Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Are You Gonna be Frivolous or Fabulous?

Everyone wants to look great and be healthy when they reach 50 years and beyond right? And everyone’s heard the phrase “Fabulous at 50”! So why be frivolous with your health and fitness now! If you’re going to look great and feel great when you get into your older years, you have to start thinking about what you eat and how active you are now, regardless of if you’re in your thirty’s, forty’s, coming up on 50, or even if you’re already past. This goes for both men and women.

If you start now to eat healthier, leaner meals and snacks, and incorporate fitness, sports, or some kind of physical activity into your daily or weekly routine, you’ll definitely be on your way to becoming the fit, healthy and energetic person you can be, well into your older years!

You have no idea how many times I’ve heard people say “When you hit 40, it’s all downhill”! Well you know what... In most cases it’s true! You start to feel tired all the time, you seem to get sick often, your metabolism slows down and you start gaining weight. One day you just wake up, look in the mirror and think “Oh my God, what’s happening to me!” Then you start to panic, and all you can think about is “How am I going to fix this”!

Well it doesn’t have to be like that and fortunately you can fix things! But, by the time you think you need fixing, it’ll take a little longer to get there than if you had been working on it all along. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you have to be a fanatic about fitness, or even be a nutritionist, but, you do need to stop being frivolous with your eating habits now and start being smarter and more aware of how you eat, how much you eat, and how active you are in your daily life.

You can start by ditching the junk food, and stop being a couch potato! Get up and do something! What you should be eating, are smaller portions of healthier, leaner snacks and foods like fish and chicken, nuts and whole grains, make sure to include a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, and you should also add at least 30-45 minutes of some kind of physical activity to your daily routine, even if it’s just walking, riding your bike, or walking your dog… well, that is, if you have a dog! Make it a speed walk or a power walk!

Believe it or not, you don’t even need to have a Gym membership to get into physical shape either. With the economy the way it is today, and “Frugal being the New Cool”, everyone is trying to cut corners to save money. You can get yourself into great physical shape with little to no money! It’s true!

First of all, think about getting a Fitness DVD and working out in your living room, your bedroom or wherever you have a little space! They’re inexpensive and you can have your very own “Personal Trainer” right in your own home as often as you want, whenever you’re ready, at no extra charge! One that I can recommend and have used for years and find to be easy, fun, and with excellent results is Tank Top Arms, Bikini Belly, Boy Shorts Bottom,by Minna Lessig. It works out every part of your body and is designed to accommodate multiple fitness levels. This DVD Rocks!!

Another option is, why not join a Fitness Meetup Group in your area where you might be able to work-out or exercise for free, or for a very small fee, with others who have the same goals as you do. There’s no fee to become a member of Meetup, the events are really fun, offer a wide variety of groups from Yoga to Bootcamps and everything in between... and a lot of them are run by Certified Personal Trainers! I use Meetup’s for fitness and fun all the time and can highly recommend them.

Whatever it is that you decide to do, you need to start by making a plan, writing it down, staying focused and disciplining yourself. Figure out what you’re going to eat at each meal, at snack time, and what you’re daily physical activity is going to be and write it down in a planner or on whatever works for you. Work on coming up with some kind of a regular routine that you are comfortable with and stick with it! Be sure to change it up a little bit every now and then by adding new foods and activities, because your muscles have memory and they need a change too. It will also keep you from getting bored with the same ol' thing.

“You’ve gotta stop being Frivolous with your health and fitness NOW if you want to be Fabulous and happy later in life!” So, don’t procrastinate… go ahead and give yourself a challenge!! I know you can do it!! Push yourself just a little bit more every time and one day, you‘re gonna look in the mirror, regardless of what age you are, and think “Hey, I’m looking Fabulous and feeling Fine!” That’s when you’ll know that all of your efforts were well worth it!!

So what’s it gonna be? Frivilous or Fabulous… You decide!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let’s Get It Started!

True or False – "Skipping breakfast is the best way to prevent overeating at dinner and to lose weight."

