Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Archive for January, 2011

Slather Your Lips With DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

Slather Your Lips With DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

Slather Your Lips With DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

What could be better than protecting your lips from the winter’s chill by slathering on chocolate? Not much, and I bet if you went to the Environmental Working Group’s, Skin Deep website and checked out what’s lurking in lipstick (lead, yikes!) you’d ditch the lipstick and opt for healthy, homemade Cocoa Lip Balm. Here at Care2 we’ve posted about all that nastiness here and here.

Why Cocoa?

The cocoa bean is used to make chocolate. It’s made from roasted, husked, and ground seeds of the cacao bean, theobroma cacao, from which much of the fat has been removed. Cocoa contains large amounts of antioxidants. According to Your Daily Thread:

“Cocoa contains large amounts of antioxidants. According to research at Cornell, cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times those found in green tea. Our super friend also contains magnesium, iron, chromium, vitamin C, zinc and more.”

Antioxidants that protects the body from aging, vitamins and minerals for overall health and…chocolate. Sign me up. In fact, my husband so sweetly made this Lip Balm for everyone on his holiday list after he read this. It was a huge hit! Try this recipe for healthy Cocoa Lip Balm that will make you smacking your lips for more:

DIY Cocoa Lip Balm

What you need:

1 teaspoon beeswax
2 teaspoons pure Fair Trade organic cocoa butter
3 teaspoons organic coconut or olive oil
5-10 drops peppermint essential oil
recycled containers

What to do:

Slowly melt ingredients in a double boiler or in 30-second spurts in microwave. Cool slightly and fill recycled containers. You may need to adjust the ratio of ingredients to suit your liking. Yum!

by Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer and educator. Ronnie regularly writes about sustainable living for online sites and magazines. Along with being the creator of www.econesting.com, Ronnie has contributed to numerous books about green home design, DIY, children, and humor. Ronnie lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with her family.

Will Sleep Make You Slim? Why sleepiness causes you to eat more!

Will Sleep Make You Slim?

People have acknowledged the value of sleep for centuries. But they’ve focused primarily on sleep’s impact on brain function. “If you talk to some neuroscientists today, the prevailing view is still that sleep is only for the brain,” says Eve Van Cauter, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and an expert on the ways sleep affects endocrine function.

Over the last few decades, sleep researchers across the country have been overturning that view. Their studies indicate that curtailing sleep and getting poor-quality sleep are implicated in many diseases that affect the entire body, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer and impaired immune function.

One of the most startling observations has come from Van Cauter and her University of Chicago colleagues. Over the course of four studies, they showed that people who don’t sleep enough, night after night, unwittingly trigger a hormonal storm that causes their appetites to rise.

 5 Foods That Sabotage Your Sleep

Other researchers followed up with studies and found the implications of Van Cauter’s work borne out in real life: People who sleep fewer hours tend to become overweight or even obese. Even a difference of one hour is significant. Columbia University researchers, for instance, found that people between the ages of 32 and 59 who slept only four hours were 73 percent more likely to become obese than those sleeping seven to nine hours. Even a difference of two hours was significant. Those who slept only six hours were 23 percent more likely to become obese than those sleeping seven hours.

Does this mean we can shed pounds by getting additional shuteye? Maybe, but research hasn’t yet proven this supposition — the studies looking at whether overweight people shed pounds when they sleep more are just getting under way. Still, it’s clear that insufficient sleep encourages weight gain and that getting adequate sleep helps prevent it.

Bleary-Eyed and Craving Cookies

Van Cauter set out to study the connection between sleep loss and appetite after anecdotal reports from sleep studies indicated that subjects were overeating during extended stays in the laboratory. The common assumption was that they ate because they were bored, but she decided to test that assumption. In the first-ever study to make the connection between sleep and appetite, published in 2004 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Van Cauter’s team brought 12 lean and healthy young men into the lab for two four-hour nights of sleep followed by two 10-hour nights. They found that when the subjects slept for only four hours, they showed dramatic changes in two hormones that regulate appetite.

Blood draws revealed an 18 percent decrease in leptin, a satiety hormone produced by the stomach that tells the brain when the body has had enough food. They also showed a 28 percent increase in ghrelin, a hunger-causing hormone produced by our fat cells indicating that our energy reserves are running low and need to be replenished.

Taken together, these two hormones boosted the young men’s hunger — even though the amount they ate and exercised was the same during their nights of ample sleep. The subjects reported a 24 percent increase in appetite after less sleep, with a special eagerness for chips, cakes and cookies, and breads and pasta.

“This study suggests that there could be long-term consequences with prolonged sleep deprivation — especially if you’re trying to control your food intake or stick to a healthy diet,” says Kristen Knutson, PhD, a University of Chicago assistant professor of medicine who’s been involved in many sleep studies. “They were craving junk food, not apples and carrot sticks.”

Body-Clock Confusion

Researchers know that sleep deprivation disrupts one of the most basic mechanisms in our body: our internal clock. And, studies show that messing with our internal clock may have serious implications for our weight. We evolved over millions of years shaped by the earth’s cycles of day and night, and light and darkness, and our body’s clock still ticks according to those basic cycles.

This clock — often called our circadian rhythm — isn’t just a metaphor. It has a precise location in the brain’s hypothalamus, in two pinhead-size clumps of neurons called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) that sit above our two optic nerves. The SCN monitors the light coming in through our eyes and, based on the amount and timing of light, regulates vital rhythmic functions throughout the body, including temperature, the release of hormones, and metabolism.

