November 23, 2009

Fend off the Flu!

Guess what? The flu virus thrives in dry air, which could explain why it runs rampant during the winter season! We all have the heat on in our houses (which is dry), and it's already super-dry outside, so these combine to create the ideal environment for flu viruses to thrive.
What to do? For starters, get a
humidifier for your home and put it in your bedroom, so you can breathe in the benefits of the moist air while you sleep.

To avoid getting sick this season: wash hands frequently, get plenty of sleep, get exercise (moderate-intensity exercise is shown to boost your immune system), get vaccinated (especially if you're younger than 25 or older than 60), and load up on your vitamins, especially Vitamin D and C!

To help other folks not get sick: get yourself vaccinated, cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow, and PLEASE do not send your child to school or group activities if they are still contagious!

November 13, 2009

An Attitude of Gratitude

Research has shown that people who practice the art of being grateful for the good things in their lives are generally healthier (mentally, emotionally, and physically) than those who only focus on the negatives.

Folks who continually thank God for both the big & small things suffer less from stress, depression, and heart problems like high blood pressure.

These benefits happen because those who live grateful lives are usually optimistic, and more likely to help other people, which produces the extremely positive feelings of happiness and fulfillment.

All these combine to enable those with an "attitude of gratitude" to live positive, meaningful, healthy, and longer lives!

November 6, 2009

The "Chicken Skin" Condition & Treatment

I have tiny red bumps on my biceps & forearms, on the front & back of my thighs, and sometimes even on my bum! Sometimes these bumps are simply the result of sweating from exercising, and then bacteria gets trapped in the skin pore, creating inflammation & acne.

My skin condition has a name, a long, complicated name: Keratosis Pilaris, also known as "KP", and "Chicken Skin." These bumps are caused simply by the body producing an over-abundance of skin cells, which build up, causing these bumps.

Can you guess what the remedy is? Exfoliating! You know, using those cute, round, plastic web-like bath sponges and gently rubbing your body with it!
They also make bath scrub & body lotion called "KP Duty" by DermaDoctor, which aid in the exfoliating and moisturizing process.
These are sold at Sephora, or at

I have simply been scrubbing myself down every time I shower, and I have seen SUCH an improvement! The redness and the appearance of bumps is greatly reduced, and I no longer feel the need to "pick" at them, like I used to do.

So, if you have this skin condition (dermatologists say that half of all living people have this condition to some degree) try exfoliating for several weeks, and if you're still not seeing results, try the lotion & bath scrub mentioned above. If all that does not significantly reduce the bumps, then go to a dermatologist for prescribed medication.

But don't worry; you're not alone if you have this skin condition! Millions of people have it and don't even realize it. But, for those of us with more extreme cases, a little extra work is required to reduce the bumps. But you can do it!

September 25, 2009

Vote For My Hubby's T-Shirt Design!

Hey, all you wonderful people!
Please go to the link below and give my hubby's "Party Fowl" t-shirt design a "5" vote! If he gets enough positive votes, it'll get made into a t-shirt and he'll get money for it!
(note: you'll have to create a username for the site, but it's painless)
Thanks, and enjoy!

September 22, 2009

Eat Your Veggies!

Are you worried that you're not getting enough vegetables in your daily diet? Or do you not have time or creativity to include vegetables at every meal?
Well then, eat vegetable soup! You can pop a bowl of vegetable soup into the microwave and get your daily dose of veggies in just a few minutes' time.
Most vegetable soups contains several different veggies, including carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, barley, and potatoes, just to name a few. You will get a good variety whether you choose a name brand or a generic brand.
The only thing you should look out for is too much sodium. Try to choose veggie soups that have less than 480 milligrams of sodium.
Eat up and enjoy the benefits of added nutrients and vitamins!

August 27, 2009

For a Happy Marriage, Get Lost!

Studies have shown that women who take 2 (or more) vacations a year are more happily married than those who rarely get out of town, because they are less likely to be depressed, tense, stressed, tired, or bored.
I believe this study included both women traveling alone and women traveling with their husbands, so get outta town, see new places, and reap the benefits for a healthy marriage and home!

Do Something Good

Looking for volunteer opportunities? Go here: to search by your zipcode for opportunities near you today!

Overweight America

The National Center for Health Statistics say that two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese.
Being overweight can cause health problems ranging from diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer, bad joints (from carrying the excess weight around), to possibly even strokes.
Even losing a little bit of weight has been shown to decrease your chances of having heart disease, so start cutting those calories and exercising (both cardio and weight lifting for maximum results & benefits), and aim to lose about 1 pound a week. Making these changes into a lifestyle habit is the healthiest & most successful way to lose weight and to keep it off for good.
So come on America, let's change those statistics and get healthier! Our bodies will thank us!

Metabolism Slows As We Age

Did you know that your body's metabolism slows down about 5% every decade, starting in your mid-thirties?
Five percent may not sound like much, and it may not be a big deal for an active person, but what if you're more sedentary? If you're inactive, this 5% decrease will likely mean that you will slowly gain weight as you age. If you desire to stay at your current weight, you will need to begin eating less calories. If you desire to lose weight, you will need to continue cutting calories, but cutting too many calories out of your daily diet can be dangerous.
What's the best way to combat this 5% decrease in metabolism every year after 30? Exercise! Lift weights! Get rid of "empty" calories! Drink more green tea & water!
Exercise is extremely important as you age, because it creates a healthy heart & cardiovascular system, making you much more healthier and less prone to disease and sickness. Exercise also raises your metabolism by teaching your body to burn calories, even while resting.
Lifting weights increases your muscle tone and mass, which helps lower your BMI and helps prevent osteoporosis, a common debilitator in older women. Plus, muscle burns more calories than fat, which will help raise your metabolism!
Getting rid of "empty" calories means cutting back on sodas, candy, sugary snacks, fancy coffees, and all other foods that have no real nutritional value, and are mainly eaten as "treats". As your metabolism slows, these foods will cause you to gain weight if you're not careful.
When choosing calories to ingest, remember quality, not quantity. Choose quality "whole foods" snacks that have real nutritional value, and cut back on empty calories.
Drinking green tea has been shown in recent scientific studies to mildly boost your metabolism, no matter your age. And while these boosts may be small, any little boost will help you in the long run. Besides, green tea has many other health benefits (like powerful antioxidants that help prevent cancer) too!
Also, drink plenty of water because water is what literally holds our bodies together and helps them run properly. Water supports your body's metabolic processes, not to mention many of your other bodily systems!

August 21, 2009

3 Weeks Have Passed

I have been unable to run on a regular basis for 3 entire weeks now, due to strained left groin & hamstring muscles. Bummer!

At first I was feeling dull pain in my groin muscle, so I thought maybe I had just run too much without adequate time off to rest & recover, then that started to heal and I realized that the back of my upper leg (right under my glute) was hurting as well!

So I've tried to run a very slow 3 miles twice, but, while the muscle eventually warmed up and felt good while running, cooled down and became a bit worse than it was before running. So I realized that maybe I should save the running until I was completely better. So I guess my "active recovery" is simply walking on it!

I have been going slightly crazy and trying not to get too bummed out by my inability to run. I've been focusing on the fact that, in the grand scheme of my running life, 3 weeks is not that long.

I have still been performing core & ab strengthening exercises, lower back exercises, bicep & tricep curls, lunges to work my quads & glutes, and lower-leg exercises to strengthen the muscles in my shins, to help prevent shin splints.

So, anyone else out there who is laid up from physical activity because of an injury......TAKE HEART! Don't give up!

Take good care of yourself now, let yourself heal properly, and get back into your activity very slowly! Do some strengthening exercises that work the injured area to prevent it from happening again! And you'll be back to your old self in no time!

July 10, 2009

Epsom Salt Benefits

Epsom Salt is inexpensive, and promotes blood circulation.
The Epsom Salt Council (yes, there really is an entire group devoted to Epsom Salt) says that a 15- minute soak in this salt helps reduce inflammation, helping to relieve pain & muscle cramps.
Use 1 cup salt; put in a warm tub & get to soaking to reap the pain-relieving benefits of Epsom Salt!

June 24, 2009

Pump Up Your Music!

Research studies have shown that exercisers who listened to fast-paced, up-tempo music increased their endurance by 15%. Also noted is that when the participants' mood improved from the up-beat music, so did their positive feelings about exercise.
So, the next time you exercise, crank up those rockin' tunes and jam!