The answer is False, False and False! What is "True" is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism for the day. If you’re thinking of skipping breakfast or lunch to save up the calories for dinner, you’ll be slowing down your metabolism and you’ll actually end up gaining more weight! Not only that, by the time you get to dinner, you’ll be so starved that you won’t make sensible choices and you’ll end up eating much more than you normally would. So if you normally skip breakfast in your effort to try losing weight, you’ll actually lose weight faster by having breakfast in your diet. Research has shown that breakfast eaters are much more successful in losing weight and at keeping the lost weight off than those who skip it.

Eating just anything for breakfast won’t give you the health benefits you’re looking for either. The right choices in breakfast foods will help start your day with immune-boosting vitamins and minerals. You need to choose foods that are low in fats and sugars, loaded with vitamins & minerals and high in fiber to protect your cardiovascular system, sharpen your mind, and strengthen your immune system. Also, studies have shown that you should try to get at least 6 grams of fiber at breakfast.

Why not get your morning started with a few of these quick ideas or come up with a few of your own. You’ve got nothing to lose... except maybe a little weight!!

So... what’s on your breakfast menu?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rock Your World… With Rock Climbing of Course!

Is this winter weather keeping you inside and climbing the walls? Have you been thinking about looking for something new and fun to take your fitness routine to another level?

Well I have just the thing for you. Why not try some Indoor Rock Climbing where you can climb some real walls!

Climbing is an extremely challenging sport that’s also a bunch of fun, a total thrill, and a great physical workout all at the same time! Not only will it give you an enormous sense of self satisfaction and self reliance, it will also build self confidence, mental control, improve your balance and increase your positive thinking.

Most Climbing Gyms provide numerous routes that offer a full range of climbing workout levels from "Very Easy" to "Extremely Challenging". Climbing walls are generally constructed of steel beam structures with fiberglass sheathing or a molded "Rock Like" texture. "Climbing Holds" are then placed on the walls to simulate rocks that a climber uses to grip as they climb the structure and they’re changed out periodically to keep the routes fresh. Climbing Routes are sometimes designated by colored holds or tape on the wall, and they’re typically given a name and a difficulty level. This allows the climber to track their progress as they improve their skills.

Beginners will usually be given an orientation where they are shown how to put on the harness, how to tie the figure 8 knot, how to "Belay", and how to lower their partner. Once you get the basics down, you’re ready to start climbing!

If climbing up to high places is not really your thing, you can always try "Bouldering". This kind of climbing is usually not more than 12 feet or 4 meters off the ground and it generally uses more strength than endurance. Most gyms will have a "Fall Zone" padded with either gym mats, pea gravel, or shredded tire tread to break the falls. The climbing routes are usually shorter and more difficult, but they require very little climbing equipment... usually just climbing shoes and chalk.

For a list of Rock Climbing Gym‘s around the world and maybe one near you, click on this link www.indoorclimbing.com/worldgyms.html.

Rock Climbing is an excellent exercise for the whole body and mind... So why not let rock climbing "Rock Your World"!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Your Brain on Fitness!

Ever misplace your car keys somewhere, forget an old friends name when it comes time to introduce them, even though you’ve known them for years, or even better, ever put something in that special place so you’ll always know where it is... only to not be able to find it when you need it? I know you’ve all been there at least once or twice in your life and you’re not even old yet! Well if you want to live with an active brain when you do get older, you’re going to have to keep your brain healthy with exercise now. That’s right... Fitness for your brain!

Did you know that eating healthy is not only good for your body but it’s also important to keep your brain healthy and sharp too? Include lots of colorful fruits and vegetables that are packed with antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals. They’re low in fat and generally low in calories too. You should also include foods rich in Omege-3 Fatty acids like Almonds, Walnuts, Wild Salmon, Tuna and Sardines. Omega-3‘s are important to maintain your brain function and they may help to protect your brain from aging as well.

