Archive for August, 2011

Back to School

It is that time of year where parents and kids are making final preparations for back to school.  This post is dedicated to both kids and adults.  Now that more and more adults are headed back to the classroom for advanced degrees, many of these ideas are helpful to you as well.

Backpacks

  • Make sure it is the right size, that it does not fall below the low back
  • Choose one with wide straps
  • When filling it with books and supplies, it does not exceed 15% of the person’s body weight
  • Always wear it over both shoulders

Lunch time/Snacks

  • Avoid candy and soda machines
  • Choose snacks such as string cheese, apple slices and crackers over potato chips and cookies
  • Build your salads with lots of color
  • Limit yourself to one desert
Be Active
  • Run around during recess
  • Participant in gym class
  • Walk or ride a bike instead of taking the bus
  • Move the body around and stretch if you sit for long periods of time

I hope these few tips will help as you and your loved ones begin the new school year.

be well-

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C’mon Irene

First the earthquake and now the hurricane.  As the east coast continues to get rocked by mother nature, I thought reviewing natural disaster preparation seemed quite appropriate.

No matter where you live in the country, we are all vulnerable to natural disaster.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, wild fires.  Even though we can’t always predict their path, we can be prepared for what happens before and after.

Hurricanes

If you are under a hurricane watch or warning, here are some basic steps to take to prepare for the storm:

  • Learn about your community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and locations of emergency shelters.
  • Identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them before the hurricane strikes. Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water, fallen power lines, or before you evacuate. Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate. Secure structurally unstable building materials.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher and make sure your family knows where to find it and how to use it.
  • Locate and secure your important papers, such as insurance policies, wills, licenses, stocks, etc.
  • Post emergency phone numbers at every phone.
  • Inform local authorities about any special needs, i.e., elderly or bedridden people, or anyone with a disability.

You should stock your home with supplies that may be needed during the emergency period. At a minimum, these supplies should include:

  • Several clean containers for water, large enough for a 3-5 day supply of water (about five gallons for each person).
  • A 3-5 day supply of non-perishable food.
  • A first aid kit and manual.
  • A battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries.
  • Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
  • Water-purifying supplies, such as chlorine or iodine tablets or unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach.
  • Prescription medicines and special medical needs.
  • Baby food and/or prepared formula, diapers, and other baby supplies.
  • Disposable cleaning cloths, such as “baby wipes” for the whole family to use in case bathing facilities are not available.
  • Personal hygiene supplies, such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
  • An emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.

Tornadoes

Learn about the tornado warning system of your county or locality. Most tornado-prone areas have a siren system. Know how to distinguish between the siren’s warnings for a tornado watch and a tornado warning.

A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes, for example, during a severe thunderstorm.

During a tornado watch,

  • Stay tuned to local radio and TV stations or a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio for further weather information.
  • Watch the weather and be prepared to take shelter immediately if conditions worsen.

A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar.

You should take shelter immediately.

Here are some safety precautions that could help you avoid injury after a tornado:

  • Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information.
  • Be careful when entering any structure that has been damaged.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves, and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.
  • Be aware of hazards from exposed nails and broken glass.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns, if possible, rather than candles to light homes without electrical power. If you use candles, make sure they are in safe holders away from curtains, paper, wood, or other flammable items. Never leave a candle burning when you are out of the room.
  • Never use generators, pressure washers, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper—or even outside near an open window, door, or vent. Carbon monoxide (CO)–an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if you breathe it–from these sources can build up in your home, garage, or camper and poison the people and animals inside. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.
  • Hang up displaced telephone receivers that may have been knocked off by the tornado, but stay off the telephone, except to report an emergency.
  • Cooperate fully with public safety officials.
  • Respond to requests for volunteer assistance by police, fire fighters, emergency management, and relief organizations, but do not go into damaged areas unless assistance has been requested. Your presence could hamper relief efforts, and you could endanger yourself.

