Author: Jackie Mistretta BS, MSCN, HicksStrong Nutritional Coach
It's hard to believe that it is already nearing the end of January! I could have sworn that just last week there were fire works, popped corks and parties to celebrate the New Year. Gyms have filled up quickly, diets have been started, and old habits have been changed. Social media is filled with every intention of positivity, change and “new year, new me” vibes.
The tradition of New Years resolutions is as old as time. According to Jones-Schenk, this tradition dates back to the Roman Empire where Julius Caesar established a new calendar every January. (2022)
So what happens as the weeks continue? The gym numbers decrease, the fast food gets reincorporated and those old habits seem to pop up again. Now this isn’t true for all. But for many, we seem to quickly return to our old ways. In the civilian world, it’s no big deal. We don’t meet our goals, who cares? But what about the active duty members and veterans?
The military holds its members to a certain standard. Whether its job performance, organization, PT or regulations, there is always an added pressure. This learned behavior is engrained in all members and most continue to uphold this standard even when they leave. Because of this added pressure, there are increased feelings of failure, depression, and frustration in these individuals. As a result, there is often food restriction, purging, over exercising and dieting to meet their goals.
According to the United States Government Accountability Office, eating disorders in the military are more common then not. Often resulting in “co-occuring” conditions such as anxiety, depression and PTSD. (GAO, 2020) This impact on both physical and mental health can cause significant issues and danger with readiness of a service member.
So, why do diets NOT work?
They make you miserable! I mean, who wants to deprive themselves of the things they want and love? Not me!
Okay, so if diets do not work, then what?
One of the number one reasons why diets do not work is because they fail to address the root cause of the issue. Think of a diet like a Band-Aid, it is simply a quick fix. Engaging in poor habits such as over exercising, restricting intake and following extreme diet plans only set’s an individual up for failure.
If you are feeling lost and wondering what to do next, you are not alone. At #HicksStrong Inc. we offer both mental health and nutritional services to help support our active duty and veteran hero’s. Please reach out and request nutritional services with yours truly. I will teach you the skills you need in order to achieve your goals and never have to go on another diet again!
Navy Times Article “How a military jail failed to protect a suicidal sailor from himself” by Geoff Ziezulewicz
USN ABHAN Macoy Austin Daniel Hicks
7/12/1998 – 2/11/2019
Gone to Soon but Never Forgotten!
Two years ago we connected with the Navy Times to work on a story about what happened to Macoy our son.
Here is a link to the article: www.navytimes.com
The need for therapy is increasing and the climate in the military for our service members is getting more toxic. If you would like to support our mission to save military live sign up as a monthly donor and join us in saving military lives. Link: Donate Monthly
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month and I woke up today with a message I could not hold in.
You don’t have to fight this fight alone!
Find out more: www.HicksStrong.org
FREE confidential mental health therapy for military members via TeleHealth
(Active Duty/Veteran/Retired – Regardless of discharge status WE ARE HERE TO HELP): Request Therapy
Support our mission to save military lives!
Be a life saver select 1 of 4 monthly donation options: Donate Monthly
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Together we are stronger.
The Big G Classic is a few weeks away. July 30-Aug 1st
HicksStrong needs volunteers for the entrances and the HicksStrong tent. This includes set up and break down of the tents as well as handing out bracelets and taking temperatures.
What: The Big G Classic Basketball Tournament
Where: Basketball Courts at Washington Park Albany, NY 12210
Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society hosted a HicksStrong Hug Mug event for Mental Health Awareness Month.
Hudson Valley Community College Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Members
Seated, front row (right to left): Madison Austin, Sienna Hicks, Andrew Roberts, Lamyaa Hassib, Pravena Bhoge; standing, back row (right to left) Samantha Simmons, Jalen Davenport, Jolee Hicks, Justin Reynolds, Anne Moon, Antoine Johnson, Pravin Persaud
Read more about the event at HVCC’s Campus Chronicle:
In this article we will discuss the importance of eating a colorful diet. The term “eat the Rainbow” is a simple and easy way to remember to fill your plate with a variety of colors! Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Often why these foods are called “super foods” which is really just a fancy way of saying these foods are good for you. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables not only can increase your nutrient intake, but it can also help with the regulation of blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, GI functions and body weight. Not to mention that they are very low in calories and have no fat. Who doesn’t love that?
Vitamins and Minerals.