Before Exercising Outside

On smoggy days, (especially if you live in an urban area), you may want to check out the local air-quality index for your area. Go here: to check your local smog & air-quality index.
Research suggests that those who breathe smog & pollution are at a higher risk for lung cancer & other health problems. So it may be to your advantage to keep an eye on your local smog levels!

June 2, 2009

Are Crunches Really Useless?

In every magazine article I read about building muscle or getting toned, when the topic of ab exercises is addressed, they always say to stay away from crunches or sit-ups, because they don't do any good. They say that crunches only work the superficial ab muscles, and that to get truly toned abs, you need to work the deeper muscles. Those deeper muscles help pull the torso in, and help with posture.
Apparently you cannot reach the deeper muscles by simply doing crunches, so they recommend exercises like the "plank pose" (in push-up position, except holding yourself on your forearms instead of your hands), the "side plank" and exercises using a Swiss ball.
I have been doing such exercises a couple days a week for about 3 months now, and I have seen results. I look slightly slimmer around the middle, but I can really tell the difference in how I feel. When I tense my abs, I can feel how much stronger they are now. So that's great, but I still have a little layer of fat on the outside that I'd love to get rid of.
Since those deep muscle exercises still leave me with a bit of a "pooch" on my tummy, I have been slowly coming to the realization that maybe I need to work those superficial muscles to tone them.
So, today I did about 130 crunches. I laid on the floor with arms crossed across my chest, and lifted myself just enough so that my shoulders came up off the floor.
The crunches seemed to work, because my ab muscles were burning! I was really feeling the burn doing those exercises!
So, of course I will have to give it time and see if I truly start seeing results or not, but I sure was feeling it when I was doing them.
Of course, I am not going to drop all the other ab exercises; I am simply going to add crunches to my regimen.
I intend to prove once & for all whether or not crunches really help define the abs!

May 29, 2009

Bicep & Tricep Curls

In addition to my daily regimen of running and ab exercises, I have recently added bicep & tricep curls with hand weights.
My husband Eric showed me the correct form for each exercise, and I have been performing them for the past 3 days.
And boy, are my arms sore! But it's a good kind of sore!
I began doing these arm exercises simply because I didn't want to neglect my upper body. Plus, I wanted toned, defined arms! Who doesn't?
These exercises are SO easy to do. They take less than 5 minutes per arm, and I can do them while sitting on the couch, in front of the television! How awesome is that? There's absolutely NO reason for me NOT to do them! Plus, I'm putting to good use those hand weights that my husband had bought a long time ago and had sitting around in the basement!
These exercises are just another step along my ultimate goal of gaining muscle mass while losing fat, and lowering my BMI.

May 21, 2009

Ice & Massages Are My Friends

Because I unknowingly bought running shoes that are too rigid so that they give me perpetually painful shin splints, I have needed to put a lot of work into healing my legs to relieve the pain and get ready for my next run.
I do this by icing my lower legs twice a day (immediately after running, then several hours later, before bed), and by massaging the sore muscles in that area.
This is such an easy process (it takes a little time), but it works so well! There are days where I can run mostly pain-free 3 days in a row, simply because I take care of the pain before it gets worse.
So that is why ice & massages are my friends. My good friends. :)

May 16, 2009

Benefits of Sleep are Equal to Exercise!

As I've been reading through various women's health magazines, (like Runner's World, Women's Running, Shape, Self, Women's Health, and Oxygen), I have read about a few interesting scientific research studies comparing the benefits of sleep to exercise.
These studies compared middle age sedentary women who get 8 hours of sleep a night (or more), with physically active women who get less than 8 hours of sleep. As it turns out, the not active women who slept more were overall healthier than those who exercised but got less sleep!
I have a few questions about these studies that were not answered, like what do they mean when they say "overall healthier?" Do they mean a lower risk of cancers? Do they mean lower incidences of flu or hormonal imbalances? Do they mean that the non-exercisers could run longer with a lower heart rate than the exercisers, simply because they sleep more? I doubt that would be possible, so the study authors must have meant something else.
So, even though I certainly have issues with the terminology & findings of this study, I do wholeheartedly agree that getting 8 or more hours of sleep a night is extremely important to your overall health, well-being, and state of mind.
So, if this perhaps flawed study teaches us anything, it teaches us the importance of getting plenty of zzzz's at night!

May 11, 2009

How to Wear Recovery Sox To Maximize Circulation & Fitness

Recovery Sox is the brand name of "compression socks," athletic socks that promote healthy, regular blood circulation in the lower legs.
Compression socks like these were originally popular with diabetes patients, people with poor leg circulation, & individuals recovering from surgery where blood clots were a concern.
These socks are now made in colors like white, silver, black, and fuschia, and are being tailored more for runners' and active peoples' performance needs.

Recovery Sox have "compression" areas built into the foot arch, ankle, and upper calf areas of the sock, with the compression material woven into the design. The package tells the wearer to "wear for 24 hours for most benefit".
Because these socks are so tight and stretchy, you should put your toe into the sock, gathering all the material in your hands. Then, pull it up over your calves, up to your knees. Adjust as needed. There is no left or right foot, so either sock can fit onto either leg.

Once the socks are on your legs, you need to know how long and where to wear them. I wear them during exercise, when I run errands, and sometimes even when I sleep at night. I pretty much only take them off for showering!
Wearing them during exercise supposedly promotes blood circulation and, when you wear them after exercise, reduces muscle inflammation and helps muscle recovery better & quicker than without compression socks.
You can adjust the wearing time for your specific needs, that means you can wear them pretty much anytime you wish, for as long or as temporary as you see fit! Wear them for awhile, doing different activities, to determine your needs.

Once you become acclimated to your Recovery Sox and you know when & where it benefits you most to wear them, you will notice that they will begin to smell, especially if you wear them while exercising! How should you wash & care for your socks?
I recommend hand washing your Recovery Sox only. Just spend a few minutes hand washing them in the sink, then lay them out somewhere flat & safe to dry, and your socks will be good as new!
I do not recommend putting them in the washer & dryer, even on the delicate cycle. There is a special coating on the material that helps the socks stick to your legs and maintains the stretchiness of the material. The more care you put into your socks, the longer this material will last.

  • When hand washing Recovery Sox, they will turn sticky. This is normal, and this stickiness will disappear once dry. But they will feel really weird until they dry!
  • I am a young woman who has always had poor circulation in my lower legs, which is probably genetic. Being an active runner helps this condition, but the Recovery Sox help even more. I have definitely felt the benefits of my leg circulation improving.
  • This is not medical advice. If you have poor leg circulation or pain, consult your doctor before using this product. This product should not be a substitute for medical help.
  • Again, be nice to your socks! Take care of them and that special coating they have on them, and they will last you for a long time.

Lung Cancer--Still A Threat for Non-Smokers

Did you know that 1 in every 16 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer sometime in their lives? Did you know that research studies have proven that women who have higher levels of estrogen are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer, even if they never smoke?

Go and get your estrogen levels checked! Most birth control pills raise estrogen levels, so consider changing your birth control options. I suggest getting the Depo-Provera birth control shot, which adds no additional estrogen to your body! (And it lasts for 3 whole months!)

Stay away from smokers! Second-hand smoke kills, too! Excuse yourself and quietly leave the room if you're afraid of offending a smoker with your absence. Get lots of fresh air and avoid smokers at all costs!

If you smoke, quit it right now! Seriously, smokers raise their risk of dying from all sorts of diseases: heart disease, all cancers (especially lung cancer), high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity...... The list goes on and on of how much your risk increases if you smoke! So decide to change your lifestyle and literally save your life right now! Your body will thank you for it!

Test your home for Radon gas, and other gas leaks, like Carbon Monoxide. These gasses are poisonous to your bodies and wreak havoc on your lungs. Do the smart thing, go that extra mile, and get your home tested for these fumes!

Eat your vegetables! Seriously, do you know how many wonderful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and cell-repairing nutrients are in fruits & veggies? The answer is.... A TON! You cannot afford not to eat a healthy diet full of fruits & vegetables. These natural foods literally have properties that help repair cell damage that causes cancers.
What an easy way to eat healthier, have a more balanced diet, promote healthy weight loss and help your body repair damaged cells!

Get active! Research has shown that active people live longer and are much less likely to develop diseases, cancers, and illnesses than sedentary people. Active people live longer, healthier lives! Experts recommend being active (having an elevated heart rate) for 30 minutes a day, or 45 minutes every other day. So get out there and get active!