Blizzards

  • Use fireplace, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space.
  • Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors—the fumes are deadly.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended.
  • Keep as much heat as possible inside your home.
  • Check the temperature in your home often during severely cold weather.
  • Leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously.
  • Eat well-balanced meals to help you stay warmer.

Wild Fires

Create a 30-100 foot safety zone around your home.  Within this area, you can take steps to reduce potential exposure to flames and radiant heat. Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum safety zone of 100 feet. If your home sits on a steep slope, standard protective measures may not suffice. Contact your local fire department or forestry office for additional information.

  • Rake leaves, dead limbs and twigs. Clear all flammable vegetation.
  • Remove leaves and rubbish from under structures.
  • Thin a 15-foot space between tree crowns, and remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
  • Remove dead branches that extend over the roof.
  • Prune tree branches and shrubs within 15 feet of a stovepipe or chimney outlet.
  • Ask the power company to clear branches from powerlines.
  • Remove vines from the walls of the home.
  • Mow grass regularly.
  • Clear a 10-foot area around propane tanks and the barbecue. Place a screen over the grill – use nonflammable material with mesh no coarser than one-quarter inch.
  • Regularly dispose of newspapers and rubbish at an approved site. Follow local burning regulations.
  • Place stove, fireplace and grill ashes in a metal bucket, soak in water for 2 days; then bury the cold ashes in mineral soil.
  • Store gasoline, oily rags and other flammable materials in approved safety cans. Place cans in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
  • Stack firewood at least 100 feet away and uphill from your home. Clear combustible material within 20 feet. Use only wood-burning devices evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Review your homeowner’s insurance policy and also prepare/update a list of your home’s contents.

In addition to being prepared for yourself, don’t forget about your four legged friends and other critters.  If an environment is deemed unsafe for you, the same applies for your pets.

Stay safe this weekend.

be well-

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Change it Up

I was chatting with one of my clients last week about what activities I take part in.  He pointed out that I played college hoops, was a personal trainer, a yoga instructor, and like to run and bike.  “You really are well-balanced, aren’t you?”

After ten years of working in the fitness industry and over thirty years of playing competitive and recreational sports, it amazes me that I have walked away with very few injuries.  There is no doubt I have sustained my share of sprained ankles, bruises, and bumps (thanks to my teammate Patty A for providing a brick wall for me so I could fall flat on my back).  I attribute the few number of injuries to cross-training.  We have all heard the phrase, but do you really understand what it means?

Cross-training refers to an athlete training in sports other than the one that athlete competes in with a goal of improving overall performance. It takes advantage of the particular effectiveness of each training method, while at the same time attempting to neglect the shortcomings of that method by combining it with other methods that address its weaknesses.  There is no need to be a competitive athlete in order to cross-train.  In fact, I encourage all of my clients to do this.  After college, I took up triathlon racing.  This was a great way for me to cross-train because I automatically had to work on three different disciplines in addition to strength training and flexibility.

Some of the great benefits to cross-training include:

  1. Injury Prevention– Most overuse injuries can be prevented or at least prevented from returning.
  2. Rehabilitation– Adopt a modified training program that allows you to maintain fitness without exacerbating your injury or prolonging the recovery process.
  3. Active Recovery–  A fact often overlooked is that workouts help you achieve athletic conditioning only when followed by rest and recovery-promoting activities.
  4. Enhanced Motivation– Anything you can do to increase your motivation for training is worth doing. In other words, a given training decision does not have to be justified by a purely physical rationale to be a good decision.
  5. Enjoy Other Sports– See if you can find that same passion in other sports or activities.  It may prevent boredom.

There are so many great ways to cross-train.  If you’re a runner, go for a swim or bike ride.  Prefer weight lifting, try taking a yoga class.  Take a shot at Budokon or Capoeira.  Find something that forces you to move in a direction or movement pattern your body is not used to.  This will help improve skill, strength, agility, mobility and balance.

be well-

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Step aside Caprese Salad

Red, green, yellow, large, small, round, cylindrical, fried, grilled, fresh…Summertime is in full swing and that means lots of tomatoes are abundantly ready for us.  The heirloom tomato is a great variety that offers all shapes and sizes to make any meal tasty.

