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New Food Friday – Za’atar Focaccia Bread

18 Oct Slice of Za'atar Focaccia Bread

As much as I love physical exercise, sometimes I want an easy to make bread recipe that requires NO KNEADING! I don’t remember how I stumbled across the original recipe but if you want some background on Za’atar Focaccia Bread (it’s a different recipe but similar), click here.

I’ve made Za’atar Focaccia twice now and probably by the time you read this, three times. I absolutely love it!

Za'atar Focaccia Bread Ready to be Sliced

Za’atar Focaccia Bread

The only down side to this recipe is that you have to let the dough rise/ferment for 18 – 24 hours. This delicious, healthful bread recipe is in the spotlight for this New Food Friday.

As is typical of me, I altered the recipe. It calls for black sesame seeds. I used black poppy seeds which are more readily available in my grocery store. It also calls for Sumac and I couldn’t find that but one of my favorite chefs, Kary Osmond from the LiveWell Network, says you can use Turmeric in place of Sumac. I love Turmeric so that was no problem for me. Also, in order to make the bread more nutritious, I added 1/2 cup of White Whole Wheat flour.

Special Note: When I followed one of the recipes, the dough was way too soupy so I added an additional cup of flour.  You should be able to press your fingers into the dough after letting it rise the 18-24 hours and the imprint of your fingers should remain.  I added more flour after it had risen and the results were still excellent. So, don’t be afraid to play around with this dough as it is very forgiving.

DOUGH

1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 ounces dry yeast
3 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup water
Za’atar Spice Mix (see below)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and yeast.

    Flour Mix

    Flour Mix

  2. Add the water and olive oil, and mix everything together until you have a uniform dough. 
  3. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for 18-24 hours to rise.

    Dough Mixture

    Dough Mixture Covered in Plastic Wrap

  4. Once the dough has risen, you can either make one giant focaccia with all the dough, or split it up and bake smaller focaccia.  If you keep some of the dough for later, just cover it back up and put it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
  5. To use the dough, turn it out onto a pan and press the dough out  towards the edges with your fingers making dimples in the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in height.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2 tablespoons olive oil, in a small bowl
2 teaspoons ground toasted black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Maldon (or other coarse) sea salt
The Za’atar in this focaccia bread recipe is the combination of spices that you sprinkle on top of the bread. It gives it a nice color and great flavor. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of spices that can be sprinkled on bread, meats, fish, or vegetables as a seasoning. It can even be used as a dip. I didn’t have coarse sea salt, I only had fine sea salt on hand so I decided to use coarse kosher salt instead.
Poppy Seeds

Poppy Seeds or Use Black Sesame Seeds

Add Turmeric

Add Turmeric

Oregano

Add Oregano

Add Thyme

Add Thyme (I freeze mine from my garden)

Add Coarse Salt

Add Coarse Salt (Sea Salt if you have it)

Spread the Za’atar Spice Mix on the focaccia after it has risen. Then bake at 400 for 20 – 30 minutes. I didn’t mix the olive oil with the spice mix. I spread the olive oil on the dough first, then distributed the spice mix over all.

Za’atar focaccia bread is great as a snack, as a substitute for your usual bread that you eat with a meal, and is great for dunking in soups and stews.

Bowl of Harira

Bowl of Harira with Za’atar Focaccia Bread

You can reheat the focaccia the next day and it still tastes wonderful. It is also great for mopping up salad vinaigrette after you’ve eaten the salad! Let me know if you come up with other ways to use it!

If you’re not in the mood to bake bread, you can sprinkle the Za’atar Spice Mix on meats and/or vegetables. Buon appetito!

Za'atar Spice Mix on Chicken and Vegetables

Za’atar Spice Mix on Chicken and Vegetables

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Exercise: I Talk the Talk and I Walk the Walk

8 Oct sxc.hu createsima - Rainbow Image

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a post about exercising. I’m sure you won’t be surprised at what I’m about to tell you. (Although it surprised me!)

I was acknowledged for doing the most workouts at my health club for the month of August.

Marcy at top of the list

Marcy at the Top of the List

See my name at the top of the list?

I wasn’t aiming to claim the most visits and I wasn’t keeping track even though some members at the club don’t believe me. A new doctor I had been seeing recommended I workout AT LEAST 5 times a week! To me, this translated into doing more than 5 times a week so I was at the club everyday it was open: 6 days a week. I did that for 2 1/2 weeks straight and I didn’t take the 7th day off when I was home!

How was it? It was exhausting! Are they serious? What senior citizen can continually exercise at that pace? Maybe if they didn’t put much effort into their workouts but my workouts aren’t like that. I put my all into it. I’m known at my club as the person who works out the hardest. Really, it’s more of a social club for a lot of the members. I hope their social friends visit them when they’re in the hospital recovering from illnesses due to their lack of exercise!

So, there has to be a balance here. It should be taken into account how seriously you exercise! Plus, I don’t exercise for 30 minutes. I figure since I’m there, I’m going to exercise until I’m tired and that is usually 50 minutes and, depending on which gym I’ve been going to and the equipment they have, as long as 1 hr and 15 minutes. I think doctors need to ask their patients about this. Or, maybe I need to volunteer this information the next time at my appointment since I seem to be stereotyped: Senior = Sedentary.

MY GOALS

I’ve been working on increasing my upper body strength in the past few months and the effort shows. My biceps have increased .25% while I’ve slowly continued to lose weight. I’m still using the caloriecount website and I don’t know if I can ever do without it! I am seriously hooked on it because it has been so beneficial to me!

The reason I’ve been working on my upper body strength is that women in general, are known to have poor upper body strength and I’ve always wanted to do a chin up. So far, I can master a chin up half way. This is a new goal for me. I like to challenge myself and I am always seeking new exercise goals to keep things interesting and to have something to achieve.

Since April of this year, I put together a warm-up routine for myself that I do now every time I exercise. It is about 6 minutes long and involves a variety of arm movements but also leg and ab movements too. I am crediting this routine for healing my shoulder issues that had dragged on for over 2 years! I will write up and post the routine in a future post. You may want to try it. If it worked for me, it may work for you.

Recently, I saw a 75-year-old female body builder on TV. She was lean and didn’t look anywhere near 75! She was inspirational! I was telling one of the gals at my club about her and I said that the body builder was my idol to which she replied, “You’re MY idol!” I got a kick out of that. Hey, that’s OK with me. That’s what this blog is all about:  talking the talk AND walking the walk; reaching that goal at the end of the rainbow!

sxc.hu/cempey - Colorful Rainbow Shot

sxc.hu/cempey – Rainbow Gold Goal!

 

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Exercise: What the Research Says

27 Sep

Originally posted on GymLion blog:

The benefits of physical activity were first scientifically noted in 1953 by Dr. Jerry Morris. Dr. Morris discovered that men of similar social status had different rates of cardiovascular disease based on how much physical activity their occupation required (Morris & Glasg 1953). Since then, studies have documented many more health benefits gained from physical activity and have begun to research the volume, duration and intensity need to realize these benefits.

