While rolling a wheel of needles across your face may sound painful, it’s actually not that bad — and it comes with glowing skin benefits. “Microneedling is the creation of small microchannels and injuries to the skin using acupuncture-sized needles,” says Dr Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, dermatologist and founder of Entiere Dermatology in New York City. “These ‘injuries’ to the skin cause the body to respond by stimulating and producing collagen, which can treat fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores, stretch marks, acne scars, and textural concerns.” Read on for everything you need to know about microneedling.
“In-office microneedling procedures use sterile needles that puncture deep enough in order to cause bleeding for stronger results,” explains Dr Levin. This treatment is done by a dermatologist using a dermapen — think a small stamp of needles — that’s pressed into the skin.
Then, there’s at-home microneedling which you’ve probably seen on Instagram or Youtube. It involves using a dermaroller (a rolling wheel of short micro needles). It works similarly to a tool used for aerating soil and makes way for the products that you follow up with afterwards.
“Normally, only about four percent of a product’s ingredients penetrate into the skin, but using a dermaroller allows up to 70 percent to make it through,” says Danna Omari, esthetician and founder of Noy Skincare in New York City. “So, any condition you’re concerned with — wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, scars — will improve that much faster because the ingredients in your skincare are actually able to get to work.”
In-office treatments can set you back between R2000-R2500.
Meanwhile, at-home dermarollers can cost anywhere from R250 to R800 — but Dr Levin says you may want to consider paying the hefty price tag because “at-home devices are much more superficial and not as precise.”
Microneedling shouldn’t hurt if you’re doing it correctly.
Here’s your step-by-step guide for microneedling, according to Omari:
Completely clean your skin.
Once you’re makeup free, roll each area of your face and neck in different directions (horizontal, vertical and diagonal — like an asterisk) for two to five minutes.
Immediately follow it up with your favourite eye cream, serums, and moisturizer.
You’ll want to make sure you’re investing in a safe tool for microneedling.
Opt for a roller with “sterilized stainless steel and has surgical-grade needles at the optimal length and angle to help prevent micro tears,” says Omari.
Keep in mind that while in-office treatments are meant to draw blood, at-home rollers should not.
There are some risks involved with microneedling — particularly if you DIY.
“At-home microneedling devices are difficult to clean, so there’s a higher risk of infection,” warns Dr Levin. Omari agrees that keeping your tool clean is key and recommends running it under hot water after each use then letting it dry completely before putting it back in its case. Once or twice a week, she also recommends soaking it in a cleansing solution for 10 minutes. If you’re in a pinch, she says denture solution tablets work, too.
Microneedling isn’t for you if you have inflamed skin.
“If you’re dealing with an inflammatory condition — such as psoriasis or eczema, or actively tanned, sunburned skin — or you have a skin infection such as cold sores, microneedling should not be performed,” explains Dr Levin. “You don’t want to further stress out skin that’s already irritated.” If you’re unsure which camp you fall in, always ask your dermatologist or esthetician before getting started.
Whether you’re tailgating, cooking for a potluck or bringing in a treat for co-workers, keep safety in mind to avoid food-borne illnesses.
Safe handling is always important, but it’s an even bigger priority when you’re away from your kitchen, without the benefit of your fridge and oven to control food temperatures. The key is to plan ahead to keep food safe until eaten. The golden rule is to keep cold foods cold – below 4.4°C, and keep hot foods hot – above 60°C.
Keeping cold food cold means you’ll need to use a cooler with cold packs or lots of ice, and keep it in the shade. Foods that don’t need to be stored in the cooler include whole fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and peanut butter and jelly.
If you’ll be cooking, such as grilling, at the venue, carry raw food in its own cooler, double wrapped in plastic to contain any juices. Bring disposable wipes for hand washing. If you’re taking food to a friend’s home for a BBQ, for instance, keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to put on the grill. Since food may brown before it’s cooked through, test with an instant-read thermometer for safety.
Best internal temperature for cooked meats
Red meat: 74°C
All ground meat: 71°C
If cooking in batches, place cooked meats off to the side of the grill rack or in a 200-degree oven until serving. And, of course, never use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.
One final note: Any leftover food is safe to take home only if it was kept in a cooler, and the cooler still had ice in it.
