Being Empowered ….. for a Healthy Heart

A blogger whom I admire who has gone through much in life. Thank you for your friendship and for the lovely book review, Don!

My2ndHeartBeat

Being Empowered

I had a heart transplant about 11-1/2 years ago. I was thrust into the world of medicine and health with no notice. Through my journey, I’ve learned a LOT about heart health …….. through not only my transplant team of great doctors, nurses, nutritionists, dietitians and clinicians, but also by reading and investigating a lot of books, articles and studies.

Recently I learned of a new book written By Dr. Phoebe Chi, “Being Empowered …. for a Healthy Heart”.

This is a well written book that not only covers the topics of healthy eating and exercise, but she also adds some poetry, beautiful photographs and some sections that I don’t get talked about as much as they should, but make a ton of sense. The areas of relaxation, stress relief, sleep/insomnia, intimacy and staying motivated are very important parts of a good heart healthy program. These areas are often somewhat…

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Being Empowered for Your Health

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Have you ever left one of your health appointments disappointed with your visit? Maybe you had just spoken to a health care professional, but instead of feeling like all of your concerns were addressed, you found yourself with even more questions? In this post, I will provide you practical tools that you can starting putting into use today that will empower you in your health care visits by helping you prepare for encounters you might have with the health care system–whether it is a routine doctor’s visit or an unexpected trip to the ER—and by helping you make the most out of your interactions with your health care professionals.

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Taking Control of Chronic Pain

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

In my last post, I discussed the cycle of chronic pain and how it works. In this post, I will focus on tools that you can incorporate into your life that will help break this cycle and empower you to take better control of your days…so that you can always look forward to each one. 

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Taking Control of Diabetes [part 2]

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

In my previous posts, I discussed both the importance of knowing your Diabetes A-B-C’s as well as how to easily meal plan your way to health. In this post, I will focus on another essential skill that everyone with diabetes needs to have: how keep your blood sugars at an optimal level. By knowing what to watch for and knowing how to react, you can be empowered to truly take control of this condition. 

So let’s get started!

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Taking Control of Diabetes

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Like most chronic condition, diabetes is a disease that–while serious–should not deprive you of a long and fulfilling life. With that said, the seemingly little things that you do on a day-to-day basis can end up making a big difference in how the disease affects your health and quality of life, with what you do (or don’t do) playing an important role in determining how well your diabetes is controlled and whether or not the disease gets worse over time.

In this post—which is a part of my Taking Control of Chronic Conditions series—I will discuss what you can do to manage your diabetes, so that you will be equipped with the skills you need to take control of your health once again.

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The Ketogenic Diet: Fact or Fad?

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Over the past year, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the ketogenic diet. Not surprisingly, I have encountered many questions regarding them. What is it? Is it safe? Would I recommend it? 

Despite the recent trend, a “ketogenic diet” is actually not new at all. In the 1970’s, Dr. Atkins popularized his low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss that began with a very strict two-week ketogenic phase. Over the years, other popular diets also incorporated similar approaches for weight loss. But in medicine, we have been using this method for almost a century to treat some forms of epilepsy, especially drug-resistant types in children.

As you know, whenever something is popularized, much information goes around—some accurate, some not so accurate. The purpose of this post is to summarize for you what the medical community actually knows so far through its research on the health effects of ketogenic diets. This post is not to make a stance either for or against, because as you will see, there are both pros and potential cons (as well as some unknowns); rather, I simply want to equip you with the right information in order to empower you to make the best decision for your personal situation.

So let’s get started!

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How to Fight Fatigue

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

In my last article, I discussed some of the common medical causes of chronic fatigue, which may or may not apply to you. The truth is, many times, there isn’t just one single cause—rather, it’s often many different factors that wear you down and zap you of energy.

So what can you do about it? Fortunately, the answer is…a lot! Aside from ruling out or treating any medical conditions, there is a lot that you can do on a daily basis that can help improve your health and overall energy level, and I will discuss many of those things today. Keep in mind that because healthy living habits work together synergistically, the more you can incorporate into your day, the bigger the energy boost you will experience. So let’s get started!

