Eliminating Violence Against Women

Eliminating Violence Against Women

It Takes All of Us

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  

As a health and fitness blog, our usual focus is on physical health, giving you the resources to feed your body in healthy ways and engage in heart and brain-healthy work outs. To a lesser but equally important extent, we also break into mental, social, and emotional health. 

Today we touch each of these elements of total wellbeing by talking about what happens when women are exposed to violence. Not only is it a matter of physical safety, but a matter of psychological, emotional, and social welfare.  

Observing this day affords us the opportunity to recognize a problem that affects an alarming number of women worldwide, and to express our solidarity with all victims of violence. 

How Real Is The Issue?

  1. According to a National Crime Victimization Survey, approximately 500 women in the U.S. were raped every day in 2008.1 That’s 182,500 women over the course of the year.

     

  2. In 2016, there were 1,809 women in the U.S. who were murdered in single victim/single offender incidents reported to the FBI and 85% of them were, or had been, romantically linked to their killer.

     

  3. According to a Global report, 51% of all detected trafficking victims are women and 20% are young girls.3

     

  4. Worldwide, around 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sex in their lifetime.4 Based on data from 30 countries, only 1% of adolescent girls who have experienced forced sex reached out for professional help.4

     

  5. Child marriage still exists. Approximately 650 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthday.5  

Violence Against Women Affects Everyone

Child peeking from the stairs

Consider that women who experience violence may need medical care and/or mental health services. Now consider that they may have children who witnessed or were affected in other ways by this violence who are now also in need of care to address trauma, behavior issues, and other potential concerns. This builds a harmful cycle of violence and trauma that can continue for generations.  

In addition to perpetuating this cycle, violence against women is significant enough to have an impact on systems like healthcare and social services. 

Looking strictly at the economic side of things, the impact on health and social services amounted to over $8.3 billion as a result of domestic violence in 2003.6 

What are Some Signs Your Situation is Not Normal?

Worried woman

To help focus our discussion, we will narrow our attention down to domestic violence. It is not strictly violence within an intimate relationship but can also refer to violence within families.  

Additionally, because it is not just women who are on the receiving end of domestic violence, we would like to offer information than can benefit everyone by looking into the signs and symptoms of a potentially toxic relationship.

According to PsychCentral, these are some of the potential indicators of psychological abuse within a relationship: 

  1. Gaslighting: False information is presented to you with the intention of making you doubt your own memory, perception, or sanity. 
    • Example: Complete denial from the abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred 
  2. Following abusive behaviors with apologies, gifts, and seemingly loving behaviors, only to repeat the abusive behaviors later on. 
  3. Making you believe that everything (even their anger or poor behavior) is your fault 
  4. Constant put-downs and excessive criticism 
  5. Refusing to communicate 
  6. Mean jokes or constantly making fun of you 
  7. Saying “I love you but…”
    • This statement indicates, “I love you now, but if you don’t stop this or that, my love will be taken away.” It is both a criticism and a threat that slowly strips away your self-esteem. 
  8. Saying things like “If you don’t _____, I will_____.” 
  9. Domination and control, especially using money or fear to impose that control 
  10. Withdrawal of affection 
  11. Guilt trips 
  12. Isolating you from friends and family 
  13. Constant calling or texting when you are not with him/her 
  14. Threatening to commit suicide if you leave 

Accessible Resources

If you, or someone you know, needs help, you can browse through resources by state, here. 

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers more diverse resources, including information about the National Domestic Violence Hotline the National Dating Abuse Hotline, the National Sexual Assault Hotline, and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, to name just a few. 

Other Ways to Help

Man supporting crying woman

Don’t blame the victim, even if they flat out say “It was all my fault.” Remember that signs of abuse often include feelings of guilt or responsibility for the situation. Instead, make sure they know it’s not their fault. 

Be a safe space for them. Leave your judgement at the door and simply listen 

Offer to call a helpline with them. 

Create a safety plan. A safety plan can consist of a meeting place, agreeing on a safe word, a specific number of phone calls to alert you that something is wrong, and more.