Stepping aside from the traditional caprese salad of tomato mozzarella basil, here are a few salads with a twist-

Tomatoes with Oregano and Lime

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds of assorted ripe tomatoes in all shapes and sizes, cut into wedges if large or halved if small
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of evoo
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped fresh oregano
Directions- Arrange tomatoes on a serving platter; season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with oil and lime juice, sprinkle with oregano.

Tomatoes with Ginger, Lemon and Chile

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 1 small jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • Zest from 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
Directions- In a large bowl, toss together tomatoes, jalapeno or serrano chile, ginger, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Tomato and Avocado Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of assorted tomatoes (any color or size), sliced or halved if small
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted peeled and sliced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, or my favorite- Garlic Olive Oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
Directions- On a large plate or platter, arrange tomatoes and avocado.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

I hope you enjoy these easy to make, fun and tasty recipes.  Let me know what you think.

be well-

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Smaller bites, Chew your Food

It is no surprise, I love food.  Most all of it.  As a kid I heard these two phrases frequently, “smaller bites” and “chew your food.”

Over the years I have come to really enjoy the food I eat, avoiding inhaling it as fast as possible.  Using a smaller fork or spoon forces smaller bite sizes.  Even with these changes, one never knows what could happen.  How would you react if you were with a group of friends or family members and all of a sudden someone begins to choke.  Fight or flight kicks in.  Would you jump up and begin abdominal thrusts or sit in shock and panic?  I use the term abdominal thrusts because the Heimlich family prefers not to have their name associated with the treatment any longer (according to my most recent CPR training instructor).

Yesterday a person close to me encountered this very situation.  While sitting around with a group of people at work having lunch, someone began to choke.  Action was taken immediately.  They yelled to call 911 and the abdominal thrusts were started.  After the fifth thrust, a small piece of meat was dislodged.

The following information is taken from the New York State Department of Health:

Important Facts

  • Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death in children under the age of 5.
  • Children under age 5 are at greatest risk for choking injury and death.
  • Toys, household items and foods can all be a choking hazard.
  • The most common cause of nonfatal choking in young children is food.
  • At least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the U.S., and more than 10,000 children are taken to a hospital emergency room each year for food-choking injuries.
  • Toy manufacturers label toys for choking hazards and some food manufacturers voluntarily label food products as posing a potential choking risk; however, any food can present a choking risk.
  • Education regarding choking risks, precautions to take in avoiding these risks, and known life saving procedures are necessary to eliminate senseless and tragic injuries and deaths caused by choking.
  • Pediatricians, family practice physicians, health care workers, parents, grandparents, day care workers, school personnel, older children, siblings, babysitters and communities as a whole play a key role in the prevention of injuries and need to share information with caregivers to identify potential choking hazards.
  • The size of a young child’s trachea (windpipe) or breathing tube is approximately the size of a drinking straw in diameter. Imagine a piece of popcorn being lodged in this small area!

Precautions and Prevention

  • Never leave a small child unattended while eating. Direct supervision is necessary.
  • Children should sit up straight when eating, should have sufficient number of teeth, and the muscular and developmental ability needed to chew and swallow the foods chosen. Remember, not all children will be at the same developmental level. Children with special health care needs are especially vulnerable to choking risks.
  • Children should have a calm, unhurried meal and snack time.
  • Children should not eat when walking, riding in a car or playing.
  • Cut foods into small pieces, removing seeds and pits. Cook or steam vegetables to soften their texture. Cut hot dogs lengthwise and widthwise.
  • Model safe eating habits and chew food thoroughly.
  • Offer plenty of liquids to children when eating, but solids and liquids should not be swallowed at the same time. Offer liquids between mouthfuls.
  • Use only a small amount of peanut butter when the child is ready and use with jelly, or cream cheese on whole grain breads (Remember peanut butter can stick to the roof of a child’s mouth and form a glob.)
  • Think of shape, size, consistency and combinations of these when choosing foods.
  • Pay particular attention to those foods, toys and household hazards mentioned that pose choking hazards to ensure child safety.
  • Educate caregivers and the community about choking hazards and precautions to take to prevent choking. Identify emergency resources and contacts.
  • Become familiar with life-saving techniques such as child cardiopulmonary resuscitation, abdominal thrusts (Heimlich Maneuver), Automated External Defibrillators (AED) or calling 911.