Could your personality as a teen forecast your risk for dementia a half-century later?
Very possibly, say researchers, who found that dementia risk is lower among seniors who were calm, mature and energetic high schoolers.
“Being calm and mature as teen were each associated with roughly a 10% reduction in adult dementia risk,” said study co-author Kelly Peters, principal researcher at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. “And vigour was associated with a 7% reduction.”
While Peters said there’s plenty of evidence that personality changes near the time of a dementia diagnosis, the lingering question has been whether personality or some aspects of it actually causes dementia.
“That’s the big question,” she said. “Is it only that personality can be affected by dementia? Is it just an expression of the disease?” By focusing on teens who didn’t later develop dementia, Peters said, “this study really starts to tease that out.”
At an average age of 16, the students were assessed for 10 traits: calmness, vigour, organsation, self-confidence, maturity/responsibility, leadership, impulsivity, desire for social interaction, social sensitivity, and artistic and intellectual refinement.
By 2011-2013, when they were almost 70 years old, more than 2,500 had developed dementia.
Enter lead author Benjamin Chapman, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester in New York.
After stacking 50-year-old personality profiles up against current medical records, he and his team found that the risk of dementia was notably lower among seniors who were calm, vigorous and mature as teens.
Calmness was defined as being stress-free and not neurotic; vigour as being energetic and outgoing; and maturity as being responsible, reliable and conscientious.
Peters said the findings could guide policy thinkers to develop improved social support systems “to help kids build up protective qualities.” But she highlighted some reservations.
A lot more work to be done
For one thing, the team “only looked at traits that were protective,” she said. And money seemed to matter: Calmness, vigour and maturity did not appear to protect against adult dementia among teens who grew up in relatively poor households.
Chapman’s study also tracked dementia only around age 70. That, said his Rochester colleague Dr Anton Porsteinsson, means “there’s a lot more work to do”. He was not involved in the study.
“The average age of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is around the early 80s,” said Porsteinsson, director of the university’s Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Research and Education Program. “So it would be really good to repeat this in another 10 to 15 years, to see what’s happening when dementia risk is really at its peak.”
While the findings highlight a link between dementia and personality, he said that it’s hard to draw a direct correlation.
“If you’re calm and conscientious, do you make better health choices in your life? And if so, are specific personality traits directly decisive with respect to dementia? Or does your risk for dementia indirectly reflect those better decisions?” Porsteinsson said.
Not everybody can fit the same mould
Heather Snyder is vice president of medical science relations at the Alzheimer’s Association.
“There are a wide variety of social, environmental and genetic factors that may contribute to our risk for dementia, and more research is needed to determine what those are and how they interact,” said Snyder.
But she said that “there is not enough evidence at this time to suggest that an intervention strategy for personality type in high school would be effective”.
Porsteinsson warned against using the study to conclude that there’s clearly a “good” personality and a “bad one.” It could be, he said, that impulsiveness and neuroticism, while bad for dementia, “bring a different skill set to the table” that has value.
“We don’t necessarily want all kids to be calm and composed at all times. We don’t want everyone to fit into the same mould,” Porsteinsson said.
“So we have to be very careful about how we interpret these findings until we really understand a lot more about what this is all really about,” he said.
The study was published Octocber 16 in JAMA Psychiatry.
The sense of loss women feel after losing one or both nipples post-mastectomy is hard to describe, but perhaps this sums it up best: “Without a nipple, a breast isn’t a breast—it’s just a mound,” says Dr. Joshua Levine, a natural breast reconstruction surgeon in New York City.
That’s why nipple reconstruction can have a huge impact on the emotional-recovery process of mastectomy patients, say experts like Dr. Anastasia Bakoulis, assistant professor of surgery at Stony Brook School of Medicine’s breast center.
Her research suggests that about 90 percent of women now opt for breast reconstructions after mastectomies (up from just 10 percent in the 1980s). Nipple-sparing mastectomies are a choice for some, depending on the specifics of the cancer, but others are limited to options like tattooed-on nipples, reconstructions built from, say, leg tissue, or prosthetics that need to be reapplied for each use.
“The nipple restores a sense of normalcy and health to a woman,” says Levine. “It can help her leave the memory of surgery and disease behind her.”
