Monday, April 30, 2012

Familiarity With Television Fast-Food Ads Linked to Obesity


ScienceDaily (Apr. 29, 2012) — There is a long-held concern that youths who eat a lot of fast food are at risk for becoming overweight. New research presented April 29, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Boston shows that greater familiarity with fast-food restaurant advertising on television is associated with obesity in young people. Ya think? Maybe it's time to turn off the TV all together. Check out this post on thinking outside the idiot box.



 "We know that children and adolescents are highly exposed to fast-food restaurant advertising, particularly on television. This study links obesity in young people to familiarity with this advertising, suggesting that youth who are aware of and receptive to televised fast-food marketing may be at risk for health consequences," said lead author Auden C. McClure, MD, MPH, FAAP, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Previous research has shown that watching TV is associated with obesity. Dr. McClure and her colleagues sought to determine whether recognition of fast-food ads on TV is associated with obesity in adolescents and young adults.

The researchers surveyed a national sample of 3,342 youths ages 15 to 23 years. Participants were asked about their height, weight, age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, exercise, consumption of soda or sweet drinks, frequency of eating at quick-service restaurants, how many hours they watched TV each day, and whether they snacked while watching TV.

They also were shown 20 still images selected from television ads for top quick-service restaurants that aired in the year before the survey. The images were digitally edited to remove the brands. Individuals were asked if they remembered seeing the ad, if they liked the ad and if they could name the restaurant brand. In addition, they were shown 20 ads for alcohol.

Results showed that about 18 percent of participants surveyed were overweight, and 15 percent were obese. The percentage of youths who were obese was significantly higher among those who recognized more ads than those who recognized few ads (17 percent vs. 8.3 percent). Even after controlling for the variables listed above, youths who recognized many ads were more than twice as likely to be obese compared with those who recognized few ads.

"A similar association with obesity was not found for familiarity with televised alcohol ads, suggesting that the relationship was specific to fast-food advertising content," Dr. McClure said. "After accounting for overall TV time, TV ad familiarity was still linked with obesity suggesting that this finding is not simply due to increased sedentary time or an effect of TV programming."
However, eating more frequently at fast-food restaurants depicted in the ads was not associated with obesity.

"The relation between fast-food marketing and obesity is not simply that it prompts more quick-serve restaurant visits," said study co-author James D. Sargent, MD, FAAP, professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth. Instead, "individuals who are more familiar with these ads may have food consumption patterns that include many types of high-calorie food brands, or they may be especially sensitive to visual cues to eat while watching TV. More research is necessary to determine how fast-food ad familiarity is linked to obesity," he added.

"Given the broad exposure of youth to advertising, the more we know about how media and marketing affect young people, the better equipped we are as pediatricians and parents to guide them in making healthy diet choices," Dr. McClure concluded.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary To My Beautiful Wife, 12 Wonderful Years


12 years ago this very day, my beautiful wife and I were married for time and all eternity in the LDS Portland Temple. To sum that day up in one word..... it was PERFECT. It was a beautiful sunny day, flowers were in bloom, and I still remember to this very moment the way I felt. It's hard to put into words, maybe it's a guy thing, but I felt pure joy! No other way to describe it. And even today, I feel an overwhelming joy that grows and grows each day as I grow closer to her. It has been the best 12 years of my life!


Remember This Picture? (seems so long ago)

Babydoll,

I try to let you know everyday how much you mean to me and how your presence in my life has forever changed it for the best. If for some reason, that daily message gets delivered late, gets a little jumbled up, or ends up not showing up at all, I'm very sorry and I promise to continue to get better about making sure you know how special you are to me! I'm writing this to let you know and remind you of why you still are and always will be the love of my life, my one and only, my soul mate, my wife. Happy anniversary babe! I love you!

