Category Archives: Health

How to Cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder

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I always get down this time of year. The shorter days are just too depressing for me. Maybe you have the same problem? Life doesn’t have to be hard once you are diagnosed with SAD or seasonal affective disorder. Once you recognize the symptoms, they should be manageable. SAD itself is a very manageable condition, and there are many ways to live with it.

Get more light.

The best way to keep the blues away during fall and winter, when daylight is shorter, is to expose yourself to light as much as possible. Go out in the morning and bask in the morning light. Open your windows during the day. Spend most of your time near the window where you can get lots of natural light coming in.

Have a vacation.

Most people take a vacation in summer. While you can enjoy summer getaways, you may want to try taking a break from work in winter. Go south, whether there’s more daylight. If the budget permits, escape the winter cold by booking to a tropical resort. If that’s not possible, then just consider taking a break to spend time with friends and family.

Reduce stress.

This is exactly the reason why you should take a vacation or take a break from work. All that work-related stress makes SAD worse. There are different ways to reduce stress. One is by removing the source. Second is by getting away from it. Third is to exercise, because it releases mood-enhancing neurotransmitters. Most importantly, get enough sleep.

Eat right.

People with SAD have low serotonin levels. The body needs tryptophan to make serotonin. Thus, it makes sense to eat foods rich in tryptophan. Milk and eggs are rich in tryptophan. You should also eat more apricots, apples, grapes, and oranges because they enhance serotonin levels.

Cut back on alcohol and coffee.

Many SAD sufferers beat the winter slump by loading on caffeine, but the stimulant in coffee offers short-term relief. You have to drink coffee every day to get its mood-boosting benefits, and that comes with a price. You get addicted to it, and you suffer from anxiety and insomnia.

On the other hand, alcohol acts like a depressant, making your wintertime depression worse.

Exercise

Regular exercise coupled with sunlight exposure in the morning is beneficial to people with SAD. Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which make you feel good. Try walking or jogging outdoors and enjoy the benefit of longer daylight exposure. Consider trying winter sports, like skiing or snowboarding.

Wake up at the same time every day.

Keep your body clock consistent by waking up at the same time each day. If you wake up at 6 on weekdays, wake up at the same time on weekends. This way, you get to take the advantage of the morning daylight, when you’re supposed to be out to get sunshine.

Take your prescriptions.

You should see your psychologist for management of your SAD. Management may involve medications, which you should take in the right dosage on the right schedule. Follow dosage instructions. Also, take necessary OTC medications or supplements. For instance, your doctor may recommend vitamin D.

Keep a journal of your symptoms.

Your psychologist or psychiatrist might have told you this. If not, it’s wise that you keep a journal of your symptoms just so you can track the progress of the condition. Is it getting worse or better? If you’re experiencing worsening signs of SAD, you may need another appointment with your psychologist or psychiatrist for further evaluation.

How to Determine Your Body Fat Percentage

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how to measure body fatOne of the things fitness enthusiasts do is measure their body fat. They have a good reason for doing so. One of the factors that determine how fit you are is your body fat percentage. You may be lifting weights in the gym, but with a high body fat percentage, your muscle gains won’t show. This is why you hear guys in the gym talk about their body fat and you hear things like bulking and cutting. The latter means they want to get rid of some of their body fat. To be considered fit, men should have a body fat percentage of 14-17% and women, 21-24%.

So how do you measure your body fat percentage?

There are different ways.

Caliper

Calipers are precise ways to measure body fat. They are easy to use. The caliper is used to pinch the skin, including the subcutaneous fat layer. That’s the skin you can pinch above the muscle. You then take the reading in millimeters and then determine its equivalent body fat percentage on a chart. The thicker you can pinch on your skin, the more body fat you have. Some caliper tests only measure a single spot on the body. Others test different parts of the body and get the average reading. However, this is not practicable for obese individuals as the amount of fat becomes too thick for the caliper to measure.

Measuring Tape

This is another easy way to measure the percentage of your body fat. You can do this at home with a companion. You will take measurements of your neck and waist circumference. Critics have qualms about the accuracy of this method.

Pinch Test

This is like the caliper test (minus the caliper itself). Instead, you will use your index finger and thumb to pinch the back of your arm, specifically halfway between the elbow and the shoulder. Pinch the skin above the triceps muscle. Then measure the thickness in millimeters using the ruler. The reading in millimeters have an equivalent body fat percentage you can check on the chart. For instance, if you’re a man and you can pinch about 13 millimeters of skin, then roughly 9-13% of your mass is fat.

BIA

Bioelectric impedance analysis is a sophisticated way to measure your body fat. The device works on the principle of electrical conductivity. Muscle has high water and electrolyte content and is therefore more conductive than fat, which has low water content. The device measures how much your body impedes electric current. Higher readings mean more body fat. There’s one catch though. The accuracy of the measurements depends on how well hydrated you are. This is an option for people who are too overweight for caliper measurements.

Underwater Measurement

Have you heard of hydrostatic weighing? Apparently, it’s the most accurate way to measure your body fat percentage. You will have your weight taken underwater, and how much fat you have affects how much you weigh in the water. Bone and muscle are denser than water. Fat is less dense than water.

Supposing you and the other guy have the same weight. Hydrostatic weighing reveals which of you has higher fat percentage. Basically, the guy who weighs less in the water has higher fat percentage.

This is the most expensive way to measure body fat though.