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Teenage Obesity: Take Care of Yourself & Your Health!

We’ve all heard about the obesity issue happening in America… people are getting less active, eating more, and getting more and more unhealthy. Okay, so maybe you eat pizza more often than you should, and maybe it wouldn’t hurt to cut back on the soda… but you aren’t by any means OBESE. In fact, maybe you’re still in pretty good shape. Or maybe you’re just a little bit overweight, but not too bad. Or maybe you are pretty big, but so what? It doesn’t matter what you look like anyway, right? Who cares…

Actually, it has nothing to do with what you look like. It’s not that you need to be a size 2, or super toned, or look like all the girls and guys in magazines and on movies. Not at all. But you DO need to take care of your body and your health.

Childhood obesity had more than doubled in the past 30 years. That’s pretty bad… but with adolescents, it’s quadrupled.

Being obese means you’re 10% higher than what is recommended for your height, age, and body type. It also usually begins in your teenage years. If you become obese while you’re a teenager, it’s very likely that you’ll have a hard time losing the weight and changing your habits, and you’ll live most or all of your life overweight.

What causes obesity?

  • Poor eating habits
  • Overeating or binging
  • Lack of exercise
  • Family history of obesity
  • Stressful life events or changes
  • Family and peer problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not talking about looks here. I’m not saying you need to be super skinny or super fit. I’m saying you need to be careful, because if you become too overweight, you can have all kinds of health problems… some of them could even kill you. Some health concerns are:

  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Breathing problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Emotional problems
  • Anxiety
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Increased risk of strokes
  • Increased risks of several types of cancer
  • Osteoarthritis

Believe me, I know it’s hard to lose weight and stay healthy. Unfortunately our society has turned into one that doesn’t make health a priority… We’re so busy and on the move, so we pick up fast food because it’s quick and convenient. We’re obsessed with fancy coffee drinks, so we splurge way too often on sugary, 400 calorie mochas and lattes. We like to watch Netflix and play video games instead of going outside. We go to the grocery store and we’re overwhelmed with products that have way too much sugar, fat, and all kinds of other added nasty things that aren’t good for our bodies. Sometimes they even advertise it to make us think it’s healthy, but it’s really not.

So… what are we supposed to do?

There’s lots of things you can do:

  1. Get more active. Start going to the gym, going running, or doing workouts in your room. If working out isn’t really your thing, start walking. Or instead of sitting on your behind playing games, get up and clean the house, or do something else productive. Turn up the music and dance by yourself in your room. Just get moving.
  2. Change your eating habits. Is it the end of the world if you eat pizza or get a cheeseburger? Of course not. But you shouldn’t do it very often, and when you do, you should balance it by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables too. So instead of eating 5 pieces of pizza, eat 2 pieces of pizza with an apple. Read food labels. Be aware of what’s going into your body. Feed your body good, healthy things. Try to eat less fatty and sugary foods, and eat less calories. Also limit snacking.
  3. Go see a doctor. See where you’re at and how you can get healthier.
  4. Join a support group. Look one up in your area… maybe your school counselor can even help you find one. That way you can meet other people who are in the same boat as you, and/or have the same goals you do.

Although, I will say this… if you are going to try to lose weight, do so in a healthy way. Trust me, if you don’t eat ENOUGH calories everyday, it will not do you any good. 

So many Americans are getting so unhealthy, guys. Lets put it a stop to it. Quit feeding your body garbage and fuel it with the nutrients it needs… take care of yourself and your health.

The Dangers of Cocaine

Cocaine is one of the most dangerous drugs out there. Teens think it’s cool because it’s a stimulant drug, meaning it gives you tons of energy so you can stay up all night long and party and hang with friends. But it can also kill you.

Stimulants are drugs that elevate your mood, give you more energy, and increase your feelings of well-being. Basically, they cause your body to speed up… which means they also elevate your heart rate and blood pressure, which is incredibly dangerous.