Studies have also shown that if you include a few simple and fun exercises into your daily routine you’ll boost your brain power enormously and maintain your mental sharpness. Why not try a few of these to smarten up and exercise that muscle between your ears!

Exercise & Yoga - Studies have shown that exercise improves your memory and concentration and may even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. It increases blood flow to the brain and nourishes your brain cells allowing them to function more effectively and it also promotes the growth of new brain cells. Yoga has been known to affect mood and boost brain power.

Dancing – Why not try Ballroom dancing or learn that Salsa move you’ve always wanted to figure out. Learning new moves activates the brain motor center that develops new neural connections. It also calms the brain’s stress response.

Walking – Walk your dog or walk yourself! Walking 20 minutes a day can reduce your blood sugar and improve blood flow to your brain to help you think more clearly.

Sleeping – It isn’t a Luxury... it’s a "Must Have"! Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night and even take in a catnap later in the day. It develops proteins and other brain-boosting components. Sleeps boost to concentration and memory happens in the first 30 minutes so even that little half hour afternoon snooze will benefit your brain!

Play Video Games - Video games such as Wii or Nintendo DS offer Brain Teasers that force you to learn the games interface and stimulates your response to time and memory.

Look Around – I mean really look! While walking down the street, stare straight ahead and try to make out what’s in your peripheral vision. Also, try scanning your eyes to the left and right. This will activate parts of your brain that you rarely use which will stimulate brain cell growth.

Keep a Calendar in Every Room – Looking at your calendars will keep you focused and will help you to create a mental picture of the day in your head.

Drink a glass of Red Wine a day – It has powerful antioxidants that prevent free radicals from killing your brain cells. But no more than two glasses for women and three glasses for men or you’ll reduce that brain boosting nutrient Thiamine!

Socialize - Stay socially connected by getting together with friends and family. Studies have shown that people with active social lives have a reduced risk of developing Dementia and Alzheimer’s. The more activities and contact we have with others, the more it will increase our mental sharpness… and it’s also a fantastic brain exercise.

Read the Newspaper – It will not only keep you current on what’s going on in the world around you, it’ll activate multiple parts of your brain that encourage cell growth. It will also give you something to talk about when socializing with your friends and family.

Play Board Games – Playing games like Yahtzee, Pictionary, Scrabble or Boggle or any game similar to these will lower your risk of developing Dementia by activating spatial, strategic, and memory parts of your brain... and it encourages you to socialize!

Make Crosswords or Logic Puzzles – They stimulate your brain by challenging your mind and memory, contributing to better brain function.

Listen to Your Favorite Music – Music improves your focus and feeling of well being. It also reduces stress hormones that inhibit memory.

Have Sex – No explanation needed! Just kidding! It actually improves your sense of smell! Having regular and enthusiastic sex, even just a few times a week, increases the production of the Prolactin hormone, which in turn causes stem cells in the brain to develop new neurons in the brain’s smell center. And you thought sex was just for fun!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

They're Music to Your Waistline!

"Beans, beans the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you... Ooops!" Well, we all know the answer to that one!

Did you know that eating beans can actually reduce your waistline though? It’s true! Beans are low in fat and they’re packed with fiber, protein and antioxidants. According to Real Age expert, John La Puma, MD, author of ChefMD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine,bean eaters weigh nearly 6.6 pounds less than those who don’t.

So which beans will give you the biggest boost and have the most antioxidant benefit? It’s the darkest ones of course! Black beans are the best, followed by Red, Brown, Yellow and White... in that order.

Do you avoid these little numbers because you’re not really into sounding like a human symphony? I know the after affects can be a bit undesirable sometimes. The reason for that is the complex indigestible sugars that ferment in your digestive system releasing gas and making you a musical "Rock Star" whether you want to be one or not! You can always try using a product like Beano or some other product that contains a natural food enzyme that breaks down the sugars into those that your body can digest.

So, go ahead and eat your beans and make some music... or not! Your waistline will love it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

As Luck Would Have It… Happy New Year!!

