Thursday, December 23, 2010


The weather does not allow us to get outside as much in December as it does in July. Whether we are inside due to rain or snow we are inside more because of shorter days. Now that the shortest day of the year is past us, we can look forward to a few more minutes here and there is daylight.

What can we do inside to keep ourselves active and fit? If you do not have a gym membership, household activities can be done to keep fit.

Activities to do when seated:
If you are sitting and reading a book, reading the newspaper, watching TV or working on the computer you can work your CALF MUSCLES by tapping your feet. Keep your heel on the ground and lift your toes. Tap your toes down. This lengthens the front of your calf.

If you wish to add a HIP OPENER to your seated position, cross the left leg over the right. Keep the left foot flexed to protect the knee. Gently use your left hand to externally rotate your quad muscle and your right hand to keep your ankle flexed. If you wish more intensity, keep a straight back and fold at the hips. Dive your heart toward your shins and aim your hands toward the floor. Carefully come up, leading with your sternum and placing your hands on your hips to take the load off your back. Repeat on the other side. (See the photo from Google Images)

What about a more intense workout when at home? That's possible doing normal household chores. A VACUUM can provide you with a workout. Keep your navel drawn in to keep pelvic and rib stability and you will get core strength as well as an upper body workout with the machine. Use the implements and add in squats to get low areas under chairs, etc. Move furniture to not only clean and help your lungs but also get a workout for your entire body. Remember, pelvic stability is the key to not getting injured.

Being inside does not have to stifle your activity, make the most of what you have.

Shopping for Luggage...keeping a HEALTHY BACK in mind

I was shopping for luggage this week. I wanted to find bags that were airline "carry on" size as well as stylish and reasonable in price.

How do you start shopping for luggage? First, you look to find out what sizes are allowed as carry on and what sizes would have to be checked. Most airlines consider carry on bags to be: No larger than 45 inches (length+width+height), be approximately 22"x14"x9", or 56x36x23 cm which will allow the bags to fit in an overhead bin or underneath the seat in front of you.

When looking for luggage for clothes, look for LIGHTWEIGHT pieces that have wheels. This makes it easier to move through an airport as well as lift up and into a bin. If you are traveling for pleasure or work, you want to have fun or work, not get a back injury lifting an overweight piece of luggage. Keep the suitcase light, fill it with your goods.

When looking for a carry case for your laptop and other materials why not look into a LAPTOP MESSENGER BAGS. A messenger bag is lightweight, has many compartments and can be carried across your shoulder. It will distribute the weight across your body without causing any strain on your back or one shoulder. I found stylish and reasonable messenger bags online at CSN Stores. Check out the link above. Travel safely!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

We all look for ways to save a few dollars...

Baking Soda is a purchase that is inexpensive and can be used for NUMEROUS household chores.

Here are a few ways that Baking Soda can be used rather than other, more expensive (and usually more processed), products.

1. Use baking soda to clean your drains. a mixture of baking soda and vinegar causes a chemical reaction that can clean your sink...eliminating clogs from hair, pet fur, etc.

2. Use baking soda with laundry detergent to WHITEN whites. A quarter of a cup helps get socks looking CLEAN!

TIP: Baking soda is used in the refrigerator and freezer to "soak in" odors. The suggested replacement time varies...I have seen a range from 30 days to three months. Why not use the old box for laundry whitening or sink cleaning rather than waste it.

3. Baking soda can be used under your arms rather than purchasing a separate deodorant.

4. When you wash your hair you can use baking soda to remove product build-up. Just add a small amount of baking soda to your hands along with your traditional shampoo. Make a lather/paste and apply to your hair as you normally would if you were merely suing shampoo.

5. Baking soda can deodorize closets. You can place an open box on a shelf in the closet (or use one of the fridge and freezer boxes with the mesh sides) to neutralize odors. This is good for closets with sports gear, dirty laundry and sweaty shoes. You might miss the floral scented aroma but those products only mask the odor, not absorb it and remove it.

More information can be found at: and

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 many health benefits. Why the bad reputation?

Beets are a simple food. You can buy a can of whole, sliced or pickled beets and include them in salads or other recipes. You can also buy beet roots with or without the greens. Both are edible and can be prepared in a variety of manners.

Whole beets can be rinsed clean (cut to speed cooking) and steamed. Beets can also be cut and baked in the oven to make chips. There are many preparations, those are two quick and easy preparations.

Steamed beets can be eaten in salads or as a vegetable side dish. They can be prepared with butter or just served plain. You know they are done when a fork can be pierced into them and it does not find too much resistance. Prepare them as you wish...everyone likes a different amount of "crunch".

A great Beet Chip recipe from Food Network involved baking beets with sweet potatoes. You can also include Potatoes and sliced carrots as well.

If you buy beets with the greens you can cook those as well. Prepare them as you would chard...just change the recipe a bit. Clean the greens thoroughly. Chop up the greens and add to a pan. Saute with some garlic, olive oil and butter ( I prefer to use non salted). After the greens wilt, add some balsamic and reduce.

