Category: Lifestyle

Impostor Experience: The Advice I Keep Giving Myself in Graduate School

Impostor experience is characterized as having an inability to internalize one’s accomplishments, where those who experience it feel that they are a fraud, that they have somehow deceived others to believe that they are smarter than they actually are. These feelings occur even when contradicted by success, often crediting luck or good timing over their own hard work and effort. And it is quite prevalent in academic spaces.

When I started my graduate career, I was lucky enough to have professors who were well aware of this topic, encouraging students to reach out when they needed to, reminding us that we all have expertise to contribute to the classroom, we all have a space.

As a first generation college student, I still have moments almost daily where I feel like I don’t belong, that this isn’t really the place for me. Sometimes it’s a simple comment, someone in class sharing an experience, like “Oh my dad’s a doctor”. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are two of the hardest working people I know. But there are constantly reminders for me that in pursuing a graduate degree, I’m taking a career path that not many people who knew me as a child could even imagine.

Below I’ve attached some resources that I have found particularly helpful at some low points in my academic career. But what has helped the most for me is opening up to my friends and classmates, and realizing that I am not the only one having these feelings. I’m writing this because I’m not perfect at taking my own advice, I still need to step back and use some of these strategies, and I still need to practice opening up when I’m struggling.

Sources:

APA Cover Story: Feel like a fraud? http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud.aspx

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Impostor Syndrome is Definitely a Thing: http://www.chronicle.com/article/Impostor-Syndrome-Is/238418

Recent Data on Obesity Prevalence in the U.S.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) recently released a data brief on recent estimates for obesity prevalence in the United States. These estimates are from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2015-2016. Some key survey findings showed that in 2015-2016, obesity prevalence was 39.8% among adults and 18.5% among youth in the U.S. Additionally, obesity prevalence was found to be 13.9% for children aged 2-5 years, 18.4% for children aged 6-11 years, and 20.6% for children aged 12-19 years.

While there was not a significant change in obesity prevalence among U.S. adults and youth between 2013-2014 and 2015-2016, obesity continues to remain an important public health concern.

Obesity prevalence rates in the U.S. do not currently meet national weight status objectives set forth in Healthy People 2020, a 10-year national agenda for improving public health in the U.S. These objectives are to reduce the proportion of U.S. adults that are obese to 30.5%, as well as reduce the proportion of U.S. children aged 2-5 years, 6-11 years, and 12-19 years that are obese to 9.4%, 15.7%, and 16.1%, respectively, by the year 2020.

Obesity can lead to serious health effects, such as: high blood pressure, heart disease, and even type 2 diabetes. However, maintaining a healthy weight through eating right and staying physically active can prevent these negative health outcomes.

References

Prevalence of Obesity among Adults and Youth: United States, 2015-2016. (2017, October). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db288.pdf

Nutrition and Weight Status. (2017, October 13). Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/nutrition-and-weight-status/objectives

Eat Right. (N.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/eat/index.htm

Be Physically Active. (N.d.) Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/physical.htm

There’s a health app for that

Raise your hand if you have ever downloaded a fitness or nutrition tracker app. What about an app to track your fertility or blood sugar levels? While one source states nearly 2 out of 3 medical/health apps focus on general health topics like diet, stress, or fitness, other apps focus on specific health conditions like pregnancy, diabetes, mental health, or medication information and reminders.

The number of health and medical apps available for smartphones is growing exponentially (as of 2015, upwards of 165,000). A cross-sectional survey of mobile phone users indicates that those who have downloaded apps trust the accuracy of apps and that their data is safe (Krebs, 2015). But is anyone or anything monitoring or regulating these apps for their legitimacy?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are the two agencies tasked with overseeing the development and marketing of medical apps. However, they oversee a fairly small proportion of the available apps. This is because the FDA limits their oversight to those apps that are considered a medical device, meaning anything intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent disease or to affect the structure or function of the body. The FTC only looks in to apps that make unsubstantiated health claims.

At this time, there isn’t enough evidence to identify which apps work better than others. So, if you find yourself in the market for an app for health or wellness reasons, keep the following in mind:

  • What is the risk of using the product? If the app is intended to diagnose or help treat a medical condition, it will likely need to have FDA approval and you want to be careful with your selection.
  • What is the evidence behind the app? Does the app’s website provide any links to legitimate evidence that the app supports or leads to the intended effect?

