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Warning: Your Smartphone May Be Hurting Your Health

Posted on Mar 24, 2014 by 2 Comments

New research at Kent State University has linked poor health in college students with high frequency of smartphone usage. The study was done because, as we all know, television, video games and computers lend themselves to a sedentary lifestyle. They all require a degree of focus and that you sit while using them.

But the smartphone is mobile so researchers were curious to know if, since it was feasible to do moderate physical activity while on your phone, would people do that?

Over 300 college students were surveyed on their cell phone use and physical activity levels. Forty-nine of the 300 had their fitness level and body composition tested. The results showed that student who spent large amounts of times on their phones, some as much as 14 hours a day, were less healthy than those who used it for 1-2 hours a day.

The study revealed that students who were spending 14 hours a day on their cell phones were much more likely to be engaging in other forms of sedentary activities. They were already more inclined to do less physical activity.

Honestly, I work online and I do spend a lot of time on the computer and my smartphone, but even to me 14 hours a day seems excessive.

My assumption is that since the research found that high frequency users were less likely to be physically active, low frequency users were more likely to be more physically active and use the smartphone as a tool to be more physically active.

I would say that this is definitely a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg; the smart phone or the laziness?

I think that people who are more likely to use the phone as an excuse for not working out are simply lazier in the first place and never wanted to workout. The phone buzzing, people calling and texting or them getting distracted by the Internet or an app is simply just another excuse not to workout.

Honestly, if you want to be active, turn the ringer off, pop that sucker in an armband, crank up some music and go for a walk. Use it to keep track of your activity, your food and your measurements. Link it with your Fitbit, or whatever tracker you use.

A phone (smart or otherwise) cannot make you work out or keep you from it; it is up to you to make up your mind and get healthy. The phone as an excuse is just that, an excuse.

There are a million and one ways to get healthy with your smartphone if you have the desire. Today there is a never-ending list of health apps, physical activity trackers, calorie counters, nutrition label readers and even workout guides.

New technology should mean new and ingenious ways to get healthy, but we first have to want it. We have to put in the time, effort and hard work. So, if you spend most of your days surfing the net and sitting on your butt, don’t be surprised when your butt gets bigger. It has nothing to do with your phone or technology and everything to do with you.

Which do you think came first, the laziness or the technology?

Photo Source: Miss Karen

The Host with the Most

Posted on Mar 19, 2014 by No Comments

If you are a blogger, you have probably been faced with the choice of who to host your site with. When I started, I started with a free host and then moved to a cheap one because blogging was a hobby, but as my blog has grown I needed reliable service. I found Media Temple and they saved my blog.

If you are a blogger you know how important it is to have a dependable web host. I used to be with GoDaddy.com. I stayed with them until I couldn’t any more. I had every intention of leaving them but I just never got around to it. I was afraid of change. Better to face the devil you know and all that.

After 3 weeks of consistent daily outages, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I kept contacting GoDaddy and every day they would tell me that they were “working on it”. Still, the site would remain down I finally learned my lesson: 1) You get what you pay for 2) Never go against your gut and stay someplace you don’t want to be. I left GoDaddy and my site has been up every day since with NO outages.

Who did I switch to? I switched to Media Temple. Why did I switch to Media Temple? I switched to Media Temple because someone I know and respect, a fellow blogger and friend,  hosts her site with them and recommended them to me – word of mouth.

I am so thankful for her advice. A trusted friend’s recommendation is worth a million unsolicited advertisements.

I followed that up with inquiries on Twitter about the company. I asked any of my other bloggers if they had hosted with Media Temple. Media Temple’s customer service representative, Aaron, reached out to me on Twitter and answered all of my questions and then proceeded to walk me through the process.

It took me another 2 weeks before I got back to Aaron at Media Temple because of holidays and spring break. He remembered me and immediately picked up where we left off. He quoted me the best price available and could even help me get my site migrated over from GoDaddy. I switched to Media Temple’s grid service the next day.

