May: Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention Month

May is mental health awareness and suicide prevention month; many people start to feel desperate with their depression symptoms around the first couple weeks of spring. Mostly because people think once the “winter blues” are over, and spring has sprung, they will start to feel better miraculously. When that doesn’t happen, the true feelings of depression can sink in: helplessness and thoughts of harming themselves (i.e. suicide) can become overwhelming. It can be hard to see the signs in people who are really close to you, but it is important to know the signs and see them in others, as over 1 million people attempt suicide annually.

depressionWhat are some signs of Depression/Suicide?

-Clinical Depression is usually emphasized by a loss of interest in life, sadness, disinterest in previously enjoyed hobbies, difficulty concentrating, trouble with eating and sleeping.

-Thinking about death a lot (verbalizing, drawing, or referring to death a lot)

-Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness

-Making changes to wills, plans, or making statements about not being around much longer

-A sudden switch from someone being really deeply depressed and sad to very happy

-Calling people to say goodbye

-Previous suicide attempts (50% of those with prior attempts will try again and be successful)

Risk Factors:

-Previous suicide attempts

-Family violence

-Physical or sexual abuse history

-Firearms in the home

-Chronic illness or pain

-Mental illness history

-Substance abuse problem

What do you do if you think someone is at risk?

-Listen to them, and reassure them that you care about them, you are listening, and you care. If they say that they want to kill themselves, it is an emergency, call 911 (or emergency services where you live), do not leave them alone, and remove any firearms, knives, other weapons, or drugs and alcohol.

-If they are not actively threatening but you feel they are at risk, have them call a Suicide Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). And, assist them with finding a mental health professional and you can always start with your Healthcare Practitioner (HCP) to help with a referral.

Many times we missed the subtle signs and symptoms, especially when we are close to the victim. It has happened to me in my very own family, and right after it happened all you think about is “how did I miss the signs?? I spent so much time with them?” It’s important to remember that we all have comfort levels with people, and sometimes you are too close, it almost takes an outsider to see the situation for what it is; you are so used to the persons behaviors or traits, that it is not abnormal to you. And you might just think they are finally out of their funk when they become happy again; but really they have made a plan. It is important to not blame yourself, if someone you love takes his or her own life. It is not your fault, and the symptoms are very hard to see. What’s important is learning and seeing the symptoms in others and helping them.

Knowing when you see the symptoms, and what to do is important. So pay attention to the signs, and how you can help.

Yours in Good Health


May Plank Challenge: Join Me, Won’t You?

For the month of May, as we are focusing on getting healthier, getting stronger, toning our bodies, and encouraging one another to accomplish our goals (especially when some of use really do NOT enjoy the exercises), we will look to the plank! And, no I am not talking about just laying various pieces of furniture and posting pictures via social media, I am talking about the real deal plank (AKA a hover.)

To perform a proper plank:

You should rest on your elbows, should length apart (your hands can come together at the center or go straight forward, but your forearms need to stay on the ground) and your toes should also be on the ground.  Keeping your entire core tight, and in a straight line, relaxing your head/neck so that you are looking straight down, you should hold this position. Plank view 1

Plank view 2

*If this position is too difficult or you are unable to hold it because of any medical/health conditions, you can hold this position on your hands (in push up position)



There are also some alterations that you can add in:

Leg Lifts: lift one leg at a time approximately 6 inches off the floor, hold for 5 seconds, then alternate with the other leg, all while holding your back, torso, and shoulders straight.

in the side view my leg is lifted a little high- only around 6" off the ground

in the side view my leg is lifted a little high- only around 6″ off the ground



leg height is better here

leg height is better here












Plank with arm lift

Plank with arm lift

Arm lifts: Lift one arms at a time to shoulder height, and hold for 5 seconds, then alternate with your other arm, and maintain that straight back, torso and shoulders. You can do these by themselves OR when you lift the opposite leg.



Plank with alternating leg/arm lift

Plank with alternating leg/arm lift





How are planks going to transform my body?

Planks work to strengthen the core muscles in your body (your abdominal and back muscles) directly. Then there are other muscles that help to stabilize you in this pose and they strengthen as well:  shoulder muscles, pectoralis (chest), quads (upper legs), gluteals (butt), sartorius (thigh), serratus anterior (side of chest), tensor fasciae latae (thigh/hip), and gastrocnemius (calves).

Increasing your ability to hold these plank positions will help to strengthen and tone those muscles, which will not only make you appear leaner in your core, but also tighten your legs and butt too! Because we are strengthening your muscles, you will be burning more calories, even at rest, so when you feel sore, that is your muscles strengthening, and your body burning fuel. So, feel the burn, and love the burn: it means you are making progress!

The Challenge (…if you choose to accept it):

And for those of you who did the April Squat Challenge, keep maintenance squats ranging from 50-100 5 days a week (if you are able physically and medically).  If you have any specific medical and/or physical limitations, you should speak with your personal healthcare provider before taking on a strenuous challenge.

Day 1: 1 minute

Day 2: 2 minutes

Day 3: 2.5 minutes

Day 4: 3 minutes

Day 5: 3.5 minutes

Day 6: 4 minutes


Day 8: 5 minutes

Day 9: 5.5 minutes

Day 10: 6 minutes

Day 11: 6.5 minutes

Day 12: 7 minutes

Day 13: 7.5 minutes

Day 14: REST DAY

Day 15: 8 minutes

Day 16: 8.5 minutes

Day 17: 9 minutes

Day 18: 9.5 minutes

Day 19: 10 minutes

Day 20: 10.5 minutes

Day 21: REST DAY

Day 22: 11 minutes

Day 23: 12 minutes

Day 24: 13 minutes

Day 25: 14 minutes

Day 26: 15 minutes

Day 27: 16 minutes

Day 28: 17 minutes

Day 29: 18 minutes

Day 30: 19 minutes

Day 31: 20 minutes

This is a HARD challenge BUT you can split up the planks into any set of reps and times that works for you and your body (i.e. split up the 20 minutes into 2 sets of 10 minutes in the morning doing 2 minute reps, so 5 planks in the morning and at night and you hit your 20 minute goal.) You should be able start with reps of 30 seconds and be able to increase that pretty quickly, adding in the arm and leg lifts to make it more challenging and to improve your core strength.

So let’s do this and get healthy, fit, and ready for summer!! And don’t forget to join the Facebook Page for the May Plank Challenge, where you can ask questions, get support, and (for those that dare) post their pre/post challenge bodies!

Yours in Good Health,