5 Quick and Easy Ways to Relax

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Take a quick 5-10 minute break to relax.  Of course you can use the old faithful of taking in a few slow deep breaths to calm the mind and body.

Here are five additional ways to sneak in some quick relaxation to maintain your joy whether at home or at work.

1.  Stare out the window.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Whether you are at the office, at home or sitting in traffic, take a few minutes to stop and stare out the window.  Take the time to observe the beauty of God’s creation.  Look at the different colors in the sky.  The texture of the trees and the size of their trunks, the shape of the leaves they bear or the height and breadth of the tree. Observe how the flowers move and bend with a breeze or how the fall leaves tumble and fly in the wind.

2.  Savor a hot beverage.  You may wonder how that is relaxing.  We love our coffee, lattes, tea, chai but sometimes we drink it down too fast or we set it aside and it becomes too cold so we toss it.  Purchase or prepare your favorite hot beverage, then sit and just be still for a few minutes as you sip it.  Let the warmth roll around in your mouth and really take the time to taste and savor it.

3.  Massage your hands.  All that typing and texting takes a toll and can leave our hands and forearms tense and tight.  Take a few minutes to give yourself a quick hand massage.  I like to apply lotion and, using the thumb of my opposite hand, begin by working in a circular motion from the fleshy area below the thumb through the palm of my hand and up through each finger tip.  Repeat on the other hand.  After you’ve massaged both hands, shake it out.  Then I clasp my hands and twist them first to the left and then to the right, for about 5-10 seconds each, to help release any tension in my wrists and forearms.

4.  Smile.   Everyone knows the neck and shoulders are tension hot spots but I think many people would be quite surprised by how much tension we hold in our jaw, temples and face. Smile big and pretty then hold it for 20-30 seconds.  Did you feel the tension release?

5.  Seek the sun.  Sit outside for 5-10 minutes.  The warmth of the sun offers a wonderfully easy way to cheer our spirits and lift our mood while promoting vitamin D production.  Plus those rays absorbed during the day will also help you sleep better at night because they help regulate our circadian rhythm.

What quick and easy things do you do to relax?

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Fall is Here!

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winterscape

Here on the East Coast we’ve been very spoiled this year.  Fall has been playing peek-a-boo with temps favoring an Indian summer.  Although the first day of fall was September 22, fall is finally making her presence known.  Ranked second to spring on my list of the transitional seasons, fall—or autumn—is a fantastic time of year.  There is so much to do and such a harvest of good eating bounty.

Fall is a great time to:

  1. Take advantage of heartier in season fruits and vegetables. Good hearty veggies include:  Brussel sprouts, beets, mushrooms, turnips, parsnips, leeks and some of my favorites in the winter squash family (i.e., acorn, butternut, spaghetti, delicata).  Fall is the season for pomegranate, pears, persimmons, asian pears, and an abundance of apples. I don’t know about you but I love to stock up on fresh cranberries every year and freeze them.  That way I can take advantage of fresh cranberries throughout the year.  Be adventurous…pick up a veggie or fruit you don’t normally purchase and try a new autumn recipe.
  2. Visit the orchard. Go apple picking and try a variety of different apples.  Make apple desserts such as tarts, apple cake, apple crisp and good old apple pie.  Toss apple slices into a smoothie.  Slice an apple and eat with cheese or dip the slices in cashew or any other nut butter.  Make homemade applesauce.  Sip on some apple cider.  One of my favorite desserts is a baked apple.  It is such a simple, easy and warming dessert.  Simply core an apple and bake it with a touch of cinnamon and cloves or use pumpkin pie seasoning until soft.  Mmmm good!
  3. Its pumpkin time.  Grab some friends or family and visit the pumpkin patch and be a kid again.  Have fun on the hayrides, use your brain to figure out the corn mazes, get on the tractor pull or pony rides.  Take advantage of the refreshments and seasonal goods offered such as jams and jellies, fruit butters, apple butters, etc.  Then go pick your own pumpkin.
  4. Eat well. After all that apple picking and visits to the market to select your fall harvest now is the time to fix up the fall bounty.  Seasonal treats such as baked pies are the norm.  However, how about whipping up a steaming pot of chili?  Whether on the stove top or in the slow cooker, all types of warming fall soups (e.g., lentil, tomato, split pea, French onion) are the best.  Experiment with making a carrot and apple soup.    Enjoy mulled cider.  Roast a mix of autumn veggies: a simple way is to toss some parsnips, turnips, sweet potato and carrots with olive oil, Kosher salt, black pepper, and fresh or dried parsley and roast in the oven until tender.  Try making pumpkin bread pudding.  When baking sweet treats, or even making oatmeal, use lots of fall spices like cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves.
  5. Take a hike. Autumn is such a gorgeous time with the changing of the leaves.  Take time to enjoy a hike, scenic walk or bike ride to view nature’s magnificence at a local state park or trail.
  6. Decorate your outdoor space. Hang a favorite harvest wreath on your front door, decorate your porch or flower beds with seasonal flowers (e.g., pansies, mums, ornamental cabbages) or items such as pumpkins or gourds.  Prefer a more neutral or conservative look for your entry way or terrace?  Winterscape by adding greenery with plants or small trees and dwarf shrubs potted in decorative ceramic or mosaic tile planters to offer a neutral yet colorful pattern and focal point.  Or use planters as a container garden to offer a hint of fall colors with potted flowers (e.g., yellow, orange, purple pansies).
  7. Transition your style. Boots are always on trend from casual to dressy.  Now is the time to pull the boots out from the back of the closet.  They may be flats, wedgies or stilettos, ankle, riding, motorcycle, comfort, Western’s or Ugg’s.  Slouchy, cuddly, warms sweaters come in hand as the weather transitions before it is time for a bulky winter coat.   Cashmere wraps offer a warm and chic elegance even over a pair of skinny jeans and a top.  Keep a nice tote bag to carry all of your stuff.  I’m someone that continues to enjoy a great pop of color in the fall and winter (think handbags or totes in beautiful burgundies, deep reds, plums, dark grey, navies, dark greens)!  Fall is also the time to make nails pop!  Break out those gorgeous dark bold nail polishes in chromes and cool shimmers, the darks: reds, burgundies, bordeaux and chocolates, fall classics:  burnt oranges and deep salmons, the trends: purples, navies and of course neutrals in taupes, greys, and blushes or pinks.  Or consider adding some nail art.
  8. Stay warm inside. Pull out the heavy-duty quilt or the flannel sheets.  Keep the cozy blanket or throw in the family room.  Make sure the electric blanket still works well.  Pull out your favorite warm bath robe.  Lastly, pick up some warm new socks to keep your tootsies nice and toasty!  Snuggle up with your loved one, kids, or solo.  Light a fire (or flip the switch on the electric fireplace!) on a chilly night and sit back, relax and enjoy your day or evening.

What do you enjoy most about fall?

A Lighter Side of Unemployment

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PavlovHaving gone through a long-term unemployment, I know first-hand how stress becomes a constant and unyielding burden.  So, I thought I would share a few lighter moments, advantages and pros to help offset the dark side of unemployment.

The dark side – you know, the loss of dignity and self-worth, the lack of a steady full-time income and benefits, the part of your brain that constantly screams that the longer this goes on that no one will hire you and thus making you feel even more desperate, like a forgotten and lost member of society.

A few advantages include:

  1. Friends and family benefit from all of your excessive baking or newly learned home improvement skills.  Your flower bed is pristine with not a weed in sight and your car is always clean from being washed on a weekly basis.
  2. You set your own schedule.  You can watch Netflix or sit in the park all day.
  3. You know the weekly guest line up for all of the morning talk shows.
  4. You’ve learned how to focus your job search efforts.  If you have any kind of college or advanced learning degree, you’re overqualified. If you have any kind of college or advanced learning degree, but don’t have a very specific form of word processing skills, you’re underqualified.
  5. No one micromanages or criticizes your performance (unless you’re married and your spouse is constantly asking when you’re going to start working again!).
  6. You become a seasoned expert, an unemployment counselor to friends and family who are just entering the process.  Your friends tell their friends, “Oh, you should talk to my friend so and so…  They’ve been looking for work for a really long time.”
  7. You salivate like Pavlov’s dog when the recruiter or potential employer calls or (gasp) an email arrives from a potential employer.  Then you get scared when they ask if you can come in for an interview.  Confidence, oh confidence, where did you go?  I really need you back, like right now.  Please come back!  Now.  I’ve missed you.  I need you.
  8. You’ve built a shield around yourself like a superhero.  Its called the Super Rejection Shield that bounces off any form of potential employer rejection.
  9. You get your beauty sleep by sleeping late which makes up for all of the tossing and turning you do every night.  So when friends see you they always say “You look great!”.  And you secretly smile inside because they look so worn and stressed (is that mean?).
  10. You take up a new hobby or sport and become a regular at the gym, tennis court, walking trail, etc.

Things may not look great right now if you’re looking for steady meaningful work. Trust me. It will get better.  Your time is coming!

Don’t give up.  Don’t give in to doubt, defeat or the dark side of unemployment.

Always find the positive.  You may have been knocked down but you will get back up again.  You’re still here.

Think of skills you’re learning or relearning (e.g., patience, listening, research, being present, appreciation for little things, etc.)

Keep your head up.  Hang in there.

Find a little bit of joy in every day.

The Words We Speak

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Our words either speak and encourage or they speak and discourage.  We manifest the power of the words we speak and they can either make our dreams or break them.

In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz discusses what he believes to be the essential agreements for living a life of personal freedom.

4 Agreements2

In our modern society, we often toss words about without thinking before we speak. From the hateful words of a cyber bully or playground bully, to the negative skewering of political candidates or elected officials, to the overworked parent speaking harshly to their child.

The words we speak always have consequences.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. ~ Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. ~ Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)

Are you cognizant of the words that you speak?

A Few Do’s and Dont’s

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Green and pink notes with pins

Here are a few professional and personal tips to keep front and center on your radar as you go about your day.

What to Do

♥  Negotiate.  In their book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In, Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton share the art of personal and professional negotiation through their proven strategy to work through conflicts.  Whether Getting to Yes is with your boss, your neighbor, your partner, your parents or even your kids, the ultimate goal is yes.  Stop looking at what you can’t do.  Shift your mindset and start repositioning yourself to offset conflict.  Baby steps.

♥  Give praise.  Yes, giving praise in the literal sense is a good thing.  Praise your guy for washing your car or your wife for throwing you a surprise birthday party.  Praise your kids for doing their chores.  Praise a friend who does something kind for you.  However, I’m talking about giving praise to God for the many blessings He has brought into your life.   Forget about what isn’t going well in this very moment and focus on the blessings instead. Take time daily to stop and give praise for the things He has done.

♥  The early bird gets the worm.  Start the workday early and take advantage of the extra time to delete old emails, put away files, organize your work space by filing items or pitching items you no longer need.  Take a few moments to just be still before the busyness and craziness of the workday begins.  Try going to bed a little earlier to feel more rested and refreshed and to awaken with a new pep in your step.

♥  Read it.  Whatever it is that you do at work, or hobbies you enjoy in your spare time, there is some form of trade publication, articles, websites, blogs, etc. that helps you stay current and maintain a passionate interest.  Take a few minutes daily, or pause weekly, to read and catch up.  This way you will always be “in the know” and you won’t feel overwhelmed trying to set aside a huge block of time just to get current.

What Not to Do

♦  Complain.   Complaining, to me, is the same as whining.  It annoys people and in all honesty, what does complaining get you?  Absolutely nothing.  Other than the label that there goes so and so, he/she is always complaining about something.  That certainly is not a label you want for yourself.  Is it?  I didn’t think so.  If something is wrong, fix it.  Devise a solution.  If you can’t come up with one then accept whatever it is you want to complain about and move on.  Stop complaining.

♦  Throw in the towel.  Life is challenging.  Life isn’t always fair.  However, we can’t give up.  Setbacks occur.  Try a new approach. Don’t give up!  Opportunities always come out of challenges, struggles and trials.  Seek advice and guidance from a mentor or a counselor for additional help if you feel stuck.