For patients who can’t keep their nipples, reconstructed, tattooed, or prosthetic options can greatly improve their quality of life. “I’ve seen women who have refused to remove their bras in front of their husbands for years that have no problem whipping off their tops to show off their marvelous breasts today,” says Friday Jones, a tattoo artist who does post-operative tattooing. “It’s like they finally recognize themselves again.”
Here, five women who have undergone post-mastectomy breast reconstruction share how they dealt with the loss of their nipples—and how it impacted their lives. —Amber Brenza
‘Getting my nipples surgically reconstructed was the one part of this process that felt like it was for me.’
“I was only 25 when I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, so everything about it—from the diagnosis through my recovery—was a total shock.
“I had a life-threatening diagnosis, so at the beginning, I was so worried about surviving that I didn’t care at all about losing my breasts, much less my nipples. Having a mastectomy was something I needed to do to live, so I did it.
“I chose to have reconstruction surgery for both breasts shortly after my double mastectomy, but I had to wait several months for my previous surgery to heal before I could have nipple-reconstruction surgery—it ended up being three years between my first surgery and when I had my nipples done.
“I was really excited to get the surgery—seeing my new breasts with no nipples was just too weird. But I had to make a lot of decisions I never thought I’d have to think about—like how far I’d want my nipples to stick out.
“My surgeon used grafts of my own skin from the inside of my upper thigh for the nipple reconstruction. It was incredibly painful—I couldn’t walk for weeks afterward—but totally worth it. The skin from my thigh gradually darkened on its own into the areolas, and the nipples themselves were created by a series of incisions and tucks in the skin and fat.
“When I finally saw my new nipples after the bandages came off, I immediately knew I’d done the right thing. Even though there was a lot of healing to do still, I felt like myself again.
“Since my nipple reconstruction, I’ve ended up talking about them a lot. I’ve had conversations about my post-cancer nipples with female acquaintances who were curious about my reconstruction process, I’ve shown them to women who were about to go through their own breast-cancer battle, and I’ve even had to convince more than one well-meaning mother that, no, I really couldn’t breastfeed my child, even though I technically had nipples.
“These days, I’m super-happy with how my breasts and nipples look; the reconstructive surgeries have given me a lot of peace.
“The nipple reconstruction was especially gratifying, as it was the one surgery I did just for me. Every other one was because I didn’t want to die, or didn’t want my body to be so messed up. It felt wonderful after years of my life being in the control of the medical community to make a decision that was purely mine.” —Mary Smith, 42, diagnosed at 25
‘My fake nipples look better than my real ones ever did.’
“I have a long family history of breast cancer, so I decided to get tested. Sure enough, I have the BRCA2 mutation. So in 2017, I chose to have a preventative double mastectomy, followed by reconstruction.
“At the time, I was told I was a good candidate for nipple-sparing surgery, where they keep your original nipples and reattach them to your new breasts, but that it would involve one extra surgery. I think everyone was surprised when I told them not to bother. Unlike a lot of women, I never had any real attachment to my nipples. In fact, I had always thought they were too big and looked kind of weird.
“Even though I felt no emotional attachment to my original nipples, I wondered if I’d look down after the surgery and feel upset that they were gone.
“I didn’t miss the old nipples at all, but I wanted to look whole again, and I wanted my breasts to look as natural as possible. So I decided to have nipple-reconstruction surgery.
“I chose to go down a few sizes—from a 34DDD to a 34D—so I knew my boobs were going to look different. The surgeon created new nipples out of little flaps of skin. Then, a few months after that, I got tattoos done on the new nipples to make them look more realistic. My tattoo artist even added little bumps to mimic the glands women have on the areolas.
“They look so good that my doctor forgot they weren’t real for a minute at my checkup.
“Ultimately, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. The one downside is that I don’t have any sensation in my nipples. I do miss feeling aroused there, but my breasts look amazing—better than they did before the surgery.” —Maggie Gaines, 45
‘I’m not sure if I’ll reconstruct my nipples at all.’
“My experience losing my nipples to breast cancer is hard to put into words.
“I wasn’t a candidate for keeping my nipples, because of the type of cancer I had, and I went through a real grieving process for them—it felt like I was losing an essential part of my femininity.
“After I woke up from the mastectomy surgery, I was in so much pain, and all I could see were the drains and expanders and bandages—my body looked like a medical battlefield.
