Finding a Diet that Works

Posted on Nov 21, 2014 by No Comments

In my quest to eat healthy and lose weight, one thing I’ve come to learn is that balance and moderation is the key.

In the past, I’ve given up meat, given up flour, given up sugar, detoxed, fasted, juiced, ate raw, counted calories, counted carbs. I lost weight and felt great on all of them, but eventually I gained back the weight and landed back at “start.”

I was not equipped to keep it off – no matter how many of the diets call themselves “lifestyles” for me, they did not overcome my default behavior. Again, I have weight to lose so where do I turn?

The one good thing about trying so many ways to eat healthy and keep my weight within the normal range, I’ve learned things about myself.

For instance, I can do without sweets if I have to, but if I don’t indulge every once in a while my sweet tooth gets the better of me and the next thing you know I’m binging. And it’s not just sweets.

Diets that totally restrict a whole category, or categories, of food, eventually don’t work for me.

Woman measuring waist
Counting calories really works well, but I have to be careful. It’s not just about how many calories I eat. It’s finding the balance and moderation of eating right.

For instance, one time a friend of mine started eating dips and chips as we were preparing for a party later in the day. He ate all of his calories for the whole day by breakfast time, so he ate pickles for the rest of the day because they were “free” on his diet.

Instead, approaching calories with what I learned from low-carb dieting has helped me avoid feeling hungry by making choices that are lower carb, too. However, most days I do allow myself a sweet treat of some kind. Right now it is a serving of ice cream.

And by the way, that doesn’t mean a bowl of ice cream. It’s a moderate amount, but enough to keep me happy. I actually weigh it out on a food scale so I don’t “cheat” and sabotage myself. Eating ice cream is not good or bad, but eating too much ice cream often is bad for me.

And I’m not alone. A recent study says that sugar should be about 5 percent of our daily calories. According to the latest guidelines, for someone on a 2000 calorie diet that means about 100 calories come from sugar. That translates to 6 teaspoons.

I admit; I’m not there, but not sure I ever will be. For now I’ll settle for balanced and moderate.

Photo credits: Post Memes, wikimedia

Easy Christmas Nail Art

Posted on Nov 20, 2014 by No Comments

It can be fun to celebrate the holidays right down to our fingertips. For the Fourth of July I got together with a bunch of girlfriends and their daughters and we did pedicures with red, white, and blue.

Now I’ve started to gather some easy Christmas nail art for a party in December. We break into twos and do each other’s nails after we pick the nail art we want. I learned it’s best to keep it less complicated since the kids take part in the effort.

Here are a few ideas I think are winners:

Santa Hats

This Santa hat pattern is very easy.

  1. Just cross two pieces of clear tape over your finger nails, leaving a space the shape of a triangle.
  2. Paint a protective clear coat over the exposed triangle.
  3. When it’s dry paint with red. Wait 30 seconds and peel the tape off carefully. This creates a red triangle with even edges.
  4. With a large dotting tool, create a white pom-pom at the point of the triangle. With a smaller dotting tool, create a row of connected white dots at the bottom of the hat. Add a second row above it. When dry, apply a fast drying clear top coat.

Christmas Tree Nails

You can use the same triangle art to create Christmas tree nail art. Start by painting the nail with a background color like gold. When it is dry, tape off the fingernail and paint a green triangle.

You can use glitter polish, or a matte green and then decorate with white, red and gold dots for ornaments using the dotting tool. Top the tree with a star nail decal or just add a red large red dot with the large dotting tool. When dry add a fast drying clear top coat.

Christmas Nail Art

For something even easier, you can just paint your nails in Christmas colors and then add nail art from snowflakes to Christmas trees or Santa. This is a really quick way to get that festive look.

Photo credits: Amazon

JetBlue Presents Program that Helps Autistic Kids Fly

Posted on Nov 19, 2014 by No Comments

Flying with kids can be a little stressful. Everyone is out of their routine, strange surroundings, and lots of strangers who expect everyone to behave.

When something like a delay adds to the mix and a fussy child starts to make a commotion, stress levels can really skyrocket. Poor parents find themselves caught between the stares of other passengers, and the child they are trying to quiet.

Just writing about it is stressful.

For parents of an autistic child it can be even more of a challenge, but JetBlue Airways is offering help to families of autistic children to help prepare them for the experience of flying.