April 28, 2009

Do NOT Trust Food Labels!

I see tons of food labels declaring their product to be "hormone free," "all natural," and "organic." Sounds great, right? Well, the short answer is....WRONG!!!
Did you know that the FDA has NO regulations regarding the use of the words "all natural" and "natural?" Because there are no rules in place for using these words & phrases, this means that anyone can put them on their food products, no matter what. So, when you see the "natural" label adorning your meat, vegetables, cereals, or anything else, be cautioned! It is NOT necessarily true! The producers of that product slapped that wonderful-sounding label on that food product, knowing that you would be more inclined to buy it! So be cautious and educate yourself!
Another thing: did you know that meat & produce producers can put the "organic" label on their products, as long as they have not used antibiotics, hormones, or steroids only within the past YEAR? This means that they could have been pumping pretty much whatever they wanted into your food up until a year ago, and they can still put the "organic" label on it.
Interesting, huh? Do you feel deceived? Are you angry yet?
For your information, I have gotten most of these thoughts out of various books, including "Skinny Bitches," by Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin
and "Eat This, Not That" by David Zinczenko.
Author's personal note: be prepared for tons of crude & hateful language in the Skinny Bitches book. I appreciated their thoughts and insights, but the language was awful. Be forewarned!

Shin Splint Relief!

I took 2 months off from running (shortly after buying new, very rigid & supportive running shoes) for fear that the intense lower leg pain I was feeling were stress fractures from overuse. But after the very first time running again after all that time off, the pain was still there!
Thankfully, a friend from church is in exercise science & therapy. I explained my pain to her, and she told me that I have severe shin splints, caused by my too-rigid shoes, my tight foot arches, and my too-weak front calf muscles.
My first response was...."There are muscles in the front of your calves?" I know that's a "duh!" question, but I had been focusing so much on strengthening my back calf muscles, that I had never even thought to think about the muscles on the front of my calf! So she told me to walk around on my heels all day, and tap my toes, to get those front calf muscles activated. So I have!
My friend prescribed freezing a water bottle and standing on it, rolling it back & forth on my foot arches. The purpose of this is to massage the tight arch and the cold eases inflammation that causes tenderness.
She also recommended icing my lower shins, right where it hurts, until it is numb, then massaging the muscles around it.
A third thing she suggested was putting 2 in-sole inserts into my shoes to provide slightly more cushioning when I run. This works!
These exercises and massaging hurts a lot, but they have enabled me to run again. I have consistently been running about 4 miles every other day or so.
I'd say that my friend's advice has helped me get about 70% better!
God bless her, and I hope this advice helps anyone else with chronic shin splints!
If you have any questions regarding sports injury, let me know, and I'll ask my friend.

April 23, 2009

MSG: Toxic or Simply Sneaky Food Additive? Part 2

MSG is found virtually everywhere, and almost no kind of food seems to be immune to its presence. For example, Erb says that MSG is found in some Starbucks coffee, soups, salad dressings, ready-make meals like Ramen and Hamburger Helper, frozen t.v. dinners, and potato chips like Lay's and Doritos brands.
And it doesn't stop there. Both fast-food and sit-down places (Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, and even fancier places like TGI Friday's, Chili's, AppleBee's, Denny's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken) contain unabashed amounts of MSG in many of their foods. And apparently KFC is the worst offender of them all, serving foods loaded with MSG; everything from their chicken, salad dressings, and gravy.
Eeeek! It's everywhere!
So, why is it added to virtually everything we eat? Is it a preservative? Does it give our bodies a necessary nutrient? The answer is....Um, NO!
John Erb states that MSG is added to food because of the addictive effect it has on the body. Yes, even the propaganda website he visited, sponsored by the food manufacturers' lobbyist group supporting MSG, says that the reason they add it to so many foods is to make people eat more. Food manufacturers admit that MSG makes people addicted to their foods. And because of how it affects your taste buds, their food tastes better, which increases the likelihood that you will choose to eat their brand of food, as opposed to choosing another brand.
Wow, they've got us; hook, line, and sinker!
Here's an article my brother-in-law found, detailing the negative effects of MSG on humans:
I think the vote is still out when it comes to the negativity of MSG. But I sure don't like how it's in most everything we eat, and that we are feeding our children this stuff that is proven to cause obesity and attention disorders! Whether it really is toxic to our bodies, or a sneaky food additive that addicts us to a certain product, the bottom line for me is that MSG is a man-made, chemical food additive that has no business being in our bodies or our food.
So the final decision is up to you. If you want more info about MSG, read John Erb's book, read the above article, and become informed! Do if for the health of you and your children!

MSG: Toxic or Simply Sneaky Food Additive? Part 1

MSG stands for Mono-sodium Glutamate, an additive to food that temporarily deteriorates the taste buds in your tongue, causing your food to taste more flavorful and enticing. This man-made chemical concoction also goes by the names Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Natural Meat Tenderizer, Accent, and Aginomoto, to name just a few.
The FDA has set no limits on the amount of MSG that is allowed to be added to our foods.
Did you know that studies show that MSG is linked to obesity, diabetes, migraines, headaches, autism, ADHD, and even Alzheimer's Disease?
John Erb wrote a book called "The Slow Poison of America", where he details numerous scientific studies, many involving rats that had been neo-natally injected with MSG and grew to be obese, unhealthy rats.
Erb says that MSG triples the amount of insulin the pancreas creates, causing the test rats (and perhaps humans as well) to become obese. They even have a name for the test rats they use in these experiments: "MSG-Treated Rats."

April 21, 2009

Featured Member of the Day!

So apparently I was an "Featured Member of the Day"! I had no clue! A fellow eHow writer was kind enough to email me and tell me, but by the time I checked, I had missed it! Bummer!
But yay for me! I've been having issues with eHow lately, so it feels GREAT to be featured! Hopefully it will drive more traffic to my site!
Thanks, eHow!
Here's my profile with access to all my how-to & advice articles! Check them out!

Fat Math

Do you know the difference between fats, saturated fats, poly & mono-unsaturated fats? And do you know how they are all connected?
The general term of "fats" is broken into 2 smaller categories: saturated and unsaturated fats.
Saturated fats are those fats that are very bad for you. They clog arteries, cause heart attacks, and raise cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure levels. These are usually found in "heavy" foods, like cookies, cake, chocolate, fried foods, and fast foods (like cheeseburgers and french fries).
Unsaturated fats are those fats that are very good for you. They are broken into 2 smaller categories called Poly-unsaturated fats and Mono-unsaturated fats. These good fats raise your "good" cholesterol levels (HDL), lower your blood pressure, clean out your arteries, and keep your heart in good condition. These are found primarily in nuts (almonds & walnuts), sunflower seeds, peanut butter, vegetable & olive oils, and lean meats.
How to read food labels:
Most food labels simply have a "Fat" label, with an amount (say 10 grams), then a sub-heading with the "Saturated fat" heading. (say 5 grams). So the label is telling you that that product has 5 grams of saturated fat (the bad kind). But what about the other 5 grams?
Well, those are your "good" fats.
Take Total Fat, and subtract Saturated Fat amount. The resulting number is the amount of Un-saturated fats in that food.
Now you can do "fat math!" It pays to be educated about what you're eating and we all sure need help to decipher those food labels!
Happy wellness eating!

April 13, 2009

Starbucks Savvy

Did you know that a large mocha at Starbucks contains about 400 calories?
Did you know that a fat-free, sugar-free vanilla or caramel latte contains less than 200?
I always got large mochas made with fat-free milk, until I went online to Starbucks' nutritional information website and realized that, even with the fat-free milk, I was still drinking almost 400 calories! Yikes! That's almost a meal!
So I switched to a "skinny vanilla latte". I still get a large, but now it's with both fat-free milk and sugar-free flavored syrup. I get the same size and same fulfillment with half the calories! Yippee!
Take a walk on the "skinny" side of the Starbucks menu. You won't ever go back!
Check out Starbucks' nutritional information for all their products here:
Be informed about what you're eating!

Calf Heel Raises

Every day (sometimes every other day), I do heel raise exercises. I stand on one leg and use my calf muscle to go up onto my toes. I repeat this exercise as many times as I can, which is about 40 repetitions per foot right now. I bend that knee a bit (so as not to lock and strain my knee), and repeat for each leg.
This exercise helps strengthen the calf muscle (which is the muscle on the back of your lower leg). When I first started, I was only able to do about 30 repetitions, but now I can do about 40.
This exercise is important for runners and walkers (and people who are on their feet a lot), because a strong calf muscle helps prevent over-use injuries like shin splints, stress fractures, and broken bones. Strong calf muscles also help stabilize the back and pelvis, helping them move correctly and protect your gait and form.