♦  Overreact.  We live in an instant society.  For many, every thought is instantly verbalized, tweeted, texted, Instagramed, etc. for the whole world to see.  Inevitably the next step is to see a new follow-up tweet, text, Instagram apologizing for the prior message! Overreacting is blowing things totally out of proportion by reacting or responding in an inappropriate manner.   Yes, we all overreact at times but I have witnessed people do it over what I consider minutiae.  If you are going to overreact, stop.  Take a moment. Try very hard to compose yourself.  Think about what you are going to say before you start speaking, tweeting, texting, Instagraming.  Please.  Stop.  The.  Drama.

♦  Hold onto blame.  People can hurt us.  People will hurt us.  Life tosses many curve balls our way.  Scary and unexpected things happen.  As humans, we always cherish the good and hate the bad yet somehow we find ways to hold onto the negative.  It tends to lurk in the back of our minds and there are some people who love to play that record over and over and over repeatedly.  Let the negatives propel you further. Learn something from the mistakes, hard times, curve balls, missed opportunities, poor decisions, bad choices that you made or that were made and done to you.  Practice forgiveness of others, and most importantly, forgive yourself.  The past is over.  Let it be.

What are some items on your To Do and Not to Do list?  Please share.

Moving Toward Clean(er) Eating

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If you are looking for a way to reduce or eliminate the intake of unhealthy foods in your diet then adopting a plant-based lifestyle may be worth considering. Research has shown that increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables aids in achieving optimal health and longevity whether your goal is to maintain health or lose weight.

I have followed Joel Fuhrman, MD for several years by reading many of his books, beginning with the classic Eat to Live.  His advice, along with that of other wellness advocates in the medical community (e.g., Andrew Weil, MD, Neal Barnard, MD, etc.), is extremely beneficial and helpful in understanding the physiology of human dietary behavior.  While Dr. Fuhrman believes a plant-based dietary approach is optimal, meat eaters and meat lovers can easily adopt this approach by cutting back on the amount of their meat intake or limiting meat intake to fish and chicken.

Over the years I have adopted many of Dr. Fuhrman’s dietary recommendations. I am not vegan and still eat meat….I’ve just cut back.  I have adopted a GBOMB lifestyle although I have never been a fan of mushrooms (I prefer to substitute artichokes instead).   The End of Dieting, his latest book, which I will be purchasing, was published in March 2014.

We already know the no no’s – ditch the junk, put aside the soda, say no to the white stuff.  In our efforts to move toward a healthier lifestyle, we have all read articles emphasizing the benefits of increased dietary fruit and vegetable intake (I personally don’t believe that comes from folks adding a few greens along with 5-6, or more, fruits to make a single serving smoothie!).

Consider Dr. Furhman’s recommended approach if you desire to make a conscious move toward eating clean or if you simply want to up your clean eating game.

Dr. Fuhrman provides an excellent and concise summary of the nutritional benefits of a plant-based lifestyle (https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/gbombs.aspx):

G-BOMBS: Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds

G-BOMBS” is an acronym you can use to remember the most nutrient-dense, health-promoting foods on the planet. These are the foods you should eat every day, and they should make up a significant proportion of your diet – these foods are extremely effective at preventing chronic disease and promoting health and longevity.

G – Greens Raw leafy greens contain only about 100 calories per pound, and are packed with nutrients. Leafy greens contain substances that protect blood vessels, and are associated with reduced risk of diabetes.1-3Greens are an excellent tool for weight loss, since they can be consumed in virtually unlimited quantities. Leafy greens are also the most nutrient-dense of all foods, but unfortunately are only consumed in minuscule amounts in a typical American diet. We should follow the example of our closest living relatives – chimpanzees and gorillas – who consume tens of pounds of green leaves every day. The majority of calories in green vegetables, including leafy greens, come from protein, and this plant protein is packaged with beneficial phytochemicals: Green vegetables are rich in folate (the natural form of folic acid), calcium, and contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Leafy greens are also rich in antioxidant pigments called carotenoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, which are the carotenoids known to promote healthy vision.4 Also, several leafy greens and other green vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, and kale) belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables.