Choking Hazards

Foods:

  • Hot dogs (especially cut into a coin shape), meats, sausages, and fish with bones
  • Popcorn, chips, pretzel nuggets, and snack foods
  • Candy (especially hard or sticky candy), cough drops, gum, lollipops, marshmallows, caramels, hard candies, and jelly beans
  • Whole grapes, raw vegetables, raw peas, fruits, fruits with skins, seeds, carrots, celery, and cherries
  • Dried fruits, sunflower seeds, all nuts, including peanuts
  • Peanut butter, (especially in spoonfuls or with soft white bread)
  • Ice cubes and cheese cubes
  • Foods that clump, are sticky or slippery, or dry and hard textured
  • Food size and shape, especially round or a shape that could conform to the shape and size of the trachea (windpipe). The size of a young child’s trachea (windpipe) or breathing tube is approximately the size of a drinking straw in diameter.
  • Combinations of food size, texture, and shape can pose a threat. For example, a slippery hard candy with a round shape about the size of a drinking straw could block an airway (windpipe)

Household Items/Toys:

  • Latex balloons, coins, marbles, toys with small parts, small balls, pen or marker caps, button type batteries, medicine syringes, screws, stuffing from a bean bag chair, rings, earrings, crayons, erasers, staples, safety pins, small stones, tiny figures, and holiday decorations including tinsel, or ornaments and lights
  • Any toy or other object that is labeled as a potential choking hazard

We all the the universal sign for choking.  But do you know how to help someone else or yourself if the case need be?  Taking a CPR course through organizations such as the Red Cross or American Heart Association is a great way to learn or refresh your skills.  One never knows when those skills will be taken into action.

be well-

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Set an Intention

At the beginning of a yoga class, I will often ask the students to set an intention.  What are they looking to get out of the class.  This morning as I was about to begin exercising, I did just that.  Once the workout was complete, I said to myself, “that was a great workout.”

In Phillip Moffitt’s article titled The Heart’s Intention, he wrote, Setting intention, at least according to Buddhist teachings, is quite different than goal making. It is not oriented toward a future outcome. Instead, it is a path or practice that is focused on how you are “being” in the present moment. Your attention is on the ever-present “now” in the constantly changing flow of life. You set your intentions based on understanding what matters most to you and make a commitment to align your worldly actions with your inner values.

Too often we feel off track, stray without meaning or direction.  We go through the motions, get sucked into the internet, become mindless of what we are doing.  Whether we are in a yoga class, setting out for an eight mile run, trying a new recipe, or reading the newspaper, we have the ability to set an intention with everything we do.

Setting intentions can help bring peace and understanding to ourselves and others.  Have you set your intention for today?

be well-

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Be Proactive

Your body is a machine.  Like any well-functioning machine, it needs to be maintained.  As your car ages, more maintenance is needed.  For your body, this means being proactive about your health and attending proper health screenings.  Cholesterol checks, stress tests, colonoscopies, bone density scans, and mammograms are to name just a few.  These early screenings can help detect abnormalities in your body, even though you may be symptom free.  There is a higher risk for dis-ease as we age.  We become more vulnerable to aches and pains.  Health scares such as high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hearing loss, and osteoporosis increase.

