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Healthy You

Get the Best of the Winter Blahs

January 27, 2010 4:00 PM with Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple

Don’t let winter’s bitter cold prevent you from maintaining a healthy outlook on the New Year. Join Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple, Medical Director of NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Integrative Medicine Program, as she discusses healthy habits like yoga, meditation, acupuncture and massage to help you maintain a healthy mind and body during the cold winter months.

Moderator (Moderator) - 3:58 PM:
Welcome! Today’s chat: Get the Best of the Winter Blahs, will begin shortly. Please start submitting your questions and Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple will begin answering them as soon as we get started. While you are waiting for the chat to begin, feel free to visit the Integrative Medicine Pages to obtain more information.

  Erin (Chicago, IL) - 4:05 PM:
What are some health benefits of acupuncture besides stress and pain relief?
Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple (NorthShore)
Acupuncture (a 3000+ year old discipline) has been helpful in also relieving fatigue, digestive disorders, skin problems, asthma---the list is long. I have found it a very useful tool for people trying to recover from MANY conditions.

  Allie (Highland Park, Illinois) - 4:06 PM:
What are some ways to keep my diet in check during the winter? All of the fruit selections I come across are pretty nonexistent, and I find myself craving more hearty, carb-filled meals. Any tips?
Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple (NorthShore)
You and me both! Where do you shop? I have found some pretty good fruit selections (some organic, some not)---at Costco, believe it or not. Although the fruits/veggies need to be imported here during the winter, it's very, very important to keep up with a goal of 4-6 servings of plant based foods per day. Frozen fruits/vegetables are also an excellent year round option, so there really is no reason NOT to have these to stave off hunger and get valuable nutrition into the body. When I crave the rich, carb-stuff, I drink water, green tea or eat a handful of nuts FIRST---then I'm not as prone to diving into the bread/cookies/cake, etc. I love that stuff too, so I know what you are going through!

  Beth (Glenview) - 4:17 PM:
I only have about 20 minutes in the morning to do a home workout. What can you suggest?
Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple (NorthShore)
Several options are available here--- and it's important not to get BORED doing the same thing everyday. 1. Walk outside- 20 min if you can stand the weather---go briskly. 2. If you have home gym equipment- 20 min on a treadmill or stairstepper at a brisk walk pace. Or, if you're ready, a nice jogging pace. The intensity all depends on your fitness level. 3. If you have "On-Demand" Cable---i.e. Comcast, check out the Music Section on Demand, and try the super-short but fun cardio dance lessons, like "Dance Club Diva" or other short lessons that appeal to you. 4. DVDs by Gaiam for Pilates or Yoga- do whatever you have time for. Don't worry if you can't finish the whole video. So, as you can see, it's all stuff to do from home so that you don't waste time driving to the gym and so you can get a good burst of activity going everyday, or most days of the week.

  Beth (Glenview) - 4:19 PM:
I forgot about on-demand! Great idea!
Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple (NorthShore)
I turn this on and do this with my 4 year old who loves it too. The segments are literally about 10 or 15 min long, and it doesn't feel like "work". Then you can show off your moves later ;)

  Allie (Highland Park, Illinois) - 4:20 PM:
I’ve been feeling highly unmotivated since the end of the holidays. All I want to do is stay in bed. How can I get out of this funk?
Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple (NorthShore)
Do you become affected like this around wintertime, in general? Or, is this feeling of "unmotivation" unique to certain events (which you don't have to detail) since the holidays? There are many things you can try, like getting a full spectrum light box, going on omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils), exercise, counseling, re-vamping your diet--- there are many options. What you can do now, though, is create structure to your day by scheduling your exercise (start with just getting out of bed, and forcing yourself to go for a walk, say, after breakfast). Inertia is the devil here...

  Tim (Chicago, IL) - 4:24 PM:
Is sunlight deficiency the same as vitamin D deficiency? Will increasing the amount of vitamin D in my diet help with Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple (NorthShore)
The answer is YES. If you don't get enough sunlight, you will be vitamin D deficient. Anyone who lives north of Atlanta, Georgia, suffers the highest risk of vitamin D deficiency. Foods rich in vitamin D: dairy, fortified orange juice, FISH (and more fish) are your best non-sun, natural sources. However, I simply find that food sources are not enough. Taking vitamin D capsules is really the way to go, and should be done with medical supervision. Vitamin D may help indirectly with your SAD, but more evidence has been shown to directly benefit bone density, reducing cancer risks, enhancing heart health, and reducing pain. So, there are many, many reasons to have a good vitamin D level. You should have your blood levels checked by your physician. I check everyone in my practice. By the way, a full spectrum light box will NOT increase your vitamin D level. Only the sun or a tanning bed will (the latter, I don't recommend!)

  Eric (Evanston) - 4:27 PM:
To the question about SAD. Do the lights that claim to help with that really work?
Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple (NorthShore)
The full spectrum lights DO NOT work for vitamin D deficiency, but they CAN work for SAD. So far, what's known is that they are pretty safe except for the possibility of eye strain, or if one has a problem with migraines, they might irritate those. Goal of treatment is 15-30 minutes daily, preferably in the morning, full face exposure with the lightbox. I keep my lightbox next to my computer. You don't need to stare directly in it for the benefit. I like the Apollo Brite Lite- got mine on

  Allie (Highland Park, Illinois) - 4:32 PM:
What are the different health benefits from the differentiating types of yoga? Bikram/hot yoga, ivengar yoga, power yoga?
Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple (NorthShore)
All forms of these Yoga disciplines are helpful and will help with flexibility, strength, and mental discipline. The best way to know what YOU resonate with, is to try different classes and settle on the discipline that really inspires you. An important component of Yoga to remember, is that this discipline is not just physical exercise, but also elevates the mind to a meditative state. I think it's a very important practice! Fyi, we have Yoga classes run by Polly Liontis at the Park Center in Glenview. Her focus is on the meditative, contemplative state of mind using Yoga poses, imagery and breathing exercises. For more information,

  Eric (Evanston) - 4:39 PM:
I just clicked that link and saw you guys do massage and acupuncture. Is there a difference from what you guys do compared to what I might have done at a spa?
Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple (NorthShore)
I cannot speak for spas, but I can speak to the more medically oriented, therapeutic nature of the acupuncture and bodywork services we provide at the NSUHS Integrative Medicine Program. The BIGGEST advantage of the model we have here, is that we collaborate on our patient cases as a team, using the electronic medical record to communicate our findings, treatment plans, and patient updates/progress to each other AND the patient's physicians. You don't get that kind of transparency from a spa or even from independent acupuncturists or bodyworkers. The doctors and patients really like this because there is more accountability, which makes for better safety control and greater cohesion among the different people working with our patients. I am also a stickler for having the highest quality practitioners on my staff. I can't vouch for practitioner quality or training from a spa---it all depends on who you see and what spa you are visiting.

Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple (NorthShore) - 4:55 PM:
Thank you all for your wonderful questions and comments. I will stick around for a few more minutes to see if there are any others, and then the chat will end. Stay happy and warm, Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD Medical Director NSUHS Integrative Medicine Program

Moderator (Moderator) - 4:56 PM:
Thank you again for participating in our chat today. For more information please visit our Integrative Medicine Pages

Also, a transcript of this chat will be available shortly.

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.