Benefits of Exercise: Physical activity has been shown to have a number of physiological and psychological benefits. Some benefits of physical activity include:

  • Cardiovascular Disease: Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 35% (Macera & Hootman 2003).
  • Cancer: There is strong evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. There is weaker evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of ovarian, lung, and…

View original 2,334 more words

Update On My Weight Loss Using The CalorieCount Website

29 Jun Fashion Model Silhouette

In a recent post I wrote about the website called caloriecount.about.com. I mentioned that it wasn’t very easy to learn (it wasn’t). However, I stuck with it and so far have lost 4 lbs. I attribute this weight loss to cutting back on fats, sodium, and over-sized portions. I also increased my activity level.

My goal is to lose 10 lbs so that my BMI will be in the healthy range.

The caloriecount website notified me that I had a sedentary lifestyle. Boy, my feathers bristled at that one! If MY lifestyle was sedentary, what was the lifestyle of people who didn’t work out and were couch potatoes?

Other than calorie logging, the website also allows you to enter activities you do each day. They would include: showering, driving, sitting at a computer, weight lifting, gardening, throwing out the trash, preparing meals, grocery shopping, aerobics, stretching, circuit training – the list is almost endless. Yes, this is tedious and time-consuming until you get the hang of it. I now have a clearer picture of my daily activity level and although I still don’t agree with them about having a sedentary lifestyle, I have to admit that losing 4 lbs without starving myself does say something.

I began entering my foods and activities May 29.  Today is June 29.  That’s about a pound per week of weight loss.

The website (and you) calculate what you want your ultimate weight to be and that determines what your calorie count should be each day. Mine is 1600 calories per day.  

I had the hardest time reaching my minimum daily values for potassium (4,700 mg).  Once I began to realize that sweet potatoes and butternut squash (two of my favorite vegetables) were high in potassium, I incorporated them into more meals and now reach my potassium level more often. Other Potassium rich foods: prunes, bananas, spinach.) Potassium may neutralize the heart-damaging effects of too much salt.

I knew that processed foods contained salt but I wasn’t aware that natural foods like white potatoes, spinach (yes, spinach), and fish contained high amounts of sodium! By themselves, you probably won’t go over your daily limit. But when you salt your foods or forget to read food labels as I did when I bought some blueberry bagels, each one having over 700 mg of sodium, you can quickly go over your daily limit of 2300 mg or 1 teaspoon of salt.

I was also heavy handed with olive oil and butter. Now, I measure by tablespoon what I put over my salads or my roasted veggies. Lately, I skip olive oil altogether and sprinkle my own homemade chicken stock when making my roasted veggies. It tastes just as good, maybe better.

I expect to use the caloriecount website until I imprint in my mind what portion sizes I need so that I can eventually forego the use of measuring spoons and cups. Yes, I’ve been weighing my foods like walnuts, golden raisins (another good source of potassium), and edamame (also potassium rich).

About a week ago, I decided that I didn’t need to enter my activities into the website any longer. I have a good idea in my mind how active I have to be each day.  Today I worked out AND I did the laundry. Usually I save laundry day just by itself but my stamina has increased and now to do both in one day doesn’t phase me.

The caloriecount website allows you to have snacks and I juggle my food entries to allow me snacking pleasure in the evening when I watch tv. Usually I have edamame, or frozen tart cherries, or grapes for a snack. Sometimes 1/2 slice of rye bread spread with blue cheese if I’ve gone light on the sodium intake earlier in the day.

I only had one evening when I was still hungry and went over my daily 1600 calorie limit by about 300 calories. I still ate smart though: 1/2 can of tuna, 1 cup brown rice, 1/2 tablespoon peach preserves, 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard (My own concoction that tastes Asian to me). When this wasn’t enough, I cooked a cup of mixed vegetables. Finally, I was satisfied. I must have been very active that day to still be that hungry!

Some days I felt stuffed and I didn’t want to eat my evening snacks…..but I had to in order to meet my daily requirements.  For example, sometimes I saved my almond milk (calcium) for my evening snack along with 1/2 oz of walnuts and maybe some fruit. Well, a couple of times I had to force myself to eat the snack because I am determined to meet my calcium requirements everyday! One particular night this week, I was so stuffed that I couldn’t stand the thought of a snack and skipped it altogether, to heck with not meeting my DV! (It wasn’t a calcium snack though. I eventually decided to get my calcium for breakfast every morning – OJ and almond milk.) I don’t intend to skip my snacks often.

Once I lose the rest of the weight, I won’t be limited to 1600 calories a day. I don’t know that I will continue to use the caloriecount website because I should have a good idea in my mind what I need to watch: sodium, fats, sugars and portion size. On the other hand, I do like seeing their graph showing that I met my iron, calcium, fiber, sodium, fats, saturated fats, potassium, carbohydrates, protein, Vitamin A, and cholesterol limits. (I think I named them all.) The graph shows if you’ve gone over or are under or are good.

If you need to lose weight, I highly recommend this weight loss website. Also, I should mention that I previously checked out other weight loss websites and none of them compared to caloriecount. It’s more thorough and contains more helpful information. It is worth the time you have to spend learning it. And, who knows, you may find it easier to navigate than I did!

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My Nutrition College Course and a Follow-up Website

4 Jun sxc.hu michtur

When I was in college, I took the course Nutrition 304. This was no light course. I was the only non-nursing student in the class at the University of Evansville in Indiana.

University of Evansville Rick Lewallen 2005

University of Evansville (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The year was 1985 and I was 5’8″ tall and 148 lbs. Sigh! I’m still 5’8″ but I’m not 148 lbs.!

I know my exact weight at that time because in this class we had to do a dietary project which consisted of logging information on data sheets recording our mood when we ate, the place where we ate, with whom, the times, the food and amount, and our observation.

Fruit basket (sxc.hu michaelaw)

Fruit basket (sxc.hu michaelaw)

If that wasn’t enough, there were also calculations that we had to do such as percentage of calories from fiber, fat, carbs, etc.  This was an 8-page project of instructions and forms which included an evaluation form where I had to make recommendations to myself for improving my eating habits and diet. It was thorough and tedious!

In case you’re wondering, I don’t remember all of this from memory, I stumbled upon the dietary project today tucked into my Nutrition Concepts and Controversies 3rd Edition soft cover text book (133 pages) that I’ve kept on my bookshelf all these years because it is excellent. I paid $27.95 for it. You can now purchase the 13th paperback edition (864 pages) on Amazon for $177.49! YIKES!

My project required that I record my food intake over the course of five days. My findings were that I rushed when I ate and needed to try to relax more before and during a meal. I was low on calcium, iron, and too high on fats. I improved my fiber intake and my carb intake during the project. 

Bell Peppers (sxc.hu ivanmarn )

Bell Peppers (sxc.hu ivanmarn )

It’s interesting that I notated that I felt bloated when I drank milk. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t pursue that because even though I was low in calcium, I’m sure the bloating feeling influenced the amount of calcium I consumed. If I didn’t work out so much and lift weights, I wonder if I would have had a broken bone or two by now because throughout the years, I really didn’t improve my calcium intake enough.

asparagus-and-tomatoes-sxc-hu-muffet1

Asparagus and Tomatoes (sxc-hu-muffet1)

In those days, I drank soda. My poison of choice was Dr. Pepper. It was shortly after this course that I gave up all soda. I also gave up beef. Many years later, I gave up ketchup (too much sugar). 

I received an “A” for the project and ultimately a “B” for the course. I was SO close to getting an “A” –  missed it by that much! 

