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Cervical cancer death rate higher than experts thought – especially for black women

A new study says the death rate from cervical cancer in the United States is higher than experts thought – particularly for black women.

The medical journal Cancer on Monday published the study, which said the rate black American women are dying from the disease is akin to that of women in many poor developing nations.

Previously, the mortality rate was 5.7 per 100,000 black women and 3.2 per 100,000 white women, the study said. However, after researchers excluded women who have had a hysterectomy – and thus no chance of developing the disease – from the numbers, the mortality rate was 10.1 per 100,000 black women and 4.7 per 100,000 white women, according to the study.

Experts say what is especially disturbing is that cervical cancer is largely preventable through screenings.

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“This shows that our disparities are even worse than we feared,” said Dr. Kathleen M. Schmeler, an associate professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

“We have screenings that are great, but many women in America are not getting them.”

Schmeler told the New York Times that repealing the Affordable Care Act could make matters worse because it covers screenings. The repeal also could result in the closing of family planning clinics that perform the test, she said.

Some doctors said the racial disparity could reflect unequal access to screening and insurance coverage.

Cervical cancer is caused, in most cases, by the virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. It can be transmitted through sexual contact. There is a vaccine for women age 26 and younger.

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Arm Yourself Against Exercise Excuses

I got into a fight this morning. It was not a “discussion." It was not a “disagreement.” It was a full blown fight. No, it wasn’t with my wife or kids or even the other drivers on the highway. The fight started before work and even before anyone else in the house was awake. The person I had a fight with was myself. You see, if I am going to exercise, it has to go like this: Up at 4:45 a.m., running by 5:00, in the shower by 6:00, and then out the door to work. Now, I never said it this routine was easy (thus the fight). Always on time, I was awakened by the shrill beep, Beep, BEEP of my alarm, signaling the start of the fight. It was on! You must be kidding. I feel like I just went to sleep a few hours ago! FOR GOODNESS SAKE, IT IS DARK OUTSIDE! Another excuse jab here: I’m tired! A plea punch there: It’s dark! A surprise shot in the dark: Don't get out of this comfy bed! I kept moving during the assault as the barrage of excuses filled my mind. I slowly made it to the bathroom to find today's running gear where I left it the night before. Even there, the attack continued: I can't get up and run when it gets cold in a few months. Then I was hit from behind with another jab of justification: It’s too dark. I could get hit by a car! I put on my armor to boost my strength and defend myself better. Socks on. Shorts. Shirt, shoes, and visor. Trusty iPod in hand. That was all it took to bring down the offender. The fight was over and I was out the door. Even then though I could roughly hear his voice from the distance telling me: Just run three miles instead of the usual five. But it was too late—I had won today by a knock-out! That's how my battle went this morning, but in reality, it's a battle I fight every day. I’d like to say that I am an undefeated champion, but that would be a lie. Sometimes I do lose and the voice wins. Many people think that a personal trainer never misses a workout and never struggles with eating the right things (or staying away from the not-so-right things). But I struggle just as much as everyone else. It is not easier for me than it is for others. It all comes down to the moment of the decision—like 4:45 a.m. every morning. That is where the battle is won or lost. We all know how important exercise is to our health. We all know we should be doing it, but we allow ourselves “outs” with what we consider justifiable excuses. You can excuse yourself out of anything if you keep listening to yourself long enough. You can let those rationalizations make sense if you try. But I have come to a personal conclusion, a motto of sorts: I will do what I need to do, in order to do what I want to do. If that means getting up at 4:45 a.m. then so be it. I want to be healthy for a long time. I’ve got a long list of reasons why. I like to feel good and feel good about myself. I like the way exercise and eating well make me feel. I want to be around to spend a long, healthy lifetime with my wife. I want to wrestle with my kids and laugh and play and see them grow up and maybe even give me grandkids and great-grandkids one day! I want to be in the "90 and up" age category in the local 5K! I will do what I need to do (exercise and eat right) in order to do what I want to do (live a full life). I'll tell you something I don’t want though. I don’t want to cheat myself out of precious time because I didn’t do the things I should have to live that long life. I don’t want to rob my wife or kids of years they could have with me. I don’t want to stare at the ceiling in a hospital room one day thinking, “I wish I would have taken better care of myself and not allowed this to happen.” I want to encourage others to do what they need to do to be healthy. I want to encourage you to stay in the fight and not give into the excuses. Nike still has the best excuse-buster I can think of: Just Do It! Does it mean getting up early even though you'd rather sleep longer? Just do it. Does it mean staying up later to hit the gym and cook a healthy meal? Just do it. Is it hot or cold outside? Just do it. You name the reason why you shouldn’t do it, and just do it anyway. The fight will be on again tomorrow morning. Same time, same place. Wish me luck—no, wish me determination—and I’ll do the same for you! After all, we are in this fight together.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1021

