Celebrity fitness trainer Obi Obadike, who is also a cohost on Lifestyle Magazine's health show and contributes workout videos to OWNZONES, shares 5 tips to begin living a healthier lifestyle and lose weight in the process.
Get a physical.
Obadike recommends getting a full physical and blood work every year. “A lot of people are afraid of going to the doctor because they don’t want to hear bad news,” Obadike says. “You need to know where you’re starting at in order to make any improvements.” Checking your cholesterol, vitamin levels, and blood pressure are all important in order to figure out a fitness routine that will work for you.
“The recommended minimum amount of cardio is 25 minutes, three times a week,” Obadike says. “But start off slow.”
According to the American Heart Association, those 25 minutes of cardio need to be "vigorous." But if you’re not used to exercising regularly, walking is a good way to get started. From there, Obadike says you can build up to a walking-jogging combo, and then begin a running routine (30 minutes a day for three to five days). Eventually, you can work up to 45 minutes of cardio, three to five times a week, to see faster results.
If you're short on time, Obadike recommends doing other cardiovascular exercises that get your heart rate up, such as jumping jacks or jumping rope.
Begin strength training.
“All you really need for strength training is your body,” Obadike says. “There’s no need for machines or weights—there’s really no need to even leave your home.” Obadike recommends a mash-up of basic exercises to work all of your muscles: sit-ups, push-ups, planks, lunges, and squats, 20 of each, and repeat two to three times for two to three days a week.
Follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to your diet.
“Eat well 80 percent of the time, and then splurge 20 percent of the time,” Obadike says. “This will keep you from binge-eating unhealthy foods, because you’re treating yourself now and then.”
If you’re a smoker—quit.
“These fitness routines can be much more difficult if you’re smoking,” Obadike says, “so I ask my clients to cut back or quit smoking entirely.”
Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of lung diseases and respiratory complications within one to two years, according to the American Lung Association, and after two weeks, the lungs begin to repair themselves.
"A healthy heart and cardiovascular system will make exercising and following a routine much easier," Obadike says. "Exercise can help you get through the stress of quitting and help you make healthier choices."
5-Minute Home Workout
When Jill Bruno started her orthodontics residency at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health in Rochester, New York, in 1995, fewer than 20 women had gone through the then 39-year-old program. “There was one other female in my class, ” says the Chevy Chase orthodontist. “Now more and more women are going into dental school.”
Women currently make up nearly half of all dental students at colleges in the United States. By 2020, thanks to those graduates, some 30 percent of all dentists will be women. Think that’s low? Before 1970, just 3 percent were women.
The numbers reflect the overall rise of women in advanced education—they now earn the majority of graduate degrees. Yet the appeal seems to go beyond that.
“Dentistry is a wonderful caring profession, and women are caring by nature, ” says Bruno. “It’s great when I take a patient’s braces off and they hug me. I sometimes still get tears in my eyes.”
Some female dentists, including Bruno and Arlington’s Danine Fresch, say some patients seek them out partly because they’re women.
“Not to sound sexist, but I can tell you that a lot of my patients say we tend to listen better, ” says Fresch.
“I do feel that women spend more time discussing treatment plans, diagnosis, and symptoms in ways I think are beneficial to patients, ” says Mary Beth Aichelmann-Reidy, an associate professor of periodontics at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and past president of the American Association of Women Dentists.
Or are women just better at managing their time? A big reason they’re drawn to dentistry is that it’s possible to work flexible hours while raising a family.
Aichelmann-Reidy, though, challenges a common sentiment she’s heard—that because women may cut back on their hours to rear children, fewer dentists will be available to the general public.
“Male colleagues have been stating this as a fact in presentations when this is not true, ” she says. “I actually had a colleague say to me, when I entered dental school in the early ’80s, ‘Oh, good—there are more women in your class so less competition for us because you won’t be working.’
“The data that’s published on female and male grads do not substantiate that claim. Female dentists want to work full-time, just as the male dentist does.”
