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25 Sep A new sink and faucet

If you follow my blog, you know I like to work with my hands and that I also like a challenge. Installing a bathroom sink and faucet was the most challenging home project I have ever attempted. It was difficult and I’m not going to say you should try it. But I can give you some tips on what to look out for if you want to do it yourself.

Things You Need

You need the right tools for the job. Here is a photo of the tools I used. They are in the top portion of my pink toolbox (ignore the bottom part). The donut shaped object below the safety glasses is Teflon tape. It’s cheap. Buy it.

Tools for Installing a Bathroom Sink

Tools for Installing a Bathroom Sink

You need safety glasses because you will be laying down on your back in your cabinet under your sink and when you loosen or tighten parts, you will get gunk, dirt, dust, and water on your face so you want to protect your eyes. You might even drop a locknut or worse, your pliers on your face when your hands get tired from loosening and tightening parts. I kept repeating to myself, “Use both hands to hold onto the pliers!”  This worked for me and I didn’t drop anything on my face. In fact, I didn’t have any injuries other than accidentally squeezing my thumb in my pliers! No damage was done fortunately.

You need the patience of Job (In the Bible). You need determination, perseverance, and commitment. You need to laugh at the face of the unknown. I knew nothing about installing a sink or faucet. I knew nothing about water pipes. You need to be fearless when you go to your local Menards or Lowes for help because even if you find a female sales associate, they will inevitably get a male associate to help you. Some male associates feel threatened by a woman who wants to install a sink herself or who has “technical” questions. Ignore their attitude and focus on their answers. If they stump you with a question that you don’t know the answer to or they become stumbly, bumbly themselves, don’t give up! Stall. Ask more questions. Read the label yourself of the item they say you need. If all else fails, ask to speak to another associate. Don’t let them intimidate you. As a last resort, ask to speak to the manager and tell him the problem. Fortunately, I never had to go that far.

You need silicone to keep water out of certain parts and to keep certain parts in place. The instructions that come with your new faucet will show/tell you where to use it. There were no instructions with my sink, but the sales associate at Lowes told me to use it under the sink to anchor it to the top of the cabinet. He said it would hold. He better be right! I bought Silicone Extra. That “extra” better stand for extra strong adhesion! But more about that later.

You need a roll of paper towels. Leaks will happen. I started with a nice thick bath towel but once that got wet, then what? So, I found paper towels to be better. And a small bucket for the bigger leaks.

You need a small fan to help dry out the cabinet from the leaks. It is also helpful to help dry the silicone and WD-40 or anything else you use. It is also important for adequate ventilation when using these chemicals. I opened a window and my patio doors too and turned on the fan vent on the ceiling.

Run a Fan to Dry Space!

Run a Fan to Dry Out the Space!

You need light! It’s dark in that cabinet. I used a small desk lamp and also a large flashlight. It has a 6V super heavy duty battery and is used for the outdoors. I use it indoors when there is a power outage.

You need a digital camera. If/when you get to a part/area that either doesn’t fit or doesn’t work and you’ve tried everything you can think of, take a picture of it and go to your local Menards, Lowes, or wherever and tell the sales associate the problem. If you are having problems explaining it or he or she is not getting it, show them the photo of it on your camera. I had my digital photo ready but I remembered the magic word “flexible” while I was at Lowes, and didn’t need to show my photo. I reasoned that I needed a flexible trap pipe because my sink drain was mysteriously at an angle instead of straight down and I couldn’t figure out why! It is also shorter than my previous drain. If you don’t have a digital camera, draw a diagram.

You need something soft and cushiony to lay on, kneel on, and sit on. You will be doing all three. I used my rubber exercise mat and doubled it. It was a knee saver!

Exercise Mat to Protect Knees and Butt!

Exercise Mat to Protect Knees and Butt!

Reserve books about plumbing from your local library. Search the internet to see photos and instructions on installing and removing bathroom sinks and faucets. My old sink had anchors and screws to hold it in place. My new sink came with zilch, nada, nothing. You get what you pay for: $29 at Menards. Cheap, but looks good!

My cabinet is 30” wide so for my cabinet, I needed to be able to squeeze my body into the 16 ½” x 12 ½” door space. At 5’8” and 164 lbs, that was a challenge. Sometimes I had to angle my shoulder in on the diagonal. You need to have the stamina to go in and out of your cabinet many, many times to make adjustments! If this is your first time installing a sink and faucet, make that many, many, many times! Bonus: I lost weight doing this project!

Can you fit into a small space?

You Need to Fit into a Small Space!


I began this project on September 3rd, 2015. Then I got sick with bronchitis and had to leave everything “as is,” code words for the mess from hell. It stayed like that for several weeks until I recovered! It helps to have a second bathroom with a functioning sink. I do have a half bath but the sink doesn’t function so I had to substitute my kitchen sink for brushing my teeth, etc., etc. Actually, all of my sinks need work.

Read over the instructions that come with your faucet and sink. Carefully study the diagrams. I labeled parts in the diagrams myself which helped. But be prepared for instructions that don’t tell you everything! Just when I thought I was all finished and began cleaning things up and putting stuff away, I found a small, black washer in the box that the faucet came in. “What is this? Where does this go?” I re-read the directions for the 5th time. Nothing about a small black washer. I scrutinized the diagrams again. And there it was. It wasn’t even labeled! I could strangle the author! So, I had to undo a pivot nut, pull out the horizontal rod, and slip on the washer. (It had been a place where I was getting a LEAK. No wonder!) It was an easy fix, but it could have been much more difficult. Hey, I couldn’t have ALL bad luck!

