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  • 2014 Focus: Get Healthy {Mentally as well as Physically}

    Get Healthy in 2014 with chieffamilyofficer.com

    Normally, I’m focused on financial goals at the start of a new year. But this year, things are different.

    I had a milestone birthday last year, and I have to admit that my body has changed physically. My eye doctor has told me that my vision – so nearsighted since I was eight years old – is starting to reverse course {bring on the reading glasses!}. I got sick in mid-December and I haven’t been able to shake off the flu the way I normally do, and I actually got bronchitis for the first time, possibly ever. Getting plantar fasciitis nearly four years ago has limited my physical activity, so my conditioning has worsened gradually and I’m in the worst shape I can remember.

    I was told by one of my doctors to lose weight, but I went on a “diet” and promptly gained five pounds.

    You see, I’ve been an emotional eater since I was seven or eight years old, and thus overweight since childhood. Not surprisingly, I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to lose weight, or trying not to care that I haven’t lost weight.

    I know many of you can relate.

    I’ve discovered that my biggest problem is mental. I don’t know how to be physically healthy and thin, because I never have been. So I’ve lost weight, but then gained it right back because it was too scary and hard to stay at my new weight. For a lot of you, that may not make any sense, but some of you totally get what I’m saying.

    I’ve decide to spend 2014 working through these mental barriers, because my health is too important not to. I’ve reached an age where if I really don’t start taking care of myself, I’ll end up unable to keep up with my kids, sitting out events because I’m sick or infirm, etc. And I don’t want that.

    It’s not going to be easy, but it needs to happen. If you feel the same way, I’d love to share the journey with you. I’m not quite sure how yet, but we’ll figure something out.

    The book I’m reading now on this topic is Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth. I don’t know if it would have made sense to me at any previous time, but it’s making a lot of sense to me now. As I digest what I read, I’ll have more to say on this topic.

    Whatever your New Year’s resolutions or goals are, I wish you all the best in making them come true!

    Image via FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Apolonia.

    How much sleep do adults need?

    I met two of my girlfriends for breakfast a while back, and we got around to discussing an issue that’s common for most (if not all) moms: lack of sleep. One of my friends said that she just read that women over 40 ideally should get about six hours of sleep per night. Since I’m not quite 40, it made curious about how much sleep women in their 30’s need, and how that changes over the years.

    In general, adults need seven to eight hours of sleep (though you, or someone you know, may thrive on as little as five or be cranky if they get less than 10). If you find yourself getting sleepy during the day, you are probably not getting enough sleep. Also, older adults sleep more lightly and awaken more frequently, so they may need to nap.

    Basically, it seems like you need to find the right amount of sleep for you, whatever stage you’re at.

    Personally, I used to need a solid eight hours when I was in my early 20’s, but now seven seems like the right number for me. I wouldn’t object to more, though!

    What I Learned At The Dentist: Brushing and Flossing really matter

    I have to admit that I was not the best when it came to brushing and flossing as a child, a teen or even a young adult. I think I would have done better back then if only I’d known what I know now: brushing and flossing properly makes a huge difference.

    I just got back from the dentist, who explained that there are three components to the creation of a cavity: the tooth (which is pretty much the same in everybody), bacteria, which secret an acid that eats away the tooth enamel, and sugar, which the bacteria eat to produce the acid. The genetic component in dental health doesn’t really have to do with the creation of a cavity, but the composition of saliva is affected by genetics and can range from practically killing the bacteria on contact to being an ideal breeding ground for it.

    The things you have control over are the sugar and the bacteria. You can minimize the sugar by avoiding foods that are sugary and stick to the teeth. My dentist singled out fruit roll-ups in particular, because they have so little nutritional value and can stick to your teeth for up to six hours while the bacteria eat away at the sugar and your enamel. He also said that it’s better to eat six candy bars at once than to eat six candy bars over the course of a day. And, he emphasized that it’s important not to let babies suck on bottles of milk/formula all night, saying that he’s seen two-year-olds with ten cavities because of it.

    You can minimize the bacteria with good brushing and flossing habits, and I’m doing my best to instill those in the boys so that they don’t have to go through what I’m going through now. (I’m ashamed to admit that just over half of my teeth have some kind of filling.)

    He showed me the digital x-rays of my teeth, and pointed to some bone loss. He could tell, somehow, that it was from not flossing properly when I was a teenager. Thank goodness my recent good dental hygiene habits have halted the bone loss. The dentist said that he removes more teeth due to bone loss than decay, so it’s important not to lose the bone that holds your teeth in place!

