Are you an over-extended mom who has not felt like herself lately? Maybe getting out of bed and getting moving in the morning has become difficult. Maybe you have begun stress-eating or you find yourself eating and drinking more and more of the unhealthy foods and beverages that do not refuel your body. If this is you, let’s work to understand what may be going on.
Multiple factors may be at the root of having low energy and/or feelings of stress and anxiety. In order to recognize these causes, let’s ask ourselves the following questions:
What is the real cause(s) of the stresses I am experiencing?
How do I hit the pause button in order to positively cope and regain self-control?
What can I implement today to take a step towards a healthier me?
Who are the trusted friends and/or resources that can support, encourage, and comfort me?
So what might this process look like?
Exploring the real causes of stress and then hitting the reset button may not be as easy as it sounds. Doing so requires focus and intentionality! If you are finding it difficult to process through your challenges and reset on your own, consider finding a positive and healthy accountability partner, mentor, or professional counselor. You may also consider journaling to get your thoughts and feelings out on paper where you can see them. Examine your journal over the next 30 days to find patterns in your thought processes, especially those that may trigger certain poor behaviors. Finally, know that you are not alone. Many of moms experience times of stress and frustration, but be encouraged but this season of stress will become a moment in the past.
As you work through your processes…you are continuing to be a good mom. No one is perfect…No one! Continue to love your children; help your children to live life to the fullest; support your children; provide food; provide shelter; make time to have fun with your kids; and be a good model for your children. Of course, this is not exhaustive a list…but it sure is what we do as moms! You are great…you are a mom!
By Flora Johnson, M.Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Services Alumni
Question of the Day
A 23-year-old male is referred for treatment due to swollen testicles. He explains that the reaction occurred after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. What is the best response?
Laugh at the gentleman and dismiss his claim.
Report on the condition to the local county health department immediately.
Thank them for their honesty and let everyone know why not get vaccinated.
Assure it is scientifically impossible and offer evidence-based reasons for testicle swelling.
Continue reading for the answer.
A reasonable amount of blame has been placed upon the COVID-19 pandemic. Shoveling our woes on the virus is not uncommon. Sure, the virus has caused major and minor disruptions. However, the coronavirus vax jab facts remain the same – it is safe for medical use with little to no known major medical disruptions.
COMRINATY is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for injection use in individuals age 16 and older. The known side effects are mild and include injection site pain, redness, and/or swelling. Chills, fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and tiredness are also side effects experienced throughout the body.
These side effects occur within two days. This is normal and will go away within a few days. It is 95% effective at preventing infection or death.
“My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.“
-Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ)
The Thing Is
Recording artist, Grammy winner, and actress, Nicki Minaj stirred controversy for her vaccine hesitancy perception. The star explained that their Trinidadian cousin’s best friend’s testicles swelled after receiving a vax jab. He allegedly experienced impotence.
Whoa! Let’s fact-check this. The Messenger’s message has a resounding magnitude – one that matters.
Nicki was uninvited to the Met Gala for non-vaccination. She had unanswered COVID-19 questions and refused to take the shot. Her primary concern was valid. However, the controversy caused chaos in Trinidad and abroad. An opportunity to express her vaccine hesitancy concerns with Dr. Fauci, the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and leading COVID-19 physician advisor to the United States, during a live-streamed phone call resulted.
As we stand now, there is no reported such side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad, or I dare say… none that we know of anywhere else in the world.
Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh
Question of the Day Answer
D. Assure it is scientifically impossible and offer evidence-based reasons for testicle swelling. There are no identified reproductive side effects. Possible reasoning for scrotal swelling is the following:
Trauma that causes inflammation
STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis)
Take Away This
While the coronavirus vaccines were developed rapidly, they are safe. They reduce viral transmissions and can keep you from getting seriously ill if infected. All side effects are mild and are experienced at the injection site or throughout the body. The vaccine does not disturb the reproductive system.
“If I want to ask questions about the vaccine, what’s wrong?”
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Niaid director. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/director.