Differences of Opinion

My instruction sheet said to use silicone on the underside of the flange. The flange is the shiny round part that you see when you are standing up, looking down at your sink drain. It’s where the water goes down the drain. One of the library books I borrowed said to use Plumber’s Putty on the underside of the flange. I decided to go with Plumber’s Putty but only in that area. Why? Well, I’ve watched many episodes of Ask This Old House on PBS in the past and they always use Plumber’s Putty. Also, the putty is easier to work with and to clean up. Most of all, I believed that if I had to remove the flange for whatever reason, it would be easier to remove after using putty and nearly impossible to remove with the use of silicone. Fortunately, I didn’t have to put that to the test!

Advice vs. Reality

Some of my plumber’s books rated each project from easy to difficult. Most were labeled easy. If you are a plumber, it’s easy. If you are like me, it’s difficult. Don’t believe everything you read. I screwed and unscrewed every locknut, pivot nut, and part at least twice. The instruction sheet showed four areas where you need to look for leaks when you are all done and start to run the water. Don’t believe them. Nearly every connecting part leaked when I ran the water at the end of the project. I’m not exaggerating. This was after I, with all my might and pliers, tightened each part. LEAKS!

Places that leaked

So Many Places to Leak!

So I loosened water tube parts, cleaned them off as roughly as I could to remove any debris and retightened them until I was exhausted! That worked. I already told you about the black washer above. In fact, now that I think of it, the only two parts that DIDN’T leak were two of the four parts the instructions said would leak! Idiots! By the way, if they say not to over tighten, ignore them. Unless you know for sure that you are as strong as a plumber, tighten with all your might. A tornado might be able to move me but it won’t be able to move my sink and faucet. Not now, anyway!


Don’t give up hope! Towards the end of this project I was getting discouraged at all the leaks and wondered if I would need to get a plumber. Yet, after all I went through, I wasn’t fully ready to surrender. I’m beginning to realize where my son gets his stubborn streak.

With all the information you have at your fingertips, sometimes it just isn’t enough. So, you have to use your noodle! Although I hate the expression, “Think Outside the Box,” you may have to think outside the box. For example, I kept having a leak at one of the pipe joints. This was a connection between my old pipes and the new pipe part. The old pipe part had a screw nut to attach to the old pipe trap part. The new pipe trap part came with a similar screw nut. At first I used the new screw nut but it kept leaking at the joint. I counted how many times I could turn the new screw nut. Eight times. I removed it and put on the old screw nut and counted how many times I could turn it. Thirteen times. The old screw nut made more sense to me so I used it instead. No more leaks! Do you understand the logic there? I hope so.

After watching repairmen do their jobs in my house, I am confident that anything they can do, I can do too. Maybe even better. Certainly without breaking something as I’ve seen them do to my property! Some of them are careless and klutzy. I am not, neither will you be because it is YOUR property! One of them broke my newly installed thermostat and didn’t replace it! Another broke off the spigot of my water heater while he was fixing my furnace. I had a flood in my kitchen! Another threw away my faucet filter into the trash without telling me that it could be cleaned out and put back! Aaaargh!


I am not so secure in my work in that when I use my new sink and faucet I won’t be checking for drips and leaks. I will definitely be checking underneath every time I use the sink, at least for the first few weeks. I even put a mini-bucket under the pipe trap where it had leaked during testing. If I find water in it, I will know I have a leak and either need to tighten some more or find some other solution. But folks, really, with all the tightening I did, I’m expecting my sink and faucet to BOING out of my bathroom!

Mini-Bucket to Catch Potential Drips!

Mini-Bucket to Catch Potential Drips!

Was it all Worth it?

You bet it was! My new sink and faucet are gleaming! I need sunglasses when I walk into the bathroom! I feel the need to dress up! I find myself wiping up every bit of moisture in the sink and on the faucet after I use it! It’s like having a new car! Better! I have pride of ownership and tremendous pride in the success of my project. I am so happy! If you tackle this project, contact me if you need help. GOOD LUCK!

Job satisfaction is good for your health!



23 Sep New Drain - Old Pipes

 When I bought my house 18 years ago, little did I know that I would become an expert at fixing so many things around the house. My parents never owned a house so I can’t say that I learned from my dad or mom. I learned on my own with help from the Internet and library books.

I don’t like to brag, but I’m going to.


In 18 years, I’ve repaired both my toilets using replacement parts which included having to saw off a corroded part. Picture all 5’8” of me on my stomach sawing off a part that I couldn’t see from my angle on the floor. I didn’t break anything that wasn’t supposed to break and I was successful in repairing leaky, running, and over-flowing toilets. Who needs a plumber?

Wood Doors

I wrote a post about this and if you want to read it, just type in  “doorway” without the quotes in the search field at the top of the page. I fixed my wood accordion doors that enclose my washer and dryer. A screw had stripped so the door was inoperable. I had to take the door down to see what was going on because I had no clue. I created a new screw hole and the door has worked fine since.

Rain Gutters and Spouts

Who likes to clean out rain gutters, raise your hand! It’s such a messy job and I got tired of it. Over the years, I bought two kinds of cheap gutter covers. One was a foam type cover that didn’t fit, or so I thought. The other was a plastic weave roll that you could cut to size. Neither worked well. I decided to get something more expensive this year that would thwart what my maple tree delivers.

Thanks to my maple tree, my gutters were filled with leaves, twigs, whirligigs, stems, and muck. I also had clogged drain spouts. At first I used a crappy pair of ice tongs to remove the debris. That didn’t work very well. I tried using my garden trowel. That didn’t fit in the gutter. Finally, I got the brilliant idea of using my long barbeque tongs. They worked great and they also worked great helping to clear the drain spouts. If you decide to tackle this job yourself, be prepared to get mucky water splashed on your face and clothes, not to mention leaves, twigs, and whatever in your hair. You will be bitten by mosquitoes too not to mention that it doesn’t smell so great either. But hey, if you’ve changed a diaper in your lifetime you’re ready for anything!

