Fact Friday- Allergens (in food, nature, and skincare)

I was thinking about what I wanted my next Fact Friday post to be about and there has been SO much going on lately around “reactions” that I thought it would be good to do a post specifically around allergens.

What is an allergen? How do you react? Where are they found etc?

My daughter Samantha has an eczema, an egg allergy, and seasonal allergies.  Her body reacts differently to all 3 (poor thing).  My father had severe seasonal allergies, and my brother was so allergic to everything he got 6 shots a week for several years.  My sister in law also has allergies and get shots for them… Needless to say, genetically, my daughter was screwed!

What is an allergy?

An allergy or allergic reaction, is what happens when your body responds to a normally harmless substance and thinks it is invading the body.

I  LOVE learning with pictures, and I think this helps so much.

Anaphylactic_shock

There are 2 steps to a reaction.   This is SO important, and most people don’t know this is how the body works.

STEP 1.  You are FIRST exposed to the allergen.  At this time, you will not have any reaction.  It is called “Sensitization.”

What happens, is the allergen (pollen, a food, a lotion ingredient, anything) comes in contact with you whether you inhale it, eat it, or touch it.

Cells release signals which stimulates the B cell (pictured above) to begin producing a LOT of IgE, a specific antibody.   There is a lot of IgE so it starts looking for another cell that is its home (it’s receptor)  The IgE looks for and attaches to Mast Cells.   At this point, the mast cells with the attached IgE are considered sensitized.  Basically they are ready and waiting for the next time you are exposed to the same allergen.

This is an important step because you can become sensitized at any time.  Doctors know what “known” sensitizers are.  There are specific ingredients that doctors know that if you keep exposing yourself to them A LOT, your body may develop an allergy to them.  There are 26 known or top allergens or sensitizing ingredients in fragrances.   Scientist in the cosmetic industry know what these ingredients are AND what LEVELS would pose a risk so they are avoided… smaller companies and private individuals who make their own skin care ususally don’t have this knowledge.

Step 2:  This is the second, or third, fourth, (or 100th time) you are exposed to the allergen.   Once you have been sensitized, when you come in contact with the allergen, it now has a place to go.  It binds to the “ready” mast cell and the cell releases histamine into the body.

This release triggers your symptoms of hives, itching, swelling, watery eyes, anaphylactic shot etc.

There you have it, an allergic reaction.

It is important to note that IgE is specific to each allergen. That means that IgE to cat can only trigger an allergic reaction to cat. A blood test will help identify the amount of IgE in the body. Knowing your IgE levels for different substances will help identify the specific allergic triggers that may be contributing to your symptoms, i.e. if you are allergic and what you are allergic to.

Tune in next week when I elaborate on this allergy thing a bit more, specifically related to skincare.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Resources

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/allergy-basics

https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/allergic-reactions

http://www.wisegeek.net/what-is-a-food-allergy.htm#didyouknowout

 

 

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All before 8 am

Some days fly by.

Last year I attended a TED talk given my by company.  The CEO, Alex Gorsky, really is a phenomenal man.  He practices what he preaches and I felt (and still feel) so proud to be a part of his company.  He is super active, runs marathons and always participates in the yearly company sponsored triathlon.  He also needs to travel the world for business on a regular basis.

Something he said really rang true to me.  He said “I have no control over what the day throws at me, but I can control how early I wake up.”

Although I’m not a CEO, I feel the same way about being a working mom & wife.   Since I’ve started waking up earlier, I feel like I’ve added so much “free” time to my day.

Although it’s not glamorous.  Proof below.

Today we needed to get the kids up, dressed, and fed so I could be out the door by 7:30.

My run started around 5:45am, it was so beautiful out this morning!
I ran a nice 3.5ish mile loop around my neighborhood.  It was bright, it was the perfect themperature, the sun was shining through the trees, hardly any cars out… I ran into several deer though.  Those pesky buggers weren’t even scared!