While male dentists may challenge the notions that they don’t listen as well as their female colleagues and that women dentists work just as many hours, women have one clear advantage.
“Female dentists have smaller hands, ” says Pamela Marzban, a general dentist in Burke, “and that makes it a more comfortable experience for patients.”
This article appears in our March 2015 issue of Washingtonian.
You don’t need toothpaste.
“Toothpaste tastes good, it feels good. But the physical action of the bristle against the tooth is what does most of the cleaning, not the chemicals, ” says Stuart Ross, a general dentist in DC. “But none of us want to brush our teeth without toothpaste. Yuck. It’s like kissing someone through a paper bag.” We’re not saying toothpaste has no merit—your teeth get a dose of fluoride, for example. The takeaway: If you run out of paste, you don’t have to skip brushing.
Floss prior to brushing, not after.
“Flossing beforehand allows food debris to be removed, allowing fluoride from the toothpaste to penetrate between the teeth, ” says Chevy Chase endodontist Reza Farshey.
Position the brush at a 45-degree angle so the bristles are half on the teeth, half on the gums.
“In this position, using a soft-bristle brush and with a horizontal scrubbing motion followed by a roll toward the crown of the tooth, the entire tooth as well as the gum line can be cleaned, ” says Falls Church periodontist A. Garrett Gouldin. “Even if a person has an electric brush, it will not be effective unless they position the bristles this way.”
Don’t brush more than three times a day.
Brush more often, or brush too hard, and you could wear down enamel and gums. “The key is a small, gentle motion, ” says Chevy Chase orthodontist Jill Bruno. What’s also key: brushing for a full two minutes. If the bristles of your toothbrush flare out before three months of use—it’s recommended you change your brush every two to three months—that may be a sign you’re brushing too hard.
Bleeding gums can be an indication you need to brush more, not less.
If you notice bleeding when brushing or flossing, Gouldin says, it’s likely because plaque at the gum line is causing inflammation.“Many people back off in their brushing when they see bleeding—when in fact, as long is there is no cut or trauma, bleeding is a sign that a person should double down their cleaning.” If the bleeding continues more than a few days, though, you may want to see a dentist.
This article appears in our March 2015 issue of Washingtonian.
What’s the best excuse you’ve heard from a patient who hadn’t been to the dentist in a while?
“A patient said he had been meaning to come see us for years but could never find our building. He was a fireman.”
—Dr. Paul W. Callahan, Sterling
“My best were ‘I was busy planning my wedding but then got divorced and now want to get back on the market’ and ‘I opened a beer bottle with my teeth and broke one, but I knew you’d be upset.’ ”
—Dr. Brian Gray, Tenleytown
What’s the strangest method You’ve Seen for putting a patient at ease?
“I have a patient who has two personalities—one completely dental-phobic and the other cool as a cucumber in the chair. The only difference between these two people is the Neil Diamond music playing softly in the background. We cue it up every time she sets foot in our office.”
—Dr. Kristen Donohue, Burke
“One woman brought with her a male friend who massaged her feet while she had the work done. Then they disappeared into the bathroom for 30 minutes together.”
—Dr. Danine Fresch, Arlington
Have you ever taken extraordinary measures to put a patient at ease?
“A patient desperately needed periodontal care but was too phobic to even enter the office because when he did go to the dentist, he passed out. I spoke to him on the phone and we agreed that, because it was spring and the weather was so beautiful, we would meet in the courtyard of my building to do the initial examination. My assistant and I and the patient laughed as we did a full exam outside, with people walking by. For the next visit, when we needed to move into his treatment phase, we again met him outside, then walked him—one of us holding each arm—directly into the office and to the dental chair, reclined him, and started his IV sedation.”
—Dr. A. Garrett Gouldin, Falls Church
This article appears in our March 2015 issue of Washingtonian.
