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The Health Benefits of Walking
By Carol LeBeau
10/1/2011 3:15:49 PM


There’s an easy way to get and stay healthy. Almost anyone can do it. It fits into just about any schedule. And, best of all, it can be done alone or with a friend. It’s inexpensive, versatile and the health benefits are almost too numerous to count.

It’s walking.

Boring, right? That’s what I thought. Heck, for decades, I was a runner. I thought walking was for wimps! No more. Following a frustrating foot injury and a couple of surgeries, running was no longer an option. So I started walking – and I haven’t stopped! It’s a great workout, it’s fun, and I’m no longer on injured reserve!

Like millions of walkers (see my interview with San Diego Mayor and walking fan Jerry Sanders in the “BE” section of my blog), I’m singing the praises of this simple, yet effective way to better health and well-being. Whatever your level of fitness, there’s a way to walk that will work for you.

If you’re just getting started, walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health. If you’re ready for more, bump up your pace and throw in a few hills and you’ve got yourself a challenge.

Walking, like other exercise, can help you achieve a number of health goals:

• Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
• Raise high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
• Lower your blood pressure
• Reduce risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
• Manage weight
• Improve mood
• Stay strong and fit

Walking is aerobic exercise. It can help you take off weight and keep it off. Moderate walking burns nearly 270 calories an hour. Take it up a notch and you can burn an additional 100 calories an hour. Add music and you’ll be in the “zone” before you know it!

Plus, walking is fun! I never get bored ‘cause I change it up. Different distance. Different venue. The beach. The bay. The lake. The neighborhood. The possibilities are endless.

Even Oprah’s on board. “I’ve been through every diet under the sun,” says the talk show queen. “And I can tell you that getting up, getting out and walking is always the first goal.”

So, what’s your goal? Why not lace up your shoes and take a walk – today

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Living with Prostate Cancer
By Carol LeBeau
8/14/2011 4:33:47 PM


When my brother, sister and I decided to get together this summer, it wasn’t for an exotic vacation in Europe or Hawaii. Instead, we took our spouses and children to a monumental celebration in, of all places, Davenport, Iowa! The family reunion, of sorts, was for the purpose of honoring and celebrating our dad’s 85th birthday.

It was a wonderful time of porch-sitting, pork-eating and gift-giving to the father who taught us so much about life, and loving life. Bucket lists? Our dad invented them. Trekking in the Himalayas, scuba diving off Grand Cayman Island, bicycling cross-country – he’s done it all. When he finishes one list, he just starts another.

But at age 70, when Dad got his cancer diagnosis, we all worried his current bucket list wouldn’t be completed. It was prostate cancer. He had two choices. Surgery or an option known as “watchful waiting.”

Hoping to avoid the possible side affects of prostate surgery, Dad chose the latter and 15 years later, the “waiting” continues to pay off. What a joy to watch Dad blow out the candles on his strawberry-rhubarb birthday pie – looking forward to number 86!

While men continue to make that delicate decision today, new studies are providing more clarity to make the choice a little easier.

No doubt, surgery to remove an early-stage prostate tumor does reduce the risk of metastases and death in patients compared with watchful waiting. But, here’s what probably spared my Dad. According to the recent results of a New England Journal of Medicine study, the benefits of surgery apply only to men under the age of 65. Dad got his diagnosis at 70, making him a perfect candidate to watchfully wait. As it turns out, most tumors found in older men grow slowly and those men will eventually die of causes unrelated to prostate cancer.

At a recent Palomar Health “Dine With the Docs” event, prominent north county Urologist Dr. Paul Neustein explained, “with watchful waiting (also known as expectant management), doctors actively and carefully monitor the patient for signs the cancer has worsened, treating symptoms of the disease when they occur.” This treatment strategy can help some patients avoid surgery to remove the prostate and related lymph nodes (radical prostatectomy) along with negative side affects including incontinence and impotence.

While researchers are encouraged, doctors warn that these recent study results should be interpreted with caution. Much more research is needed to definitively determine the benefits of watchful waiting.

I’m no doctor, but am encouraged by any option that can postpone or eliminate the need for major surgery. As for Dad? In a few months, he’ll be checking in with the doctor who’s been keeping a watchful eye on him for years, just to make sure nothing’s changed. What’s most important is the next item on his bucket list. A trip to Dubai! (I’m not kidding!) But it’s really no big deal. For Dad, it’s just another “trip of a lifetime!”

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Alaskan Adventure
By Carol LeBeau
6/24/2011 4:52:59 PM


Tom and I returned from a wedding in May. And you say, “big deal,” right? Well, THIS wedding was a big deal … and the celebration continued for an entire week … aboard a cruise liner bound for Alaska!