There are options available for all sizes of sites. I cannot convey to you how helpful the whole Media Temple team has been. It was the complete opposite of my experience with my previous host.

If you are like me and you sell advertising on your site or work with brands doing reviews, giveaways and sponsored posts, it’s hard to be dependable when your site is only up and running occasionally. I had to switch and I highly recommend anyone in the market for a new web host consider Media Temple.

What is your favorite web hosting service or word press plugin? Why?

Disclaimer: I was NOT provided any free service or compensation for this post. This is just me wanting to share a fantastic web hosting experience with my fellow bloggers.

Photo Source: Media Temple

How to Rock 40

Posted on Mar 17, 2014 by 2 Comments

Last week, I turned 41. Do I feel old? No. Did I freak out about turning 40 or 41? Nope. I freaked out turning 30 but at 30, I didn’t own a home, didn’t have any children and we were living in a hotel…yeah, like Eloise. It’s definitely not as glamorous as one might expect.

But turning 40, I was celebrating 14 years of marriage, had two beautiful children, owned a home and was working doing something I loved.

All of my girlfriends who turned 40 before me had me a little scared of turning 40. They told me of metabolism that stopped and perimenopause and dry skin and not feeling attractive anymore. Not young and hot anymore but not quite old yet. I imagined turning 40 and everything in my life coming to a screeching halt. I had nightmares of being washed out and the bloom falling off but it wasn’t like that at all. 40 is just a number.

There is a couple things you need to do to live life to the fullest. Take care of yourself and your health.

Take care of your heart. It is the machine that runs your entire body and if you are unhealthy, it’s hard to stay in a positive and happy frame of mind.

Take care of your eyes.

Take your vitamins for optimal health.

Control your blood sugar. High blood sugar can lead to higher risk of heart attacks and dementia. Start by losing weight if you are overweight.

Strong bones. Your bones are the foundation of your body, the literal skeleton that holds you up. They are what hold it all together and move you in the world. Without strong bones, you cannot have an active lifestyle. Weak bones will severely limit your mobility, so drink your milk and get your daily-recommended allowances of vitamin D and calcium.

Stay social and stay vibrant. 40 is nowhere near old. It’s not even the midway point. I have a great aunt named Maxie. Maxie inspires me every day of my life to live it to the fullest. She just turned 86 and she says that she still feels 25. She laughs and she lives every single day.

She is very ill and, at this point, every day that she is still with us is a gift from God. I am thankful for that gift. I want to live my life like Maxie does. No matter how poorly her health is failing, she keeps her spirit up and she is thankful for every day. She doesn’t live like she is dying, she lives like she is living; like she is just beginning.

She’s taught me a couple very important things to stay young and vibrant.

Laugh at yourself and laugh at the world. A good laugh is the quickest way to relieve stress. Worrying about things will not change your situation, it will only make things harder. Don’t stress about what you don’t have or what you are losing, rejoice in what you have now.

Love your loved ones. Good friends are cathartic for the soul. They allow you to have fun and be yourself and relax and enjoy life.

Photo Source:  Anders Ruff Custom Designs

Best Educational Sites for Kids

Posted on Mar 14, 2014 by 1 Comment

What are your favorite websites for children? We all try to limit screen time for children but if you are going to allow your child time on the computer or tablet, why not be informed as to which sites are the best and most educational?

I love sites that challenge my children to think outside the box, expand their minds and become more aware of the world past their own neighborhood.

National Geographic Little Kids

National Geographic Little Kids features games, crafts and recipes, science, videos, and animal information. It’s perfect for children ages 5 and under.

National Geographic Kids

National Geographic kids is one of my daughters’ favorite web sites. It has games, videos, information, amazing photos that will keep your kids engaged and learning on this educational site all surrounding its mission to get children outdoors and to care about the environment and planet around them.

Fun Brain

Fun Brain has math and reading video-like games like Mad Libs Junior. It provides a catalog of educational games, online books, and comics. It was created for kids ages preschool through grade 8, offering more than 100 fun, interactive games that develop skills in math, reading, and literacy.

