Holiday Allergens

By: Maria Mazzotti, D.O., Board Certified Physician

I often tell patients to wait for the first cold week of the fall/winter season to stop their allergy medications.  And while that works for a lot of people, I am forgetting that the holidays can also be a source of allergy flares.  This is due to exposure to mold, dust mites, seasonal greenery/decorations live and artificial and foods .

During the holiday season the weather gets colder so we tend to keep the door sand windows shut more than in the other seasons, so the usual indoor allergens (pet dander, mold and dust mites may be higher).  Another reason is that during this time of the year pets tend be indoors more increasing our exposure.  Also we are bringing in live plants/trees  that may have mold spores and mildew which thrive in the damp evergreens.  The sap on the aromatic evergreen trees can also be source of skin irritation. When opting for the artificial decorations, keep in mind that these are also often stored in dusty/moldy basements which can be a problem for those reasons.  The sometimes potent Potpourri aromas can also be a problem for asthma patients.   Also keep in mind that those beautiful Poinsettia’s are in the rubber family and can cause problems for us who have latex allergies.   When warming up by the wood burning fireplaces don’t forget that they can be sources of a lot of ash and smoke which may cause problems for you and your guests.  And we often overlook the effects of stress which can also trigger asthma symptoms for some of us.

One other big group that causes problems this time of the year is food allergies.  Often times, we do not want to disappoint friends and relatives by not trying the home made foods, but before doing so, do not forget to ask if the ingredients include something you are intolerant or allergic to.  These can include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shell fish, soy and wheat.  These 8 groups account for 90% of food allergies.

There are things we can do to reduce our exposure so we can still enjoy the holiday season without a trip to the doctor or ER.  When handling any live trees you may want to throw on Latex free gloves so you do not come in contact with the sap from the evergreen trees.  You may also want to water the trees down with your garden hose or blast them with the leaf blower before bringing them in.  When handling the artificial decorations, make sure you dust them off and maybe wear a mask when doing so. 

If all else fails, thankfully there are medications that can help.  Antihistamines like,Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra often are enough.   Hydrocortisone creams can help with skin irritations also.  Patients who have asthma should make sure their Albuterol inhalers are still good.  Also, if you have food allergies make sure your Epipen is not expired.  Sometimes, though, if you have tried a thing or two you may still need help from your doctor or need to see an allergist, so do not feel like you need to treat on your own.

Tips To Avoid Weight Gain This Holiday

By: Theresa Shank, Registered Dietitian

Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts and holiday parties; the last couple of months until the end of the year can test the limits of even the most disciplined weight watcher. Our dietitian, Theresa Shank, has provided us with simple tips to avoid weight gain during the holiday.

Stay Mindful
Try to remember that the holiday season is about more than just food. Next time you go to a holiday party, take time to admire the decorations. If there is entertainment, be sure to enjoy it. Focus on visiting with friends and family whom you haven’t seen in a long time. That said, be honest and acknowledge that it would be unrealistic not to indulge in some holiday treats. The key is to do it mindfully, and in moderation.

Do Not Show Up Hungry
Indulge with a purpose. Do not show up to the party starving. Some people will skip breakfast and lunch because they want to save calories for their holiday feast. This is a big mistake because most people are then ravenous and end up eating more than they typically would. I encourage clients to eat something small as opposed to skipping an entire meal. Try having a yogurt with fruit and nuts for breakfast and a protein shake blended with fruits and veggies, this way you can get in your fruit and vegetables before carbohydrate and sweet overload.

Plan Your Plate

Set boundaries. Do not go on autopilot the moment the food is on the table; instead survey your options before piling up your plate. Once you observe your options, choose two options from the less healthy dishes and for the rest of your meal stick to healthier options, such as lean meat, complex carbohydrates and vegetables. To ensure that there is a healthy option available, offer to bring one yourself such as a salad with root vegetables or a side such as quinoa or roasted sweet potatoes.

