The Mess of Stress

by Lila Lazarus 

If you want to know my stress level, look at my closet. Seriously, it’s the best gauge of my mental state. If you see Mt. Wardrobe—that huge pile of unfolded but clean laundry in the corner—I’m stressed. And if it looks like a bomb went off, chances are my anxiety level is really off the charts.

And while I’m not always sure which came first, the stress or the mess, I do know one thing:  Change my closet, change my life. I’m not kidding. Organizing the closet is truly an antidote to anxiety along with five other techniques I’ll share with you. But let’s stick with the closet for now, as it is often the most neglected de-stressor. Continue reading “The Mess of Stress”

Mom, We Gotta Talk

by Lila Lazarus

I’ve said it a dozen times, but I still don’t think my Mom has heard me.  It’s not because she’s hard of hearing, she just doesn’t want to listen.  The conversation goes like this:

“Mom, we should really go see a lawyer and talk about granting me power of attorney for your property and also your health.”

“Why would we do that?” she asks, as though we’ve never had the conversation before.  “I’m perfectly healthy.”

At 85, she is remarkably healthy, though her speech and memory are not the same. She’s slowing down and, frankly, I’m scared and don’t want to wait too long.

My Mom, on the other hand, can’t understand why we have to have this conversation again. She wants to wait until she’s old. So again I attempt to get her to agree to the appointment, saying it’s not because she’s old, but because no one lives forever. And it’s so much easier to get through this process before there are any serious changes. It will be a lot more difficult to navigate the process if we’re under stress or overly emotional or if we’re trying to make it happen from a hospital bed. And a lawyer will know the right questions to consider and the proper documents to complete. She’s not having it. Continue reading “Mom, We Gotta Talk”

Aging Parents: What to Expect When You Move Your Mom

by Lila Lazarus

I’m sitting in my mother’s basement and I’m crying. I’m surrounded on all sides by boxes filled to the brim with photographs and birthday cards, old cameras and record albums, plaques and certificates — remnants of a life well-lived. I’m holding a wedding invitation I just found from 1974. I don’t recognize the names, but there’s also the card with directions just in case my Mom still needs them. I’m completely overwhelmed.

Last month, I finally convinced my mother to move into a senior facility. Living alone in a big house was just too much for her to maintain and, frankly, not safe for her anymore. For years I had begged her to begin the difficult process of donating, selling and disposing of her life’s treasures. But she never did. She just didn’t want to face the idea that she wouldn’t be able to live independently and couldn’t hold on to her things forever. I know this is hard for her. I know she feels like her life is spinning and there’s so much loss, including loss of control. Continue reading “Aging Parents: What to Expect When You Move Your Mom”

Yoga Brings Peace in Stillness

June is my favorite month in Michigan. It brings long, glorious days with warm breezes. And on the 21st of the month, the summer solstice officially rings in the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year. The word solstice is from two Latin words. Sol meaning “sun” and sistere meaning “to stand still.” So the summer solstice is all about the sun standing still. It’s a moment to pause before the days get shorter again.

Each summer solstice, I invite people into my backyard to do yoga at sunset. We start by standing still and taking in that moment when the movement of the sun’s path as we see it from Earth comes to a halt and then reverses direction. In these days of constant distraction and multitasking, it’s a joy to stop and stand still, breath and feel the breeze.

Time goes so fast. Yoga helps slow things down. So as we enter another fabulous Michigan summer, let me give you a few reasons to get on your mat and do some yoga: Continue reading “Yoga Brings Peace in Stillness”

Taking Charge of Your Breast Health

by Lila Lazarus

“Breast cancer:  We’re going to wipe you off the face of the Earth!” I screamed at the top of my lungs to a crowd of 50,000 people outside Detroit’s Comerica Park. This was my 20th year standing on the podium at Detroit’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It’s the largest race in Michigan and one of the largest Races for the Cure in the nation. The crowd of survivors, family members, caregivers and friends come together every year to raise money and awareness to put breast cancer out of business.  We laugh and cry and hear from politicians who make equally big promises.