“All the different organs that regulate metabolism have circadian rhythms,” says Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern University. “And when they’re out of sync, it can expose one to changes in metabolism or to choosing inappropriate food or to eating too much.”

Some researchers think late nights fueled by bright lights and glowing computer and TV screens may trick our bodies into thinking we’re in a sort of perpetual summer — a high-activity time when our hunter-gatherer predecessors would have been loading up on readily available carbohydrates in preparation for a long, cold winter.

Playing Catch-up

If we build up a sleep “debt” of an hour or two per night, Monday through Friday, we’re generally not going to be able to make it up in one weekend. We carry that debt and the burden of sleepiness forward, often not even realizing how sleep impaired we are.

“Several studies have shown that after cumulative sleep deprivation, individuals are no longer able to recognize the degree of sleepiness under which they operate,” says Van Cauter. “They think they’re OK, but when their performance is tested, they fail miserably.”

What we need, say some experts, is a new characterization of sleep — one that doesn’t regard it as a time when we just turn ourselves off. We need a new appreciation of slumber as a part of the environmental metronome guiding important cyclical functions in our body — functions that affect our weight, our body chemistry, our neurology and our overall well-being.

Most of us assume the routines of a lean lifestyle — like healthy meals and exercise — are limited to our waking hours. But that point of view leaves out the crucial dark side of our 24-hour cycle, when sleep prepares our bodies and minds to function at their best on the following day. It ignores the fact that our bodies require adequate downtime to regulate systems that have a direct impact on whether we accumulate unwanted weight, or succeed in evading it — now and over the long haul.

By Kristin Ohlson, Experience Life

Kristin Ohlson is a writer based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelifemag.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

Do Animals Remember Us?

Do Animals Remember Us?

Do Animals Remember Us?

There are dogs and cats, and then there are Sam Phinneys. You animal lovers know what I mean. When you look into their eyes, something special looks back at you. Yes, all animals are special, and I believe they all have souls. But Sam Phinneys have old souls. Perhaps they have more wisdom or intelligence, or maybe they are even our pet soul mates. I don’t know which, if any, it is, but I’d like to tell you about my Sam Phinney.

Sam was a Chow Chow. Chows are often misunderstood, because some are temperamental. But I’ve always liked them–especially Sam. Sam’s guardian, Mike, did business next door to my veterinary office. Mike would go do his errands, and Sam would stand outside our glass front door with his joyful tail-wagging, until someone would notice him and let him in. Sam loved everyone, and I mean everyone. He would visit with all of us — clients, other patients, staff, docs — until Mike was finished and ready to leave. He was the hit of the office.

I sold that practice to go back to school for advanced training. A couple of years went by, and I was having a typical neurology resident kind of day — crazy busy. As I was walking through the treatment room at my normal fast pace, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a Chow on a gurney. I heard someone say he had been hit by a car. He had a doc and plenty of caring students all around him, so there was no need for an extra pair of hands. I kept walking until I spotted a small tail wag. I about tripped over myself when I stopped dead in my tracks. Sam? Is that you? The tail went nuts. Sam had recognized me. And what’s more amazing is that even in his pain, Sam showed us what animals are really about. Love. They express it unconditionally, in bad and good times. Perhaps there’s a lesson there.

Oh, by the way, Sam made a complete recovery. No car was going to rain on his parade.

Dr. Susan Wagner is a board certified veterinary neurologist whose pioneering work acknowledges the bioenergetic interaction between people and animals. She is an advocate for change in the area of interpersonal violence and animal cruelty, and works toward a greater understanding surrounding the health implications of the human-animal bond.

(Leesa couldn’t agree more!  Her own creme chow chow, Bella, is featured on Leesa’s website with Bella’s Five Paws Up List!  Enjoy!  www.healthyhighway.org/BellasBest.html)

Myths About How to Act Around Someone Who’s Dying

Myths About How to Act Around Someone Who’s Dying

 Myths About How to Act Around Someone Who’s Dying

People often adhere to a code of conduct about the end of life that’s just not rooted in common sense or reality — especially when it comes to how to talk to someone who’s dying, in their final days or hours. Hospice nurse Maggie Callanan, who has attended more than 2,000 deaths, wrote her book Final Journeys: A Practical Guide for Bringing Care and Comfort at the End of Life in order to take on these myths:

Myth: Don’t cry in front of the dying.
They know you’re sad. Having the courage to bare your emotions gives the dying person permission to be candid about his or her own feelings. Your tears are evidence of your love. And they can also be a relief to the person, telegraphing that you understand what’s happening.

Myth: Keep the children away.
People often steer kids away from death so they’ll remember the person in a good light and not be frightened. But most kids do well with simple explanations of what’s happening; facts are usually less scary than their vivid imaginations. By cordoning off a child from a natural part of life, you also deprive the dying person of a beloved, comforting presence.

Myth: Don’t talk about how you expect your life will change after the dying person has passed away.
It’s not like they’ll feel left out. You can be sure the dying person is thinking about your life after his or her death — people are often deeply concerned about this. It’s reassuring to hear that loved ones will look after one another.

Myth: If you don’t deal with death well, it’s OK to stay away.
Some people excuse themselves from visiting a dying person with phrases like, “I hate hospitals” or “I want to remember X the way she was.” This is saying that your discomfort is more important than the dying person’s final needs.

End-of-Life Arrangements: A Resource List

“You have a responsibility,” Callanan says. “If someone has played a positive part in your life, that person deserves your attention as his or her life is ending. I’ve seen too many devastated people dying too sadly, waiting for someone who never came.”

