“Health” and “wellness” seem to be two words that pop up quite frequently—whether it be in the news, in conversation or on the bottle of kombucha you just picked up at the grocery store. But what does health and wellness really mean and is there any difference between the two?
Though these terms are often used interchangeably, you may be surprised to learn they have distinctive meanings. “Wellness” commonly refers to your overall well-being, a lifestyle that you actively seek and one that is continually evolving—whereas, “health” refers to your actual mental and physical state.
But there’s so much more to health and wellness than just their definitions. Read on as we discuss how they’re related and tips that you can integrate into your daily routine to help you improve both.
What is health?
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”1 While it may seem like your physical and mental state are separate entities, they are actually closely connected.
To maintain your physical health, it’s important to focus on good nutrition, exercise, and overall self-care practices. By doing so, you may be able to reduce your risk of major chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, just to name a few.2
The National Institutes of Health suggest following these steps to improve your physical health:3
Work toward or maintain a healthy body weight.
Develop healthy habits and identify habits that do not serve your well-being.
There’s no need to completely overhaul your entire routine overnight—just start small and begin with the basics. Start by learning more about the benefits of good nutrition (take this fun quiz to test your knowledge). Then, focus on integrating simple, low-impact exercises, like walking into your day. In addition to being great for your physical health, exercising and eating right can be great for your mental health, and you may even notice an improvement in your mood.
Mental & social health
Mental health is just as important as physical health and refers to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being.4 Your mental health impacts how you think, feel and act, as well as your ability to relate to others, make choices, and deal with stress.4
A variety of different factors can affect your mental health, including:4
Life experiences (such as trauma)
A family history of mental health problems
Biological factors (such as brain chemistry or genes)
Mental and social health conditions can be more difficult to pinpoint and diagnose than physical health. However, mental health and physical health are connected: it’s possible for someone suffering from physical health issues to develop depression or feel the effects of stress.5 Conversely, depression or excess stress may impact a person’s body weight.6 By practicing regular self-care you can help nurture your mental health and your overall wellness may even benefit.
What is wellness?
Wellness is a word you’ll find everywhere from yoga studios to grocery stores—and you might notice that everyone seems to have a slightly different idea of what wellness is and how to achieve it.
The University of California, Davis explains wellness as an “active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of change and growth.”7 At its core, wellness is centered around three basic ideas. According to the National Wellness Institute:8
Wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.
Wellness is multi-dimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment.
Wellness is positive and affirming.
Ultimately, wellness is more than just being healthy; it encompasses all aspects of our physical, social, intellectual, emotional, occupational and spiritual well-being.
Tips to improve your health and wellness
Improving your health and wellness can positively impact your life. To start, try making healthful, mindful changes. No change is too small!
Meditation can be a great way to work toward achieving a balance between your body and mind. If you feel like you’re constantly on-the-go and your thoughts are always racing, practicing mindfulness techniques may help give your mind the rest and stillness it needs to recover in times of stress.
Consistently getting your heart pumping may offer a number of health and wellness benefits, including improving how you feel, boosting your energy and bettering your sleep quality.9 Start by doing light exercise, such as going for a walk or a short swim and gradually increase your time and intensity from there.
Stick to a sleep schedule
With the rise of electronic devices, individuals are experiencing even more obstacles to getting a good night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends sticking to a regular sleep schedule to help you fall asleep a little easier by aligning with your natural circadian rhythm, your body’s internal clock.10 Research suggests getting more sleep may reduce the effects of stress11, maintain healthy blood pressure,12 reduce the risk of high cholesterol levels,13 and improve your mood.14
Find ways to reduce stress
Stress may impact your health and wellness, so it’s important to find constructive ways to counteract its effects. Try integrating activities like reading or light exercise into your routine that allow your mind and body to recharge.
Make time for self-care
When faced with a busy schedule, it can be hard to make time for yourself. Block out some time each week to do something you enjoy – whether that be spending more time with friends, family, or taking the time to relax and unwind solo.
Starting small and making simple changes can add up in a big way when it comes to improving your health and wellness. If you want to find a better balance between your health, wellness and food choices, contact a Jenny Craig consultant to book your free appointment today.
