Archive for June, 2011


Say you are at a bbq this holiday  weekend and there is smorgasbord of  food.

What’s the first thing you grab for?

Every day we encounter all sorts of temptations.  With work, it’s the candy jar on the desk.  In restaurants they serve fun colored drinks with fancy names.  At home, the pantry is stocked full or the take-out menus are right there on the fridge .

My achilles heel is Nutella.  I could eat that on a piece of bread, on an apple or just by the spoonful.  While walking down the aisle in the store, I often struggle about putting the jar in the cart or not.  Once I give in, it doesn’t take long for the jar to end up in the garbage can.  So when I do resist, it’s a pretty good feeling.

There are many reasons we give in to food temptation.  Often our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.  Maybe we are just too tired to think about cooking, let alone prepare an entire meal.  Possibly it’s just the comfort of food that we make these choices.  Whatever the reason may be, the following are a few tips that can help decrease or even eliminate temptations.

At home

  • Out of site, out of mind.  This really does work.  Keep it out of your fridge or pantry, there’s no way you will eat it.
  • Drink a large class of water if you think you’re hungry.  After 10 minutes if you are still hungry, have a snack.
At restaurants
  • Take a look at the menu online before going.  That way you have an idea of what your choices are and won’t be surprised by anything.
  • Order first.  By doing this, you resist the chance of hearing what someone else is ordering and say, “Oh, that sounds good.  I’ll have the same.”
At social events
  • Have a small snack before going.  That way you feel a little full when you arrive.
  • Smaller plates mean smaller portion sizes.
  • Avoid sitting near the buffet table.
How would you deal with these temptations?
be well-

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Dear 16 year old me-

Have you ever thought about writing a letter to your sixteen year old self?  What would you say, what advice would you pass along?  I would let myself know how great of a life you will have.  The friends you will meet along the way, the places you will travel to and live.  I will encourage you to have a voice and continue to stand up for what you believe in.  Or how you will need to make big decisions regarding your health and well-being.  And then, I will let you know about social media and how powerful this tool will be.

While on Facebook earlier this week, I saw a PSA called Dear-16-year-old-me.  Within less than 24 hours, 10 friends had already shared the link on their wall.  I encourage you to watch in its entirety, and really listen.  After that, pass it along to friends, family and most importantly , your children.  As they are the targets to this campaign.

be well-

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When Nature Calls

Today’s summer solstice marks the year’s longest day of the year.  That means summers is officially here.  What better way to enjoy the summer than connecting with nature.  Even though I live in an urban city, there is no shortage of nature.  For example, the Boston Common and Public Garden and all the small parks offer lots of green space around the city.  And then there is hiking the trails at the Fells, swimming and kayaking the lakes of New Hampshire, listening to the waves crash against the rocks and boulders in Rockport, the feeling of sand between the toes walking around Wingaersheek, or whale watching in Provincetown.

With all the technology at our finger tips, we are becoming disconnected with both nature and ourselves.  Getting connected to nature is a great way to connect with yourself by becoming present with your surroundings.  Incorporate as many senses as you can; listen, touch, look, smell, and taste what you can.

Connecting with nature allows us to feel grounded and brings balance back into our lives.  Below are some pictures I’ve taken over the last few years in regards to how I connect with nature.

Rockport, MA

kayaking in Lee, NH

hiking the Fells

biking in Provincetown, MA

How do you connect with nature?

be well-

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Forever Grateful

From the moment I could walk, I was playing sports.  Softball and basketball were the two loves of my life.  There are few summer days of when I wasn’t outside tossing the ball with my brother or shooting hoops against the barn.  Around the age of fifteen I was told I had asthma because of difficulty breathing while running up and down the basketball court.

Fast forward a few years later, my sophomore year of college.  The coaches wanted to know if we were working hard enough during preseason.  They asked our exercise science department to borrow the heart rate monitors used in class.  We all strapped one on and after two warm-up laps around the track, mine read 185.  This meant my heart rate was beating a 185 beats per minute.  After jokingly tapping the watch, I said, “Coach, I think something’s wrong with my watch.”  She took a look and determined that I’d wear a different one the next day.  The battery was probably low or something wrong with the computer in the watch itself.  So, the next day, I put a different strap and watch on.  Again, after two laps the watch read extremely high.  I was immediately pulled from practice and told to see the athletic trainers.  From there, my participation in practice was limited until I could see a cardiologist.