By Paula Spencer, Caring.com senior editor

Caring.com was created to help you care for your aging parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. As the leading destination for eldercare resources on the Internet, our mission is to give you the information and services you need to make better decisions, save time, and feel more supported. Caring.com provides the practical information, personal support, expert advice, and easy-to-use tools you need during this challenging time.

101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy

101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy

In December 2010, Experience Life launched RevolutionaryAct.com, a microsite inspired by a feature article and accompanying manifesto in the January 2011 issue of Experience Life magazine. It’s based on the conviction that “being healthy is a revolutionary act” — one that requires renegade perspectives, unconventional choices and strong social support. We invite you to become part of this positive movement intent on creating a healthier world by signing up at RevolutionaryAct.com. In the meantime, we’re excited to share “101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy” with you.

·         Defy convention

Do the healthy thing, even when it’s challenging, inconvenient or considered weird. Take pride in that.

·         Buck trends

Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s smart or good for you. Enlist fellow trend buckers and create a trend of your own.

·         Rage against the machine

Use your healthy frustration about the unhealthy status quo to spark creativity and determination.

·         Celebrate what’s good

Look for signs of progress (beyond pounds lost) and rejoice when you find them. Give yourself a pat on the back every time you make your health a priority.

·         Repossess your health

Reclaim responsibility for your well-being; own your daily choices; minimize your reliance on the broken sick-care system.

·         Redefine your role

You are not a “healthcare consumer.” You are a human being. You may be experiencing an illness or other health challenge right now, but remember that good health is your body’s natural state.

·         Practice medicine without a license

Research your own conditions and treatment alternatives, ask questions, and seek second opinions with impunity. Leverage the expertise of trained pros, but don’t allow it to eclipse your own informed instincts about what’s best for you.

·         Minimize symptom suppression

Make whole-person vitality, well-being and resilience your goal. Partner with healthcare pros who understand and support your desire to be fully healthy with a minimum of medical intervention.

·         Safeguard your juju

Don’t let yourself get run down, depressed, negative or reactive. That’s when immunity drops, inflammation rages, and unhealthy tendencies strike.

·         See the bigger picture

Yes, this is about you, but your well-being also affects everyone and everything around you. When you get healthier, everybody benefits.

·         Be part of the solution

It’s going to take a lot of strong, clear-headed, high-vitality people to solve the world’s problems. Be one of them.

·         Go at your own pace

A healthy life is more a marathon than a sprint. So start where you are. Choose sensible, sustainable shifts over instant cures and quick fixes.

·         Be proactive

If you feel a cold, flu or nasty headache coming on, take evasive maneuvers. Rest. Refuel. Reconnect. Rebuild your immunity and vitality. There’s no heroism in ignoring your body’s needs.

·         Leverage your big “whys”

Know the specific reasons your health matters to you. Write them down where you’ll see them daily.

·         Raise your sights

Don’t get sucked in by obsessions with six-pack abs and buns of steel. Don’t play “compare the bodies.” Fulfill your best-self vision.

·         Learn the skills

Healthy, fit people have learned how to be healthy. Learn those skills, practice them, and you’ll be healthy, too.

·         Reap the rewards

Look and feel better, sure. But also think better, smell better, give better, love better, live better, be better.

·         Focus on the fundamentals

Drink water, eat good food, move, rest, relax, connect. Don’t sweat the more complex stuff until you’ve got a grip on the basics.

·         Fake it till you make it

Don’t yet see yourself as a super-healthy person? Experiment with doing a little of what you’d do if you were already supremely healthy and fit. As often as you can, act as if your commitment were unwavering.

·         Aim for 85%

You don’t have to make 100% healthy choices all the time. It’s what you do most of the time — day in, day out — that counts. The healthier you get, the easier and more automatic healthy choices will become.

·  Brush and Floss

Your teeth and gums are a huge determining factor in your whole-body well-being. They’re also an easy place to start demonstrating your commitment to whole-person health on a daily basis.

·  Eat fresh

Trade dead, packaged goods for foods that are fresh, alive and full of high-vibe goodness. Figure out where to find them, learn to juice/slice/dice them, and eat them with great pleasure.

·  Eat more plants

There’s a long list of phytonutrients and other good stuff in vegetables, fruits and legumes that you can’t get any other way. Put plants at the center of your plate for as many meals and snacks as you can.

·  Don’t fall for fakery

Processed, fake, diet and imitation ingredients burden and inflame your body, contributing to chronic disease. And there’s no clinical proof that artificial sweeteners and fat-free products support weight loss or do any part of you any good.

·  Learn to cook

Get a dozen healthy, whole-food recipes under your belt, and your life will be forever changed. Start by mastering one.

·  Have breakfast

Let there be protein, produce, healthy fats and fiber in it. A good breakfast wards off energy dips, brain fog and afternoon cravings.

·  Watch your reactions

40% of U.S. adults have an intolerance to gluten; 70% to dairy. Know if you’re one of them. Digestive, skin, joint, energy and mood problems may be your first clue.

·  Beware the USDA Food Pyramid

It is a whole lot healthier for Big Ag and Big Business than for humans. Fill two-thirds of your plate with an array of vegetables, add in some other whole foods you enjoy, and don’t let the rest of the Pyramid’s propaganda confuse you.

·  Approach ADA guidelines with a healthy dose of doubt

The American Dietetic Association is sponsored by processed-food corporations and staffed by former food-company execs. Their pro-processed-food advice is often colored by that, and their calorie-counting obsessions are profoundly counterproductive.