Well, here we are at the end of another year and people all around the world will be ringing in the New Year by making resolutions and doing all kinds of interesting, crazy and silly little things in hopes of bringing luck and prosperity to their year ahead.

Go figure this… It turns out that good-looking men, lentils, no housework, and kissing are all good luck! Hmmm... there just may be something to this tradition stuff after all!

Everyone’s heard that eating Black Eyed Peas will bring general good luck, but there are dozens of other quirky traditions that you may or may not have heard of that could add a little fun to your "End of Year" celebration. You might just find one or two new ones that appeal to your sense of adventure. Or, if you’ve never had a New Year tradition at all, why not try out a few... and as luck would have it... maybe this will be your Lucky Year!

Here’s a conglomeration of Rules, Rituals, and Beliefs from around the world that are sure to ring in a “Lucky New Year” for someone!
  1. Eat 12 grapes at midnight. Each grape promises to bring you good luck during every month of the year.

  2. Wear yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve. It’s not really clear where this tradition came from, but yellow is supposed to attract positive energies for the New Year. I’ve also read that you have to wear them backwards and then turn them around at midnight for the New Year!

  3. Walk around the block with a suitcase in hand. By doing this, you supposedly increase your chances of travelling during the year.

  4. On New Year’s Eve, every door and window should be left open at midnight to let the old year out.

  5. If you eat fish on New Year’s Eve, you’ll swim through the New Year like a fish. You’ll be able to move smoothly and easily and go beyond obstacles without effort in the New Year.

  6. There should be money in your pocket at the stroke of midnight. If the New Year finds you with money in your pocket, you’ll not miss it in the year to come.

  7. Make lots of noise at the stroke of midnight. Evil spirits attempt to come into the brand new year at this time – horns and whistles chase them away.

  8. Dancing around a tree (especially outside) on New Year’s Eve ensures luck, love, and prosperity.

  9. Kissing your spouse or significant other at midnight ensures that you will remain intimate with that person. To not kiss means a cold relationship for the year.

  10. A woman shouldn’t speak until a man says "Happy New Year." This one might be hard for some!

  11. The first words you hear in the minutes of the New Year will set the precedence for the entire year.

  12. Eat Lentil Soup on New Year’s Day because lentils are thought to look like little coins and will bring you prosperity in the coming year.

  13. Eat pork on New Year’s Day too because while poultry scratches backwards and a cow stands still, a pig roots forward, therefore eating it will ensure that you’ll be moving forward.

  14. Never ever eat Chicken or Turkey on the first day of the year because those birds scratch in the dirt all day for their dinner, meaning you’re certain to bring poverty to your year ahead.

  15. No sweeping or dusting the first day of the year. The good luck could be swept out. If you have to sweep, you should sweep towards the center of the house and use a dust pan.

  16. Nothing goes out on New Year’s Day, absolutely nothing... not even the garbage! Don’t shake out your rug or even bring out the recyclables to the bin. The flip version of this rule is that nothing goes out until something new comes in.

  17. No money should be spent either (that would be something going out).

  18. A first-footer is the first person through the door after the stroke of midnight. This person should be a good-looking, dark-haired man. He has to knock and be let in – not use a key to enter. He would ideally be carrying a piece of coal (meaning the house will always be warm), bread (meaning the household will always have food), money (for obvious reasons), and greenery (for long life). The first-footer brings extra luck if he happens to come on a horse. Under no circumstances can First-footers have flat feet, be cross-eyed, or have a Unibrow (eyebrows that meet in the center). A first-footer also can’t have blond or red hair either, and a woman first-footer would be disastrous!

  19. Wear something new on January 1st... and bring even more luck by wearing something Red. You don’t have to buy an entire outfit… it’s enough to have just one new item. It promises more new clothing in the coming year.

  20. No crying on January 1st or you will be crying all year long.

  21. Do something you are good or successful at on New Year’s Day... especially if its work related. This will tell you how the rest of the New Year will go.

  22. Any baby born on New Year’s Day has good luck the rest of his/her life. The baby also brings good luck to the family.