Cocaine is available in two different forms. It can be in powder form, which people can either snort or inject with a needle (if they mix it with water); or it’s sometimes in the form of small white rocks, otherwise known as “crack cocaine,” and can be smoked. Some street names for cocaine are coke, coca, snow, blow, flake, candy, or rock; it’s also called “speedball” when it’s mixed with other drugs.

Here are some of the short-term effects of cocaine:

  • faster heartbeat
  • body feels hot
  • shaking and twitching
  • can’t sleep or eat
  • feelings of anger, nervousness, paranoia, and fear
  • stomach pain
  • headaches
  • vomiting
  • fainting
  • weight loss
  • after the high wears off, you will crash and feel tired and sad for days (and crave it)

And here are some of the long-term effects:

  • built up tolerance (so you crave more and need more to feel the same high)
  • strange unpredictable behavior, like panic attacks and feeling paranoid
  • snorting can lead to hoarseness, loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, and a constant runny nose
  • seizures
  • stroke
  • respiratory problems
  • heart attack
  • brain damage
  • violent behavior
  • sudden death (even for first time users)

If you suspect that one of your friends may be using cocaine, you definitely need to get them help. It could save their life. You can usually tell that something sketchy is going on when friends start acting really weird, and not like themselves: if they’re starting to not do as well in school, hanging out with a different crowd, if they seem depressed and have lost weight, lost their motivation, and aren’t taking care of their appearance and hygiene. People using drugs are also very moody, might have changed their sleeping pattern, and have bloodshot, tired looking eyes. They also might always be asking for money, or even stealing money.

Try talking to your friend and ask if something’s going on. In some cases, they may actually open up and be honest with you about what they’ve been doing. But sometimes, probably in most cases, teens can be afraid or embarrassed to admit that they’re using drugs, and will lie to even their closest friends. They might get angry with you. If that happens, you need to tell an adult. You aren’t telling on them, or getting them in trouble… you’re literally saving their life by telling someone. It’s nothing to feel bad about. Tell a trusted adult, like a parent, school counselor, teacher, or coach. They can help you confront your friend and get them the help they need.

You could also have your friend call either 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-662-HELP. By calling these hotlines, your friend can talk to a professional about the steps they should take to get over their cocaine addiction. Or, you can go online with them and visit http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment and find a local treatment center where they can receive help.

Cocaine is highly addictive, so even if your friend has only tried it a few times, they’re still craving it. Or if they’ve been using for a long time, it’s going to continue to get worse. It’s only a matter of time until something happens to them. Get them the help they need NOW.

A Healthier Lifestyle is a Happier Lifestyle!

We’re all busy with school, work, friends and family, and all kinds of things that sometimes make it hard to stay healthy and active. It’s difficult finding time to work out when you have such a busy schedule, or too much homework to do when you get home from school. And it’s so easy to get into the habit of eating fast food when that’s where your friends go hang out, or if you don’t have time to make your own food at home. But taking the time to eat healthy and exercise can help you feel better not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, too.

Here’s what being active and healthy can do for you (besides keep you in shape):

  1. Improve your self-esteem
  2. Decrease feelings of anxiety and depression
  3. Help you do better in school
  4. Improve your mood and help you feel happier
  5. Help you feel better physically
  6. Help you sleep better
  7. Give you more energy
  8. Decrease stress

Exercising produces endorphins, which will instantly make you feel happier and more positive. So next time you’re really stressed about a test coming up, or you get in a fight with a friend or family member, try doing something active for just 20-30 minutes and see if it makes you feel better. Try going for a run, or just a walk if you don’t like running. Do some simple exercises in your room, like jumping jacks, squats, push-ups and sit-ups.

Also try to incorporate physical activity into your everyday life. Try walking to school instead of driving if you live close enough. Sign up to play a sport, or take a class, like dance, yoga, or karate. Go for a walk or bike ride with your friends instead of playing video games or watching TV.