                                                                           Sincerely,
                                                                           Your Handsome Man


Why I Love You More Each Day:


1.)    You are a righteous daughter of god
2.)    You try so hard to be the perfect wife
3.)    You gave me 5 wonderful children
4.)    You are an incredible mother to them
5.)    You have the most beautiful eyes
6.)    You sing like an angel
7.)    You pray with our family each night
8.)    You genuinely care about others
9.)    You cry when you are spiritually happy
10.)  You have beautiful long dark hair
11.)  You are concerned for your health
12.)  You have the most amazing laugh
13.)  You watch out for my health and the health of our children
14.)  You are a great cook and baker
15.)  You are a great kisser
16.)  You actually know the words to "Oklahoma"
17.)  You give great hugs that make me want to never let go
18.)  Your hand fits just right inside mine
19.)  The only time I don’t miss you is when I’m with you
20.)  You are very playful
21.)  You never swear or use potty talk
22.)  You're very humble
23.)  You're a great dresser
24.)  You have ALWAYS been by my side, through thick and thin
25.)  You still have a childlike sense of wonder.
26.)  You have a dazzling smile
27.)  You're face is very expressive
28.)  You always put the most important people first
29.)  You like to read
30.)  You're a great snuggler
31.)  You're sexy!
32.)  You still think I'm sexy
33.)  You're smoothing out all of my rough edges
34.)  You still take my breath away
35.)  You have a great personality
36.)  There isn't anyone who doesn't love you
37.)  You're VERY smart
38.)  You're great at meeting people
39.)  You have a great profile and I don't mean facebook
40.)  You know how to give great massages
41.)  You let me give you massages
42.)  You always forgive me when I make a mistake or many mistakes
43.)  You rarely hold a grudge
44.)  You have a great sense of humor
45.)  You're favorite color is yellow
46.)  You love musicals and "Broadway"
47.)  You serve faithfully in church
48.)  You think I'm funny
49.)  You always say I Love You, and you mean it
50.)  You think it's funny when I'm wrong
51.)  You love to slow dance
52.)  You look simply beautiful with no make-up on
53.)  You love me no matter what I look like
54.)  You cry during "sappy" movies
55.)  You help me to realize that it is more important to care for others than yourself
56.)  You love to go shopping with me
57.)  You tolerate my insecurities and help me get over them
58.)  You're my biggest cheerleader
59.)  You're skin is soft, smooth, and I love touching it
60.)  You are absolutely 100% faithful
61.)  You're not materialistic
62.)  You're very feminine
63.)  You let me have my OCD moments
64.)  You encourage me to be more social
65.)  You always take time to listen to me
66.)  You like to talk to me
67.)  No matter what's bugging me, You always make me feel better
68.)  You are determined
69.)  You're drop dead gorgeous
70.)  You're drop dead gorgeous (had to put it twice for emphasis)
71.)  When we're together, you always make me look good
72.)  You always smell amazing, even after a run or first thing in the morning
73.)  You love to exercise
74.)  You're not a "high maintenance" wife
75.)  You are always gracious when you get a compliment
76.)  You have faith in god
77.)  egg salad
78.)  You look incredible when you're all "done up"
79.)  You hate to sleep without me in the bed
80.)  You make me feel like a cross between James Bond and MacGyver when I fix something
81.)  You truly are my better half
82.)  We have 2 sons that want to marry you
83.)  We have 3 daughters that want to be just like you
84.)  You make me want to be a better man
85.)  You are a great teacher and motivator
86.)  You don't like your nose, but I do
87.)  You like it when I go to your Doctor's appointments with you
88.)  You miss me when I'm gone, even if it's to the store
89.)  You always try to like the same things I like
90.)  You're a great photographer
91.)  You never give up, you really are a Zahlmann
92.)  You like my chest hair
93.)  You said yes to my "not so wonderful" marriage proposal
94.)  You try to be safe, all the time
95.)  You wanted to be a stay-at-home mom
96.)  You love our business and let me be a part of it
97.)  You need all the blankets on the bed to stay warm
98.)  You're trustworthy
99.)  You trust me
100.) You think I'm a good dad
101.)  Your clothes are now so tiny compared to mine
102.)  You are very compassionate
103.)  You put our family first
104.)  You're extremely talented with gifts from god
105.)  You like to look good for me
106.)  You're the best friend I've ever had
107.)  You would rather spend time with me than anyone else
108.)  You're honest
109.)  You're always trying to improve yourself
110.)  You "get" me  
111.)  You're confident
112.)  You reach for my hand when we go for walks
113.)  You like PDA's
114.)  You don't cut corners
115.)  You have allowed me to be in your life
116.)  You always ask me if there's anything I need  
117.)  You listen to the spirit
118.)  You always look for the good in everyone
119.)  You're the most charitable person I know
120.)  You try to make the best of every situation
121.)  You give the best tickles
122.)  You read your scriptures daily
123.)  You're not a know-it-all
124.)  You believe in being modest
125.)  You practice what you preach
126.)  You give great advice
127.)  You still remember what it was like to be a kid
128.)  You care what I think
129.)  You ask me for advice
130.)  You let me be the man
131.)  You are helping me to build a forever family

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also!