  23. In Puerto Rico, children enjoy throwing pails of water out the window at midnight. Some believe that this rids their home of any evil spirits!

  24. Switzerland believes good luck comes from letting a drop of cream land on the floor New Years Day.

  25. In France people eat a stack of pancakes for luck and good health.

  26. Belgium farmers wish their animals a Happy New Year for blessings.

  27. Armenian women bake special breads for their family. The bread is kneaded with luck and good wishes pressed into the dough before it is baked.

  28. In Northern Portugal children go caroling from home to home and are given treats and coins. They sing old songs or "Janeiro's" which is said to bring good luck.

  29. Romanians have a tradition of listening to hear if the farm animals talk on New Year’s Day. If the animals talk it was considered bad luck, so they are relieved when they don’t hear any talking animals.

  30. In Bolivia families make beautiful little wood or straw dolls to hang outside their homes to bring good luck.

  31. In Denmark, it is a good sign to find your door heaped with a pile of broken dishes at New Years. Old dishes are saved year around to throw them at the homes where their friends live on New Year’s Eve. Many broken dishes were a symbol that you have many friends!

  32. The Dutch are eating donuts on New Year’s Day. They say donuts bring fortune because they have the shape of the ring, which symbolizes the full circle, the year’s cycle.

  33. In Greece, St. Basil fills the children's shoes with presents at midnight.

Whatever you decide to do... Have a Safe and Happy New year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Skinny on a Few of Your Holiday Fave’s… Who Knew??

We all like to eat, drink and be merry during the holiday’s right? Well, according to the National Institute of Health, the average American gains around 5-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years because this time of year is typically filled with parties, holiday gatherings and even yummy treats at the office. The worst part is that people don’t always take those pounds off after the holidays either, they just keep adding to it!

Well, you shouldn’t deprive yourself from having some of your favorite holiday goodies. Just try to choose wisely, don’t have too much of a good thing and more importantly... enjoy yourself!

Here’s a really short quiz to test your knowledge on a few common holiday treats... Who Knew??

Which warm winter drink do you think has the least calories?
  1. 1 cup of Hot Cocoa
  2. 1 cup of Hot Buttered Rum
  3. 1 cup of Mulled Cider
If you guessed the Mulled Cider... you got it right, having only around 100 calories! Anything with the word "Butter" in it has got to be higher in calories... so the Hot Buttered Rum comes in with about 200 calories while the Hot Cocoa (with low-fat milk) comes out to about 150 calories!

One cup of Eggnog has as many calories as:
  1. 1 Dunkin Donuts Cake donut
  2. 1 Small bag of M&M’s
  3. 1 McDonald’s Quarter Pounder
Hmmm... I know what you're thinking! Nope it isn’t the Dunkin Donuts Cake Donut... guess again!! It’s the Quarter Pounder! The Eggnog which has about 400 calories is actually closer to the McDonalds Quarter that has a whopping 410 calories! Believe it or not, the Cake Donut only has about 280 calories and the M&M’s have only around 243 calories for a 1.67 oz bag!

Which dessert will do the “Least” damage to your waistline?
  1. 1 slice (1/8 of a pie) of Pecan Pie
  2. 1 slice (1/8 of a pie) of Apple Pie
  3. 1 slice (1/8 of a pie) of Pumpkin Pie
You may think the answer to this one would be the Apple Pie because apples are typically low in calories but, the right answer here is the Pumpkin Pie! A slice of Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie has only 260 calories... and you can cut off nearly another 100 calories by just eating the filling and not the crust! The Apple Pie would typically have around 400 calories and for the most part the culprit here is again the "double" crust! The Pecan Pie has around 470 calories because pecans are typically higher in fat and calories.

A regular candy cane has how many calories?
  1. 40
  2. 60
  3. 80

You guessed right if you chose 60 calories! A standard candy cane, the size that you normally put on a Christmas tree, has only 60 calories and zero fat and its best to have it after dinner because the peppermint aids in the digestion of that yummy meal you just ate!