“At first, it was gut-wrenching, but as I looked at the scars seared across my chest, I realized how strong I really am and that the scars where my nipples used to be were just one more sign of how I’d kicked cancer’s ass and won. That, to me, was worth way more than keeping my nipples.
“After my mastectomy, I had several breast-reconstruction surgeries, and currently, I don’t have any nipples—I’m not even sure if I want them at all, tattooed ones or reconstructed ones.
“This surprises people, but I don’t feel like I need nipples to be sexy. Real men—the kind worth having around—are just happy you’re alive and won’t care about the no-nipples thing.
“Besides, I’ve had a lot of fun trying on ‘new’ nipples—using pepperonis, whipped cream, cherries, peach candy rings. For me, keeping a sense of humor about everything has been one of the most important parts of my recovery.
“I also have two daughters who may or may not have the same breast cancer gene I have. I want them to know that nipples and breasts are feminine and sacred—but when it comes to cancer, it’s not about saving your breasts, it’s about saving the brave, badass woman underneath them.” —Brooke Parker, 31; diagnosed at 28
‘As soon as my nipple prosthetics arrived in the mail, I couldn’t wait to try them on.’
“There are four generations of breast cancer in my family, so in 2015, after finding two precancerous growths, I decided to have both my breasts removed as a preventative measure.
“I opted for a double mastectomy immediately followed by reconstructive surgery. One year after my mastectomy, I got the final surgery to put my breast implants in, and three months after that, the soonest I possibly could, I had nipple-reconstruction surgery. Unfortunately, it didn’t work at all.
“The surgery didn’t take, and the new nipples totally flattened back out and looked strange—which can sometimes happen after reconstruction, I was told. My surgeon tried to tattoo them so at least the color would give the appearance of nipples, but they just didn’t look real.
“I was devastated. I felt so unattractive that I refused to take my top off during sex and cried to my boyfriend about how awful I felt. I had no self-confidence. Finally, I went to a tattoo artist and had 3-D tattoos done over the ones my surgeon had done. These turned out a lot better, but as great as the tattoos were, my nipples still didn’t stick out at all from my breast, so they didn’t look real.
“Then, I was searching on the Internet one night and came across Pink Perfect, a company that makes prosthetic nipples for women. They had a bunch of different style, size, and color options so I could find a pair that felt right for me.
“As soon as they arrived in the mail, I couldn’t wait to try them on. They attach with a removable adhesive, and once I stuck them on, they felt totally natural. I ran to my room and put on a tight T-shirt. When I saw my nips poking out through the fabric, I was overjoyed. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more beautiful than I did in that moment.
“The nipple prosthetics look unbelievably real. When I went to my follow-up appointment with my plastic surgeon, neither my doctor nor the nurses realized they were fake at first. Now, I wear the prosthetic nipples all the time—to the gym, out running errands, and, yes, during sex. They change my overall look and give me so much more confidence. They’re life-changing.
“I’m really happy with my look now, and my health is great. I even found out after my surgery that one of my breasts really did have breast cancer, and I am so lucky we caught it that early.” —Dana Reinke, 45, diagnosed at 42
‘Doctors can’t even tell my 3-D nipple tattoos aren’t real.’
“I’ve had breast cancer twice. The first time, we treated it with chemo and radiation. When it came back two years later, I decided to get a double mastectomy, immediately followed by reconstruction surgery.
“I wasn’t able to do the nipple-sparing surgery on the side with cancer, but I was told I could keep the healthy nipple if I wanted to. I opted to have both removed because I didn’t want them to be mismatched.
“The first time I saw my breasts after the implant surgery, which followed my mastectomy, I remember thinking how good they looked…except for the lack of nipples. It was a huge shock to see two large, oval-shaped scars where they should have been.
“Honestly, losing my nipples was one of the hardest parts of my cancer. Every time I felt cold or aroused and my nipples didn’t react, it was just another reminder of how much I’d lost to this disease.
“I was desperate to feel normal again, so a year after my breast-reconstruction surgery—as soon as I was healed—I decided to have nipple-reconstruction surgery. My surgeon was a genius, but I was not prepared for what I would see post-surgery—my new nipples looked like raw meat. They were so red and inflamed and were covered in stitches. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but they looked terrible at first.