·  Go easy on the sugar and flour

These two ingredients (combined with unhealthy industrial vegetable oils) have a starring role in most packaged foods we eat. More than any other culprit, they fuel inflammation, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and cancer.

·  Savor what you eat

The foods you rush into your body tend to create more problems than they solve. Take your time and consciously enjoy every single bite. Notice as your hunger diminishes.

·  Care where food comes from

Know your food’s history, and you’ll want to consume more selectively. Most factory-farmed and industrially produced foods aren’t all that appetizing once you know their origins.

·  Go for quality, not quantity

An ounce of wonderful is far better than a whole mess of mediocrity. Most beige, starchy and supersized foods are not worth eating.

·  Move it out

A healthy person poops every day. Twice a day, maybe more. How’s your fiber and water intake? (Also, see #28.) A clogged up colon wreaks havoc on your whole body.

·  Read labels

Don’t worry so much about the calories, grams and RDAs. Read the ingredients. Most ingredient lists begin with some combination of enriched wheat flour, sugar and oil. Avoid foods like that. Also avoid foods with long lists of ingredients you don’t recognize.

·  Ignore labels

Most of the marketing claims are meaningless, and a lot of the data is confusing. Most of the very best foods (in the produce department) have precisely one ingredient and, often, no labels at all.

·  Say no to soda

Both regular and diet soft drinks stimulate a pro-inflammatory insulin response, trigger cravings, acidify the body, decay your teeth and leach minerals out of your bones.

·  Ask for what you want

If you want extra this, none of that, something on the side, X in place of Y, broiled instead of fried, and everything prepared just so — say so. Being picky about what you put in your body is nothing to be ashamed of. Picky eaters unite!

·  Drink a lot of water

The health of every cell and synapse depends on it. And when you’re dehydrated on a regular basis —even a little — your metabolism, energy and immunity all suffer mightily.

·  Filter your water

You’ll drink more when it tastes pure and you know it’s clean. If plain water doesn’t turn your crank, enjoy water with a slice of lemon, orange, cucumber, or a splash of juice. Or try herbal tea instead.

·  Love what you’ve got

Treat your body with respect and appreciation. Focus on what it can do, not what it can’t. Find something to celebrate, not something to criticize.

·  Redefine your goals

If you’ve been trying to lose weight and struggling, make it your goal to get superbly healthy and fit instead. And then don’t be surprised when the excess weight starts melting off.

·  Beware artificial hungers

Notice what triggers your sudden desires and uncontrollable appetites. Stress and anxiety both masquerade as hunger. Find better ways of dealing with them or warding them off.

·  Identify real hungers

You can’t eat or spend your way out of loneliness, fear, boredom or lack of meaning. Find healthy ways to honor and shift them, instead.

·  Be human

Cut yourself a little slack now and then, and forgive yourself your unhealthy trespasses. Learn what you can from them, and then move on.

·  Make being healthy easier

Self-restraint is a limited resource. Do everything in your power to make healthy choices automatic choices and to keep unhealthy temptations out of range.

·  Don’t believe the hype

Give up on gimmicks, fads and instant fixes. Most miraculous weight-loss schemes do more harm than good, and yo-yo dieting is a recipe for weight gain.

·  Look beyond unrealistic role models

Find your inspiration in people whose lives and goals have some relevance to your own. Also remember that most of the pictures you see of celebrities and fitness models have been extensively retouched.

·  Question authority

Big organizations like the FDA, USDA, AHA, AMA and ADA all struggle under real limitations and conflicts of interest. Know and understand them.

·  Face the facts

Your body is a mirror: It reflects your choices, your priorities, your habits, your attitudes and your quality of life. If you don’t like your body, be willing to change the way you are living.

·  Maintain a morning practice

Take a few minutes each sunup to set your intentions, take a few breaths, read an inspiring passage and start the day on your own terms. You may be shocked at the difference it makes.

·  Move your body

Every day, every which-way you can, in as many ways as you enjoy. Movement nourishes your body, clears toxins, and reduces the inflammation that breeds illness and irritation.

·  Reframe exercise as a privilege

You don’t have to exercise. You get to exercise. Visit a person whose mobility is severely limited, and you’ll appreciate the distinction. Do what you can, and count yourself lucky.

·  Break a sweat

The more often, the better. Sweat is a signal that your metabolism is switching into a higher gear. Sweat is weakness, complacency and toxicity leaving the body.

·  Stay strong

More muscle and sinew means more capacity to do anything. Don’t let age, aches and pains, or lack of time be your excuses for abandoning your strength.

·  Maximize your mitochondria

Every time you exercise, you upgrade your body’s energy-and-vitality factories and build your metabolism.

·  Find your fitness edge

Flirt with it in ways that feel good and exhilarating. Bursts of high-intensity exercise trigger positive, dramatic changes and help catalyze the body’s healing response.

·  Get past body envy

Release supermodel and celebrity obsessions. Translate your desire for a fitter, more beautiful body into positive, self-respecting daily action that nourishes you and makes you stronger.

·  Embrace meditation

There are few life skills that will pay of as handsomely or give you as much peace and healthy perspective. Even a few minutes of meditation a day can trigger positive transformations in your biochemistry, neurology — even your DNA.

·  Study your systems

Learn how your body works, and respect its genius. The unfortunate fact that most of us aren’t formally educated in how to properly care for our bodies doesn’t mean you can’t learn.

·  Get to the bottom of your symptoms

Body trouble? Find the source. Root out the cause. Don’t settle for a drug that forces your symptoms to go underground only to pop up somewhere else with a vengeance.