Part of the reason that I bring all this  up is because I stumbled upon a website where you can log your food choices and activity level. It is an outstanding website: caloriecount.about.com

I had been logging my foods and activity previously on WebMD but it isn’t as detailed as caloriecount.about.com. There are over 250,000 foods listed in their database! There are over 5 million members. You can chose to keep all your records private, or you can share with the other members. 

One of the things I love about this website is that it is very detailed, and you know me, I love details! I can click a button and find out how many carbs I ate in a day and which foods had the carbs and the percentage of carbs in each of those foods! The same is true for sugar and other nutrients/vitamins. I learned I have been eating too much sugar without even realizing it! I don’t even add sugar to my coffee or my tea, yet I was getting too much sugar from the foods I ate. 

You get a nutrition report at the end of the day that shows whether you are too low, good, or too high for each nutrient/vitamin. This is very helpful because you can check how you are doing any time of the day and if you notice that you are too low in, let’s say calcium, you have the opportunity to correct that by drinking some milk, or eating some yogurt or consuming any food that contains calcium. I love this feature!

One of the great things about this website is that I have finally been able to get my needed amount of calcium each day. I am ecstatic over that!

One of the down sides to the site is that it takes a while to learn. I’ve been using it for two weeks now and I still don’t know everything about the site.  So, if you plan to use it, expect it to take some time until you get the hang of it. Keeping track of the foods you eat is the best way to lose weight. It’s been proven. 

Not only can you keep track of your foods and activity levels but when you mouse over words like sodium or potassium, you can click the link and it will take you to a page that explains all about it, listing the foods that are high in these nutrients. This website is like a continuation of my college nutrition course and it’s free!

There are two other levels to joining caloriecount.about.com. One is a Premium level for $3.33 per month. (One day free trial). The other includes a Dietitian service for $24.99 per month (Seven day free trial). I’m not pushing either, I’m just explaining what is available.

For the free service, you also have access to over 400,000 recipes, nutrition articles, a goal-setting page, and much more. I haven’t even scratched the surface myself.

So far I haven’t been able to lose any weight. I’ve been too busy trying to squeeze in all the vitamins and minerals that I need. Calcium, fiber, and potassium take a great deal of effort and planning for me.  I also made the mistake of buying bagels without reading the label. They contain over 700mg of sodium per bagel! They’re blueberry bagels so I don’t want to throw them out. Every day that I eat one, I’m over my limit for sodium.  They are also high in sugar. This is why I preach reading the labels. I don’t know why I forgot to do it for these bagels. Maybe because they looked so good!

It takes perseverance to meet your daily requirements but it’s worth it. I hope you will take a look at the caloriecount website. It might save you a broken bone!

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Signs of Spring: Wet Rains, Weeds, and Wandering Plants

25 May Columbine Flower

My garden is looking pretty and I’ve pulled a lot of weeds to get it to look that way!

Irises

Irises

We’ve had a lot of rain – like every other day. We’ve also had a roller coaster ride of temperatures, from low 40′s to mid-80′s.  It keeps going up and down!

First Rose of Spring

First Rose of Spring

When it’s cool, I make sure I get out in the backyard and get to work!

Flowering Thyme2

Flowering Thyme

I’ve had to mow the lawn weekly, unlike last spring/summer when we had the drought and I didn’t have to mow at all!

Boxwood

Boxwood

My neighbor’s lawn service shaved my Columbine flowers to the quick last summer but fortunately they came back full bloom. A resilient flower that mimics a resilient town in Colorado. When they spread out some more, I will transplant some to the front yard.

Columbine Flower

Columbine Flower

Half of the seeds I sowed in my vegetable garden died due to frost. FROST! In MAY! So, I went out yesterday and planted more seeds. My Cilantro survived though and it’s the first time I planted Cilantro.  Let’s hope there are no more frosts!

I have plants growing in my front yard also. Two of them,  I don’t know where they came from. One looks like a fir tree and it’s about 4 inches tall.  When it gets a little bigger, I’ll transplant it to my backyard. The other plant is a common spider plant. I transplanted it indoors last summer and the plant died. So, I was shocked to see another spider plant out front in the same spot where I removed the first one! The more I think I know about plants, the more they surprise me.

If you’re not growing a garden, you’re missing a lot of fun, good exercise, and Vitamin D.  It’s never too late to get started.

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The Liebster Award

5 May Liebster Award

I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by EarthMermaid. Thank you for nominating me. I love the message your blog sends!

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

This award is for blogs with less than 200 followers. It’s a great way for bloggers to give a shout out to blogs they like and expand their network, while helping other bloggers gain a broader audience too.  It’s also a fun way for bloggers to get to know more about their followers and share some fun facts about themselves!

The Rules for Accepting the Award:

1. Post 11 facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions posed by your nominator.
2. Pass the award on to 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers and post 11 questions for them to answer.
3. Display the Liebster Blog Award in your post.

4. These rules are not written in stone.  If you break the rules, I will not call the  Liebster law.

My 11 Facts about Myself:

1. I love artichokes. I’m cooking 4 stuffed artichokes as we speak. You have to get good ones. All artichokes are not created equal and it is not easy to know good ones from tough ones.

2. I love broccoli rabe or some call it Rapini. I like to make a sandwich out of it on crusty bread or a sesame seeded Kaiser roll! I’m trying my hand at growing it in my garden this year and the seeds have already sprouted! Yipee!

3. Lamb chops are my favorite meat. Thank God they are too expensive for me to buy often!

4. My favorite type of movie is a psychological thriller.

5. I can’t have chocolate hazelnut spread in the house because I will eat half the jar (or more).

6. I like to fix things: toilets, jewelry, thread-bare gloves, broken shovels, wheels on lawn mowers, you name it. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle and I like to study the thing, whatever it is, and figure out how to fix it!

7. I save odds and ends parts so that I might have them for when I need to fix something (see #6).

8. I love chewy foods. Have I told you lately how much I love bulgur?

9. I love art and I love to visit art museums. I get lost in the paintings of some artists.

10. I have a crush on Jeremy Sisto. (But I also still love Charles Bronson.)

11. I vacuum spiders.

My answers to Earthmermaid’s questions:
1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Italy. I’ve got cousins there and I’ve visited them. I love the food and the artistic beauty there.

2. What do you like for breakfast?

Good question! I don’t like breakfast and I have trouble coming up with ideas for a breakfast that can get me excited! I usually force myself to eat breakfast I’m sorry to say. (However, I’m crazy about dinner!)

3. What about yourself do you like most?

My sense of humor. I crack myself up.

4. Which is more meaningful to you – strong mind or strong body?

Tough one! I am very into exercise so I’ll say exercise knowing that a good, strong mind automatically follows a healthy, well-exercised body!

5. What is your most efficient way of handling stress?

Exercise!

6. Are you a morning or night person?

I love the morning air so I’ll say morning but you’d never know it by the hours I keep.

7. What is your favorite form of exercise?

Kickboxing and boxing. I’ve got dvd’s for both. You don’t know how much fun it is (even if you do it alone) until you try it!

8. If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be?

I’d make every person, especially those in countries that are always at war like Syria, or provoking war, like North Korea,  spend several years in therapy.

9. What books have you read that inspired you?

Seize the Day, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Swan Thieves, all my psych text books and all my Italian language books.