Technology has provided a wonderful opportunity for monitoring our health, promoting and supporting behavior change, and sharing information with our health providers. But with all the available options and potentially for positive, or negative effects, we need to be informed consumers.

 

Sources:                     

Federal Trade Commission. Developing a mobile health app? Find out which federal laws you need to follow. https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/mobile-health-apps-interactive-tool

Krebs P & Duncan DT. Health app use among US mobile phone owners: A national survey. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2015 Oct-Dec; 3(4): e101.

Mirsa, S. New report finds more than 165,000 mobile health apps now available, takes close look at characteristics and use. iMedical Apps + MedPage Today. September 17, 2015. https://www.imedicalapps.com/2015/09/ims-health-apps-report/

Molenti, M. Wellness apps evade the FDA, only to land in court. Wired. April 3, 2017. https://www.wired.com/2017/04/wellness-apps-evade-fda-land-court/

Radcliffe S. Who regulates all these health-related apps? Healthline. September 14, 2017. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/who-regulates-all-these-health-related-apps#4

US Food & Drug Administration. Is the product a medical device? https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/Overview/ClassifyYourDevice/ucm051512.htm

What Exactly is Coconut Water?

Coconut water seemed to be a fad brought about by celebrities (as most fads are). Besides providing a unique tasting alternative to plain water, what do we know from a nutritional standpoint?

Despite the name, coconuts are considered a fruit. The juice at the center forms the white coconut meat as it ripens and the half-cup to cup of liquid that remains in the middle is the coconut water. And this liquid is made up of 94% water. A cup of coconut water contains:

  • Carbs: 9 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 10% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
  • Magnesium: 15% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 17% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 17% of the RDI
  • Sodium: 11% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 6% of the RDI

The nutrients and antioxidants present may even decrease blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol, all while replenishing electrolytes and providing hydration. More research is needed but coconut water seems to be a pretty satisfying drink.

Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-coconut-water-benefits#section8

Should you sleep naked?

As someone who traditionally loves wearing pajamas to bed at night I have always wondered about the question: is it better to sleep naked than in pajamas? A lack of sleep over time has been shown to increase the risk for stroke, diabetes, cognitive decline, depression, and obesity, so it’s important to determine what’s best for yourself to get a good night’s rest.

Rather than sit around and continue to wonder, I decided to do some research on the topic and solve this dilemma once and for all. In the US, around 10% of the population admit to sleeping naked; which is actually kind of low considering about 30% of our friends in the UK do so. Now that I know some people in the world actually do sleep naked, what are the benefits of doing so?

The most scientifically sound reason I could find for sleeping naked was to better regulate your body temperature overnight. If you sleep in pajamas and have heavy covers it can be easy to overheat and disrupt sleep accordingly. The Sleep Council has determined that 68°F is the ideal sleeping temperature for a high-quality night’s rest.

Personally, this just tells me to make sure my thermostat is set to 68°F at night before going to bed. I normally don’t have trouble sleeping at night, but I know that is not always the case. It seems there is more research needed to truly determine its effect, but do you think sleeping naked actually helps sleep quality?

 

AB

Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

Yes, you read the title correctly. Researchers from the UK published a report in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) a couple weeks ago revealing they have had success with patients Beating Type 2 Diabetes into Remission.  Dr. Mike Lean, who co-authored the publication, spoke with an editor at the BMJ about the study which can be heard here.

Type 2 diabetes mainly stems from having excess body fat but once diagnosed, treatment usually ends at a tablet you take for the rest of your life to control your blood sugar. Very rarely do treatments take into effect the vascular issues or decreased life expectancy also experienced by those with diabetes.

So what is the miracle cure? Well as is the case for most chronic diseases, the cure is not locked inside a pill, rather within the contexts of a healthy lifestyle. A consistent exercise regimen coupled with a diet strategic to losing weight is the secret. Put simply, if you can lose weight and keep it off long enough remission can be possible.

Shockingly, they said reaching a healthy weight wasn’t the hardest part, but that maintaining a healthy weight is where people usually fail when striving to beat diabetes into remission.

So what do you think about this? As an optimistic health professional, this gives me hope for the future of our nation and globally in dealing with this chronic disease. Do you have any tips for maintaining a healthy weight? If so, share below!

 

AB

 

Pumpkin Spice: What Makes It So Nice?