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Action Planning for Health

Have you ever thought of something you either wanted to do (“I want to lose weight“) or felt like you should do (“I should eat healthier“), but you just cannot get yourself to take the first step, because the task seems too overwhelming or out of reach? Or maybe you start making changes, but then after a while start to feel discouraged at your apparent lack of progress?

If so, you are not alone.

Starting today, I want you to begin incorporating something into your life—a type of goal-setting called Action Planning. Many of you may already be familiar with this. The purpose of an Action Plan is to set you on the road towards your personal goals by breaking them down into small, actionable steps. So let’s get started!

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Complete Relaxation Techniques

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

For many, relaxation means zoning out in front of the TV or staring at the phone at the end of a stressful day. But this does little to reduce the damaging health effects of stress. To effectively combat stress, it is necessary to activate your body’s natural relaxation response. One way to do this is by practicing effective relaxation techniques. Fitting these activities into your life can help reduce everyday stress, boost your energy and mood, and improve your mental and physical health. When combined with effective stress management skills, you end up with a powerful, stress-busting combo. 

This guide provides relaxation techniques that are best performed when you have 15 minutes and a comfortable environment, but which are extremely effective at countering your body’s stress response (by eliciting the “Relaxation Response”)….as a result leading to calming effects that can linger for days. 

Don’t have 15 minutes? Then you need these quick relaxation techniques. 

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Instant Relaxation Techniques

Even when equipped with effective Stress Management skills, sometimes one just needs a break from the stresses of a busy day—in the middle of the day.

These mini-relaxation techniques are powerful stress busters that you can reach for anytime. Whether you’re preparing for an important meeting, stuck in traffic, or in the middle of an uncomfortable situation—these exercises can be a fast and effective tool to help you achieve a relaxed state so that you can confidently face the stresses of the day. So go ahead—take some time to try them all to see which ones work best for you.

Have 15 minutes to spare? Try a full relaxation session for a total de-stressing experience.

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Taking Control of Stress (part II)

In my last post, I discussed Stress Management in terms of practicing the “4 A’s.” In this post, I will be discussing the other essential components of stress management (if you missed the initial post on the effects of chronic stress on your health, I encourage you to glance at that when you get the chance).

Need immediate de-stressing? This article will show you some instant ways to relax.

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Taking Control of Stress

Now that I’ve discussed how harmful chronic stress is to your health…what can you do about it? The very necessary next step (after recognizing what is causing your stress) is to make the decision to take control of it. To decide to take control means that you are determined to start making positive, proactive changes in your life to effectively manage your stress—as opposed to allowing yourself to feel like a victim to it and merely trying to cope with it. This difference in mindset can make a significant difference—the difference between feeling like you’re keeping pace while staying ahead in a race as opposed to lagging behind trying to catch up.

So really, what does this all mean? This post will introduce the most practical way to start taking control of your stress: by practicing the “4 A’s.”

Feeling stressed out right now? Take a few seconds to do one of these quick relaxation techniques.

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Pain Medications: Choosing the Right One for You

By Phoebe Chi, MD

Advil. Aleve. Tylenol. Aspirin. Four widely used over-the-counter medications. How do you know if you are taking the right one?

The purpose of this post is to familiarize you with the major pros and cons of these medications as well as to help you differentiate who should and should not take them. Even if you already have a “go-to” medication, make sure you know these essential facts, which is summarized in the table below.

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5 Things Doctors Wish You Knew (that will empower you)

By Phoebe Chi, MD

Have you ever left a doctor’s office somewhat disappointed with your visit? Maybe you just spoke to a physician, but instead of having all your concerns addressed, you find yourself with even more questions? Do you ever wonder what doctors secretly wished patients would do that would make caring for you a smoother process?

My purpose in writing this post is to do two things: to provide practical tips that you can use today that will 1) help prepare you for encounters you might have with the health care system in the future…whether it’s a routine doctor’s visit or an unexpected trip to the ER, and 2) help you make the most out of your interactions with your physicians.

Therefore, without further ado…

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