Carmel Health

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you and your family.
With a new semester upon us, this is a time to reflect upon the best (and worst) of 2010 and to look forward to the fresh start offered to us by 2011.
Just before Advent, the Administration at CCHS gave teachers a book of daily reflections. The reflection for the New Year asked us to consider choosing a theme for 2011. Would this be The Year of Quiet? The Year of Daring? The Year of Healing? The Year of Love?
Whether you decide to choose a theme or not, it is possible that you will be encouraged to set yourself a New Year's Resolution. This will be a commitment to improve your life, attitude or behavior in some way. Popular goals might be to lose weight, gain muscle, improve grades, give more time to charity, be nice to your siblings or improve your school grades. Whatever you choose, this is a time to set a positive goal or improve a habit that you have developed.
In health class we learn that following SMART guidelines we can increase our chances of achieving our goals. SMART is an acronym that reminds how to set the best type of goal.
Specific. Our goal should be specific, not general. Why have you set this goal? Who will help you? When will you work on achieving the goal? What constraints will need to be overcome?
Measurable. You should be able to measure your success, or your path towards achieving your goal.
Attainable. When you plan out the steps, and establish a time frame you are more likely to achieve your goal. Goals that once seemed difficult will become more attainable as you grow and change your behaviors to ensure success.
Realistic. Your goal will be realistic if you believe that it can be accomplished. Are you willing and able to achieve the goal?
Timely. You should set a time limit on your goal. Achieving it 'someday' just doesn't cut it. By putting a time limit on the goal you are preparing yourself to make changes in your behavior to achieve. Once the goal is achieved, you can reward yourself...and set yourself another goal. Remember, people who regularly set and achieve goals are more successful in life.
I wish you all the best in achieving your New Year's Resolution. If there is anything that I can do to assist you setting or achieving your goal please do not hesitate to ask me. If you are setting a goal, consider posting it on this blog as a comment. The more people that are aware of your goal, the more people you have to motivate you towards achieving it.
Consider this question asked in my book of Advent reflections, "What are we doing with the life God gave us?".

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mr Milne's Guide To Surviving Christmas

With the finals (almost) over, and one semester of (good) grades already safely stored on Edline, you can now relax from the pressures of school and look forward to Christmas. Hopefully you will have time to relax, reflect, and refresh yourselves for the challenges that await you in 2011. However, Christmas can be one of the most stressful times for the family and so here is my guide to surviving the holidays. With the house full of family members, perhaps including siblings who have been away at College, it's possible that so many people packed into a confined space can cause a few frustrations. Plus, if your parents are hosting Christmas celebrations, they too might be under pressure to make this a memorable occasion so here are my tips to make things run smoothly:

  • Be aware of how others in the house are feeling. If you sense that they are stressed, ask if there is anything that you can do to help. When we do good things for other people we feel happy also, and so here is a great win-win situation for everyone.

  • Enjoy the food! Don't worry too much about possible over-indulgence. You don't want to offend the person who has prepared the food and don't feel guilty about gaining weight. Research that I read recently suggested that most people only put on 1lb at Christmas. However, I also read research that said that 10% of Americans gain 5lb in weight when you include Thanksgiving AND Christmas. I say just enjoy the food. Make healthy choices, take the low fat option if possible and enjoy the protein rich turkey!

  • Be safe! With ice and snow predicted, the roads aren't the safest of places at this time of the year. The police will be out in large numbers trying to identify those drivers who might have 'celebrated' a little too excessively so be aware of this. Be careful of other drivers, and please don't accept rides from anyone that you think might have been drinking.

  • Christmas offers you a great opportunity for reflection. Take time over the next few weeks to give thanks for all of the great things in your life. You can reflect on those who are no longer with us, and include those that are suffering in your prayers. Enjoy all that your faith has to offer you over this time of religious celebration.

  • Finally, set yourself some goals for 2011. What do you hope to accomplish over the next 12 months and how do you hope to do so? What steps can you put in place now to ensure that you are more likely to achieve these goals? Share your goals with your family and encourage them to do the same - this gives you a great opportunity to provide support for each other.

I've had a great 2010 and look forward to all that the New Year has to offer.

Have a wonderful, stress free Christmas with your friends and family!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One Cigarette Is One Too Many

The latest Surgeon General report regarding the damage that tobacco smoke causes has once again raised discussion about smoking. Considering that there are over 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke it is perhaps no surprise that over 440,000 Americans die from tobacco-caused illnesses every year. Now the Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, is reporting “that one puff on that cigarette could be the one that causes your heart attack”.

Smoking is a major cause of heart disease, stroke, aortic aneurysms and peripheral arterial disease.

