Health/Nutrition

Dogs are Awesome: Their Amazing Health Benefits

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Dogs are Awesome: Their Amazing Health BenefitsDogs are amazing and awesome

Last night, I watched this video: A dog’s remarkable journey to find a home: A distance of 6,455 miles doesn’t begin to measure the journey one dog made to join a team and find a family (video below) and I literally sat there crying for a few minutes after the video was over. What a special bond some dogs develop with their people. But even more than the companionship and love they give, dogs are good for your overall health.

Here are just a few of the many benefits:

  • Dogs are heart healthy According to the British Journal of Medicine, dog owners tend to have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks, and have fewer medical problems than those without pets.
  • Dogs help boost your mood Hanging out with your pooch can make you more calm and raises your brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin, the mood chemicals in your body!
  • Dogs get you moving Dog owners tend to exercise more by taking walks and running around with their doggies.
  • Dogs help boost kids’ immune systems According to Science Daily, kids who grow up with dogs have fewer allergies and are less likely to have eczema. They also are exposed to more dirt!
  • Dogs teach responsibility and commitment Caring for a dog is a major commitment and requires patience. It’s a 24/7, 365 day commitment.
  • They can detect health issues In addition to sniffing out cancer, dogs can also be trained to identify seizures, severe allergies, and other health issues.

Shannen Doherty Says Her German Shepherd Was The First To Detect Her Cancer

 

Dogs are Awesome

And while not directly related to health, but definitely affects a person’s overall well-being: DOGS REALLY CAN TELL IF SOMEONE IS A BAD PERSON

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Dog quote

Help! The Digital World is Taking Over Our Lives

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I rarely watch videos from start to end when they are more than a few min long, but the other day this one: Simon Sinek speaking about Millennials in the workplace of today, caught my attention and has really stuck with me. I have had to learn how to manage millennials and work with them in my day to day life. They are definitely a different generation than the GenX I am a part of.

Simon brings up so many good points about why they are the way they are — but his points don’t only apply to the Millennial generation. So many of us are addicted to our devices. We don’t leave home without them, we sit down at the table with them right beside us, we bring them to meetings – we are attached to these devices night and day. I remember having to sit for Jury Duty and the first thing I thought –WTF I can’t bring my phone or iPad while I wait? What am I going to do?? (I ended up running into an old friend and we chatted the time away and I wasn’t chosen so I got to leave early – so it all worked out.)

 

 

I went to Wegmans earlier this week and after watching this video, I stood in line and purposely left my phone at my side but what did I see all around me? Everyone else was on their phones waiting for their lane to checkout. Sinek is so spot on – we are losing the moments of connection, the moments that lead to an idea, innovation. We are so busy looking down at our phones, we miss out on all the opportunities to connect with others – known and unknown.  We need to look up more. I’m not in the camp that devices are evil – but they have all but taken over our lives. We are rarely disconnected, our kids are viewing celebrity lives through filtered lenses, heck, we see our own community through filters.  It does affect people –good and bad.

I wonder how hard it would be for all of us to do a digital cleanse? Maybe it would do us all good especially now that Trump will be in office soon and with him, comes a lot of propaganda, fake news and sensationalism.

Have you done a digital cleanse? Let me know —

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Do Not Confuse Motion with Progress

There’s No Escaping Getting Older

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Carrie Fisher quoteAs if hearing about George Michael’s passing wasn’t enough, now Carrie Fisher has died too. If you grew up in the 80’s, like I did, you have noticed that many of our childhood heroes and iconic figures are dying. Nancy Reagan, Prince, Bowie, Ali to name a few. I wonder if this is the beginning of our generation starting to feel old…

Carrie Fisher was Princess Leia in Star Wars- and if you know my family, Scotty’s favorite thing is STAR WARS. Beyond that, she was an author, comedienne and lent her voice to help to remove the stigma of mental illness- sharing that she was bi-polar.  It’s no secret she had led a pretty hard life  — and it eventually catches up to you, I guess.

It’s another reason why taking care of ourselves is so important. We aren’t spring chickens anymore. We can’t pass for kids in our 20s. We are getting old.  Just last night, Scott and I hit up the new MGM Casino at the National Harbor for his birthday. As we were walking into the casino, with our IDs ready for inspection, what happens? The security guard says – Ma’am you can go on through. No ID check, no humor me and look at the damn thing, nothing and he added a Ma’am to boot. What’s next?  Reading glasses!!!??

I realize there is no escaping getting older, so why do I, like so many others. fear it or live in constant denial that it’s happening? I don’t have an answer, but here are some articles to read for insight…

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Just Enjoy Today

Parenting: Does It Ever Get Easier?