“Caring for my new nipples was also lot of work. Every day for weeks, I had to put on ointment, cover them with bandages, and then try to figure out a decent outfit I could wear without needing a bra, since I wasn’t able to wear one during the recovery period. It was overwhelming, and even worse, I still wasn’t thrilled with how they looked when they were healed.
“They didn’t look like ground meat anymore, but they still didn’t look real. The areola was too big, and the color was lighter than the surrounding skin—not darker, how nipples typically look.
“About a year later, I decided to get my reconstructed nipples tattooed. It’s unbelievable how realistic the tattoos look. The artist corrected the coloring and added details like shading and dots that look exactly like real nipples. In fact, the last time I went in for a checkup, neither my dermatologist nor my gynae realized they weren’t real.
“Today, I wouldn’t change a thing about my nipples. And interestingly enough, my choice to get both nipples removed turned out to be a life-saving one: When the pathology came back on the ‘healthy’ nipple, I found out I had a second cancer on the other breast. So now when I look in the mirror, I’m both happy and healthy.” —Jana Muntin, 44, diagnosed at 40
Humans may lack the salamander skill of regrowing a limb, but a new study suggests they do have some capacity to restore cartilage in their joints.
The findings run counter to a widely held belief: Because the cartilage cushioning your joints lacks its own blood supply, your body can’t repair damage from an injury or the wear-and-tear of ageing.
‘Inner salamander capacity’
And that, in part, is why so many people eventually develop osteoarthritis, where broken-down cartilage causes pain and stiffness in the joints.
But that lack of blood supply does not mean there’s no regenerative capacity in the cartilage, according to Dr Virginia Byers Kraus, the senior researcher on the new study.
In fact, her team found evidence that human cartilage can, to some degree, renew itself, using a molecular process similar to the one that allows a salamander to grow a new limb.
The researchers are calling it the “inner salamander capacity”.
“For the first time, we have evidence that the joint has the capacity to repair itself,” said Kraus, a professor at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, North Carolina.
Specifically, she explained, that capability exists in a “gradient”. It’s greatest in the ankle, less apparent in the knee, and lowest in the hip.
Some interesting questions
And that makes sense if this repair capability is an artifact of evolution, according to Kraus. Animals that regenerate tissue have the greatest capacity for it in the distal portions of the body – the parts “most likely to get chewed off”.
Dr Scott Rodeo, an orthopaedic surgeon not involved in the study, said the findings raise some interesting questions.
For one, he said, could this be a partial explanation for why osteoarthritis is common in the knees and hips, but not the ankles?
“It’s been assumed that it’s related to the biomechanics of the joints,” said Rodeo, an attending surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City.
But this study, he said, suggests there might be intrinsic differences in the joints’ ability to repair cartilage.
The other major question, Rodeo said, is whether this newfound human capacity can translate into new treatments for arthritis. “Can we better understand the basic biology, and harness it?” he asked.
More abundant in ankle cartilage
For the study, Kraus and her colleagues analysed proteins in samples of joint cartilage that had been removed from patients having surgery. The researchers developed a method for gauging the “age” of those proteins, based on the premise that young proteins have little to no evidence of “conversions” of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), while older proteins have many conversions.
Overall, the investigators found, ankle cartilage showed the greatest number of young proteins. Knee cartilage looked more middle-aged, and hip cartilage had relatively few young proteins and plenty of old.
In addition, the study found, molecules called microRNAs seem to regulate the process. They were more abundant in ankle cartilage than tissue from knees and hips, and in the top layers of cartilage, versus the deeper layers.
As it happens, microRNAs also help salamanders regrow lost limbs.
The findings were published online in the journal Science Advances.
It all raises the possibility that the innate repair capacity in cartilage can be augmented, according to Kraus. Could, for example, injectable microRNA drugs be used to boost cartilage self-repair?
Need for innovation
No one is saying science is close to helping humans grow new limbs. But, Kraus said, understanding the fundamental mechanisms behind tissue regeneration – figuring out what salamanders have that people are missing – could eventually lead to ways to repair various tissues in the human body.
Rodeo agreed. “Can we learn lessons from animals that do regenerate tissue, and apply that to humans?”
