Foods to Avoid During the Holiday Season

It’s time to deck the halls, light candles and visit with friends. From fancy cocktail affairs to cozy kitchen gatherings, people from coast to coast are getting together and bringing out their favorite fare during this season. While a little bit of nibbling can be okay for most people when done in moderation, overdoing the treats can cause serious health concerns.

What Foods to Avoid

Consumed mindlessly or in large quantities, any food can wreak havoc on your health. However, during the holiday season, these seem to be more frequently available than at other times of the year:

  • Tempting beverages. Alcoholic beverages, in general, can cause a variety of health concerns, such as cirrhosis of the liver or increased blood pressure, and alcohol consumption increases during the holiday season. Beyond concerns about over-consumption, seasonal favorites like eggnog, buttered rum and mulled cider tend to have significant amounts of fat and sugar that should be avoided.
  • Fatty meats. Prime rib, pot roast and the darker cuts of turkey will weigh you down with their high saturated fat content. (And this doesn’t even take the gravy into account!)
  • Rich, creamy sauces. Drenching mashed potatoes and topping green beans, these sauces certainly add appeal to your veggies, but they also increase the amount of fat, sodium and sugar in the dishes.
  • Extra candies. Candy canes are traditional sweets, but they are simply loaded with high fructose corn syrup that rubs up against your teeth, so be aware! And, there are other sugary culprits too: bowls of peppermints, Grandma’s fudge, and Auntie’s peanut brittle pop to mind.

From avoiding cardiac issues to maintaining hormone balance, food plays a critical role in your overall health and well-being. That’s why it’s important to become more aware of what you’re eating during this festive season.

How to Stay Holly Jolly

Of course, being careful doesn’t mean that you should skip out on all the fun! Instead, try these suggestions for taking part in the festivities without sacrificing your overall health.

  • Pick your favorites. Have a taste of the favorites you crave, but limit it to just a bite or two and be selective about which you choose.
  • Select healthier options. Grab a few nuts instead of heavy hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy a salad instead of the green bean casserole. Try gingerbread or pumpkin pie at dessert time instead of pecan pie or cheesecake.
  • Drink water. Before you leave for the festivities, drink a glass of water. This will help to control your appetite so you don’t over-graze.
  • Investigate alternatives. Instead of butter in baking, consider apple sauce. Instead of heavy cream, use low-fat milk. Try whole-grain rice instead of mashed potatoes. A quick search online will offer plenty of alternatives to help you cut down on fat, sugar and sodium in your cooking.
  • Try tracking. Since this time of year can be so hectic, consider keeping a food log or using a calorie counter app. Using one can help you become more aware of the choices that you’re making at each gathering, and help you remember all the fun items you’ve already nibbled on.

Know Your Body

While most people can sample a sweet treat or delve into a fatty dip once in a while, there are cases where a stricter diet is still advised. For instance, people who are managing their diabetes or have specific food sensitivities may need to bring extra caution to their diet as they join in the fun! If you want to know where you stand as the holiday season approaches, walk into your local Any Lab Test Now for a screening. Doing so will allow you to indulge a little bit while still knowing that your body can handle the impact of the food you’re enjoying.

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The Buck Stops Here

It’s been more than four years since I made the transition from COO to CEO of Any Lab Test Now. As COO, I was already a C-level executive. I had significant fiscal responsibilities and an impact on the overall direction of Any Lab Test Now, so the tactical shift from one role to another was a natural one. As I look back on the past four years though, I realize that, while I did have a solid handle on what direction I wanted to take the franchise system, I still had learning to do.

I suppose I will always have learning to do! But, in the past few years, there have been certain lessons about which I am reminded again and again – and which I think are helpful to anyone, from an entry-level employee to a new franchisee to other CEOs.

The Buck Stops Here

I’ve always liked the phrase “The Buck Stops Here.” The quote was made famous by President Harry S. Truman, who had a plaque with the phrase on his desk. The saying represents the disinclination to “pass the buck,” or pawn off problems and responsibilities onto someone else.

It probably strikes you that this an obvious lesson for someone in the role of CEO. After all, decisions end with me. Ultimately, I’m accountable for challenges or short comings that may be faced by the franchise system. At the end of the day, I’m the one who has to make the call and stand by it.

But, even if you aren’t a CEO, I hope you’ll approach life and your profession with this mindset. Like I am fortunate to do, surround yourself with a fantastic team of professionals (in my case, franchisees and employees) and together, celebrate your all your successes. But, know that at the end of the day, when you turn off your computer, you are ultimately responsible for the decisions that you make.

There’s Nothing Wrong with Being Direct

When something does go wrong, I do believe that the buck stops with me. That said, my job is also to make sure that Any Lab Test Now gets on course quickly and doesn’t repeat mistakes. That means that I must be direct and clear with franchisees and employees when initiatives fail. It happens: We try ideas that fail. It’s OK. But I can’t afford – and the franchise system can’t afford – to hide from mistakes or the truth behind why ideas didn’t work out. I must be frank and direct in dealing with these.