Menopause may be a natural part of every woman’s life, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are the relatively minor annoyances that start to occur as you approach the “change of life”—thinning hair and dry skin, to name a couple—as well as issues that can be much more difficult to deal with: irregular, sometimes heavy periods; hot flashes and night sweats; sleep problems; and mood swings.1 And once you are in full-fledged menopause, you are at increased risk of certain health conditions.
But before we look at the issues you need to be aware of—along with steps you can take to help prevent or treat them—let’s examine some facts about menopause:
The road to menopause typically begins in your late 30s. This is often when your ovaries begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that are responsible for regulating your periods. At this point, you likely won’t have signs of menopause, although your fertility can start to decline.1
Before you enter menopause, you will experience perimenopause. The declining levels of your hormones will eventually alter the length of time between your periods, marking the beginning of perimenopause, or the “menopausal transition.” Perimenopause often begins in the 40s and can last for months or years. You may have the classic signs of menopause but are not considered to be in menopause yet since you are still having periods.1,2
If you’re still menstruating, you’re still in perimenopause. You are considered to be in perimenopause until you haven’t had a period for 12 months. At that point, you have entered menopause.1
The average age of menopause in the United States is 51.2 However, there is a wide range, with most women entering menopause between the age of 40 and 58.2
Health Concerns of Menopause
In addition to the sometimes-uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, you are also at an increased risk of certain health problems, including the following:
Many women complain of hair loss after menopause. While experts aren’t sure of the cause, they suspect that hormonal changes may play a part.3
What you can do: The North American Menopause Society recommends the following:3
Eat a healthy diet. This includes limiting your consumption of red meat.3
Choose foods that are rich in biotin, iron, vitamin D and zinc. Broccoli, cheese, eggs, lean meat, legumes, nuts, poultry, seeds, spinach and sweet potatoes are good sources.4
Check with your doctor to rule out underlying problems. Hair loss can also be caused by thyroid disease or other medical conditions.
This condition, which causes your bones to become brittle and weak and to break easily, is more common during menopause. That’s because the loss of estrogen that occurs with menopause causes you to lose bone mass, which increases your risk.5
What you can do: The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends you:6
Eat a well-balanced diet. Focus on eating lots of fruits and vegetables and getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D. Good food sources include milk and other dairy products, tuna and dark-green leafy vegetables.
Get regular exercise. It’s important to do both weight-bearing exercise (dancing, hiking, tennis or fast walking, for example) and muscle-strengthening (such as lifting weights or using your own body weight, or working out with elastic bands).
Avoid secondhand smoke. Also watch your alcohol consumption.
Heart disease and stroke
Estrogen helps relax the blood vessels and keep them open; it also helps maintain healthy levels of cholesterol. Since estrogen decreases with menopause, there’s an increased risk of cholesterol building up in the arteries leading to the heart and brain, which in turn increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.7
What you can do: The American Heart Association recommends the following:9
Quit smoking if you smoke. Also try to avoid secondhand smoke.
Eat a healthy diet. Focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts.
Limit red meat. Also avoid sugary foods and drinks.
Aim to get approximately 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Exercises that use larger muscles at low resistance—such as walking, cycling, dancing or swimming—are good choices.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, many women gain an average of five pounds after menopause. While experts aren’t sure of the exact cause, they say lower estrogen levels may play a role.5
The reduced estrogen of menopause also causes an increase in abdominal fat, according to the International Menopause Society.8 This increase is a critical factor in the development of insulin resistance—which, in turn, is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Abdominal fat is also associated with other conditions in postmenopausal women, including breast cancer.
What you can do:
Watch what you eat. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may need to watch your portion sizes even more and focus on daily activity to maintain your current weight.1
Protect your sleep. Research has shown a link between sleep loss and obesity. One study showed that five or fewer hours of sleep per night was associated with a more than two-fold increase in obesity among women when compared to those who slept seven to eight hours per night.9 Reduced sleep was also associated with central abdominal fat.
Consider time-restricted feeding. Preliminary research suggests that individuals who follow a time-restricted feeding routine tend to lose more weight those who eat regardless of the time.10 By avoiding late-night meals and consuming the majority of your calories during daylight hours, you’ll be working with your metabolism when it’s most efficient. You can put this into practice by eating over a 12-hour period (for example, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.) and then letting your body rest by refraining from food—except water or herbal tea—for the other 12 hours (which includes sleep).