·  Self-medicate with caution

Get honest about how you’re using alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, pain killers and other drugs to simulate well-being or cover discomfort.

·  Abandon victim thinking

“Poor me” doesn’t get you anywhere you want to go. Instead, dust yourself off, see the choices that got you here, then reclaim your prerogative to choose your own better way forward.

·  Sleep well

Rest = recovery, repair and resilience. Exhaustion = illness and messed-up metabolism. Prioritize ample sleep time as the health essential it is.

·  Breathe deep

In for four, out for five. Oxygen’s good; breathing keeps you alive.

·  Get off your butt.

Sitting for more than an hour or so at a stretch is deadly. Get up, stretch, walk around. Do some deep knee bends or go climb a couple flights of stairs.

·  Slow down

Perennial rushing is toxic to the body and mind. Find moments of silence and contemplation where you can just be. Create margins of sanity. Practice the defensive art of scheduling breaks and vacations.

·  Connect with community

Find ways of being active and involved in some kind of group activity. Joining a group, if you haven’t already, can reduce your risk of dying this year by half.

·  Heal your relationships

Mend fences, build bridges, forgive trespasses, grieve losses and let toxic grudges go. Then move on. Get help with this if you need to.

·  Get outside

You need sunshine, fresh air and time in nature. Daily. Grab five minutes in the morning, five on the way home from work.

·  Respect your environment

Keep in mind that human health depends upon the health of a lot of interconnected ecosystems and the planet as a whole. Make choices that respect that reality.

·  Embrace play

Fun, novelty, humor and joy are key sources of energy, strength and inspiration. If you’re suffering from a case of fun-deficit disorder, remedy that situation ASAP.

·  Consume media wisely

Seek out entertainment and information that makes your life better. Choose not to watch, read or listen to stuff that demoralizes or immobilizes you, incites craziness, or insults your intelligence.

·  Be your own biggest fan

Refuse to bad-talk your body, nitpick your appearance or kvetch about your weight. Find something to dig/love/ appreciate about yourself — just the way you are.

·  Turn off the TV

Opiate of the masses. Fritterer of time. Fryer of focus. The average American watches several hours of TV a day. How much of your life are you willing to hand over to a box?

·  Eliminate tolerations

If something’s driving you crazy, deal with it. Noticing and resolving daily annoyances, messes and downers helps free up energy and increases your pleasure in living.

·  Follow the money

Look at your checkbook register and credit-card statements for clues about where your spending is inconsistent with your healthy goals and values.

·  Redirect your resources

Take some of the money you’re spending on unhealthy distraction, consolations and indulgences, and re-route it toward your healthy-living priorities instead.

·  Ditch debt

The stress of being stretched too thin financially is at the root of a great many health ills. Develop the skills you need to master your money and live within your means.

·  Invest in your health

Money spent proactively on your health delivers far better returns than money spent reactively on treating illness and disease. When healthy choices seem “too expensive,” consider the long-term costs of health-sapping alternatives.

·  Wise up

Keep seeking new wisdom and mastering new skills that help you take better care of your body and live a more satisfying life. Continual learning and discovery support both health and happiness.

·  Build on your successes

Look at what has worked well for you in the past, and do more of that. Identify and leverage your strengths. Be willing to learn from your “failures,” too — but refuse to wallow in them.

·  Surprise yourself

Don’t be boring. Every once in a while, do something unexpected or out of character and see what happens.

·  Find your tribe

Surround yourself with other healthy, positive, active people who share your passions. It’s a lot easier to thrive around people who are thriving.

·  Laugh it up

Seek out mirth, glee and merriment at every opportunity. Laughter triggers a cascade of healing, energizing chemicals.

·  Get a buddy

Do your healthy thing with a pal or partner. Camaraderie and accountability go a long way toward creating success.

·  Give your best gifts

Developing and sharing them endows you with enthusiasm and energy. Neglecting or squandering them slowly kills you.

·  Pace yourself

When working hard, take brief rest breaks every 90 to 120 minutes so your cells can recharge. Be kind to yourself, and be honest about how much you can take on at any given time.

·  Vote your values

Take your healthy convictions to the polls. Share them with your elected representatives. Vote with your dollars, too, to support healthy products, companies and communities.

·  Visualize the possibilities

What if we lived in a world where the majority of people were healthy and happy most of the time? Imagine that future — then start creating it in your own life, one step at a time.

·  Follow your bliss

The more positivity and enthusiasm you can build into your life, the healthier, happier and more satisfied you’ll be. Happiness breeds healthiness.

·  Be responsible for yourself

Own your decisions and actions, no matter what the circumstances. Refuse to abuse or be abused on any level. See challenges and setbacks as learning opportunities.

·  Take the high road

If you feel yourself getting dragged down or losing traction in your healthy commitments, ask: What’s my highest choice right now? What can I do to make this situation better?

·  Make time

The hour you give yourself for self-care pays you back three. Think you’re too busy? The busier you are, the more effective and energetic you need to be, and the less time you have to get sick.

·  Make space

Declutter your house, your office, your car, your desk, your mind. Create room for your chosen future; create space that reflects the way you want to feel.

·  Focus on action, not outcomes

Live the life of a healthy person, and the results will take care of themselves. Every healthy step is a victory. Every day is an opportunity to feel, live and be better than the day before.

·  Make it a party

Discover new healthy passions. Revel in new healthy pleasures. Have so much fun getting and being healthy that everyone around you wants to do it, too!

·  Let go of excuses

Yes, you’re busy. You probably have a lot of priorities competing for your time, energy and resources. But wouldn’t all those priorities be better served by a healthier, more dynamic you?