I rocked out to some Britney Spears Pandora…


When I got home there was someone who had just woken up and was waiting for me by the door


Look at those sleepy eyes!

Before I could even stop sweating, we had work to do.  It was breakfast time!


Luckily, we made it out on time.  Kids fed and dressed, lunch packed for mom, shake in hand.    These kids don’t know how good they have it!  Breakfast was all set when Jimmy came downstairs.


Coffee and in my meeting by 8.  It’s lunch now… Is the day over yet?

It wasn’t fast, but it felt good.


Snapchat:  jessicaheidifit

Running through Summer

I don’t know about you, but I always have to switch things up to keep my fitness routine exciting.  If you don’t look forward to exercise, you won’t do it!

Last May (2015) I started my Beachbody fitness journey.  I did 21 day fix extreme, and over the subsequent year I completed a few rounds of extreme, body beast, hammer and chisel, and on demand challenge du jour.  It was last Sept/Oct. that I started waking up at 5am to get my workouts in and converted  part of my basement to a gym.  With warmer weather and the sun up so early, I can’t force myself to go downstairs so I have started running again!   I am considering registering for a half marathon (or 2) in the fall to keep myself on track.   I love sticking to a workout calendar/training plan.

Feels so good to get outside!


This morning I was doing an upper body workout downstairs and my daughter came down and said “mommy, its gorgeous out!  Why are you working out inside?”  Wise girl.  I will still utilize my “basement” gym because I have a new love for weight training, and it will only help my running performance… And sometimes we can’t leave the house.  I really don’t feel like running with 2 toddlers.


Questions for you:

Do you have any fall races lined up?  If so, what are they?

What is your favorite race distance?

Do you like running alone or with a running buddy?

I am thinking of creating a facebook group for people training for the same race… would you be interested in joining us?  The races on the table for me are the Philly Rock N Roll Half Marathon and the Brooklyn Rock n Roll Half Marathon.


You in?

Stuck between two passions


This is so how I felt at 4:30 this morning getting up to go to the airport.   Been doing a LOT of soul searching lately.

I actually didn’t know I had two passions until less than a year ago.  

My first has always been science.  I’m a chemist.  I have the privilege to work for one of the worlds largest health care companies.  I’ve liked science and facts for as long as I can remember.  Santa got me an invisible man anatomy set for 5th grade and a microscope by 7th grade.   This weekend we took the kids to the museum of national history in NY and I was so excited to donate my microbiome to science.   Ironically I’m a chemist for skincare and not a doctor or biologist. 

  

I proudly wore my sticker “I swabbed for science today”


My second passion is helping people achieve their health and fitness goals. (Which I guess ties into biology).  

 I am starting to realize it’s all science.  I’m amazed at what the human body is capable of and what you can achieve through exercise and nutrition.  
I was really shocked by my own transformation when I honed in on my nutrition and treated food like a science last year.  I weighed it out and counted my nutrients.  My “macros.”  I’m not as strict now as I was last year because I like ice cream and wine, so I’m struggling to find the right balance for me.  As always these guys come first…

The other portion of a health journey is mental.  Through helping others it seems to me that health, fitness, and achieving goals is more mental than anything else!  Another science, the science of the mind.

People have the hardest time mentally, we make excuses for everything (myself included).  I’m tired, I don’t have time, I’m “too” out of shape, I don’t have money, I don’t know how to cook, I’m too busy, I don’t like (insert physical activity here), I’m stressed…I’m in a rut. 

So I guess thats where I am right now.  In a rut.  I want to continue helping people reach their health and fitness goals, but I feel like I can no longer use Facebook as a platform for connection.  Too many negative people, too many co-workers, too much judgement of how I spend my time.   

Since I’ve been in my “rut” I’ve been horrible about keeping up with my exercises (daily) and indulging way more than I should.  Coaching kept me accountable.  