10. Guilty pleasure?

I’ve known a few pleasures but I don’t have the guilt!

11. Why did you start your blog?

I started my blog as a way to attract people to my freelance writing articles. My blog has taken on a life of its own and so I’m in the process of re-grouping so that I can go back to writing articles but also keep up with my blog. However, at this moment, house and health check-ups are interfering with those plans. I am encouraged because I am getting a lot done around here! Maybe I should take pictures and do a post about these accomplishments. Although it’s unfortunate that the trash men have picked up all my evidence this morning of all the bushes/trees/vines I hacked down/pruned/sawed! 

My Blog Nominations:

1. Gerard Villanueva

2. http://tylerbballen.wordpress.com/

3. griggwk

4. BlondeHealth

5. The Good Villager

6. Laura Dickey

7. http://mittsandmeasures.com/

Here are my questions for the winners:
1. What is your favorite book and why?
2. Who is your most admired person and why would you like to spend a day with him/her?
3. What is your favorite dish?
4. What is your favorite form of exercise?
5. What is your best skill at work?
6. What is your favorite or most used expression?
7. What makes you madder than a wet hen?
8. What was the nicest thing you’ve ever done for a stranger?
9. If you  could be a famous artist, who would you be?
10. What is your best dance step? (e.g. Cha-cha, tango, funky chicken, etc.)
11. What was the longest hike/walk you’ve ever taken and how long did it take you to recover?
Congratulations to the winners!
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A Followup to my Talk on Blogtalkradio

7 Apr sxc.hu/Cieleke - Juggling

Although we had some technical issues connecting, I was able to give my talk today about humor and health on The Wellness Coaches show on blogtalkradio. 

Any thoughts I had about having lost my New York accent years ago were dashed after I listened to the broadcast later on.  It’s like I never left! How can that be possible? You can take the girl out of Queens, but you can’t take Queens out of the girl!

Because I got started on the show a little late, I was unable to finish my last anecdote about humor and its relation to stress so I’d like to finish it here.

When I worked at IUPUI (Indiana University, Purdue University at Indianapolis) they often offered free workshops during the lunch hour that included special guest speakers. One guest speaker was Dr. Steve Allen, Jr. who specialized in Family Practice medicine and to me, he was a very special guest.

As it turned out Dr. Allen is the son of the famous comedian, Steve Allen who was the first host of the Tonight Show. Many comedians have copied his shtick! Leno copied Allen’s Man On The Street routine. Carson’s Carnack the Magnificent routine, was also copied. But you know what they say: Imitation is the greatest form of flattery! Comedians revere Steve Allen.

For those who are unfamiliar with Steve Allen’s work, Allen was not only a comedian, he was also a composer, lyricist, conductor, singer, and pianist. He wrote over 50 books. He also wrote over 8,500 songs, at least two of which you will be familiar: “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big” and “Impossible” recorded by Perry Como. There was just no end to his talent, he was brilliant. My family would tune into his show weekly and join him and his audience in hysterical laughter.

So, here was his son before me talking about humor and stress. I wondered how a son of such a famous father (and mother too, Jayne Meadows)

Steve Allen and wife Jayne Meadows at the 39th...

Steve Allen and wife Jayne Meadows at the 39th Emmy Awards – Sept. 1987 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

could manage under such a big shadow! It turns out he manages very well! He asked his audience, which included a fairly large group of well-dressed, well-mannered, educated, and reserved employees to take the three scarves that he passed out to each of us, and juggle them up in the air.

We all stood up and tried to juggle these wisps of fabric. They were so thin and fragile, there was no way we could keep them up in the air. Soon, most of us were bending over picking them up or retrieving them from the seat in front of us. Lots of laughter ensued. Dr. Allen managed to turn this group into a bunch of rowdy pre-schoolers! He says that juggling brings the creative use of silliness and that he gets the same result when giving his talk to Nobel Prize winners or janitors!! Laughter = release of tension.

sxc.hu/Cieleke - Juggling

Juggling with Dr. Allen, Jr.      sxc.hu/Cieleke -

Now, just because we were being silly, doesn’t mean that something positive wasn’t happening or that he wasn’t being serious in his talk! This was a fun way for employees to spend their lunch time and I was happy to be a participant, especially because I have always been a big fan of Steve Allen, the comedian.

Dr. Allen won several professional awards for his work in stress management. By the way, I still have the scarves.

Since I consider myself more of a student of humor and laughter rather than an expert, I searched for information online about humor from a more technical point of view that was from the experts. One site was from Harvard that discusses how the brain processes humor: http://www.hms.harvard.edu/hmni/On_The_Brain/Volume16/HMS_OTB_Spring10_Vol16_No2.pdf

Another site was from howstuffworks.com http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/laughter1.htm

Both these sites are educational and funny! I encourage you to take a look!

So how does humor fit in when developing healthy living habits is such a struggle sometimes?

One example  of how it fits in is that if you are at work and you’re under a lot of stress and can’t exercise to relieve or reduce your stress, you can use humor in the form of reading a funny book on your break (I recommend a Far Side book) or watch something silly on YouTube.

Less planning is involved with using humor for good health. You don’t need to change clothes or hire a personal trainer or go to a class. You don’t need to follow a certain recipe or prepare a meal as you do when you are following the Mediterranean diet. You can just turn on the TV or computer and look for a comedy!

So, the bottom line is: humor is more accessible in the arsenal of healthy habits.

Laughing relaxes us. It relaxes our muscles. It puts us in a positive frame of mind. It stimulates our brain and makes us happy. It lowers our blood pressure. It increases creativity. It reinforces group cohesiveness, improves problem-solving ability, and increases endorphins and dopamine.

Last but not least, laughter is contagious like a cold and can spread!

I would love to hear your comments about what you thought of the show and/or your thoughts about humor and laughing. Any funny stories would be welcome too!

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My Radio Gig – Call-in and Live Chat Details

2 Apr sxc-hu-pmos-phonebooth-and-Big-Ben

As I mentioned in a previous post, you can call in to the Blogtalkradio show to ask a question or make a comment about my talk on humor and its connection to wellness and good health. 

sxc-hu-pmos-phonebooth-and-Big-Ben

Phone Booth and Big Ben sxc-hu-pmos

I’ll be the guest speaker April 7th, this Sunday at 11:00 a.m.  

You can call in to the Wellness Coaches show who are the hosts and will be interviewing me. The number is: (917) 889-9079. This is a free call on Skype.

sxc.hu Cieleke - Girl with Phone

Caller with a Question      sxc.hu/Cieleke

You also have the option to use the live chat feature on their webpage with any questions or comments you’d like to make.

If you decide you like the show, you can sign up on Blogtalkradio to receive automatic reminders to hear your favorite shows or any show you like: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/?glogout=true

Just FYI, the Wellness Coaches shows are listed under the category of Self Help. There are 19 categories in all.

I hope you will listen to my talk. Since you know that my blog is about good health, get your unbuttered popcorn, your diet soda pop, and maybe even your mom and pop together to listen in; it should be an interesting show!

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Spring Blows Away New Food Friday

21 Mar sxc.hu Sindala Spring

Spring is now here, at least according to the calendar. Here in Indianapolis we are having a cold snap with freezing temperatures and cold winds!

I have been having a nice “rest” (???) this winter because we have had little snow so there was no shoveling of the pretty white stuff (or in my case, sweeping because I use a straw broom that I prefer over a shovel.)