We’d been looking forward to Adrienne and Jeff’s wedding for months. Adrienne’s Dad is Tom’s cousin. Growing up together in West Virginia, Rob and Tom were more than cousins – they were best friends. And the marriage of Rob’s oldest daughter was reason to celebrate. Little did we know, the nuptials would be part of the trip of a lifetime!

There’s nothing ordinary about Jeff and Adrienne, so few were surprised when the adventuresome couple chose an extraordinary venue as the stage for their wedding ceremony. From across the country, 38 friends and family members traveled to Seattle to board the Sapphire Princess for a seven-day cruise along Alaska’s Inland Passage.

The next morning, as we cruised along the coast of Vancouver Island en-route to Alaska, Adrienne and Jeff were pronounced man and wife by the ship’s Captain. From the bow of the 16th deck, the wedding party and guests enjoyed a million dollar view … including a small pod of whales that appeared just in time to share in the celebration.

Following a festive champagne reception, fabulous food and a few rounds on the dance floor… instead of a post-party letdown … THIS week-long party was just getting started!

Between elegant four-course meals each night, we enjoyed fascinating ports of call, including Alaska’s “First City,” Ketchikan, and the capital city of Juneau. There we took a ride aboard the Mt. Roberts Tramway and got a breathtaking view of the Mendenhall Glacier.

My favorite stop was Skagway, a charming little town known to thousands of hopeful gold-rushers back in the 1890’s as the “gateway to the gold fields.” The community has retained the flavor of the era with its quaint, historically accurate storefronts on all its boutiques, restaurants and bars.

The next leg of our tour took us through the scenic Juan de Fuca Strait, ending in the harbor of Victoria, British Columbia. Following a brief visit in the picturesque city, we boarded the Sapphire Princess one last time for the final stretch of our voyage.

Dinner that final night was elegant, as usual, but even the signature baked Alaska was bittersweet as we said good-bye to all the family and friends with whom we’d sojourned to witness the marriage of Adrienne and Jeff… and the majesty of our 49th state.

We headed back to our home states – West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia, Indiana, Florida and California – to check our e-mail and Facebook pages for the photos that would remind us of our wild and wonderful adventure together. What a trip! What a wedding!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Swing "Fore" Fitness
By Carol LeBeau
6/22/2011 4:48:58 PM


Are you looking for a way to lose weight that won’t keep you stuck in a sweaty gym or taking the same walk around your neighborhood? Would you like to add a little weight training to your cardio workout? Does adding natural vitamin D to your diet, better sleep to your nighttime and making new friends interest you?

Take a swing at a golf course and all this could be yours! Seriously, golf is not just for out-of-shape guys making business deals while knocking a little white ball around the links. Not anymore! In fact my fabulously fit husband, Tom, has played for years and loves it! As for me, I’m not really feelin’ the love just yet. I’m just a hacker still working on it … but it’s fun! And it’s an activity Tom and I can enjoy together surrounded by the great outdoors.

All that AND it’s a great workout! I was astounded to discover the number of health benefits that come with a round of golf, including:

  • A challenging cardiovascular workout—Any activity that leaves you slightly short of breath and works up a bit of a sweat is great for your cardiovascular health. Besides lowering harmful cholesterol, a brisk round of golf helps speed up your metabolism, making weight loss easier. My Tom plays San Diego’s Balboa course every Saturday morning and burns upwards of 1,000 calories by carrying his clubs and walking more than four hilly miles.
  • Proper Exercise—Golf is great for your bones! Weight bearing exercise two to three times a week can create long, lean muscle mass, which helps support a strong skeleton. This type of exercise can also help prevent bone degeneration, including osteoporosis. To include weight bearing in your golf game, follow Tom’s lead and carry your clubs. (A great option to release stress on your shoulders is a double-strapped golf bag.)
  • Plenty of Vitamin D—This vitamin is essential for strong bones. It regulates calcium and phosphorous in the blood. Vitamin D also helps regulate the growth of skin cells. While taking supplements and eating foods rich in Vitamin D are helpful, your body can actually make all the Vitamin D it needs just by catching some rays outside. So take a walk around your local links and let your body do its work.
  • Sleep Better—(my personal favorite!) Study after study show regular exercise increases all the positives sleep brings. You’ll fall asleep faster and stay in a deep sleep longer with regular exercise. Playing a round of golf by day will likely increase the quality of your restfulness by night.
  • Find New Friends—Golf is a social game. There’s plenty of time to chat with old friends and get to know new ones. Tom has made lifelong friends of several guys with whom he’s been randomly paired over the years. Making friends increases endorphins, which help mental outlook and an overall feeling of well being.