Some of the vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables aid in the function of blood, vision, nervous system, nail growth and even healing that scrape on your knee. Do you remember your mom telling you as a kid to eat your carrots because they help you see at night? Well she wasn’t wrong, vitamin A or carotene is found in yellow-orange pigmented fruits and vegetables. A deficiency in this vitamin can cause nighttime blindness.
Vitamin E and K can affect your bodies ability to clot your blood. If you are on a blood thinner make sure to talk to your doctor before you pretend to be Popeye the Sailor Man. These vitamins can be found in kale, spinach, broccoli and healthy oils like olive and sunflower.
As for vitamin C, the history dates all the way back to the 1490s when Portuguese sailors presented with bleeding gums and poor wound healing from a lack of vitamin C! Once they determined this was from a vitamin C deficiency, sailors would travel loads of lemons and limes on board.
Calcium and Iron aid in many processes in the body, including muscular functions and even can help prevent anemia. Believe it or not dark leafy greens are extremely rich in both iron and calcium. So remember to load up on those dark greens the next time you are eating dinner.
What are Antioxidants and Phytochemicals?
Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables help prevent cellular damage from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cellular damage leading to aging and chronic disease.
Tips and Ideas.
1. Did you know that Rainbow Carrots taste the same as orange? This is true for most fruits and vegetables that come in a variety of colors.
3. Tired of eating salad? Try adding vegetables into a fruit smoothie.
(AHA) American Heart Association. “Eating the Rainbow-Challenge Yourself to Try Fruits and Vegetables of Different Colors.” Empower your cart. Retrieved on March 24th, 2021 from, https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_466712.pdf
BreastCA.org “Foods Containing Phytochemicals” (February 5th, 2015). Retrieved on March 24th 2021 from, https://www.breastcancer.org/tips/nutrition/reduce_risk/foods/phytochem
Collins, K.., Collins, K., & *, N. (July, 24th 2020.) “Difference between antioxidants and phytochemicals” (AIFCR) American Institute for Cancer Research. Retrieved on March 24th 2021 from, http://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/healthtalk-whats-the-difference-between-an-antioxidant-and-a-phytochemical/
Jean Inman’s Review of Dietetics. RD Exam Study Guide. (2017). Vitamins and Minerals. Retrieved on March 23, 2021.
Louis ED. The History of Scurvy and Vitamin C. Yale J Biol Med. 1987;60(1):59-60.
Oregon State University. Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center. “Resveratrol” Retrieved on March 24th 2021 from, https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/resveratrol#sources
Pérez-Jiménez J, Neveu V, Vos F, Scalbert A. Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database. Pub medicine. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;64 Suppl 3:S112-20. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.221. PMID: 21045839. Retrieved on March 23, 2021 from, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21045839/
The start of a new year gives us all a chance to hit the reset button and start new goals. 2020 was a year of many challenges for all, but the good news is we survived! 2021 will continue to present us with challenges, some carried over from 2020 and as always, there will be some new ones for sure.
That’s okay, because if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are all survivors! So let’s take 2021 by the horns and set a goal to be proactive with our financial security! It’s not as hard as you might think! We all get caught in the daily grind of going to work, making money, and paying our bills on a weekly basis and there is nothing wrong with that. It keeps us moving forward. The problem is we often forget to think about the “what if’s,” of life.
All legitimate concerns, but ones we don’t like to think about. It’s not “fun.” It doesn’t make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The problem is people get injured every day. People die unexpectedly every day. People want to retire every day, but they don’t have enough money to live on. The reality is tomorrow is never promised to ANYONE. We like to think, “Oh that’s not going to happen to me.” But what if it does? We all need to be responsible and be prepared. The US Marines have a saying: “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.” So how do we get there? How do we make it so we can sleep at night and not worry so much about all the, “what if’s?”
Just like anything else in life, the best laid plans are the ones well thought out, written down, and put into place. Let’s start with financial protection. That’s the most important plan to have in place. How do we protect our loved ones from financial ruin if something happens to us? How do we ensure that if something happens to us they will be financially okay? The answer is we insure ourselves. That’s how.
Let me ask you this…. If you had an ATM machine in the basement that spit out $50,000 a year, how much would you insure it for? We HAVE to insure our home and our cars, right? Who is the ATM in your life? IT’s YOU! You go to work and bring home a paycheck. Whether you make 30k a year or 200k a year, YOU”RE the ATM machine! Why wouldn’t you insure that?
So that’s step one. Start with the insurance. Make absolutely certain that if something happens to you your loved ones will be protected. Once you have that in place you can move on to retirement and other things.