All vegetables contain protective micronutrients and phytochemicals, but cruciferous vegetables have a unique chemical composition – they contain glucosinolates, and when their cell walls are broken by blending, chopping, or chewing, a chemical reaction converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs) – compounds with a variety of potent anti-cancer effects. Because different ITCs can work in different locations in the cell and on different molecules, they can have combined additive effects, working synergistically to remove carcinogens, reduce inflammation, neutralize oxidative stress, inhibit angiogenesis (the process by which tumors acquire a blood supply), and kill cancer cells.5

B – Beans Beans (and other legumes as well) are a powerhouse of superior nutrition, and the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source. They act as an anti-diabetes and weight-loss food because they are digested slowly, having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety and helps to prevent food cravings. Plus they contain soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels.6 Beans are unique foods because of their very high levels of fiber and resistant starch, carbohydrates that are not broken down by digestive enzymes. Fiber and resistant starch not only reduce total the number of calories absorbed from beans, but are also fermented by intestinal bacteria into fatty acids that help to prevent colon cancer.7 Eating beans, peas, or lentils at least twice a week has been found to decrease colon cancer risk by 50%.8 Legume intake also provides significant protection against oral, larynx, pharynx, stomach, and kidney cancers.9

O – Onions Onions, along with leeks, garlic, shallots, and scallions, make up the Allium family of vegetables, which have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects. Allium vegetables are known for their characteristic organosulfur compounds, Similar to the ITCs in cruciferous vegetables, organosulfur compounds are released when onions are chopped, crushed, or chewed. Epidemiological studies have found that increased consumption of Allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers. These compounds prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens, halting cancer cell growth, and blocking angiogenesis.10 Onions also contain high concentrations of health-promoting flavonoid antioxidants, predominantly quercetin, and red onions also contain at least 25 different anthocyanins.11,12 Quercetin slows tumor development, suppresses growth and proliferation and induces cell death in colon cancer cells.13,14,15 Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.16

M – Mushrooms Consuming mushrooms regularly is associated with decreased risk of breast, stomach, and colorectal cancers. In one recent Chinese study, women who ate at least 10 grams of fresh mushrooms each day (about one mushroom per day) had a 64% decreased risk of breast cancer. Even more dramatic protection was gained by women who ate 10 grams of mushrooms and drank green tea daily – an 89% decrease in risk for premenopausal women, and 82% for postmenopausal women.17-20White, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms all have anti-cancer properties – some are anti-inflammatory, stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell growth, cause programmed cancer cell death, and inhibit angiogenesis. In addition to these properties, mushrooms are unique in that they contain aromatase inhibitors – compounds that can block the production of estrogen. These compounds are thought to be largely responsible for the preventive effects of mushrooms against breast cancer – in fact, there are aromatase-inhibiting drugs on the market that are used to treat breast cancer. Regular consumption of dietary aromatase inhibitors is an excellent strategy for prevention, and it turns out that even the most commonly eaten mushrooms (white, cremini, and Portobello) have a high anti-aromatase activity.21 Keep in mind that mushrooms should only be eaten cooked: several raw culinary mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine, and cooking mushrooms significantly reduces their agaritine content.22,23

B – Berries Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods. Naturally sweet and juicy, berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients – they are among the best foods you can eat. Their vibrant colors mean that they are full of antioxidants, including flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins – berries are some of the highest antioxidant foods in existence. Berries’ plentiful antioxidant content confers both cardioprotective and anti-cancer effects, such as reducing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, preventing DNA damage, inhibiting tumor angiogenesis, and stimulating of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Berry consumption has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline.24-29 Berries are an excellent food for the brain – berry consumption improves both motor coordination and memory.30,31