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It’s no secret that I’m not the tallest person — I’m around 5’3. Scotty, my husband, is 6’3. I figured when we had kids that they would most likely be taller than me. So, while it’s not a surprise that HB is now taller – there is a milestone moment in parenting when it hits you  – your baby is now grown up. I had that moment recently and my super tall husband had to point it out —

Parenting: It Never Gets EasierWe were shopping at a local sports store and I couldn’t reach something –so I asked HB to get it for me and sure enough, she reached up and got it with no problem. It was not a noticeable moment for me – do you know how many times I have to ask someone to get something for me? I can’t count that high — short people are used to asking for help.  But Scotty – well he strolled by and asked “Did you just ask HB to get something up high for you?”  That was the moment when I realized it had happened. My first born child is growing up. Can we make time stop?

As much as I love who she is now, I wish I had that time back when she was a baby. I would have been less nervous with her and enjoyed the time more. Life really does happen so quickly and before you know it – they are up and grown and your roles change. Circle of life, I suppose. Parenting – it never gets easy – what’s hard just changes.

Other thoughts around Parenting

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Scotty posted this to my Facebook wall recently to let me know I’m not alone. I was once asked by a friend, “Does your husband know you are moving out?” after he saw my car.

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Challenging Times Lead to Empowering Lessons

Light Therapy for the Winter Blues

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Light Therapy for the Winter BluesThe holidays are such an interesting time of the year. It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so we are told – but is it? I find that for many people, myself included it’s a tough time of year. High expectations, over indulgence, missing family – it can all add up to being depressed. Not to mention the winter blues start to hit.

A few years ago my doctor suggested I buy a light therapy lamp. Each year about this time, I start to feel the effects of winter starting creeping up and I have to start using the lamp again. It’s hard to believe, but 30-45 minutes each day really does make a difference. Here’s a little bit of info from the Mayo Clinic about choosing light therapy box: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

When using it, you have to keep an open mind when trying out light therapy. I have it on desk at the office and people stop me often and ask about it. Some are skeptical and aren’t shy in sharing their thoughts. But the thing is – I really do feel better after using it. Even if it’s all in my head (science proves otherwise)- who cares…

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Get out of your comfort zone.

Kindness Benefits the Mind and Body

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It should go without saying, but it’s more important than ever to look for ways to help each other out in our own neighborhoods and globally. Look for ways to lift each other up when possible -even if its simply a kind word and approach things with the best intentions. And, sometimes we need to remind ourselves that most people in our lives try to act with the best intentions even if they annoy us. And above all — BE KIND. Kindness Matters always. 

Health Benefits of Kindness

Kindness Benefits the Mind and BodyDid you know there is scientific research that proves being kind and generous is actually good for your health? When you do something that makes you feel good, your body makes Oxytocin, which then releases nitric oxide which dilates your blood vessels and reduces your blood pressure!

Research has also shown a link between being kind and your body releasing dopamine, which helps with your mood and aids in giving you a sense of euphoria and eases anxiety.

Here’s some good info on Why Being Kind is Good for your Health to drive the point home even more…

On a related note, I do not share much related to religion here, however, this was a story and a lesson about kindness and support that should resonate with us all, especially now as we are seeing an increase in hate crimes and mean spirited politics…

 

“Let me tell you the secret of Judaism. When you warm other people’s hearts, you remain warm yourself. When you seek to support, encourage and inspire others; then you discover support, encouragement and inspiration in your own life as well. That, my friends, is “Judaism 101”.”

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No Mediocre

Fitness is Rented and Needs to Be Paid Every Day

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Where have I been? What’s been going on? I wish I could share some exciting details or news, but the truth is I have been lacking inspiration and motivation the past few weeks. Maybe it’s the election results, or the change of seasons- whatever it is, it’s been affecting me big time.

Fitness is RentedNow that the holiday season is here, most of us will be out socializing a lot more than usual. I get invited to a ton of Holiday Parties and Happy Hours in December and if I’m not careful, I start to slip back into old eating habits. I’m sure I’m not alone.  Last week, during one of my Body By Wayne training sessions, I was bitching about how hard the workout was (something I do regularly). I asked Wayne why it’s so hard to stay lean and healthy. How come there isn’t a pill I can take to keep this way? I workout all the damn time –hard workouts, that challenge me in many different ways, but yet each time I go, it’s a mental and physical challenge once again.  It’s not freakin’ fair, but the truth is — Fitness is rented. You have to pay that rent each and every day. And if it’s important to you, then you will do it.

What keeps me motivated to stay fit?

