Archive for December, 2013

A time of Reflection and a time to look Forward

Ah, we are just a few short days away from ringing in the new year.  I was going through many of the photos from 2013 and thought about what a great year it truly was.  Every picture has a story.  Below are just a few of my favorites.

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Cheers to the New Year

remember to smile

remember to smile

pets enjoying the sunshine

pets enjoying the sunshine

practicing my new hobby

practicing my new hobby

Seane Corn yoga retreat

Seane Corn yoga retreat

a few books I read

a few books I read

a few left to finish

a few left to finish

visiting an old friend

visiting an old friend

taking in a ball game

taking in a ball game

love the beach at dusk

love the beach at dusk

family reunion

family reunion

I love seeing a friend follow their passion

I love seeing a friend follow their passion

Jason Collins walking in the Pride parade

Jason Collins walking in the Pride parade

first ever Del's

first ever Del’s

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two of my favorite people

this holds true

this holds true

Hopkinton to Boston 2014!

Hopkinton to Boston 2014!

There are many great adventures to be had in 2014.  Some are already planned such as running the Boston Marathon or being a spectator as my brother does IronMan Wisconsin.  I look forward to improving my attempt at playing guitar.  There are yoga and meditation retreats to attend.  A list of books keeps increasing.  This will go along nicely with my goal of cutting back on screen time; less technology and more hands on reading and writing.

The phrase New Years Resolutions sounds too cliché for me.  How about finding ways to improve your life.  What speaks to you?  Then make it reality for 2014 and beyond.

be well and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Messy eating leads to Exploration

Stop playing with your food!  Did you ever hear this as a kid?

A recent study published in Developmental Science concluded that toddlers learn better when given the opportunity to play with their food.  16-month-old children were taught new names for foods like jelly and syrup, then tested to see if they could connect those names with the foods when they were presented in different colors and shapes.

couscous and avocados

The psychologists who did this research were interested in the question of how babies learn about “nonsolid” objects. “We had noticed in our lab work before that children are much better at learning names for new solid objects that they didn’t know before,” said Lynn Perry, now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and lead author of the study.

Solid objects such as cup, ball or chair are much easier to identify.  But when exploring softer foods, it is more imperative for kids to use all of their senses such as taste, touch, and smell to really grasp what is in front of them.  The messy eater experiment is also about play, and the way that children explore their worlds and learn as they go.  Toddlers play with their food because toddlers play with their worlds.  And by playing and exploring, they accumulate all kinds of data, which helps them put together a picture and a vocabulary for the world around them.

Our households have so many screens between tv, computers, iPods, and smart phones which offers less chance of exploration.  Sitting down at meal time is a great time to get creative and investigate.  “These simple everyday activities like eating that we might take for granted, for the child really are rich sources of information,” Dr. Perry said.

The next time your kid wants to play with their food, let them explore…

be well-

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Have you ever…

Have you ever looked at a piece of fitness equipment with total perplexity?  Case in point, the image below-

 

Last night while I was at a holiday party, my friend was explaining how 2014 is going to be the year she gets back to working out and being healthy.  As a mother of a three-year old and twins who are 10 months old, the days of running seven miles are long gone.

It comes as no surprise that health and wellness are a top priority for resolutions.  My advice if you do decide to join a gym or health club, seek the advice of their staff.  Working with a personal trainer offers many benefits.  Below are just a few:

  • Accountability and Motivation
  • Proper technique and Form
  • Focus on Your Unique Health Concerns
  • Faster and Better Results
  • Individualized Programs based on your Goals
  • Breakthrough Plateaus

Just remember- you don’t want to end up like the guy in the picture above.

be well-

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Yoga Etiquette

Last night I spoke with someone who left a yoga class before it ever started because another class participant was wearing too much perfume.  She asked if there were any “rules” about wearing perfume.  I explained that we do not have any hard rules but encourage participants to limit perfume and cologne.