Lights flashed, hands were all over me, and I was hoisted onto a stretcher. The last thing I remembered—as “memory” itself haltingly reformed—was leaving work, walking my bike across L Street, and turning onto the bicycle lane. But that’s all that’s come back to this day, a year later.
Most people assume it was a collision. It could have been: Bicyclists whiz by without calling out, “On your left!” Rush-hour car traffic around 19th and L is aggressive—and inches away. But there was no police report, no evidence any vehicle was involved.
Friends kept asking if I’d found out what caused the accident—which, because I was wearing a helmet, only broke my elbow, knocked out two teeth, cut up my face, and detached a retina. My standard reply became “No, and I’m not sure I need to. What I imagine might have happened is bad enough.” Privately, I decided that a cyclist sped past, close enough to knock me off balance. But the questions haunted me.
I’d been told GW hospital’s records office could provide emergency-services and doctors’ reports from that February night. I wasn’t convinced that seeing the trauma described in black and white would do me good, even if it solved a puzzle, so I procrastinated. But several weeks later, my sister-in-law was driving me back from the doctor and encouraged me to seek out answers, if only to help me move on.
So we swung by the hospital, and a short time later I was reading the EMS account: “Patient fell off his bicycle, striking his face on the ground. Does not remember falling and states he does not even ride a bicycle. . . .” And the physician record: “Patient presents with major trauma and bicycle accident. . . . Fell off, hit his head with facial injuries, amnesia of events.”
Fell off. That was all.
I found out I could request the 911 calls. As soon as an e-mail arrived containing two audio files, I realized I couldn’t listen: Strangers describing me bloody and motionless? No, thanks. But my partner did. He told me one call was from a hotel clerk saying pedestrians were reporting someone had fallen from his bike out front. Another was from a driver who saw me on the ground.
As I related this non-news to my brother—who’d been the first to arrive at the ER—he reminded me that when he retrieved the bike, the chain was jammed between the frame and the gear teeth. When he’d mentioned this months before, I’d assumed it had come off track as a result of the crash. Now my brother, a biker himself, said the chain was stuck so tight that it probably came loose first and I pedaled it into its jam—and went down with it.
So, a mechanical failure? A likely scenario anyway.
Still, I’m spooked by the amnesia. Would I rather remember the tumble of flesh, bone, and metal on pavement? No—my protective lapse is a blessing in that regard. The truth is I feel compassion for the guy lying tangled on the ground, and my memory blank gives me the strange sensation of having abandoned him that night.
A year later, after two surgeries, months of physical therapy, and dozens of doctors’ appointments, my elbow and face have healed, I have new teeth, and my eyesight is almost what it was. I no longer bicycle to work—illogically or not, it feels like tempting fate—but last summer I took a rental bike for miles-long rides on an open trail. I was surprised by the outcome: It was a kind of balm. On those sun-warmed days, my body finally began to shoulder the mystery, to balance the weights of what I’ll never know and what I can’t forget.
William O'Sullivan is the senior managing editor of Washingtonian. This article appears in the February 2015 issue.
Millions of Americans take over-the-counter medications for acid reflux. The problem is many don’t have acid reflux.
According to Caren Palese, a gastroenterologist in DC, more than half of the patients who are referred to her with acid-reflux symptoms that haven’t improved with proton-pump inhibitors such as Prilosec and Nexium—which reduce acid production—don’t have the condition at all.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach contents flow back into the esophagus, causing heartburn, coughing, trouble swallowing, chest and throat pain, and the feeling of a lump in your throat, says Dr. Palese, director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Motility and Heartburn at MedStar Georgetown.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 20 percent of adult Americans experience reflux symptoms weekly. Persistent reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, can lead to inflammation, ulceration, and cellular changes in the esophagus, increasing the risk of esophageal cancer.
People who don’t have acid reflux but share many of the symptoms of those with GERD may actually have non-acid reflux. Determining which type a patient suffers from can require tests, such as esophageal pH monitoring. Knowing the kind of reflux someone has is key to coming up with an effective treatment, ranging from medication to surgery.