A few days later I was running on a treadmill with increasing speed and elevation over fifteen minutes.  At the end of the test, that doctor said, “You’re a college athlete, it’s okay to have an elevated heart rate.”  Not liking that answer, I sought a second opinion back home.  During another stress test, my max heart rate hit 227.  The old rule of thumb for determining your max heart rate is 220 minus your age.  If that were true, my max heart rate should have been 201.  Clearly something was wrong.  After several more appointments and tests, it was determined that I have an enlarged heart and was diagnosed with exercise induced tachycardia.  A fancy term which means my heart rate exceeds normal range while exercising.

I spent the next couple of years trying to control this diagnosis, while also trying to maintain a normal resting heart rate.  The two did not work hand in hand.  Ultimately, I chose to opt out of playing my senior year of college.  This was a difficult decision, and one I had to make on my own.  I have to believe that it was difficult for my parents, coaches and training staff to see me pushing myself as hard as I could everyday, knowing there was a heart condition.

Chances are that the asthma I had at fifteen was probably more likely due to the enlarged heart.  It is common for young athletes that play stop and go sports like basketball and football to develop this.  It seems like every few months there is a story of a young kid that dies on the basketball court or football field, having played just minutes before with no sign of complications.

So how does it affect my life now?  I rely on that heart rate monitor every time I go for a run.  Some may dismiss the use of heart rate monitoring.  They say you should work at high intensity all the time.  Go by how you feel, that those numbers don’t mean anything.  I for one, will be forever grateful to the coaches for making us strap on the heart rate monitor twelve years ago.

be well-

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Itchy eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat?  Yep, it is that time of the year again.  I normally wear my reading glasses while diving into a book or spend long hours on the computer.  These days, I’ve been sporting them while at work to keep from poking my eyes out because they are so irritated from allergies.

Allergies begin when the immune system mistakes a harmless substance such as pollen, animal dander or dust mites as a dangerous invader.  From there, the body produces antibodies that can be “on alert” for that particular allergen.  When you are exposed to these allergens in the future, the body will release a chemical called histamine.  This will cause the symptoms of allergies.

A few tips to help reduce symptoms:

  • rinse and clear your nasal cavity of irritants using a neti pot
  • wash your bedding on a regular basis
  • avoid spending large amounts of time outdoors when pollen counts are high
  • incorporate temporary, natural decongestants to your food such as horseradish, chili peppers or hot mustard
I must admit, when I use the neti pot on a regular basis, my symptoms are reduced dramatically.  What has been your experience with it?
be well-

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Did you Know- Childhood Obesity

Earlier this year, Melody Barnes, Chair of the Task Force on Childhood Obesity, recently presented a letter to President Obama with the action plan of solving our nation’s childhood obesity problem within one generation.  This document is 124 pages long and so far I have only read the first nine pages.  Within those pages, some mind-blowing stats stand out.  A few that really struck me are:

  • 31.7% of 2-19 year olds are overweight or obese.
  • Medical spending on adults attributing to obesity in 1998 was $40 billion.  In 2008, $147 billion.
  • More than 25% of Americans between 17-24 are unqualified for military service because they are too heavy.
  • Between survey periods of 1976-1980 and 2007-2008, obesity in adults has doubled and it has more than tripled among children and adolescents.
  • Obesity rates are highest among non-Hispanic black girls and Hispanic boys.
  • Obese 6-8 year olds were approximately ten times more likely to become obese than those with lower BMIs.
  • 13% of the daily caloric intake for 12-19 year olds now comes from sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Poor quality sleep increases the risk of obesity.
These are just of the few I chose to highlight.  As I make my way through this document, I will share more.  Along with all of these statistics is an action plan to help reduce the number of children and adolescents who are overweight and obese.   One way is to educate ourselves and our youth.  As parents and caretakers, it is our responsibility to set the right example and show the way.  Play outside, walk to school, choose fruit rather than cookies.  Small changes will lead to healthier lives.
What are some ways you can help with this initiative.
be well-

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