Pumpkin spice conjures images of fall and fall is now upon us! The smell alone triggers nostalgia and comfort, and memories of pumpkin pie with the family. Interestingly, about 80% of our experience of taste comes from smell. Clever marketing, most notably of the pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, has further conditioned us to associate this scent and flavor with the cozy season. But what exactly is pumpkin spice?

It’s usually not pumpkin—a natural mixture may combine ground cinnamon, nutmeg, dry ginger and clove or allspice. Spices are derived from plants, offering a good source of phytochemicals. And for those specialty lattes, a synthetic flavoring is often used that evokes the aroma of butter browning with sugar. Sweeteners are, of course, aplenty in these syrups and additives.

The physiological effects of feel-good sugar paired with comforting pumpkin spice really make for a serious seasonal craving.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/13/health/pumpkin-spice-ingredients-science-explainer/index.html

Farm Health and Safety Awareness

September 17-23 marks National Farm Health and Safety Week 2017. As someone who grew up on a Dairy and Crop Farm, I am all too familiar with the dangers that come along with a life in agriculture. From close calls, to the injuries of family members, to the tragic passing and near death experiences of neighbors and others in the community, the risk of injury and death was always in the back of my mind. My parents still operate our family farm together, juggling the responsibilities of keeping the farm going, raising grandchildren, and navigating health issues that someone who has grandchildren often begin to deal with (sorry mom and dad!).

The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety uses each day this week to highlight a different issue that faces those who work in the agricultural industry, and today marks farmer health. Where I’m from in the Thumb of Michigan, many of the local farms are operated by an aging population, who along with the risks involved with a farming lifestyle, are also coping with diseases associated with aging, such as arthritis and cancer. I encourage you to take the time to learn more about the Health of Farmers, and to appreciate the unique challenges that accompany the large scale agricultural work, and the impact that farming has on a national and global scale. More information is sourced below!

 

Sources –

National Education Center for Agricultural Safety National Farm Health and Safety Week 2017 – http://www.necasag.org/nationalfarmsafetyandhealthweek/

Hello from the other side

Hola! This post comes to you from Barcelona, Spain. The juxtaposition of history and modern day is stunning. Although this visit is short, I can’t help but notice some stark cultural and environmental differences, and similarities, between this urban environment and those I have lived in state side.

Similarly, the streets are filled with bicyclists, pedestrians, taxis, and various forms of pubic transportation. However, bicyclists and pedestrians have more dedicated space on the road than most places in the US. A recent initiative with the US Department of Transportation, Safer People, Safer Streets, hopes to change that.

You may already know that walking and bicycling are good for one’s own health, but they are also good for the health of the environment and financial health of a community. Alarmingly, while walking and bicycling are on the rise in the US, so are fatalities associated with these modes of transportation.

Safer People, Safer Streets, an initiative launched in early 2015, involves research and resources to help communities create safer, better connected walking and bicycling networks. The Initiative involved road safety assessments in every state as well as a Mayors’ Challenge to do at least one of several things: take a complete streets approach (enable safe access for all), identify and address barriers to safe streets, collect data about walking and biking, use practical designs for existing streets, create and complete transportation networks, improve laws and regulations, and educate and enforce proper road behavior. You can find out if your local community has been recognized for its efforts to improve safety here.

I look forward to witnessing positive changes in the transportation networks of the communities in the US. What are the streets and laws like in your area?

Sources:

U.S. Department of Transportation. Safer People, Safer Streets: A Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Initiative. https://www.transportation.gov/safer-people-safer-streets

Wearable technology: What does the research say?

Sitting in my public health course, I glance around the room and it’s rare to see someone not wearing a Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin or some sort of wearable device on their wrist. We are in the age where we are addicted to tracking everything (steps, weight, food consumption, water consumption, you name it) and having that information at our fingertips or more accurately accessing it using our fingertips on our smartphones. I myself have a Fitbit and am neurotic about hitting that 10,000 steps a day even if its right before going to bed running in place.

However, there is still little research on whether these devices have the ability to promote long term behavior change. While there are many studies suggesting that they have an effect in the short term there is little to suggest that they are able to influence long-lasting sustained behavior change. One study published in JAMA found that the devices themselves are only facilitators and that the engagement strategies and components of the application are the real drivers of the behavior change. Since these are relatively new we expect to see more research come out in the near future!

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28488834