Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

New habits, life changes and Lyme disease: The week in Well+Being

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Happy summer solstice! Today’s we’ve got lots of advice for changing your life, plus our weekly “joy” snacks. But before that …

This week’s must-reads:

  • Five diet changes that can help lower blood pressure
  • Men’s brains change when they become dads
  • More good news for coffee drinkers from a study of sitting and sipping
  • Older women are being significantly shortchanged by medical research
  • Surgeon general calls for social media warning labels

At the start of 2024, The Washington Post asked readers to share their New Year’s resolutions. We selected more than a dozen readers to track. Six months later, many of these goal setters were still going strong.

How did they do it? They picked things they enjoyed, made detailed plans and set bite-size targets. Self-kindness was another theme — they gave themselves a break on days they weren’t perfect. Accountability was a common denominator — our goal setters leaned on family members, kept journals and shared their progress with us.

The joy of this story is the fun resolutions people made. Stop wearing beige. Teach a horse to canter. Enjoy more wine. Learn to juggle. Become a regular at a bar. Take more photos. Be hot. Cook with a friend. Learn to swim in the ocean. Make the bed every day. Exercise for 15 minutes daily.

I encourage you to read their stories and learn how they forged their new habits.

More advice on changing your life

For this week’s live chat, I spoke with several readers who wanted to make life changes. One reader worried she talked too much. Another was struggling with political differences with her spouse. One woman felt she was too sensitive to criticism.

You can read the full chat by clicking this link. And join us next week when our Ask a Doctor columnist Trisha S. Pasricha, a gastroenterologist, will answer your questions about gut health. You can submit your questions here.

This weight workout in your 60s can preserve strength

A new study compared weightlifting using machine weights at a gym to more moderate exercise. Researchers found that older people had stronger leg muscles three years after finishing a 12-month weightlifting program than those who did moderate strength training.

Leg strength is a critical indicator of wider health and mobility among older people. The findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that weightlifting can help older people stave off frailty and stay healthy as they age.

  • The “heavy” weightlifting training group visited a commercial gym three times a week for a supervised program of full-body strength training.
  • Participants determined the most weight they could lift at one time using typical weight machines found in gyms. Then they calculated 70 to 85 percent of their one-rep maximum and used that weight in their training. So if the most they could lift at one time was 100 pounds, they used 70- to 85-pound weights in their training.
  • They trained three times a week, doing three sets of every exercise. Each set included 6 to 12 repetitions.
  • The routine included a mixture of nine upper- and lower-body exercises: leg press, knee extension, leg curl, ankle plantar flexion exercises, hip abduction, low rowing, chest press, abdominal crunches and lower-back exercises.
  • Although the scientists described the regimen as “heavy” weightlifting compared with two other groups in the study, the weight training program was similar to many standard weight training plans.

Learn more about the research by reading the full story.

What the latest science says about Lyme disease

I’ve heard so many conflicting things about Lyme disease and what it can do in the long run. What do we really know? What should I do if I get it?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that spreads through tick bites. It may cause flu-like symptoms and a bull’s-eye-shaped rash. Most people fully recover after a few weeks of antibiotic treatment.

The hard part is what may follow: Among those who do get antibiotics, anywhere between 10 and 25 percent develop long-term symptoms — such as fatigue, brain fog or dizziness. Scientists refer to these patients as suffering from “post-treatment Lyme disease” or “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome,” also known as PTLDS. In 2020, it was estimated that nearly 2 million people suffered from PTLDS.

To learn more, read our latest Ask a Doctor column. Our columnist Trisha, who is also a physician and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, is ready to answer your questions! Use our Ask a Doctor form to submit a question, and we may answer it in a future column.

Here are a few things that brought us joy this week.

  • What ‘boommates’ are and why you might want to join them
  • 5 easy ways to get a more organized kitchen
  • Man dies at 85, comes out in his obituary: ‘I’ll forever Rest in Peace’
  • At the U.S. swim trials, a podium night for the graybeards
  • Cat kidney transplants: For some, the pricey procedure is well worth it

Want to know more about “joy” snacks? Our Brain Matters columnist Richard Sima explains. You can also read this story as a comic.

Please let us know how we are doing. Email me at You can also find us on TikTok.

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