Helping Others Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices

If you’ve been working hard to lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle, you probably know how difficult that can be, and how important it is to have the support and help of others who are doing the same thing. You’ve probably been inspired by someone else’s success, gotten some important advice, or found a sympathetic listener just at the precise moment when, otherwise, you might have given up. Maybe that happens for you nearly every day. When important people in your life are also struggling with weight problems or making healthy decisions, you probably want to give them the same help and support you’ve received from others. Easy enough—as long as they’re looking for what you have to offer. But what do you do when someone you care about doesn’t seem to want to change her lifestyle or lose weight, even though she's putting herself at risk? What if she really wants the results of eating well and exercising regularly, but isn’t so keen on doing the things that make those results happen? How can you motivate someone to do what you know she needs to do—is that even possible? What You Can't Do Conventional wisdom says that you can’t motivate someone else. Maybe you can, however, inspire her with your own good example, give her the information she needs to solve problems, or support her when the going gets tough. But like the proverbial light bulb, that person is not going to change her behavior unless and until she wants to change it, and is ready and willing to do what has to be done. The desire and readiness have to come from inside. This conventional wisdom is probably true, but all it really tells you is what you can’t do to motivate someone else. You can’t provide her with a good reason to get healthy, you can’t persuade her to do it by the sheer brilliance of your logic and persuasive techniques, and you can't convince her by the persistence of your nagging, suggestions, bribes, threats, predictions of disaster, or other manipulative devices. Until the object of your concern wants to do something about her situation, anything you tell her is going to fall on deaf ears. So, if you’re currently doing any of those things I just mentioned, knock if off before it messes up your relationship and drives both you and the person you’re concerned about crazy with frustration and resentment. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. How many people do you know who really want to be unhealthy and overweight, and wouldn’t prefer to look better, feel better, and be as healthy as possible? When someone “isn’t motivated” to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle, the problem is probably not that she isn't ready or willing to enjoy the obvious benefits of healthy eating and exercise. If things were as simple as that, she’d make those changes in a minute. More likely, the problem is that, to her, she's "benefiting" (in some way) from the way she's doing things now, and she isn’t sure she’ll still get those same benefits if she makes big changes in her life. Your best chance for motivating her to make desirable changes is to find out what she's getting out of her “unhealthy” behaviors now, and what you can do to help her get those same things without paying the price of obesity, inactivity, and higher health risks. Let’s take a look at what this means in practical terms. What You Can Do

  • Do more listening than talking. Remember, your job is not to persuade, correct, or preach. Most people who are “stuck” in unhealthy behaviors already know what’s wrong and what they need to change. What they don’t know, they can easily find out when they’re ready to use the information. Most people even know, more or less, when they’re denying the obvious, inventing rationalizations, coming up with excuses, only seeing the problems, and ignoring the opportunities. But arguing with a friend or loved one about these things just makes it that much harder for her to start talking about the real issues. In fact, people are far more likely to talk themselves out of these unhelpful thoughts than to be talked out of them by someone else. Your job is to listen, nod a lot, and say things like “Yes, that was a problem for me, too,” or, “You mean you do that too? I thought I was the only one.”  
  • Lead by example. The best reason you can give someone for adopting a healthy lifestyle is doing it yourself and letting her see how it has helped you. Another dimension of this leading by example is talking about what you’ve learned about yourself in the process and the benefits that may not be visible on the surface. As I mentioned earlier, the “real” reason people hold back from change is usually fear of losing something important or exposing themselves to danger. That something important can be anything from the simple pleasure of doing something they enjoy (like eating a bag of chips while sitting on the couch and watching TV) to some deep psychological need to stay overweight and avoid the risks of being socially or sexually active. She might be unwilling to give up a certain style of cooking (Southern or fried for example) because it provides an important feeling of emotional connection with her family. Whatever the reasons are, change isn’t likely to happen until she feels like she's got some other realistic options for meeting these needs and desires. And most of us don’t like to think or talk too much about this kind of stuff (even to ourselves, much less someone else). You might be able to help move this part of the change process along by talking (when the opportunity arises) about how you’ve dealt with some of these kinds of things yourself.  
  • Follow the Pleasure Principle. Whatever else he may have been wrong about, Sigmund Freud was right on the money when he said that people are motivated by the desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Unfortunately, we also have the ability to do things that bring pleasure now but are certain to cause a lot of pain later on. And we’re not always very good at putting off the small immediate pleasure in favor of a more significant one later on—instant gratification is just more fun than delayed gratification, at least at the moment. The ideal solution to these difficulties is to make doing the right thing as fun and pleasurable as possible. That will always work better than preaching the evils of instant gratification, glorifying the virtues of delayed gratification or heroic self-discipline, and striking fear into the hearts of potential junk food eaters.
So, if you want to get your spouse or your kids to join in your efforts to eat healthy, put away those carrot sticks with the cottage cheese dip, and have a little contest to see who can come up with the tastiest and most nutritious new meal or snack ideas—the winner gets out of doing dishes. If you want to get the kids off the phone or the computer and on their feet moving around, don’t start with rules and limits, start by finding something they like to do, and offer to do it with them. You get the idea. The good news is that a healthy lifestyle is something that most people will actually find pleasant and rewarding, once they give it a chance to grow on them. You can’t make that happen for others, or even convince them to try when they don’t want to. But with a little thought and luck, you might just provide the Spark that gets the fire going.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=931