When symptoms persist, doctors look for an underlying cause, such as a weak lower esophageal sphincter (a ring of muscle that acts as the gatekeeper between the stomach and esophagus) or a hiatal hernia.
In rare cases, when anatomical abnormalities are present and medication and lifestyle changes—such as eating smaller meals and not lying down within two to three hours of eating—fail, surgery may be an option. One surgery, fundoplication, involves wrapping the top of the stomach around the esophagus. The procedure is usually effective and can be performed with minimally invasive surgery, says gastroenterologist Marie Borum, a professor at George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences. The downside is that fundoplication may have to be repeated as tissue shifts with time, weakening the lower esophageal sphincter.
Another operation, recently approved but not yet widely used, involves placing a ring of magnetic titanium beads around the lower esophageal sphincter. The beads’ magnetic force is strong enough to keep the sphincter closed and reflux at bay but is weak enough to allow the sphincter to open when a patient eats. Like fundoplication, the device can be implanted using minimally invasive surgery.
“I don’t want to tell people to run out and get surgery if we can get good medication control, because there can be complications,” says Dr. Borum. “But there are now surgeries that can be done laparoscopically, which have helped people who may have been reluctant to undergo open surgery.”
Robin Tricoles (firstname.lastname@example.org) currently writes about science for the National Institutes of Health.
This article appears in the January 2015 issue of Washingtonian.
For the past two years, I’ve been inviting whispering women into my bed. Velvet-voiced, trance-inducing ladies of the night. My wife thought it peculiar at first. But when I showed her what they were up to, she succumbed, too. On occasion, we’ve all slept together. Literally slept. That’s it. It’s not weird. Well, it’s kind of weird. But it’s a weird world out there. Especially when you submerge yourself in digital media, as most of us now do for some five hours a day. Have you seen the internet lately? Beheadings, cat videos, leaked photos of naked celebutantes—it’s only a matter of time before we witness a naked celebutante beheading her cat.
All this sensory overload makes it difficult to wind down. Which is where my sleep whisperers come in. A night owl by disposition, I find it harder than ever to calm the mind and get to sleep. I’ve tried traditional remedies—melatonin, Diphenhydramine, heavy drinking. Then by accident I found something that reliably works without punishing my liver: ASMR videos on YouTube.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response—a faux-scientific name bestowed by enthusiasts to classify that tingling, soothing, neurotransmitter-discharging sensation some get when, say, hearing a pleasing voice talking softly, or watching someone slowly and methodically run her fingers through her hair, or listening to Bob Ross scrape his “happy little trees” across a canvas (the late, Afro’d landscape painter is considered the Ahura Mazda of the ASMR movement).
There are now tens of thousands of ASMR “trigger” videos, which are not sexual in nature but which, like porn, cater to every taste. ASMRtists (some are men, but most are youngish women) will stroke the camera lens with a makeup brush or crinkle wrapping paper or whisper softly or trace figures in shaving cream or role-play a doctor giving an imaginary patient a cranial-nerve exam (an ASMR staple). The list of activities is long. All of this in an attempt to hit your hypnotic sweet spot, to immerse you in a warm bath of the mind as you’re carried off to the Land of Nod.
Because there’s next to no published research on the subject, many journalistic treatments of ASMR center around one inquiry: Is this sensation verifiable scientifically? To which I say: Who cares? Science has yet to convincingly explain placebo effects, dark matter, or why people pay money to hear Ariana Grande sing. Yet these realities exist. Science can’t even illuminate why we yawn, yet yawning is precisely what I do every time someone tries to seek scientific validation of ASMR.
Why question what works? And ASMR clearly works, as demonstrated by the sheer number of ASMRtists populating the web and the tens of thousands of views these video-making amateurs with names like “softsoundwhispers” (a British-accented woman who is in my regular viewing rotation) often rack up.