Now, you might say, “I’m covered at work, I don’t need any more insurance.” Well that’s great! It’s great that some employers, including our government, care enough about their employees to provide that benefit!
The answer is almost always NO, not even close! And what happens to that insurance if you separate from the company or military? That includes retirement when you’re older and maybe not as healthy as you are now? The answer is, IT’S GONE. Life insurance is all about age and health. The younger and healthier you are, the more affordable it is. You might be surprised to know that to insure a healthy 20 something for half a million dollars can be as little as $15 a month. That’s $180 a year to ensure the financial well-being of your family.
WELL WORTH the investment, right?
SOLID FINANCIAL PLAN
A solid financial plan includes other things as well. Insuring against disability, protecting your family and your assets as you get older, saving for retirement, and other important details. A good financial planner will guide you through it all and help you formulate a good plan. When seeking out someone who is right for you make sure they’re a good “fit.” This person is someone who should be involved with you periodically throughout the years because life isn’t static. Things change. Jobs change. People get married. People have kids. People’s goals change.
You want someone that you can work with easily and whom it doesn’t pain you to speak with. (That includes draining your bank account with fees). You should also do your homework. Make sure they are connected with a reputable company with good ratings and a long history of financial strength and security. Mutual companies, (as opposed to publicly traded companies), don’t answer to stockholders, so when they turn a profit, that money gets distributed to their client’s in the form of a dividend, not to a stockholder’s wallet. Life insurance companies can insure your investments so that you don’t lose your initial investment if the stock market goes south for a period of time like it did in 08. (Ask the people that wanted to retire in that year if they wished they had some assurances like that).
The point is, be prepared for anything! It’s not hard when you find the right person to help. Set the goal and make 2021 your most proactive year yet! It’s as easy as a phone call! The peace of mind it will bring you is priceless.
In this article we will discuss the importance of vitamin D intake through proper nutrition and the beneficial effects on mental health. Vitamin D is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the United States. Affecting “more than one billion children and adults worldwide” as a result of inadequate sun exposure, dietary intake and in some cases poor vitamin D absorption. (Holick, 2017).
Where Can I find Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is found in various food sources such as fortified foods, or foods that have nutrients added to enhance overall nutritional quality. Some examples include:
One of the most common ways of obtaining vitamin D is though sunlight exposure, accounting for roughly 90% of ones vitamin D requirements! Contrary to popular belief, individuals of all skin pigmentation still need to wear sunscreen to protect themselves from the harmful Ultraviolet lights that come from the sun.
What may be making me deficient?
Some inhibiting factors include:
These same lifestyle factors have shown to have negative effects on mental health. In the brain, the neurotransmitters Dopamine and Serotonin (the feel good and happiness hormones) work with vitamin D to regulate mood and brain function.
Low levels have shown associations with Depression, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, Fibromyalgia, Secondary-hyperparathyroidism, and SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder or “SAD” for example, is a common mood disorder, related to decreased sunlight exposure, in the fall and winter months. This is especially common in people living in colder regions of the United States. (Greenblatt, 2011.)
What can YOU do?
Vitamin D has not only proven to have a beneficial role in regards to our mental health, but our physical health too. Vitamin D aids in the formation and maintenance of bone, teeth and muscular function.
Remember, before taking any supplements always check with your Doctor for adequate dosage and usage!
November 9, 2020. By Jackie Mistretta, Nutritional Coach.
We all have unique experiences:
As a civilian, I do not know first hand what veterans or those in active duty experience, but as a professional social worker and as a human, I do know the impact that depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, addiction, grief, loss and pain can have on one’s psyche.
Personally, I have not always had a handle on these things but I have learned how to handle them over time in my life. The process or “the journey” is not always easy, but the destination is well worth the work. Many of us think that happiness is “out there” or down the road somewhere in the future. It’s not. It is inside of us, right here, right now, but is simply masked or overshadowed by darkness. For many, that darkness is always lurking.
Ways to get out from it is as simple as one decision. I want to be better or I will be better.
The question is, how? The answer is, to seek light.
Light comes from that place inside where a spark lights a smile across your face.
It can come from:
It is joy in it’s simplest form. Remember to seek these things. Remember the feeling that comes over you and create these moments for yourself. To help yourself, avoid isolation. Even in these trying times of COVID, seek connection. People need people and we all need help. HicksStrong is one way to get help and make connections. Make that call and start your journey. We are in this together.
Tina Pantuso, LCSW