Here's to many more years of our fairy tale life and our happily ever after! I LOVE YOU!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Soy Bean Dreams!



Yo Soy Beans!
In addition to having high amounts of protein, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber, soy beans are the only vegetable that contain all essential amino acids. For this reason, soy is a healthy choice when combined with a diet that is high in fiber, includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and is low in saturated fat and cholesterol
Some studies have shown that soy helps prevent the body from absorbing and metabolizing cholesterol, making it a heart healthy option. In addition, there is data that suggest soy helps with weight lossarthritisbrain function, and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. There is also some data that suggest soy might have a role in reducing the risk of certain cancers in men and women
Isoflavonones, which are important for bone health, can be found in roasted soybeans, green soybeans, soy flour, tempeh, tofu, miso, soy milk, soy yogurt, and soy noodles. If you would like to add soy to your diet, look for soy products produced with soy crops that have not been genetically modified, including:
  • Edamame
  • Calcium-fortified soy milk
  • Miso
  • Soy chees, nuts, patties, and yogurt
  • Soy breakfast cereals 
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu and tofu products
The bottom line with any food that claims to have health benefits is to combine it with a variety of other healthy options to create a well-rounded, balanced diet

Here's a link to a great tofu noodle recipe! Link

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Obesity & Infertility Are They Linked?



Can weight impact a woman's ability to conceive?

Obesity
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in this country, with 31 percent of white, 38 percent of Hispanic, and 49 percent of African American women considered overweight or obese. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. (Calculate your body mass index here





Obesity has been linked to multiple medical problems including infertility. Infertility in obese and overweight women is primarily related to ovulatory dysfunction. Anovulation often results in irregular menstrual cycles. Indeed, studies have shown that 30% to 47% of obese women will have irregular menstrual cycles. The likelihood of irregular menstrual cycles increases in direct proportion to increases in weight. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that weight reduction often leads to resumption of normal menses and increased pregnancy rates.

What can women do?
First line treatment for obesity-related infertility is weight loss and lifestyle modification (both of which I teach in my health and wellness program). While any amount of weight loss in obese women may improve fertility, a loss of 5 percent to 10 percent in overall body weight can result in spontaneous ovulation in 60 percent of patients. Efforts should be made to restrict calories and to exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. Participation in a formal weight loss program can be very helpful. (Here is one you might find interesting)

Apart from weight loss, treatments for infertility in obese women do not differ substantially from treatments in non-obese women. For anovulation, first line treatment generally consists of ovulation induction with oral medications such as clomiphene citrate. Women who fail to achieve pregnancy with oral medications are often treated with injectable ovulation induction agents such as recombinant or urinary gonadotropins. In vitro fertilization is often performed if these treatments fail or if there are other factors contributing to infertility.

It has been shown that obesity is associated with a longer duration of treatment, increased dosage of medication, and an increased risk of treatment cancellation due to poor response. Studies have also shown that pregnancy rates are approximately 30 percent lower in obese women undergoing IVF compared to women of normal weight. It has been proposed that the IVF is less successful for several reasons. Some of these include impaired absorption of medication due to increased fat stores, limited ability to visualize ovaries during ultrasound monitoring, and more challenging egg retrieval.

Moreover, once pregnancy occurs, obese women have a higher rate of pregnancy loss. In fact, studies show they have up to a two-fold higher risk of miscarriage compared to normal weight women. It is not clear why this occurs. Nonetheless, weight loss can dramatically decrease the risk of miscarriage.


 The bottom line: 
Obesity is a major health problem that is associated with infertility and miscarriage. Weight loss is extremely valuable in the management of these issues and can enhance fertility and decrease miscarriage rates.

