relax,” “stop worrying,” or that “it’s going to be OK.” There is no nice way to say this: That’s not helpful, and it makes us want to strangle you. 4. Try to be as compassionate as you can. They’re not doing this for attention or sympathy. They’re going through something really difficult, and judging or treating them like something is wrong with them isn’t going to help. Even something as small as getting them a glass of water can be much appreciated. Just make sure you ask before you touch them—some people really don’t like that in the midst of an attack.

5 new Zika cases reported in Florida, including 1 on Gulf Coast

Five new non-travel-related cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed by the Florida Department of Health.

The agency announced Tuesday that one of the new cases transmitted by local mosquitoes is in Pinellas County and the other four cases are in Wynwood, near Miami.

>> Read more trending stories

The Department of Health said it is going door to door to homes in Pinellas County for mosquito sampling and mosquito abatement.

DOH officials still believe that ongoing active transmission is taking place only within the small identified areas in Wynwood and Miami Beach in Miami-Dade County.

Pinellas County residents can ask for mosquito control services by clicking here.

12 Heart-Smart Tips You Haven't Heard

When I flip my calendar to February, two things usually come to my mind. One, I’m getting tired of the cold and snowy winter, and two, Valentine’s Day is coming. Now, I don’t know how you feel about this “holiday," but I like it. Red happens to be my favorite color, and I love seeing all the decorations in stores. I look forward to reading the articles in magazines about celebrating our relationships, and how best to tell those who mean the most to you that you care. And even though baking is not my thing, I find it fun to read the Valentine’s Day recipes and see the heart-shaped cakes and cupcakes in the bakeries. Regardless of how you feel about Valentine’s Day, hearts are everywhere, and February is also American Heart Month. Although we think of the heart as the vehicle of emotions, that job really belongs to our minds. The heart’s job is to keep us alive by pumping vital oxygen-enriched blood to every cell of our body, doing all the jobs that keep us functioning. With such an important role, it’s essential to do all we can to keep our hearts healthy and strong. There is a common misconception that heart attacks only occur in men, but in fact, heart disease afects 6.5 million women. Many believe that cardiovascular disease has such a strong genetic component, that there is little you can do to prevent the inevitable. Please don’t fall into this faulty thinking. There is an old expression that states: “Genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” We cannot underscore the importance of good nutrition and exercise. The heart is a muscle, and the more it works, the stronger it gets. A heart-healthy diet is one filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, low-fat protein, and healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. It happens to be the same diet that is recommended to reduce the risk of so many other diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and vascular diseases, which of course, all raise your risk of heart disease. Although exercise and a healthy diet top this list, here are twelve interventions you should embrace to protect your heart. Some will be familiar and serve as a good reminder, and others will surprise you. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take the best possible care of yourself. Begin with strengthening the most important muscle in your body, your heart.

  • Adhere to a consistent exercise program and follow a heart-healthy diet. If you need help, talk to your doctor, hire a personal trainer, and/or enlist the services of a dietitian or certified wellness coach. Do whatever it takes.  
  • Lose excess weight safely, which means slowly. Maintaining a healthy body weight is known to reduce your risk of heart disease. However, crash dieting repeatedly, very-low calories diets (VLCD), cleansings and fasts have all been shown to weaken the immune system and damage heart muscles, thus increasing the threat of developing heart disease.  
  • Develop a robust circle of friends and loved ones and nurture those relationships. Studies have shown that people who lack a strong network of friends and family are at a greater risk of developing and dying from heart disease. If loneliness plagues you, developing good relationships will not only increase your happiness, but will make you healthier. Consider signing up for volunteer work. Take a class that interests you. Meetup.com is a great website that lists interest groups by geographic areas and has so many groups that you are sure to find a new social circle.  
  • Brush, floss and rinse everyday. It’s not just about sweet-smelling breath and pearly whites: Gum disease has been linked to heart problems. Make sure you keep on top of professional cleanings at your dentist’s office twice a year.  
  • Get a good night's sleep. Researchers have found that the chronically sleep-deprived increase their likelihood of developing heart disease. Aim for a minimum of seven hours a night.  
  • Reduce your intake of sodium by reading food labels and choosing lower-sodium items. Avoiding the salt shaker will only make a small dent in your daily sodium intake, since the majority of salt we consume comes from processed foods we purchase. Consistently exceeding the recommended daily sodium threshold of 2,400 milligrams raises the danger of developing high blood pressure, often a precursor to heart disease.  
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes, or do everything in your power to stop, if you do. Although we tend to associate smoking with lung problems and cancer, it also plays a role in cardiovascular disease. Smoking is a major cause of atherosclerosis, which is the build up of fatty substances on the arteries. This narrowing results in a decrease of oxygen-rich blood flow to the heart muscle. Over time, if one or more of the arteries that lead to the heart get totally blocked, a heart attack may occur.  
  • Talk to your doctor about antioxidant vitamin supplements and/or baby aspirin as a defense against heart disease and heart attack. However, no matter what your doctor may recommend, vitamins won't prevent the development of heart disease if you don't control your other risk factors, such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes.  
  • Adopt a pet. Individuals who own animals have a live-in, stress-reducing pal and often have lower blood pressures. If that pet happens to be a dog, you also have a great exercise buddy.  
  • Learn and practice stress management skills. If you find yourself saying, “this stress is killing me!” you may not be exaggerating. Chronic stress has been linked with decreasing the immune system, and increasing the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. Daily meditation, exercise, journaling and “me” time have all been shown to considerably reduce the amount and intensity of daily stress.  
  • Drink green tea and treat yourself to dark chocolate on Valentine’s Day, or any day. Antioxidants in green tea improve blood vessel function, and eating a small amount of dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and reduce the inflammation that leads to cardiovascular disease.  
  • Decrease daily negativity and increase your positivity. Mountains of research exist to show that an abundance of negative emotions such as anger and stress affect cardiovascular health, and positive emotions such as joy, gratitude and love boost our immune systems. By remaining positive, you’ll not only make life more fun, you’ll be taking care of your heart.