Here’s some insight into how I think…

  1. I have seen far too many older people become immobile and unable to take care of their most basic needs without help. For some, it wasn’t something under their control, but for the vast majority – if they moved their bodies and paid a bit more attention to their overall health when they were younger, they wouldn’t be that way.  When I start to lament about having to workout, I remember this.
  2. When Scotty was sick with colon cancer, we spent every other Tues at Georgetown Hospital getting his chemo. I saw and met a lot of very sick people. Exercising is one of the best ways to prevent many cancers — and it’s an hour of of my day.  One friggin hour! And if you can’t do a full workout – then just go for a walk. MOVE YOUR BODY. I remember our time getting Scotty well and the people I met. 
  3. I live in the suburbs and I am seeing more and more, people my age ignoring their health. We are at the cusp of “no, we aren’t old” and “no, we aren’t young” and so many of take little time to take care of ourselves. We know how important it is – but tend to get wrapped up in everything else. I remind myself how important it is to take time for myself to take care of myself. Not only for my own well-being, but as a good role model for my kids.

After thinking about those three important things, how can I really not go and workout? Those aren’t trivial reasons and I have no real excuse to skip. Not to mention that I love the feeling I have after a good workout and the great people I have met through my fitness journey. Hopefully, the insight I shared will help motivate you to stop waiting and begin…

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Determination is your responsiblity

Discover The Spice: Sumac

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Sumac - SpiceI’ve been meaning to share a find I recently made: the spice Sumac.  My friend Mastaneh had us over for dinner a few months back and we had seriously, the most delicious grilled chicken kabobs. They were flavored with Sumac. I had never heard of it — but apparently it’s a commonly used spice in the Middle East.

From my research, The sumac bush, native to the Middle East, produces deep red berries, which are dried and ground into coarse powder. The spice was long used in Europe to add tartness to many dishes until the Romans introduced lemons to the area. While it’s less common, the berries may also be sold whole. Ground sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice. A small sprinkle also adds a beautiful pop of color to any dish.

It also has antioxidant health benefits and is an anti-inflammatory. I was able to find it at Whole Foods, but like almost anything – it can be found online via Amazon too!

I sauteed chicken thighs, onions and garlic and add Sumac to the chicken as they are cooking. It’s so so good even my kids like it. And the leftovers even keep their flavor which is a bonus. Here are some ideas for using Sumac when you are cooking!

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Look for Inspiration and Be Curious

Working Off a Bad Diet is a Myth

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Calories in or Calories OutThis weekend I took a trip to NYC.  A huge part of my mini-vacation was eating. Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, Cannolis, and Drinking. I swear I gained back a ton of weight just over the weekend. And then I got to thinking about how hard it is to maintain a healthy weight even though I workout hard regularly.

I, like so many of you, grew up thinking if you work out enough you can compensate for eating a ton of crap food.  I have since found out that’s not necessarily completely true. It doesn’t tell even half the story of how it all works. If it was, I would be stick thin with how much I work out. And as I have shared here, I struggle each and every day to focus and make the right choices to fuel my body.

So, I decided to Google the topic and found this really good post by Authority Nutrition: Why “Calories in, Calories Out” Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story by Kris Gunnars. Gunnars really breaks it down in a way us layman peeps can understand. Here are a few of the standout points he makes:

  • The food we choose to eat on the regular is just as important as how many calories we actual eat.
    Depending on the food, the metabolic and hormonal impact varies depending on the person. So it’s a lot more complicated than just thinking a calorie is a calorie.
  • Weight gain can change your physiology. That change can make you crave more, which in turn means increased caloric intake.
    If your body has more weight to support, your body may crave more to keep the train running. So the idea that increasing caloric intake drives weight gain, but the gaining of fat actually is driving the need for increased calories.

This whole notion of calories in = calories out incorrectly simplifies a very complex topic and can set up so many of us to fail. We have these unrealistic and unattainable expectations. There are so many influences involved in maintaining a healthy body. Knowing about them can help us make the right choices to live our healthiest life!

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Cold Water - Justin Bieber

Well Fed, Healthy and Happy

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Well Fed - Melissa JoulwanI came home to a special package from Melissa Joulwan.  If you aren’t familiar with her, she’s the author of the popular blog The Clothes Make the Girl, which is now renamed to just her name alone and her Well Fed book series.  I’ve been a supporter and fan of Melissa’s for years now and have recommended her first Well Fed book before. If you are looking for really good recipes that meet Whole 30, Paleo, Clean Eating guidelines – look no further than her cook books.  Her recipes are by far the top of the top in terms of just being good food.  When people ask me for advice on going “paleo’ or starting a Whole 30 program — the first thing I recommend is to buy her cookbooks. Honest.

Want to buy the Well Fed books? Here’s a link to her online store and you can buy them through Amazon as well.  If you are looking for even more Paleo and Clean Eating resources, visit my Paleo/CrossFit resource area.

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Watch Kevin Hart and Conan O’Brien Do Crossfit Together

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Believe in yourself - Norman Peale

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