The irony is that one of my biggest hurdles in assuming this role was to flip this thinking back on myself. I’ve had to learn that some decisions are tough and that it’s important not to take negative feedback too personally. I work hard to listen and sincerely understand what the issues are, as well as to think about what I can do better next time, without hearing the feedback as a personal slight.

I appreciate that it’s hard, but mastering the art of giving and receiving direct feedback is one of those lessons that will take you far in life.

Little Steps Forward Lead to Strategic Wins

Learning from mistakes is only one step in achieving success as a franchise system. You may imagine that there’s a lot more to the job. As the CEO, it’s exciting to provide strategy, establish plans for the direction of the franchise system, and motivate everyone to embrace the ideas. There’s a thrill to guiding things forward.

However, I’ve learned to be cautious about getting so caught up in my plans that I forget to look forward. It can be easy to execute a plan once you get the hang of it. You have a list of items with deadlines, and you start working through them.

But, as the CEO, I must be one step ahead of the plan and look beyond what’s happening with the franchise system today. I have to be thinking about what’s changing in the industry, what new needs customers and franchisees have. I have to be figuring out what our position will be tomorrow, not just today. What I’ve learned to do over the past few years is to stop thinking about this as one huge task that I’m going to do in a single sitting. I have learned that I must move forward with strategic initiatives each day in order for Any Lab Test Now to say ahead of the curve.

I think that this is something that’s very true for any working professional. It’s likely that several of you are not intimately involved in setting strategy at the executive level; however, every role in any company or franchise system is meant to evolve with changing business needs. Make sure that you’re carving out little pieces of time on a regular basis to step away from day-to-day tasks and think about your future direction – or that of your department, team, or business.

Becoming the CEO of Any Lab Test Now did not happen overnight; it took time, determination and a good bit of elbow grease. And, while I will not be passing the buck, I also know that I am not an island. I have an amazing team supporting me, and we work diligently together to make sure that there are many successes to celebrate at Any Lab Test Now.

These three lessons will stay with me as I continue to work hard, build our brand and grow as the CEO of Any Lab Test Now. Now, I’m curious to hear. What lessons have you learned as you’ve transitioned from one role to the next?

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Got High Blood Pressure? You Could Be Putting Yourself at Risk

“High blood pressure,” also known as hypertension, is a phrase we hear all too often in the American medical landscape. So much so, in fact, that the words have become normalized as something you will most likely hear at least once throughout the course of your lifetime. According to the CDC, one in three American adults has high blood pressure, and only about half of those with high blood pressure have the condition under control. This is dangerous news as high blood pressure, often dubbed “the silent killer,” is capable of wreaking havoc on your health. It often has no warning signs or symptoms, but can set you up for an endless list of problems, including the No. 1 cause of death in the United States: heart disease.

The Silent Killer

If high blood pressure presents no signs or symptoms in most people, how can you know if you have it? The best way to keep tabs on your health is to regularly check your blood pressure with the help of a medical expert. By monitoring your blood pressure levels on a regular basis, you can be better prepared to take the steps toward lowering your blood pressure if necessary. If left untreated, your high blood pressure could be opening you up to a whole host of dangerous and even deadly health problems, including:

  • High blood pressure can cause a number of disabilities if left unchecked. Lack of blood flow to various areas of the body can cause harm to those areas, leaving them with permanent damage. One common result of untreated hypertension is vision impairment or blindness due to blood vessel damage in the eyes.
  • Poor Quality of Life. Not only is high blood pressure dangerous, but it can make your life more difficult on a daily basis. Left untreated, high blood pressure can cause cognitive impairment, dementia and memory problems, nerve damage, bone loss, sleep apnea and even sexual dysfunction.
  • Untreated hypertension can lead to an aneurysm due to damaged arteries, heart failure, heart attack and stroke. It can also cause damage to the kidneys, resulting in kidney scarring and kidney failure.

Consider all of the ways in which these could impact your life as you know it. Untreated high blood pressure could mean not being able to drive and losing the independence of getting yourself around. It could mean that you have trouble remembering your grandchild’s birthday. Worse yet, it could force you to say goodbye to your loved ones too soon. Get tested before it’s too late.

Take Control of Your Health

If you are worried about having high blood pressure, the best thing you can do is get your blood pressure tested. Once you know your numbers, you can take the necessary actions toward improving your health. This would include scheduling regular check-ups with your doctor, and asking about the changes you can make to keep your blood pressure at a safe and healthy level.

Any Lab Test Now offers several options for blood pressure testing and monitoring, including the Basic Check-Up Panel and other Health & Wellness Tests. Nothing is more important than your health. Don’t allow your high blood pressure to put your health at risk. Talk with the experts at Any Lab Test Now to learn what testing options are right for you, and take the steps towards preventing this silent killer.

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