S – Seeds Nuts and seeds contain healthy fats and are rich in a spectrum of micronutrients including phytosterols, minerals, and antioxidants. Countless studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of nuts, and including nuts in the diet aids in weight maintenance and diabetes prevention.32-35 The nutritional profiles of seeds are similar to nuts when it comes to healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants, but seeds are also abundant in trace minerals, higher in protein than nuts, and each kind of seed is nutritionally unique. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are extremely rich sources of omega-3 fats. In addition to the omega-3s, flaxseeds are rich in fiber and lignans. Flaxseed consumption protects against heart disease by a number of different mechanisms, and lignans, which are present in both flaxseeds and sesame seeds, have anti-cancer effects.36-38 Sunflower seeds are especially rich in protein and minerals. Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron and calcium and are a good source of zinc. Sesame seeds have the greatest amount of calcium of any food in the world, and provide abundant amounts of vitamin E. Also, black sesame seeds are extremely rich in antioxidants.39 The healthy fats in seeds and nuts also aid in the absorption of nutrients when eaten with vegetables.

Copyright © 2004—2014 DrFuhrman.com, Inc. All rights reserved. All material provided on the DrFuhrman.com website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

Play Time!

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Adults at play2A group I belong to recently participated at an event that consisted of some relay races. It was interesting to see how many adults in our group actually opted out of participating (they cheered us on!) and let the rest of us act like kids running around doing these various relay games.  I was puzzled….doesn’t everyone like to play?  It was a lot of fun and something different from my norm.  I liked that.  It pumped up my lungs, ramped up my heart rate and got my competitive and team spirit going!

It made me think more about how, as we get older, we really don’t stop and take time to play.  As adults we live for responsibility.  Everything is about earning an income to pay bills for our housing, food, entertainment, hobbies and interests, going to the gym to exercise, to the salon, to the driving range and spending time with our loved ones. I don’t know about you but my exercise time isn’t always fun. It’s usually somewhat repetitive and not always enjoyable (now that’s a real understatement!) and more of a chore.

Whereas this was fun.  FUN!  I felt really good.  Exhilarated.  Free.  Relaxed. Destressed.  Energized.  I also realized I need to invest in myself through play.

Life is more than work.  Let’s mix it up sometimes and do something out of the ordinary.

I have friends who tell me their kids spend all their time in their room or on their cell or other electronic media (or they do the same!).  Whether you’re a kid or an adult, take a few minutes to step away from Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter.  Put down the Xbox, tablet, laptop, cell, the remote and grab a friend or family member and get up and do something different.

Take time to:

  • Play a game of hopscotch
  • Toss the frisbee
  • Grab a few friends for a game of powder puff or touch football
  • Have a double-dutch challenge
  • Race from one tree to another
  • Play a game of Twister (remember that?!?!)
  • Hit up the swings at the park
  • Have a hoola hoop contest
  • Play some badminton or volleyball
  • Run around the house (I got the biggest kick out of doing this as a kid!  My friends and I would just run and run and run around the house as many times as we could until we fell out on the grass panting and giggling endlessly.  Ah, those were the days!)

The possibilities for play are endless.  You’re never too old to play!

Focus on the fun.  Be uninhibited.  Feel the joy.  Relish the experience!

Ready.  Set.  Play!

“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”  – Oliver Wendell Holmes

In what ways can you add more play time into your life?

Do You BMI?

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Maintaining good health keeps us joyful whereas failing health steals our joy and can often rob us of quality time with our loved ones.  These days we are all more in tune with creating and developing healthy habits that will last a lifetime.  One healthy habit is to understand and monitor the impact of weight management and maintenance as predictors of current and future health status.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement tool that uses a formula to identify weight status based on a calculation using a person’s weight and height.   BMI is used as a diagnostic screening tool by healthcare professionals to assess and determine the potential for future health risks.

BMI is classified into four standardized categories of weight status:

  1. Underweight – below 18.5
  2. Normal weight – 18.5 – 24.9
  3. Overweight – 25.0 – 29.9
  4. Obese – 30 or greater (when BMI is > 30 it is further classified as: severe, morbid, or super obese)

Risk factors associated with an unhealthy BMI include:  high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high cholesterol levels, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and the potential for a reduced life expectancy.  The higher your BMI, the greater the risk of diseases associated with carrying the increased body fat on your frame.