 

Sources American Heart Association Circulation. "Antioxidant Vitamin Supplements and Cardiovascular Disease," accessed January 2012. http://circ.ahajournals.org. Cleveland Clinic. "Heart and Vascular Health and Prevention," accessed January 2012. www.my.clevelandclinic.org. Fredrickson, Barbara. 2009. Positivity. New York: Crown Publishers. American Medical Association. 2008. Guide to Preventing Heart Disease. New Jersey: John Riley & Sons, Inc. Harvard Health Publications. "Gender Matters: Heart Disease Risk in Women," accessed January 2012. http://www.health.harvard.edu. Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1716

Why Getting Outside is So Good for You

John Keats once wrote, "The poetry of the earth is never dead." Poet or not, almost all of us have been awestruck by nature at one time or another. Whether it's running at sunset on a sandy white beach, walking alongside a cool trickling stream, watching sunset over a mountain ridge, or even hearing the wind blow through the trees in the morning, being outdoors and aware of the world's beauty can make you feel energized and alive. Recently, much research has focused on the so-called "nature connection," and how it affects our health, outlook and overall life. Nature's Healing Powers It seems that just being out in nature does your body, mind and soul some good. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the closer you live to nature, the healthier you're likely to be. The study took an objective look at 345,143 Dutch people's medical records, assessing health status for 24 conditions, including cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological diseases. The records were then correlated with how much green space was located within 1 kilometer and 3 kilometers of a person's postal code. And what did researchers find? People who lived within 1 kilometer of a park or a wooded area experienced less anxiety and depression than those who lived farther away from green space. Additionally, people living in urban environments had a higher prevalence of 15 of the 24 conditions, with the relationship strongest for anxiety disorder and depression. It's interesting to note that the green space's health benefits were only found when they were within a kilometer (not 3 kilometers away), except for anxiety disorders, gastrointestinal digestive disorders and other medically unexplained physical symptoms, according to the research. Live in a city with no green space nearby? No worries! Other studies by researchers in England and Sweden have found that joggers who exercise in a natural green setting with trees, foliage and landscape views, feel more restored, and less anxious, angry and depressed than those runners who burn the same amount of calories in gyms or other urban settings. So even if you have to drive a few miles to find a little green, it's worth it! Why Does Nature Do the Body So Good? So what is it about nature that makes us so much healthier? And what is about outdoor exercise that is better than working out in a gym? While there are many theories as to why being in nature makes us healthier, one leading hypothesis is that being outside increases our Vitamin D intake. We just keep learning more and more about how important vitamin D is for health, including preventing cancer, hormonal problems, obesity, and inflammation, and having a strong immune system. Because sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, it only seems logical that spending more time in outside would increase your vitamin D intake. Being in a natural setting can also help increase your quality of sleep, as studies show that natural sunlight helps set the body's internal clock that tells us when to eat and sleep, and normalizes hormonal functions that occur at specific times of the day. And we all know how important sleep is not just for our health, but even for our weight loss! Enjoying the outdoors also gives us a break from technology and the on-the-run lifestyle to which we're all so accustomed. When we're outside, we have a clearer, more focused mindset to hang out with friends, or spend some quiet time alone or even play with a pet.  (Remember: Pets can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). When we're outside, we can also learn and enjoy a new skill or physical activity. And perhaps most important of all, we get a chance to turn off—or better, leave behind—our cell phones to clear our heads and break from the stress we all have each and every day. How Much Green Exercise Is Enough? So how much green time do you need? Not much, recent research says. According to the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology, as little as five minutes exercising in a park, working in a backyard garden, hiking on a nature trail, or even sitting in a plant-filled setting will benefit your mental health. From researchers' analysis of 1,252 people of different ages, genders and mental health status performing walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming, the greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. All natural environments benefited study participants, including parks in urban settings. However, green areas with water were especially beneficial, as were environments that were both green and blue (think of a green tree on a bright blue sky). Fun Ways to Get Outside Ready to get out there? Here are seven easy ways to enjoy the benefits of nature!