By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Eat a balanced variety, enough of the good stuff, not too much of the other stuff. If the principles of a healthy diet are so simple, why do so many dieters fail? Maybe our perspective is to blame.
As discussed previously, your diet is everything you eat over your entire life, so changing your diet is more akin to changing your lifestyle. The best diet is one you can stick to; one that embraces the rhythms and changes of life. The most restrictive diets demand total compliance and encourage a cult-like devotion. These severe restrictions, such as those that eliminate whole categories of food, make it harder to comply and easier to give up. It sets us up for failure. While someone can give up tobacco or alcohol, we still have to eat every day of our lives.
Small changes, slowly incorporated over a long period of time, are the best way to ease yourself into a healthy diet. Here’s how you can do it:
Set realistic goals that you can achieve
Set yourself up for success, not failure!
Take an honest look at what your current habits are and look for ways to make changes
Example: I currently drink about 20 oz of water a day, my new goal is to drink 40 oz a day.
Reduce, instead of remove
It’s not necessary to eliminate certain things from your diet, especially if you like them. Look for the balance.
Example: I currently eat fast food 5 times a week, my new goal is to reduce that to 3 times a week. Eventually I will work towards eating fast food only once a week.
If you didn’t meet your goals, set new more achievable goals! Failure is an opportunity to learn and improve, not proof that you can’t do something.
Example: I previously drank a case of soda (24) every week, so I set a goal to reduce that to 1 soda per day (7 per week). I didn’t meet that goal, so my new goal is to drink half a case (12) of soda per week.
Try new things!
New foods, new techniques, new cuisines!
Living life to the fullest isn’t meant to be about endlessly cutting back, so neither should your diet. You might surprise yourself with what you find and how your tastes change!
Example: I didn’t like brussel sprouts until I tried roasting them, now they’re my favorite go-to green veggie.
Love Yourself and Keep Going
Our stumbles in life do not undermine our previous efforts. Days of self-love and indulgence are part of a healthy lifestyle, both in mind and body. It’s easier to eat dessert in moderation if you don’t view it as a breach of contract. These cycles of adherence are a natural part of living. If we consider the long term, that your diet will be defined by what you consume over a lifetime, maybe we’ll have an easier time sticking to healthy eating and won’t see a failure as the end.
By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Diet has become an ugly word, often associated with a drastic change in eating habits or a temporary quick fix. Limiting saturated fat intake, controlling portion sizes, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are highly recommended way to limit heart disease risk and control weight.
Unfortunately, most diets fail, and most dieters regain their lost weight within 2 years. The yoyo cycle of weight loss that results from multiple failed attempts may be more damaging than not dieting at all. Why is this happening and what can we do about it?
Picking a diet can feel overwhelming, like eating healthy requires a master’s degree in nutrition. There are an endless number of diet trends and, as long as the industry is profitable, there will always be new ones. This is in spite of the fact that most diets can be diluted down to principles of health and nutrition known for ages: eat a balanced variety, enough of the good stuff, not too much of the other stuff.
The Good Stuff
The Other Stuff
Your diet is what you eat over your lifetime. This is how nutritional scientists define, understand, and research it. Your diet is not a week, a month, or even a year of restrictive eating that will guarantee health and happiness for the rest of your life.
By Jaelyn Copeland, Intern and UAB Community Health and Human Services Student
Recently, the recording artist and global celebrity Nicki Minaj tweeted a series of statements expressing her reason for not attending the Met Gala, the star-studded fashion event postponed this year to September 13th due to COVID-19. In tweets following, the artist went on to explain, “I’m sure I’ll b vaccinated as well cuz I have to go on tour,” Minaj wrote in a tweet about missing Monday’s Met Gala in New York, implying that she had yet to be vaccinated, which the gala requires. “Once I believe I’ve done enough research,” she continued, she’ll get vaccinated.
Health educators encourage the general public to consider the facts regarding their health and well-being. Health educators also work to promote healthy decision making based on the valid science that is available. Understanding that there are many untrue myths regarding a wide array of topics on social media and in other spaces, health educators encourage of anyone wanting to do their own personal research concerning the vaccine (& other topics).