My drain spouts had solidified with debris. No garden hose was going to do the trick. At first I used the long wooden end of my hammer to push the stuff down. That only compacted everything more. I tried using the bathroom shower and sink drain wires as seen advertised on TV that I bought at Meijer years ago. They didn’t work either. I finally decided to use a wire coat hanger that I had straightened out and at one time used in my vegetable garden for who knows what. It was rusted by now but who cares! It loosened up the debris as I shoved it down the drain spout and with the help of my barbeque tongs, was able to remove enough debris so that when I inserted the garden hose at full force, the water cleaned out the rest of the spout. Persistence counts! It was probably clogged for years!

As for the more expensive gutter covers? They were $2.18 each at 4’ a piece at Lowes. I needed a total of 33 of them. I did this over the course of three days. I could have completed it in two days but I ran short and had to buy more. I’ve learned one thing in tackling these jobs myself. Nothing is as easy as they say it is in a book. If everything is going well and you think you’re going to be finished ahead of schedule, don’t count on it. The last thing you do will be the thing that takes the longest!

At first I was buying these gutter covers at Menards. They ran out of them. They said they had a back order and wouldn’t get them in until September. (I started this project August 7.) They told me to go to one of their other stores. (A ½ hours drive for me.) I decided to check out Lowes. They had gobs of them and they were about $.50 a piece cheaper! Hah! Luckily I only bought and installed five from Menards.

These gutter covers are a rubberized plastic with round holes the size of a thumbtack but also have a mesh covering on top of that to prevent little, teeny, tiny things from getting caught like the stems of leaves, etc. That is what I wanted! You slide them under your roof shingles and snap the other end of them onto your gutters. After installing the first one, I got the hang of it and the rest were, well, I wouldn’t say easy, but easier to do than the first one!

Funny Story

While standing on line at Menards with my five gutter covers, the man behind me asked me if I was going to install them myself. When I said yes, he laughed and asked me if I would do his too! He asked if I was going to get up on the roof. I said no. I was able to finish the job mostly on the third rung of my ladder. At the back of my house, in some areas, I had to get on the fourth rung which is a little scary at first but I was very careful and didn’t rush anything. One thing I didn’t do was hold on to the gutters! A couple of times I held on to the shingles while climbing down the ladder! Some of the nails in the gutters were protruding so they got a few whacks with a hammer. And that’s another story but not funny.

Gutter Nails

My gutter nails were popping out all over so I decided to start my gutter project with new gutter nails. I looked at what they had a Menards and what they had was a slight improvement of what I already had in the gutters. The groves in the new nails were deeper. That wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted a nail that would screw in. With the help of a nice Italian salesman, we looked at the catalog and I special ordered screw-in gutter nails. They arrived about a week later. Guess what? You can’t screw in these gutter nails with a screw driver. The end of the screw had a small square hole in it and the screws came with a special part that you would insert into the square hole along with your electric power drill. Hey, I’m good but I’m not power drill ready yet! If I ever decide to start making my own furniture or what-have-you, I will buy a power drill! I returned the screw nails to Menards. As for this project, I decided a few good whacks with my hammer and the old nails would have to do. If the nails popped out again, I would buy the better version of the nails that I have. Theoretically, and this is where my college education comes in handy, since the gutters are now cleared and so are the downspouts, there won’t be as much weight in the gutters from all the rain filling them up. Less weight, less pulling on the gutters, less strain on the nails. Theoretically.

Leaky Kitchen Faucet

Fixing a leaky or dripping kitchen faucet is an easy job, so say the books. Sure, as long as your water shut-off valves work! I was able to shut off my hot water supply but the cold water wouldn’t budge. No matter how many whacks with a hammer, no matter how much lubricating oil, no matter how much WD-40…..well, actually I don’t know about the WD-40. I didn’t buy it until AFTER I finished the job. My house main water shut-off valve is behind my washer. So, undaunted, I pulled out my washer. That wasn’t easy! It was the second time I pulled out that washer. The first time was about a month ago when I decided to replace the water hoses since it’s recommended you replace them at 5-years. I did and it was uneventful – one of the few uneventful projects I’ve ever done. But back to my kitchen sink. I shut off the main shut-off valve and checked the kitchen sink. I had removed the handles and could see that the cold water had a small amount of water still coming through. Although it took me much longer with the water constantly coming through, I managed to change the handle, cartridge, spring, and seat of the cold water which had been dripping. No more water drips!

Bathroom Sinks and Faucets

This is my latest project and one that I just finished. Last summer my air conditioning man told me he used to do plumbing work. I told him I wanted to get a new bathroom sink and faucet. He said if I would buy the replacement sink and faucet, he would do the work for $200. At the time I thought I would let him do it. But I’ve come so far on my projects and have gained so much confidence that I decided it was time for me to tackle this project too.

I removed the sink and didn’t bother removing the faucet since it was attached to the sink so I saved myself some effort there. I temporarily carefully dropped in the new sink and faucet. I wasn’t able to attach the pipes to the drain pipe of the sink! The trap didn’t meet the drain; there was a half inch gap!

New Drain - Old Pipes

My New Drain Didn’t Meet Up with My Old Pipes!

Unfortunately I began this project at 4:00 in the afternoon and gave up at 11:30 in the evening when I started to feel sick.  

So, as you might have gathered, I needed to become an expert in pipes – maybe get some new pipe parts. Did I come up with a solution?

More about my bathroom sink and faucet project in an upcoming post!

P.S. What’s good for my pocketbook is good for my health!



Top Exercise Excuses and Their Solutions

10 Oct

There are many excuses (or obstacles if you prefer) that can influence whether or not a person exercises. These obstacles are dependent on location, what injuries someone might have at the moment, motivation level, having children, age, and availability of time to exercise.

Where You Live

I am fortunate in that where I live now, I have the option to use any one of several health clubs. I also live near a few parks with trails. This wasn’t always the case. If you don’t have access to a health club or trails where you live, consider walking or working out where you work.