So go ahead… eat, drink and be merry and have a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 15, 2008

It’s the Perfect Pair!

With all the talk about "Super Foods" these days, you won’t be playing games with this winning combination... It’s like a match made in heaven! This super easy, super quick recipe of "Salmon with Pomegranate Glaze" can be fully prepared and served in just 30 minutes. Pair it up with a little "Whole Grain Brown rice" or "Long Grain & Wild rice" and a green veggie like Asparagus or maybe Broccoli or Spinach (both are on the super foods list) and you’ll have a super healthy dinner ready in no time. With the vitamins and super antioxidants in the pomegranate, and the omega 3’s and protein in the salmon, you really can’t lose with this one. Not only is it delicious... it’s a perfect win-win!

Pomegranate Glazed Salmon


4 Salmon filets (6-8 oz.)
Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Pepper

Pomegranate glaze:

2 tablespoons Honey
1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
1 cup 100% Pomegranate Juice
Orange Zest (From one orange)


Pomegranate glaze:

In saucepan over medium heat, reduce glaze ingredients until a syrup consistency, 12-15 minutes. Keep warm.


  1. Heat sauté pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil.
  2. Season salmon filets with salt and pepper.
  3. Sauté filets on both sides for about 5-7 minutes per side or until cooked through.
  4. Place the cooked salmon on a serving dish and brush with the pomegranate glaze.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Who’s Afraid of a Little Pomegranate?

It’s that little red fruit that we have trouble figuring out what to do with! I mean really, getting it open is a challenge in itself, right? Well, don’t be afraid of it! This cool little fruit is packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin B5, Potassium, and Polyphenol Antioxidants and in fact, drinking pomegranate juice daily will improve your health in lots of ways.

Even though studies have been going on for many years, it seems that this little fruit has just recently gained its popularity with reports of its health benefits. There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the pomegranate plays a role in promoting cardiovascular health and the benefits of its super antioxidants in neutralizing free radicals. For men, it was also reported to promote improved prostate health and proper erectile function. It also has been reported to aid in reducing Systolic Blood Pressure, may inhibit Viral Infections, and it may have antibacterial effects against Dental Plaque of all things. Many studies have shown improvements with drinking as little as just an 8oz. glass of juice daily. If you’re not into drinking the juice straight, you can mix into a variety of beverages and also use it in many recipes. You can even eat those juicy little seeds as a snack, on your morning cereal or in salads!

While no one food can guarantee complete protection from any disease, you should fill your diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables, exercise at least 30 minutes per day, and follow up with your doctor recommended health screenings.

One of the most popular brands in bottled pomegranate juice found in almost any food store is “POM Wonderful” offering 100% juice. It's one that has been backed by $25 million in medical research, in fact, they claim to be the only one backed by any medical research at all. While there are lots of pomegranate juices on the market, keep in mind that some of the blended varieties have very little pomegranate juice in them at all and are filled with sugars. Be sure to choose one that is 100% pure juice with limited amounts of sweeteners to get the most of its benefits.

When it comes to fresh pomegranates, most of your local food markets offer fruits that are already fully ripened. They should be about the size of a large orange, heavy for its size and have a blemish free reddish-pink skin. Inside there is a bitter white tissue called the pith that surrounds the hundreds of little juicy sacs filled with seeds. The seeds can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months and in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you’re up for it, try using this simple technique to open a fresh pomegranate and remove the seeds. It’s really not that hard... you’ll see!
  1. Fill a large bowl with water.
  2. Cut off the crown and end of the pomegranate.
  3. Score the thick skin from top to bottom in quarters.
  4. Place the pomegranate into the bowl of water and allow it to soak for 5 minutes.
  5. Break apart the pomegranate underwater. (This keeps the juice from squirting all over you and staining everything in its path, including your kitchen counter and your clothes.)
  6. Carefully wrestle the little seeds out of the pith with your fingers. The pith will float to the top of the water and the seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Skim the pith and rind off the top and toss it in the trash, then pour the seeds into a colander, drain and carefully pat them dry. Now they’re ready for whatever your imagination has in store!!
If you just want juice from the pomegranate and not the seeds, there’s a couple of ways you can do it, but you better suit up first! That little thing loves to squirt and remember it will stain everything it hits! You can store the squeezed juice in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Use one of these two ways to get your juice:
  1. For one, you can simply cut the pomegranate it in half and using a regular hand citrus juicer, squeeze and press the fruit in a circling motion until no more juice comes out. Line a colander with a cheese-cloth and strain the juice.
  2. Or, you can just press the fruit against a countertop, rolling back and forth to break open the little sacs that contain the juice. Puncture a hole in one end of the pomegranate and squeeze the juice out. You might also need to strain the juice using a cheese-cloth to remove any little seed particles that may have come out.