Positive Self-Talk Leads to Success

Most people are naturally motivated—even excited—when they begin a new exercise routine or adopt a healthier diet. You’ve got your goals set, a plan to reach them, and nothing can get in your way! But as time goes by, the novelty wears off and your optimistic attitude can give way to feelings of doubt and dissatisfaction. Or even worse, you start comparing yourself with everyone else, mentally beating yourself up for not being as “good” or successful as they are. These negative thoughts and feelings are especially common when you’re not seeing results despite your hard work. Sure, it’s much easier to fill your head with negative self-talk than it is to give yourself a mental pep talk. But the latter is exactly what you need to do in order to stay on track. What you think about while you exercise, for example, affects whether or not you’ll finish today’s, tomorrow’s and even next week’s workout. If you can focus on the positives instead of the flaws when you look in the gym mirrors, you’ll be more likely to keep your appointment with the treadmill. But when your thoughts are negative or you’re comparing your thighs with someone else’s, you’re more likely to feel insecure and unmotivated, which means you’ll stop early and maybe not show up tomorrow. Researchers agree. In a recent study from the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater, 92 female college students exercised on a stationary bike for 30 minutes, while reading one of two randomly assigned magazines (Oxygen, a women’s fitness magazine or, O the Oprah magazine, a general interest publication), or nothing at all. Those who read the fitness magazine reported more feelings of anxiety, depression and poor mood after working out than before they started. By comparison, women who read Oprah or nothing at all experienced a boost in mood after exercising. The researchers speculate that both women and men can become depressed by viewing fitness (and fashion) magazines because they feel they’ll never look as good as the models they see. What you tell yourself while you walk the extra mile or turn down a co-worker’s brownie will often determine whether you’ll successfully reach your goals or give up in frustration along the way. When you compare yourself with others (in real life or in print) or think negatively about all the parts of your body that bother you, you’re more likely to skimp on your workout routine. When you tell yourself, “no sugar this week” then you’re more likely to obsess over the one thing you told yourself that you can’t have, and then dig in to a whole plate of brownies instead of enjoying just one. In essence, it’s your own thoughts that may be keeping you from maintaining a consistent nutrition and exercise program. So how do you even begin if positive self-talk doesn’t come naturally to you? Start by appreciating your efforts and giving yourself a pat on the back for the good choices that you make, no matter how small. If that doesn’t work for you, imagine that you are talking to a friend. Would you tell her that she hadn’t lost enough weight? That his arms are too skinny? Or that she should spend more time at the gym if she ever hopes to look better in a bikini? Of course not. You would cheer on your best friend for every small accomplishment, encouraging him when he feels down or telling her all the things you love about her. So why can’t you treat yourself with the same kindness and consideration? Next, try to be more aware of your thoughts at all times. Be mindful of thoughts that come and go, and those that linger. Consciously decide to think more positively. When you notice negative self-talk in action, nip it in the bud—don’t convince yourself that your actions are pointless, that your goals aren’t attainable, or that you don’t deserve to be successful. Whether you think you’ll succeed or fail, your thoughts will become your reality. Be a success. Boost yourself up whenever you can. Be your own best friend. Have faith in yourself and the results will come! The important thing is to feel that you’re worth the effort. You deserve to be healthy and confident and strong. It’s been said that our minds can only hold one thought at a time, which means we have a choice: We can focus on a thought that makes us feel badly or we can focus on something that makes us feel good. Every second that passes is a chance to turn things around. Even if you didn’t eat well at lunch, you can do better at dinner. You’re not a failure if you didn’t go to the gym last week. You can go today. The only thing holding you back is your thinking.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1206

Think Yourself Fit!