For more thought provoking posts, look for topics like our article on Mental Health Stigma or, help calm anxiety and ease stress by reading our 5-Minute Guided Relaxation post. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today. 

SOURCES

  1. “Violence Against Women Is A U.S. Problem, Too.” Amnesty International USA, 11 June 2011, www.amnestyusa.org/violence-against-women-is-a-u-s-problem-too/. 
  2. “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2016 Homicide Data.” Www.vpc.org, Violence Policy Center, 2018, vpc.org/studies/wmmw2018.pdf. 
  3. “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016.” Unodc.org, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2016, www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/2016_Global_Report_on_Trafficking_in_Persons.pdf. 
  4. “A Familiar Face: Violence in the Lives of Children and Adolescents.” UNICEF DATA, UNICEF, 17 Jan. 2019, data.unicef.org/resources/a-familiar-face/. 
  5. “Child Marriage: Latest Trends and Future Prospects.” UNICEF DATA, 12 Jan. 2019, https://data.unicef.org/resources/child-marriage-latest-trends-and-future-prospects/ 
  6. “Violence Against Women in the United States: Statistics.” National Organization for Women, 2019, now.org/resource/violence-against-women-in-the-united-states-statistic/#endref14. 

Dry Weather and Eye Health

Dry Weather and Eye Health

There are a lot of reasons for dry eyes at this time of year. Dry outside air, your heater at home or in your car, the dry circulated air in nearly every public building, and windy days kicking irritants into your eyes. Add to that the dry air of airplanes, trains, and other modes of transportation for your holiday travels, and your eyes will be screaming for moisture.  

Our eyes are irreplaceable, so we should care for and protect them as best as we can. The same way you’d use lotion on your skin, conditioner on your hair, and Chapstick on your lips, you should give the same attention to the health of your eyes. 

Here are some ways you can help care for your vision: 

01. Adjust and Limit Screen Use

Have you ever noticed that we tend to blink less when watching T.V, when using a computer, and when using our phones? Blinking helps our eyes distribute their natural moisture. The less we blink, the dryer our eyes will feel.  

The remedy we’ve heard that is our least favorite, is the suggestion to remind yourself to blink more. It feels so unnatural to consciously blink and it’s not likely to be the most effective solution if you can’t remember to do it.  

A more reasonable option would be to instill one or two eye drops into your eyes on television commercial breaks, to wear blue light glasses to filter the emissions from your phone or computer screen, or to place a protective screen on your device that blocks harmful light from getting to your eyes. 

You can also simply take more breaks from screen-time to limit the amount of eye strain and dryness you feel.  

02. If Possible, Limit Antihistamines

While they combat allergy symptoms, they can actually cause additional dryness to your eyes. They work by blocking your body’s response to allergens. Unfortunately, a typical response to allergens is watery eyes, so antihistamines can cause more discomfort if you tend to suffer from eye dryness. 

Other Medications Cause Dry Eyes 

According to an article by WebMD, other medications, that you may not be able to limit, can also cause dry eyes. Some of these include: 

  • Antidepressants 
  • Parkinson’s Medications 
  • Sleeping Pills 
  • Acne Medication 
  • Birth Control Pills and Other Hormones 
  • Blood Pressure Medications 
  • Nasal Decongestants 
  • Common NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen 

03. Do Eye Exercises

How often do we use the full range of motion our eyes are capable of? Probably not as often as we should. You can increase your exposure to bad puns and dad jokes to get some eye rolling in, or you can do some intentional eye exercises.  

Eye exercises can help comfort your eyes when they have been focused on a single object (like a computer) for a long time. Here are just a few simple ones that you can commit to memory for later use: 

Exercise 1: Pick out the farthest object in the room (or out the window) that you can see. Focus on it briefly, then move your eyes to something about half as far away. Focus on that for a few seconds before you shift your focus to something close to you. Do this exercise a few times. 