Menopause can be a difficult transition, both physically and emotionally. But hopefully with these tips, you’ll be empowered with knowledge to change some lifestyle habits and make the transition easier on yourself.
Do you need some strategies to help with weight loss during menopause? Jenny Craig offers delicious, balanced, healthy meals—along with your own personal weight-loss consultant. Contact us today to get started.
 https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal <br>
 https://www.menopause.org/for-women/expert-answers-to-frequently-asked-questions-about-menopause/women-s-health-and-menopause-faqs <br>
 https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/ <br>
 https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-and-your-health <br>
 https://www.nof.org/preventing-fractures/prevention/ <br>
 http://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/menopause-and-heart-disease <br>
 http://www.imsociety.org/manage/images/pdf/92cc05c0149e4aef6ae67c02dccc1f17.pdf <br>
 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2605208/ <br>
It seems like stress is inevitable these days. Between juggling work, social engagements, family, and trying to squeeze in some time for yourself, stress is most likely a part of your daily life.
But it’s important to take note of how much time you spend stressing and ensure your mind and body are getting a break, as handling an overwhelming amount of stress can result in some not-so-pleasant symptoms. Common side effects include headaches, muscle pain, fatigue, overeating and undereating.1 These physical symptoms are a result of the body’s natural “fight or flight” response to stress. While this may have kept our prehistoric ancestors safe from danger, many of our modern stressors are more psychological than physical. Our current reactions to stress haven’t fully adapted to these changes, which sometimes leaves us with a literal pain in the neck.2
What’s more, over time, experiencing stress without appropriate treatments may lead to a variety of health complications including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or obesity.3 In addition, stress-induced weight gain can leave a lasting impact on your health and derail your weight loss goals.
But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t fret! Although it might feel difficult to find ways to de-stress in our always-on world, there are ways to find your calm. Keep reading for eight of the best ways to de-stress—most of which are readily accessible and low-cost or free!
1. Be a tourist in your hometown
While most people will agree that going on a relaxing vacation is a great way to de-stress, sometimes work, finances or family can dominate your schedule. Get creative with a mini-vacation and take a trip around your town or city. It’s easy to follow routines, visit the same places, take the same routes, and see the same people. But break the habit! Try doing something unfamiliar, even if you don’t have a concrete plan. Try a restaurant you have always wondered about or check out a local museum nearby. Take a hike on a new path. If you’re focused on enjoying new experiences, your mind is less likely to concentrate on potential stressors.4
2. Put your green thumb to work
Tap into your inner gardener by adding a few plants around your home. Plants aren’t just trendy home décor—research has shown that interacting with indoor plants may help to reduce physiological stress and anxiety.5 Try chamomile, lavender and jasmine for their wonderfully soothing aromas.6
3. Make time to laugh
Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud! Make time to do something that makes you laugh, and bask in the good vibes. Whether it’s playing with your kids without any distractions, watching cute puppy videos or seeing a stand-up comedy routine, laughter may help to reduce stress hormones.7
4. Reflect on positive experiences
Most tips for reducing stress in your life are centered around objects: bringing something into your life that makes you happy or eliminating something that’s upsetting. Instead, try taking note of what you already have. It can be easy to focus on all the things that aren’t going exactly right. To combat that natural impulse, start your morning by writing down one, or a few things, that you’re grateful for in your life. By beginning each day with gratitude, you’ll be amazed at how much you already have for which to be thankful.
5. Spend time with a four-legged friend
Animals have been shown to provide comfort and reduce stress in humans.8 In one study, researchers found that pets offered social support crucial for handling psychological responses to stress.9 If you don’t own a pet, try volunteering with a local animal shelter or rescue. You’ll de-stress while sharing some TLC with an animal in need–it’s a win-win!
6. Try a new hobby
Practicing a calming hobby like crafting is a great way to reduce stress. Try something creative such as macramé or knitting.10 You might even decide to make a homemade gift for someone. Giving to others helps you to feel good in return!
7. Prepare a delicious, nutritious meal
Activities that require focus and completely engage your mind may be beneficial for reducing stress. Break out a recipe you’ve bookmarked and give it a shot! Following a set of instructions, paired with repetitive actions like chopping and stirring may help keep your mind occupied and focused on the task at hand, delivering delicious results. In need of some inspiration? Check out our Simply Inspired recipes.