I love motivational quotes. One of my favorites is, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right!” I believe that there is a lot of truth to that statement. As a runner, I know that if I focus on the fatigue setting in, it seems as though everything goes downhill (or uphill, for a better euphemism). There are also times when, no matter how badly I feel, I tell myself that I am going to make it. That my legs are strong. That I am going to be OK. It's funny, but the positive thoughts are what carry me to the end. And I'm convinced that focusing on the positive instead of the negative makes all the difference. Mind Over Body To give you another example of the power of the mind, there were some fascinating findings from a recent study from the University of Cape Town. Researchers examined the muscle biopsies of exhausted marathon runners and found that their muscles had plenty of glycogen and ATP (fuel for muscular contraction). Their conclusion? Fatigue sets in not when muscles run out of energy, but first when the brain tells them to conserve energy. Translation? Your brain tells you to shut down before your body does. For the average exerciser, this means that your mind can carry you a lot farther than you think! Positive self talk can literally help you think yourself fit. Develop a Mantra Author and athlete Chris Bergland insists that projecting a positive attitude can reprogram your brain to enter a euphoric state while exercising, allowing you to go longer and harder. Researchers at Wake Forrest University agree, stating that feelings of pain and fatigue are a result of both immediate and expected events. The best way to fight fatigue is with positive self-affirmations such as, “I am strong. I can do this," and "I am becoming more fit and healthy.” You can develop your own mantra, which you repeat to yourself throughout your workouts. Ironman champion Mark Allen's mantra for competition was "Strong and smooth." Over and over, he would repeat his mantra while he swam, biked and ran. And in moments of great fatigue, his brain took over to push his body to greater heights. You can develop a mantra too—something positive that you tell yourself during your workouts, to help yourself stay focused and keep your body working hard. Any word (like strong, fast, finish) or set of words will work, as long as it inspires you and is positive in nature. Visualize the Positive Another tip to think yourself fit is to visualize your exercise session before you even go to work out. This is a technique used by many professional athletes. Before a game or performance, they envision how they will perform in their mind before the competition even starts. And when it's game time, their brains just replay the performance they imagined and their body follows suit. You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to picture yourself living a healthy lifestyle, making positive choices, and reaching your goals. Take some time each day to visualize yourself exercising and enjoying it! When you imagine yourself doing well and having a good time, your thoughts will be positive and you will be more likely to do the very things (like workout regularly) that will help you reach your goals. As in most of life, your attitude will determine how well you do. Believe in yourself and talk positively to yourself, just as you would encourage a friend or loved one. Tell yourself that you CAN do it! Visualize yourself living healthy and exercising and your body (and actions) will follow. Remember that negative talk will bring you down, but staying positive will help you to think yourself fit!Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1012

This Is What Post-Baby Bodies Really Look Like—Get Used to It

For whatever reason, we have this idea that the first few months after giving birth is all sunshine and giggling babies when, really, it’s not. That's why we love moms—like Alexandra Kilmurray—who give us a much-needed dose of reality by telling us what postpartum life is really like.

Kilmurray is unapologetically honest about the many struggles new moms face: the physical and mental changes, and the possibility of postpartum depression. In a moving Instagram post, she writes, "It took me 18 months to get here, 18 months to not cry when I look in the mirror, 18 months to finally feel beautiful in my own skin again!" Check out the full post below:

Life's a B*tch. Here's How to Fight Back

Yes, I am rocking a sweet coach whistle and suede boots. I made a kid cry today. As an elementary school teacher, this is neither the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last, but no matter how many times it goes down, the experience always prompts this odd mixed reaction of devastation, horror, and completely inappropriate stifled laughter, like the kind you have at a funeral, like the more you think about it, the more terrified you become that you’re actually going to laugh in his little face.