Smoking is responsible for more than 85% of lung cancers. It has also been directly linked to 13 different cancers including esophagus, trachea, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix and acute myeloid leukemia. Lung cancer, nasal irritation, heart disease and reproductive problems are also risks associated with tobacco products.

Despite the fact that 46 million adults smoke, and tens of millions more are regularly exposed to second hand smoke, 1,000 teens still pick up this nasty habit every day.

However, it’s not all bad news. Banning smoking in public places has resulted in a 41% reduction in the number of people hospitalized for heart disease. When smokers quit, the risk of a heart attack drops sharply after just one year. Stroke risk falls after 2-5 years; risks for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half after 5 years; and the risk of dying of lung cancer drops by about half after 10 years.

If anyone that you know needs to quit, you can tell them that it’s never too late and with modern programs it’s in fact easier to quit now than at any time in the past. Tell them to speak to their doctor or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW and get started on a quit plan. Local residents can also check out

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't Let Finals Stress You Out

As we return to school after the Thanksgiving break things start to get stressful. Teachers will be working you extra hard to prepare you for finals. Your parents will be 'encouraging' you to spend more time preparing for those exams in a few weeks time....and the festive social scene will soon be in full swing.

You know from your studies about mental health that it is normal to feel stressed, and in fact you can even use stress in a positive way and use it to motivate you to start your exam preparations early.

My top 5 suggestions to help you survive the madness of Finals would be:

  • Start planning your study guides as early as possible. Make a plan of times that you will devote to study, AND times that you will devote to non-academic activities. Perhaps even prioritize your subjects. If you are not doing so well in a certain subject perhaps you will need to spend more time reading through those notes.

  • DON'T overstudy. It is important that you put those books down and exercise, do some sport, socialise, reflect at church or go and watch the Carmel athletes performing this season.

  • Share your stress! Let your parents or teachers know if things are starting to get on top of you. Talk to your friends - are they coping? Remember, if the stress starts to get out of hand then you can always speak with Mrs Carlson.

  • Get some sleep. Shut those books AND turn off the computer (yes that means Facebook) at least an hour before you go to bed. Listen to some music, practice relaxation techniques or drink some herbal tea. It's important that you get into a routine which means getting sufficient sleep.

  • Eat a breakfast containing complex carbohydrates. Slow burning fuels like oatmeal will ensure that you are alert throughout the day. Oh, and lay off the caffeine. You can treat yourself to a Starbucks once the exams are over.

Remember, finals aren't everything. They will soon be over and you will be able to get back to being you.

If you have any comments about the above then please post a reply. Do you suffer from stress, or do you have any tips that work for you? Let me know.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Is Obesity Contagious?

As you know, I read as much as I can in magazines and on the internet trying to keep up with the world of Health. Remember, you are still encouraged to do the same and I thank those students who do occasionally bring in articles for me to read.
Recently I have been reading a number of stories based on some research that would suggest that obesity is contagious. Well of course that sort of dramatic headline has been created to get interest in this story but there is some truth behind the headline.
Harvard's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics has produced some research that shows that obese people have the potential to create a ripple effect among their non-obese peers. The more non-obese people an obese person comes into contact with, the greater the chance that those people will become obese. Alison Hill, a study reseracher on the project said that "Although obesity can't actually spread like an infectious disease, contact with other obese people does influence the likelihood of becoming obese yourself".
Researchers have found that if a friend became obese over the course of the study, the chances that the participant also became obese increased by 57%. Among mutual friends (both individuals indicate the other is a 'friend'), the chances tripled.
Among siblings, if one becomes obese the liklihood of their sister or brother becoming obese increases by 40%. Among spouses there is a 37% increased risk.
You might think that maybe friends eat the same foods together and that this might affect their weight, however, the results were still the same no matter the geographic proximity of friends.
With some research suggesting that America's obesity rate won't plateau until 42% of adults are obese, this recent research should get people talking more about this subject.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another First

It's been an exciting first semester of the year for our Health classes. Our "Carmel Health" podcast is now available on iTunes, and student participation in the production of these podcasts continues to increase. The 3rd podcast is almost ready for broadcast and there will be greater student involvement than ever before.
Our Health classes have also used a number of technological resources to aid in their learning of the subject. We have created QR Codes (more on that in a later posting). We have also used applications on smartphones in class. Most recently we used 'iTreadmill' to track our steps throughout the school day and also calculate the total number of calories expended. We also calculated our body composition using the excellent 'TeenBMI' application. Our next unit in class is nutrition and I am already asking for students to come forward and share with me any good application that they or their families have been using to help them lead a more healthful lifestyle.
And so now I find myself trying to utilize a health blog and experiment with ways in which this can be used to engage students in Health. Stay tuned as this blog develops over the coming months.