·  Show up

No one is going to do this for you. You can’t fake it, and you can’t phone it in. Your body is where you’re going to spend the rest of your life. So make it a great place to live.

·  Pass it on

Pssst! Being healthy is a revolutionary act. The more of us who stand up for our health and happiness, the more power we have to change the world — one person, one life, one revolutionary act at a time.

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The Power of Smell in Picking Sex Partners

The Power of Smell in Picking Sex Partners

  The power of smell in picking sex partners

Ladies, be honest: When it comes sexual attraction, how important is a guy’s smell? Not just his cologne or deodorant, but his natural scent? At Good in Bed, we believe that a woman should “follow her nose—it always knows.”

Research supports this idea: In two large studies led by Brown University olfactory expert Dr. Rachel Herz, women ranked a man’s scent as the most important feature for determining whether she would be sexually interested in him.

As it turns out, scent may be the main way in which women literally sniff out genetic compatibility with a potential mate. How we smell is an external expression of the genes that make up our immune system.

Like fingerprints, each of us has our own unique “odor print,”  which is part of a region of genes known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Women prefer the scent of men whose MHCs are different from their own.

So when we say that opposites attract, we may not be talking about differences in personality, but rather differences in immune systems.  This is one of Nature’s ways of ensuring that we produce the healthiest offspring. No wonder that a woman’s sense of smell is at its peak when she’s ovulating and most likely to get pregnant.

In one study, a wide variety of men were each asked to wear the same T-shirt for two days in a row, after which the shirts were put into identical boxes. Various women were then asked to smell the shirts and to indicate which they thought would have the most sexually attractive wearers, based on the smell. The results showed that women were most attracted to men with an MHC most dissimilar from their own, while T-shirts worn by guys with similar MHC profiles tended to be rated as “fatherly” or “brotherly” but not sexually attractive. And in a survey conducted by the research firm Strategy One, 56 percent of women said they wouldn’t date a guy who smells like their dad.

So what about that cup of joe? Dr. Alan Hirsch, director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, conducted research on behalf of AXE body products to determine women’s scent preferences in 10 different cities. “In each city we tested, women reported different scent preferences,” he says, “indicating that geography has a direct correlation to what scents women find attractive.”

Here are the scents that women found most preferable by region:

1.      New York – coffee

2.      Los Angeles – lavender

3.      Chicago – vanilla

4.      Houston – barbeque

5.      Atlanta – cherry

6.      Phoenix – eucalyptus

7.      Philadelphia – clean laundry

8.      Dallas – smoke/fireplace

9.      San Diego – suntan lotion/ocean

10.  Minneapolis-St. Paul – cut grass

I know what you’re thinking: Cut grass? Clean laundry? What the…?!

But there’s a science to these preferences. Scent can trigger powerful memories, especially from our childhoods, which is why these scents may still exert a hold on us years later. And according to Hirsch, “Research has shown that when women are in the presence of a preferred scent, they are more likely to project positive feelings on those around them, which can lead to increased attraction.”

While there is little to evidence to suggest that scent plays as powerful a role for men in sexual attraction, another study by  Hirsch found that the scents of lavender, pumpkin pie, donuts, and black licorice increased blood flow to the penis by nearly 40 Percent. And as I discuss in my book 52 Weeks of Amazing Sex,  “Certain scents increase oxygen in the brain, which in turn affects emotion, attitude, hormone levels, and energy. Both men and women respond positively to scents such as vanilla, black pepper and cinnamon. Other scents that are supposed to have libido-boosting qualities include frankincense, ginger, lavender, lime, orange, patchouli, and rose.”

So, enjoy that cup of coffee, mow the lawn, or fire up the grill—you never know what will happen!

By Ian Kerner

Ian Kerner is a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs on Thursdays on The Chart

Get in the game!

      Get in the game!
 

I have told you before that when I graduated from high school in 1967, I went to a military school called Gordon Military College.  It was a rude awakening to my lazy, lackadaisical life!  I did not know what self-discipline truly was all about.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I knew much about any kind of discipline!  Sometimes it takes a rude awakening to get our attention before we learn very much.  Well, military school certainly got my attention and did it quickly!  From the moment we got up in the morning until we went to bed at night, someone was either yelling at us or blowing a whistle in our ears.  Even though it was difficult, it taught me a great deal. 
 
One of the disciplines I learned while attending that school was how to study.  Each night from 7:00 until 9:30 p.m., we had a mandatory study hall in which we were required to sit at our desks and study.  Someone patrolled the hallways to make sure that we were doing just that!
 
One night I decided that since I had to sit there for 2 ½ hours, I might as well study!  (Sometimes I’m a slow learner!)  Anyway, I started reading a book called, Get in the Game, by Bill Glass.  Mr. Glass was a former pro-football player for the Cleveland Browns.  He impressed me so much because he was such a strong, outstanding individual and a real man’s man. 
 
In the book he talked about how important it is to participate in the game of life.  He pointed out that life is not a side-line sport.  It is something that we must get involved in and play with all of our hearts.  He said that if we expect life to have any meaning at all, we need to play with “reckless abandonment.” 
 
That phrase, “reckless abandonment,” caught my eye because many coaches had used that term when I was growing up, playing sports.  They often told us that if we played half-heartedly, there was a good chance that we would get hurt.  In other words, we were to play with all of our heart.  We were told that an athlete will never be very effective if he is afraid of being hit or tackled.  It is necessary to play the game, giving it one hundred percent!
 