But the reality is, we’re still facing a breast cancer epidemic. It’s still one in eight American women who will face the diagnosis this year. Despite all the “awareness” and the sea of pink ribbons lining Woodward, three of my closest friends are fighting the disease and, no doubt, several of yours.

You see the fear in their eyes. You sense the dread and despair of their children and the ever-present exhaustion. Medicine is getting much better at beating back the disease, but still, we fear it. (In fact, most women fear breast cancer more than heart disease even though we’re ten times more likely to die of heart disease.)

Your biggest risk factor is just being a woman.  And there’s no one sure-fire way to guarantee you won’t get the disease,  but there are ways to significantly improve your risk profile. Here are nine ways to slash your chances of developing breast cancer:

  1. Stand up. No matter how much you think you exercise, if you sit for long periods a day – more than six hours – you are increasing your risk.
  2. Know your family history. Don’t just look at your mom’s family tree. Trace your Dad’s side, as well.  (Though none of my friends battling the disease had ANY family history. Only about 10 percent of cases are hereditary.)
  3. Know your breast type. If you have dense breasts – more tissue than fat – the disease is harder to detect and leaves you at greater risk. It may  require more than a mammogram, perhaps an MRI or ultrasound, to see abnormalities.
  4. Battle the bulge. The more fat you have, the higher your chances of getting breast cancer, because your estrogen levels are higher. Women who gain 20 to 30 pounds after age 18 are 40 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
  5. Take a walk. There’s proof that walking  two hours a week can reduce your risk by nearly 20 percent. Exercise is a proven breast-healthy habit.
  6. Breast feed your babies. There’s significant research showing that breastfeeding, by temporarily stopping your menstrual cycle, lowers the amount of estrogen in your body and reduces your risk of cancer.
  7. Eat Carrots. Why? Because you need to bolster the amount of carotenoids in your system. The best foods to protect you from breast cancer are fruits and vegetables.  Eat leafy greens and red peppers. And get five servings a day.
  8. Don’t pour a second glass. Limit the amount of alcohol to just one drink or you’ll increase your risk.
  9. Get a mammogram. The best way to beat breast cancer is to find it early.

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Lila Lazarus PhotoLila’s Health Report:
In order to stay healthy, you need to stay active and engaged. In addition to exercise, good nutrition and sleep, you also need a good dose of adventure. So each month I’ll share ways to boost the excitement and passion in your life with adventurous ways to create more wellness in your body, mind and your spirit.

Join Me

2016CantonSummerKickoff_SJA_3052

by Lila Lazarus

I want to admit something. I used to be a certified couch potato – overweight with little energy or drive to exercise. I knew what I should be doing, I just couldn’t get off the couch long enough to do it. So how does someone with little or no enthusiasm for health and fitness find the strength to get off the sofa? Sometimes, it just takes a gentle nudge.
My gentle nudge came the day I was interviewing a man with no legs for a television story and realized I hadn’t been using mine. I started walking, then running, then doing 5Ks and 10Ks and marathons. And I’ve never looked back. In order to keep it interesting, I move from one form of exercise to the next, and am always looking to try something new. One day yoga. Another day spinning.

Lately, I’ve tried nudging everyone I know with short video posts on Facebook. Continue reading “Join Me”

Get Your Mind into Your Colon

by Lila Lazarus

I’m going to ask you to do something you may never have done before.  Take a moment to think about your colon. This isn’t just your personal garbage disposal. Your colon, which is your large bowel or intestine, plays an integral role in the quality of your life, and most people don’t even take a moment to appreciate the job their colon is doing! That is until it’s suddenly out of commission. And by then, it may be too late.

newlilacolumnart_2017Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer. (Lung cancer has the No. 1 spot.) But colon cancer is 98 percent curable if detected early. And even more frustrating, it’s mostly preventable. That’s why I’m asking you to spend a full minute focused on ways to keep your colon healthy. If you do your job, your colon will thank you and do its job better, absorbing fluids, and housing good bacteria that break down and help process your waste.