Exercise 2: Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes of eye-straining work should be paused for 20 seconds so you can look at something 20 feet away.  

Exercise 3: Without turning your head, use only yours eyes to look to your far left, then look to your far right. Then look all the way up and then all the way down. Repeat this a few times. Follow this with rolling your eyes 3 times to the left then 3 times to right.  

Some free smartphone apps can send you notifications after a certain amount of phone use, or according to a timer if you want to monitor your computer or television time. This will help remind you that it’s time to rest your eyes and do some exercises. Some will even walk you through various eye muscle movements. 

04. Turn Off Your Heater & Bundle Up

Running the heater creates a toasty and comfortable space in these cooler months, but it can wreak havoc on your hair, skin, hydration, and of course your eyes! Save your body and save on your electric bill by bundling up in blankets or warmer clothes instead of running the heater. 

Another option is to run the heater before going to bed to warm up your space, and then turning it off so it doesn’t run all night. 

If it’s just too cold to do without your heater, or perhaps you’re a “fan” of running the fan year-round, consider investing in a humidifier. You can also wear an eye mask to bed to help keep air flow from making direct contact with your eyes and drying them out during the night. 

05. Keep Eye Drops Handy

Artificial tears or lubricating eye drops are a life saver for people with dry eyes. You can choose between the individually packaged vials that are usually preservative-free and disposable, or you can buy small bottles for extended use. There are also gel-like drops that can provide longer-lasting relief, but because they’re thicker, they may blur your vision temporarily. It may be preferable to reserve these for nighttime before you go to sleep.  

Pro Tip: Try refrigerating your eye drops for an extra refreshing burst of relief.  

06. Eat a Balanced Diet

Nutrients in your food can help give your eyes what they need to create tears and keep your eyes feeling fresh.  

Vitamin A, which is known for being good for your eyes, can be found in carrots, eggs, and dairy.  

Vitamin C is great for the blood vessels in your eyes.1 Increase your intake by eating oranges, kale, lemons, and broccoli.2  

Omega-3’s are fatty acids that aid in your visual development and support your retina health. They also combat dry eyes.1 Find Omega-3’s in fish, avocado, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.3 

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help protect your eyes by fighting off free radicals. You can find Vitamin E in almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and peanuts.1 

07. Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes

It can be tempting to rub your eyes when they feel itchy and dry, but the best thing you can do is to avoid doing exactly that. Try to find relief in some of these other ways and keep hydrated to give your body the moisture it needs from the inside out. 

For information on how to care for your eyes and your sinuses this season, read our article on How to Manage Autumn Allergens at Home. To learn more about the nutrients in your produce and whether freezing them strips their nutritional value, listen to our Podcast on Fruits and Veggies. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources: 

  1. Silver, Natalie. “7 Best Foods for Healthy Eyes.” Healthline, 9 Feb. 2017, 7 Best Foods for Healthy Eyes. 
  2. Hill, Caroline. “20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin C.” Healthline, 8 June 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-foods#section1. 
  3. Hjalmarsdottir, Freydis. “12 Foods That Are Very High in Omega-3.” Healthline, 30 Sept. 2019, www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-omega-3-rich-foods#1. 

What is “Toys for Tots” and How Can I Participate?

What is “Toys for Tots” and How Can I Participate?

From time to time, LA Fitness clubs across the country participate in the efforts of non-profit organizations. A campaign you’re most likely to be familiar with at this time of year, is Toys for Tots!  

By now, you may have seen some donation boxes at your local LA Fitness. If you haven’t been entirely sure what those boxes are all about, you’re in the right place to find out. 

What is Toys for Tots? 

Toys for Tots is a charitable foundation organized and run by the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve. Its purpose is to bring joy and hope to America’s economically disadvantaged children through the gift of a new toy.  

During the months of October, November, and December, new and unwrapped toys are collected and distributed to the less fortunate children in our communities.  

Their efforts are largely supported by the work of U.S. Marines, Marine Corps League Members, Veteran Marines, as well as a diverse network of volunteers.  

