One thing you learn very quickly about summers in Maine — take full advantage of the day when the temperature rises above 70 degrees! Yesterday was one such day. Mark and I carved out some time between meetings and phone calls to hit the lake near our home. After dodging a few ominous clouds and several powerboats, we managed to get in a nice paddle with our SUPs (stand up paddle boards). Just as we were rounding the last inlet, we caught site of a Bald Eagle circling above our boards. A few minutes later, it swooped down to the water’s edge and effortlessly scooped up a sizable fish. It was an extraordinary sight to not only catch a glimpse of this majestic bird but also to see it in action! That got me thinking about nature and how it maintains its balance even in the midst of chaos. Nowhere is that more true than in our own bodies and in our health habits.
Today is one of those glorious days that every Mainer pines for after a very brutal winter. Azure blue sky, a light breeze and balmy temps make it easier to forget frigid wind chills and frosty windows. Of course, you can’t have warm days without a few pesky annoyances like biting bugs, blankets of pollen and an occasional skirmish with other nasty irritants. While my healthy lifestyle has slain my seasonal allergies, I still seem to battle with poison ivy and oak. After a weekend of gardening, mowing and brush hauling, a nice itchy rash has developed on my calf. Maddening to say the least as it has been inching its way up my leg despite my best efforts to keep it at bay. While I apply the calamine lotion, it reminds me of how our bodies adapt and overcome all sorts of inflammation.
This weekend we Mainers were able to enjoy a glimpse of summer with warm temps leading to lots of outdoor time. A long awaited change as it was less than a month ago that our last patch of snow melted off the front lawn. It’s also a time when I get to shut down the kitchen and swap indoor cooking for outdoor grilling. My husband, Mark, takes command of our meals for the better part of the summer. From beefy burgers to savory shish kabobs, there’s something about cooking outdoors that just makes everything taste better. And, no, it’s not because he’s a better cook than I am — at least not that I will ever admit! While the array of cuisine that can be concocted from al fresco cooking ranges runs the gambit, the core of most grilling centers around meat, pork, poultry or fish. Maybe for good reason.
It’s a well-known fact that grandfathers do no wrong. They can fix anything and know everything, at least in the eyes of their grandchildren. I was certainly no exception. My grandpas were as tough as nails and always pushed me to be the best I could be. “Grandpa T” was a police officer and a former boxer. He had a speed bag in the basement and I remember watching with wide-eyed fascination as he pummeled away on that bag, not missing a single shot. Apparently, that wasn’t the case for Manny Pacquiao in his bout against Floyd Mayweather. Rumor has it that inflammation from a shoulder injury may have knocked Manny out before he even entered the ring. Is inflammation keeping you from your best shot?
Growing up in the “Dairy State” of Wisconsin, cows reign supreme and dairy products are mandatory staples: a fact I had forgotten when I left home and began my professional career. The memories came flooding back, however, when I attended one of my dad’s Rotary meetings. Here sat 40+ local business, academic and government leaders appropriately dressed in suits and ties. It seemed like a typical business luncheon until the waitstaff brought out beverage trays loaded with tall glasses of whole milk and bowls stacked with creamy pads of butter. Each leader studiously drank his or her glass and generously slathered butter onto warm rolls without a bit of concern over the inevitable milk mustaches and extra calories. That experience got me thinking about how we often give up things in our lives that may be pretty good for us after all.
When I was a child, I was a very finicky eater. I remember sitting at the kitchen table staring at an uneaten sandwich and a bowl of chicken soup for what seemed like an eternity. My siblings had long since cleaned their plates and were outside playing while I felt imprisoned by slimy noodles and sandwich meat. I pleaded with my mother that I was full and showed evidence of my compliance by the empty glass of milk on the table. Later, she caught onto my little ploy by keeping the milk out of reach until my meal was consumed to her satisfaction. Even as adults, we all have foods we choose to avoid for one reason or another — even those foods that are really good for our health. Maybe it’s time to rethink your “no” list.