You don’t have to go on a diet to start eating healthy. Just start making some changes, like:

  1. Eat more protein
  2. Switch to whole grains
  3. Eat good fats (like avocados, olive oil, and fish)
  4. Control food portions, make sure you aren’t eating too much
  5. Read food labels so you know what you’re putting in your body
  6. ALWAYS eat breakfast, because breakfast gets your metabolism going for the day
  7. Limit fast food, it’s okay every once in a while as a treat, just not everyday
  8. Re-think your drink, don’t drink as much sugary juice and soda, drink more water and iced tea

If you ever have problems with depression, stress, and anxiety, a healthier lifestyle WILL make you feel ten times better! Just start making small changes and you’ll notice the difference!

Hookah: Legal but Good?

Just because something is legal does it mean that it is good for you? The answer should be no.

Think about this. A hookah, sometimes called a water pipe, is used to smoke shisha (a  flavored tobacco) is legal in the state of Oregon if you are 18 years old or older. Hookah bars are becoming increasingly more popular and many people justify hookah smoking with the fact that it is legal. With it’s growing popularity, hookah smoking could seem like a better alternative to smoking cigarettes or other drugs. Check out some of these facts from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and tell me if you still think that hookah smoking is good for you!Image

Did you know that only 1 hour of hookah smoking is the same as smoking 100 to 200 cigarettes!

Hookah smoking still has nicotine which is in cigarettes.

Oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the esophagus, reduced lung function and decreased fertility are disease linked with smoking cigarettes as well as hookah smoking! Sounds fun, eh?

You can catch infectious diseases by sharing a hookah.

The charcoal used to heat the tobacco in the hookah can increase health risks because it produces high levels of carbon monoxide, metals and cancer-causing chemicals! (Note: Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can cause sudden illness and death! So when you smoke hookah you are at a higher risk for illness and death.)

Secondhand smoke from hookahs is a serious risk for nonsmokers. So think before you go to hookah bar with friends, even if you aren’t going to be smoking with them. The smoke from the hookah can affect you but also the charcoal (which produces carbon monoxide) can be a serious risk.

Hookah smoking is NOT a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes!

So if you don’t want to have lung cancer, be addicted to tobacco, catch an infectious disease or be serious effected by carbon monoxide, you might want to rethink smoking hookah next time!

Next time you and your friends want something fun to do, go check out a new movie, go to a crazy yoga or fitness class, go swimming, pick up a new hobby, or come hang out with your friends at Youth Outreach!

*Note: If you are addicted to hookah smoking, or any other type of drugs, get help! Contact us and we can help!

Food for Thought

It could be said that man and woman’s best friend is food.  Just think about it, where do you tend to bond most with people you know? At the lunch table in the cafeteria, at a pizza parlor, at an ice cream shop, over popcorn while watching a movie, or even at BBQ’s and sports events where food is the thing to bring.  When winter arrives and you can’t do anything outside because of the weather, what do you like to do? Grab a snack.  If you are stressed out about family issues, schoolwork, and relationship problems, what do you do? Grab a snack.  It is actually quite natural for us to grab a snack when we are bored or stressed out.  It can be considered even healthy-if you chose the right snacks. 

According to an article found on WebMD, there are foods that you can eat during the winter months to help fight depression (Lawrence, 2005).  Due to the lack of sunlight during winter, levels of serotonin (a chemical in the brain that helps make you feel happy) decrease, but then increase as the days get longer during springtime.   By eating foods that are high in carbohydrates and proteins during the shorter days, it will boost serotonin levels in your brain and thus decrease the symptoms of depression.  But what do foods like this look like? They are known as fruits (bananas are great!), popcorn, nuts, veggies, as well as many other things.  To check out more types of food and other ways to increase your feel-good in the membrane chemical, click on this link “Foods that Fight Winter Depression.”

Eat up!!