Plus, kids can read a variety of popular books and comics on the site, including Diary of a Wimpy KidAmelia Writes Again, and Brewster Rocket.

PBS Kids

My daughters and I grew up on PBS shows for children, and on the PBS kids site you will find all your favorite PBS characters, each with learning games for kids to play: Clifford, Curious George, SuperWhy, The Cat in the Hat and lots more including  PBS KIDS’ online school readiness program.

Wonderopolis

Wonderopolis is a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages. Brought to life by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL), Wonders of the Day will help children find learning moments in everyday life.

Spatulatta

Get into cooking on this kid-friendly cooking website with lots of videos and recipes. Spatulatta.com’s intent is to present a fun and compelling website that will help foster a whole new generation of young cooks, not only by introducing cooking skills, but also through modeling behavior for using healthy, fresh, basic ingredients with a minimum of processing.

Spatulatta.com will encourage children to eat well, to take pride in their accomplishments in the kitchen, and to understand the connection between farm and dinner table.

A secondary aim is to encourage children to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience they can gain from the adults and elders in their families. By encouraging children to ask their family members and friends for recipes and to cook those dishes together, we hope to strengthen intergenerational bonds.

NGA Kids

This website gives children adventures in art and activities from the National Gallery of Art. NGAkids Art Zone interactive offers an entertaining and informative introduction to art and art history. Featuring a variety of art-making tools that encourage exploration and creativity, these activities are suitable for all ages.

What are your favorite educational websites for your children?

Photo Source: National Geographic Kids 

How to Eat for Optimal Health

Posted on Mar 12, 2014 by 1 Comment

Do you ever wish that there was a guide book for eating that simply laid things out as to what you should eat to stay healthy?

Sure, there are millions of them but I want an index. I want to look up a part of my body or a health feature and it point me directly to page 27 or 321, whatever the case may be. I want it put into simple terms not confounded with this will do this but this can do that and if you put these two together maybe this will happen.

I want nutrition for my body made simple and easy for the laywoman.

I stumbled across this article in Health magazine and it was all so simple so I wanted to share it with you.

Eating melon and citrus is great for breast health.

Oranges and melons are rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, and studies indicate that a diet heavy in vitamin C rich foods helps prevent breast cancer. Plus, orange juice is high in folic acid so ladies, drink some orange juice every day. It could pay off in health dividends.

Rhubarb is good for your bones.

Who knew? Not me. Rhubarb, a bony-looking veggie that looks like celery’s fancy colorful cousin, is rich in vitamin K, which helps activate three proteins involved in bone health and increases bone-mineral density. I wonder if it counts if the rhubarb I am eating comes in the form of a crunch?

Olives are amazing for your ovaries.

Women whose diets included a lot of olive oil had a 30% lower risk of ovarian cancer. It is believed that the healthy fats in the olive oil may help suppress genes predisposed to causing ovarian cancer. Thankfully, I already use olive oil as a part of my diet on a regular basis.

Walnuts are wonderful for the brain.

Walnuts are a great source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which help brain cells communicate with each other and are essential to cognitive performance, memory, and nerve health. And you thought you had to take fish oil pills to get your daily-recommended allowance of omega-3 fatty acids? Good news, I prefer walnuts to pills any day.

Carrots are good for your eyes.

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Your eyes need A to keep your cornea, which covers the eye and protects it from outside irritants, in tiptop condition.

Grapes do the heart good.

Red and purple grapes contain flavonoids, which protects against heart disease, as well as cancer and brain aging; just a few more reasons to enjoy that one glass of red wine with dinner every night. If the grapes in a glass of wine can protect you from heart attacks, cancer and brain-aging, why aren’t we all given this tid-bit of information on the day we turn 21?

See how easy that was? Eat this and not that, and this is good for you and will help this certain part of your body. Can you imagine taking all this information into consideration each day when you planned your meals? We could all live to 110.

What food do you eat strictly for its healthy properties?