8. Schedule regular breaks
If your calendar is constantly packed with back-to-back meetings and tasks, you probably aren’t allowing your mind any time to wander, relax, and recharge. To combat this, schedule small blocks of time on your calendar to get a coffee, take a few minutes to sit silently, or go for a short walk. Taking a few minutes to decompress works wonders!
We hope you found these ways to de-stress useful. Remember, it’s important to take the time to unwind, no matter how busy life may be—for your health and your happiness.
To learn more about a weight loss program that can help you focus on bettering your health, contact Jenny Craig for a free appointment today.
 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987 <br>
 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/body-stress-response_n_2902073.html <br>
 http://healthliving.today/unusual-ways-to-de-stress/3/ <br>
 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4419447/ <br>
 https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/wellbeing/plants-help-relieve-stress-much/ <br>
 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/296344 <br>
 http://time.com/4728315/science-says-pet-good-for-mental-health/ <br>
 https://habri.org/research/mental-health/ <br>
Several years ago, when I transitioned from full-time status in a busy publishing house to working as an independent contractor based out of my home, I was ecstatic. I had grown a bit weary of the 9-to-5 grind, and I looked forward to the flexibility of my new working arrangement. Plus, I knew I was disciplined and organized enough that I wouldn’t have a problem with distractions, procrastination and the like.
In fact, I ended up having the opposite problem: I worked too many hours. I rarely closed the door to my office. I rushed to answer my office phone whenever it rang, regardless of day or time. I checked my e-mail relentlessly. In short, I let work merge into my home life. And my sense of serenity evaporated, right along with my safe haven, where I could unplug from the office.
If you, too, are finding it difficult to strike a healthy work-life balance—whether you are working from home or in an office —know that you are far from alone. According to a Harvard Business School survey, a full 94 percent of consultants and other professionals reported that they clock in at 50-plus hours per week; almost 50 percent said they work more than 65.1
Even worse, in our culture of the never-ending workday, many people don’t get the chance to truly unplug. According to a poll of more than 1,000 American employees, 27 percent said they check their phones for work-related issues within 15 minutes of waking up.2 And 82 percent report that they’ve handled work-related emails while on vacation!
Needless to say, a lack of work-life balance isn’t healthy … not for you, not for your home life and not for your significant other. But there are steps you can take—starting today—to bring more balance into your life. Here’s how.
1. Set reasonable work hours from the start.
If you’re new to a job, resist the temptation to work unreasonably long hours; doing so establishes a habit that can be difficult to break. What’s more, your co-workers may come to expect that those are the hours you’ll always keep. On the other hand, if you establish reasonable work hours from the beginning, you’re more likely to stick to them—and your office mates are more likely to respect them.
And if you think that working more hours makes you more productive, it’s worth rethinking. According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, numerous studies have found that long hours don’t seem to equate to more work being accomplished.3 And it doesn’t stop there—stress caused by overwork may lead to a host of health problems including impaired sleep, diabetes, impaired memory and even heart disease.3
2. Establish end-of-workday routines.
Choose specific activities that you will do at the end of each day to reinforce that the workday is over. For instance, you might turn off your computer monitor, straighten your office and make a to-do list for the next day. Also, consider doing something symbolic as you arrive home. One dad I knew would pause on his way to the front door and place a hand on his favorite tree, mentally signifying that he was home—and that the day’s work was behind him.
3. Resolve not to check email or voicemail from home.
It’s impossible to achieve that vital disconnect from work—and gain work-life balance in the process—if you don’t make the commitment to leave work at work. Do everything you can not to check your email or voicemail once you leave the office or end your work day; if you must check it, resolve to do so only once. (To avoid conflict or unmet expectations, just be sure to alert your co-workers ahead of time.) Disconnecting from work—electronically, mentally and physically—is vital to recovering from work stress during non-work hours, research shows.4
4. Turn off your notifications.
Having a hard time ignoring your phone? Try turning it off when you get home—or, at a minimum, turn off your notifications.
5. Take time for yourself.
It can be hard to dedicate time for yourself when you’re juggling work and family demands and the multitude of duties that go along with them. But it’s vital that you find time to tend to your own needs. Even if it’s simply a warm bath with candles, a quiet walk around the neighborhood or a cup of tea in the early morning, try to find time for regular self-care … and give yourself the permission to do it.
6. Schedule leisure activities.
If it’s on your calendar, chances are better that you’ll actually exercise. Or go to lunch with a friend. Or have a date with your spouse.