Both he and Kraus said there is a “huge” need for innovative ways to treat osteoarthritis, which affects roughly 27 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation. There is no cure, and current treatments are aimed at managing symptoms.
When people are disabled by arthritis, Kraus noted, that can also raise their risk of other major health problems, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Music may be just what you need to stick with an exercise plan – and picking the right tunes could even improve performance.
Exercise guidelines recommend people get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, each week. For those who don’t love the act of exercising, those totals can seem like a tall order.
But over the last decade, researchers have begun to build the case that music during exercise might just give an edge.
A recent study in the journal Psychology of Sports and Exercise concluded that listening to motivational music during sprint-interval training has the potential to not only improve the participants’ level of enjoyment, but their performance as well.
“People I find who may have trouble staying with an exercise program or who begin one and quit after a month may find this as a method to help them enjoy it,” said Costas Karageorghis, one of the study’s authors. “The real benefit of this type of research is that the more people you can direct toward a healthier lifestyle, the better.”
In the study, the participants’ peak power output and heart rates were higher when listening to motivational music than when listening to podcasts or to no audio. They also rated their post-workout enjoyment higher after listening to music.
Paige Cervantes, a professional trainer based in McKinney, Texas, said the right music affects her health and happiness, even on a tough day in the weight room.
“I know especially on days where I knew I was going to be lifting heavier, I felt my performance would improve when it was harder rock music,” she said. “There was something about that beat and the guitar playing that would just kind of set the mood to where I could lift heavier and almost get to the point of getting a little angry.”
Her choice for those workouts? A little heavy metal.
“That would kind of bring up the fight in me. Bubblegum music doesn’t do much for me when I am trying to lift weights.”
Change your playlist
Karageorghis, a professor of sport and exercise psychology at Brunel University in London, said a good place to start is to look for playlists that feature music starting about 120 beats per minute (bpm), the pace of a brisk walk. Over time, as workouts intensify, the tempo of the music can increase as well, up to about 140 bpm.
“I find people who devote time and energy to creating playlists for their workouts actually enjoy their workout much more than those who just select music randomly,” said Karageorghis, author of the book Applying Music in Exercise and Sport.
“Ideally, if you turn your playlist over every couple of weeks, it will keep it fresh. It will be more stimulating, and you’re likely to derive greater athletic and psychological benefits than if you simply listen to the same playlist over and over.”
But he warned to be wary of the volume.
“In many exercise facilities that I visit, the music is way above 80 decibels,” he said. “If you’re able to maintain a comfortable conversation with the person next to you, the music volume is probably about right.”
His previous research shows even when people exercise beyond comfortable levels, such as at levels higher than 75% of their maximal heart rate, music can put them in a better mood – despite the associated fatigue or exhaustion – than when the workout includes no music.
Those positive effects on mood are important, said Russell Pate, an exercise science professor in the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. Sticking with a workout routine, he said, depends on a lot of different factors, including support from family and friends.
“But the more positive it is, the greater the likelihood that they’ll choose to do it again tomorrow and the day after that.”
Chantell Ryksen was your typical yo-yo dieter — constantly going from losing weight only to pick it up again — and more. Tired of being stuck in a cycle, Chantell embarked on a journey of self-love and self-improvement — and lost 28 kilos in the process. Now, she’s loving the skin she’s in and helping others do the same.
Here’s how she did it…
Occupation: Personal and group fitness trainer owner of MOHFit Warriors
Weight before: 113kg
Weight after: Currently 85kg
The time required to reach current weight: 3 years
The secret weapon to her weight loss: Mindset change and healthy living
Having been a yo-yo dieter her whole life, Chantell was accustomed to seeing the scale constantly change. After her first three children, she had tried to lose weight and succeeded but when she fell pregnant for the fourth time her weight naturally changed again. “When I was pregnant with my son, I gained about 12kg but when I gave birth I just never got back to taking care of myself. So before I knew it, I was back at 113 kilos,” says Chantell.
Like a lot of mom’s, Chantell found it hard to prioritise herself. And when life got too stressful, she would find comfort in food. “I’m an emotional eater, so I kind of just indulged in everything I could,” she says. Her food of choice was always high in carbs, sugar and often fried. She says that she could never say no to slap chips and baked goods.