Why eat beets? They are PACKED with NUTRITION! They have fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. They are said to ward off cancer and asthma as well as aid in digestion and promote liver function. To read more about the health benefits of beets click here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I was listening to NPR on my way to work today

and heard a story about Going Green and the Holidays. The story focused on whether it was better to purchase a "fake" Christmas tree or cut one down. There guests detailed the debate about cutting down a tree vs a fake tree that can be reused year after year. Allergies aside, it appeared to me that the guests were leaning toward listeners cutting down their own tree. Some people can handle this, some cannot due to allergies.

One alternative I also heard was buying a small pine, or ROSEMARY, in a pot then planting it outdoors when the weather gets warmer. Start a tradition...develop a garden.

I decided to search out more information to see what has less of a carbon footprint.

MSN has a story that basically states that the environmental factor is a comes down to personal preference. states that it is better to get a real tree that can be recycled.

Ezine articles believes that it is more cost effective and a greener option to buy a "fake" tree if you plan on using it for ten years or more.

Appears like the jury is still out. Whatever your personal preference happens to be, do think about the environment as you make choices this holiday season. Recycle and reuse...accumulate as LITTLE waste as possible!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pilates Ecercised to beep you STRONG

In Chinese art bamboo symbolizes the ideal man, he bends and sways with adversity and change but does not break. In America in 2010 we need to bend and sway with each twist and turn that life throws at us. The holiday season add a few reasons for us to bend our normal routine.

When participating in home decorating, cooking, entertaining or being entertained, we need to be mindful of our posture so we do not get hurt.

The PRINCIPLES OF ALIGNMENT IN PILATES are tips to keep in mind whether you are on or off the pilates mat.

The FIVE Principles:
1. Pelvic Placement
2. Rib Cage Placement
3. Scapular Movement and Stabilization
4. Head and Cervical Spine Placement
5. Breathing

Let's start with Pelvic Placement AND Rib Cage Placement for today's analysis. If we look at both as a whole, we can see how keeping the two in mind will help keep us safe this holiday season and beyond. There are many details to keep in mind for each segment of our body, the simple truth for today is to KEEP YOUR RIBS IN ALIGNMENT WITH YOUR HIPS.

Think drawing your navel toward your spine and tucking your "tail" under you. This protects your spine and eliminates the chance for starting to develop or perpetuating a deep lordotic curve. (see the image)

How would my ribs and hips get out of alignment?
If you sit for long periods of time (at a social gathering this season perhaps" you may start to slump.
If you need to lift heavy objects, bend your knees and move your back as a unit, rather than have a few vertebrae do all the work.

Protect your body! Thing of your "midline" as your BASE...keeping the ribs and hips in alignment will keep your strong and safe. what can you visualize to help you remember? It may sound silly...think about a worm's clitellum that HUGS the rest of its body. Imagine you wrapped an ace bandage around your midsection to visually look the same.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Was perusing Yoga Journal today and found an interesting article...

Know Your Stress Type. The first step to being able to fight stress is to know how it affects you. The holidays can be a stressful time as you try to find the perfect gifts for loved ones and friends while watching your pocketbook.

Read the article to look for the stress type that best fits you...then start to work on coping with the stress so you can enjoy the hectic time of year!

Let the Holidays be as stress free as possible - embrace and enjoy the season!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


There's nothing like the scent of baked goods in the oven/fresh from the oven. I've found the scent of fresh apples cooking on the stove (with some cinnamon of course) to come quite close to the same comforting aroma.

While you spend time inside decorating or keeping warm, cut up a few apples (a variety makes for more flavor...even add pears too). I like keeping teh apple skin may wish to get rid of it. When you cut the apples make sure no rough parts of teh core remain, you want the applesauce to be smooth. The smaller you dice the fruit, the less cooking time needed.

To make the applesauce, melt some butter in a pot (to line it so the apples do not stick), add the diced apples to the melted butter and add cinnamon (to taste). Cook on low or medium low until the apples have reduced to a sauce. You may serve as is, or blend to make the consistency more like store bought.

Store in the refrigerator. Serve warm or cold. Perhaps warm applesauce over a muffin for breakfast?

While apples are in season, take advantage of the lower prices and make homemade applesauce. It does not take much time and it eliminates the preservatives you'd consume in a store bought product.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Be Mindful About What You Use. GO GREEN!

I read in this month's Yoga Journal that the holiday season brings about a 20-30% increase in trash. The trash not only comes from wrapping paper and boxes that gifts come in but from decorations and disposable plates and utensils used while entertaining.

How can you be "GREEN" this holiday season without sacrificing a festive look?

