Sunday, November 15, 2009

Even women who know a lot about staying healthy tend to make these mistakes

You Always Order a Salad
Don't assume that bowl of lettuce is always the healthiest menu pick.
The Fix: Don't scratch take-out salad off your menu; just use a few commonsense rules before you order. Avoid high-fat add-ons such as sour cream, extra cheese, croutons, bacon bits, and creamy dressings like Caesar and ranch. Opt for salads that aren't just a fiber-free mound of iceberg lettuce dotted with a few carrot and red cabbage shavings. And plan ahead: Most fast-food chains supply nutritional info online so you can scout out the best options before you leave.

You Rock Out While You Work Out
Do your ears ring after a long iPod-powered workout?
The Fix: To protect your ears, try to listen at 10 to 50% of the full volume. Some MP3 player models let you lock in a range. Or switch over to a pair of sound-isolating earphones; they drown out background noise so your music doesn't have to.

You Avoid the Scale
For some women, this is the only thing in the house gathering more dust than the treadmill.
The Fix: If you're trying to lose weight, get on the scale monthly. Do it first thing in the morning, naked, after you use the bathroom, and at the same time in your menstrual cycle—not when you're likely to have water-weight gain. If you're maintaining weight you've recently lost, hop on at least once a week. That's how the biggest "losers" in the National Weight Control Registry—the largest study of people who've been successful at long-term weight loss—stay slim. Don't freak out over anything less than a 5-pound gain; that's a normal fluctuation. But if you find yourself drifting higher than that, it's time to rein yourself in.

You're Sloppy with Sunscreen
Think you're sunscreen savvy? Maybe not
The Fix: To apply the right way, focus on one area at a time, careful not to miss spots like feet, tops of ears, temples, and the back of the neck. Be sure to use enough: You'll need at least 1 ounce of sunscreen to cover your entire body. If your bottle is 4 ounces, it should not last for more than 4 applications. Squeeze the lotion directly onto your body skin and rub it in with your fingertips; putting it on your hands first makes most of the lotion stick to your palms.

You Forget to Floss
We spend millions a year on procedures that bleach our teeth whiter than pearls, but many don't put in the less than 5 minutes a day it takes to floss.
The Fix: Floss at least once a day. Treat it like any other part of your routine you'd never skip, like brushing your teeth or showering. Here's a reminder how-to from the American Dental Association: Take about 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers. Hold a few inches of the floss tightly between thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth, using a gentle rubbing motion. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth, and gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with an up-and-down motion. Repeat this for every tooth.

You Don't Lift Weights
Some women avoid lifting weights because they think they'll end up looking like a female version of The Rock.
The Fix: You don't have to spend a lot of time pumping iron to reap the benefits—2 or 3 times a week on nonconsecutive days for about 30 minutes per session should do the trick. The American Council on Exercise says that light weights and multiple reps tend to help build endurance and muscle tone, while using heavier weights generally produces stronger muscles.

You Ignore Aches and Pains
If you're knee-deep in caring for kids, managing a household, and holding down a job, you may be quick to brush off a nagging cough, back twinge, or bout of indigestion. You may think fatigue is your natural state.
The Fix: Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of serious illness, know your risk factors, report anything unusual immediately, and don't let anything get in the way of regular screening tests, which can often detect problems when they're still small and treatable.

You Wear Contacts No Matter What
It's safer to switch to glasses when you're under the weather.
The Fix: Wear your specs until you're feeling better, experts advise, or switch to daily-wear disposable lenses to avoid infection.

You Don't Get Enough Sleep
Scrimping on sleep may seem like a smart way to squeeze a few more productive hours into the day, but busy women who do it can pay a heavy price with their health.
The Fix: Acknowledge the futility of trying to fit 26 hours' worth of activities into 24. Cut back on your commitments. Divvy up family responsibilities with your partner and children. Establish a bedtime for yourself, and stick to it every night. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. And don't use alcohol as a sleep inducer; it can actually interfere with a full night's rest. Your sleep may improve if you adhere to the same relaxing bedtime rituals you've started for your kids, such as reading, listening to music, or taking a warm bath.

You Assume Home Cooking Is Always Healthier
Making your own meals is usually healthier than takeout, but your cookbook may not be as slimming as you think.
The Fix: Use our portion control finder to make sure you can gauge realistic meal sizes; then freeze leftovers in individual containers so you eat one portion at a time, not two or three.

Your Faucet's Always at the Same Temp
When you cook or drink, keep it cool. When you wash your hands, turn up the heat.

The Fix: If you haven't turned on the faucet for 6 hours or more, let it run cold for a minute before using, the EPA advises—and use only water filters bearing a seal from NSF International, a company that certifies products' lead-removing abilities

Your Friends Have Bad Health Habits
With friends like these, you may need to watch your waistline.
The Fix: Maintain your own beliefs about what is healthy—and avoid being swayed by friends and their weight gain. "Those around us can influence us in ways we don't realize," says Christakis. If your friends are sharing unhealthy apps at dinner, order the usual healthy choice you would have with a different crowd.

You Drive With the Windows Down
Commuting may be hazardous to your lungs.
The Fix: During a trafficky commute, driving with windows shut and air recirculating helps somewhat, say researchers; taking a train or biking on less busy roads can have an even healthier impact.

You Don't Check Your Doc's Track Record
Having an operation? An overachieving surgeon could save your life.
The Fix: To check your surgeon's experience, call her office and ask: Is she board certified in her specialty? How many surgeries of the type you need has she performed in the past year? How does her success rate compare with the national average? Has she ever had to pay to settle a malpractice claim or been disciplined by a hospital or a state medical licensing board?

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