7. Commit to taking a vacation at least once a year.
When I worked full-time, I became a hoarder when it came to my vacation days. I found a dozen different ways to rationalize not taking some much-needed time off, but the fact is, I just liked to see the hours accrue. Other than a few days here and there, I never quite got around to taking the vacation that I—and my family—needed and deserved.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Realize that taking time away from the office is vital to achieving work-life balance, then commit to taking a vacation at least once a year. If budget is an issue, keep this in mind: Your vacation can be restful and restorative without breaking the bank (think camping, visiting friends and family or taking a road trip). Just be sure to leave the email and voicemail behind!
Remember, it’s never too late to make changes to improve your health and wellness. With the right mindset, the conviction to make it happen and some good old trial and error, you can achieve work-life balance … and make yourself—and your loved ones—happier and healthier in the process.
Life is all about balance! If you’re ready to start living a healthier lifestyle, Jenny Craig can help. Contact us to book your free appointment to meet with a personal weight loss consultant today.
You may have heard about the “Freshman 15,” the weight gain common among first-year college students due to the all-hours food culture of the college dorm lifestyle. But have you heard about “love weight”? According to new research, the tendency to gain weight when married or in a romantic relationship is a thing … and a significant one at that.
A poll of 2,000 Americans who are married or in a relationship, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Jenny Craig, found that more than three-quarters of respondents—a full 79 percent—have gained weight since being married or in a relationship. In fact, the study found the average person has gained 36 pounds since being with their current partner, with 17 pounds gained in the first year alone.
The poll found that men are particularly susceptible to “love weight.” Sixty-nine percent of male respondents reported gaining weight during the first year of a relationship, compared with 45 percent of women. And they put on nearly twice as much weight as women during the first year of marriage, with an average of 22 pounds and 13 pounds gained, respectively.
However, it’s five years into marriage when people of both sexes tend to gain the most weight, the survey found, with starting a family being the No. 1 reason for weight gain.
But there is hope. “The data shows that while people have gained weight in a relationship, they are recognizing that they need to lose it, and that is great news for their health,” says Monty Sharma, president and CEO of Jenny Craig.
In other words, putting on weight in a relationship is not a foregone conclusion—and if you do gain “love weight,” that doesn’t mean you’re destined to keep it on forever. Most respondents—55 percent—say they have lost weight in the past year, with the average person having lost 16 pounds.
And that’s good news for both of you. “There are long-term negative side effects of weight gain—such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and more,” says Dr. Pamela Peeke, an assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chairman of the Jenny Craig Science Advisory Board. “But by engaging in healthy habits earlier in your relationship, couples can potentially prevent these problems while also building a strong foundation for optimal health and wellness.”
Read on for ways you and your partner can help prevent love weight together … and help make you, and your relationship, healthier—and maybe even happier—in the process.
1. Make a commitment to better health with your partner.
If you’ve ever felt you were susceptible to your mate’s less-than-healthy habits, you’re not alone. Researchers have found that married couples, as well as those living together, are at risk of adopting each other’s unhealthy habits, such as those related to exercise, food consumption, sleep patterns and smoking.1
But that doesn’t mean you’re destined to become unhealthy. A study on “social contagion” among married or romantic partners found that while having an obese spouse or live-in partner increases your risk of obesity by almost 40 percent, couples can also have a positive influence on each other, especially related to diet and exercise.2 For instance, the researchers found that new couples are likely to develop healthy changes together, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, reducing their fat intake and avoiding fast food. They also found that if one person is trying to lose weight, their partner may undertake positive weight-loss behaviors as well. If one partner has good exercise habits, for example, the other is likely to develop a healthy level of physical activity too.
2. Consider working out with your significant other.
The poll conducted for Jenny Craig found that more than one-third of respondents—34 percent—had adopted a less active lifestyle since being in their current relationship. So why not make a commitment—together—to increase the amount of exercise you get? Even better, try working out with your significant other: Research shows that exercising with your partner can make you more likely to exercise than if you were to work out alone. It can also improve your mood.3
Working out with your better half may also help improve your relationship, especially if you try a new activity together. Studies have shown that couples tend to feel more in love with their partner, and more satisfied with their relationship, after taking part—as a couple—in a novel physical challenge or activity.4
3. Develop healthy eating habits.
To ensure a healthy eating pattern, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends that you limit saturated and trans fats, added sugars and sodium. You should also be sure your diet includes the following foods5:
Vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, and starchy types.