So grab your clubs and balls … head out to the golf course and enjoy a day in the sun. And if you need an excuse, just tell your boss it’s for your health!

For more on the “goodness of golf,” check out my interview with golf pro and advocate, Tina Mickelson. The sister of PGA superstar, Phil Mickelson, talks more about the benefits of golf, her passion for the game and how women are teeing it up in greater numbers than ever!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

By Carol LeBeau
6/11/2011 4:30:28 PM


Carol LeBeau's Health Journal

I’ve heard it said that confidence is belief in yourself… belief that allows you to take action.  I’m not sure I agree with that.  In my life, taking action usually comes first.  Confidence comes later.

For me, confidence often means, “Just Do It!”  Whether riding a bike at age 5, doing a live TV report at 26 or climbing a rock wall at 57… confidence is the reward for taking a chance, trying something new!

Look, I’m no spring chicken.  I’m afraid of heights and not very sure-footed, but with the help of a friend (and a safety harness!) I recently made my way up that rock wall… gaining confidence with each step!  The experience was not only confidence-building, it was exhilarating!  And I almost missed out by not trying!

Whether it’s rock climbing, traveling or learning a foreign language… you’re never too old to do something new.  In fact, shaking up the old routine can be good for your health and may help ward off symptoms of many age-related disorders, especially those that affect the brain. 

To keep your brain healthy, “use it or lose it!”  Start with activities that interest you or give you joy.  How ‘bout….

  • Picking up a long-neglected hobby?
  • Playing with your grandchildren or a favorite pet?
  • Learning something new? (an instrument, a foreign language, a new game)
  • Getting involved in your community? (volunteer or attend a local event.)
  • Taking a class or join a club
  • Going on a weekend trip to a place you’ve never visited
  • Spending time in nature (taking a walk, taking up golf, fishing, enjoying a scenic view)
  • Enjoying the arts (visit a museum, read a classic novel, go to a concert or play)

It’s these types of activities that help keep our brains active and healthy.  To learn more about brain health, from headaches and stroke, to memory loss and Parkinson’s disease, we have a team of neurologists at Palomar Health to address all of your questions.  For a referral to one of our outstanding neurologists, call: 800.628.2880.

So get out of that rut and build YOUR confidence.  There is something wonderful about reaching into the future with excited anticipation.  And those who pursue new adventures throughout life stay younger, think better and laugh louder!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

By Carol LeBeau
6/4/2011 3:32:41 PM


Carol's Health Journal

Bliss… What a great word! It’s that unbridled sense of joy and wellbeing that comes from deep within. Webster’s calls it ecstasy, intense satisfaction… spiritual joy. Even “happy” can’t beat bliss.

Don’t get me wrong. Happy is good. Happiness is that burst of feeling that comes from a word of affirmation, a favorite song, an unexpected check in the mail or the sight of a dog… ears pinned pack by the wind hanging out the window of a passing car. (OK, so that makes ME happy!) But happiness is often fleeting, typically based on the events of the moment.

Bliss is so much more. It’s deeper… like a wellspring, overflowing from the center of the soul. My bliss is that sense of peace, contentment and gratefulness I find at the water’s edge… ocean waves rhythmically crashing against a rocky shore. I just want to yell at the top of my lungs, “Thank you, God for life… for people who care, for the abundance of beauty all around me.”

Finding joy hasn’t always been easy. I believe I can experience bliss because I’ve also know despair… hopelessness so profound, I couldn’t see a way out. I was 34 years old, newly married with a career on the upswing when the dark clouds moved in and the depression enveloped me.

I was lucky. With the help of a board-certified psychiatric physician, I got help in the form of effective medication and excellent counseling. Within weeks the depression and anxiety subsided. But most importantly, I got back my joy. And I will never again take it for granted.

At Palomar Health, their Behavioral Health Services program meets the diverse and complex psychiatric and mental health needs of adults (18 years and older) and seniors with a comprehensive range of services.

If you would like more information or need to speak with someone, representatives are available 24-hours a day. Please call: 800.336.2000

If a dark cloud is blocking your bliss, take action now. Help is there and it’s entirely effective. Life’s too short to settle for sadness. Find your bliss.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Find Your Health
By Carol LeBeau
5/28/2011 5:00:21 PM


Carol LeBeau

As a health reporter for nearly 30 years, I learned a lot about healthy eating. But believe me, there’s a big difference between “knowing” and “doing.”