Favorite Snack

One of my favorite snacks is a handful of almonds and a few pieces of dark chocolate. The almonds have plenty of the "good" fat in them (poly & mono-unsaturated fats), and the dark chocolate has loads of antioxidants.
Of course, both should be eaten in moderation, especially the chocolate!
But oh, it's SO good!

April 2, 2009

Afraid That You May Have Pet Allergies?

Many people suffer from pet allergies and seasonal allergies. Many pet owners obtain a pet, only to find out they are allergic to them. You may be able to take OTC medicine for your allergy, and hopefully that will let you keep your pet.
However, experts are discovering that sometimes it is not your pet that you are actually allergic to, but the dust, mites, and pollen that Fido carries into the house from the outdoors or the basement! These microscopic, lung-clogging particles easily stick to your dog or cat's fur, causing all those yucky spores to be carried into your house.
The remedy? Bathe your pet at least once a week, dust your house often, vacuum, and wash bedsheets often. And remember, it's always easiest for mold & particles to prosper in dark and moist environments.
So if you think you're allergic to pets, (and you very well may be), first try bathing your pet & keeping your house well-dusted for awhile to see if your symptoms disappear. If so, then you'll know that you are simply allergic to what your pet carries in from outside.

Strep Throat

The Question:
How long after being on antibiotics for strep throat are you still contagious?
The answer: 24 hours
*So, after 24 of being on antibiotics, you are no longer contagious! Yay!

Websites Beneficial to Your Health

The website will help you find free skin cancer tests in your area. The website is where you can find free (or low-cost) Pap smears and Mammograms. "CDC" stands for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
If you need access to free or cheap medical tests like these, then these websites may help.

An Apple a Day.....

The "Northern Sky" variety of apples contain the most "free radicals" of any kind of apple. Free radicals are the cell-damaging molecules that can cause cancer in our bodies. So check out the "Northern Sky" apples for the prevention of cancer!
So that old saying about "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" might be true after all!

April 1, 2009

The Joy of Pets

Experts and researchers agree that owning a pet, or simply having regular access to a friendly pet has many positive health benefits for humans. It seems animals were meant to help fulfill humans' lives and heal their hearts.
It is widely known that petting a dog lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and ultimately makes them feel better. It is slightly less known that owning a pet helps everyone (not only the elderly) to feel better by lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
Owning a pet is hard work because pets require lots of love, attention, and can sometimes be expensive.
If you're ready to own a pet, they will require responsibility, but you will reap the benefits of your hearts and overall health.
So, either get yourself a pet (if you're ready for it) or spend time with someone else's pet! You'll be better for it physically, emotionally, and mentally, and you'll enjoy it!

March 24, 2009

Less Ingredients = Healthier For You!

Here's a tip from grocery store experts: when reading the ingredients list on food products at the grocery store, less usually equals better for you! Choosing foods with few ingredients prevents you from eating overly-processed foods that may have man-made fats, sugars, and/or preservatives in them.
Trust the ingredients even over those "all-natural" labels. There are no FDA regulations regarding food producers using the word "natural" on their labels, which means it can mean anything other than the truth! So don't trust those labels! Read the ingredients and use that to make your choice. You will most likely be getting the healthier product.

"The Shack" Book Challenges How We View God

The book called "The Shack" was written a couple years ago by William Paul Young. I read this book and have many good things to say about it. This book challenged my viewpoint of God and helped me see Him in new, incredible, and holy ways! What a wonderful reminder of God's amazingly good character, His great love and mercy! The main character was restored into an intimate, loving, knowledgeable relationship with his Savior Jesus Christ, and I felt like it had that same effect on me as well!

The story begins quickly and thrusts you into the life of a very common man, Mackenzie ("Mack"). Mack is a middle-aged, hard-working man who lives with what the book calls "The Great Sadness". This Great Sadness occurred a few years back, when Mack's youngest daughter, Missy, was abducted & murdered at a family camping trip (taken practically from right under Mack's nose).

The book describes the intense police search for the missing daughter, and details how Mack's life essentially fell apart because of the tragedy. He is a man who blames God for letting Missy get taken & killed, and does not trust Him to be capable of providing for or loving any human beings. This great sadness, plus Mack's fear, confusion, and hatred of the Lord causes him to live in a numb, dejected state of mind. Life has lost its meaning for Mack, and he simply goes through the motions of living.

Then, something miraculous and terrifying happens. Mack receives a letter from someone who calls himself "Papa," and asks to meet up with Mack at the Shack, the very place where his daughter's remains were found, in a remote part of the wilderness. Despite the possibility that it could be some horrible, cruel joke, or could be the killer's way of luring Mack himself out into the wilderness, Mack decides that the note may, in fact, be from God Himself, and decides to take a weekend trip to the Shack.

The rest of the story takes place at this "shack", and is where God Himself meets, talks, discusses, cries, and laughs with Mack (throughout the course of one weekend).

The way the author presents the Trinity (God the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) is extremely unique and unlike anything I have ever encountered in Christian literature before. I really appreciated the author's views of God's physical image, personality, sense of humor, intelligence, and character. The author uses intelligent and simple conversations to teach Mack (and us) the Truth about God's character, thoughts, and purposes for our lives.

I hope that this book will appeal to skeptics, believers, people who are questioning, unbelieving, or doubting. Please pick up this book and read it for yourself, no matter what you believe or think about God and Christianity. It will be very eye-opening!

I thought that some parts of the book were sort of slow, but I also think that it gets better as you go. The conversations with God get more & more complex and deep as you go, which I really enjoyed. You won't be disappointed!

Check out the book's main website at to find out for yourself! I pray that it touches & enlightens you as it did me!

March 14, 2009

Nuts about Calcium

Calcium is needed for your bones to be strong and to prevent osteoporosis. Elderly people who are at the highest risk for osteoporosis are strongly encouraged to take calcium supplements, but it may be too late for some. The damage could already be done.
The safest bet is to take calcium supplements and begin building strong bones when you're younger (if you can).
Also, high-impact exercise (especially running, walking, & jumping rope) are great physical activities, because they cause your bone density to increase, resulting in stronger bones.
And the newest results are in.........apparently almonds are very high in calcium! So eat lots of milk products (the most prevalent calcium provider), almonds, and get your DV of Vitamin D, which aids in the body's absorption of calcium.
Your bones will thank you!

March 12, 2009

Beware of Plastic Containers!

For those of you who have not heard about the "plastic container" fears circulating the country, here is a brief overview to get you up-t0-speed.
Reusable plastic containers are everything from plastic baby bottles, water bottles (both throw-away kinds like AquaFina & reusable ones like Nalgene), and storage containers.
Look on the bottoms of these containers. Most likely, they will have a triangle "recycling" symbol, with a number in the center. This number tells you how to recycle the plastic product, but also what kind of plastic the container is made of.
Polycarbonate is a fairly newer, heavy-duty plastic that has been around for awhile now. From what I understand, it is a man-made concoction of different materials, resulting in a sturdier plastic. However, research has been done on the effects of eating & drinking out of a polycarbonate container, with mixed results.
The issue: some polycarbonate containers & bottles contain bisphenol A (called "BPA"), which is a chemical found to stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells. The effects of BPA on the body has been the subject of numerous research studies, and the verdict is still out. Some studies say that BPA has no ill-effects on our bodies whatsoever, while others claim that BPA causes all sorts of cancers & has many negative effects on our bodies.
While results are mixed, however, the hype about BPA has caused baby bottle & Nalgene bottle makers to start making some BPA-free versions of their products, which have been met with a grateful market.
Check to see what number is inside the recycling symbol on the bottom of your plastic product. Number 3, #6, and #7 all contain BPA. Numbers 1,2, 4, & 5 are safer.
If you're concerned about the effects of BPA, I would advise you to do some research into this matter, and check your plastic containers.

Steer Clear of Tropical Oils!

Coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils are FULL of saturated fats. These oils are being added to more & more food products to enhance & preserve flavors, but they are usually full of saturated fat. Even some cookies have one or more of these tropical oils in them!
If you don't already, begin reading not only the nutritional facts on the labels of the foods you buy, but also begin reading the ingredients list, checking for these oils, trans fats (man-made fats), and other unhealthy, man-made preservatives.
It pays to be educated about what you eat!