Photo Source: CCharmon

Tips for Easing A Sore Throat

Posted on Mar 11, 2014 by No Comments

It’s that time of the year again and you know what that means? Flu season and cold season are here. With seasonal allergies, strep, colds and flus we tend to experience a lot of sore throats. Regardless of the cause, a sore throat hurts a lot and all you want is for it to stop. Here are a few tips to try next time you start get that itchy, scratchy, swallowing razor blades sore throat feeling.

Cough drops

Sucking on cough drops keeps your throat moist by stimulating saliva production. For maximum effect, choose a cough drop brand with a cooling or numbing ingredient to help ease your pain.They say zinc is supposed to be very effective but I must warn you, every zinc lozenge I have ever tried tasted like I was sucking on a nickel.

Anti-inflammatories

A very effective treatment for all kinds of sore throats is an NSAID anti-inflammatory. They will ease your pain and reduce any accompanying fever while reducing any swelling of your throat. It’s like an all in one treatment.

Gargling with saltwater

When I was a child I had more than my fair share of earaches and sore throats, and my mother always made me gargle with saltwater. Turns out that gargling with warm salt water helps to reduce the swelling in the throat and loosen mucus and helps flush out bacteria. Use about a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and always spit, never swallow.

Drink lots of fluids

Haven’t we all heard this from our parents since we were children?  Hydration is especially important when you are sick. It keeps your throat moist, therefore lessening pain and irritation and your mucous membranes moist and in better condition to fight bacteria. Fluids help the body perform at optimal level and it’s good for you. So drink up.

Tea

There is just something about the warm soothing effect of tea and honey on a sore throat that is like a hug from your mom. Plus, it has antioxidants that strengthen your immune system. If you are over 21, sometimes a shot of brandy added to warm tea and a teaspoonful of honey can feel like the nearest thing to heaven on a scratchy, red throat.

Sleep

Sleep sounds like a simple solution but most of the time when I catch a virus, it’s because my system is run down and I was susceptible. My body was simply too weary to fight off whatever it came into contact with, so it stands to reason that sleeping it off will give your body the strength to get better, plus sleeping just makes you feel better when you are sick.

How do you ease a sore throat? What’s your go to trick?

Photo Source:ByEPhotos

How to Talk to Kids about Their Weight

Posted on Mar 10, 2014 by No Comments

Weight and body size are not easy subjects to bring up to anyone. In fact, I prefer to just avoid it all together. It’s always been a sore subject with me and I’d just assume no one ever discuss weight with one another, ever. I prefer we send notes without having to see the look of the gut punch on someone-you-love’s face.

I especially NEVER want to talk to my children about being overweight so I prefer to talk to them in general terms before it is ever an issue. I never want to sit down my overweight tween or teen and talk to them about their weight. It just feels like running through a minefield with clown shoes on. So, I have decided that I want to talk to my children about weight and eating habits before it ever becomes an issue.

I know from personal experience that telling a child they are overweight, or anyone for that matter, doesn’t inspire them to lose weight. It only serves to make them feel bad about themselves and probably eat more or embark on some other equally as unhealthy lifestyle choice.

There is a huge difference in feeling like you want to be healthy and feeling like you are fat. Feeling fat feels like being a failure on some social level to most.

In a recent study by the University of Minnesota researchers, appearing in JAMA Pediatrics, it was found that  mothers and fathers who engaged in weight-related conversations had adolescents who were more likely to diet, use unhealthy weight-control behaviors, and engage in binge eating.

Overweight or obese adolescents whose mothers engaged in conversations that were focused only on healthful eating behaviors were less likely to diet and use unhealthy weight-control behaviors. Additionally, subanalyses with adolescents with data from 2 parents showed that when both parents engaged in healthful eating conversations, their overweight or obese adolescent children were less likely to diet and use unhealthy weight-control behaviors.

It all came down to the execution. It was the same conversation. Both conversations were well-intended parents worrying about their child’s weight, but in one scenario they discussed weight and size and in the other it was strictly about being healthy.