Fruits, especially whole fruits.
Grains, at least half of which are whole grains.
Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages.
A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, nuts and seeds.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate healthier meals into your routine, Jenny Craig follows expert guidelines with chef-crafted, nutritionally balanced, ready-made meals.
4. Eat in more often.
A full 70 percent of the Jenny Craig poll respondents reported that their weight gain was caused in large part by eating out often and trying new food and restaurants together. Research bears this out, as eating out has long been implicated as a factor in Americans’ battle with obesity.6 In fact, research shows that people tend to consume 200 more calories per day when they eat out, compared to when they eat meals at home.7 Meals eaten out also tend to contain more cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium, the researchers found.
If you have difficulty finding the time to cook (and 30 percent of married respondents do), you can still eat healthfully while keeping the shopping, food prep and cooking to a minimum. “The best way to start weight loss is with the right nutrition and exercise, and Jenny Craig incorporates both into our program alongside dedicated support for each individual,” says Sharma. “Our program helps couples develop a healthy relationship with all foods, which we know is something people want today.”
5. Keep your relationship strong.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner can bring untold benefits, including less stress, healthier behaviors and a greater sense of purpose.8 What’s more, research shows that having a good marriage can actually help keep you from gaining weight.9 Researchers found that the better and more supportive a person’s marriage is, the less likely that person is to become obese in middle age.
As you and your partner get on the path to good health, keep this in mind: People who eat healthfully and exercise with their significant other are more than twice as likely to report that they’ve lost weight in the past year than people who don’t, according to the poll conducted for Jenny Craig. What’s more, couples who exercise and eat healthy together are almost twice as likely to say they’re consistently happy in their relationship than couples who don’t.
Peeke adds, “We know that close relationships affect the health outcomes of individuals. This data is a clear indicator that couples who support each other in a healthy lifestyle together can reap the benefits of happiness together as well.”
Do you or your partner want to find a healthier path together? Contact Jenny Craig to get started on your journey today!
When my sister Julie was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago, it was pretty scary. Even though the doctors caught it early and her prognosis was good, hearing the news still felt like someone had punched me in the gut—the ‘C’ word does that to you, I guess.
But I’m happy to report that like so many women today, Julie had a great outcome. After a successful lumpectomy and seven weeks of radiation—and, due to her tumor being estrogen-receptive, a long course of tamoxifen to halt her production of estrogen and reduce the risk of the disease returning—she is cancer-free. In fact, now that she has passed that all-important five-year mark, her doctors consider her to be cured.
Still, she stays vigilant. She watches her breasts closely (“my girls,” as she refers to them), gets regular mammograms and sees her oncologist yearly. And despite some unsavory side effects such as hot flashes and headaches, she will continue to take tamoxifen until she completes her full 10-year course. As Julie knows, despite the incredible advances in detection and treatment of breast cancer, it is up to her to make sure that she—and her girls—stay healthy.
We’d like to help you keep healthy, too. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are the latest recommendations on what you can do to help keep your breasts—and the rest of you—in top form.
Watch Your Breasts
According to the American Cancer Society1, you should become intimately familiar with how your breasts look and feel—regardless of your age—so if you do notice any changes, you can act quickly. You should watch your breasts closely for any of the following changes:
Changes to your nipples (such as if they turn inward or retract, or if the skin gets red or scaly).
Discharge from your nipples.
Lumps in your breasts.
Pain anywhere in your breasts.
Swelling in or around your breasts, armpits or collarbones.
Thickening or redness of the skin on your breasts (often referred to as an orange-peel appearance).
Warmth or itching of your breasts.
Keep in mind that non-cancerous breast conditions are very common and most breast changes are benign.2 Still, if you notice any changes, it’s important to follow up with your doctor right away.
Stay on Top of Screening Tests
Once you reach your 40s, it’s time to start considering—or getting—screening tests, usually mammograms. According to the National Cancer Institute3, screening mammograms can help detect breast cancer earlier, in turn allowing for earlier treatment. In fact, research4 has shown that screening mammography helps reduce death from breast cancer among women aged 40 to 74, particularly for those over the age of 50.