This encounter led me to write about yoga etiquette.  It seems more and more that people are becoming disconnected with ourselves and those around us.  Below are some tips to help you get the most out of your yoga practice-

  • Arrive early and stay through the entire class, including savasana.
  • Let your teacher know about injuries or conditions that might affect your practice.
  • Create an intention.
  • Leave cell phones and other electronics OUTSIDE of the studio.
  • Minimize conversation.
  • Mind your personal hygiene.
  • Take it easy on the perfume and cologne.
  • Put your props away neatly.

untitledFollowing the tips will lead to a more peaceful and enjoyable yoga practice.

be well-

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man’s Best friend

I have been surrounded by man’s best friend most of my life.  It started with Russell, our Chow.  When we moved from Iowa to Wisconsin, we inherited Sam, the Irish Setter and Goldie, the Golden retriever from the previous owners.  They were moving into a small condo in the city and we had five acres of land.  It only made sense we kept the dogs.  Once Sam died, we then got Shakespeare.  He was our Old English Sheepdog.  And then Emma came along shortly after Goldie passed.  She was the last of the dogs I had when living at home.  Now, as an adult, I have a small shih-tzu with a big personality, and two very loveable and loyal labs.

Chloe, Boji and Sadie

When it comes to pet ownership, there are a number of proven health benefits for people, including physical, mental and emotional improvements, from enhancing social skills to decreasing a person’s risk of heart attack.  Below are 5 benefits of owning a pet,  provided by Animal Planet.

No. 1: Breathe Easier

If the idea of cuddling with a pet to help ward off allergies seems a little backwards to you, the following may come as a surprise: University of Wisconsin-Madison pediatrician James E. Gern has conducted a number of studies that demonstrate having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. In fact, his research — as published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology — shows that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall. While this might not mean much for adults who are already struggling with longstanding allergies, it is good news for families in which this isn’t already an established issue, but rather just a concern about what could happen down the road.

No. 2: Meet and Greet

One of the fringe benefits of taking on the responsibility of pet ownership is that animals can be an instant icebreaker, whether they’re with you or you’re just using them as a topic of conversation. Of course, few people would suggest getting a pet solely for this purpose, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that pets provide a great means for improving your socialization skills across the board, especially in terms of meeting and interacting with other pet owners. Though people sometimes may have a hard time getting to know each other, pets can be the common denominator that helps them connect — even among people who don’t seem to be very much alike.

No. 3: Stay Heart Healthy

Many pet owners would agree that a pet can fill your heart with love. So maybe it’s only fitting that the presence of a pet can help improve the overall health of that organ, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings showed that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels — all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack down the road. For those who have already experienced a heart attack, research also indicates that patients with a dog or a cat tend to have better recovery rates. These benefits are thought to be connected with pets’ tendency to help reduce or at least control their owners’ overall stress levels.

Fun Ways to Stay Fit with Fido:

If you’re a dog owner who needs more of a workout than walking can provide, here are a few ideas:

  • Jogging or running
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Doga (i.e. Yoga for Dogs)
  • Agility Training (Obstacle course-based dog sport)

No. 4: Get a Move On

Need a little motivation in the exercise department? Dogs can act as the perfect personal trainer, if only because most of them need to be walked several times a day. According to studies like those conducted by the Wellness Institute at Northwest Memorial Hospital, as long as you’re the one holding the leash, you’ll reap the rewards, which can include losing — or at least maintaining — weight. Research conducted by the National Institute of Health also supports this claim — including one study of more than 2,000 adults, which found that dog owners responsible for walking their pups are less likely to be obese than dog owners who pass the duty off to someone else or those who don’t own dogs at all.

No. 5: Keep Your Chin Up

Pets are a great way to beat the blues. Not only are they known to they offer unconditional love, but they may also give their owners a sense of purpose, which can be crucial for those feeling down in the dumps. Pets also combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship, which can boost your overall mood and even bring you feelings of joy and happiness. This is particularly apparent among groups — including the sick and elderly — who may be on the receiving end of Animal-assisted Therapy (AAT) or Pet-facilitated Therapy (PFT). Many hospitals and nursing homes use these types of programs on a regular basis.

It would be hard to imagine my life without any pets right now.  I have seen many of these benefits come into play in my own life.  So when the subject of pet ownership comes up at your next family meeting, think about this post….

be well-

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I reach for Chocolate…

 

Earlier this summer I attended a week-long yoga retreat with a teacher I have long admired.  One of the greatest things I got out of that retreat is that we need to acknowledge both the light and dark in our life.  Too many yogis live life as rainbows, sun shines and bliss.  There is much to learn about ourselves when we acknowledge the other side.