To obtain appropriate sources of information, the Wilkinson Wellness Lab recommends visiting health websites supported by Federal Government entities. By going to http://www.usa.gov, you can access all Federal websites. Large professional organizations and well-known medical schools can also be excellent providers of health knowledge.
Look for websites that end in:
.gov – Identifies a U.S. government agency
.edu - Identifies an educational institution, like a school, college, or university
.org – Usually identifies nonprofit organizations (such as professional groups; scientific, medical, or research societies; advocacy groups)
.com – Identifies commercial websites (such as businesses, pharmaceutical companies, and sometimes hospitals)
Also, take into account the authors and contributors of the website or social media information as well. If the author’s name appears within the posting, consider whether or not that individual is an authority in the topic. Is this person employed by a company, and if yes, what are the company’s objectives? Trustworthy websites will typically provide contact information (such as an email address, phone number, and/or mailing address), as well as an “About Us” or “Contact Us” page.
These tips and more are great ways to examine if a resource is “truthful” or not and support your health decision making in balance with one’s faith.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Centers for Disease control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). National institutes of health. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://www.nih.gov/.
By Flora Johnson, M.Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Alumni
“No matter how much positive energy you put into the world, you’re still gonna have people who have something mean to say about you.”
– Melissa Viviane Jefferson (Lizzo), Grammy Award Winning American Singer
What is Body Image?
The way people perceive and feel their physical selves is called body image. Men, women, and all peoples have concerns about their body image. Their weight, the shape or size of a body part, skin, or hair is often zeroed in, bashed, and picked apart. The fashion industry is a major contributor to widespread unhealthy body image through the careful selection of underweight models to display their products, but our peers, the media, and even family members all influence body image. This often promotes destructive feelings of inadequacy.
Body Acceptance Journey
Melissa Viviane Jefferson – known professionally as Lizzo – is an American music artist celebrated for her vocals, savvy personality, and positive body image. She attacks the world with explosive performances and lyrics. The singer shows the world how much she adores herself through outspoken music- inspiring others to accept, love, and protect their own bodies.
Following the release of her new single and a step back into the public limelight, Lizzo had an Instagram honest moment that addressed negative body image comments.
“On the days I feel I should be the happiest, I feel so down,” Lizzo told fans while sitting in her bathroom wearing a wig cap dabbing her eyes. “Like, I hurt so hard.” The Grammy winner revealed she feels unappreciated for working “quadruple” the time. “Sometimes I feel like the world just don’t love me back,” she sobbed.
Positive and Negative Body Image
Everyone struggles with body image. Having a positive body image is understanding that the value of self-worth is not dependent on appearance. It is a positive energy accepting and appreciating a stable body appearance. If a person is satisfied with their image, they flaunt it – unapologetically.
And for the most part it doesn’t hurt my feelings; I don’t care!
Unsatisfaction with one’s appearance is called negative body image. People may compare themselves with others, feel ashamed about parts of their bodies, lack confidence, or feeling uncomfortable in their own body.
Improving Body Image
Learning to love your body is a journey. A balanced lifestyle that incorporates healthier attitudes, food, exercises, and practices is easier when you are in tune with and respond to the needs of your body.
These tips can help a person feel more positive about their body.
List 10 things you like about yourself
Practice positive self-talk. Say, “My arms are strong” or “I am beautiful.”
Do something nice for your body
Aim for a healthful lifestyle and eat a nutritious diet
Wear comfortable clothes that look good on you
Avoid comparing yourself with other people.
Be actively critical of media messages and images that make you feel inadequate.
See yourself as a whole person, and an imperfect body part.
Start a hobby or blog
I don’t have time for your negativity – your internalized self-hatred that you project onto me with your racism and fatphobia. I don’t have time for it. Anyways, I’m going to continue to be me. I’m going to continue to be a bad b—-.