March 8, 2009

Adult Acne

Acne is usually thought of as a plight of the hormonal teenager. But unfortunately, many adults suffer from acne on their faces & bodies as well. Busy & active people, who sweat often and sometimes do not have access to a shower right away, are the most likely to develop adult acne.
Acne develops when grease on the skin mixes with bacteria and forms pimples.
Adult acne may be prevented or decreased in several ways.
First, do not eat highly processed foods. (High in fat with unhealthy preservatives.)
Second, do not stress. (Stress is known to cause acne.)
Thirdly, take an oral contraceptive. (The hormones in oral contraceptives help keep acne away, but acne can return when you stop taking the contraceptive.)
Fourth, do not smoke. (Smoking is also known to cause acne, among many other negatives.)

March 5, 2009

My Progress!

I had been running 5 or 6 miles several times a week, with new "supportive" running shoes, when I began developing dull pain in both of my lower legs, a few inches above my ankles. After doing some research on the pain, and learning that it was an "overuse" injury, that caused hairline (stress) fractures, I took about 2 1/2 weeks off from running for my bones to heal.
During this time of recovery, I kept my legs elevated, iced my shins when they hurt, and wrapped them whenever I walked a lot. I also performed calf-strengthening exercises, and began a daily ab exercise routine, to strengthen my core to prevent further injuries.
At this time, my legs were feeling perfect, back to 100% again. So I decided that I would start running a couple miles again, to see if the pain would return or if I was truly healed. I wanted to start off slow, however, in order to not injure myself again.
So I have been running 2 miles, then 2 1/2 miles, then 2 3/4 miles.
This causes me to keep my cardio-vascular fitness up while not straining myself too much, in case I am not fully healed.
I am SO thankful to be running again, and I pray that I am healed and that I am stronger now, so I won't injure myself again in this way. And I'm starting to feel & see results from all my ab & leg strengthening
workouts, which is a great motivator to keep them up!

Compact Fluorescent LightBulbs

Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFB) are eco-friendly lightbulbs where the tube is 'twisted' and are not the conventional incandescent bulbs. CFBs use less energy but can be found in normal wattage ranges. They can be used indoor & outdoors.
CFBs have an expected lifespan of about 7 years. That's right: they are expected to not burn out for 7 years! Because they last SO LONG, and because they use LESS ENERGY, they are a great choice for someone who would like to make small changes to their dwelling to make it more eco-friendly & save on the cost of energy bills.
CFBs also contain Mercury, a toxic element if it enters the blood stream. As long as the Mercury is contained within the glass bulb, it poses no threat to your safety. Because CFBs contain Mercury, they are considered "hazardous waste" and cannot be simply thrown away in the garbage (unlike conventional lightbulbs).
Stores like Home Depot and IKEA have special centers in the stores where you can dispose of your CFBs safely. Also, you can log onto and find other recycling & disposal places for your CFB bulbs.
CFBs can be found at Home Depot, Lowe's (and most hardware stores), Target, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and most major big-chain stores.
Consider CFBs for your home or apartment today; save money, and do a small part to help the earth!

Do All Things Better

"I'm convinced that if I can learn to do one thing at a time well, I will eventually be able to do all things better. So now when I work, I work. When I play, I play. When my soul needs attention, I give it my full attention, not just what I can spare. I give each part of me the full measure. If it works, I'll become not just a better runner but a better person."
--John Bingham, running coach (italics mine)

I appreciate this quote because I agree that we should give ourselves & our tasks our full attention, because then it will be our best effort and will produce our best work. I also like how he speaks of giving his full attention to himself when he needs it.
This is the way I see it: if you spend lots of time on yourself, you'll know yourself better, and thus be able to relate to others better. If you take care of yourself and are thus in good condition physically, mentally, & spiritually, then you will be easily motivated to take care of others.
Understandably, you can't spend all your time on yourself, and that's where work comes into the picture.
I think there is something honorable about not simply "giving something your best shot," but spending time on it, working with it, getting to know it, until you learn to do it perfectly. I think that this is how the Lord is with us. He doesn't just give us His best try; He knows us intimately and takes His time to do His work in us correctly, with loving commitment & passion. What an awesomely amazing God He is! And what a great example He is to us!


Did you know that 1 medium artichoke satisfies 41% of your daily value for vitamins & nutrients? Did you know that artichokes are said to be healthy for your liver? Artichokes have no fat & no cholesterol. And 1 medium artichoke only has about 64 calories! So add artichokes to your diet!

February 26, 2009

Healthy Bacteria

Probiotics is the technical name of those healthy, live bacteria in yogurt. Probiotics are essential for our bodies because they fight off the "bad" bacteria living in our intestinal tract.
So to keep away the bad bacteria, eat the good bacteria!
Tip: Look for yogurts that have the "contains live & active cultures" seal on the product. Don't buy yogurt if it does not have this seal: you're not getting your healthy bacteria if the stamp is absent!
Many grocery chains carry very cheap, very healthy brands of yogurt with this "live & active culture" seal. My favorite is Dannon "Light & Fit" Plain Vanilla Yogurt, which costs about $.88 at the grocery store.
Another benefit of yogurt is that it contains tons of calcium, which is great for any active person because it keeps bones strong and fends off osteoporosis later on in life. Take a Vitamin D supplement to help your body absorb all that wonderful calcium!

Save Your Soles!

Here's a great idea to make your shoes last a bit longer: Shoe Goo. Apply a thin coat of "shoe goo" to the areas of your shoes that get the most wear, and your shoes will last a little while longer. Shoe Goo can be found at specialty running stores, sporting goods stores like Dick's Sporting Goods, and possibly outdoor apparel stores like REI. Superstores like Wal-Mart and Target may even carry Shoe Goo or a close alternative. Check around and save your soles!

What To Do When You Hit a Plateau

Do you exercise, eat right, and still can't lose those pesky extra pounds? What are you doing wrong? What should you do?
Should you cut even more calories and eat less, or should you exercise more?
Exercise experts suggest the answer: exercise more.
The reason for this is that if you cut out too many calories in order to lose weight, it will actually cause your metabolism to slow, because your body will be going into starvation mode, trying to conserve all the energy it gets. Of course, this is for extreme dieters and calorie-cutters, but the fact remains for the rest of us, that you should up your exercise routine if you're already watching your caloric intake.
If you're a runner, the experts suggest alternating between running fast & slow, for that extra calorie burn. Running slow for long periods of time builds endurance & teaches your body to burn more calories throughout the day. Running fast burns more calories during exercise, so combining both is recommended for the ultimate calorie burn.
This fast & slow combination can apply to any sport or physical activity: walking, swimming, cycling, weight lifting, etc. All you have to do is alternate your speed. But caution: start out slow you don't hurt yourself!
Some experts only recommend doing this "speed work" once or twice a week.
Try this suggestion for a few weeks, and you'll probably see results and lose those last few pounds!

February 20, 2009

Healthy Food Swap

Instead of eating traditional brown rice, try swapping in quinoa grain instead. Quinoa, pronounced "keen-wa" provides 8 grams of protein. This is more than any other type of grain!
Quinoa also contains lots of carbohydrates and magnesium, folate, iron, and fiber. All of these nutrients are necessary for our bodies' peak function. Quinoa also cooks up in half the time as brown rice. It usually takes 15 minutes to cook, and the proper ratio is 2 to 1 water-to-grain.
This grain can be found in bulk at most "whole foods" or "fresh fare" markets.
(idea found in Runner's World magazine, March 2009)

Blooms & Berries Farm Market

One of my best friends, Jeff Probst, owns & operates a farm market in Loveland, Ohio (about 1 hour north of Cincinnati), called Blooms & Berries Farm Market.
This family-owned farm market specializes in fresh produce and beautiful flowers of all kinds. Jeff takes great pride in offering only the best of the best, and visitors will find his produce to be fresh, wholesome, and healthy.
This is his blog:
These are his 2 company websites: and

February 19, 2009

Restoring Your Marriage

Is your marriage in a rut? Do you feel unloved, lonely, and unknown by your spouse? Do you even remember why you married them in the first place? Are you thinking about giving up on your marriage?

Before you give up, try and make it work. You've probably tried everything you can think of to revitalize your marriage, right? You probably have. But here's a few other ideas you may want to consider & try.