Everybody was playing that bizarre, vaguely football-like game they play every recess, and it was going just fine, and then there he was, standing right there in the middle of the field, yelling his little kid-brains out over who even knows what. So I shouted at him in the manner I felt most appropriate, which means I channeled my inner high school football coach and called to him, "Hey, you! Get off the field! Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!" (Ever since I finished binge-watching Friday Night Lights, I feel I have a very good grip on how to communicate effectively with young men).

Of course Coach Taylor and I have matching boots. / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park. So he stomped over to me with the kind of excess pageantry exhibited solely by small, angry children and dogs wearing shoes (enjoy the glory that is this video) and gave me his elaborate pagan dance of fury, physically accenting the important words, like, I am just (punch) trying to play the game (kick) BUT NO ONE (karate chop) IS (punch) PLAYING (kick) BY (karate chop) THE (double karate chop) RULES (kick!). I know he wanted me to go over there and micromanage his game for him, but I had some pretty good reasons for refusing to do so that didn’t have to do with the fact that the grass was wet and I didn’t want to walk across it in my suede boots just to get yelled at by some more angry kids.

But hoo-boy, was he mad, and as we are all well enough aware, what often follows a kid’s mad-tantrum is some mad-crying. And then there were a lot of tears, and snot, and, well, I’ll spare you the uglier details. Then, of course, I found myself on the receiving end of the battle cry for sobbing children everywhere: He looked me dead in the eye and wailed, "IT’S NOT FAIR. YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND."

Oh, but I do. We all do—if only he knew how very little fairness exists in Grown-Up Land. I think the only reason you don’t see more grown-ups angry-dancing all over the ding-dang place is that, when you grow up, you decide it’s better and more adult of you to shove those feelings of anger and frustration deep down inside you so that they may manifest as stress-related medical issues instead.

Dog drivers are the ::worst::. / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park.

Oh, how I want to warn this kid to guard his little justice-seeking heart... I want to weep for his snotty face, for all of our snotty faces. If only I could properly convey to him how agonizing it is to abandon your avocado at the grocery store so that you have only 10 items for the 10-items-or-less checkout lane, and then watch the bish behind you plop at least 20 pieces of fancy cheese on the conveyor belt. How lousy it feels to lean over your sink one morning to inspect how lousy you are looking today, only to have the lousy sink collapse beneath you, and then end up paying to replace it due to a loophole in your lease agreement. Or the unique aggravation of driving your car behind people who go 20mph in the left lane in the middle of rush hour, who cut you off, who won’t let you in, who drive in the carpool lane with a dog wearing a hat as their passenger, who never, ever, ever, use their turn signal. Is the turn signal not a thing we use anymore, and I just missed the memo? Why have people stopped using their goddamned turn signals?

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But that seems a little heavy in these times of supreme heaviness, and he’s only 6. So instead, I would tell him, as I would tell all of you, that in the midst of all the unfairness and uncoolness, in the dark, shabbier days when it seems like we may never end up on the awesome end of things, there really are small ways of making it more OK than… well, than it would be otherwise. And one way I have found to make it OK: I don’t use my turn signal anymore now, either.

It takes a lot of focus not to, after so many years of being an excessively fastidious driver. I used to use my turn signal for everything, like pulling out of a parking spot, which even my motherdeemed unnecessary. But these days, it makes me feel better to weave in and out of traffic with nary a hint to my fellow drivers. If I catch some old lady’s stank eye as I drive past her, I’ll give her the stank eye right back, a silent expression that screams, Welcome to the jungle, bitch. It just feels like a tiny piece of power I am taking back, a way of reminding myself that there are still a few things in my life I can control. And that’s what I meant to pass on to my young friend when I leaned over, put my hand on his shoulder, and said, Listen, if no one is playing by the rules, why should you?

The cheese knows what's up. / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park.

Of course, he looked at me like I was a moron and ran back to shout at his friends some more… which he actually couldn’t do because we had taken up too much time talking and recess was over. There’s probably a lesson about problem-solving in there, but I think that’s for another day.

School should be fair. Playtime should be fair. I believe my students should enjoy these days of insular righteousness, when justice is always just a tattle-tale away. Because grown-up life is not fair, and sometimes, when no one else is playing by the rules, there’s only one way to make things right. Sometimes, you just have to fling two dozen pieces of cheese onto the conveyor belt, throw a hat on your dog, and defiantly ignore your turn signal… with clear eyes, full hearts, and a pair of well-preserved suede shoes.

Mikayla Park is a teacher/nonprofit creative person residing in the slums of Beverly Hills. Find her, and her two charming rescue dogs, everywhere at @mikaylapark.
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