The holidays are a time for cheering and making toasts. I am not suggesting that you do not drink but I do encourage clients to limit themselves to two drinks per gathering. Two drinks average anywhere from 200- 250 calories, which is the amount I suggest for snacks. Once you hit 3-4 drinks you are hovering close to 500 calories, which doesn’t account for the calories that are coming from your food indulgence. Be smart and drink less. Alcohol causes hangovers, which may cause you to skip the gym the next day. It’s a horrible cycle that can be avoided with control. 

Avoid a Winter Workout Slump

With the arrival of winter, most of us are guilty of allowing our workout routines to hibernate. Our specialists here at RWWC composed this list of tips on how to avoid that winter workout slump.

1.     Get a flu shot – The flu is a surefire way to immediately put your workout on the backburner. It is far worse than the common everyday winter’s cold and with symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough, you can almost guarantee you will throw off that perfect schedule you have been dedicated to the past few months. Once your routine has been sidetracked, we all know how hard it is to get back into your daily grind. If you are looking to keep your exercise routine on track this winter, get a flu shot so that you can avoid being out of commission for a week (or longer).

2.     Try something indoors – Winter is not an easy time to exercise outdoors. If you prefer to workout indoors during the winter try out that new DVD you have been eyeing up on Amazon, check out the class schedule at your local gym or the Bikram (Hot Yoga) class you have been putting off for the past few months. Trying something new and exciting that you enjoy will definitely keep you more motivated!

3.     Try something fun outdoors – Running outdoors during the winter can be a recipe for disaster if you are not accustomed to it. There are many winter activities that can torch those holiday calories quickly. Ice skating is notorious for burning major calories. One full hour of moderate ice skating can burn up to 500 calories! Why not bring your significant other with you to the new Dilworth Plaza Skating Rink for a fun night out on the town with the added benefits of exercise?! If you are more adventurous and like to go skiing or snowboarding, this can burn anywhere from 500-630 calories per hour and you will get to workout those muscles you often forget about.  

Workout Motivation Tips

There are a number of completely legitimate reasons you lost motivation to exercise. Work, family/friends, or maybe you just don’t feel like it. Whatever the case, there are numerous ways to combat the temptations that keep you from reaching your fitness goals. Here are some tips to stay motivated to workout. 

Keep your fitness gear in sight

You know the old saying, out of sight, out of mind? Well, if your yoga mat is tossed in the back of your closet, then you’re less likely to attend class, right? Simple visual cues can serve as a reminder to keep fitness a priority. Try placing your gym clothes next to your bed or weights close to your door.

Recall a positive memory

Remember the time you ran that extra mile, nailed your core workout, or logged in an extra hour at the gym? Positive memories can be utilized to boost your motivation levels. Studies have shown that individuals who recall positive memories are more likely to exercise than those who don’t. So the next time you’re on the verge of skipping a day at the gym, take a stroll down memory lane.

Keep track of your progress

One of the most discouraging aspects about exercising is you don’t physically notice the results right away. Keep a fitness calendar or journal to track your progress. This way you can actually see the work you’re putting into each routine.

 And remember to always reward yourself!

Ultimate Smoothie Components

By: Theresa Shank, Registered Dietitian 

Don't give up your morning smoothie because temperatures are dropping! Smoothies are a great way to consume more fruits and vegetables during the day. Registered Dietitian, Theresa Shank, recommends following 's structure for incorporating a well balanced smoothie into your daily routine! 

Liquid - 1/2 cup: You’ll need some liquid to get everything whirring in your blender, but choose wisely. Skip juices—they’re high in sugar (even when they’re 100% fruit juice).

  • Try these: Unsweetened almond milk or other unsweetened nondairy milks (soy, rice, hemp), low-fat milk, coconut water, water.
Frozen Banana - 1 cup: For natural sweetness and always rich, creamy (not icy) body, frozen banana slices are a must. Another bonus: bananas are a relatively inexpensive fruit.

Frozen Fruit - 1/2 cup: Frozen fruit makes a frosty smoothie without added ice (some blenders can’t handle ice cubes). Buy already frozen fruit or freeze your own.