And when it came to exercise, she loved dancing but wasn’t getting in enough to eliminate the fried chips and cakes. “My mother-in-law used to joke that if I could drive to the toilet I would.”
In 2016 Chantell saw a picture of herself and couldn’t believe that that was her. “I told my sister that it couldn’t be me in that photo, I could hardly recognise myself. That was enough for me to want to change — but for good this time,” she recalls.
As Chantell embarked on another weight-loss journey, she was adamant that this time the changes would stick. “I had to ask myself the hard questions of why I was doing this. Why did I hate myself so much? This time I was getting to the root of the problem. It wasn’t going to be about my body but rather about changing my mindset and how I saw myself,” explains Chantell.
She began her change by reading self-improvement books and figuring out why she ate. While she was doing the mental work, she started making small healthy changes too. Chantell started by using a popular weight loss supplement, eating her main meal on a smaller plate and drinking loads of water.
As for exercising, she joined a fitness club where she rediscovered her love for dancing and a new passion for helping people.
Chantell’s “slow and steady wins the race” mindset was the key to her success this time around. She made her journey about building a lifestyle she could stick to and not a quick fix. “I didn’t pick up weight overnight, so I couldn’t expect myself to lose the weight overnight,” she says.
Since starting her journey, Chantell says that so much has changed about her life- besides losing almost 30 kilos. The woman that hardly got any exercise, is now a qualified group instructor. “I get to help and inspire other women every day. I started teaching classes because I was judged for being big and exercising. So, my hope is that Mohfit is a place for all women where they are free of judgement and know that they can do this too,” she explains.
As for her health, Chantell is a brand new person. “I can now tie my shoes without feeling like all my organs are folded in half. I can play with my kids without getting out of breath. Mentally, I can now deal with my past without allowing it to ruin my life. I believe in myself — which is honestly the best reward”.
No excuses: “There is no such thing as “I am big-boned” or “it runs in the family”. YOU are the only thing standing between who you are now and who you want to be. As soon as you adapt to a zero excuse life you will be amazed by what you can do.”
Be patient: “You did not get there overnight so it will not change overnight. Learn to love yourself as you are now and patience will not be a problem. You where born to be a warrior in every sense of the way, I believe in warriors we can do this.”
Ditch the normal scale: “Try to get access to a scale that breaks down your measurements. That way you can see if you’re actually gaining muscle and losing fat.”
When family demands affect work performance or work demands undermine family obligations, the resulting stress may contribute to decreased heart health, particularly among women, a new study finds.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, adds another factor for doctors and patients to evaluate in treating cardiovascular problems, said the study’s senior author, Dr Itamar Santos, a professor at the University of São Paulo and a researcher in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health.
“There are very consistent results showing that people under higher stress have more cardiovascular disease,” he said. “We wanted to specifically study the effect of work-family conflict.”
Santos and his colleagues studied more than 11 000 workers in Brazil between ages 35 and 74. The workers filled out questionnaires based on a model that measures the impact of work on family life, and vice versa.
Their heart health was scored using questionnaires, clinical exams and laboratory results for health metrics, including smoking, body mass index, diet, physical activity, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar level.
The study found lower cardiovascular health scores most evident in women who reported a variety of frequent work-family conflicts.
Experts warn chronic stress can affect the heart by increasing inflammation in the body. That can affect blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as lead to unhealthy lifestyle behaviours such as lack of sleep and exercise, poor diet and weight gain.
Dr Gina Price Lundberg, a preventive cardiologist in Atlanta and clinical director of the Emory Women’s Heart Center, said the study reinforces the need for a healthy work-life balance.
Leisure or healthy habits
“It’s a really good, well-designed study with large numbers, a good balance of men and women and lots of diversity,” said Lundberg, who wasn’t involved in the research. “I think this shows what we already felt was valid – that work-life integration is hard.
“When you work a lot, you don’t have time for leisure or healthy habits. You don’t find time to get to the gym or just have a good night’s sleep.”
Although both genders were affected, Santos said, the impact on women was greater.
“This was interesting because in our previous study, job stress alone affected men and women almost equally,” he said. “But we found that for work-family conflict, women are more affected than men. They seem to be especially susceptible to this kind of stress.”
He suggested the disparity might be explained, at least for some women, by the importance they place on family life.