Spring means opening the windows and letting in the fresh air while I pollute my indoors with cleaning products to do my spring cleaning!

sxc.hu julosstock Super Woman

Super Woman Marcella in Cleaning Gear  sxc.hu julosstock

It means getting my lawn mower fixed (finally). Or, shopping for a new one if it can’t be fixed. It means:

mowing

planting

transplanting

weeding

pruning

sawing (the more stubborn branches)

edging

digging

hauling (dead limbs, trees, etc.)

watering

mulching

fertilizing

shopping (for seeds, tools, fertilizers, etc.)

gluing (my bathroom wallpaper)

painting

sanding

sweeping (the garage, the leaves, etc.)

Whew! Did I miss anything? I’m sure I did. I’ll be busy as a bee.

sxc.hu YOdesigner Busy Bee

Busy Bee Marcella   sxc.hu YOdesigner

In other words, the sad truth is that New Food Friday is going on hiatus.  Instead of every week, New Food Friday will now be every month, unless I find a product or new food that I just can’t wait to tell you about. You can expect the next New Food Friday April 19th.

New Food Friday may be on hiatus but what about me?

The upside of all this spring cleaning is that it means more exercise for me. I know, for me it’s an upside, can you imagine that?

Whirling Dervish Dancer

Whirling Dervish Dancer (Photo credit: Sarah_Ackerman)

With any luck, I also hope to have more time to write about articles concerning a variety of health issues.

I wonder if I could hire a Whirling Dervish to do my windows?

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New Food Friday – Tangelos

22 Feb Orchard sxc.hu/winterdove

Have you tried a tangelo? They look like an orange but are much less acidic. They are very juicy and very sweet. I am hooked on tangelos and so this post for New Food Friday is about tangelos!

Tangelos are grown specifically in Florida.

 I am on my third 5-lb bag of tangelos and I have one tangelo for breakfast everyday.

Bag of Oranges sxc.hu/JR3

Bag of Oranges sxc.hu/ JR3

I used to eat an orange everyday but they are too acidic for me. Once I tasted a tangelo, I was a convert.

Here are the Nutrition Facts.  

Nutrition Facts-Tangelo

Nutrition Facts-Tangelo Click to enlarge

 

When you take into account the smaller size of the tangelo compared to an orange, note that the average size orange is 180 grams and the average tangelo is 109 grams so don’t let the difference in calcium throw you (or the other differences either).

For myself, I prefer the smaller fruit. Oranges have morphed into a fruit that is so big that when I ate them, I eventually decided to just eat half. I wish they would stop growing fruit to such an enormous size! Even apples are ridiculously large these days. I wonder why this super-sized fruit growth hasn’t been addressed by health experts as they have addressed portion sizes for everything else, haven’t they!

Orange Branches sxc.hu pepo

Orange Branches sxc.hu pepo

Tangelos make a good snack during the day because they are low in calories and you can’t scarf them down in a hurry.

Tangelo Waiting to be Peeled

Tangelo Waiting to be Peeled

Tangelos are a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. This is surprising to me because they don’t look or taste anything like a grapefruit.   They are very sweet. There are several varieties and the ones I’ve had so far vary in the amount of seeds.

The tangelo in my photo had no seeds. The last bag of tangelos I bought had more seeds than the other two bags but for the most part, there are few seeds.

Peeled Tangelo

Peeled Tangelo

Also, the type that I bought was not that easy to peel which makes it a challenge to avoid breaking the membranes and losing a drop of that delicious juice!

On the other hand, juice is going everywhere in the little Italian town of Ivrea. As you can see in the photo, the Italians have other uses for oranges besides eating them and cross-breeding them.

Annual Carnival in the Italian city of Ivrea sxc.hu JosipBroz

Annual Carnival in the Italian city of Ivrea sxc.hu JosipBroz

In this photo they are celebrating the Annual Carnival in the Italian city of Ivrea where they throw oranges at each other.

In the Valencia region of Spain, they hold a tomato-throwing festival. (Ironic isn’t it that they are throwing tomatoes and not oranges in Valencia!)

La_Tomatina Wikipedia - flydime

La_Tomatina Wikipedia – flydime

Fruit throwing is one way to get out your aggression. It’s also good exercise and apparently fun, therefore good for your health, although you could be hurt by getting hit. But at least it isn’t a bullet, some would say. Maybe we need to throw more fruit in America.

Would you stand under an orange tree? I wouldn’t, not even if the trees were on a patio with a fountain!

A fountain in the Patio of Oranges within the grounds of the Cathedral of Sevilla sxc.hu sueanna

A fountain in the Patio of Oranges within the grounds of the Cathedral of Sevilla Click to see the oranges. sxc.hu sueanna

It’s a good way to get unexpectedly clunked on the head.

Once I sat under an almond tree and an almond fell on me. It was like a missile and it hurt like heck! That’s right, a little old almond. They’re not so little when they are unhusked!

So,  for the time being, I’d rather eat than throw oranges or tomatoes or tangelos. Then again, maybe I’m just comparing apples to oranges.

Apples and Oranges sxc.hu cherrycoke.jpg

Apples and Oranges sxc.hu cherrycoke.jpg

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Standing/Sitting Desk Workstation – Free!

1 Jan Standing Desk with Mat

Too much sitting has been under the gun as the latest bad health habit. Momentum has been gaining in companies to offer standing desk workstations to their employees. Some include treadmills!   What about us bloggers who sit in front of the computer day after day? We can’t run out and buy the latest standing desk workstation. Some will run you upwards of $4,000!

standing desk 2.0

Standing desk with chair 2.0 (Photo credit: A.J. Kandy)

Some say women will get increased problems with varicose veins using standing desk workstations. My thought was that some people would have swollen feet. Since this is a rather “new” idea in the workplace for many, there isn’t much data to prove that standing all day is better than sitting all day. So, like most things, my feeling is that it’s best to do both standing and sitting in moderation. 

Sitting at desk with feet up

Sitting at desk with feet up – sxc.hu/cornnius – Maria Luisa Gutierrez

One of the benefits of doing more standing is that you burn more calories than if you just sat all day. However, some claim that there are many more benefits to standing, including adding years to your life! You know that if something benefits your health, you can be sure that it will be posted in this blog.

Create Your Own Standing Desk

I researched and wrote an article about how I created a standing desk workstation that could be converted back to a sitting desk workstation in less than 5 minutes, (actually less than 1 minute), without spending any money. The initial setup may take a few hours depending on what you have on hand and how creative you are.

I’ve been using my workstation now for over a week. I had forgotten how tiring it is to stand all day! But how great it feels when you finally sit down! Like the guy in the photo, you may want to put your feet up after standing at a standing desk workstation!

Continue reading to learn how to create this workstation and don’t forget to check the links in my article. There are only two. They explain the pros and cons of standing desk workstations along with companies that use them, people who use them, and costs to purchase them. It’s worth checking out.

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New Food Friday – Baba Ghanouj (Baba Ghanoush)

9 Nov Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanouj (prounounced Baba Ghanoosh) is the food I’m discussing today for New Food Friday. Does it sound familiar to you? I think I may have heard it first on the Jerry Seinfeld sitcom.