People don’t usually pay attention or, heaven forbid, discuss their colon until there’s some sort of digestive issue— bloating, diarrhea or bloody stool. (If those symptoms last for even a few days, you need to be seen by a doctor.) 100,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer every year. Many of those people didn’t want to think about their colon even when the colon was sending red flags. But to avoid the troubles from the start, here are some things you can start doing TODAY to make your colon happy: Continue reading “Get Your Mind into Your Colon”

All You Need is Love

by Lila Lazarus

I remember the day Cupid’s arrow pierced me squarely in the heart. Seriously, my heart started to flutter and I felt like I had to sit down. It was the first time I saw my husband. I knew he was good on the eyes, but the feeling I had was directly in my heart.

I would say he “stole my heart,” but after doing a little research on the connection between love and coronary health, I now know he fortified it!  Initially, my flushed cheeks and that pitter-patter was caused by a rush of adrenaline which makes your heart beat faster. But as a relationship grows, love actually calms your heart and lowers your blood pressure. Most studies indicate cupid’s arrow is really good for you.

Love, romance and frequent you-know-what have serious health benefits. A dose of love results in fewer coronary events. People who say they’re in love tend to live longer with lower blood pressure.  And if you end up getting married, as we did two years later, chances are you’ll live longer. The research shows married men extend their lives by seven years and women by two years. And if you have heart troubles, your odds for recovery are better if you’re married. Continue reading “All You Need is Love”

Wanna Play?

by Lila Lazarus

lila_snowboardingBack in college my nickname was “Dr. Fun.” I was always looking for ways to make the day, the English assignment or just dinner in the cafeteria more of an adventure. I was constantly conjuring up plans to go sledding or hiking or bike-riding. I’d instigate a late-night pillow fight in the dorm. My parents weren’t always so enthused when they heard about my escapades. They wanted to be sure I was focused on work, productivity and a solid grade-point average. But actually, I think I was on to something at an early age that I haven’t let go of. I love to play. LilaLazarus_ColumnArt

Just like sleep and good nutrition, play is crucial to our physical and mental health. Having more fun was probably not one of your New Year’s resolutions, but it should have been. There’s plenty of research that shows the value of being more playful in both your personal and professional life. Play is not a waste of time. It’s an investment in your well-being. If you think you’re too old for play, then it’s time to change your mindset. That’s a dangerous outlook. A life without fun and frivolous activity is likely filled with too much stress, mental tension and more likely to engage in addictive behaviors. Play is what keeps you young and healthy.  It’s OK to get older, but adding play to your life will keep you from getting old. It gives you a feeling of vitality and energy. Continue reading “Wanna Play?”

The Most Important Gift this Holiday

by Lila Lazarus

If your holidays are filled with joy and merriment from now through New Year’s…well, good for you. You probably don’t need to read this article. But if you’re like the rest of us, trying to do a million things for a million other people, feeling totally overwhelmed, a bit on edge, with a little lump in the throat, read on. LilaLazarus_ColumnArt

The glowing lights, bells ringing, and holiday music can remind us of childhood. Scenes of happy families enjoying the holiday can evoke memories of those no longer with us or relationships gone awry. Whatever pain we hold inside us can get magnified this time of year. Out of nowhere we’re longing for days gone by. And the next thing you know, we’re having an extra eggnog and eating another five Christmas cookies. Now we’re really miserable.

So, it’s crucial to take a moment from the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, decorating and non-stop festivities to check in with ourselves. Be totally present. Notice the lights, the sounds and all the smells of the season. After that, follow these five ways to make your holiday healthier, more meaningful and a little more jolly.  Continue reading “The Most Important Gift this Holiday”