I guess I am a self-confessed safety freak. Whether its mowing the lawn, wielding a hammer, or riding my bike, I always protect my eyes with an assortment of safety glasses, shields, or googles. Of course, that opens me up to a more than my share of teasing from family and friends as a simple task takes on the preparation of a NASA astronaut heading out on a space-walk! Hey, I’ll take the heat if it means that my windows to the world are fully protected from every seen and unseen threat. While protecting your eyes from the outside in is wise, have you ever thought about how to protect them in the other direction?
After a very long day of appointments, phone calls, presentations and emails yesterday, I finished my last meeting at 8pm only to be met with a 90 minute drive home. Now, I’m not complaining since my work is devoted to veterans especially the Travis Mills Foundation. A long day worth every minute when it positively impacts veteran families. Even with purpose and passion, full schedules can still take their toll on our health. If you find yourself overworked and overloaded, your best Rx may be a prescription for rest.
Did you ever have one of those aggravating days when things seemed to conspire against you? I had that day yesterday when everything from email to both printers to my phone stopped functioning simultaneously. It was as if they had formed some sort of electronic coupe against me to halt my productivity in its track. In that moment of sheer frustration, my mother called. Amazing, isn’t it, how mothers call at the very moment you need them most? She talked me down from the ceiling and shared the “good old days” when you went to a printer to run off copies and sat by the phone because the cord was so short. It made me wonder how we can truly wrap our brains around technology’s role in the future of our health.
Have you ever gotten yourself into a really good habit? A habit or a routine that was so good, it made you feel unstoppable — like nothing and no one could get in your way? Maybe you crushed basic training, aced your college finals, completed a marathon, or landed a huge account at work. You felt driven, focused, determined and king kong! Then, for whatever reason, you slipped, lost all of your gains and went back to old, destructive habits. Isn’t it funny how we quickly we forget our potential? Maybe it’s time to recalibrate, reload and refresh your efforts to achieve your goals. An easy place to start is with a simple secret weapon especially if you are ready to stay on track with your weight loss goals!
While I’ve never considered myself a fanatical football fan, I did grow up in Wisconsin where every Sunday a mandatory migration occurs away from weekend chores to sanctum sanctorum itself…Lambeau Field. Since my Packers collapsed during the playoffs (ugh!), I was pleased to find my second string team ready for the task. It was especially gratifying watching a rookie’s determination to intercept a pass in the last 26 seconds of the game securing the Patriot’s Superbowl victory. In his post-game interview, Malcolm Butler said the play was all about focus and preparation. While you may not find yourself in the middle of a clutch play of that magnitude, focus and preparation can get you to your goals faster that you may think.
I’m writing this article on the eve of a blizzard bearing down on the East Coast. Having spent a majority of my life in northern climates, I’ve come to expect whatever Mother Nature chooses to throw my way. However, I also believe in the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” so a little time spent preparing for power outages and snowpack is certainly well spent. We now have extra supplies of water and batteries with a row of flashlights and candles set up on the kitchen counter. The cell phones and tablets — definite necessities! - are fully charged and an emergency radio is also nearby. Isn’t it funny how so many of us heed the warnings of an imminent threat but fail to properly prepare for catastrophes that may be far more devastating when it comes to our health? Over the next few weeks, we’ll focus on how to prevent diseases with proper planning.
Typically, I am an early morning workout advocate. I love getting outside, pumping fresh air through my lungs and starting the day like Rocky training to take on Apollo Creed, minus the raw egg cocktail, of course. Lately, as the temperatures seem determined to linger well below zero, my mornings are a bit less inspiring as I’m more inclined to curl up on the couch with a warm cup of tea. Hardly a rousing way to start the day, I’ll admit. The good news is that I rally quickly and make it a priority to get a good workout in even if it is indoors on the treadmill next to the wood stove! Often, winter takes its toll on our fitness intentions and there may be a very good reason for it.