These are the American Cancer Society’s guidelines5 for women who have an average risk of breast cancer:
If you are between the ages of 40 and 44: You should have the choice to have yearly mammograms.
If you are between the ages of 45 and 54: You should have a mammogram every year.
If you are 55 or older: You should have a mammogram every two years—or you can continue yearly screening.
Women who are at high risk for breast cancer should get an MRI and a mammogram every year, typically starting at age 30. This includes women who:
Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation (based on having had genetic testing)
Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves. Learn more about genetic testing and if it’s right for you.
Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 20% to 25% or greater. Talk to your healthcare provider about assessment tools and your family history to help determine your risk
Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years
Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have first-degree relatives with one of these syndromes
Know if You Are at Increased Risk
Following are some of the factors that increase your risk of developing breast cancer. If you have any of them, it pays to remain extra alert to the breast changes mentioned above—and to be extra diligent about screening tests as well. And as always, work with your medical provider to help guide you to take the best course of action for your specific medical history.
Being older: According to the American Cancer Society6, most breast cancers occur in women aged 55 or older.
A family history of breast cancer: If you have a mother, sister or daughter (called a first-degree relative) who had breast cancer, your risk is almost doubled. And if you have two first-degree relatives with breast cancer, your risk increases almost threefold.7
A close male relative with breast cancer: According to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center7, men can get breast cancer, too—although it’s much less common than in women. If you have a male relative who has had breast cancer, you may be more likely to develop it, too—especially if it’s a close relative, such as a brother, father or son. MD Anderson recommends talking to your doctor about genetic testing if you do have a male relative with breast cancer.
Your heredity: Approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancers are likely hereditary, meaning they are caused by defects in genes passed from one or both parents.7 The most common of these is the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation; if you carry this gene, you have about a 70 percent chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 80. You are also more likely to develop breast cancer at a younger age and to have cancer in both breasts and have a higher risk of developing some other cancers, mainly ovarian cancer.
A personal history of breast cancer: Unfortunately, if you have had breast cancer before, you are more likely to develop it in the future.7
Starting menstruation early or menopause late: If you started getting periods before the age of 12, or if you went through menopause after the age of 55, you have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer.7
Help Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer
While there’s no absolute way to prevent breast cancer, there are steps you can take to help reduce your risk of developing it. Here are several:
1. Limit your alcohol consumption.
According to the American Cancer Society,8 alcohol consumption is clearly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. In fact, women who have two or three drinks per day have about a 20 percent higher risk than women who don’t drink at all. If you do drink, the ACS recommends having no more than one drink a day.
2. Reach a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese after menopause increases your risk of breast cancer.9 Research also shows that having metabolic syndrome—which is often linked to obesity10—was associated with a 13 percent increased risk in a 2018 study.11
What’s more, a new study published in the American Cancer Society’s journal Cancer found that postmenopausal women who lost at least 5% of their body weight over a three year period had a 12% lower risk of developing breast cancer than those whose weight remained the same.12-13
3. Eat healthfully.
According to breastcancer.org,14 researchers are studying possible links between diet and breast cancer, with some studies suggesting that very low-fat diets may reduce your risk. In the meantime, they recommend that you:
Eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables a day.
Limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories.
Limit your fat intake to about 30 grams per day.
Avoid trans fats, processed meats, and charred or smoked foods.
Eat foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as seafood, nuts and seeds, and plant oils.15
4. Stay active.
According to research,16 physical activity is linked with a lower risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society7 recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity every week.
5. Consider your choice of birth control.
Birth control that uses hormones—including oral contraceptives, birth control shots and hormonal IUDs—might increase your risk of breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.17 But also take into consideration that older studies have linked hormonal contraceptives to a lower risk of getting ovarian, endometrial, and colorectal cancers later in life. It’s important to discuss the benefits and risks of hormonal contraceptives with your doctor.
The thought of breast cancer can be scary, but keep in mind these statistics from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation18: If you are 20, your absolute risk of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is 0.06 percent. If you are 30, your absolute risk is 0.4 percent. And if you are 40, your absolute risk of developing the disease in the next 10 years is 1.5 percent. And even if you are one of the estimated 12.4 percent of women who will develop breast cancer in their lifetime,19 keep in mind that advances in diagnosis and treatment have led to huge successes in women not only surviving the disease, but thriving. Just like Julie.