The Benefits of Swimming

Posted: 2339 days ago in Lifestyle Wellness


One of my goals this summer was to start swimming again.  

Prior to 2008, my relationship with pools and oceans could best be described as “drown-proof”. I liked being in the water, but had never done a lap, or swam for exercise. Then I had the bright idea to become the most Unlikely Triathlete. It was time to learn how to really swim, instead of just splashing around.

And guess what? I loved it!

For a few years I incorporated swimming into my fitness regime, alternating it with running, biking and weight lifting. Since then, my body has let me know that it needs more gentle exercise, so I learned to lean more heavily on yoga. But somewhere along the way, swimming fell to the wayside. And boy have I missed it.

And I didn’t know how much, until I got in the pool again a few weeks ago. Something about being in the water is so liberating! Part of me feels like a mermaid; the other part has such clarity of thought it’s almost frightening.

swimming-quoteOnce I get into the rhythm of my strokes, the laps are like moving meditation and stress management. All I can hear are the sounds of my breathing, regular and deep. I start by counting my strokes between each breath – 1, 2, 3, breathe, 1, 2, 3, breathe. The water sluicing over my skin feels surprisingly sensuous and therapeutic. I can feel my abs tighten with every long stroke.

Who knew you could get great abs from swimming? You can!

kickboard-swimmingThe benefits of swimming include the fact that it is an incredible full-body workout, while putting near zero stress on joints (read: fewer injuries!) in the process.

Even if you can’t swim, use a kick board to help with flotation or even just walk in the water as an effective way to exercise that’s so gentle to your body. In fact, I go r-e-a-l-l-y slowly, and still get a great workout.

What are you waiting for?! Jump in; the water’s great!

Fed Up – The Movie

Posted: 2341 days ago in Health Lifestyle Wellness

fed-up-the-moviedivider2Bless you, Katie Couric, for doing the work and having the guts to say out loud what needs to be said:  Sugar sucks.

But really, did anyone honestly think that it didn’t?!!

Even I, being the self-proclaimed president of the SHCA, aka the ‘Sugar Haters Club of America’, learned a thing or three while watching her new documentary entitled, ‘Fed Up’.  If you haven’t heard about it, watch the trailer below.

sugar-rda-labelSome of the things that this movie uncovers are straight mind-boggling. For instance, did you know that there were major lobbying dollars spent to eliminate the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) on food labels for sugar? Take a look at the label shown here.

Not that having a number there would prompt consumers to step away from the High Fructose Corn Syrup, but if a certain food or drink provided, say 300% of the RDA for sugar in one serving, I would like to think that most of you would at least go, “Hmmmmm.”  

Would YOU? If not, why not? Do you need more reasons to stay away from sugar? I’m happy to serve them up:

  1. Sugar raises insulin levels: Unless you are ‘Delusional About Diabetes‘, this is not a good thing.
  1. Sugar promotes inflammation: Did you know that the ‘itis’ in arthritis, colitis, and other diseases literally means, “forming names of inflammatory diseases”? Which means, for many diseases, the ‘itis’ signifies the inflammatory component. Ingestion of sugar and sugar-like compounds makes inflammation worse for all of the itis’ and more.
  1. Your immune system takes a beating from sugar. Want to have less resistance to disease? Then have at the sweets. But, if you want to be less prone to colds, the flu and much worse, cut it out.

Katie and Company – bravo!

fedupFed Up the movie was nicely done. Even our teenage daughter learned a thing or 25; she was overheard recapping the whole movie to a bunch of friends soon afterwards, and passed on the soda at our next dinner out.

The one message I did not agree with, however, was the argument that weight gain is due to “calories in” exceeding “calories burned”. There are many factors that contribute to obesity – the number of calories and the types of foods being consumed are just two. But that’s a topic for another day. If you have an interest in making healthier choices, check out Fed Up. It’s out for rent and DVD on September 9th, so mark your calendars and invite your families.

Pass the popcorn! But, please – skip the soda!

Old MacDonald Has a Farm

Posted: 2347 days ago in Lifestyle Wellness


One of the things I love best about summer are all of the farm stands and markets that abound. As people say, ‘farmers markets are a bunch of healthy people buying healthy food from happy farmers who care for the earth.’

It’s just a big farm-love-fest, right?