Weight loss is a struggle.  Trust me I know!  However, even small weight losses, of 5-10 percent of current weight, positively influence a lower risk of obesity-associated disease.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) offers a BMI Calculator for adults age 20 and older.  For adults, BMI is calculated the same for men and women.  Simply enter your height and weight then compute the BMI. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm

Childhood obesity is increasing at a rapid rate in the United States.  Although the BMI calculation is the same for children and adults (height and weight), the method of interpretation differs for children and teens and utilizes percentiles based on the child’s sex and age.

WebMD and Sanford Health Systems offer a FitKid’s BMI Calculator for children and teens (ages 2-19).  You will need to enter the child’s gender, birthdate, height and weight to calculate.  http://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/weight/bmi/bmi-calculator

The weight status and percentiles for children and teens are classified as follows:

  1. Underweight – less than the 5th percentile
  2. Healthy weight – 5th to less than the 85th percentile
  3. Overweight – 85th to less than the 95th percentile
  4. Obese – equal to or greater than the 95th percentile

BMI interpretation examples for a 10 year old boy are provided below:

Growch chart example showing range of different BMI percentiles for height and age.

Today there are numerous ways to easily calculate BMI whether you use an online calculator such as the NHLBI BMI Calculator (for adults) or WebMD FitKid’s BMI Calculator (for children and teens), an app, a weight scale that offers BMI or body fat measurements or other fitness gadgets.   In an effort to achieve a normal BMI weight status, if you are overweight or underweight, adopting the habit of computing BMI as a health monitoring tool may be useful for you, your children or your family.

While Job Searching – A Few Self-Care Tips

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Job In Maze Showing Finding JobsLet’s face it.  Rarely do you take time for yourself when you are looking for work because searching for work is a full-time job.  Scouring job boards looking for postings for which you qualify is draining. Not to mention the repetition of visiting various job sites to apply, as you either cut and paste or reenter your complete professional experience for the umpteenth time, as you silently scream inside about the process.

It doesn’t hurt to take a day off, just for yourself, every once in a while.  If an entire day sounds like too much then take a few hours off or a half-day.  The frustration of job hunting, juggling finances to figure out which bill can get paid or if you can even meet the minimum payment while looking at your dwindling checking and savings balances, deciding whether to tap into the 401K another time, debating if you should accept a loan a friend offered, etc. is always somewhere in the forefront of your mind.  Or you’re frustrated because the headhunter that was so enthusiastic about your experience hasn’t called you back, you’ve overly tapped into your professional network, etc.  You’re sick and tired of being tired, of feeling helpless, misunderstood, frustrated, and possibly not sleeping well each night. All of these things take a tremendous toll on our body:  physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Sadly, when you’re unemployed the loop of thoughts is endless.  Your mind is in constant overdrive…over everything.  I don’t know if you are like me but when I was looking for work I overthought—everything—and it seemed like my normal decision making process was painfully skewed and agonizing.

Clearly, the true priority is finding some type of work.  However, YOU are also a priority.

Here are some ways for self-care along with a few tips on what helped me.

1.  Decompress – take some down time just for you.  Of course your money is funny and you have stretched it every which way you know how.  While you can’t go out and buy things like clothes, movie tickets, music downloads, meals out, etc. you can take time to relax. You NEED to take time to relax.  All of the stress of finding work is too much to bear at times.  Especially if you have been long-term unemployed like I was (over two plus years).

My tip:  I am not really a DIY girl but I started to DIY a lot of new things.  I began by making my own spice blends.  Some are my own creations like salt-free herb blends.  Others are standard spice blends (e.g., Italian seasoning, Greek seasoning, etc.) that I normally shelled out really good money for (spices are expensive!) but now I make them and they taste just as good and don’t have the chemical preservatives in them that the prepackaged products have. Plus, I can control the amount of sodium I include in them.  I also began making my own veggie burgers which taste divine.  And hummus.

2.  Eat right.  Prepack your meals daily.  Being under stress gives license to stress eat.

My tip:  I started prepackaging my lunch and snacks every night.  Just like I would do if I was packing lunch while working.  That way when I got stressed or frustrated or discouraged, I would pull out a snack bag of sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, Triscuits, pretzels, etc. as my go to instead of foraging around my kitchen.