  1. Make being outside a ritual. Go for a morning or evening walk every day. And if you have one, bring your pooch—outdoor exercise is good for Fido, too.
  2. Try gardening. From a planting vegetable garden to planting a few flowers, both activities get you outside regularly and communing with nature.
  3. Take vacations in beautiful places. For your next scheduled break, visit a state or national park or go to a beautiful beach—whatever landscape speaks to you!
  4. Find a trail. Whether hiking or biking is your speed, there are trails around the country for you to explore. Find one near you at trails.com.
  5. Sit outside. We're always so on-the-go. The next time you need a break, try sitting outside quietly and just appreciate the natural beauty around you! Notice the scents, sights and sounds as you sit quietly and focus on the moment.
  6. Go to a local park. Ask others in your neighborhood which park is their favorite to visit. Then the next time the weather is good, trade your usual gym workout for an outdoor one!
  7. Commit to the outdoors, rain or shine. When you're layered properly, you can enjoy the outdoors in any season, cold, wet or hot. Don't forget about the fun and healthy outdoor activities available during the rainy or cold months—these are the times that we have even less outdoor interaction, but may be when we need it the most!  
So the next time you have the opportunity to get outside for a brisk walk or a workout, take the chance to soak in that Mother Nature! What's your favorite exercise to do outside? How does it make you feel?   Sources Gardner, Amanda. "Being Near Nature Improves Physical, Mental Health," accessed May 2011. www.usatoday.com.   Louv, Richard. "The Powerful Link Between Conserving Land and Preserving Health," accessed May 2011. www.childrenandnature.org.   National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Sleep. "Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep," accessed May 2011. www.ninds.nih.gov.   National Centers for Infectious Diseases. "Health Benefits of Pets," accessed May 2011. www.cdc.org.   Science Daily. "In the Green of Health: Just 5 Minutes of 'Green Exercise' Optimal for Good Mental Health," accessed May 2011. www.sciencedaily.org.  Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1680