When I was working full time, I started an exercise group during lunchtime at a company where I worked. When I worked at another company, I walked at a trail nearby. I walked during my lunch hour. Keep your eyes and ears open for similar possibilities to exercise during work hours.


Mild injuries don’t have to stop you from exercising. Exercise helps circulation and can keep you from becoming depressed while you’re on the sidelines. Continuing to exercise prevents you from gaining weight. I have an old injury in my right foot that flares up now and then. When it flares up, I don’t do any kickboxing or walking exercises. Instead, I workout with DVDs that use stretch bands. Or I do upper body conditioning. But if you have serious or long-lasting pain, see a doctor.

Motivation Level

I am well-motivated to exercise. It has become a habit. Exercise makes me feel good and is therefore reinforcing. Exercise allows me to eat whatever I want – and I love to eat! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t eat junk food, but I do allow myself to cheat. Otherwise, I am very health conscious and follow the Mediterranean diet.

Even so, there are days when I’ve got all my gear (towels, water bottle, change of clothes, shampoo, etc.) packed and ready to go and I’ll be standing in front of my doorway with no motivation to walk through it. Sometimes I can force myself to go; sometimes I can’t. If you can force yourself to go you will feel good about it later. I always do. If you can’t, just promise yourself to exercise a little bit harder the next time. Then make sure you follow through. I make sure I do, otherwise the guilt will get to me!

Having Children

After giving birth, my weight crept up to 180 lbs and I had a difficult time bringing it down. Raising children definitely interferes with exercising. Once your child is in school or daycare, you can work out again if you want to wait that long.

I had a very physically fit neighbor who beat me at tennis when she was six months pregnant! She would take her toddler in a stroller and go walking for hours. When her toddler became old enough to walk, he would hold on to the stroller while his baby sister would sit in the stroller as mom pushed. This little boy had calf muscles like you wouldn’t believe! You’re never too young to start exercising, and it’s never too late to be a good role model for your children.


When I was a kid, I climbed trees and ran up and down eight flights of stairs all day with my friends. (We lived on the fourth floor of an apartment building with no elevator.) In my twenties and thirties I played tennis. After I injured my hand playing tennis (not with my neighbor), I decided to join the health club world, and say goodbye to tennis. Experts tell us that aging doesn’t have to interfere with exercising for good health. I don’t let my age prevent me from exercising. You shouldn’t either.

Availability of Time

Availability of time ebbs and flows. When I worked during the day full-time, if I couldn’t exercise during working hours like lunchtime, I exercised after work. You may feel tired after work, but once you get started exercising, your body will reinvigorate itself. When you’re done, you’ll feel relaxed.

There are many exercise DVDs available now for home use when time issues are an obstacle to exercise. Some of these exercise DVDs are broken down into 10-minute routines. Everybody has 10 minutes to spare. If you do 10 minutes before breakfast, 10 before lunch, and 10 before dinner, you will have done 30 minutes in one day.

Nothing in your life is as important as your health. Take the time to exercise, if you don’t, you may find you’re running out of time sooner than you thought.


Calcium Alone is Not Enough for Good Bone Health

8 Oct Sunshine for Vitamin D

As a woman, I am well aware of how difficult it is to get the required amount of calcium in my diet everyday. For those of us in the 51-70 year range, the recommended daily allowance is 1200. Being in that age group, I carefully read labels to be sure I’m getting the highest percentage of calcium available for good bone health because the older you are, the greater your risk for osteoporosis.


When my grandmother was in her later years, (she lived until 92), she fell twice: the first time she broke her wrist; the second time was more serious and she broke her hip while in a nursing home. She never recovered. Her generation didn’t have the knowledge we now have about calcium, osteoporosis, and bone health.


Experts recommend that you select foods that contain 10% or more of the DV (Daily Value) for calcium.


Say Cheese

Reading food labels taught me that brands differ in the amount of calcium they contain. Cheese for example. I bought a Mexican grated cheese called Cotija that is similar in taste to parmesan cheese but is much cheaper. On the other hand, Cotija contains 15% calcium per ounce compared to Belgioioso parmesan, the brand I usually buy, which contains 35% calcium per ounce. However, I use the Cotija more because it costs less. It’s great sprinkled on a salad, pasta, or corn on the cob. Typically, Parmigiano-Reggiano goes for $15.99 a pound. I paid $4.74 for a pound of the grated Cotija. You can find it at Walmart.



Canned salmon brands differ too. There are even differences within the brands themselves. All of the following are per 2.2 oz. servings. According to their labels when I took this survey:


  • Chicken of the Sea Pink Salmon has 0% calcium
  • Chicken of the Sea Sockeye Salmon, With Bone is 20% calcium
  • BUMBLE BEE® Red Salmon (Sockeye) is 30% calcium
  • BUMBLE BEE® Pink Salmon is 20% calcium


The bones in canned salmon contain calcium. They are soft and you can mash them with a fork. If you want calcium in your diet, you should eat them! I buy whatever canned salmon has the highest percentage of calcium.


Milk Does a Body Good

One of the best kept secrets I’ve learned about getting more calcium into my diet is powdered milk. In 1/3 cup of dry milk or 1 cup prepared, you get 30% of your DV for calcium. I add powdered milk to many recipe dishes and there is no telltale taste. It is excellent for baking and I usually add extra. Just this morning when I made pancakes, I added powdered milk to the almond milk I used for the recipe. They were delicious!


Dried Herbs

Herbs such as dill, basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, poppy seed, mint, celery seed, sage, parsley and rosemary are all high in calcium. Savory contains 2132 mg of calcium per 100g serving.


Absorption of Calcium

Experts tell us that we also need to be concerned about our bodies absorbing calcium. Medications and other factors can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Foods that contain Vitamin D and also Vitamin C greatly help the body to absorb calcium. For example, oranges or broccoli contain both calcium and vitamin C.