By Jaelyn Copeland (Community Health and Human Services Student)
The vaccine is like a seatbelt. Safe, effective, and well-tested. If you crash, you’ll be glad you have it. Strongly consider the vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns.
Many activities that you enjoyed before the pandemic can be resumed once you are completely vaccinated. You are not considered fully immunized until two weeks after receiving your second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after receiving a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Until then, you should continue to use all available techniques to protect yourself and others, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
No vaccine is perfect, just as no helmet, seatbelt, or other safety device can guarantee you won’t get hurt. However, studies have demonstrated that vaccination provides a significant boost in protection and may make illness less severe for those who are still get sick. In Alabama, 97% of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. There is still a lot to learn about COVID-19 vaccinations; scientist and doctors are regularly assessing research and revising guidelines.
Vaccinate yourself, even if you’ve already had COVID-19. Reach out to your friends and loved ones to make sure they’re protected as well. The vaccine is currently available to everyone age 18 and older.
By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Simone Biles is an American gymnast with a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is widely regarded by many as the greatest gymnast of our generation. Biles was the favorite to win multiple individual and team events in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but shocked the public when it was announced on July 27th that she would be pulling out of the final team competition for undisclosed health reasons. The following day, she pulled out of the rest of her planned events and gave further explanation: She’d been struggling with the immense pressure that comes with her position and could not compete due to physical and mental health issues. With Biles out of the competition, America’s chances of sweeping the gold for Olympic gymnastics all but vanished. This announcement was met with reactions of anger, outrage, betrayal, sympathy, and support. Why the mixed response?
If Biles had broken a bone or torn a ligament that rendered her unable to compete, the American public may have universally replied with kindness and empathy, viewing it as a tragedy. But because Biles’ reasons were partially mental, the feedback was not at all kind. Why such anger? The answer lies in our complicated and at times antagonistic relationship with mental health.
The World Health Organization describes mental health as “the foundation for the well-being and effective functioning of individuals.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 American adults have a mental illness, but less than half of those will receive treatment. This is likely due to the great stigma associated with mental health treatment and the common perception that seeking help is a last resort. As a result, the average delay between onset of symptoms and treatment is 11 years.
This is not at all how we treat physical issues, where prevention and prompt treatment are the norm. There is pressure to keep issues related to mental health invisible. Tough it out. This is especially a common thought among the athletic community.
The whole situation reminded me of a conversation I had about a month ago with Susan Chambers, a friend of mine who competes nationally in powerlifting. She was struggling with her own stubbornness in knowing when to quit and call it a day. When she’s tired and can’t focus, she’s at risk for serious injury which has happened to her in the past. On this day, she asked herself aloud, “Are you actually worried that will happen or are you being lazy and looking for an excuse? What’s the line between self-destructive and dedicated?”
I responded: “Guilt and shame.” If you’re pushing yourself because you feel inspired, all is good, but if guilt, shame, or fear of failure is motivating you, that’s bad. That’s when you risk seriously hurting yourself, mentally and physically.
Sue was silent for a moment, then said, “You win this round of self-care.”
Simone Biles is a gifted athlete who inspires many and will for years to come. She has the grit and determination to become a champion and the deep maturity to know herself and her limits. No matter the full circumstances, Simon Biles does not owe us further details or explanations. She does not need to justify her decision or apologize for the disappointment it caused, because she owes us nothing. She may be our pride and joy, but she belongs only to herself.
I reached out to Sue again for her thoughts on Simone Biles and the public response. She had this to say:
“Knowing your limits and prioritizing your health and well-being is laudable. Simone Biles is a world class athlete under an incomprehensible amount of scrutiny from the public. For her to advocate for herself and her needs was extraordinarily brave. We need more role models like her, who will demonstrate self-compassion as something more valuable than competition. I guess the short form is: She is a champion, and championing her own well-being proves it.”
Chambers, S. (2021, June 29). Personal communication [online chat].
Chambers, S. (2021, July 29). Personal communication [online chat].