I don’t want to go so far as to say ASMR is better than sex, even though ASMR devotees often refer to the drowsy euphoria the videos provide as a “braingasm.” But the average orgasm lasts 5 to 20 seconds. Whereas, if you find an ASMR video that pulls your trigger, it often runs 30 minutes to an hour. You do the math of which ’gasm provides more pleasure, even if you often won’t make it to the end of said video. I’ve never seen the end of many of my favorites, due to being rendered comatose before they conclude.
When I’ve admitted to friends that I’ve spent an ungodly amount of time watching women brush their hair, or gently ramble about their day, or softly read the poetry of John Donne (as one of my very favorites, a Tennessee ASMRtist named Christen Noel, does), there’s a bit of sheepishness on my end. Confessing to such a habit can earn you the uneasy stares that I imagine people get when coming out as a paint huffer or a Twilight fan-fiction writer.
So laugh, if you must, that I’ve drifted off countless times to ASMRtist “chelseamorganwhispers” role-playing a shoe-boutique employee trying to sell me nude peep-toes with a five-inch heel as she taps on them with her long, graceful fingers (even though I’m more of a closed-toe-flats guy). I won’t be chastened by your ridicule. In fact, I won’t even hear it. I’ll be too busy sleeping through the shame, snug in the arms of Morpheus.
1. Follow the Rule of Ten
If you want to push yourself, build up slowly: Run 10 percent farther than you did last week, or add 10 percent more weight than you lifted last week, says Dr. Rajeev Pandarinath, an assistant professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences.
2. Don’t Lift Above the Shoulders
Our bodies aren’t built to lift heavy weight over our shoulders, says Dr. Kenneth Fine of the Orthopaedic Center in Rockville. When you’re holding your arms out at a 90-degree angle from your body, the weight shouldn’t go above that.
Says Fine: “The irony is that shoulder presses are not important for the human body, and many elite athletes do not do this exercise, whereas amateur athletes often do. An overhead press puts too much unhealthy stress on the rotator cuff.”
Exercising for several hours a day can be healthy, but it’s best to mix the types of exercise. “Limit any particular activity to one hour a day,” Fine says.
4. Warm Up
Light cardio exercises to warm up your muscles, followed by gentle stretching, can help prevent injuries. More dynamic stretching, such as walking lunges and high knees, can help prepare you for high-intensity workouts such as CrossFit, Pandarinath says.
5. Listen to Your Body
“We like to think we’re still in our twenties, so we train with a lot of gusto and cross a line and start having shoulder and knee pain,” says Dr. Chris Annunziata of Commonwealth Orthopaedics in Arlington.
As more runs and marathons have cropped up, people are “diving in too quickly,” causing injuries, says Dr. Daniel Pereles of Montgomery Orthopaedics. CrossFit and Tough Mudders, among other workouts, can lead to rotator-cuff tendinitis (from lifting weight overhead) as well as knee tendinitis and stress fractures (both from repeatedly jumping).
It’s fine to challenge yourself, but don’t ignore your body’s messages.
Not sure if you're over-exercising? Read more about when to consult a specialist and therapy treatments that could help relieve your aches and pains here.
This article appears in our October 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
In Washington, image matters. So when Hill staffers, lawyers, and TV personalities want a straighter smile, they usually want to achieve it as discreetly and as quickly as possible. Luckily, adults in the market for dental braces will find more than just clunky metal.
We asked general dentists and orthodontists to tell us the pros, cons, and prices of the most popular options these days for straightening teeth. Note that every case is different and not everyone is a candidate for each method.
The choices: Lingual braces are placed completely behind the teeth. Incognito is one brand, as is Harmony, which uses digital technology to create a customized bracket-and-wire system.
The pros: No one can see you’re wearing braces. Because the brackets and wires are custom-made for each tooth, treatment is faster—on average, six months to a year—and requires fewer appointments, says Dr. Shadi Saba of Saba Orthodontics in Sterling and downtown DC, whose office has expertise with Harmony braces. “It’s a great option for people in the public because they have a lot of concern about aesthetics,” she says, noting that Harmony braces can also correct faulty bites with the addition of bite blocks.