Move Closer to the Equator

Researchers examining the incidences of osteoporosis around the world believe that it is partly connected to a lack of vitamin D. The further away from the sunniest section of the world, the equator, the more likely people are to have osteoporosis. The osteoporosis rate increases by 0.6 per cent for every 10 degrees of latitude from the equator! I find that very interesting!


Sources of Vitamin D

The best source of vitamin D is cod liver oil. But who wants to take it? I purchased a small bottle over a year ago and it is still unopened. The salmon that you’re eating for the Omega-3 and calcium benefits is also a good source of vitamin D. It may be the new “perfect” food!


Not everyone agrees  that we need sun protection at all times in the form of a UVB blocker. Some researchers  say it is necessary to expose the skin to the sun for approximately 5–30 minutes between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen in order to get the Vitamin D we need. Fair-complexioned people like myself need less sun exposure while darker complexioned people need more.


Supplements May Cause More Harm Than Good

A new study found that daily use of calcium supplements increased heart attack risk by 86 percent. Supplements may not be the answer.


Weight-bearing Exercises

These are activities that require your muscles to work against gravity,  such as: weight-lifting, jogging, hiking, stair-climbing, step aerobics, dancing, and racquet sports for example. Swimming and walking are not the best exercises for building bone although not all experts agree on that.


Now that I’m armed with the facts that were unknown to my grandmother, I think I stand a much better chance of having strong, healthy bones into my later years.


Top Reasons to Drink Water When Exercising

5 Oct Cool Water

Just as an observer in several health clubs, I rarely see anyone drinking water. It’s ironic that these exercise enthusiasts are sweating to attain good health yet not drinking enough water while exercising can ultimately give them kidney stones.


The number of people in the United States with kidney stones has been increasing over the past 30 years. In fact, the number nearly doubled since 1997. There are other health problems from not drinking enough water.


Limited Water Intake Symptoms

Limited water intake can cause dry coughs, bronchitis, dry skin, acne, nose bleeds, urinary tract infections, constant sneezing, sinus pressure, and headaches and the above-mentioned kidney stones.


Benefits of drinking water when you exercise.


  • Water with Lemon. Besides quenching your thirst after a workout, lemons have a high concentration of citrate  which naturally inhibits kidney stone formation. If you can’t drink water, drink lemonade.


  • Metabolism Boost. Drinking cold water amps up your metabolism. Since your body has to work to warm up the water, you will be burning a few extra calories in the process.



  • Your Skin. If you allow your body to get dehydrated by not drinking enough water, fine lines and wrinkles deepen. Water flushes out impurities and improves circulation besides plumping the skin.


  • Digestion. Water helps pass waste in the body. If you are dehydrated, your body will absorb water meant for your colon and other areas of the body. This will leave your colon dry and make it difficult to pass waste.


How You Lose Water

You lose several cups of water everyday through breathing alone . The lungs require humid air to work. The average adult loses about six cups of water a day through urination and during exercise up to four cups per hour. When these loses are added up, it’s easy to see why the body needs fluid replenishment.


Understanding why water is so beneficial to the body makes it a little easier to drink.



Take a Stand: Will You Sit or Stand at Your Desk?

4 Oct Sitting, Standing, or Balancing on Fitness ball while working?

The latest buzz for good health is standing at your desk rather than sitting all day. Many companies now require standing desks for their employees, including the Secret Service. It’s common knowledge that you use more calories when you stand rather than sit and I was eager to do that. However, if you can’t afford to go out and buy one of the latest desks to accommodate standing, here is what you can do to accomplish the goal without spending a penny. It didn’t cost me anything to set up other than a few hours’ time and I can easily switch back to sitting on days when I’m not up to standing all day.


The Process

I’ve got a two-drawer metal file cabinet that I had already had my processor on as you can see from the photo from the previous post. If you don’t have a two-drawer file cabinet, use whatever piece of furniture that will work. A sturdy box will work. Printer machine boxes are good for this. Next to the processor, I stacked a cassette tape box, a CD storage box, a phone book and an empty, sturdy, exercise stretch band box to nearly reach the height of the processor. The idea is to use whatever you have that is sturdy and will allow for the weight of your hand. You are going to be using this stack of items for your mouse. Again, if you can find a sturdy box that will work, use it. Adjust as necessary for your comfort level. Use your ingenuity!


Place your monitor on the top, rear of your processor. You may need to tilt your monitor upward or place a phone book or two under it if you need it to be eye level. Place your keyboard on the top front of your processor. I placed my scotch tape dispenser in between the two to prevent my keyboard from sliding back and forth. Use whatever you have on hand. My processor has a raised edge in the front so that my keyboard won’t slide forward. If your processor doesn’t have such an edge, create a raised edge. Something as small as a pencil taped with masking tape on the edge of your processor might prevent your keyboard from slipping. You may have to experiment. The goal is for your keyboard and mouse to be at the level of your arms (while standing) when you bend them at a 90 degree angle.


Back to the Stack of Items for Your Mouse.

Place a mouse pad on top of the last item you had on your stack. It should be a big, sturdy mouse pad. I happened to have one. There are many things that can substitute for a mouse pad. Even a sturdy piece of cardboard can work. Then I took my 2 ½ pound ankle weight and wrapped it around the right end (the keypad end) of my keyboard. This is to hold it in place and prevent slipping from side to side and back and forth. Make sure part of the mouse pad is underneath the ankle weight to also prevent the mouse pad from slipping. This is why you need a big mouse pad. Wrap the Velcro strap of the ankle weight around the keyboard exactly over the keypad. (This won’t work if you use the keypad.) I never use the keypad if I need to type numbers. I always use the numbers at the top of the keyboard.


Support Your Feet

It is also suggested that you use a good mat to stand on to help support your feet. I buy mats when they go on sale, so I had two stored in my closet for when the mats I have get too dirty. They help to prevent tracking dirt into the house. Good shoes are also necessary. I put extra inner soles in my athletic shoes. So, I was prepared for my feet.