I picked up a can when I bought the can of ZiYad Hummus and Tahini dip. They were both the same price, on sale for $2.29 each.

Ziyad makes this Baba Ghanouj which is an eggplant and Tahini dip. They fire roast the eggplant and add the following ingredients: tahini, salt, citric acid.

Preparation suggestion on the can: add lemon juice, garlic, and salt to taste. Drizzle olive oil on top.

Click me to enlarge

Nutritional Facts:

The sodium level is high: 478mg so if you are watching your salt intake, you may only be able to have a small amount. I think we should all watch our salt intake so I may make my own version fresh in the future.

The Taste

The taste of this Baba Ghanouj is very smokey. It’s like eating charred wood but a creamy version of charred wood. So, they’re not kidding when they say they fire roast the eggplant! I liked it. There are chunks of eggplant in the dip which I enjoyed too.  I did not add any lemon juice or garlic or salt because I didn’t think it needed anything.You can see from the front cover of the can that the product is tan in color. The yellow part is olive oil. The red sprinkles in the center and around the dish are pomegranate seeds.

The Accompaniments

Baba Ghanouj is most often eaten with pita bread. It can also be eaten as a dip with raw vegetables. This could pair well with certain flavors of Triscuits which come in many varieties now, Rosemary and olive oil being my favorite. I like Baba Ghanouj with pretzels, the larger pretzels with less salt. This would also be a good spread on a wrap. I tried it on a bun with a turkey burger but instead of a barbeque taste, it brought out a more lemony flavor which I did not care for. That surprised me. In fact, the way I liked it best was without any accompaniment.

Here is a nice sized eggplant growing on a vine. Isn’t it a beauty?

 This is what sesame seeds look like (below) in case you’ve never seen them. The photo shows them enlarged. They are much smaller in reality. There are also black sesame seeds. Tahini can be made from either the white sesame or the black sesame seed. This Baba Ghanouj uses the white sesame seeds. The seeds are crushed to make a paste.  You can find the seeds on the spice aisle of your grocery store. If you want the paste (the tahini), look in the ethnic aisle. It usually comes in a jar and is not cheap!

On the other hand, this canned version of Baba Ghanouj is very convenient to carry with you say, to a picnic because it has a pop-top and can be eaten cold or at room temperature. Once opened though any leftovers should be refrigerated. Another benefit of the canned version is that it can be easily stored on your pantry shelf to be used at a moment’s notice. So, it’s good in a pinch!

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Happy Election Day/Happy Birthday/Happy 100 Followers

6 Nov Happy Birthday!

Today is election day. It is also my birthday. It is also the day I now have 100 followers on my blog.

HURRAY!

Hope you had a great day. I celebrated by o.d.’ ing on chocolate:

Lindt milk chocolate with hazelnuts

S’mores (my first s’more ever)

Keebler Deluxe Fudge Covered Graham Crackers

Chocolate Eclairs with Custard filling

This is what a dedicated health nut eats on her birthday. How old am I? I’m 30 again! I proclaim that it’s OK to go a little crazy on your birthday! (I did work out today.)

YAYAAAAA!

I also ordered a new part for my broken lawnmower. If it is the correct part and my lawnmower starts working again, I will write a post about it.

This is my idea of a happy birthday. To each his own. The icing on the cake would be if Obama won the election! I predict that he will!

YAYAAAAA!

To all my followers, have a great day and a great evening!

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New Food Friday – Jicama

2 Nov Slicing ends of a Jicama

I hope you are having as much fun with New Food Friday as I am.

This Friday I’m discussing Jicama.  It’s pronounced, Hic-ama.  Jicama is a tuber and it is also known as the Mexican potato. The skin is like a potato and it is white inside like a potato.

This Jicama reminds me of a spinning top

It is easier to slice and peel than a potato.

It tastes nothing like a potato though. When you bite into a piece the first taste is mildly sweet. The next thing you will notice is that it is crunchy and very juicy, like an apple. But it doesn’t taste like an apple either.

I haven’t decided what it tastes like. Some say it tastes like a water chestnut.  You’ll have to let me know what you think it tastes like!

I picked the smallest Jicama I could find at the store. They can grow to be big! It was $1.24 per pound and mine was a smidgen over one pound or $1.29.

I found that you need two different knives to cut Jicama. A large chef’s knife for slicing and a small paring knife for peeling the skin.

I also thought it was very easy to peel and slice. It wasn’t slippery or sticky.

Hummus and Jicama

As I said in last Friday’s post, I would talk more about the Ziyad plain hummus and tahini dip (the non-spicy one).  It goes perfectly with Jicama! A marriage made in heaven! Great for those of us watching our weight.You can see from the photo that when it’s sliced into strips, it looks like uncooked french fries! These strips hold their shape.  They don’t break under the weight of the dip. You might become “addicted” to the crunch.

Storing Jicama

Jicama stores well in the fridge after you peel and slice it. It doesn’t turn brown and it stays juicy and crunchy in a covered container.  If you like to have celery and carrot sticks with your dips, Jicama is a great addition! I am really impressed with this tuber.

Some people like to add Jicama to salads.  You can also sprinkle lime juice on Jicama slices and then top with salt or chili powder.

I think these juicy sticks would be great for hikers or beach goers because of their high water content.

Nutrition Facts:
Serving size: ½ cup raw

Calories: 48
Carbohydrate: 11 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Fat: 0 grams
Cholesterol: 0 grams
Potassium: 162 milligrams

Jicama is 85% water by weight.

Kids will also like Jicama because of its mild sweetness and the crunch factor. Just don’t tell them it’s a vegetable!

So far, I have talked about Jicama in its raw state only. However, you can also cook Jicama. You can add it to a stir fry or add it to stews.

I’m sold on this vegetable. What do you think of it?

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My Health Club is History

17 Oct sxc.huskizof Josep Lluís Caldentey - Donkey

I joined a new health club. You already know about some of the problems I was having at my former club. Let me tell you why I left.

I had been in the private shower/changing room, next to the

PRIVATE SHOWER ROOM

ladies’ locker rooms.

There are two of these rooms; two on the side of the ladies shower/locker area

and two on the side of the men’s shower/locker area. As I was IN the shower, a man started pounding on the door, telling me to hurry up! He was pounding hard enough to break the door down. I told him I’d be out in a minute. About 10 minutes later, he was back, pounding on the door again! He said I had been in there 1/2 hour. (I hadn’t.) I was furious!

I finished showering, got dressed and opened the door, expecting him to be standing there. He wasn’t but he was walking down the hall towards me. I figured it was him but I asked if he was waiting for the room. When he said yes, that’s when I gave him a piece of my mind. I can count on one hand the times in my life that I went into a tirade over something and this was one of those times. He was not going to get away with this kind of obnoxious behavior.

I was yelling at him in a very loud voice and I did that deliberately to make sure other people heard me. In the end, believe it or not, this guy was literally shaking. I don’t know if that means that I scared him to death or if he was holding back wanting to punch my lights out! I just didn’t care, I was fed up and this was the last straw!

He told me that the men’s changing rooms were being cleaned. I said, “We’ll see about that!”

He kept complaining that I was in the shower for a 1/2 hour. At which point I looked at him in contempt and called him a jackass. At which point he said the “F” word to me.