ONE way is to go to thrift stores, dollar stores, garage sales, etc. and pick up holiday plates or festive color plates for a reasonable price. This way you use dishes that can go into the dishwasher and not the garbage can. (Perhaps you can even borrow extra plates from a friend or neighbor.) If you do not wish to keep them after the party, you can always make a charitable donation. The cost of buying plates can run from a few cents each to a few dollars. If you look into it, you may be able to purchase plates for the same cost as disposable.

A SECOND way to go green is to use decorative bags to wrap presents, when applicable. The bags can be reused year after year where wrapping paper is a one use item.

A THIRD way is to save your holiday cards. You can use this year's holiday cards for gift tags NEXT year. The decorative objects on the cover of the cards, like trees, ornaments or religious scenes can be cut out in a decorative manner, hole punched and strung with string on a gift bag as a "bag tag". This ensures that each "bag tag" is personalized.

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE ... there are many ways to creatively reuse products. Keep it classy and personalized so that your GREEN efforts are appreciated by others and inspire others to BE MINDFUL ABOUT WHAT THEY USE.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Be Mindful About the Foods You Choose...

As the weather gets colder, a bowl of soup begins to sound like a good option for a meal. Starting a meal with soup is also a good way to watch what you eat. In the season of sharing meals to celebrate with co-workers, friends and family, why not add a soup to your menu or order soup to start your meal. A satisfying meal will help curb the desire for Holiday sweets.

There are many locations on the web you can go for soup recipes. and are two good sites to visit to get ideas. Personally, I am a Food Network Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee type of a cook. One soup that I like to make that breaks my semi-homemade trend is Carrot Soup. I've adapted the recipe over the years so it now is an amalgam based on what I read, watched on TV and experimented with in the kitchen. Here's my healthy twist to the recipe...a heartwarming and satisfying meal on its own with a wedge of bread.

Healthy Twist on Carrot Soup:

Melt a Quarter Cup of UNSALTED butter in pot
Thinly slice 2 small onions (NOT RED) ... or one large and add to the pot with melted butter. Saute till translucent.
Thinly slice (for faster cooking) 2 LBS of carrots and add to the onions. TIP: An option is to use bite sized carrots to save cutting time...unfortunately then it is not as cost effective.
Add 1 TSP of dried TARRAGON
Cover and simmer about 10 minutes until carrots are tender.

After you test carrots and find they are tender, add 4 cups of LOW SODIUM Chicken Broth/Chicken Stock. Add one third a cup of orange juice...about the juice of an average orange if you do not want to buy orange juice for one recipe. Add 2 TBSP of lemon juice...or 1 TBSP lemon juice concentrate and 1 TBSP of water. Boil for 10-15 minutes...time depends upon how thinly cut the carrots are.

Blend the mixture in a food processor. (Remember to cover the top of the blender...the steam can cause the top to fly off and make the kitchen a mess!) Taste the final product...add salt and pepper as desired. Serve warm with a wedge of bread (hearty whole grain is a healthy option), grilled cheese or a cheese, cracker and fruit plate.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Be Present This Holiday Season

Embrace the opportunity to spend more time with friends and family. Make a HOLIDAY RESOLUTION to stay healthy!

During the Month of December I'll investigate ways we can all stay healthy in mind, body and spirit as we attend HOLIDAY PARTIES, SHOP AND GET WORK DONE so we can take time off.

Tip For Today: Take time to RELAX. End your day with a yoga pose.

Viparita Karini "Legs up the Wall Pose" is a great way to end your day

Q:Sounds Easy? How do I begin?

A: Start by sitting next to a wall with on hip actually touching the wall. Roll onto your side and slide your legs up the wall. If your glutes (seat) slides away from the wall, press your elbows into the ground and feet into the wall and shimmy your glutes closer to the wall. Find the restful place for your to recline on the floor with your back on the floor, seat into the wall and legs up the wall.

Q: Is that it?
A: It can be. You can recline here with your spine supported and legs active. Flex your feet and engage your quads. Encourage the flesh of your thighs to internally rotate and aim toward the wall like you would if in Downward Facing Dog. Your hands cal rest next to your side body, palm facing up about 30 degrees from your torso. Breathe. Shut your eyes. Rest here for 8-10 minutes if possible.

Q:What if I want more?
A: A variation to encourage deep breathing would be to place your right hand on your heart and left hand on your navel. As you inhale feel your right hand elevate and as you exhale feel it lower and the left hand elevate. Practice lengthening your breath, perhaps counting to 3, 5, 7 as you inhale and the same breath length as you exhale. This encourages your lung capacity to build as you rest. PLUS, deep breathing reduces stress!

Q: Anything Else?
A: Yes, the legs can go into variations also. They can open into a wide "V" to open your hips and groins. You can also bring your feet into baddha konasana against the wall and allow your knees to splay wide to open your hips and groins a bit more. Just be careful to draw your navel to your spine to protect your lower back. You want to keep your spine as neutral as possible in all variations.

While you rest, try to let go of the activities of the day for the few minutes you are in your pose. Let your pose be your time, your personal sanctuary among the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season!