  • Try these: Blueberries, cherries, strawberries, pineapple, mango, apples, raspberries, blackberries, grapes.

Protein - 1/3 cup: To give your smoothie staying power, add protein. Protein slows the digestion of carbs, keeping you full longer.

  • Try these: Nonfat or low-fat plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, silken tofu.

Greens - 1 cup: Add 1 cup of greens to help meet your daily veggie quota without overpowering your smoothie.

  • Try these: Baby spinach, kale (stemmed and chopped).

Health Bonus - 1 Tbsp.: Throw in chia seeds or flaxseeds, for a boost of omega-3s and fiber. Or add nut butters for healthy fats and a little more protein.

  • Try these: Chia seed, flaxseed, hemp seed, peanut butter, almond butter.

Optional: Have a sweet tooth? Add up to 2 tsp. liquid sweetener like maple syrup or agave.

Over the Counter Cold Treatments

By: Jillan Rowbotham, D.O. 

It is never a good time to get sick but unfortunately the cold and flu season is once again squarely upon us. The common cold lasts an average of seven to ten days and usually starts with a sore throat and possibly low grade fever, then progresses to nasal and sinus congestion. Finally, a cough, sometimes productive of mucus, is usually the last symptom to develop and the last to resolve. There is not yet a cure for the common cold and antibiotics not only won’t help but increase the risk of allergic reactions, side effects, and development of resistant bacteria. Plenty of rest and fluids is a mainstay of treatment but there are also many medicines available over-the-counter that can help make things a little more manageable - the key is picking the right medicines for the symptoms you are having.

Over-the-counter cold preparations are confusing with endless combinations of medicines and claims to alleviate certain symptoms. The best approach to selecting the most helpful one is to understand what active ingredients are in each pill and what they are expected to treat. This can help you tailor what you are taking to your current symptoms and limit side effects.

Dextromethorphan, also termed as “DM”, is a cough suppressant that acts directly on the cough center in the brain. It comes as a liquid cough medicine or as a pill. In some studies two teaspoons of honey were shown to be just as effective for reducing nighttime coughing.

Guaifenesin works by thinning mucus or phlegm. This can be helpful if you are having a lot of post-nasal drip (mucus down the back of your throat, clearing your throat a lot), or are coughing up mucus. It should be taken with plenty of water.

Oxymetolazone is a nasal spray also sold under the brand name Afrin. It can give you quick relief from nasal congestion but it cannot be used for more than 72 hours or 3 days in a row. If used longer than that it can actually cause worsening congestion. I like to use Afrin for those nights when you simply cannot breathe out of your nose and the misery of that keeps you from sleeping. It also can be helpful if you are congested before plane trips to help your ears equilibrate to pressure changes.

Pseudoephedrine is a very effective decongestant that is sold behind the pharmacist’s counter though you do not need a prescription for it. You will need to show identification to purchase it and are limited to the quantity you can buy at one time. It is the “D” component in Mucinex –D, Allegra – D, etc. Decongestants relieve nasal stuffiness by narrowing blood vessels and reducing swelling in the nose. This narrowing can affect other blood vessels as well, which can increase blood pressure. This medicine is not a good choice for people with heart disease or poorly controlled high blood pressure. Some people cannot take pseudoephedrine because it makes them feel jittery, spacey, or gives them palpitations. It comes in a 4-6 hour preparation or a 12-hour preparation. Until you know how it affects you I recommend the shorter lasting form.

Pharmacies tend to be sold out of it often during the height of cold season so I like to make sure I always keep some on hand.

Phenylephrine is the decongestant that is sold in the pharmacy shelves and can be a good choice for people who do not like the way pseudoephedrine makes them feel. Some feel it is a less effective decongestant.

Drowsy antihistamines include Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and doxylamine which is found in NyQuil, Alka-Seltzer Night, and other night time preparations.