The Last Note:
This post is not intended to mislead anyone by saying, "all you have to do is lose weight and the magic will happen". Losing weight to get pregnant will not work for everyone. The goal was to point out that there is a link between infertility and obesity and show that by losing weight you stand a better chance of conceiving. Always, always, always, consult your doctor for guidance on your specific conditions! 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fruit & Nut Granola

Home-Made Fruit & Nut Granola!

Quick & Easy!

The Kids Will Love It!

Oh...... And It's Healthy!




Ingredients:
7cups rolled oats
2cup raw sliced almonds
2cup raw pecan pieces (or cashews or pecans)
2cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
2cups raw sunflower seeds
1 1/2cups dried cherries
4teaspoons ground cinnamon
1teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
3/4cup coconut oil
1cup blue agave
4teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the dry oats, almonds, pecans, coconut, seeds and spices together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Heat the coconut oil and agave together in a small saucepan over low heat. Once that is mixed, stir in the vanilla.
  4. Pour the hot liquids over the dry ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until evenly coated.
  5. Spread mixture onto prepared pan in one even layer. 
  6. Bake for 75 minutes. (or until desired crispness - we did ours a little longer)
  7. The granola will become crisp as it cools at which point you can break into pieces (if making bars) or break it up into small chunks by pounding it in a zip lock bag (if making cereal). Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 49.9g - 1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 247
Calories from Fat - 139
% Daily Value
Total Fat - 15.4g - 24%
Saturated Fat - 6.9g - 35%
Trans Fat - 0.0g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 3mg
Total Carbohydrates - 24.6g - 8%
Dietary Fiber - 4.9g - 20%
Sugars - 10.0g
Protein - 4.3g






 

Monday, April 23, 2012

How to Change Your Relationship with Food


How to Change Your Relationship with Food

By: Lori Andersen
Click HERE for the original article.



Many of us have been on just about every diet out there.  Sometimes you lose, but sometimes not.  The common denominator in the past has always been that the weight has come back…Why?  Well, at Take Shape for Life, we want to help you understand how to not only get down to your healthy weight but to learn how to keep it off for good!

It is all wonderful to get down to your BMI of between 19 and 25 that will get you going in the right direction.  But to keep you going in the right direction for the rest of your life, we want you to reach for your “Metabolic Fitness”.  Metabolic Fitness is achieved when your body is absent of all the metabolic and biochemical risk factors associated with obesity.  These risk factors include high cholesterol, high triglyceride level, elevated blood glucose, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and elevated fatty acid synthesis.  You can achieve metabolic fitness by a modest drop in your weight and a moderate increase in your physical activity.  Sounds easy enough, but the difficulty lies in the fact that so many people use food for non-nutrient purposes such as stress relief, emotional soothing, entertainment, to feel high or good, to rebel, to stop boredom, to procrastinate, and the list goes on and on.

So what should you do?  Well, the key to successfully losing weight and keeping it off for good is to change your attitude about yourself and the food that you choose to put into your magnificent body.

Here is an example to help you understand….
Ann just left her doctor’s office, and after quite a few tests it was revealed that she needs to lose 60 pounds to improve her health.  Ann’s concept of herself is that she will always be heavy.  Her whole family is overweight.  She has tried every diet ever invented and joined every weight program around, and although she may lose some weight, it always comes back on.  She feels that she can only stick to a diet for a few days. She loves food too much.  She also hates to exercise.  So, what her doctor has just told her is creating a lot of havoc in her brain.  What is she going to do?

Ann’s biggest obstacle is her preconceived concepts of herself and her relationship to food and exercise.  She needs to challenge these core beliefs about herself and make a shift in her attitude and thinking.  At first, Ann was very sad and grief stricken, she did not want to give up the “feel good” foods she had come to love, but they were killing her! She couldn’t imagine life without these foods nor could she imagine having to exercise.  Ann chose to get help from a therapist, who helped her to imagine other options other than to turn to food.  She chose the Take Shape for Life program, and took advantage of all the great support from her personal Health Coach, the online support tips and tools, and the weekly support calls.  She started exercise slowly by taking short walks daily.  She found friends and neighbors to exercise with and made it fun.  Ann had slowly but surely changed her self-concepts about herself, food, and exercise.  Ann has lost 60 pounds and lives an active healthy life. Now, how about you?