Glass’ book applied that same concept to playing life at full speed.  He said that you can not half-way do a marriage, or half-way raise children, or half-way work for someone if you expect to have good results and succeed.
 
That book made a profound impact on my young heart and mind at the time.  I understood what he was trying to communicate.  I understood that regardless of what I planned to do with my life, I would have to do it with all of my heart and with all of my might.  I began to live by that philosophy and found it to yield good results in my life. 
 
Several years later I came across that same book, and I remember that my heart leapt inside my chest because I recalled how much it had meant to me early in my life.  Since my first reading had been so long ago, I decided that I would read it again. 
 
I read through the book hoping to get everything out of it that I had gotten the first time, but this time was strange.  The book seemed to be flat.  It seemed to be uninteresting; maybe even boring.  I could not understand what had happened.  How could a book that had changed my life so much many years earlier now have basically no meaning to me at all?  It was indeed a strange occurrence!  I thought maybe something was wrong with me.  It wasn’t until years later that someone was able to shed light on what had happened.
 
You see, the first time I read the book, I had very little understanding of self-discipline or about how to get involved in the game of life.  And, I had very little understanding of what it meant to live life with reckless abandonment.  However, over the next few years, I had employed those concepts in my life; they had become part of me.  Therefore, the information now was no longer foreign to me.  Because it was something that had already become part of my life and was no longer brand new, the book had lost its impact.  It had already done its job and its work was complete.
 
That understanding helped me to realize why it is important to learn and grow.  As we do, the very thing that we once knew nothing about becomes part of our life.  It becomes part of the very fabric of our soul.  That is what happened with that book.  The concepts in it had become so much a part of my life that I did not realize why it did not mean as much to me the second time I read it.  Instead of just learning about how to play the game of life, I had grown into a participant who was actively involved in the game of life.
 
Now, one last thought – please do not get me wrong; I am not a perfect player!  I still make mistakes at times, just like everyone else.  And, sometimes I fall down or a penalty flag is thrown, but I sure am enjoying playing the game!  I don’t want to sit on the sidelines.  I want to play the game, giving it one hundred percent.  I don’t want to arrive at the end of my life and be left wishing that I had done some things that I was simply too afraid to try.  No, I want to play life with “reckless abandonment.”  I want to be part of every activity that I can and to learn from my mistakes and failures.  I find it is more exciting to live life as a winner and a participant than it is to simply play it safe as a casual observer.
 
You and I are only going to get to live once.  I hope that you will play life at full speed and with reckless abandonment, striving to win and achieve in all that you do!  It truly is the best way to go!
 
Robert A. Rohm,Ph.D.
Personality Insights, Inc.
  
Copyright 2010 Personality Insights, Inc.  Reprinted with permission. You may subscribe to the  “Tip of the Week” for free at http://www.personalityinsights.com and receive Dr. Rohm’s weekly Tip every Monday morning.

Green Dry Cleaning

Green Dry Cleaning

 Green Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning: Some Facts, Do It Less, and Go With a Green Cleaner Instead

1. You know that sort of chemical smell or dry smell on your clothes after they’ve been dry cleaned? That’s perchloroethylene (perc) and it’s a known carcinogen.

2. All those clothes that say “Dry Clean Only”? Not so. Polyester is plastic. So is rayon. Silk is the oldest material out there. (Do you think the Chinese were dry cleaning silk during the Ming Dynasty?) Wool is infinitely hand-washable. Wash all of the above, by hand, in cold water with a very little soap. Don’t even think about putting in the dryer.

3. Dry cleaning isn’t really dry. In the perc method, your clothes are immersed in a chemical bath to clean them.

4. The new Green cleaners are not perfect, but they are better than the old dry perc cleaners; for you, for your kids, for your planet. They employ one of three other cleaning methods, using C02, silicone or hydrocarbons, as opposed to the aforementioned Perchloroethylene. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great step in the right direction.

For a more in depth analysis of conventional versus green cleaners, read this Wall Street Journal article by Gwendolyn Bounds.

No time for the whole article? Check out Gwendolyn’s recommendation for finding green cleaners in your neighborhood: “For now, the Web is the best bet for consumers hunting for a non-perc cleaner in their neighborhood. CO2 cleaners are listed at findco2.com, wet-cleaners at professionalwetcleaning.com and GreenEarth cleaners at greenearthcleaning.com. There’s also nodryclean.com, which lists various cleaners by method, and igreenclean.org.”

Even though the article is from 2008, the dry cleaning chemical facts in this post by Melissa Breyer are detailed and accurate. Terri Hall gives some great instruction for hand washing wool, silk and rayon in her article, and Annie B. Bond points out various toxic chemicals lurking on our clothes and in our closets and how you can get rid of them.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Photo © Blaze86 | Dreamstime.com

Quiz: Which Ayurvedic (Life Energy) Type Are You?

Quiz: Which Ayurvedic (Life Energy) Type Are You?

 Quiz: Which Ayurvedic (Life Energy) Type Are You?

Ayurveda is a complete holistic medical system that has been practiced in India for thousands of years.

In the ancient language of Sanskrit, “ayus” means life, and “veda” means knowledge. Ayurveda is the science of living. As a complete system that treats each person as an individual, ayurveda is perfectly customized for you.

Ayurvedic healing teaches that there are three basic constitutional “types”: Earthy Kapha, fiery Pitta, and airy Vata. Once you know your type (we are blends of all types, but one usually stands out), you can learn to analyze your personality and body type, and find out which foods, exercises, lifestyles—even jobs—are most beneficial for you. Here is an illuminating quiz to help you find your Ayurvedic type.

