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Resolution month: Losing weight is the most popular resolution, but don’t lose money too

Associated Press file photo -- Fitness Connexion trainer Nicolette Isaacs instructs Katie Barling on how to use a weight machine for a step up exercise at the gym in Bloomington, Ill. January, the start of New Year's resolution month, sees a healthy uptick in sign-ups at gyms and specialized studios offering such things as Pilates, kickboxing and yoga. But money-saving expert Andrea Woroch in Bakersfield, California, said recent statistics show 67 percent of people who join don't use their memberships at all.

— How’s that new year, new you fitness pledge going? January, the start of New Year’s resolution month, sees a healthy uptick in sign-ups at gyms and specialized studios offering such things as Pilates, kickboxing and yoga. But money-saving expert Andrea Woroch in Bakersfield, California, said recent statistics show 67 percent of people… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Jan. 26, 2015

What are the scans a doctor might use to diagnosis cancer? The term scan is usually used in reference to a type of diagnostic imaging. Diagnostic imaging refers to several different technologies doctors use to look inside the body for clues about the type of cancer a patient might have and to find its exact location.… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Jan. 26, 2015

Does Alzheimer’s disease cause disruptive sleep patterns? Yes, the sleep/wake cycle of the affected individual becomes more disturbed as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. Some people may sleep for prolonged periods during the day and night, and others may wake often during the night and become more confused. The amount of sleep disruption usually depends on the… Continue reading →

High on Yoga: Unata aerial yoga eases joints, allows deeper practice poses

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Student Reba Robertson, left, hangs in her aerial silk hammock as instructor Luciana Harris bring the  Unnata aerial yoga class to a meditative close.

Aerial yoga can twist your body into gravity-defying positions and stretch muscles that have been tight for years, experienced practitioners say. But first, you have to trust a delicate-looking loop of fabric that hangs from the ceiling. At an introductory workshop for this new form of an ancient practice, 35-year-old Deanna Dino… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Jan. 19, 2015

I will be having a biopsy soon to test for cancer. What will happen during the biopsy? A biopsy is one of the diagnostic tests a doctor may use to analyze suspicious cells. The type of biopsy requested depends on the type of cancer suspected or the location of the cells in question. According to… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Jan. 19, 2015

What is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease? Creutzfeldt-Jakob, (pronounced kroits-felt-yah-kawp), or CJD, causes a type of dementia that advances rapidly. It is a rare, degenerative and fatal brain disorder characterized by progressive dementia, blindness and involuntary movement. It is one of what is called “prion” diseases, which occurs when the prion protein, which is found… Continue reading →

Running the weight in half: Baton Rouge's Karen Vornkahl finds running to be just what she needed to drop 150 lbs.

Photo provided by KAREN VORNKAHL -- Karen Vornkahl lost 150 pounds by exercising and changing her eating habits. On Sunday, she will run in  the Louisiana Marathon, her first-time tackling a 26.2-mile race.

Karen Vornkahl doesn’t expect to be at the front of the pack in Sunday’s Louisiana Marathon. For her first 26.2-mile run, Vornkahl is focused on crossing the finish line. She compares the effort with the 20 months she focused on losing 150 pounds. “It didn’t matter when I got there,” said the… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Jan. 12, 2015

What can I do to make sure I don’t get cancer? While there is nothing that can guarantee that an individual will not get cancer, there are steps we can all do to help reduce our risk. There are several lifestyle behaviors that have been identified as possible risk factors. If a person can limit or… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Jan. 12, 2015

Is there a link between Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome? According to Michael Rafii, director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the University of California at San Diego, “people with Down syndrome represent the world’s largest population of individuals predisposed to getting Alzheimer’s disease. By age 40, 100 percent of all individuals with Down syndrome… Continue reading →

Bend don’t break: Flexibility key to achieving New Year’s resolutions, experts say

Photo by MetroSource -- To achieve your New Year's goal to eat better, try adding healthy foods, like salad, rather than just cutting calories.