Well, that’s it and it wasn’t even that big of a deal... anyone can do it and there’s nothing to be afraid of! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Organics – Is it really all that?

We’ve all heard the phrase "All Natural, All the Time" right?

Well, "Going Organic" is becoming a very common term these days and not something that was widely talked about in past generations. It was usually something you would expect to hear about from someone who was a vegetarian or a naturalist. Even the term Vegan wasn’t common knowledge and kind of still isn’t in some circles. With all of the reports of chemicals and byproducts causing laundry lists of issues in humans and animals, it’s no wonder more and more people are making the switch. While I’ve done a bunch of research and a lot of reading about organics, I’m still not an expert and I’m learning new things about it every day. With that said, I really don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so I’ll only get into the basics in this post and then I’ll follow up with other posts on more specific products that I’ve heard about.

So what does "Organic" really mean anyway?

Well, according to the Organic Trade Association, "Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. It includes a system of production, processing, distribution and sales that assures consumers that the products maintain the organic integrity that begins on the farm. Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Organically produced foods also must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering and other excluded practices, sewage sludge, or irradiation. Organic foods are minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation to maintain the integrity of the food." The Organic Trade Association also maintains that the "U.S. National Organic Standards" are stringent standards that are in place to certify that specific practices are used to produce and process organic agricultural ingredients used for food and non-food purposes."

Ok, so how do you know that pesticides really weren’t used in the growing process for those "Organic" items that you purchase at your local grocer or from other retailers and merchants? And is this just some kind of media hype and a way for merchants to sell the same products at a much higher price?

The answers to these questions are... well, you really can’t always know for sure. While it may seem like a Media Hype, it really isn’t. It’s just that more and more people are trying to get the word out to make people aware of the benefits of organics, and they’re using the media to do it. When it comes to the cost of the products, those that are organic actually do tend to cost a little more than products that are not. All you can do is try to buy from reputable merchants whose integrity you feel you can trust, and know that they truly are looking out for your best interest.

With the economy in the condition that it’s in, and as people struggle to make ends meet, buying from a roadside produce stand from someone who has put up a sign that says "Organic" can also be a little risky and questionable, because some people will use the term to capitalize on the latest Buzz Word just to make a buck. I’m not saying that you should never buy from a roadside stand, but when it comes to genuine organics, you really have no way to know for sure what you’re buying from them. More and more you will find that many cities and towns now have Farmer’s Markets where you can find a huge variety of genuine organic and all natural foods and products of all kinds.

The U.S. National Organic Standards also states that "Farmers, handlers and retailers who sell organic agricultural products, must meet all certified organic grower and handler requirements to maintain the organic integrity of the organic products they sell. Anyone who knowingly sells or mislabels as organic, a product that was not produced and handled in accordance with the regulations, can be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation." You can look for the "USDA Organic" seal or some other approved labeling, and for the name of the certifier on the label of the products you want to purchase. Producers and processors can voluntarily use these labels, and may even use organic ingredients without being required to label them. It’s more or less a personal decision on your part, whether you feel you should buy from them or not.