I used this setup when I wrote this for a total of 8 ½ hours with no disasters. Nothing slipped or fell. At the end of the day, I was very relieved to sit down! This is not easy on the body when you’re not used to standing. On the second day I tried it, I only lasted two hours. It takes some getting used to. When I decided to sit for a while, I moved my monitor, mouse, and keypad back to my desk. That took 5 minutes. I can easily go back to a standing position now that everything is set up.



Make sure you have enough cord length on all your electronics when you do this. Be prepared to rearrange items on your desk. I had a stack of file folders out that I was working on. Now, instead of a pile of them on top of my desk, I used a heavy-duty napkin holder that wasn’t getting any use, to stand up some of the folders and then to also act as a bookend for more folders. My printer served as the other “bookend.”


If you don’t want to create a standing desk, you can always sit on a fitness ball. These are great and use more muscles than you would think because you have to balance yourself on the ball. Sounds easy until you try it and it’s a good alternative.


Whenever I want to use my laptop computer in a standing position, I place it on my bookcase at a shelf that is comfortable for my arms.


Now all I have to do is figure out how to make a walking treadmill so I can walk in place while I work standing!



My Favorite Low Impact Cardio Exercises

2 Oct My kickboxing routine

I’ve been an avid exercise enthusiast for a long time now, but there are times that I can’t go to the gym. Maybe I’m between health clubs, maybe the car is being repaired, maybe the snow is two feet deep. I’m sure you can come up with a few “maybes” too. Finding a good low impact exercise routine that pushes your cardiovascular system can be a challenge. This is especially true when you don’t own a treadmill or elliptical trainer. Fortunately, I found an excellent way to increase my heart rate when I’m home bound.


Two Exercise DVDs Stand Out

I have written reviews of over 40 exercise DVDs on a website called You can click on the REVIEWS tab on the top of my blog page to browse them or click on link of the DVD review I write about below. There were many more exercise DVDs that I watched and didn’t write up. Here are two that stand out from the crowd. If you’re like me and don’t have cardio equipment at home because of lack of space or lack of funds, this is the alternative that I go to that makes me sweat as much as an elliptical trainer machine. It’s an exercise skill I learned at a health club that has become my favorite exercise: kickboxing.


Automatic Repeat Segments

If your health club doesn’t hold kickboxing classes to help you learn the moves, you can buy DVDs that start out with the basics and then move up to DVDs for advanced kickboxers. “10 Minute Solution Kickbox Bootcamp”  with Keli Roberts is a good starter. She begins slowly to show you how to do the move correctly and then repeats it at a faster pace. Each exercise grouping is 10 minutes long. What I like on this DVD is that you can repeat a 10-minute segment as many times as you want in whatever order you want. So, if you only want to work on your arms and shoulders, you can select the Arm & Shoulder Sculptor routine as many times as you want and the DVD will repeat that section for the number of times you chose. There are five segments; four are low impact.


Roberts is a highly trained instructor and she teaches the routine clearly. The music does not drown her out. I found this to be a problem in many exercise DVDs. Weights are optional. If you’re a beginner, you may want to start without them until you are more comfortable with the routine.


Tutorial Segment and Refresher Insert

The other kickboxing routine I like is “Kelly Coffey-Meyer 30 Minutes to Fitness – Kickboxing.” These routines are longer and more complex. The longest one is 53 minutes long. The DVD includes a separate tutorial segment of the kickboxing moves and an unobtrusive video “refresher” insert in the corner of your screen. It is a very challenging DVD and it took me some time to learn the routines. I was able to view it on slow motion on my TV/DVD which helped. You may want to try that too. Weighted gloves are optional.


A Modifier for Low Impact

Kelly Coffey-Meyer is a highly experienced instructor. Her DVD includes four other performers. One of the performers is called a “modifier” who follows the Coffey-Meyer routine but does a less strenuous version. When I need to, I follow her moves.


I own other exercise DVDs but none of them compare to these two as far as professionalism, intensity, teaching ability, and audio quality. Both include a core/abdominal segment.


There is no excuse to skip cardio exercises anymore. Try kickboxing. Sign up at your health club to learn the skill. Otherwise, go the DVD route. Either way, it’s fun, challenging, and gives results.



High on the Stress List: Divorce, Moving, Job Loss, and Death (of your Refrigerator).

22 Sep

Good health encompasses stress; some of it good, some of it not so good. You can lessen stressful situations with good planning. A little luck doesn’t hurt either. Exercise can help control stress in most situations, but maybe not this one!


Stress denial: On Tuesday, I noticed that the packaging of my store-bought pastry in my freezer seemed a bit soggy. I ignored it. While dozing off to sleep that night, I noticed my refrigerator often making a clicking sound. Uh-oh I thought, and fell asleep. On Wednesday morning I tried vacuuming the refrigerator coils since I neglected them for several months. No change in the clicking noise. I pulled the plug and then plugged the fridge back in one minute later. No change. I turned off the fridge and pulled the plug. No change. The refrigerator kept clicking. By Thursday morning, I realized that all my frozen food was defrosting in my freezer.


Full blown stress: I decided to buy several bags of ice to help save my food. I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night because I couldn’t make up my mind if I should buy a new refrigerator or call a repairman. The last time I called a repairman for a refrigerator I learned that he would charge $100 just to come out to look at it! I called the Whirlpool number to get a repairman for my Whirlpool. The gal I spoke with asked me how old my refrigerator was and I told her, eleven years. “Oh!” she said. “If it was me, I would buy a new one.” I asked her how long they usually lasted. She said between 10-13 years. I didn’t have time to do research online to find out if what she said was true and I didn’t have time to research refrigerators to see what would be the best deal for me unless I wanted to let all the food in my fridge go to waste while I did my research. So, I went to H.H. Gregg and asked the saleswoman if the sale coming up included the week before because they were advertising 30% off! Frankly, I didn’t understand her answer but I think I got a good deal anyway!