How it Works 

With the help of qualified social welfare and community agencies, Toys for Tots is able to identify the children in each community who would benefit from the toy donations.  

Local businesses, like LA Fitness, then agree to host a space for toy collection boxes where people can donate toys. For several weeks, the boxes are available and accessible to all who wish to donate. The toys are then received by Toys for Tots, sorted, and distributed just in time for the holidays. 

How You Can Participate 

It’s easy to participate in campaigns like this one simply by donating a toy at the participating LA Fitness club nearest you. If you’re inclined to go a step further, you can do any of the following: 

  1.  Apply online as a volunteer. Simply Find Your Local Campaign, and click on the tab that says: “Get Involved/Volunteer.”
  2. Become a Toy Drop Site. If your local Toys for Tots coordinator is still accepting applications, you can register your business as a Toy Drop Site. All you have to do is Find Your Local Campaign, hover over the tab that says “Get Involved/Volunteer,” and then select “Become a Toy Drop Site.”
  3. Host a Toys for Tots Event. Once you have found Your Local Campaign, another option under the “Get Involved/Volunteer” tab is: “Host a Toys for Tots Event.” Not all localities will have this option, but you can check if it is available in your area by following these steps.
  4. Donate. Toys for Tots has a multitude of ways that you can donate. You can contribute funds, participate in employer matching, and even donate your car! Visit their site to see all the ways you can donate. 

If you do not see a toy donation box at your local LA Fitness, keep in mind that Toys for Tots relies heavily on volunteer assistance and they may not have had the manpower to serve every interested business in the area. If you would like to donate a toy but are unsure where to find a drop site, you can follow these steps* to find the closest participating location: 

2. Select your state and county from the drop-down menus and skip to step 4, or click the red button to enter your address and continue to step 3.

3. A list will appear that will show you the campaigns closest to the address you entered. Click on the first one, as that will be the closest one. 

4.  You will be redirected to the Toys for Tots website for the state and county selected. Find the tab at the top of the page that says: “Ways to Donate,” and choose “Donate a Toy” from that drop-down menu.

5.  Here, you will find a list of all the businesses in that county that have a toy donation box. To make things easier, you can filter the list by zip code. 

If you do drop a toy into one of our boxes, snap a photo for social media to help spread the word and encourage your friends to do the same! We can all be part of a child’s happiness this season, so let’s aim to make a positive impact however and wherever we can. 

Keep an eye on the Living Healthy Blog for more ways to settle into the season of giving. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

*Instructions are accurate as of November 14, 2019. Changes to the Toys for Tots Website after this date may not be reflected here. 

Member Spotlight | Lessons from Triathlete, Dave Ruby

Member Spotlight | Lessons from Triathlete, Dave Ruby

“There’s an entry level for everyone…Unless you’ve got doctor’s orders, you’ve got to start with something. Don’t let your head tell you, you can’t.

Dave Ruby

LAF Member and Champion Triathlete

Dave Ruby is a fierce athlete with an impressive drive and an even more impressive attitude. At age 59 and having competed in and conquered Triathlons all over the world, he is certainly a force to be reckoned with.  

To give you some perspective, Dave Ruby has raced in Ironman and Xterra Triathlon Championship Competitions on 6 continents and has earned World and National Champion titles in addition to claiming multiple first place wins.   

While his accomplishments are staggering, Ruby sets his focus on the enjoyment of his lifestyle and the benefits of cultivating a healthy body and mind. We interviewed him to find out how he manages his training and stays physically and mentally dialed in. After all, before he was Dave Ruby the Triathlete, he was a surfer, cyclist, and regular LA Fitness gym-goer. 

To show you that the willingness to put in the work, and the enjoyment of that work, can take you from ordinary to extraordinary, allow us to take you into the life of Triathlete, Dave Ruby. 

Where Ruby’s Fitness Journey Began 

Before he started competing in Triathlons, Ruby enjoyed running, surfing, and cycling. One year, he decided he would enter his first Ironman run. As he ran, his body protested, and his mind told him this was something he should never do again. He has competed every year since. 