I stormed off and hailed the first health club employee I could find. I said I needed to speak to the manager. The employee said he was a manager. He was all of about 30? I told him what happened, that this guy kept pounding on the door telling me to hurry up while I was in the shower, and that he used the “F” word to me. The manager kept saying over and over, “We’ll take care of it.” He kept apologizing.

I finally calmed down because I realized that he wasn’t going to do anything about it. So I asked, “Aren’t you going to ask me his name?” “Don’t you have any questions?” He kept saying, “We’ll take care of it.” So, out of desperation, I described what clothes the guy was wearing and what he looked like. In disgust, I left.

I tell you this story for your own safety and for the safety of your sisters, your mothers, and your daughters who go to a health club/gym. All during the time that I was yelling at this jerk, NOBODY came to find out what the ruckus was. If this guy had become violent, he could have easily pushed me back into the shower room, done some damage, and nobody would have witnessed it. There are plenty of cameras around this club but NONE in the hallway leading to the side door of the ladies locker rooms

and the two private changing rooms where we were.

The manager said that they had been giving the mens’ rooms a “deep cleaning.” How stupid do these “managers” of this health club have to be to not put up a sign on the doors letting women know that the men will be using these facilities on this day?

The manager said these rooms are “family” rooms. So, in other words, he was defending this jerk’s right to be on the women’s locker room side using these rooms.

Can you imagine if I went over to the men’s locker side and started pounding on the “family” rooms telling a guy to hurry up and get out? They would probably handcuff and cart me away!

When I was new at this club, one year ago, I went on a guided tour and the guy who gave me the tour told me that these rooms were used for changing baby’s diapers, and also if someone preferred privacy rather than being in the larger open locker room. He never said that men were allowed to use them. In fact, he never took me on the men’s side of the locker room to show me the “family” rooms on their side. He never said I could use the rooms on the men’s side either. I never even considered that men had these rooms on their side of the locker area until this incident. In the year that I had been there, I had never seen any men use the rooms on the women’s side and I had gone 4-5 times a week, on various days, at various times.

The bottom line was that there was no respect for women at this club. I certainly didn’t need to feel stressed out after I worked out!

So, when you are looking for a health club, take into consideration these things:

1. Check to see where the ceiling cameras are located.

CEILING SECURITY CAMERA

Make sure there is one near the entrance to the ladies side of the locker rooms AND that they can “see” all areas of the club.

2. Don’t join a club that is so large that your voice gets “lost” due to the distance between you and other people.

3. Ask questions. Ask if men are allowed to use women’s showers and/or changing rooms. If there is an emergency “cleaning” or other type of emergency can men use women’s facilities. If so, will a notice be posted to let women know?

4. I am in the Silver Sneakers program which allows me to change health clubs easily. Even though they had me sign a contract, it’s fairly worthless and probably nothing more than a sales ploy to make you feel obligated to stay with them. I don’t.

When I was new, employees at this club photographed me and put my name in large letters on an ID card as big as a charge card. This is another thing I didn’t like about this club. Although they provided towels for free, you had to turn in your ID card at the desk in exchange for a towel. Sometimes the desk was unmanned and anyone could go behind the desk to pick up their ID card which allowed them to see YOUR ID card and your name/photo. This poses a security issue for you. I only used their towels once. When I saw the lack of care regarding my ID card, I brought my own towels from then on.

I have been at my new club for two weeks now. In the Silver Sneakers program, the club gets paid every time you swipe your “ID” at the entrance or whatever type of “ID” the club has you use. My current club uses a small numbered tag-like ID that I attached to my keychain. There are no privacy or safety issues with it.

My new club is a small club with only two private shower rooms on each side of the club. One side says, WOMEN’S RESTROOM and I assume the other side says, MEN’S RESTROOM. Ceiling cameras can view all areas of the club.

Final Thoughts

Women have as much right to be at a health club as men. We have the right to take care of our bodies. We have the right to be treated with respect, especially when we’re paying customers. I am left with this question: Why aren’t there more women owned, women run health clubs? Why?

7 x 7 Link Award

7 Oct 7x7link-award

Wow! If I had realized how special this award was, maybe I wouldn’t have put other important things to do before it! My sincere thanks go to Peri’s Spice Ladle for nominating me for this award (and for her patience in waiting for me to catch up!)

I realize I could take the easy road and nominate people I have nominated in the past. However, I prefer to search for new nominees not just for my benefit in learning what is out there, but for your benefit too. This way, we both get introduced to more blogs.

Say What?
I had to re-read the rules to this award and I did a double-take at the “previous links” rule. Why, I have to examine my own blog! Now there’s a switch! I get to do some self promotion. Yeaaaaaa!!!

The rules are pretty loose and open to interpretation. They are the most unruly rules I’ve ever come across. This is a good thing and to my liking!

The Rules:

  • Give thanks and acknowledgements to the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • List 7 of your previous links in the following categories. Most Helpful, Most Popular, Most Beautiful Piece, Most Controversial, Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated, Most Pride Worthy.
  • List 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate 7 other bloggers for this award.

7 Things about myself:

1. I like 7-Up.

2.My favorite drink used to be 7 & 7.

3.Betty White jokes that she has the hots for Robert Redford. When she kicks the bucket, I want to be next in line for Bob. (Sorry Betty.) Then I’ll be in 7th heaven.

4. I’ve never seen the movies: 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, or The 7 Deadly Sins.

5. I’m not the 7th son (or 7th daughter for that matter).

6. I’ve never been to a 7-Eleven. (Or have I?)

7. I’ve yet to see any of the 7 Wonders of the World in person.

And the Awards go to:

1.alicia-prague-blog.com

2.thethirdeyeworld.com

3.ironleg.wordpress.com

4.adudeindublin.wordpress.com

5.themindweave.wordpress.com

6.willingwheeling.wordpress.com

7.remixedamerica.com

Congratulations to the winners! Enjoy your award.

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Top 7 Posts From My Blog

7 Oct 7x7link-award

 

This post is prompted by my nomination for the 7 x 7 Link Award. The rules state that I must list my 7 Most Helpful, Most Popular, Most Beautiful Piece, Most Controversial, Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated, and Most Pride Worthy posts from my blog. Here goes:

1. Most Helpful -What Motivates People to Exercise?

2. Most Popular – As far as I can figure, the most popular post is my About post.

3. Most Beautiful Piece – Belated Father’s DayWishes to All Fathers

4. Most Controversial – apparently I haven’t written a post in that category yet!

5. Most Surprisingly Successful -Good Health and Good Gardening Go Together

6. Most Underrated – The Rebuilding of Ground Zero

and Making Blender Compost for the Garden

7. Most Pride Worthy – Exercise: The Doorway to Injuries?

My nominees will be posted shortly. So what do you think? Did I nail them or do you disagree with my pickings?

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Horseback Riding: Good for Your Health?

1 Oct Mike riding a pony at a friend's house

 

I think It’s safe to say that most of us realize that riding a horse can be a risky sport. They are large animals and can pack a powerful blow. Plus, we are all familiar with what happened to Christopher Reeves (Superman).

I’ve been horseback riding several times in my life and I have my own terrifying experience to tell. Fortunately, I kept my head about me. Looking back, it all seemed like reflex reaction because I didn’t have time to think.

I was on a date with some of my date’s friends. We decided to go horseback riding at a public park. I don’t recall what park but this was when I was living in New York.