Your New Year’s resolution probably won’t last the month. Americans are notoriously bad at keeping those goals made on Jan. 1, according to researchers. Half of the resolutions set on Jan. 1 are history by the 31st, according to a 2013 study by a University of Scranton psychologist. Only 8 percent of Americans… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Jan. 5, 2015

Can you tell me more about the basics of cancer? Cancers can begin in any cells that make up tissues and organs in the body. Normal cells grow and die in a controlled way. When cells grow old, they die and new cells take their place. Sometimes cells keep growing even though the body doesn’t need… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Jan. 5, 2015

How can I distinguish between normal aging memory loss and dementia? Do you sometimes misplace your keys or eyeglasses? Forget someone’s name momentarily? Occasionally have to search for a word or phrase that is on the “tip of your tongue”? As we age, slight changes in our intellect begin to occur. Simple forgetfulness, or “senior moments,”… Continue reading →

Winter workouts: With our mild La. winters, there’s no reason to hibernate from fitness

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Walking is a great way to get out in the sunshine and exercise. Elizabeth Vowell stretches after her run/walk.

It’s tempting to just curl up on the couch all winter, binge on old television series and wait for spring. But the state of Louisiana is blessed with too many mild winter days to quit exercising, says Jheri Bellard Corb, the fitness guru for the Baton Rouge General’s employees. “We only have about 10 to 15… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Dec. 29, 2014

How should I handle my oncology appointments when someone cannot accompany me? It is essential to understand that you are always your best advocate and the most important member of your medical team. Your physician and other members of your treatment team need your input to provide you the best medical care possible. If you… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Dec. 29, 2014

How can I develop a more positive life perspective when I am witnessing the fast progression of my loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease? It is so difficult to watch a loved one deteriorate, mentally and physically, especially through the long and arduous journey of Alzheimer’s disease. Even more difficult is trying to maintain a positive outlook on… Continue reading →

New Orleans' Aaron Williamson transforms into personal trainer for massive movie stars like Zac Efron, Sylvester Stallone, Josh Brolin

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER --  Aaron Williamson works out at Franco's Gym in New Orleans on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.

In the movie “Oldboy,” Josh Brolin’s chubby, alcoholic character is imprisoned early in the movie and remains there for 20 years. He spends that lonely time getting sober, getting fit — and plotting his revenge. But that’s 20 years in a film, not in Brolin’s real life. As an actor, Brolin Continue reading →

How to handle ‘holiday humbug’: A little structure can help seasonal stress


Get decorations from attic. Check. Put ornaments on tree. Check. Bake cookies for neighbors. Check. Find perfect gift for best friend. Check. Clean house from top to bottom. (Still working on that one.) If you’re like most of us, the holiday season often presents an usually long list of “things to do.”… Continue reading →

Getting baby-friendly: New Ochsner program promotes benefits of breast-feeding


New mothers who give birth at Ochsner Hospital and breast-feed their babies know they have a cheering squad behind them. “Starting from the first visit, we talk about birth preferences and bring up breast-feeding,” said Bethanie Genre, a nurse and midwife at Ochsner. The subject is brought up again when the woman is 28 weeks… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Dec. 8, 2014

What is Pick’s disease? Pick’s disease, or frontotemporal dementia (FTD), is a less common form of dementia that damages the frontal part of the brain, and a significant form of dementia in individuals under the age of 65. First described in 1892 by Arnold Puck, Pick’s disease causes an irreversible decline in an individual’s functioning… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Dec. 8, 2014

What are the best ways for me to help a good friend who was just diagnosed with cancer? Friends and family members of a cancer patient often want to help, but are not sure how and the patient may not know what sort of help the person is willing to give. It is sometimes hard… Continue reading →

Health Herbs: Herbalists say cures, natural remedies have real scientific value

Photo provided by the LSU AgCenter --Elderberry bush

Long before HMOs and antibiotics, people in south Louisiana relied on all-natural cures pulled from the forests and bayous. Cajun traiteurs, or faith healers, and before them the Native Americans who made the Gulf Coast their home used native plants to treat everything from fevers to spider bites. Many of these plants, from elderberry… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Dec. 1, 2014