They have partnered with Blue Horizons For Autism with a program that simulates air travel to help autistic kids experience it in a “realistic, relaxed environment” before they actually fly.

A recent event at John F. Kennedy International Airport drew more than 250 people. Two separate sessions allowed visitors to walk through the entire travel process, including check-in at the airport ticket counter, security screening, waiting at the gate for the plane, boarding, and taxiing on the tarmac.

Once they were on the plane, JetBlue crew members were on hand to guide families through pre-takeoff procedures and flight simulation, along with 15 behavior analysts from Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism who volunteered their time and support for participating families throughout the day.

Both sessions ended with a festive reception marking the accomplishment for participants.

This program actually helps meet needs of the autism community in even more ways, because along with helping autistic children adjust to flying, it also helps educate airline employees about autism and how to meet needs of these special children and their families.

JetBlue and Autism Speaks received such positive feedback that they hope to offer the program to as many cities as possible.

Photo credits: JetBlueCorpComm

After Dinner Habits that Cause Weight Gain

Posted on Nov 19, 2014 by 1 Comment

It seems that every time I decide to get serious about trying to lose weight there are more exceptions than ever that come my way. What do I mean by exceptions? Things like someone’s birthday, invite to dinner at someone’s house, a pot luck dinner, and all those sorts of things that we tend to celebrate with food.

But while those things can be hurdles, they can be navigated if you make a plan before they happen. When I think about it, it’s not the exceptions that do me in. It’s my daily habits, in particular, it’s my after dinner habits that pack on the pounds.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I have more will power during the day. Perhaps because I’m working. I usually plan what I’m having for lunch, and even if I’m having a snack I give myself healthy options by planning ahead.

Even though I’m a freelance writer, I schedule a lunch and exercise time. It’s all good because I’m “being good.”

By the time I eat dinner, all I want to do is relax and do nothing. Except, I tend to mindlessly snack to relax. It’s like I equate eating pretzels, ice-cream, or cookies with unwinding. That one habit can ruin all my healthy efforts for the day!

To get around this, I’ve started extending my plan to include a snack after dinner. It would be better to not snack at all, but for now I’m trying to stick to something light, and then I’m done. If I still want something, I choose an herbal tea with cinnamon or peppermint flavor. It helps.

Another thing that can cause us to gain weight is to not get enough sleep. I’ve known this for years, but found myself up in the middle of the night frustrated because I couldn’t sleep.

Studies have shown people who don’t get enough sleep end up eating more than people who do. With that in mind, I’ve started getting ready for bed an hour earlier including brushing my teeth. Then I read for about a half an hour. That usually does the trick. I’m sleeping better than I have in decades.

Don’t let your after dinner habits sabotage your efforts to be a healthy weight. Stop snacking after dinner and try to get enough sleep. You may be surprised at the results. At least on my scale, the numbers are going in the right direction and it sure feels good to awake refreshed in the morning.

Photo credits: Latenitelullabies

Viagra Could Be Next Treatment for Heart Disease

Posted on Nov 18, 2014 by No Comments

The “little blue pill” called Viagra skyrocketed in popularity when it hit the market in 1998 after the Food and Drug Administration approved it for the treatment of impotence in men. It became the most successful commercial drug over the next decade with more than 1.8 billion pills sold.

I remember when Viagra first came out. It was sold as a heart medication which happened to have a beneficial side effect that helped overcome erectile dysfunction and enhanced sexual performance in men. Soon that became the main reason it was prescribed.

Now a new study shows that the little blue pill could also be a possible treatment for heart disease and suggests maybe it should be considered further for cardiovascular treatment.

So is the little blue pill ready to return to its roots? It was originally designed to treat high blood pressure and cardio vascular disease because it helped widen blood vessels and increase blood flow.

Back then it was developed under the generic name Sildenafil, but its early use as a heart medication ran into a setback when some users experienced cardiovascular events and resulted in the death of a few people. As a result, most doctors stopped prescribing it for men who had heart disease.

I can’t help but think of the commercials that warn us to talk to our doctor to see if our heart is healthy enough for sex. What they are really saying is to check with the doctor to see if our hearts are healthy enough to take Viagra.