So, to sum it all up, the answer to the original question of "Is Organic really all that?" is... Yes, I think it really is all that! It truly can make a difference in your health and in your life. While the process of changing your lifestyle to an all organic one may seem a little overwhelming and difficult because some products are still not available as organic, it may be easier if you slowly start adding new products into your daily habits.

With more and more reputable merchants along with the amount of publicity on organics and the importance of eating and using healthier products, it’s getting a lot easier to convert your lifestyle into an organic one. I honestly think that at some point in the future, the world we’re accustomed to, will eventually become all organic.

So if you’re wondering if you should make the switch or not, well... that’s up to you. All I can tell you is that once you’ve made the decision to go for it, and as more and more new products become available, start to include them on your shopping list, and before you know it, you’ll be "all organic all the time"... and a much healthier you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Line Up!!! … It’s Black Friday!!

Thinking about taking advantage of those “Black Friday” Super sales? Well you better put on your suit of armor and line up! If you’re up for it and well prepared, you can get everything on your holiday shopping list done in just a few hours and literally save a bundle of cash. Are you up for the challenge?

Known as one of the busiest shopping days of the year, retailers all want to get in on the action and will offer some of the best deals you’ll find all year, each trying to out-do the other to get you into their store. Some stores will actually open as early as 3:00 or 4:00 am and offer “Super Saver Specials” for a very short time, maybe even for just an hour or two, and that’s when things get really crazy!

Hundreds of people will actually line up as early as Thanksgiving night or earlier at stores, hoping to be one of the first to grab an otherwise higher priced item at nearly rock bottom prices. That’s where your suit of armor comes in! Obviously I’m just kidding about the suit, but I’ve been out shopping on that day and honestly thought I could have used one.

I’ll never forget the first time I ever decided to get in on the fun, or what I thought was supposed to be fun! I was up bright and early and on the road with one of my sisters at 5:30 am, thinking I was going to be one of the first in line at a popular store that was to open at 7:00 am. Wake up Call!!!! When we got to the store, there were at least a hundred or more people already there with shopping carts in hand, none appearing to be in any line formation, waiting for the doors to open. When I started to take a cart I thought was unoccupied, someone actually threatened to shoot me in the leg if I took one step closer to it!! I laughed a little thinking they were only joking, but they made it very clear that they were serious and I had better leave it alone and get to the back of the line! Hmmm... at this point we hadn’t even gotten started and now I wasn’t so sure I was even ready for “Black Friday”! Well we decided to stick it out and just before 7:00 am, the store manager came out to make some announcements, reminding everyone that this was the “Holiday Season” and it was supposed to be a “Happy and Fun Occasion”. He continued to let everyone know that there would be “no pushing or shoving” and absolutely “no running anyone over with the carts”! Can you imagine the need to actually have to stand up there and tell this to grown-ups? It was beyond my belief! I mean... Come On!! It wasn’t like we were going on a hunt for a million bucks or anything... it was only shopping!!

When the doors actually opened, the race was on... sale ads and shopping carts in hand, and it was every man, woman and child for themselves! It seemed like some people morphed from an otherwise friendly human being into an aggressive shopping beast letting nobody or anything get in their way of grabbing that special item on their list, and despite the announcement made by the store manager, running you down with a shopping cart or a little body bumping was certainly not out of the question. It was absolutely the craziest thing! I came home a little bruised up, but still in one piece and still couldn’t believe the experience! All and all it was worth it though. For the first time ever, I had finished all of my Holiday shopping in just a few hours and saved more money than I could have ever imagined and I got everything on my list.

So are you going to brave it, suit it up and get in on the “Black Friday” action? Well, you can always take the easy way out by ditching your suit of armor, staying in your PJ’s and doing all of your “Black Friday” shopping online, where an equal number of retailers are offering deep discounts and free shipping.

If you have a “Black Friday” story that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear all about it. Whatever you decide to do... just stay positive, be prepared, and have a bunch of fun with it!

Gobble Gobble!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

From this “Extreme G-Ma” to All of You...

I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Safe Holiday!