Choudhry, F. R., Mani, V., Ming, L. C., & Khan, T. M. (2016). Beliefs and perception about mental health issues: a meta-synthesis. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 2807–2818. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S111543
Riedel, C. (10 August 2019). Photograph of Simone Biles at US Championships. Associated Press.
@USAGym. “After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition. We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.” Twitter, 28 Jul. 2021, 1:14 a.m., twitter.com/USAGym/status/1420266286441922562
By Jerrica Lake, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Did you know Alabama’s largest state park can be found just outside its largest city?
Nature and Activities
Mountain biking and hiking are two of the park’s most popular activities, but there are plenty more activities to feed your interest!
Lakeside beach with swimming
Watersports cable skiing
Golfing (with a full 18-hole course and driving range)
Mountain biking (with a pump track and BMX course)
Camping and Cabins
Summer camping is hallmark of the season and Oak Mountain has the perfect spots, but if that is not your speed, try the cabins! For guests, Oak Mountains’ lake cabins are a place of peace and tranquility! The cabin grounds are found around Lake Tranquility; a 28-acre lake tucked away in the foothills of the mountain. Oak Mountain State Park offers ten fully equipped cabins that are open year-round, each with two bedrooms and one bath.
Education and Learning
Life science and avian rehabilitation are key components of the park. The Alabama Wildlife Center provides rehabilitation services to injured birds every year to return them to the wild. Birds can be seen from the Tree Top Nature Trail. The Park is also home to the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center, a 2,500 square foot interactive exhibit space and teaching laboratory. Families can enjoy nature programs (including a demonstration farm full of animals to feed and interact with) and visit the extensive equestrian center for horseback riding.
Whether you’re interested in a peaceful getaway, an action-packed weekend, or an educational experience, Oak Mountain has you covered.
Get active and check out your local area for parks!
by Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America. In addressing this national challenge, researchers created the DASH diet after following participants in a rigorous 5-year intervention called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Study. Hypertension, also known as high-blood pressure, is a major risk factor for heart disease, but can be managed with a healthy diet. The DASH diet was designed to be a nutrition-based approach to address the high rates of hypertension and heart disease associated with the typical high-sodium American diet. Most studies on nutrition use dietary recalls, looking at past diet history. In contrast, the DASH study participants were provided with food and their sodium intake was carefully controlled and monitored. The results of the DASH Diet Study demonstrated that diet alone is effective at reducing blood pressure!
The CDC recommends the average adult consumes less than 2,300 mg sodium per day. The DASH diet sets this as the beginning maximum, but about 90% of Americans are consuming far more than this. The average sodium consumption per day is an astounding 3,400 mg for U.S. adults! Just lowering one’s daily salt intake down to the CDC recommendation will be a major improvement for most people and will result in blood pressure reduction in a matter of weeks. The even more ambitious low-sodium DASH diet aims to gradually reduce your intake to 1,500 mg per day.
Most of the sodium we consume comes in the form of salt, which is added to processed foods for preservation and flavor. We can drastically lower our salt intake by focusing on whole foods which are naturally low in sodium.
The DASH diet emphasis the consumption of:
This combination is high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, and fiber, while low in saturated fats. All of these nutrients, particularly the potassium (which is abundant in vegetables) help naturally lower blood pressure and counteract the effects of excessive sodium. The DASH Diet also discourages foods high in saturated fat, such as red meat, as well as sugary beverages.
The DASH Diet is recommended by the American Heart Association and is ranked the best heart-healthy diet and second-best diet overall (it has often traded places with the very similar current #1 spot, the Mediterranean Diet, which you can read about here) by the U.S. News and World Report.
Gradual change is the key to success whenever making a positive change in life.
Here are some small changes you can make to ease yourself into DASH-style diet:
Add one serving of vegetables to your existing meals
Go meatless for 2+ days a week
Switch out some of your grains to whole, such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta
Add more herbs and spices to your meals, instead of salt
Snack on more whole foods, such as nuts or fruit
Below are some full meal plans designed by experts and more detailed resources.