3.  Exercise.  Do something daily.  Clear the cobwebs during this free time. You may not be motivated to do much of anything on certain days especially if your computer freezes as you’re about to hit submit on a job application, an interview gets rescheduled, etc.

My tip:  I’ll tell you the truth, I got much more exercise when I was unemployed.  I made it protected time.  It was one of my daily joys and motivators.  It was also my time to really be truly free in the midst of the day-to-day craziness of constant job searching.

4.  Trust God has you where He wants you.  You may not understand. Actually, I will rephrase that, you likely have absolutely no clue why you lost your job and why it is taking so long to find a new one.  You may see friends lose their job and get a new one right away while another circle of friends have been waiting and waiting and waiting along with you. God knows.  Trust Him.

My tip: Daily prayer and reading of the Word.  The prayer might be simple or long-winded.  The reading might be a chapter or a book (e.g., Philippians) or multiple chapters and books.  Seek spiritual growth.

5.  Reach out to friends.  Those without and with jobs.  I will be the first to say that if your friends are working and have never been unemployed they may not truly relate to your place in life right now. However, on a human level I believe everyone relates to someone who is open, vulnerable and transparent. Socialization is a key that helps release and let go of some of the daily frustrations.

My tip:  Learn how to be vulnerable.  Be silly.  Let your hair down.  Laugh.  And then laugh some more.

6.  Stay positive.  It isn’t easy and some days you just want to scream.  So scream and let it out!  Then take a few minutes to stop looking at what you don’t have and be grateful for what you do have.

My tip:  Journaling a minimum of 5 things I was grateful for each day.  On those days I wanted to, or did, scream I upped the anty and would journal as many things as I could think of or I would pick a topic (e.g., ways God has provided during unemployment, what I’m thankful for, etc.)

7.  Keep the end goal in mind.  Stay focused on the prize.  Ultimately the job will come.  It may be in your field.  It may not be.  However, be prepared for the commute, the daily rituals of getting up and being rested to get to work on time.  Is your wardrobe in order?  If not, identify what is needed for when you get your finances back on track.

My tip:  I splurged on a few skirts during a huge sale.  It certainly wasn’t much but it helped keep my wardrobe fresh, made me feel good about making a simple purchase which boosted my mood and now that I’m working I look forward to having something new to wear.

8.  Refresh.  Get out in nature.

My tip:  Sit outside.  Take a walk in the park.  Chart a different path on your daily walk.

Those are a few self-care tips that helped me.  I am positive you will find your own self-care tips.  Be mindful that part of the job hunting process requires caring for yourself.

Hang in there and don’t give up!

 

 

Summer Eats

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Summer is beginning to slowly wind down.  College students have headed back to campus.  Elementary and middle school buses are beginning their practice runs.  Subtle changes indicate a new season is about to begin.

For the next few weeks, as the weather remains hot and humid it is important to stay hydrated.  Water is always a great option but fruits and vegetables are also great ways to hydrate on a hot summer day.

I like to make fruit kabobs of any sort.  I especially enjoy alternating cubes of watermelon and red grapes on a skewer.  Hint:  These fruits taste great frozen. Or use a blend of any type of fruit (e.g., mango, strawberry, banana, peaches, etc.).  Whip a little honey and a splash of citrus with some basil into some plain Greek yogurt for dipping.

Frozen fruits are a great and decadent treat.  Somehow it feels more indulgent. When I bring fresh berries home from the market I will put a few in mini baggies to freeze so I can pull them out as treats or to use when making a smoothie.  My fascination for smoothies has waned a little.  Don’t get me wrong, they are great and a quick go to. However, when the temp is hot I prefer eating the actual fruit versus drinking it.

Vegetables such as celery, tomato, sugar snap peas, cucumber, jicima, etc. have a high water content and will help keep you hydrated.

One of my favorite summer salads is a bed of salad greens (e.g., arugula, baby romaine, spinach) with red onion, strawberries and mandarin oranges tossed with a honey lime basil or balsamic dressing.

Seek out your local farmers market to find great fruits and veggies to enjoy these dwindling days of good ‘ol summer eats.