Many combination pills will also include acetaminophen as a pain reliever and fever reducer. Be mindful of how much you are taking. It is best not to take additional acetaminophen, or Tylenol, with these as too much can be toxic to your liver.

 If you have any questions or concerns about the use of over-the-counter medications please do not hesitate to contact us. If your symptoms are lasting longer than usual, you have a persistent high fever, shortness of breath, or just don’t feel right it may be more than the common cold. Please come in and see us in the office.

Love the Skin You're In!

By: Molly Hagen, Aesthetic Director

Skincare is a very important aspect of a women's overall wellness because it's really about how you feel inside and out. When you look your best, you feel your best and this is going to overlap into other areas of your life. Living a healthy lifestyle is about eating right, staying active and taking care of yourself. When you treat yourself; whether that be a chemical peel or a facial, you are slowing down the aging process and doing something to better your health. It's always easier to prevent, than to fix and it's about loving the skin you are in!

How to Achieve Happiness

By: Randi Platt, M.Ed.

With the science of Psychology turning towards everyday experience, research is helping us understand how to achieve happiness and emotional well being with greater consistency. Contrary to popular belief, it is not important to build self-esteem.  The surprising news is that it is important to learn to feel compassion for self and others.  Those who regularly spend even brief amounts of time feeling gratitude, sending good wishes to others or being a good friend to themselves report greater happiness, connectedness and health. 

Outdoor Exercise Tips for Fall

Summer has come to a close and we now welcome the Fall season with open arms! This is a great time of year to exercise outdoors during those brisk, chilly mornings on Kelly Drive. In order to prepare for your new fall fitness routine, follow  these tips from our fitness specialists.

1. Dress Appropriately: The fall can be a finicky season with some mornings cooler than others. You want to make sure that you are wearing the proper attire. You want to be warm enough for the conditions but wear breathable clothes such as Under Armour's outdoor gear to help release the heat your body is producing during your workout.

2. Exercise Early: You just woke up from your 8 hours and you should feel refreshed and ready to face the day. Energy is known to be highest in the morning for most people but exercise is also known to boost energy levels for hours after your workout. Wake up, work out and you should be completely ready to tackle you day. 

3. Avoid Severe Weather: We all hate missing a workout when we are on a consecutive schedule whether it be 3 or 5 days a week but please be mindful when there is snow, ice or freezing rain outside. Once the roads clear, then you should go outside or hit the gym for the day. 

4. Hydrate: Even though you are outside during the cool months working out, it is still very important to remain hydrated. During the summer months, the temperature is a lot warmer which makes you reach for that water bottle but as the temperature drops so does your thirst. Please be sure even if you are not overheated to remain hydrated so that your body can function properly.  

5. Workout with a Friend: Once we set our clocks back one hour, it becomes darker earlier. If you are going to exercise outside, make sure to bring a friend along. This way, you can motivate each other but it is also a great safety precaution! 

Protein Energy Bites

By: Theresa Shank, Registered Dietitian

Don't get caught in a snack time rut! Try these natural protein balls from health coach Jessica Wyman for a quick energy bite pre- or post-workout. 

Theresa recommends that you try to incorporate some source of fuel 30 minutes to one hour before exercise. Two to three of these balls have enough satiating protein to get you through your workout. You can also pop a protein ball after your workout to hold off your hunger until your post-workout meal; which should be consumed no later than an hour after exercise to gain muscle-replenishing benefits.   

Raw protein energy bites

Yield: 48 servings

  • 2 cups rolled oats, thick
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1. In a large mixing bowl, fold all ingredients together. Mix thoroughly.

2. Using your hands grab some of the mixture and start rolling together in about one inch balls. Squeeze them firmly to help everything stick together.

3. Place the rolled energy balls on a cookie sheet.  You can place them in the freezer for a couple minutes to help them get firm.

4. The peanut butter will start to dry out, so this needs to be done fast. It is helpful to have two people or consider doing a half batch, which really makes it more fun. I do such a large batch because once I make them they are gone pretty fast. 

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