By making the child focus on the weight, either by calling them fat or saying they might get fat, by making it a failure, the child was more likely to go the unhealthy route like developing eating disorders, go on extreme diets, fast or use laxatives.

But kids whose parents focused only on how to eat healthy and avoided judgmental statements about their weight were less likely to have eating problems. Overweight kids whose moms talked to them about healthy eating had far fewer problems than those whose mothers did not discuss eating in a healthy way.

Don’t bring attention to how your child looks or how much they weigh; instead, talk to them about being healthy and never compare them to others. Never focus on looks because people come in all different sizes and shapes. Just because your child is not a size zero does not mean they are not perfect the way they are.

Get your kids excited to be healthy. At my daughter’s school, they have a 5k program where they pair kids up with mentors. My daughter wants to run, so I told her that we will do it next spring and I will do it with her as her partner, but we need to train. Which means eating right and building up our endurance.

An immediate goal is a great motivator to improve healthy habits. Everybody wants to be and do his or her best to excel.

The study also found a greater effect on changing children’s eating habits when the dad was involved in the discussion, but the focus has to stay on healthy eating habits and not veer off in the direction of size. Most importantly, be the example you want your child to follow. If you want a child who eats right and exercises regularly, do it yourself. If you want a healthy child, be a healthy adult.

How do you talk to your child about weight?

Photo Source: SweetOnVeg

Things You Should Never Say to Your Spouse

Posted on Mar 7, 2014 by No Comments

My husband is my best friend. On many days he is the only adult that I get actual face time with. The great thing about marriage and a solid relationship with your partner is being able to talk about just about everything with your husband or wife.

But there are boundaries, things we all know that we shouldn’t say because sometimes things are said in anger, haste or frustration that are not helpful and mostly just hurtful, and as you know, you can’t unsay something. You should always think before speaking, especially in anger.

You may say something that needs to be said but in a different way. I always try to talk about the important issues that need to be discussed when I am not frustrated about it because I know that I have a tendency to go for the verbal jugular.

If I am hurt, I tend to lash out and say things that come out sounding cruel instead of constructive, and this can be damaging to your marriage. Luckily, I have learned to try and think before I speak.

There are a few things that should just never be said, and here are a few.

“Leave me alone. I’m not in the mood!” We’ve all thought it but don’t say it. Think of it this way, how would you feel if he said it to you. You’re allowed to feel that way, and you’re allowed to say no, but why not first give him a kiss or a cuddle then tell him that you just need to decompress so that you can be fully engaged when you are with him. Then when you get your head into it, let him know. He can’t always be the one who initiates.

“Your mom’s a b*tch!” There is usually some sort of tension between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws but don’t put your husband in the middle. He knows his mom gets on your nerves but what do you expect him to do? Hate his own mother?

If it were your son, would you want him to agree with his wife that he hates you just to satisfy her? NO. Your hatred for his mother is your thing. He knows it. He tries to survive in the in-between. As long as he is not constantly siding with her over you, don’t expect him to throw his momma under the bus.

My husband has learned that his mom gave him life but I gave him children, and on most topics he sides with me if she is making me feel bad in any way. I also try not to put him in that position as often as I did when we were first married.

“Forget it. I’ll do it myself!” I am guilty of this one. I am a control freak and when I want/need something done, I need it done now not whenever you get around to it. So, if he doesn’t get up to do it immediately, I tell him to forget it that I will do it myself.

I know it is ridiculous because it’s irrational, hurtful to him because he feels like I don’t trust him to accomplish things, and demeaning because I am treating him like a child. I am working on it. I’ve learned to praise the things he does well and applaud him for his efforts at trying others. I am learning to appreciate that we are different and one way is not better than the other, just different.

“Please watch the kids.” Okay, firstly, a man is not an imbecile. He understands that children need to be taken care of. I know it’s hard to trust anyone with your baby, but if you can trust anyone, it’s the person who provided the other half of the DNA.