For years, I blamed a hectic schedule for my atrocious eating habits. Too busy for breakfast and too late for lunch, I’d find myself surprisingly hungry after the 5 ‘clock news. So I’d dash down the hall to the vending machines… load up on M&M’s and coffee… work the night shift until after the late news at 11, drive home exhausted and wired, and have a couple of glasses of cheap wine to relax. And I wondered why I wasn’t feeling good! After all, I was getting nutrients from the four major food groups… sugar, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol!

Seriously, I was treating my car better than the body I needed to get me through the rest of my life! I should have paid attention to my own reports. I knew what to do. It was time to just do it.

Oh, it didn’t happen overnight, but as I began to make simple changes in my eating habits, I began to experience major changes in my life. Turns out, a diet rich in lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains and a colorful collection of fruits and vegetables not only makes me feel better… it helps me perform better!

Skip breakfast? No more! When I start my day with a bowl of whole grain cereal swimming in almond milk with wheat germ, ground flax seed and whey protein, I can swim as long and (almost!) as hard as I did 20 years ago!

And on long days, a bed of greens with a nice salmon fillet helps me stay focused for hours! And when I start to fade, instead of M&M’s… a big handful of almonds gives me the staying power I need!

Even my skin looks better, and I’m not getting any younger! It’s got to be the added fruits and veggies and gallons of water I’m drinking!

I encourage you to find your best health by simply eating a rainbow of foods – eating right with color! This creates a palette of nutrients, each with a different bundle of potential benefits for a healthful eating plan. You can “Eat Right with Color” by choosing these foods daily:

Red indicates produce that may help maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity and may reduce cancer risks.

  • Fruits: cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes and watermelon
  • Vegetables: beets, red onions, red peppers, red potatoes, and tomatoes

Green produce indicates antioxidant potential and may help promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks.

  • Fruits: avocado, apples, grapes, honeydew, kiwi and lime
  • Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers, leafy greens and spinach

Purple and blue foods may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health and reduced cancer risks.

  • Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins
  • Vegetables: eggplant, purple cabbage, purple-fleshed potato

Orange and deep yellow fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity, and reduce the risk of some cancers.

  • Fruits: apricot, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mango, papaya, peach and pineapple
  • Vegetables: carrots, yellow pepper, yellow corn and sweet potatoes

White, tan and brown foods sometimes contain nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks.

  • Fruits: banana, brown pear, dates and white peaches
  • Vegetables: cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, white-fleshed potato and white corn

If you want more personalized help, or if you want to learn more about managing diabetes, connect with a registered dietician from Palomar Health’s Diabetes Program at: 760.510.7377

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Find Your Balance
By Carol LeBeau
5/22/2011 4:49:48 PM


Carol LeBeau's Health Journal

I’d never been on a paddleboard. I’ve often watched from the shore as they glide soundlessly across the bay. I’ve even stopped mid-swim to exchange pleasantries with a solitary boarder as we both “paddled” beyond the break off Coronado. It looked like fun, but probably not for me.

I thought it best I remain “in” the water. You see, while I’ve been blessed with a strong heart and lungs… I have no balance. Zip. Zero. Nada! Standing atop a narrow board on moving water was not an option, or so I thought.

Turns out, physical balance can be learned. Fortunately, I had a wonderful teacher. With the help of Silver Strand State Beach head lifeguard, Mike Martino, my maiden voyage atop a paddleboard did not end in disaster!

In his wisdom, Mike told me to take it slow… one step at a time. “First, kneel on the board until you’re comfortable, he said. “Then slowly move into a crouch.” When I finally found my balance in that position, Mike said, “Go ahead and stand.”

A bit wobbly at first, I slowly found my center of gravity and relaxed. That sense of balance allowed me to let go, gently paddle and experience the peace and beauty all around me.

My paddleboard experience got me to thinking about the importance of balance… in all of life. Like many women who came of age during the women’s movement, it’s been a struggle for me. It’s not that many years ago I considered it a badge of honor to run myself ragged. But as one who’s been there, a life out of balance is miserable and unfulfilling.

So ignoring your health is not an option. Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, praying and spending time with friends and family… are all a must if you want to be the most effective, productive, joy-filled woman possible. Just like my paddleboard adventure, take it one step at a time and you, too, will find your balance.

The Jean McLaughlin Women’s Center for Health and Healing at Palomar Health is a comprehensive facility designed just for women. It offers a breast center, perinatal services, bone density testing and lactation consultation. It’s a one-stop-shop, designed just for women. For more information, visit the Jean McLaughlin Women’s Center or call 858.613.6120.