Finding Time for Healthy Living

You've made the decision to get in shape, lose weight or just live a healthier lifestyle. But you're worried about how you'll manage to find the time to get to the gym, shop and cook healthy foods, or even how you'll keep your goals in mind with so many other things already on it. Your concerns are certainly valid. As a matter of fact, one of the most common statements I hear from colleagues and friends is, "When things calm down, I really need to start taking better care of myself." Here's the thing: If you are living a full and happy life, it is more often busy than not. And when you have so much to do, doesn't it make sense to take care of yourself and feel well? There's no debating that you will need to dedicate some time to self-care, but it shouldn't mean you will have to drop your friends, ignore your family or neglect your business. Here are some suggestions of how to create more time for healthy living. Eating well for good health and/or weight loss requires you to have nutritious foods available and make wise choices when eating out. Here are some ways to make the most of your meals when you're short on time. Take a few minutes at the beginning of the week to think through your upcoming schedule. How many days will you be home for dinner, and what will you prepare? Do Monday morning meetings always last through lunch? If so, it makes sense to bring a brown bag lunch that day. Will you head to the gym straight from the office and need to bring a healthy snack to fuel you through your workout and hold you over until dinner? Once you have a picture of your week, create your grocery list and plan when you'll head to the store. This extra step will save you tons of time by avoiding multiple trips to the market, or standing in line at the take-out eateries on your way home. At the market, consider purchasing healthy convenience foods. There are so many to choose from these days. Fresh vegetables, salad greens and fruit are available pre-cleaned and cut. Old-fashioned frozen dinners have been recreated to be low-cal, low- sodium, even vegetarian or gluten-free. Check the labels and know which ones to keep in your freezer for nights when you don't have the time to cook. Although you may think these options cost more, they are less expensive than eating in restaurants, buying take-out, or high blood pressure and high cholesterol medicines that often are required after years of unhealthy choices. If you prefer to avoid the expense of pre-cut fruits and vegetables, invest in crisper storage containers. Spend a little bit of time washing and cutting produce on the weekends, in order to save loads of prep time during the week. Call your local supermarket in advance of your visit and give the deli, meat and fish counter your order over the phone. They'll have everything ready and packaged for you, saving you time from waiting in line. If you really don't have the time to shop, many supermarkets now have online ordering and delivery options. Not only will they save your weekly shopping list so you can go back to check off your frequently purchased options, they'll let you know which of your favorites are on sale. Check out online food co-ops, produce and dairy markets. Many have memberships that will deliver fresh and/or organic goods on a scheduled basis. Equip your kitchen with time-saving devices. A slow cooker allows you to quickly throw together ingredients the night before. Plug it in to cook in the morning and a hot prepared dinner is ready when you return home. A microwave will reheat leftovers or frozen healthy choices. An immersion blender quickly makes soups from frozen veggies or smoothies out of frozen fruit. When you do cook, double the recipes. Keep old take out containers or purchase freezer-to-oven pans and create your own TV dinners or a second meal for the following week. On days when you have a meal out, keep in mind that the average restaurant serves two to three times the appropriate portion size. Ask for a take-out container and pack away half for lunch or dinner at another time. Now you've kept to a healthy portion size and you don't need to take time out to prepare another meal the next day. Fitting in movement and exercise requires the same proactive thinking as eating healthy. If you are going to join a gym, make sure it is conveniently located near your home or office. No matter how fabulous the gym in the next town is, if it takes too long to get to, you won't go when you're pressed for time. Home exercise equipment is the best investment for the truly time pressed or those who simply dislike the gym atmosphere. You won't waste time traveling back and forth, and could pair your daily sessions with another activity you enjoy. Addicted to the evening sitcoms or news? Do your exercise while watching. You know you would take the time to get that one episode in anyway, what a great way to multitask! Need to catch up on trade journals? All cardio equipment today is equipped with a reading stand. When squeezing in a formalized exercise session still seems impossible to do, know that several short bursts of activity has been shown to add up to great benefit. Whenever possible, take the stairs rather than the elevator, walk to your co-worker's office to deliver messages rather than emailing. Use the restrooms on another floor. Purchase and wear a pedometer. Measuring the number of steps you take each day can be highly motivating. Without even thinking about "taking the time out to exercise" you might just reach the 10,000 steps a day to achieve health benefits. Suggest business meetings at the local walking track rather than the boardroom. Your colleagues may be delighted to squeeze in their activity as well, plus fresh air and being in nature has been proven to improve mood and creativity. Combine exercise with family time. Rather than an outing to the movies, consider the roller or ice skating rink, miniature golf course, park or town pool. You and the kids will both get your exercise and quality time together. You don't have to sacrifice time with your friends to get in a workout. Suggest an active happy hour after work rather than heading to the local bar. Go bowling, or join a baseball, basketball or soccer team. For the really ambitious, train together for an upcoming race. Let go of your "all or nothing" exercise attitude. If you think a 10 or 15 minute workout is "pointless" when you don't have time for a full hour, think again. Every minute counts toward improving your fitness level, reducing stress and strengthening your heart and muscles. Plus a minute spent exercising always beats a minute spent sedentary. Stress reduction and sleep are important to self-care and a healthy lifestyle, but too often neglected when life is frantic. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to ease stress and takes a mere 30 seconds. Begin to notice the physical signs you experience when stress is mounting. Neck tension, back pain, and queasy stomach are common. Stop what ever you are doing and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. A mantra such as "breathe" or "stay calm" may help. Stress leads to inefficiency and mistakes that then take more time to redo and correct. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, exacerbate illness and injuries and lead to lots of time spent at the doctor's office or home in bed. Take time regularly to manage your stress to avoid massive loss of time later. Experiment with what works best for you. Ten minutes of daily meditation, a weekly massage or just an evening out each week with your honey can go a long way to keeping you healthy. When you find yourself thinking "I don't have time for this" remind yourself how time consumed being sick or depressed is! Many people believe they can gain more time by skimping on sleep. I hope you are not one of them! Just as too much stress will lead to more mistakes, inefficiency, depressed immune system and increased injury and illness, so will lack of sleep. Although an occasional night of reduced sleep won't have long lasting effects, a constant diet of sleep deprivation will. Trying to function on too little sleep will end up causing you to waste time rather than save it. Chronic stress and sleep deprivation have also been proven to hinder weight loss. So if you are in hurry to see the pounds melt away, get your sleep and take time to relax, unwind and rejuvenate. With some proactive thinking and creativity, creating time for healthy living should not be an insurmountable problem. Self-care can compliment and fit seamlessly into your lifestyle. Sources: American Heart Association. Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York. "Fitting in Fitness: Hundreds of Simple Ways to Put More Physical Activity into Your Life." IL: Human Kinetics. Tribole E. "Eating on the Run—Third Edition." Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Siobhan Banks, Ph.D. and David F. Dinges, Ph.D. Banks S, Dinges DF. "Behavioral and Physiological Consequences of Sleep Restriction," Accessed August 2011. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1664

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