If you are hypercritical of how he does it, he may stop trying and then you will be resentful that he’s not helping. If you want a hands-on-dad, you need to trust him to his own abilities. I promise he will surprise you. If you don’t, you will make him lose his confidence in his ability to care for his own child.

“Is that all you did?” I learned this lesson from having children. Never be condescending when someone is helping you do anything. Be appreciative that they are helping at all. Maybe it’s not perfect, but at least he’s trying and that’s more than most. Maybe you can gently demonstrate how to do it correctly by example rather than chastising his efforts.

Honestly, if you want to be happy for the rest of your life, open and honest communication with your spouse is the only way to go. Passive aggressive hints are for suckers who are headed for divorce. Speak your mind but do it with thought and care.

Photo Source: Samantha Lauren Photographie

SearSucker ~Where New American Cuisine Reigns Supreme

Posted on Mar 6, 2014 by No Comments

If you live in San Diego, Del Mar, Phoenix, Texas or Austin, Texas you may have heard of Searsucker? Searsucker is more than just a summer fabric from your childhood, it is Bravo’s Top Chef finalist, Brian Malarkey’s restaurant.

It is a foodie’s paradise, specializing in farm to table cuisine. It has a vibrant bar scene and is a fit for your special occasion. Enjoy an eclectic menu and indulge in its wide open comfortable space.

Recently, I had the opportunity to dine at Searsucker in San Diego, California. Searsucker is one of the finest downtown San Diego restaurants. Situated in the heart of the Gaslamp District, Searsucker serves new American Classic cuisine paired with specialty cocktails and unique local brews.

searsucker

Chef Malarkey has created a fantastic eatery full of local fare. The farm to table aspect is strongly reflected in the taste of the food, everything is fresh and clean. The menu includes fresh seafood caught on the San Diego coast as well as locally brewed lagers and ales on tap.

The airy, eclectic design of the 7,000 square foot restaurant in downtown San Diego features an open kitchen and lounge divided only by furniture. It feels part retro barn and part downtown nightclub.

Friends and family can chat with chefs and servers as easily as they can with each other. Searsucker isn’t a place to get away; it is a place to get together. The lighting is warm as is the atmosphere, and the staff are courteous and knowledgeable.

I was there with a large group and the staff handled the dinner, accommodating all of the different diets, without a hitch or complaint. Food was placed in front of each of us without interruption. My conversation with fellow diners was never intruded upon by a waiter leaning between or above us.

searsucker

There is a flow in Searsucker that is felt in everything from the conversation to the farm to table food and even in the atmosphere. You won’t want to leave and when you do, you will be counting down until the next time you come back.

The night I was there I sampled a lot of food, but there were still a lot of things that I didn’t get the chance to try. A girl’s only got so much room in her stomach, after all.

I started the evening with a house specialty drink called a Skinny Jenny. It was made from citrus vodka, ginger beer, lavender syrup and lime. If you like mojitos, you will love a Skinny Jenny. For appetizers, we had a sampling of the brie triple with strawberry jam and currants, artichoke hearts with Gruyere and tomato, and spicy shrimp with bacon grits. Is your mouth watering yet?

For my salad, I had the strawberry, champagne, walnut and goat cheese over a bed of fresh greens. It was as amazing as it sounds. For my main course, I indulged in the loin filet with lobster butter and mushroom demi. It was decadent.

For sides, we were brought a sampling of  butter potatoes, jalapeno chorizo corn off the cobb and fried Brussels sprouts with walnuts. I had never been a fan of Brussels sprouts before that night but now, I prepare them like this and I have them at least once a week.

To top it all off, we were brought samplings of the pig and peanut brownie, banana cake and vanilla bean cheesecake.

searsucker

I must admit that by the time I left, I was sufficiently stuffed but between the ambiance and the amazing food, I really didn’t want to leave. Great food and good conversation with new friends made a memorable impression on me and I would recommend Searsucker to everyone. Bon Appetite!

Photo Source: SearSucker