Consider each statement, and assign the number that is most appropriate beside each one (0=never applies; 2=sometimes applies; 4=often applies).

VATA
My skin is dry. I can’t seem to moisturize enough.
I’m slim and can eat whatever I want without putting on weight.
My digestion feels irregular. Sometimes I’m ravenous; sometimes
I have no appetite.
I learn new things easily, but my long-term memory isn’t great.
I am creative and enthusiastic.
I give out so much energy that sometimes I need to rest up to recover.
My energy levels fluctuate a lot.
I dislike the cold, be it in weather, food, or drinks.
My moods change easily.
Stress makes me feel fearful and insecure.
PITTA
I am of medium build and have a well-balanced shape.
When I get indigestion, it tends to manifest as burning sensations.
I love iced drinks, ice cream and other cold foods.
I have a large appetite and digest food very quickly.
My mind is generally well-focused and alert.
People consider me passionate, confident, and courageous.
I don’t like heat much. It tires me, and I sweat easily.
I tend to be impatient, and sometimes anger easily.
I am determined, critical, and stubborn.
I’m rarely daunted by a challenge.
KAPHA

I have a solid build. As a baby, I was big boned.
My digestion is slow, and I feel heavy after eating.
I gain weight easily and am slow to lose it.
I am patient and even tempered.
I’m able to remain calm and unruffled under stress.
I feel I’m slower than others to grasp new concepts.
Once I really learn something, I never forget it.
Once I get going, I have loads of stamina, but I’m not a high-energy person.
I have a caring, compassionate nature.
I don’t like humidity and dampness, but I’m fine in very hot or very cold conditions.

 Now add up each of your three dosha sub-totals. Your highest score reveals your most active dosha.

 by Annie B. Bond
Adapted from The Ayurvedic Year, by Christina Brown (Storey Books, 2002).

7 Ways Sex Makes You Look Great

7 Ways Sex Makes You Look Great


Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me and everyone else out there who benefit from having sex in ways we don’t even realize. Let’s talk about all the good things that may be, specifically when it comes to beauty. Let’s also conclude this homage to Salt-N-Pepa and get to what’s really important: how sex can make us look younger and potentially more attractive.

Yes, there are advantages to knockin’ boots (or rolling in the hay, doing the horizontal mambo, or simply “bow-chicka-bow-wow”) beyond that obvious, delightfully climactic one. Not only do we feel happier and healthier after a session in the sack, but we might even look better, too.

1. Tighter and Brighter Skin
When we orgasm, or sometimes even when we kiss and get touchy-feely with a partner, our brains release a rush of hormones that, among other things, sends collagen production soaring. That keeps skin looking fresh and firm, rather than saggy and dull.

Five Best Foods for Your Skin

2. Fewer Wrinkles and Age and Sun Spots
A plethora of hormones that come into play during sex—including serotonin, dopamine, prolactin, and oxytocin (the cuddle hormone)—are responsible for the feelings of bliss and relaxation that often result afterward, and help prevent wrinkles by lowering stress levels. Sex also releases growth hormones that prompt cell regeneration and help heal existing damage from sun, air pollution, and so forth.

3. A Rosy Glow and Pouty Lips
Hormonal surges aside, blood circulation is the other reason having sex procures so many beauty benefits. The heart pumps blood more quickly because of all the excitement and breathlessness, which means blood moves more efficiently through the rest of the body. Because it’s traveling so rapidly and so close to the skin, it’ll give you slightly plumper lips and a healthy flush.

4. Skin That’s Softer to the Touch
Another thing increased blood circulation does is transport moisture to the skin faster, making it oh so soft. Since dry, flaky skin can look cracked and time weathered, having smoother skin can shave years off your appearance, too.

5. Fewer Breakouts
Sex, when it’s done well, involves a good amount of moving around and skin-to-skin contact, which then raises body temperature and leads to sweat. Sweat detoxifies by clearing all debris (dirt and bacteria) and excess oils from pores, leaving you with healthier skin.

6. Potential Reduction in Under-Eye Circles and Puffiness
No, sex isn’t a cheaper alternative to the eye cream you slather on your face every night, but it does give you something eye cream doesn’t: a better night’s sleep. Both oxytocin and prolactin, two hormones released during and after an orgasm, promote deep relaxation and drowsiness, which is why sex makes so many of us sleepy. (In other words, don’t get too mad at your partner if he rolls over and goes to sleep afterward.)

7. Lush Hair and Strong Nails
Remember how blood circulation provides the body with moisture more efficiently? It also brings much-needed nutrients to various parts of the body more quickly as well—nutrients responsible for growing tough nails and shiny, thick hair.

As if sex weren’t a perk in and of itself, a great deal of beauty boosts come along with it. And while having sex won’t necessarily make your hair grow faster or your wrinkles disappear suddenly, evidence suggests that it really does give people a more youthful appearance. Royal Edinburgh Hospital’s Dr. David Weeks, the author of Secrets of the Superyoung, conducted a ten-year study keeping track of 3,500 participants’ sexual activities. He then asked others to guess the participants’ ages by studying photos of them. Those who had sex a few times a week were said to look around four to seven years younger than they actually were.

Perhaps we’ve been looking for the fountain of youth in all the wrong places. Rather than existing in fancy lotions and potions, it might just be found between the sheets. So what are you waiting for? Forget the retinol and Botox injections and get young and beautiful the age-old way.

By Vicki Santillano, DivineCaroline
At DivineCaroline.com, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

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