Remember that you not only love your spouse, but you like them, too. Remember when you could sit and talk for hours on the phone or in the car? You have things in common; some parts of your personality are similar to theirs. Engage in conversation about anything deeper than the normal, superficial "how are you?" The typical response to that is "fine." Let your spouse know that you are genuinely interested in them and their thoughts and feelings.

Do things together that you used to like doing, like watching your favorite sitcom, taking evening walks, working outside, going to the park, or eating out. The bottom line is: you can be in love with someone, but you're marriage is only going to last if you remember all the reasons why you actually like that person. Loving is easy; liking goes beyond feelings and involves the mind, personality, and emotions. If you don't like someone, then you'll never be close because you'll never connect. You won't be able to engage in deep & interesting conversations and stimulate each other's minds for years to come. And you won't have anything fun to do together. So remember why you liked your spouse when you were dating!

And if you think they have changed and you realize that you don't like your spouse, take time to examine their lives, hearts, character, and opinions. Chances are, you'll be able to create a long list of things that you like about your spouse. And that will help you re-connect.

Realize that the one thing you want from your spouse may be different than the one thing they want most from you. For example, it is common knowledge that men crave the respect of their wives more than anything else, and that women desperately need to know that their husbands love them. If either of these is thrown into doubt, even for an instant, it can wreak havoc on the person's state of mind, and will cause a gap in your marriage.

Your husband needs to know that you respect him. He believes that if he feels respected by you, then he automatically feels loved. Feeling respect is the gateway to how men perceive love.

Wives, on the other hand, desperately need to be convinced of their husband's love. If they doubt that fact, they will be confused, anxious, over-analyzing, suspicious, and ultimately devastated. Women tend to personalize and internalize everything, so if the woman doesn't feel loved, she'll assume that her husband must not love her and that she is somehow the source of the problem. When a woman feels loved by her husband, she automatically feels respected. There's no question about it for her, because everything else easily falls into place as soon as she feels secure in her husband's love.

So now you realize that men & women want and need different things from each other. Take action! Find out how your husband most wants to know & feel respected, then do it! For example, if you merely say, "Honey, I really respect you," and your husband still doesn't really feel respected, what did you do wrong? Perhaps you simply missed his pressure points. Perhaps what he really needs is for you to let him make a decision in front of your or his friends. Or trust him to take care of something and not nag him about it. Perhaps he wants more respectful "actions" from you, rather than just words. Find out which he responds to best!

All you husbands out there! Does your wife ask you all the time, "do you really love me?" Or some version? Or do you see the question in her eyes, always nagging at her? Why can't she quit worrying if you love her or not? Of course you love her; you married her and you provide for her!

But your wife may simply need you to show her or tell her that you love her in a different way. Instead of words, maybe she really loves it when you hug her and touch her face. Or maybe she really feels your love when you do something around the house without having to be asked. Explore the different ways that your wife wants to feel & hear your love. You won't be disappointed!

Pursue your spouse. This means not waiting for them to make the first move to apologize after a squabble. This means going that extra mile to do something nice for them, like filling their gas tank, without any thought of acknowledgment or gratitude. Remember when you were dating and you did all those sweet and wonderful things for each other? You made her handmade things, you bought him stuff, you went fun places just to be alone? What happened? What made you think that she stopped liking those things? Why do you think that he no longer wants to go to all those fun places?

Do nice things for your spouse, and don't wait for them to make the first move, even if you feel like you've been the only one trying. Sooner or later, your spouse is going to recognize the difference in you and will begin to appreciate all the sacrifices that you're making for them. Keep your chin up and keep going!

These ideas are only suggestions, and they are certainly not the only ideas out there on the subject. But I think you'll find if you really get to know what your partner needs and then cater to those exact needs, you're marriage will be revitalized, revamped, and re-romanced! Before giving up on your marriage, give these suggestions a try.

Easy Ways to Save $$$ and Go Green in Your Own Home

Here's some ideas for small & easy ways to save money, go green, and learn how to re-use some ordinary stuff at home. My husband and I use all of these techniques and they help us save money and feel like we're cutting back on waste.

1. Use cloth diapers for diapering your children, as opposed to the widely-used plastic throw-away kinds. This may sound old-fashioned, but it is a growiong trend among environmentally-friendly mothers. Look around your neighborhood for classes that teach the best ways of cloth diapering, learn how to do it, and start saving money! Cloth diapers: not just for hippies anymore.

2. Buy cheaper toilet paper. A 4-pack of toilet paper is sold at the Kroger chain of grocery stores for 88 cents. Eighty-eight cents! Even if you have a large family and have to buy a lot of it, you'll still save money by buying several 4-packs for 88 cents apiece. It may not be as silky smooth as the other name brands, but you'll get used to it, and you're bank account will thank you. (And I don't think your bottom will even know the difference!)

3. Don't flush the toilet everytime you go #1. I know this may sound gross, but think about how many gallons of water you will conserve by flushing every other time instead of everytime. Of course, I do not recommend this if you go #2. If there's more than just pee pee in the toilet, then by all means, flush it down! If you're alone in the house for the day, or it's just you & your husband that use your toilet, then who's to know? Who's to care if the water is a little bit yellower than normal? Now, if you have guests over, or the bathroom is shared between several people, then this may not be possible or easy.

And don't worry about the smell or the stain on the toilet bowl. If the toilet lid stays down, there should be no smell at all, and if a stain forms around the edge of the water in the bowl, a quick swish with the toilet brush will wash away any stain in an instant.

4. Turn the shower water off when shaving or lathering with soap. If you're a woman and shaving your legs takes longer than your husband in a hardware store, consider turning the water off while you shave, then back on to rinse. It may be a bit of a hassle, but this little trick will stop the water from continuously running when you're not even using it.

The same goes for the sink water when you're brushing your teeth. You may not take that long to brush your pearly whites, but think of how much water gets wasted each time you leave the faucet running, and how much that would add up over the course of just a single week.

5. In the winter, use an electric blanket or heater on/by your bed, and turn the thermostat down. A home that is not well insulated, has no baseboards, or isn't properly sealed around doors & windows will let hundreds of dollars worth of heat escape in the wintertime. Turning the thermostat down just a few degrees (especially when you're not home) could save you hundreds of dollars by year's end! If you're afraid of being cold at night with the thermostat down, put an electric blanket on the bed or use a small space heater. These use electricity, but the extra little amount you will spend on electric for these items will be much less than what you'd spend for heating the whole house those extra few degrees.

6. Stop buying trash bags & Ziploc (or sandwich) plastic bags. Use plastic grocery bags as trash bags. They're not as large so they won't fit as much trash, but they will serve the purpose for absolutely free. You probably get plenty of these plastic bags for free when you shop at the grocery or the drugstore. And the smaller bags will be easier on the trash man's back, too! (Whomever that may be; a stranger, or your husband.)

Instead of using Ziploc baggies for sandwiches and lunches, use those plastic storage containers you've probably got plenty of, stacked precariously on some shelf. They need to get used; so here's their opportunity! A small plastic container may be more conspicuous and bulky than a plastic bag, but it's totally reusable and washable. And most plastic containers are made dishwasher safe nowadays, so there's no excuse!

7. Put gas in your vehicle $10 at a time, instead of filling up. This may cause you to frequent gas stations more often, but if you're tight on money for the day, week, or month, this will save your budget and your wallet. Putting only $10 into your vehicle may also help you to be more conscious about how much you drive and when; it may cause you to drive only when necessary. Putting $10 at a time into your tank also makes it feel like you can stretch that ten dollars out more. Whether it's true or not, I don't know, but it sure seems like it!

Some vehicles (like SUVs, large trucks, or V-8 engines) may need to try $15 or $20 instead of $10. Ten dollars might not even make the needle on the gas gauge move for these vehicles! But I think you'll be surprised just how far your money (and gas!) can stretch if you try this method. This works especially well if you're on an extremely tight budget.

How to Enjoy Your Coffee Addiction on a Tight Budget

Still trying to feed your coffee addiction while on an extremely tight budget? Is the economy's recession forcing you to become an uncaffeinated horror to your coworkers, children, or husband? Fear not; there is affordable, good quality coffee out there. It's not Starbucks, but you'll get used to it.

Step 1:Realize that you may have to give up Starbucks until your wallet is a little bit bulkier. But don't fret; cappuccino-like coffee does exist outside of Starbucks, for a fraction of the cost.