What is meant by a reversible dementia? Dementia in treatable conditions can be reversed, such that the brain regains functions that were previously lost. Common causes of reversible dementias include: Chronic alcoholism, with dementia developing as a result from complications with liver disease or with nutritional deficiencies. Brain infections that cause… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Dec. 1, 2014

My mother passed away from cancer earlier this year. Do you have any tips for coping with our first holiday without her? There is no single thing during the holiday season that can alleviate the grief from losing a loved one. The most important thing to remember is to do what is… Continue reading →

Balance the binge: Holidays don’t mean you can’t splurge at festive meals

This Sept. 15, 2014, photo shows super fast roast turkey in Concord, N.H. ìThe Thanksgiving turkey is the centerpiece of the meal, but despite its being cooked every year for generations, it still causes anxiety. The annual conundrum? Getting a flavorful turkey that also looks good, and the rest of dinner, on the table before the grandparents fall asleep,î Tyler Florence writes in his new cookbook, ìInside the Test Kitchen.î (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) ORG XMIT: NHMM315

Mark that Thanksgiving calendar page in red — the annual holiday food binge is about to begin. It’s that time of year when we subject ourselves to a weeks-long eating frenzy, followed by a relentless and punitive New Year’s resolution diet. One local diet expert is hoping we can change our ways.… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Nov. 24, 2014

I am finishing my cancer treatment soon. What can I expect in regards to follow-up care? After treatment, choose a doctor to provide follow-up care to check for reoccurrence or for problems that may develop due to treatment. This may be your oncologist, a medical specialist or your family doctor. Your choice might be limited or… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Nov. 24, 2014

With my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease progressing, I am planning on talking with my siblings over Thanksgiving about her continual care. How can I organize a plan of care to include the entire family? The phrase, “it takes a village” is so appropriate in the care of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease. The care takes participation from… Continue reading →

Breaking the links to obesity: Parents get lesson in healthy eating for their kids’ sake

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Alfredia Johnson, center, fills out an eating habits survey before the start of a meeting of the La Capitale Links Chapter on Wednesday at Winbourne Elementary School. With Johnson are her nephews Keiron Williams, 7, left and Tahj Carter, 9, right.

Parents have the power to make their kids walk right, talk right and speak right. They can also make sure they eat right. Learning to be a positive influence on their children was the goal for two dozen mothers and fathers who joined the three-month National Obesity Initiative from the La Capitale chapter of The… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Nov. 17, 2014

Is marijuana an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease? Medical marijuana is mainly used as a pain killer and in the United States it is regarded as a medical drug only in Colorado and Washington, D.C. In several states, including Arizona and Rhode Island, medical marijuana is approved for use in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and agitation.… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Nov. 17, 2014

Can you explain the different types of lung cancer to me? There are two major types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. The types are named for how the cells look under a microscope. It is important to distinguish between the two types because the cancers act… Continue reading →

‘Fitness is a way of life’: Mary Elizabeth Norckauer, 90, still racking up Senior Olympic gold medals

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Mary Elizabeth Norckauer works out on a captain's chair at the YMCA on South Foster Drive on Nov. 3. Norckauer is a 90-year-old senior Olympian who as a life-long athlete, has competed in archery, pistol shooting, track and field, and long distance running. She also was a professional ice skater in the 1940s and 1950s and played professional baseball during World War II. She recently won nine gold medals at the Louisiana Senior Olympics and surpassed six world records for her age group.

In her 90 years, Mary Elizabeth Norckauer has barely sat still. She’s been a professional ice skater, ballet dancer, champion archer and pistol shooter, baseball player, competitive runner and could soon be a Senior Olympics record holder. Last month Norckauer competed in nine events in the Louisiana Senior Olympic Games and… Continue reading →