The following are some health screening guidelines according to the CDC:

Women

Breast Cancer

Ask your health care team whether a mammogram is right for you based on your age, family history, overall health, and personal concerns.

Cervical Cancer

Have a Pap smear every 1 to 3 years if you are 21 to 65 years old and have been sexually active. If you are older than 65 and recent Pap smears were normal, you do not need a Pap smear. If you have had a hysterectomy for a reason other than cancer, you do not need a Pap smear.

Chlamydia and Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases can make it hard to get pregnant, may affect your baby, and can cause other health problems.

  • Have a screening test for Chlamydia if you are 24 or younger and sexually active. If you are older than 24, talk to your health care team about being screened for Chlamydia.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse whether you should be screened for other sexually transmitted diseases.

 Colorectal Cancer

Have a screening test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier. Several different tests can detect this cancer. Your health care team can help you decide which is best for you.

Depression

Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your health care team about being screened for depression, especially if during the last 2 weeks:

  • You have felt down, sad, or hopeless.
  • You have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things.

 Diabetes

Get screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medication for high blood pressure.

Diabetes (high blood sugar) can cause problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts.

High Blood Pressure

Starting at age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. High blood pressure can cause stroke, heart attack, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure.

High Cholesterol

Starting at age 20, have your cholesterol checked regularly if:

  • You use tobacco.
  • You are obese.
  • You have diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • You have a personal history of heart disease or blocked arteries.
  • A man in your family had a heart attack before age 50 or a woman, before age 60.

HIV- Talk with your health care team about HIV screening if any of these apply to you:

  • You have had unprotected sex with multiple partners.
  • You have injected drugs.
  • You exchange sex for money or drugs or have sex partners who do.
  • You have or had a sex partner who is HIV-infected, bisexual, or injects drugs.
  • You are being treated for a sexually transmitted disease.
  • You had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.
  • You have any other concerns.

 Osteoporosis (Bone Thinning)

Have a screening test at age 65 to make sure your bones are strong. If you are younger than 65, talk to your health care team about whether you should be tested.

Men

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). AAA is a bulging in your abdominal aorta, the largest artery in your body. An AAA may burst, which can cause dangerous bleeding and death.

Colorectal Cancer

Have a screening test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier. Several different tests can detect this cancer. Your doctor can help you decide which is best for you.

Depression

Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for depression especially if during the last 2 weeks:

  • You have felt down, sad, or hopeless.
  • You have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things.

Diabetes

. Get screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medication for high blood pressure.  Diabetes (high blood sugar) can cause problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts.

High Blood Pressure

Starting at age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. High blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure.

High Cholesterol

If you are 35 or older, have your cholesterol checked. Have your cholesterol checked starting at age 20 if:

  • You use tobacco.
  • You are obese.
  • You have diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • You have a personal history of heart disease or blocked arteries.
  • A man in your family had a heart attack before age 50 or a woman, before age 60.

HIV- Talk with your health care team about HIV screening if any of these apply to you:

  • You have had unprotected sex with multiple partners.
  • You have sex with men.
  • You use or have used injection drugs.
  • You exchange sex for money or drugs or have sex partners who do.
  • You have or had a sex partner who is HIV-infected or injects drugs.
  • You are being treated for a sexually transmitted disease.
  • You had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.
  • You have any other concerns.

Syphilis

Ask your doctor or nurse whether you should be screened for syphilis.

It’s Your Body!You know your body better than anyone else. Always tell your doctor or nurse about any changes in your health, including your vision and hearing. Ask them about being checked for any condition you are concerned about, not just the ones here. If you are wondering about diseases such as glaucoma or skin cancer, for example, ask about them.

Now remember these are just guidelines, which means you may want to be screened earlier if something looks or feels abnormal or there is family history of a specific condition.  Listen to your body.  Eat right.  Exercise often.  Get your screenings.  BE PROACTIVE.

Your body is a high functioning machine, let’s keep it that way.

be well-

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