Stress ebbing away: I wasn’t charged a delivery fee or one to cart away my old fridge. I was able to open up an H.H. Gregg charge account for 5% off the cost. The best news was that they could deliver my new fridge the next day!


After I left H.H. Gregg’s, I went straight to Meijer to buy ice. One 7 lb package was $1.67. They also had 20 lb packages of ice but that would be too unwieldy. So I bought two of the 7 lb packages and put one in my freezer and one in the refrigerated section.


On Thursday evening, I got a call from H.H. Gregg’s telling me the refrigerator would be delivered between 3 – 6 pm on Friday and they would call me 40 minutes before arriving. That was perfect because I would use those 40 minutes to remove everything from the fridge.


I had my Rubbermaid container ready for the refrigerated food, and a clean, cardboard box which I lined with heavy plastic for my freezer food. In hindsight, I needed a bigger box. I also learned from this experience to not put foods in plastic bags. They become sloppy wet. All my cheeses which were wrapped in plastic wrap got wet. All my frozen vegetables and frozen cherries in their original plastic bags were soggy, defrosted and I didn’t feel safe using them. I had to throw them away since the bags were opened. Although I previously thought wrapping a rubber band around the plastic bags after I had opened and used them was fine, it was only good like that if your refrigerator doesn’t die! I will be on the lookout for tightly sealed plastic containers.


Stress comes in all shapes. If you handle it calmly, you can get through it easily enough. I won’t recommend exercising to get rid of refrigerator stress because just moving food from the refrigerator to other containers is a workout in itself! Not to mention that I had to wash the floor three times due to items dripping and the fact that a piece of thawed fish leaked all over everything due to a small hole in the plastic packaging. Hence, the need for plastic containers!


I am enjoying my new refrigerator, a Frigidaire, even though when it runs it sounds like a cross between the boiler room of the Andrea Doria and LaGuardia airport. I don’t care. Sometimes denial is a beautiful thing!




Pilates For Men 10-20-30 Challenge Band Workout- REVIEW

15 Sep

The Pilates Sports Center presents this exercise DVD. The 10-20-30 challenge refers to Joseph Pilates, who believed if you follow his program, in 10 sessions you’ll feel a difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see a difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body. This DVD is # 2 in a series of 3 and I’ve only done the #2 workout three times. I can really feel it in my arms. The #1 workout is mat work and the #3 workout is a ball workout. The #2 DVD uses a stretch band for all the exercises.


Men, don’t scoff at using a stretch band! Using a stretch band for an exercise is a smooth motion as opposed to jerking with a heavy weight. In my opinion, there’s less chance for injury. Let’s hear it for less injuries: Yaaaaaay! Let’s hear it for men’s health! Yaaaaaay!


The nice thing about this d DVD is that women can do it too although it doesn’t say so anywhere on the DVD. It’s a tough workout and there is a lot of emphasis on shoulders but what’s wrong with women having strong shoulders? We have to carry babies and children and grocery bundles so we need our shoulders to be strong. Strong shoulders help to prevent shoulder injuries.


I’ve done many of these shoulder exercises before using women’s fitness DVD’s although there were some new exercises that I hadn’t tried before like the “sword”, the “face wash”, and “superman” (loved that one), just to mention a few.


But shoulder exercises aren’t the only exercise on this DVD. There are abdominal, hamstring, back, tricep and bicep exercises. Two very well-muscled men do the workout. They’re a nice change of pace since I’m usually doing my workouts with women trainers and assistants. Of the two men working out in the video, one does the advanced exercise and the other does the regular exercise. The instructor is not in the picture, we only hear his voice and lame music. The two men are silent (and very serious I might add) throughout the workout. They don’t even break a sweat so you can imagine how strong they are! (I can imagine how strong they are – mmmm, baby!)


Another benefit of using a stretch band is that you can regulate how difficult you make each exercise. Wrapping the band around your hand several times makes the band more taught and the exercise more advanced as the instructor will tell you. I use my stretch tube which works on the same principle. You also use a mat although you probably don’t absolutely have to have it. There is one exercise where you get on your knees and the instructor tells you to fold your mat over to give your knees double protection but other than that, you don’t really have to have a mat. I like that he tells you to fold your mat over because when I do, it really makes a difference on my knees so it is definitely a good tip. However, you could just as easily do the exercise standing up since it is for your arms! I couldn’t see the point in getting on your knees for that one but that is my only criticism of the exercises.


Towards the end of the session, there is an exercise where he tells you to tie your knees together with the stretch band (sounds like torture, doesn’t it?) then lie down on your side supporting yourself on one knee and elbow while you raise your hip up and swing the top leg out and back – that’s a doozy! Come to think of it, it IS torture! But he tells you when an exercise is going to be hard before you start it, not that it helps any. He does try to motivate you through it but he is no Jillian Michael and frankly, I’m glad of that!


The Bonus feature includes safety tips, beginner and advanced options, version 1 (includes verbal cues), and version 2 (music only). Not in the bonus feature is getting a brief stretch after the workout. You’ll need it and maybe a hot tub to soak in!


This is a good fitness DVD to have in your collection. I highly recommend this DVD for men and women.



The End of Football as we Know It?

13 Sep 607527 tome213 Heisman trophy

How many times have you seen the Ray Rice video punching out his girlfriend on the elevator? Five times? Ten? The public outcry is so strong that you would think domestic violence had never happened before. Were all the previously abused women just making it up? So, they must have been breaking their own bones then?