Ways to reduce job stress
Lundberg agreed. “You feel the stress to fulfil the gender roles, and I think women still feel more of a need to have that nurturing home life,” she said. “Men are helping more than ever, but I think working women still feel the stress of trying to do it all.”
The Brazilian researchers plan to follow the study subjects for up to a decade.
“We want to see how these metrics of stress are associated with change in cardiovascular health over a long period, and to see how some people with the same levels of stress may have other characteristics that protect them from cardiovascular disease,” Santos said.
In the meantime, he hopes the initial findings will help persuade workplaces to look for ways to reduce stress on the job, and encourage doctors to put more emphasis on recognising stress as a component of health.
“We’re not going to eliminate stress,” Santos said. “But we should learn how to live with it to not have so many bad consequences.”
How do you make healthy food more popular? Start by giving it a yummy-sounding name, researchers say.
People are much more likely to choose good-for-you foods like broccoli or carrots if labelled with names that emphasise taste over nutritional value, according to Alia Crum, an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University, and her colleagues.
Current cultural approach
In previous research, Crum’s team found that Stanford students were far more likely to go for decadent-sounding veggies like “twisted citrus glazed carrots” over an equivalent option that might be labelled “dietetic carrots.” The key, however, is the food must actually be tasty, the new study confirms.
“This is radically different from our current cultural approach to healthy eating which, by focusing on health to the neglect of taste, inadvertently instils the mindset that healthy eating is tasteless and depriving,” Crum, senior author of the new report, said in a university news release.
“And yet in retrospect, it’s like, of course, why haven’t we been focusing on making healthy foods more delicious and indulgent all along?” she added.
In the new study, the researchers tracked food choices made by students enrolled across a network of 57 US colleges and universities. The investigators looked at 71 vegetable dishes labelled with either taste-focused, health-focused or neutral names.
Students were 29% more likely to select veggies when taste was emphasised rather than health. And they were 14% more likely to consume vegetables that had a tasty-sounding name instead of a nondescript name, such as “orange vegetable”.
A critical window
Diners also ended up eating nearly 40% more vegetables (by weight) when appetising marketing was deployed, the findings showed.
Mouth-watering names increase a diner’s expectation of a yummy meal, Crum said. Certain key words – such as “garlic”, “ginger”, “roasted”, “sizzling”, and “tavern-style” – seem to do the trick, she noted.
Knowing this could make a difference in the effort to get people, particularly young people, to eat more healthfully, the study authors said.
According to study co-author Bradley Turnwald, “College students have among the lowest vegetable intake rates of all age groups. Students are learning to make food decisions for the first time in the midst of new stresses, environments and food options. It’s a critical window for establishing positive relationships with healthy eating.”
The report was published online in Psychological Science.
Sore from a workout? You don’t have to reach for pain relief medicine when ice or heat will help. But when should you go cold and when should you go warm?
Ice is the go-to therapy when an injury first happens. It can stop the swelling of a sprained ankle, for instance, and numb the pain. The traditional approach is 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off at first. You might step this down to 20 minutes every two or three hours on the second and third days. If you have a long-term injury, icing the area for 10 to 20 minutes after a workout can be soothing.
Watch the settings
Ice options include a plastic bag of crushed ice, a reusable ice pack or even a bag of peas that can be refrozen for use again – label it so no one eats them. Whatever you use, always place a thin towel between the ice and your skin to prevent skin damage.
Once the swelling of an injury is gone, you can switch to heat. Heat eases discomfort and promotes healing. With a chronic condition like arthritis, it can soothe achy joints and lessen your pain. You can follow the same type of schedule you would when icing.
Just as you don’t want to freeze your skin with ice, you don’t want to burn it with heat. So watch the settings on a heating pad. You want warmth, but you don’t want it to feel hot. Another choice is a reusable heat pack that you warm in the microwave.
You can find versions that come shaped for the body part needing treatment. Even just a warm shower or bath can help. The water should be around 32 to 38 degrees Celsius.
Although these are considered safe at-home remedies, talk to your doctor first if your injury could be serious – for instance, you notice a lot of swelling and pain – or if you have any chronic health conditions, including any that prevent you from feeling hot and cold, like neuropathy, often from diabetes.