It turns out that further research showed that the problems came about when Viagra was taken in combination with other medications which contained nitro compounds. The result was a sudden drop in blood pressure while having sex which can be harmful to a person with an existing heart problem.

“Clearly, this is the result of a series of conditions occurring simultaneously. When Viagra is taken correctly, it is no longer a concern.” — Andrea M. Isidori corresponding author

This new study shows that Viagra may actually help improve heart function. Turns out that the ingredient PDE5i shows promise in preventing the heart from enlarging and changing shape in patients who suffer from left ventricular hypertrophy which cause the muscles in the left ventricle to thicken.

Research also showed improvement in patients with other heart conditions, with no negative effect of blood pressure.

Most of the people in this study were men, so that leaves us with the question of whether or not it will offer the same benefits to women. Needless to say, more research is needed, but the little blue pill looks like it offers promise for those with heart disease.

The problem is that the kinds of studies needed are so expensive that drug companies may not be willing to make the investment. It just seems to me that the little blue pill has brought in an awful lot of money and could help pay for some of that research to find out what it can do for women, too. Don’t you think?

Photo credits: David Pakman Show

Eating Yogurt May Replace Colonoscopy in the Future

Posted on Nov 17, 2014 by No Comments

Which would you rather do: have a colonoscopy or eat a yogurt? A lot of us put off colonoscopies because we just don’t want to go through it for one reason or another.

Since my sister experienced a punctured colon and ended up in the hospital following her colonoscopy, I admit I’ve shied away from the procedure. Now MIT professor Sangeeta Bhatia is working on something that might let us detect colon cancer without a colonoscopy.

Bhatia is working on an engineered bacteria designed to detect cancer when consumed orally. Add this bacteria to a spoonful of yogurt and after its nanoparticles pass through the digestive system all we’ll have to do is use a test strip similar to a pregnancy test next time we urinate to get the results.

I’m amazed at this woman’s genius. Her “invention” would be much less invasive, cost less, and save us the embarrassment of lying there while someone sticks a scope up our rear end, too. Those are all reasons we put off getting a colonoscopy which can save our lives!

With this new option, the synthetic molecules can be eaten in yogurt and will interact with cancer if it’s present and produce biomarkers to alert us that it is there. Bhatia has also developed the paper-based urine test to detect the telltale biomarkers.

I don’t know about you but I sometimes joke that its like we are living in a Science Fiction world with all the new things being discovered and developed. Bhatia’s discovery has the potential to transform diagnostics.

Now the question remains: How long until we actually get to take advantage of it? She is in the process of forming a company to commercialize the procedure.

In the meantime, it’s important to get screened because when detected early, 90 percent of people with colorectal cancer survive for at least five more years. Early diagnosis is important.

Photo credits: theimpulsivebuy

Fresh Prince Cast Shows Support on DWTS

Posted on Nov 17, 2014 by No Comments

“Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star Alfonso Ribeiro has been holding his own this season on “Dancing With the Stars” despite injuring himself when performing his famous Carlton dance.

While I had hoped he’d go back to his Fresh Prince roots and perform the dance, I’ve been worried about him trying to compete and re-injuring or aggravating the injury. But he’s pushed through it and been amazing, and fans have been encouraging him along the way.

This past Monday, it turns out that his fictional Banks family showed up to show their support this past week, too.  His fictional sisters and co-stars Karyn Parsons and Tatyana Ali were there. We knew them as Hilary and Ashley Banks. They were joined by Joseph Marcell who played the Banks’ British butler, Geoffrey.

Ribeiro, who is now 43, gained his stardom on the 90s sitcom as the character, Carlton. It was fun to see him reunited with members of the “Banks” family on DWTS after all these years.  He told Us Weekly that it was “really cool” to have his lifelong friends watch him perform and offer their support.

“Joe’s [in] all the way from England. Just having [all of] them here was wonderful. They’re family to me. They’ll always be family.” – Alfonso Ribeiro via Us Weekly

Riberiro had told Us in a previous interview about how the cast of Fresh Prince had remained close after the show ended in 1996 and it showed on DWTS. It turns out that, Alfanso’s wife, Angela Unkrich, is even friends with Tatyana and Karyn.

Some people might think this was all a ploy to get more votes for Riberiro, but I think the support was genuine. The cast has remained close, and for years fans have hoped for a “reboot” of the show to bring the stars back into our living rooms each week.