How you see yourself will determine much of your behavior.  If you perceive yourself as loving sweets, you will not let a brownie pass by without a bite.  If you see yourself as a vegetarian, you will never crave a juicy piece of steak.  If you claim that you are a triathlon competitor, you look forward to your daily workout.  You are what you think you are.  And just like Ann, you can change your attitude and ideas to healthier ones.

Here are some steps to help you change your relationship with food…
1. First, write down your current reality…where you are right now in your body and mind.  Then look ahead to where you want to be in your body and mind… more energy, eating healthy, feeling great, metabolically fit?  Write it down in your journal.

2. Examine and challenge your basic beliefs about foods that are holding you back from getting down to your desired weight and health.

3. Redefine yourself as someone who eats healthy and exercises regularly.  Imagine a “new you” and begin to “be” that person.

4. Stop using foods for non-nutrient purposes and learn other ways to cope with stress.

5. Allow yourself to grieve over the loss of your unhealthy eating habits and then let it go!

6. Eat only at planned meal times and planned snack times.

7. Don’t focus on the scale and start focusing on healthy behavior and lifestyle.

8. Let go of the “I wish I were thinner” comments and work to make you the best you can be.  No comparing allowed!

9. Take advantage of the support from your TSFL program (health coach, online daily tips and tools, weekly conference calls).

10.  Write down your goals for where you want to be in 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year.  Keep a daily journal.

I know you can be who you want to be…imagine, plan…action!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Going Bananas!


 Knock Knock.... Who's There? Banana!




Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes.


But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.


DEPRESSION:

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS:

Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

ANEMIA:

High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

BLOOD PRESSURE:

This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

BRAIN POWER:

200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

CONSTIPATION:

High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.
 
HEARTBURN:
Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

MORNING SICKNESS:

Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

MOSQUITO BITES:

Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

NERVES:

Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system..

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.


ULCERS:

The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL:

Many other cultures see bananas as a 'cooling' fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has FOUR TIMES the protein, TWICE the carbohydrate, THREE TIMES the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals.. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, 'A BANANA a day keeps the doctor away!'



PASS IT ON TO YOUR FRIENDS...
PS: Bananas must be the reason monkeys are so happy all the time! I will add another one here; want a quick shine on our shoes?? Take the INSIDE of the banana skin, and rub directly on the shoe...polish with dry cloth. Amazing fruit !!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way to Reduce Stress (from the Mayo Clinic)



 
Meditation can wipe away the day's stress, bringing with it inner peace. See how you can easily learn to practice meditation whenever you need it most.


If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.
Anyone can practice meditation. It's simple and inexpensive, and it doesn't require any special equipment. And you can practice meditation wherever you are — whether you're out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor's office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.

Understanding meditation
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.
Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process results in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.

Benefits of meditation
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health. And these benefits don't end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and can even improve certain medical conditions.

Meditation and emotional well-being
When you meditate, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.
The emotional benefits of meditation include:
  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions
Meditation and illness
Meditation also might be useful if you have a medical condition, especially one that may be worsened by stress. While a growing body of scientific research supports the health benefits of meditation, some researchers believe it's not yet possible to draw conclusions about the possible benefits of meditation.
With that in mind, some research suggests that meditation may help such conditions as:
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Asthma
  • Binge eating
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Substance abuse
Be sure to talk to your health care provider about the pros and cons of using meditation if you have any of these conditions or other health problems. In some cases, meditation can worsen symptoms associated with certain mental health conditions. Meditation isn't a replacement for traditional medical treatment. But it may be a useful addition to your other treatment.

Types of meditation
Meditation is an umbrella term for the many ways to a relaxed state of being. There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. All share the same goal of achieving inner peace.
Ways to meditate can include:
  • Guided meditation. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. You try to use as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. You may be led through this process by a guide or teacher.
  • Mantra meditation. In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
  • Mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. You broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions but let them pass without judgment.
  • Qi gong. This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance. Qi gong (CHEE-gung) is part of traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Tai chi. This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts. In tai chi (TIE-chee), you perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
  • Transcendental meditation. You use a mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase repeatedly silently, to narrow your conscious awareness and eliminate all thoughts from your mind. You focus exclusively on your mantra to achieve a state of perfect stillness and consciousness.
  • Yoga. You perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As you move through poses that require balance and concentration, you're encouraged to focus less on your busy day and more on the moment.