    As I mentioned last year, flossing in the shower is what converted me to a faithful flosser. If you have difficulty sticking with it, I highly recommend trying this!

    Kitchen Tip: Keep an Aloe Vera Plant

    When I was growing up, my parents made a point of always having an aloe vera plant outside. Whenever someone had a burn, they would cut off a piece of the plant and spread the sap over the burn. They always sang its praises, and I believed them but didn’t have much personal experience because I didn’t have a fondness for hot things or flame.

    Fast forward to about ten years ago, when Marc and I moved into our first home together. One of the first things I did was buy an aloe plant. The amazing thing is, we’ve thoroughly neglected it and it’s still alive and well on our patio.

    Over the years, I’ve periodically burned myself in the kitchen and asked Marc to bring me a piece of aloe. It’s always helped, but I developed a renewed appreciation for it this week when my left middle finger came into contact with the wire rack in my toaster oven as I slid out a loaf of freshly baked artisan bread. At first, I didn’t think the burn was that bad, but it started throbbing after a few minutes.

    Marc responded promptly to my call for help, and I applied fresh aloe to the burn repeatedly until bedtime. I wore gloves when washing the dishes, but even then the contact with the hot water through the glove made the burn sting so I knew it was a bad one. Amazingly, despite a little discoloration, the skin on my finger is smooth, and it didn’t hurt after that first night.

    I’m not a medical expert, so I can’t swear that aloe vera will work for every one or for every minor burn. But you’ll never find me cooking without an aloe vera plant nearby!

    The hospital hierarchy: Making sense of the doctors who are treating you

    I headed off to college with the intention of going pre-med, but decided that really wasn’t for me when I discovered that I couldn’t tell the difference between smooth and skeletal muscle cells (and that was just for starters). And while we have a bunch of lawyers in the family, there isn’t a single doctor.

    Which meant that when we ended up at the hospital last week, I was relying on my vague memories of medical dramas (I haven’t really watched any in about ten years) and my own hospitalizations when I gave birth to make sense of the various medical staff around us. Yesterday, I did a Swag Bucks search and read a bunch of web sites to learn the following:

    An intern is a doctor in the first year after graduation from med school.

    A resident is a doctor who is more than one year out of med school. “Residency” is the period of training during which a doctor learns his/her specialty, so the length varies depending on the difficulty. (For example, neurosurgeons apparently have to endure an eight-year residency.)

    A chief resident is a doctor who is doing an extra year of residency and in charge of the other residents. This position apparently helps lead to other, more desirable positions such as fellowships. (A fellow is a doctor who has completed residency and is currently serving a fellowship, which is often funded by a special grant and involves some kind of research.)

    An attending physician is a doctor who has completed his/her residency. But there are obviously different levels of attendings, depending on experience. You definitely want to seek out the best attending you can find, because he/she will most likely have the final say about your care and treatment plan, and you want that to be as good as it can possibly be.

    A final note based on personal experience: If a resident writes a prescription to be filled upon discharge, try to the get the attending’s medical license information to go with it. Our insurance plan wouldn’t accept just the resident’s info, and the pharmacy had to wait for the attending’s license number before it filled the prescription.

    My best exercise tip: Work out every day

    Over at The Happiness Project, Gretchen mentioned a few months ago in passing that it’s easier to work out if you work out every day. I’ve really found this to be true.

    My goal in May was to log two miles on the treadmill every day. It didn’t matter how I did the two miles – walking or running, as long as I got two miles in every day. And I did, and I felt great.

    Then June came along, and I decided to mix things up. I stopped exercising every day. I did a little 30-Day Shred.I did other aerobics workouts. I did strength training instead of cardio. And I still hopped on the treadmill, but not every day.

    The discouraging thing was that when I did get on the treadmill, I didn’t feel nearly as strong as I had previously. And my desire to run fell like it had gone over a steep cliff.

    So in the last week, I’m back to my original plan: Log two miles on the treadmill every day. Because I had the flu last week, I’m still feeling a bit weak and haven’t been running. But getting on the treadmill and walking two miles has been good for me. Doing it every day makes it easier to do it every day. (I’m keeping the strength training part, too – I’d forgotten how good it feels to feel strong.)

    Of course, I need to add a disclaimer here that this may not be the best thing for you and that you should discuss your exercise options with your doctor. As always, do what works for you!