We asked Ruby what many of you are probably thinking now. What got you back out there after that first punishing experience?  

He responded that he learned to listen to the aches and pains in his body and take breaks to recover. Yes, that first experience was physically and mentally taxing, but caring for his body is what made the difference. It probably also helps that he is surrounded by others who also love the active lifestyle. In fact, his wife also happens to be a Triathlon champion! 

The Transition to Competitive Training 

Transitioning from training for the sake of living a healthy lifestyle, to competitive training for advanced challenges like Triathlons, was another turning point. Ruby reminds us that this isn’t an overnight change and that the body gets faster and more fit the more you continue to workoutwork out and test your limits. 

There seems to be no active intention to give a little more to each training session because he genuinely enjoys the process. Race day is, in his mind, another (but more challenging) workout. We think this is likely the key to it all. The mindset doesn’t sit in the idea that this is just hard work; it revels in the process and enjoys the moment. 

It’s true that for Ruby, sometimes it’s about setting a personal record and seeing himself outperform his prior abilities, but his favorite thing about competing is actually the travel and comradery! He enjoys the landscapes, the wildlife, and the people wherever he goes. 

“I absolutely love traveling to far off places, seeing a new part of the world, [and experiencing] the heart of the area,” says Ruby. You are sure to find him “wandering like a local and experiencing the heart and soul of the cultures” when he’s not competing. 

Preparing for Competition Day 

All year long, Ruby keeps a base in terms of physical activity. “I put in 5 to 6-mile bike rides to train and do a lot of off-road bike rides,” he says. “While I’m out there, I look for wildlife, and enjoy it too. I enjoy the work. I strength train 3 to 4 times a week at the gym and swim,” he explains. Essentially, he strengthens the swimming, running, and cycling muscles so that they are conditioned for the type of work they need to do in competition. 

His mental preparation looks a little different. There’s really no preparation beforehand because “running is a form of meditation” in and of itself, he says; “you get into a zone.” Perhaps the only thing he does differently, is the way he focuses his mental state before competition. He recognizes that “I’m out there to do the best I can for that day. A win isn’t a guarantee, anything can happen” (like a mechanical issue, an injury, etc.). He acknowledges the lack of control over certain environmental, mechanical, and chance-based circumstances and can simply focus on giving the best he has to offer.  

It’s also important not to overdo your preparation before a big race, he notes. “You’re better off going into a race 10% undertrained than 1% over trained,” Ruby says, and we completely agree.  

Ruby’s Advice 

If you’re skeptical of your own ability to live an active lifestyle or accomplish a challenge you’ve set your eyes on, Ruby reminds us that “there’s an entry level for everyone.” Everyone’s starting point will be different and even the best athletes were beginners at some point.  

Unless you’ve got doctor’s orders, you’ve got to start with something,” says Ruby. “If you think you can’t do it, that’s an excuse. If it’s doctor’s orders that’s different, but don’t let your head tell you that you can’t.” 

Closing Thoughts 

In the end, whether you are a serious athlete, you exercise for your health, or you’ve struggled to get started, what you can take away from Ruby’s story is this: 

  1. Everyone starts somewhere so don’t be afraid to take the first step 
  2. Choose an activity you get enjoyment from and look forward to 
  3. Surround yourself with people who share the same passion for living an active lifestyle 
  4. Come to terms with the possibility that anything can happen to mentally prepare for big challenges 
  5. Don’t let your head tell you that you can’t accomplish something big 

To hear straight from the man himself, listen to Episode 35 of our Podcast and listen to our discussion with Dave Ruby. Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at blog@lafitness.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 

 

For length, and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 

Recommended Reading

Coping with GERD and Its Symptoms

Coping with GERD and Its Symptoms

Statistics show that “more than 60 million American adults experience heartburn at least once a month, and more than 15 million adults suffer daily from heartburn.”1  

This month is GERD awareness month, and while it isn’t a fancy name for heartburn, heartburn is a major symptom of this disease. We’d like to explain what it is and share some ways to help treat and prevent its symptoms.