Step2: Go to your nearest gas station. Chances are, there is at least one "cappuccino" machine inside. These are powder-based coffee drinks combined with hot water to create a tasty coffee treat. The powder is loaded into the machine and contains the caffeine and the flavoring (mocha, french vanilla, etc...). When you put the cup under it and press the button, hot water is added to the powder, making a frothy flavored coffee drink.

Step3: Get over it! So it's not Starbucks, but it's still good. At a gas station, you can get a decent-tasting flavored 20-24 ounce cappuccino for $.99 to $1.40. You get some flavor, you get some caffeine, and you get to save some money! You can't beat a 24 ounce coffee for $1.40! Starbucks doesn't even carry a 24 ounce coffee! And the cups are usually insulated styrofoam, so the brew stays nice & hot!


  • Try the French Vanilla flavor first. You won't be disappointed.
  • Check for current sales & specials. A newly-opened convenience store had 24 ounce cappuccinos for only $.49! That's right: forty-nine cents. Can't beat that!
  • Take a sip on the way to the cash register, just to make sure the water was hot & the mixture is perfect. Sometimes the powder begins to run out and you get mostly hot water.

February 18, 2009

Being Successful & Happy in the Face of Adversity

In today's economic slump, jobs are being lost and families are being put under strain. Financial problems are the number 1 cause of divorce in America today. Don't want to end up broke, alone, and miserable? Here are a few ideas to keep your head up & your heart happy.

Be thankful for what you have. The old saying goes "Have what you want; but want what you have." You should pause and take stock of your life. Examine all that you own & possess, and not just the material objects. Think about your boyfriend, husband, children, parents, and friends. Realize that you have it good. You have people that love you and want the best for your life. You have people who look up to you and emulate you. And there are people that inspire you. You have a roof over your head, and most of your bills are getting paid. Things could be much worse.

Which leads to the second point: remember that there is always someone worse off than you. Quit having a pity party for yourself, and reverse your thinking. Count your blessings instead of wallowing in self pity. If you totally reverse your thinking like this, you'll suddenly become grateful and selfless, realizing that you have indeed been blessed.

And when you realize you've been blessed, you'll want to bless others in return. Giving your money, time, and energy, to help another person is the greatest act of love you can do. And perhaps there has never been a better time to serve somebody else than right now when everyone else is busy looking out for Number One; themselves. Besides meeting a basic need, volunteering or helping someone else will satisfy your soul and will make God smile.

Be true to yourself. Do what you want to do. Don't let anyone make you think that you don't deserve what you want in life. Have big dreams, and pursue them! This time of economic crisis is not a time to be frozen with fear; it is a time for you to get creative to achieve all those wonderful dreams you have. You may have to sacrifice to get there, but anything worth having is worth fighting for, right? If it was easy, it wouldn't be nearly so worthwhile to obtain. If you want to quit your "traditional" job and do something that you love but may be frowned upon because it seems less conventional, then weigh your options, consider carefully, then do it!

You were given talents & dreams for a reason. Perhaps God wants you to use one of them, and trust Him with all the other details? This is between you & God, so discuss it and see what He says. He may say "no", He may say "yes", or He may say "not yet." But whatever the question, you can be sure that He will answer, although it may not be the answer that you wanted. But His plan for our lives and our plan for our lives are sometimes not the same.

Look for the "good" in all circumstances. Have you heard the story about the lady who had a recurrence of a very fast-moving form of breast cancer? She would not have known about the tumor growing silently & undetected in her armpit, unless she had been hospitalized with a near-fatal injury. The doctors were able to save her life by running a series of diagnostic tests, revealing her malignant tumor, which would not have been found otherwise, if she had not already been in the hospital for a serious injury. She said that she had lived through the horrible accident; so she was going to live through cancer as well.

She is an example of someone who finds the good in everything, even if it is obscured. This way of thinking will keep you motivated, happy, upbeat, and optimistic, against all odds. Isn't that the best way to be in this world?

Know when to work hard, and when to rest. It takes hard work to get anywhere worth being in this life. But you also must remember to take a day off, sleep in, kiss your wife, work in your garden, take an evening walk, or laugh at your favorite comedian. You need to let your brain and your body rest and recooperate. Lay those heavy burdens on God; He is much stronger than you so He can carry them much easier! Enjoy living; soak in all the beauty of life. If you don't take time out for these important times, then what's the point of all the work? Don't you work hard so you & your family can enjoy a happy life? Well that life begins right now, if you let it. Your family doesn't want a bigger house or more spending money; they want you & your presence at the dinner table.

Have you ever heard anyone on their death bed say, "Oh, I wish I would've worked more...." No! They lament that they didn't spend enough time with family and didn't soak up life to the fullest. Don't work so hard that you have no time left for enjoying life. What a shame that would be.

Don't be too hard on yourself. You know that you are your harshest critic. When your inner critic starts belittling you for something that happened long ago or yesterday, give that inner critic a name and tell it to get lost. Realize that you did the best you could, and you may have fumbled the ball, but tomorrow is a new day and you will remember the lesson you learned. Learn the lesson and move on. You owe that to yourself.

February 12, 2009

Chicken Soup For the Heart

A new study published in the Journal of Agriculture & Food Chemistry suggests eating chicken noodle soup often can help keep your blood pressure levels normal. The chicken meat contains collagen proteins, which may inhibit the production of angiotensin-converting enzymes, substances that can narrow blood vessels and raise blood pressure.
To get all the benefits, though, choose a low-sodium version, because too much salt will simply raise your blood pressure again. Exceeding the 2,400 milligram daily amount for sodium intake can lead to hypertension.
And of course, chicken noodle soup usually has lots of veggies, which also provide a heart-healthy punch!
(from SHAPE magazine, March 2009, Volume 28, #7)

The All Natural "Pain Pill"

Here's more great benefits of Vitamin D: the vitamin aids calcium absorption, to keep your bones strong and keep osteoporosis at bay.
If your muscles and joints hurt after a hard workout or a long day at work, your body could need more than just an aspirin. Those aches & pains could be a sign that you're not getting enough Vitamin D. Stewart B. Leavitt, Ph.D, says that "Vitamin D aids in muscle tissue growth and calcium absorption. Without enough calcium, the outer layer of your bones can become soft and spongy, making them more susceptible to painful stress fractures and over time, osteoporosis and arthritis."
For the safety of your bones, consume at least 1,000 IU of Vitamin D daily.
Because the primary source of Vitamin D is unprotected sun exposure, which may raise the risk of skin cancer, Leavitt recommends taking a Vitamin D supplement daily. "Look for brands with D3, which is absorbed easier than D2."
If you take care of those bones, they will take care of you later.
(from SHAPE magazine, March 2009, Volume 28, #7)

February 10, 2009

Colon Cancer Info

Colon cancer has long been considered a disease that affects mainly older men, but colon cancers also strike 71,000 women a year.
Although experts recommend regular colonoscopies starting at age 50, if you have inflammatory bowl disease or a family history of colon cancer, talk to your doctor about having the procedure earlier.
Any cancer caught early has a much better chance of being overcome, so get yourself checked.
(from SHAPE magazine, March 2009, Volume 28, #7)

Always Sick?

Researchers at the University of Virginia examined households of cold sufferers and found that 42% of household surfaces--such as fridge door handles, remote controls, and light switches--were infected with germs.
"Viruses can live up to 2 days outside the body," says study author J. Owens Hendley, M.D. "If they get on your hands and then you rub your nose or eyes, they can make you sick."
Protect yourself by cleaning these areas frequently and washing your hands with soap & water.
(study from SHAPE magazine, March 2009, Volume 28, #7)

February 8, 2009

Lose No More Than 2 Pounds a Week

Wanting to lose those extra pounds quickly? Be careful!
Experts recommend shedding no more than 2 pounds a week, or your body may lose disease-fighting capabilities (because of a lack of necessary nutrients) and you may become more susceptible to illness, including the dreaded flu virus.
Also, experts say that if you lose weight slowly, it is much more likely to stay off in the long run. So no crash dieting! Lose those pounds slowly!
(from SHAPE magazine, March 2009, Volume 28, #7)

February 6, 2009

Detecting a Stroke

A Stroke is also called a Cerebro-Vascular Accident, or C.V.A. It happens when a blot clot that has formed somewhere in the body (usually in the legs) travels to the brain and clogs an artery, causing the tissue around it to die from oxygen loss.
A stroke usually happens suddenly and sometimes has little to no visible symptoms.
It is said that once someone has a stroke, there is a 3 hour window where, if medical attention is received within that time period, then the negative effects of a stroke can usually be completely reversed. But how can you get someone medical attention if you don't realize that they've had a stroke? Sometimes someone will fall down because they've had a stroke, but will seem to be otherwise fine.
So how can you check to see if someone has had a stroke? The easiest way is to remember the first three letters of the word "stroke": S.T.R.
The "S" stands for SMILE. Ask the person to smile.
The "T" stands for TALK. Ask the person to say a simple but coherent sentence, such as "It is very sunny today."
The "R" stands for RAISE. Ask the person to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
Another technique is to ask the person to stick out their tongue. If the tongue looks crooked or is not centered in the mouth, then they may have had a stroke, and paramedics must be called immediately.
All these seemingly simple tasks require the brain to send signals to different small muscles in the face & mouth, and require larger coordination in the arms. A person whose brain has been affected by a stroke will find these movements difficult to perform correctly.
Moreover, if you forget these techniques but are worried that someone has just had a stroke, simply ask them to perform any movements that require a little bit of hand-eye coordination. That would be better than nothing. So be on the lookout!