Even though most every veggie or fruit is available year-round, there is nothing quite like eating locally grown produce that’s in-season, and supporting the local farms that make this possible. That tomato that is imported from Chile in the winter? It might work in a recipe, but it truly pales in comparison to a locally vine-ripened, deep red piece of fruit.

And yeah, I said fruit.

There are several ways to distinguish fruits from veggies, but my favorite is that veggies can be eaten no matter how small they are, and fruits need to ripen. But getting back to the produce… a fruit that has to be transported across the country (or even the world!) often has to be picked while still unripe. The produce doesn’t get to benefit from those last few days or weeks of nutrients that are delivered when it gets to ripen on the vine.

That’s where Ol’ Mr. MacDonald (the farm owner) comes in.

piggyA surefire way to get your kids (or husband!) excited about vegetables is to bring them to the Farmer’s market. Somehow meeting the farmer, getting to know him/her, and seeing the piles of veggies in all their colorful glory makes them much more appetizing than if they just show up on their dinner plates. If you’re not sure where your closest farmer’s market is, or what hours it’s open, check out I’ll typically ask the farmer how to prepare what they are selling. Their recommendations are often simple, yet the most delicious – no recipe required! But if you are interested in some great market fresh recipes – see this list on where everything looks divine.

Happy summer cooking and eating, my friends.

Hangover Helpers

Posted: 2355 days ago in Everything Else Lifestyle

hangover-helpersdivider2From time-to-time, even though we’ve sworn to ourselves ‘we’ll never do it again’ — we wake up with a throbbing headache and queasy stomach from indulging in a few too many cocktails.  

I’m a lightweight. I rarely have more than a drink or two per week (hush-up, those of you who knew me when. I’ve got some secrets on you, too!). On the rare occasion that I do have more than that, I try to uphold some strategies so I won’t waste an entire day or weekend in recovery.

divider2So in no particular order… here are some hangover helpers:

  • Find a drink you enjoy that has little or no sugar. I used to love a good margarita, but now I sip white tequila on the rocks with a big squeeze of lime. If I do shots of tequila, my panties fall off, but if I sip it, I get a nice, slow buzz. One of these cocktails, sipped slowly, lasts me  through most evenings out.  On the odd night that I might be out for the duration, two of them get me through a long night of partying with no hangover in the morning.
  • Have a nice big glass of water before you drink, and in between each cocktail you consume. Alcohol dehydrates you, which will make an alcohol-induced headache significantly worse.
  • Eat a little throughout the evening. This will slow alcohol absorption significantly.
  • Before you hit the sack, chug another big glass of water (and an OTC ibuprofen if you wish). You should be miles ahead in the morning if you do this.

divider2drunk-owlDo I have to say that I do not condone overindulgence, underage drinking or the use of any medication – OTC prescription or illegal – for any use other than intended? If I do have to say it, well then, I just did.

Be responsible. Be healthy. Be alive. And for Pete’s sake, never, ever drink and drive.

The Trouble with Air Travel

Posted: 2397 days ago in Lifestyle


As I write, our oldest daughter is on the second leg of her 26 hour flight-time trip to New Zealand.

globeThe first flight was “only” 5 hours. This second one? 18.

It departed at midnight yesterday, and she won’t arrive until we are eating dinner here, around 6:00 PM tonight. Then it’s just a 3-hour puddle jump to her destination. Crazy, huh?

Air travel is notorious for affecting people in a not-so-good kind of way. From the jet lag to the dehydration, a person can be left feeling pretty gnarly after walking off any airplane, let alone 26-hours of flight.

Airline companies are reporting rising numbers of in-flight illness. This is mostly due in part to the changes in air pressure, humidity, and oxygen as the plane ascends into the atmosphere. Throw together with that the increased immobility (Those seats!), and the potential that you’re in close proximity to someone who should have sought out the infirmary not the airport terminal (Those seat mates!) – and you have yourself one hell of a pickle.

I’m not saying these things to scare you, but it sure does paint a picture of why we need to be proactive with our health prior to and during air travel. Being who I am, I enforced pre-travel precautions, and sent my daughter off with a note card in her backpack on how to stay healthy while flying the big petri dish in the sky.

Emphasis on the petri dish, am I right?

I thought I’d share the same tips with you.