My horse kept lagging behind. The guide kept telling me to kick my horse. I was doing the best I could with those instructions but my horse didn’t seem to care. He was unresponsive. He seemed tired or sick. He wanted to go back to the stalls.  The group had to wait periodically for my horse and me to catch up.

Apparently, one of the  “friends” in our little group was getting tired of my horse lagging behind.This friend positioned his horse behind mine and I just assumed he thought that would help my horse move along. I had no idea he was going to crack my horse on the rear, scaring it half to death not to mention me, leading to the following events.

My horse reared,

Rearing horse

you know, like in the movie Zorro where the horse stands up on its hind legs clawing the air with its front hooves? I was still sitting upright but now my horse’s neck was up against my chest! Call it reflex or call it instinct but it caused me to grab on to his mane. Then, off we were like a shot!

We galloped like the wind as the saying goes and now I was facing down on the horse’s neck, just like a jockey in the Kentucky Derby! I worried that the horse would think I was egging him on in this position but I didn’t know what else to do. I was holding on to this horse for dear life! It could have been an exhilarating experience if the horse stayed on the trail. However, he decided to go down a slope  heading for the trees. In my mind, I can still feel the tree leaves and branches whistling past the top of my head, sometimes hitting their mark. Eventually, he slowly came to a stop. I had been saying, “whoa, whoa,” the whole time. I never pulled on the reins to stop him. Maybe in my subconscious I was remembering what my mother told me about my grandfather’s horse.

They say if you fall off a horse, you should get back on right away. (Probably because if you don’t, you never will again out of fear.) Well, I wasn’t thrown and I didn’t fall off. The trail guide didn’t ask me if I was ok. Clearly, I wasn’t. I was shaking. So, I was still on this horse and we continued lagging behind everyone else until the guide took us back to the stalls when the ride was completed! Truthfully, I don’t remember any more than that. I was probably angry but I was too exhausted for an argument. I didn’t get on another horse until 25 years later, and that experience was much better, with a mare that I really liked.

I have always had a love of horses. When my parents would ask me what I wanted for Christmas when I was a kid, I’d always say, “A pony!” My mother would say, “Where would we put it?” I had a ready answer, “In a stable.” I had no idea about stable costs, or the upkeep of a horse, or even the illnesses that afflicted horses. I didn’t learn those things until I was in my 40′s when I subscribed to a horse magazine. That subscription really opened my eyes.

So, thereafter I was happy to admire them from afar. I watched horse races on TV. I visited The Kentucky Horse Park. It’s a lovely place with a beautiful statue of Secretariat, my favorite race horse. I’m also a fan of dressage and horse jumping.

Kentucky Derby with friends

I went to the Kentucky Derby twice.

I went to the Belmont Race Track many years ago when I lived in New York.                     

And I’ve been to other smaller horse tracks to watch the races.

I went to a rodeo in Indiana. I think the event was held at Market Square Arena which has been imploded since then. 

Rodeo in Indiana

Rodeo in Indiana

 

I had planned to go to a dude ranch where you could work and vacation but my job interfered with those plans and I missed that opportunity.

So, it was a natural step for me to introduce my son to horses. In this photo, you can see that he had no fear. He looks like a natural if you ask me but unfortunately my love for horses didn’t transfer over to him, at least not that I know of. However, he is into many other sports and at one time had been a personal trainer at the local YMCA. Those of you who follow my blog shouldn’t be too surprised at that! My adventure with horses isn’t over yet. I can feel it in my bones! (Which are still intact and I intend for them to stay that way.)

Me and my son at a friend’s home

 

What Motivates People to Exercise?

13 Sep sxc.hu/ mckenna71- Swim Suit

When I went to my health club to work out Friday, I was just finishing up and headed for the floor mats to do some core work. Since they put out new, thicker mats, I was standing there admiring them when a little old lady walked over to me.

“They moved everything around,” she complained. The staff had rearranged all the equipment and spread everything out. Frankly, I liked it.

“It’s safer this way. We have more room,” I said. She introduced herself. Her name is Sally. I noticed that she was wearing a beautiful ring with a topaz stone. I asked if she was a November baby. She looked surprised and said, “yes!” I told her that I was a November baby too and had recognized her topaz stone. Sally asked what day I was born and I told her November 6. She said she was born November 11. She said the man she was just talking to was born November 8. (It must have been November Day at the gym.) Then she joked that she was older than me, 80 years old. I said that I think about getting older and wonder if I will be able to continue exercising when I’m 80. Sally said, “It’s up to you.”

Well, if it’s up to me then I’ll be exercising until I breathe my last breath!

What motivates someone like Sally to exercise at age 80? What motivates anyone? TJ of TJ’s Garden and I were chatting about that recently. In this article you will find out what motivates me and some hints to motivate you too.

Do visions of the Grim Reaper in the distance motivate you to exercise?

Or is it that swim suit number that you’ve eyed recently? For me, I love to cook/bake and my exercise habit counterbalances my love of eating habit.

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Hints to Make Yourself Exercise

1. Get on the scale. There’s nothing like seeing those numbers creep up on the scale to make you watch your diet or push you out the door to exercise.

2. Look in a full-length mirror. Do you like what you see in your reflection? If the answer is no, then you know you have to get your butt in gear and go work out.

3. Go shopping for jeans. If you pick out four pairs of jeans to try on in your size and you can’t zip any of them up, you know you have to exercise.

4. Help somebody else. The benefit of helping somebody else to lose weight or to go exercise has double benefits: it encourages the person you are helping and it reinforces the good advice you’re giving in your own mind.

5. Positive affirmations. When you force yourself to go work out (like today, I was really dragging it) and then succeed in doing a good workout, give yourself a pat on the back. Say positive things to yourself. Or, say positive things out loud (when nobody is around). It’s not hokey to say, “Great job! Especially when you were really having a tough time motivating yourself! I’m proud of you!”

6. Sit down, bend over, and try to tie your shoelace. If your stomach is in the way, you need to go work out. It’s easier to tie a shoelace when your gut isn’t in the way. Make shoelace tying easy on yourself; you’ll be glad you did.

7. Ask yourself, How much do I like myself? If you like yourself, you will treat your body well. You know the poem: How Do I Love Thee? Let me count the ways: 1. I love thee for taking such good care of thy body!

8. Lie to yourself. When you are on your way to the gym, tell yourself that you are only going to work out for 10 minutes. (I do this all the time.) Once you complete the 10 minutes, you start to feel better so then you say to yourself, “OK, I’m only gonna do 10 minutes more and that’s it. That’s enough.” When you’re done with those 10 minutes, then you can either stop or say that you might as well do 10 minutes more, it won’t kill you. There are days when I have this conversation in my head and I end up doing 45 minutes on the elliptical machine! I not only feel very proud of myself but I feel physically good too. So will you!

9. Compete with yourself. I always go for burning 400 calories on the elliptical machine. It doesn’t matter if I start slowly or how many miles I do. I just want to get to that 400 calorie mark. You can start at a lower number, of course. Just try to do more each time. You want to beat your old record.

10. Hire a Personal Trainer. You can learn a lot from a trainer in a short amount of time. See if the trainer will train two of you at a time: you and a girlfriend. The friend can help motivate you too.

Here are more ways that I motivate myself. Click the link, you won’t regret it.

What motivates you to exercise?

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