So, what’s the point?  I guess the point is I am still figuring stuff out, how to live into both passions.   I have a very small group I’m hosting for summer now. 
Questions for you

– how do you connect with new people?

– what is your biggest excuse?

– what are you passionate about and are you living your passion? 

– would you be interested in joining us?

Thoughts on life & Fitness is a journey 

Thank you all so much for your kind words after the passing of my Opa.  It has been a crazy month.  I was traveling for work and getting a few workouts in at the hotel, then as soon as I came home I was told my Opa would be going on hospice.   He was brought to my parents house on Monday.  I was planning on spending the day Friday but my father told me he wouldn’t last that long.  Tuesday was my daughters very first swim lesson, so we didn’t go Tuesday.   She loved it…


Wednesday I picked the kids up early from daycare and we shot up to my parents house.  By then he was barely able to keep his eyes open, but when he did he registered that me and the kids and James were there.  We talked to him and squeezed his hands.  He tried to open his eyes and focus but it took so much energy.  

My husband urged me to stay the night and at 4:30 am my mother called me down.  “It’s time,” she said, just like the doctor said to be during childbirth.  We all held his hands and he slowly just stopped breathing.

It was remarkable to see a body so full of life, that contained such a a HUGE personality, just stop.  The last breath was gone and in that instant, so was he.


I don’t often talk about faith, but at that moment, I was so glad I had my faith, to know that he is not just gone but in heaven with his wife and they are looking down on us.   He is at peace and no longer in pain.

We called my brother to tell him and he came to the house by 6am.  We called the hospice nurse to pronounce him after 8 and spent time with him, drank our coffee and remembered the good times.  

There was so much to do, so many arrangements to make.  We had the wake on Friday and the funeral Monday followed by the mosileum.   There was a lot of drinking, a lot of German beer songs, a lot of family.  He was honored to have a 2 soldier solute at the mosileum for serving our country in the army and my dad was presented with the flag.  

Jimmy sang Ein Prosit on the way home… 


I thought things would calm down and I could rest Tuesday but there was urgent things to do at work- so off I went.

Now, finally today I was able to get back into a routine.  I felt so at peace and at home when I walked downstairs this morning 


I was nervous about exercising because it had felt like AGES since I had.  But I pressed play and it felt amazing.  


All these emotions I had been carrying seemed to be sweat away.  I feel so alive and so blessed to have such an amazing family and be surrounded by love and have a body young and healthy enough to exercise.  Life happens, fitness is a journey.  The best we can do is for it in with the time we are given.  


I hope everyone has a happy day. 

Pajamas & Coffee

So many things going on lately I haven’t been blogging.  Here are some thoughts on this mindful morning.


To be completely open and honest with you, I have started being very selective in the group of people I coach.  I have stopped trying to put myself “out there” on Facebook because it was not always feeling genuine.  If people would like help, I will always find a way to help them but it is no longer a focus of my energy.   So I’m thinking of repositioning the blog a bit away from “beachbody”.

I really see 3 aspects of my life.  My career, my kids & my marriage.  My career has been and is amazing.  I absolutely love going into work every day and helping drive the business forward, and the feeling of being a part of something big.   


My kids are the light of my life and marriage has its ups and downs.  This is them right now, Saturday morning watching Sesame Street.


I had such an awakening last May while doing the 21 day fix.   I lost a lot of weight, got super toned, met amazing and inspiring people, and really found myself again.   These past 2 months have been rough.  I haven’t had the same “intense” drive to exercise and I’ve definitely indulged more on weekends.  I know everything in moderation is healthiest, but I feel the best when I really am on point with my nutrition and exercise.   

I’m working through what should be healthy for me.  Maybe it isn’t being 100% every day, but maybe exercise 5x a week should be my goal, and working in indulgences 2x a week or something to that affect.   I can make arguments for both sides!  