  • Start Healthy! Don’t burn the candle at both ends and weaken your immune system before you go. We enforced an early bed-time for the week before the trip – and this applies to everyone, not just teens.
  • Stay Hydrated. I’m one of the obnoxious passengers who brings empty water bottles through security and refills them before boarding. On one trip, I actually brought a gallon jug and drank the entire thing before I landed 6 hours later. Dehydration makes your mucus membranes really dry and unable to expel inhaled pathogens. Coffee, tea, and alcohol have a particularly dehydrating effect, so the body may start to suffer from a lack of fluid if you consume too much of those.
  • Saline Nose Sprays, Gargles and Eye-drops can keep your juices (and germs!) flowing in the right direction – out!
  • Move It! Drinking a lot leads to my next tip, which is to get up. Also a lot. If you input enough you’ll have to output, which is great to keep your blood flowing. Sitting for extended periods can lead to dangerous blood clots, so aim to be annoying to your seat mates and flight attendants by moving. Pulmonary embolisms are far more annoying than dirty looks from passengers and crew anyway.
  • Active Sitting. Since you will be sitting for the majority of the time, make it active sitting. Do little ab crunches, tighten your butt, do kegels, point and flex your toes. It all helps.
  • Wash your hands. Often. And avoid putting those germ-laden mitts around your eyes, nose and mouth.

Bon Voyage, Mes Amies!paper-airplane

What Do You DO All Day?

Posted: 2408 days ago in Lifestyle Parenting


As a part-time, stay-at-home mom, people will often ask me, “what do you DO all day?”

sidenoteWell. I’m lucky enough to have worked part time since our girls were born. This comes at a price, though, because essentially, like many of you, I have two full-time gigs in one full-time life. Since I’m mostly at home, my kids get annoyed when I can’t take them somewhere or do something with them because I am working. Being a business owner is definitely a full-time job; I just cram it in to 2 days, and I’m sure that annoys someone in the process as well.

So what does a full-time mom do all day? Perhaps I should say, what doesn’t she do? And the answer to that would be, simply, NOTHING.

There are the basics, sure; grocery shopping, banking, cooking, cleaning and laundry. These tasks, in and of themselves, are full-time work. Throw kids into the mix, and it’s like trying to herd cats. Pretty much impossible. Which is why we get super annoyed when someone looks at our yoga pants – still on, even though yoga was 8 hours ago, or possibly never even happened – with judgement.

When our girls were little, the priorities were healthy food, (relatively) clean clothes, and whatever behaviors resulted in the most sleep for the most people. I can assure you that clean baseboards, gourmet dinners, highlighted hair and/or book club were not amongst my highest priorities. After all, I was a stay at home MOM, not a stay at home HOUSEKEEPER or LADY OF LEISURE.

We played a lot of games, went for walks, played dress-up and messed up the kitchen.

We had fun. Mostly.

We survived, and sometimes even thrived.

So what is it that I DID all day? I loved my girls, and fit in the business of life around raising them. It felt like the right thing to do, and still does, even though the puzzles and dolls have morphed into bra shopping and boy talks. I did a little bit of everything (and most of it not well!) but I did, and continue to do, my best.

How does that grab you?

Should You Take A Chill Pill?

Posted: 2416 days ago in Lifestyle


I am in no way condoning the use of illegal drugs, nor can I comment on the efficacy of pharmaceuticals. This is strictly an opinion piece, so if you send me love or hate mail, please keep that in mind!

Recently a patient came to me and confessed that she had a dirty little secret.

To manage the stressors of her tres’ hectic work and family lives, she indulged in a puff or two of a marijuana cigarette most evenings. I think she expected to be criticized and admonished, and was a bit surprised by my response.

“So what?”

Too many of my patients, especially my female patients, have been on long-term, anti-anxiety and other medications to manage the roller coaster that we call life.

Many others indulge in a glass or three of wine each night to ‘unwind’.

IMHO, the wine and the pot are the lesser of the evils. Grapes and herbs versus a chemical compound with a laundry list of side effects? That’s an easy choice for me. Add in a good dose of exercise and regular, good-quality sleep, and the normal ups and downs of life can be very well-managed.

Hear me out:

Biochemical depression, manic-depressive disorders and the like, when regularly managed by a psychiatrist and behavioral therapist, respond very well to chemical management. I am not suggesting that someone with a debilitating mental illness ditch their meds and buy a bong – not at all.