For me, the workshop was more than just learning about sequencing, cueing and new verbiage.  It forced me to look deep inside.  There were several emotions that surfaced throughout the week.  Things from way back in my past and some more recent history.  One particular day was extremely emotional and difficult.  Little was discussed at the end of the day.  When we gathered the next morning, many of the participants shared what happened when they left the studio the night before.  One visiting from California found herself eating a box of pastries from a local shop.  Others went home and binged on comfort food.  I found myself reaching for a piece of chocolate.  And then another.  Somewhere in my subconscious mind it was going to fill a void.

Although emotional eating has become an all-too-common problem, many of us don’t realize the extent to which our feelings can impact our eating habits. The occasional binge may seem harmless, but emotional eating can escalate into something more serious and difficult to control.  One of the biggest myths about emotional eating is that it’s prompted by negative feelings. Yes, people often turn to food when they’re stressed out, lonely, sad, anxious, or bored. But emotional eating can be linked to positive feelings too, like the romance of sharing dessert on Valentine’s Day or the celebration of a holiday feast.

Sometimes emotional eating is tied to major life events, like a death or a divorce. More often, though, it’s the countless little daily stresses that cause someone to seek comfort or distraction in food.  Emotional eating patterns can be learned: A child who is given candy after a big achievement may grow up using candy as a reward for a job well done. A kid who is given cookies as a way to stop crying may learn to link cookies with comfort.

The trouble with emotional eating (aside from the health issues) is that once the pleasure of eating is gone, the feelings that cause it remain. And you often may feel worse about eating the amount or type of food you did. That’s why it helps to know the differences between physical hunger and emotional hunger.

Next time you reach for a snack, check in and see which type of hunger is driving it.

 

If you answer yes to many of the questions below, it is possible eating has become a coping mechanism rather than a source of fuel.

  • Have I been eating larger portions than usual?
  • Do I eat at unusual times?
  • Do I feel a loss of control around food?
  • Am I anxious over something, like school, a social situation, or an event where my abilities might be tested?
  • Has there been a big event in my life that I’m having trouble dealing with?
  • Am I already overweight or obese, or has there recently been a big jump in my weight or body mass index (BMI)?
  • Do other people in my family use food to soothe their feelings too?

The great news is that the cycle can be broken.  For example:

Explore why you’re eating and find a replacement activity.

Write down the emotions that trigger your eating.

Pause and “take 5” before you reach for food.

Take advantage of expert help. Counselors and therapists can help you deal with your feelings. Nutritionists can help you identify your eating patterns and get you on track with a better diet. Fitness experts can get your body’s feel-good chemicals firing through exercise instead of food.

If you’re worried about your eating, talk to your doctor. He or she can make sure you reach your weight-loss goals safely and put you in touch with professionals who can put you on a path to a new, healthier relationship with food.

be well-

 

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before, After

Cold weather has arrived and for many, so has the first snowfall of the season.  This is a time of year when it feels like there is more dark than light outside.  Change in weather and daylight also changes how we move and feel.  A sense of hibernation begins to set in.  We spend less time outside and more time snuggled on the couch.  We tend to eat less fresh, whole food and rely more on hot, comfort food.

There are many times where I would rather light a fire in the stove, curl up and fall into that dormant sleep-like state.  My challenge, to you and myself, for this winter…break that pattern.  Vision boards, goal setting and resolutions are often talked about near the end of a calendar year.  Get started now.  Take a careful inventory of who you are today and who you want to be six months from now.  This means on all levels- physically, mentally, emotionally, and if inclined, spiritually.  The more specific you are, the easier it is to achieve your goals and measure results.

 

While the picture above may be a little dramatic for the results you are looking for, it gives a great example of before, After.  Set SMART goals.  The following information is taken from Top Achievement.

Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:

*Who:      Who is involved?

*What:     What do I want to accomplish?

*Where:    Identify a location.

*When:     Establish a time frame.

*Which:    Identify requirements and constraints.

*Why:      Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

EXAMPLE:  A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a specific goal would say, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week.”


Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……

How much? How many?

How will I know when it is accomplished?


 

Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.


Realistic– To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.

A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love.


Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.
Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.

T can also stand for Tangible – A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is, taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing.

Once we break from hibernation, what will the before, After picture look like?

be well-

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