Archive for September, 2011

Apples to Oranges

As I was walking through the city this week I stopped by one of our many local farmer’s markets.  There was an abundance of fresh produce, organic meat, poultry, eggs, and cheeses.

It is important that we become more educated about nutritional values of foods, where they come from and how they are grown.  While many grocery stores are increasing the number of USDA organic foods, why not cut out the middle man when you can.  Eat locally.

Here are a few reasons to eat locally-

  • More income for the local economy, support your farmers
  • Plain and simple, local food tastes better because it’s fresh
  • Local fruits and vegetables have a longer shelf life to ripen
  • Avoid films of wax and pesticides
  • More variety and keep in touch with what’s in season
  • Organic or free range meats

Madison, WI holds the nation’s largest market, which consumes the entire “square” around the capital.  If you are ever lucky enough to attend- GO!!!!!  Otherwise, find one in your local community and enjoy all the great things you come home with.

be well-


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Bring the Outside- in

Between spring and fall, we always had fresh-cut flowers somewhere in the house.  Growing up on a piece of property that had, let’s be conservative and say eight different gardens, fresh flowers were a staple in our home.  So it was no surprise that when I was home this summer, there they were.  My parents spend many hours outside watering, weeding, pruning and most of all enjoying their gardens.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have the space or right environment for this to happen.  However, I do enjoy fresh flowers every week.  Depending on the season will determine what can be found on our kitchen table or countertop.  The following are a few flowers we’ve enjoyed in our home.

Whether it be dahlias, orchids, roses, daisies or sunflowers, they bring a life and energy to the room.  With their bright colors and beautiful shapes, how can they not make you smile?  So go out to your garden, local flower shop or farmers market and bring a little of the outside world, in.

be well-

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A time to Reflect

Where were you on 9/11?  With the ten-year anniversary in just a few days, I thought this might be a nice opportunity to reflect on the past ten years as an individual.

I was a recent college grad from the mid-west who had moved to our nation’s capital that June.  Coming from rural Wisconsin, I was ready to take on the big city.  Learning how to use the Metro, being steps way from the Smithsonian and all the beautiful monuments and other amazing museums, the excitement of my first full-time job out of school.  I was loving every minute, trying to take advantage of every opportunity I could to get to know this wonderful city.

And then it happened, the world as we knew it had changed.  There is no doubt in my mind from that afternoon through present day, our nation showed how strong we are as one.  Coming together to help those we could save.  And to console those who did not.

I continued to live in the DC area for the next few years, really loving the city I had moved to.  It was a great opportunity for me to grow both personally and professionally.  I learned what it was like to live on my own, without having my parents a short drive away.  I learned what it was like to work with high school kids and professional athletes.  I learned how to drive a 32 foot RV.  I learned the importance of creating lasting relationships, both at home and work.

And then it was time to move on.  After making a few visits to the northeast, Boston is now home.  Once moving to Boston I continued to grow.  I have held the same job for the past six and half years working to help others improve their health and wellness.  I volunteered in the lower 9th ward after Hurricane Katrina.  I have helped to create a non-profit organization for those in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse.  I teach yoga and compete in triathlons.  I have found my voice in the LGBT community.  I am the proud mother to three wonderful dogs.  Social networking sites such as Facebook has helped me reconnect with those from my past.

Whether it’s from 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, moving to a new city or learning more about yourself each day, there is much to reflect and hold onto, as we each have our own story.

be well

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Attacking Heart Disease

As someone who works in the fitness industry, heart disease is something I see all too often. With the growing epidemic of obesity, it scares me more than ever that the youth of today will likely not out-live their parents.  On a personal note, one of my grandmothers had a stroke and the other we lost suddenly to a massive heart attack. In addition, three of my uncles have undergone heart surgery. 

Taken from the American Heart Association:

How much do you really know about your heart’s health? It’s easy to be fooled by misconceptions. After all, heart disease only happens to your elderly neighbor or to your fried food-loving uncle, right? Or do you know the real truth – that heart disease can affect people of any age, even those who eat right?

Relying on false assumptions can be dangerous to your heart. Cardiovascular disease kills more Americans each year than any other disease. But you can boost your heart smarts by separating fact from fiction. Let’s set the record straight on some common myths.

  1. “I’m too young to worry about heart disease.” How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries. One in three Americans has cardiovascular disease, but not all of them are senior citizens. Even young and middle-aged people can develop heart problems – especially now that obesity, type 2 diabetes and other risk factors are becoming more common at a younger age.
  2. “I’d know if I had high blood pressure because there would be warning signs.” High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because you don’t usually know you have it. You may never experience symptoms, so don’t wait for your body to alert you that there’s a problem. The  way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your numbers with a simple blood pressure test. Early treatment of high blood pressure is critical because, if left untreated, it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other serious health problems.
  3.  “I’ll know when I’m having a heart attack because I’ll have chest pain.” Not necessarily. Although it’s common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Learn you risk of heart attacktoday!
  4. “Diabetes won’t threaten my heart as long as I take my medication.” Treating diabetes can help reduce your risk for or delay the development of cardiovascular diseases. But even when blood sugar levels are under control, you’re still at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. That’s because the risk factors that contribute to diabetes onset also make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Theseoverlapping risk factors include high blood pressure, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity and smoking.
  5. “Heart disease runs in my family, so there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.” Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Create an action plan to keep your heart healthy by tackling these to-dos: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; control blood sugar; and stop smoking.
  6. “I don’t need to have my cholesterol checked until I’m middle-aged.” The American Heart Association recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20. It’s a good idea to start having a cholesterol test even earlier if your family has a history of heart disease. Children in these families can have high cholesterol levels, putting them at increased risk for developing heart disease as adults. You can help yourself and your family by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
  7. “Heart failure means the heart stops beating.” The heart suddenly stops beating during cardiac arrest, not heart failure. With heart failure, the heart keeps working, but it doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It can cause shortness of breath, swelling in the feet and ankles or persistent coughing and wheezing. During cardiac arrest, a person loses consciousness and stops normal breathing.
  8. “This pain in my legs must be a sign of aging. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my heart.” Leg pain felt in the muscles could be a sign of a condition called peripheral artery disease. PAD results from blocked arteries in the legs caused by plaque buildup. The risk for heart attack or stroke increases five-fold for people with PAD.
  9. “My heart is beating really fast. I must be having a heart attack.” Some variation in your heart rate is normal. Your heart rate speeds up during exercise or when you get excited, and slows down when you’re sleeping. Most of the time, a change in your heartbeat is nothing to worry about. But sometimes, it can be a sign of arrhythmia, an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Most arrhythmias are harmless, but some can last long enough to impact how well the heart works and require treatment.
  10. “I should avoid exercise after having a heart attack.” No! As soon as possible, get moving with a plan approved for you! Research shows that heart attack survivors who are regularly physically active and make other heart-healthy changes live longer than those who don’t. People with chronic conditions typically find that moderate-intensity activity is safe and beneficial. The American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Find the help you need by joining acardiac rehabilitation program, or consult your healthcare provider for advice on developing a physical activity plan tailored to your needs.

It is important that we raise money for education, research and policy to decrease the nation’s number one killer- Heart Disease!   Next Saturday, September 10th, I am walking to help with this effort.  I will be joined by friends and co-workers as we take part in the Boston Heart Walk.

If you would like to donate to this cause, please check out my page:

be well-

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