I’m addressing more the garden-variety person who has too much on their plates and no balance in their lives (the “worried well”), who in my experience, get a lifelong prescription for an anti-anxiety medication with no follow-up evaluation or counseling. With the recent legalization of marijuana in more and more states, I’d say that a lot of you agree with me.

Moral of my story? The highs and lows of life are meant to be experienced. Effective self-management is an integral part of living a successful, happy, and healthy life. And let’s face it; only you know what that looks like. Am I right?

Puff, puff pass…

Technology Detox

Posted: 2424 days ago in Lifestyle


As I write this I am on the beach in another country.

I have always preach balance, stress management, and caring for yourself, to myself, my children, patients, friends and family. And I DO walk my talk. No hypothetical bullsh*t here!

This isn’t my first rodeo on this topic either; read my post “off the grid mentality” to better understand my philosophy on balance and technology.

Although this blogger depends on technology to communicate with y’all, it can wear a girl down! 24/7 beeps, rings, pings and buzzers keep my brain on high-alert at all times. IT’S JUST NOT HEALTHY, PEOPLE! Every “like”, “follow” and notification stimulates the same areas of your brain that adrenaline and heroine do. The more you get, the more you need!

facebook-likeThis results in ZERO down time, and that my friends, is very, very bad for you.

Hence the reason for a much needed technology detox. It’s been five whole days since I’ve logged in to check my email, Facebook, blog or texts – and frankly, I’m loving it. I haven’t even worn a watch! Who needs time when you’re on vacation? I eat when I’m hungry, rest when tired, and wake with the sun, even though I’ve danced till the wee hours. And thanks to the wonders of said technology, the site and Facebook feed keep on truckin’, while the girl behind the words recharges her batteries. So when I say I am writing this, I meant just that. Pen to paper. Remember what that’s like?

It sure does feel good, and I would encourage you to unplug every once in a while, too.

Beach optional.

It’s a Donut Kind of Day

Posted: 2428 days ago in Everything Else

As I write this, I’m week into a vacation, and the breakfast buffet has kept me fueled with delicious, healthy foods: veggie omelets, Greek yogurt, and fruits galore; none of which I had to shop for or prepare myself, which is a real treat for this ‘grocery-getting’ mom!

But Oh, sweet Mama. After a late night out with tequila-fueled dancing, it’s quite clear my friends, that it’s a donut kind of day. In particular, a freshly-fried, chocolate-topped donut kind of day.

Or two. It’s exactly what this girl needed – and desperately wanted!

My 80-20 rule has blissfully morphed into 90-10 on this trip, thanks to the plethora of fresh fish, fruits and veggies available around the clock. When you find that you’ve been super, uber good – well then the doctor orders you to GO – FOR – IT. And trust me, debauchery never tasted so good!

Have you ever heard the saying, “the sweet ain’t as sweet without the bitter.” Well, how do you enjoy the healthy without an occasional splurge in the eating department?! What are you working toward if you don’t let yourself have your most deepest desires, every once in a while?donut

Life is short. Go for it. I did, and I loved every bite!

Dr. Laura: You’ve Got it Going On

Posted: 2436 days ago in Parenting


I found this little doozy on Dr. Laura’s site, and posted it to our Facebook page.

“Everyone talks about leaving a better planet for our kids. Let’s try to leave better kids for our planet.”

Wowzers… needless to say, people went crazy for it.

Dr. Laura, you hit a home run with that one. But, OH! What does it mean that we are giving the virtual “Hell Yes!” to this statement? Are we really practicing a global parenting fail as we speak? — Hold me, because I’m scared this may be true.

What the hell is wrong with us???

My take – and I am as guilty as anyone – is that we tell our kids one thing (at least we say we do!) and model a different thing. Do any of these thing sound familiar?

1. “Put down your technology” uttered with no eye contact, as you check your email.
2. “It’s important to have family dinners” as you read or text while you eat.
3. “You don’t need more things” as you unload more bags from your latest mall run.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? If we are raising a bunch of spoiled brats, it’s because we taught them to act that way! It’s truly no one else’s fault but our own. Sorry, but it’s true. Take a hall pass on the “my kids are perfect” routine and have an honest look at whether or not you are raising a spoiled brat. And truly, some of you are, because there are a ton of them out there.

153078895And if you are, do something about it. Please.

Because I have taken a good look in the mirror, and can honestly say that I’m doing my best to leave better kids for this planet – not always successfully – but I’m really, really trying.

I would love for them to have some good company.