We have a new family who just moved in next door. They are from California so our harsh Maine winter is beginning to take it’s toll. Fortunately, they love to entertain and to cook. Those traits gain them big points in our neighborhood. Unfortunately, the daughters are half Greek and make a decadent baklava. Needless to say, I’m spending the better part of the New Year on the treadmill! Actually, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions and fad diets or exercise programs that are unsustainable for most folks by February. It may sound bland, but consistent exercise and a balanced diet are always the best long term approach to good health and weight maintenance. There may be other factors in play, however, that may help you revamp your resolutions once and for all.
It is a Christmas Eve tradition for my nephew, Lorenzo, to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, so every time I think about that captivating poem, memories of the past five Christmases we’ve spent together fill my heart. From sledding down a mountainside to ice skating on a crystal clear lake to getting stuck in an assortment of ice, snow and sleet storms, all of our Christmas adventures have one thing in common — precious time spent together. This year, we’ll have to rely on technology (as so many families, especially our military do) to bring us together. So, I appreciate your indulgence in sharing this Christmas message along with a few fun tips to help you enjoy some holiday cheer wherever you are this year.
While the rest of the world may rationalize away this season as a homogenized, hectic and hassle-filled holiday, I, on the other hand, confess my allegiance as an unapologetic, unabashed, unrelenting fan of Santa Claus. That’s right, I love that rosy cheeked big boy with all the toys…which may explain my obsession with all things Christmas, especially the perpetual parade of holiday movies that re-rack every December. From the quintessential struggle of a family man finding purpose in “It’s a Wonderful Life” to a reluctant father whose fate intersects with misfortune in “The Santa Clause,” I’m certain I can recite every line by heart. What’s interesting about both of these men is that they find themselves at the end of their tether and something magical happens that changes their lives and the lives of the people they love forever. The good news is that your change of fortune may be easier to attain than you believe.
I come from a long line of bargain hunters and deal-makers which is why I’m not getting much sleep this time of year as I scour the internet for the end-of-the-year bargains like I did last night. It seems that beyond the traditional black friday bargains, stores are constantly enticing us all with deep discounts and slashed prices on items that we previously never needed but now can’t afford not to buy! While this logic makes perfect sense to self-confessed shopaholics like myself, it also has some unintended consequences beyond a ballooning credit card bill. A season overloaded with Christmas gift shopping lists, catalog-stuffed mailboxes, holiday party crammed schedules, and the crush of crowds traveling this time of year, long days inevitably lead to short, sleepless nights. If you’re having trouble catching your ZZZ’s, check out these five simple tips to power down before you have to gear up again.
With the Thanksgiving holiday upcoming, chances are you’ve got a lot on your plate to do, that is, before you have a lot on your plate to eat! For most, Thanksgiving is a great time to get together with family and friends, eat too much, and move too little. While I don’t begrudge your well-deserved R&R, taking too much time off from your workout regimen and healthy eating habits can take its toll. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to stick with your program, keep inflammation at bay, and reduce injury.
We just put the finishing touches on our latest project…a custom-built bar made out of reclaimed barn boards, posts, and a massive slab of live-edge pine as the bar top. Mark can now boast that he has an official man-cave! The project required a lot of mental energy and more than a few trips up and down the stairs to get it done. In the end and by some miracle of construction and design prowess which comes naturally to neither of us, everything ended up level, plumb, and square. No small feat when you’re dealing with 100+ year old lumber, a tile floor and unskilled labor! The keys to our success were patience and preparation. Those qualities rarely translate to others areas of my life especially when it comes to working out. If you find yourself diving in too fast, you may be surprised by the latest research.
Like most football fans around the country, I took some time out of a busy weekend to catch some college and professional football games. Since I married a Buckeye, please forgive the indulgence when I brag on his favorite team for a moment. On Saturday night, the Buckeyes dominated one of their top rivals, Michigan State. Now, the biggest challenge here is that Mark’s parents and brother are Michigan State alumnus. Fortunately, the family enjoys healthy competition and,win or lose, everyone appreciates a good competition. The Buckeyes knew their opponent well and despite a more seasoned challenger, this young and agile football team stuck with their game plan and executed it nearly flawlessly. This season, it’s good to know your opponents well and have a strong plan to keep you and your immune system in the game.