What is GERD?

Fresh mint leaves
Cup of coffee

GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a digestive disorder that causes the contents of your stomach to move back into your esophagus.1

If you are familiar with acid reflux, another way to understand GERD is that it is a more severe and recurring form of acid reflux.  

The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. With acid reflux, the heartburn may be brought on by certain foods or beverages. With GERD, the triggers are similar, but you may experience heartburn 2 or more times a week!2  

Some GERD triggers include: 

  • Chocolate 
  • Peppermint
  • Fried or fatty foods (this includes cheese and avocado) 
  • Coffee 
  • Alcoholic beverages 
  • Citrus fruits and juices 
  • Tomato products 
  • Peppers 

According to the Mayo clinic, additional symptoms, aside from heartburn, include “regurgitation of food or sour liquid [vomiting], difficulty swallowing, coughing, wheezing, and chest pain — especially while lying down at night.”2 

Grapefruit
Red peppers

Who Can Get It?

Anyone can develop GERD or experience varying degrees of its symptoms. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains that you are more likely to experience GERD if: 

  • You are overweight, obese, or pregnant: This is because the extra pressure on your abdomen can cause the muscle that separates your esophagus from your stomach to relax or weaken. 
  • You take certain medications like: 
    • Asthma medication 
    • Calcium channel blockers 
    • Antihistamines 
    • Painkillers 
    • Sedatives 
    • Antidepressants 
  • You are a smoker, or you are exposed to secondhand smoke

Natural Remedies

Glass of Water with spoon of baking soda
Girl blowing bubble gum balloon

The Fisher-Titus Healthy Living Team, of the Fisher-Titus Medical Center, composed this list of 7 natural home remedies for GERD. You can view the full details about each remedy on their website here 

  1. Baking Soda: 1 tsp with 8 ounces of water to neutralize stomach acid 
  2. Chewing Gum: Chew sugar-free gum 30 minutes after eating 
  3. Don’t Lie Down After Eating: Eat 3-4 hours before you lie down 
  4. Eat Low or No-Acid Fruits: Fully ripened Bananas, Apples, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, and Watermelon 
  5. Ginger Tea: Consume before meals to prevent symptoms 
  6. Mustard: 1 tablespoon of mustard to ease symptoms 
  7. Chamomile Tea: 1 cup 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime 
Assortment of Low Acid Fruits
Cup of Chamomile Tea

Lifestyle Changes Can Help 

In addition to avoiding certain foods and beverages, lifestyle changes can help you mitigate the symptoms and avoid flareups.  

The Mayo Clinic suggests that affected individuals try: 

  • Losing excess weight 
  • Eating smaller meals 
  • Raising the head of the bed 
  • Avoiding tobacco 
  • Not wearing tight fitting clothes around the abdomen 

 Is There a Treatment for GERD? 

Many doctors will prescribe nutrition and lifestyle changes to treat GERD and that’s oftentimes enough for milder cases. Over-the-counter antacids are also commonly recommended.  

For more severe cases, doctors may go a step further and recommend prescription medications to help manage symptoms, order an endoscopy to look for irritation or inflammation in the esophageal tissue, or they may order an upper gastrointestinal x-ray to rule out other potential conditions.1  

If you have any concerns about your gastroesophageal health, talk to your doctor to get personalized information and the most accurate course of action for your unique situation.  

For our registered dietitian’s insights on spicy foods and what they do to your insides, check out her answer to this reader’s question on Hot Peppers! Or, take a look at her answer to this question on Inflammatory Foods and their effects on your GI tract. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources:

  1. “GERD: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Remedies for Relief.” Edited by Minesh Khatri MD, WebMD, 2019, www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/reflux-disease-gerd-1#1.

     

  2. Kashyap, Purna. “Acid Reflux and GERD: The Same Thing?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 31 July 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburn/expert-answers/heartburn-gerd/faq-20057894. 

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