The cons: Adjusting to this system can be a struggle. Much as with traditional metal braces, a patient has to avoid eating crunchy foods like carrots. Lingual braces also can cause a patient to speak with a lisp, at least for the first few weeks. “What you don’t see you often hear,” says Dr. John Shefferman of Shefferman Orthodontics in DC. Constant contact between the brackets and the tongue can sometimes lead to irritation. Saba says that tongue irritation can be eased by coating the brackets in wax. Applying the braces is extremely technique-sensitive, so orthodontists have to be well trained.
The price: $6,000 to $13,000.
Nearly Invisible Braces
The choice: Invisalign, introduced in 1999, uses clear, removable plastic trays to straighten teeth. Every two weeks, the patient receives new trays that are closer to the teeth’s ideal position. Among the dentists interviewed, Invisalign is a clear favorite—Shefferman says 60 percent of his patients choose it. “Anything I can do with lingual braces I can do with Invisalign,” says Dr. Andrew Schwartz of Capitol Orthodontics in the District and Rockville.
The pros: Invisalign is nearly invisible to the naked eye, and trays can be removed for cleaning the teeth and for meals—eliminating worries about what you eat or about food stuck in the braces. Dental appointments are relatively short because the system is easy to apply and requires little maintenance. There’s also less discomfort compared with other options. “Clear braces are going to become the standard for adults,” says Dr. Danine Fresch Gray of Clarendon Dental Arts, adding that the ability to remove the trays occasionally is good for gum health.
The cons: The big one is compliance. Patients have to wear the aligners for up to 22 hours a day. Anything less will result in a longer treatment time—treatment averages one year—because the aligners aren’t applying constant pressure. Patients need tooth-colored attachments, or “bumps,” bonded to the front of selected teeth, to keep the trays from slipping off. If you have severe alignment problems—such as large gaps or twisted teeth—Invisalign won’t do the trick.
The price: $4,000 to $8,000, depending on length of treatment.
The choices: Anything fixed on the front of the tooth. This could mean traditional metal wires with stainless-steel brackets, metal wires with clear plastic brackets, or metal wires with tooth-colored ceramic brackets. Damon is one brand of ceramic braces.
The pros: Traditional braces are often suggested to fix more severe alignment problems, such as a turned tooth, because they have a better grip on it. Schwartz, whose office uses Damon braces, among other options, says that the Damon system minimizes friction between the bracket and wire, allowing teeth to move more easily.
The cons: These braces are completely visible. The brackets can cause discomfort and irritate the inside of the mouth for the first week or so until a patient adjusts. There are also issues with eating certain foods and keeping the teeth and braces clean. Clear brackets can stain. Treatment time for metal braces is typically longer, an average of 20 months, because cases tend to be more severe.
The price: $4,000 to $7,000.
This article appears in the August 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
On May 9, the first Himalayan salt cave in Maryland opens at Bethesda’s Massage Metta. Salt caves are touted for their healing benefits, which fans say include easing seasonal allergies, stress, eczema, and psoriasis. Himalayan salt is considered the purest salt form in the world, and is packed with natural minerals. When the salt is inhaled, it supposedly loosens mucus and draws water into airways, alleviating sinus issues.
Owner and lead massage practitioner Janine Narayadu first discovered the effects of salt caves after visiting one in Asheville, North Carolina, which she says “recharged” her body. Narayadu’s experience in North Carolina and observation of local children inspired her to open her own cave. “We have so many children in our area that suffer from allergies,” she says. “This is a way for them to find respite from the pollen in the air.”
Narayadu’s cave is made up of about 32 tons of imported salt rock from the Himalayas. It features a halo generator that crushes salt into a fine power and disperses it into the air. Patrons will be able to lounge in the cave for 45 minutes before, during, or after a massage.