February 5, 2009

Nutritional Facts Debate

Should restaurants post nutritional facts?
In a SHAPE magazine poll, readers said:
83% said YES
17% said NO
The "YES" respondents' views were that we all have the right to know what our food contains so we can make healthy eating decisions.
The "NO" respondents' views said that, if you're eating fast food, you should already know that you're eating fatty & high-caloric foods, and you shouldn't need a sign to tell you what you already know.
So, what do you, my readers, think? Do you think restaurants should be required to post nutritional facts in the store, readily available for public viewing? Let me know!
Also, if you would like to vote & make your voice heard on other topics like this, you may go to for other polls.
And, just FYI, I know Burger King (at least the Kenwood, OH location) posts nutritional facts right by the counter, although it seems to be a fairly recent development. But as someone who keeps a daily food journal, I prefer knowing exactly how many calories I'm ingesting, even at Burger King!
(poll opinions from SHAPE magazine, March 2009, Volume 28, #7)

Begin Each Day As If On Purpose

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with...a high spirit." (author unknown)
As someone who becomes frustrated when I miss a workout or don't get something done I wanted to, this quote is very inspiring. This reminds me that I don't have to beat myself up over a missed workout or think less of myself. I can push those absurdities from my mind and realize that tomorrow is a new day, with new possibilities. Now, I may have to live with the consequences of the previous day, but I do not have to repeat the choices.
I also love the thought of beginning each new day with a high spirit. It's a blank slate, so why not begin it with high hopes?
This quote reminds me of what actor Will Smith's character said in the movie Hitch: "Begin each day as if it were on purpose."

February 4, 2009

God's "Unreasonable" Faith

Jesus said "seek first the kingdom of God." These are the most revolutionary words that human ears have ever heard! Putting God's kingdom as our top priority in life is so counter-intuitive to our human natures, that we must practice this daily. We think "but I must make enough money to pay my bills"; "I must have enough food to eat and clothes to wear." Our human natures say our greatest concern should be taking care of ourselves. But God says differently.
Jesus reversed the order by telling us to get the right relationship with God first, always maintaining it as the primary concern of our lives, and never to be concerned about taking care of the other things of life.
"Do not worry about your life....But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:25-33)
Of course Jesus was not teaching that we should care about nothing and take no thought for anything. We would be foolish to do so, and the Lord has given us brains to use. But Jesus does say that it is absolutely unreasonable for us to be anxious, worrying about how we will live. He taught that His disciple must make his relationship with God the dominating focus of his life, and to be cautiously carefree about everything else in comparison to that. He is simply saying that the greatest concern of life is to place our relationship with God absolutely first, and everything else second.
The Holy Spirit must bring us into this harmony, and we must be open to His moving inside us, daily practicing keeping our relationship with the Lord as our utmost priority in life; trusting in God to provide for all our needs as we do so. And He will.
(idea from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest)

February 2, 2009

Oregano Fights Inflammation

When the herb Oregano is added to foods like pizza & spaghetti, it gives the food a distinct Italian taste.
But Oregano does more than that. German and Swiss scientists discovered that this herb also contains substances that help ease inflammation in the body.
So if you like Italian foods, you're also guarding against inflammation in your body!
(source: natural awakenings, january 2009)

Season & Sniff

A new study suggests that when we season our food with strong-scented flavors, sniff before taking a bite, then chew well, we will eat less and thus lose weight.
Participants in this study were overweight & obese individuals who were asked to sprinkle a variety of flavoring crystals (savory & sweet) on neutral-tasting foods before eating them. A control group used crystals with no flavor.
After a 6 month period, those using the flavored crystals lost an average of 30.5 pounds, whereas the control group lost an average of just 2 pounds.
The researchers theorize that flavorful food enhances our senses of smell & taste, helping us eat less & feel full sooner, ultimately losing weight.
(source: The Endocrine Society, 2008)

January 29, 2009

The Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains is the nation's most visited National Park, with 8-10 million people visiting each year. It was first founded in 1934 and will be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
The Smokies are an ancient mountain range and classified as a temperate rain forest. Hardwood trees such as hickory, hemlock, birch, buckeye, tulip popular, magnolia & sugar maples, grow throughout the forest in the lower elevations. The American Chestnut tree, the most beloved tree of the early inhabitants, was killed off by a blight in the 1920's.

Conifer pine trees such as the Red Spruce & Fraser Fir grow on higher elevations, although most of the Fraser Firs were killed by a bug infestation in the 1960's. You can still see many of the dead trees still standing on Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Smokies. Thus the Red Spruce is the dominant pine species now.
The Smokies are full of wildlife. About 1,500 black bears live in the park, as do deer, elk, wild boar, bobcats, coyote, the red & gray fox, river otters, and smaller animals like salamanders, snakes, and butterflies. There are 30 different known species of salamanders in the Park. That's more than anywhere else in the world! The Park is home to 66 species of mammals, over 240 species of birds, 43 species of amphibians, 60 species of fish, & 40 species of reptiles.
Scientists even suggest that there are species of these smaller animals that haven't even been discovered yet!
The Smokies is a moderate climate, meaning mild winters & hot, humid summers.
Topographical elevations range from a mere 800 feet to over 6,600 feet at the summit of the tallest mountain!
The earliest known people to inhabit the Smokies were the prehistoric Paleo Indians. In the 1800's a large amount of European settlers came from Scotland, Ireland & Germany. When these first white settlers came, they found themselves in the land of the Cherokee Indians. Unfortunately in the 1830's, most of the Cherokee were forcibly removed from the region in the tragedy known today as the "Trail of Tears". These Cherokee were relocated to Oklahoma, but there is still a large Cherokee reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina, where many work, reside, and keep their culture alive.
More white settlers came to the area in the early 20th century as loggers. They used the lumber for building houses, barns, and fences for their livestock.
The settlers lived off the land by pasturing livestock, farming, and hunting.
Logging became a booming industry in the 20th century, and the National Park was established in 1934 to save & protect the primeval forests that remained from logging. So much forest had been cut down that by the time the Park was established, only 20% of the forest remained. That 20% has been protected ever since, and comprises more than a million acres of forest.
Once the land became the National Park, residents were not allowed to live within Park boundaries, and more than 1,200 land-owners were forced to leave their homes & land and move somewhere outside Park borders.
The culture of these artisans still exists today. In Gatlinburg, Tennessee, there is a tourist destination called the "Smoky Mountains Arts & Craft Trail Loop", which is a group of shops & stores located on a loop road. The artisans that run the shops make their goods by hand, preserving the ancient culture of the Appalachian people.
In the Smokies, you will find country home-cooking (biscuits & gravy, grits, flapjacks, sausage & bacon), bluegrass & gospel music, and many churches, chapels, & pioneer cemeteries, indicating how important faith in God was and is to the mountain people. You will also find numerous arts & crafts shops, from woodworking, to knitting, painting, pottery, homemade clothing, soaps & candles, and leather goods.
"Bush's Baked Beans" Company (with their "secret recipe") is located nearby, and the "English Mountain" bottled water company resides near the actual English Mountain, an Appalachian foothill.
The Cherokee Indians call the Smokies
"Shaconage", meaning "the place of the blue smoke". Anyone who witnesses the surreal beauty of the Smoky Mountains will agree that it is a beautiful, ancient place; full of mystery, culture, and faith.
-some information from the GSM National Park Service Official Website & Wikipedia