If you literally need help with improving your physical balance, Palomar Health also offers a balance disorders program that features technology from NASA that performs diagnostic testing and treatment for dizziness, imbalance and vertigo. For more information, visit Rehabilitation Services or call 760.739.3340

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

Find Your Strength
By Carol LeBeau
5/14/2011 4:34:22 PM


For me, there’s nothing like the feeling that comes from stroking through the pounding surf. I love the sense of strength and power as my body cuts through the surf line and breaks free into the gentle chop. But it’s more than a good feeling. It’s knowing that with each stroke, I’m positively affecting my health… especially my heart health.

A sedentary or inactive lifestyle is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. Fortunately, it’s a risk factor you can do something about. In fact, regular exercise… especially aerobic exercise, has benefits too numerous to ignore.

Whether it’s swimming, cycling, brisk walking or your favorite Jazzercize class, all that moving around strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system, improves circulation and helps your body use oxygen better. It also lowers blood pressure, improves any heart symptoms you may have and increases energy levels so you can do more activity without becoming tired or short of breath.

And that’s just your heart! Keep moving and you’ll improve muscle tone and strength, have better balance and joint flexibility, strengthen your bones and help reduce body fat and reach a healthy weight.

As an added bonus, all that exercise will help you reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression, boost your self-image and self-esteem… improve sleep and make you look fit and feel healthy. Call me crazy, but there’s no down side to making exercise a regular part of your life.
Palomar Health is the premier provider of cardiac care services in North County San Diego, offering a full range of diagnostic, medical, surgical and rehabilitative care services for your heart. Our comprehensive program is recognized nationally by the American Heart Association’s (AHA) “Get with the Guidelines” Coronary Artery Disease initiative. Palomar Medical Center is one of only nine hospitals nationwide to earn the 12-month Performance Achievement Award from the AHA as part of the Get with the Guidelines program.

To learn more about our award winning cardiovascular program call: 760.739.3000

Bottom line… A strong body means a strong heart. Where’s your strength?

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

HRT: First safe, then risky...now safe?
By Carol LeBeau
5/5/2011 3:52:16 PM


What’s a woman to do? Honestly, when it comes to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), you need a scorecard to keep up! The latest? You may want to start popping that Premarin again because new research finds HRT may be a good thing for women entering menopause.

That news may be hard to swallow for tens of thousands of women who quit the hormone treatment back in 2002. I’ll never forget reporting on the high profile study that found estrogen therapy led to heart problems and strokes. The news caused such fear and panic, you could almost hear the collective “whoosh” as women frantically flushed their estrogen pills down the toilet.

So, what’s changed? After reviewing dozens of studies on HRT, the International Menopause Society (IMS) now concludes the original study was flawed. In fact, in a statement presented at a conference in Madrid, the IMS announced, “Hormone replacement therapy remains the first-line and most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms.”

Some doctors are skeptical, even angry about the statement insisting the Society’s conclusions are misleading and dangerous to the health of women worldwide.

What are the rest of us to make of this? What about the millions of women suffering from postmenopausal symptoms… many not sure whether to continue their HRT, restart a regimen they stopped or begin as they enter menopause? 

Maybe we should back up a bit. The use of hormone replacement therapy dates back decades… women taking doses of estrogen, sometimes supplemented by progestin, in order to relieve the unpleasant symptoms of menopause. For years, women depended on the regimen to give them relief from severe hot flashes and night sweats.

But in 2002, everything changed. Researchers cut short the much-publicized Women’s Health Initiative study of HRT… citing concerns over health problems. But many doctors felt the recommendation to stop HRT all together went too far, discouraging women they felt really needed the treatment.

The recent IMS statement may just convince women frightened about taking estrogen therapy. Dr. Tom Felger of Indiana University’s School of Medicine says, “I think this document is trying to moderate the craziness that came out on the public side of the original recommendations.” Advocates of HRT are opposed to the “all or nothing” approach… that for symptomatic, menopausal women, HRT is very effective and safe. 

So, again, what’s a woman to do? With the newer, more encouraging news about HRT… many doctors are once again prescribing estrogen replacement. They’re just being a little more specific in their approach. For newly menopausal women suffering sleepless nights and miserable days due to hot flashes, the benefits of hormone therapy are likely to outweigh the risks. However, according to one of the IMS investigators, Dr. JoAnn Manson, “low doses should be used for the shortest time necessary… usually less than four to five years.

While the controversy continues, I’ll keep taking my hormone replacement. But you better believe, I’ll be keeping an eye on the results of the next study. Stay tuned! 

***NOTE: For women at high risk for breast cancer, there is a link between HRT and the higher incidence of breast cancer. As always, before taking any medication or supplement, be sure and discuss the pros and cons with your doctor. 

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.