I’ve also been working through a lot with family.  We had a death in the family this week and today will be the wake.  It’s made me think a lot about family and my values.   

More to come, lives are so complex.  Just remember everyone has a story and a battle they are fighting.  Be kind. 

Fact Friday- All about the Heart, remembering Opa

Today I was going to continue to talk about macros and break them down into the 3 components, but I am going to switch it up and talk about the heart today.

Yesterday, my grandfather Adolf passed away.  He suffered from Congestive Heart Failure.  Remembering Opa on the blog today.

Opa was the very definition of a German man.  Growing up in his household must not have been easy.  He was strong, opinionated, & stubborn.   I share so many of his traits (good or bad).   When we were little the main things I remember are how he always sat in his reclining chair in the corner of the room with this little light.  He enjoyed watching soccer and WWF.  So funny to think back on that now.  His wife, my Oma, was the most loving woman I have ever known.  I can still remember the way her skin felt and they way she smelled.  Opa used to tease her that she had wooden teeth and she would always respond by yelling “Oh Ady!”   Opa would sit in his reclining chair and try to trip my brother and I every time we ran by.  Then he would grab us and squeeze us tight until we were laughing so hard.   Other than those little moments, it was really Oma who played with us when we were little.  She passed in 1998 and Opa changed so much since then.  He became much softer and I am glad that my cousins only got to know that Opa.  They are about 13 years younger than me.   Since her passing it was fun getting to know him as an adult.  He is most remembered for singing Ein Prosit at my wedding (and EVERY social gathering), and telling the story of how you need to hold a shot glass with your thumb and pinkie finger because German’s hands are stuck in that position from always holding beer steins.  All our adult friends loved his drinking songs and his rousing Zicke, zacke,   zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi and Prost!  A little history can be found here.  

 

Opa suffered from congestive heart failure (which my maternal grandmother also has).    So, in his honor my fact friday is going to be about heart health.    Our heart is our most vital organ.  It pumps blood through our bodies.  One of my favorite ways to learn recently has been reading to my daughter.  She got this book as a gift and it gives a wonderful explanation for what our blood does.

Blood helps your body fight germs that might make you sick, but it also carries all kinds of things around your whole body, so you need a lot of it!  Blood can’t move itself around your body, it relies on your heart to do that!   Your heart is a muscle, and when it squeezes it pushes the blood along the vessels.    Blood is a bit like shopping.  It carries things along, and swaps and collects things as it travels.   Blood swaps used air for fresh air when it goes to the lungs.  Blood collects food when it goes near the intestines then carries it to the other parts of your body that needs it.   The right side of your heart receives blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs. The left side of the heart does the exact opposite: It receives blood from the lungs and pumps it out to the body.

A lot of things can affect your heart health and knowing what you can do to stay healthy is important.   The American Heart Association recommends that you be aware of five key numbers:Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI).  There is a WONDERFUL resource at http://www.heart.org

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with heart failure, it can be frightening.

 

For those of us who are healthy, let’s stay that way by focusing in these 7 simple steps:

    1.  MANAGE BLOOD PRESSURE:  High Blood Pressure is a major risk factor for Heart Disease and Stroke. When your Blood Pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys, which keeps you healthier longer.
    2. CONTROL CHOLESTEROL:  High Cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog Arteries and lead to Heart Disease and Stroke. When you control your Cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages.

    3. REDUCE BLOOD SUGAR: Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of Blood Sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.

    4. GET ACTIVE: Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.

    5. EAT BETTER: A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting Cardiovascular Disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life!
    6. LOSE WEIGHT:  When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You give yourself the gift of active living, you lower your Blood Pressure and you help yourself feel better, too.
    7. STOP SMOKING: Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.

Now let’s use that glorious muscle to share some love!

This would be an awesome tattoo with one half my husband's fingerprint and the other half mine:

Resources:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Conditions_UCM_001087_SubHomePage.jsp

https://www.goredforwomen.org/know-your-numbers/