However, E! News recently reported the revival of the 90′s favorite won’t be happening because of the death of James Avery last year. Guess we’ll have to settle for mini reunions like this one as well as Will Smith’s impromptu “Fresh Prince” performances.

Photo credits: Celebrity TV

Mom Turns to Facebook to Address Nasty Anonymous Note

Posted on Nov 14, 2014 by 1 Comment

When I was growing up, we knew our neighbors. We were in one another’s homes, our parents got together socially. We didn’t just recognize each other; we all knew one another.

It was still that way when my children were young, but gradually people moved away from real relationships and we fell into a wave-at-one-another kind of friendliness.

I recently had a note placed on my car for parking on the easement across from the house I was visiting. The property was a wooded ravine but offered enough off-the shoulder space to park.

The note told me not to park there because it was hard enough to get the grass to grow. I looked around wondering who would have put it there. No clue, but I didn’t park there again.

My story is nothing compared to the young 26-year-old mom who arrived home to find an anonymous note in her mailbox that actually accused her of being a negligent parent. It read:

“You may be able to ignore your baby crying but we are tired of listening to him crying non-stop all day.”

The mom, Trish LaForty, admits that the note left her feeling “shocked and emotional.” She and her family live in an apartment complex, and hadn’t had any problem with any of their neighbors.

Like me, she had no idea who had written the note, so she went to the community’s Facebook page and posted this message:

To whoever wrote this note: thanks. Like being a parent isn’t tough enough… You didn’t even have the guts to come knock on our door.

FYI Our baby doesn’t cry ‘all day’, he cries when he doesn’t want do go to sleep, when he’s getting his nappy changed and when I say ‘no’ because I refuse to let him be spoiled and run around like he owns the joint.

If you’d like to chat more, feel free to pop in. You obviously know where we live.

To her surprise the post garnered overwhelming responses that were supportive and positive. So she decided to do things the old-fashioned way. She visited her closest neighbors to clear up any misunderstandings and to see if any of them had received similar notes.

It turned out her neighbors were as surprised about the note as she was. No one had any idea who had written it.

LaForty said, “I think it’s sad that there are still people out there who lack the true feel of what a community should be.” Perhaps her visits to her neighbors can rekindle some of that, or at the least put a stop to any more of nasty anonymous note deliveries.

Photo credits: SunriseOn7

Size 10 Is Plus Size – Really?

Posted on Nov 14, 2014 by No Comments

I know that the fashion industry promotes thin, but when Calvin Klein kicked off its new “Perfectly Fit” campaign with model Myla Dalbesio I was stunned to find she was labeled as a size 10 plus size beauty.

You heard me right. Size 10, according to fashion industry standards is plus size.

Size 10 might be plus size for really short people, but Dalbesio actually looks healthy and fit. In an interview with, the 27-year-old model admitted, “It’s kind of confusing because I’m a bigger girl. I’m not the biggest girl on the market but I’m definitely bigger than all the girls [Calvin Klein] has ever worked with, so that is really intimidating.”

However, once she found herself at the center of a controversy she defended Calvin Klein when she appeared on the Today Show. She told co-host Savannah Guthrie, “It’s really unfortunate because Calvin Klein has done something that’s really groundbreaking. There’s not a lot of spots for us to fit in the fashion industry. They released the campaign with me right alongside all of the other girls of varying shapes and sizes, and didn’t make a fuss about it.”

In defense of Calvin Klein, they aren’t the ones who used the label “plus size” for this campaign. They were actually trying to be inclusive and just concentrate on the women as a group.

The Perfectly Fit line is intended to cater to the needs of different women, and it was actually the article written by Elle where the plus size label came up. So I do applaud Calvin Kline for trying to do the right thing.

I can’t help but wonder why a size 10 girl is considered so big that she is an exception to the rule if she is in the fashion industry. Why not have everyone represented. Let’s face it, those of us who buy the clothes off the rack come in a variety of sizes including 10 and up.

Dalbesio is proud that she has become an inspiration to others. She told Guthrie, “I’m getting these emails from 15-year-old girls in the middle of America that are saying, Thank you so much, I’ve never seen myself represented in this way before.”

Photo credits. AUMediaGallery