Elements of meditation
Different types of meditation may include different features to help you meditate. These may vary depending on whose guidance you follow or who's teaching a class. Some of the most common features in meditation include:
  • Focused attention. Focusing your attention is generally one of the most important elements of meditation. Focusing your attention is what helps free your mind from the many distractions that cause stress and worry. You can focus your attention on such things as a specific object, an image, a mantra, or even your breathing.
  • Relaxed breathing. This technique involves deep, even-paced breathing using the diaphragm muscle to expand your lungs. The purpose is to slow your breathing, take in more oxygen, and reduce the use of shoulder, neck and upper chest muscles while breathing so that you breathe more efficiently.
  • A quiet setting. If you're a beginner, practicing meditation may be easier if you're in a quiet spot with few distractions — no television, radios or cellphones. As you get more skilled at meditation, you may be able to do it anywhere, especially in high-stress situations where you benefit the most from meditation, such as a traffic jam, a stressful work meeting or a long line at the grocery store.
  • A comfortable position. You can practice meditation whether you're sitting, lying down, walking or in other positions or activities. Just try to be comfortable so that you can get the most out of your meditation.
Everyday ways to practice meditation
Don't let the thought of meditating the "right" way add to your stress. Sure, you can attend special meditation centers or group classes led by trained instructors. But you also can practice meditation easily on your own.
And you can make meditation as formal or informal as you like — whatever suits your lifestyle and situation. Some people build meditation into their daily routine. For example, they may start and end each day with an hour of meditation. But all you really need is a few minutes of quality time for meditation.
Here are some ways you can practice meditation on your own, whenever you choose:
  • Breathe deeply. This technique is good for beginners because breathing is a natural function. Focus all attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing.
  • Scan your body. When using this technique, focus attention on different parts of your body. Become aware of your body's various sensations, whether that's pain, tension, warmth or relaxation. Combine body scanning with breathing exercises and imagine breathing heat or relaxation into and out of different parts of your body.
  • Repeat a mantra. You can create your own mantra, whether it's religious or secular. Examples of religious mantras include the Jesus Prayer in the Christian tradition, the holy name of God in Judaism, or the om mantra of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions.
  • Walk and meditate. Combining a walk with meditation is an efficient and healthy way to relax. You can use this technique anywhere you're walking — in a tranquil forest, on a city sidewalk or at the mall. When you use this method, slow down the pace of walking so that you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet. Don't focus on a particular destination. Concentrate on your legs and feet, repeating action words in your mind such as lifting, moving and placing as you lift each foot, move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.
  • Engage in prayer. Prayer is the best known and most widely practiced example of meditation. Spoken and written prayers are found in most faith traditions. You can pray using your own words or read prayers written by others. Check the self-help or 12-step-recovery section of your local bookstore for examples. Talk with your rabbi, priest, pastor or other spiritual leader about resources.
  • Read and reflect. Many people report that they benefit from reading poems or sacred texts, and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on their meaning. You also can listen to sacred music, spoken words or any music you find relaxing or inspiring. You may want to write your reflections in a journal or discuss them with a friend or spiritual leader.
  • Focus your love and gratitude. In this type of meditation, you focus your attention on a sacred object or being, weaving feelings of love and gratitude into your thoughts. You can also close your eyes and use your imagination or gaze at representations of the object.
Building your meditation skills
Don't judge your meditation skills, which may only increase your stress. Meditation takes practice. Keep in mind, for instance, that it's common for your mind to wander during meditation, no matter how long you've been practicing meditation. If you're meditating to calm your mind and your attention wanders, slowly return to the object, sensation or movement you're focusing on.
Experiment, and you'll likely find out what types of meditation work best for you and what you enjoy doing. Adapt meditation to your needs at the moment. Remember, there's no right way or wrong way to meditate. What matters is that meditation helps you with stress reduction and feeling better overall.