This is such a broad issue that it’s hard for me to know where to start. OK, I’ll start at the beginning, at least as far as I’m concerned. On November 11, 1984, Dr. Joyce Brothers published an article in the Parade Magazine Issue of the New York Times titled, “Why Men Abuse Women.” In it, she pointed the finger at several professions dominated by men who abuse women: athletes, police officers, lawyers, military men, and doctors. We’ve seen videos of the police in abusive situations, and we’ve seen athletes cause serious injury to other players; and now we’ve seen an athlete in a domestic abuse situation. So far, lawyers and doctors have been too smart to get caught on video. Far be it from me to criticize military men during the country’s present situation. Domestic abuse is not a new issue other than the fact that we now have it on video to watch over and over like the twin towers coming down.


I don’t know what bugs me most out of the Ray Rice situation. How about the comments that the woman deserved it because she hit him first? These were women making these comments. So, if a woman hits a man, that gives him the right to knock her out? Forget that he outweighs her or is 10 times stronger than her. Forget that he trains to be brutal in his profession. None of that matters. She started it so she deserved what she got. Mr. Rice not only knocked this girlfriend out, he dragged and then not gently dumped her on the floor, with a facial thump as it hit the floor. This is how a man shows his love for his girlfriend? Man rules the roost. There are people out there who believe this.


Mr. Rice has now been suspended indefinitely by the NFL from playing and released from the Baltimore Ravens. His punishment has been the most severe punishment any team owner or league has ever given to a player for domestic violence.  I was frankly stunned that his punishment was comparatively severe. What would have possessed them? Their tough players are their bread and butter. Are they nuts? With any more new rules, policies, and punishment, this will become an entirely new game. I can’t see Casper milquetoast types playing football…can you? People are drawn to the brutality of the game. Isn’t it how some people get out their aggressions? What is behind this new tack? Have sponsors and advertisers squawked over this video? Did a few big ones threaten to pull out? Isn’t it enough that they have recently been hit with concussion lawsuit injuries? If this trend continues, they’ll have to call it footsie-ball instead of football. I’m not much of a football fan, but it is what it is.


Or will it all blow over and will players will be instructed not to blow their cork where cameras are visible?


Psychologists say, “You can’t change someone else, you can only change yourself.” What’s that old joke? How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change. Let’s stop trying to change these men. Counseling isn’t going to help them unless they want to be helped and how many of them want to change? I don’t know any men who want to change and I don’t know of any abusive men who have changed. Why make the effort to change when you can get away with it. There’s no motivation for them to change. Wife divorces you? There’s plenty others waiting in line. You’re fined? There’s plenty money in the bank. You could always write a book or sell your mansion if things really get tough. Too much bad publicity? You know what they say, “Even bad publicity is good publicity.” Or, “The public forgives and forgets.” Just lay low for a while. Isn’t that what celebrities do? These light bulbs don’t want to change. They want to remain dim bulbs.


Let’s talk about the women of domestic abuse. Critics say, “Why don’t you just leave?” These critics live in la-la land. They can’t see their nose despite their face. Maybe he threatened to kill her if she leaves him. Maybe he threatened more abuse. Maybe he promised he’d never do it again. A common statement but not accurate. Maybe children or a pregnancy is involved. Maybe he has her so scared and intimidated that she feels like a prisoner even though there are no visible bars around her. Maybe she can’t drive. She never learned. He hides the car keys. She can’t manage it because she’s in a wheel chair.


Years ago I did volunteer work at a women’s shelter where there were abused women and children. There was a young woman there in a wheel chair with her children. I don’t know if her abusive husband put her in the wheel chair or if she was in a wheel chair before he abused her. Is one worse than the other?


How about the children growing up in an abusive home? Children mimic what they see. So much has been written and televised about bullies in the classroom. These child bullies have learned this bullying behavior at home. Sometimes authorities have punished parents when a child has displayed poor behavior but often in a way that didn’t make any sense. In my opinion, of all the times where they should punish a parent for a child’s misbehavior, this is one of them! When a child sees that the bullying parent is put in jail, wouldn’t that be a good deterrent? We can’t put the child in jail but if the child learns that bullying is learned behavior and his or her parent is going to jail….I would think that would be a wake up call for the entire family. Abusive men are bullies. Mr. Rice is a bully.


Mrs. Rice, yes, his then girlfriend became his wife, is now suffering public humiliation on top of all her other miseries. Whatever future dreams she had of raising children in a happy home and/or a life that was better than hers (isn’t that what we all aspire to as mothers; to give our children better than what we had?) are now looking out of reach. Any thoughts she had of financial security may be shaky at best. Mr. Rice may want to dump her and may blame her for this incident but his lawyers and/or owners may tell him not to incite fans and the public anymore than they already are. Play it cool for now. Don’t add anymore fuel to the fire. The same advice to her. Don’t rock the boat. I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes right now for all the tea in China.


What’s a woman to do? A woman could take the advice of Dr. Joyce Brothers. Although Dr. Brothers has passed, she was once the most admired woman, pre-Oprah. A woman could get an education or skill to learn how to support herself and be independent. A woman could get an MBA and start her own business. You don’t need a man for this. A woman has many options these days. A woman needs to set boundaries when it comes to male abuse. One slap is one too many. Run, don’t walk in the opposite direction. Don’t be dazzled by his guilt gifts. They’re a poor salve for physical and emotional wounds.


When I was married, over 30 years ago, my husband invited a medical student/resident, his wife, and their beautiful red-haired eight-year-old daughter to our home for dinner. I knew this family and was friends with the wife who was one of the sweetest, southern drawled women I had ever met. She had told me in confidence that he physically abused her but never in the face, where it would show. I was speechless. She said it as if she was telling me that the weather outside was great and we should go on a picnic – in total denial. As we were eating our dinner, the husband proceeded to degrade and belittle their beautiful daughter. It was cruel and uncalled for. I make it a practice to not stick my nose into others’ family affairs but this was too much. He was a guest in MY home! So I told him that maybe he could talk to his daughter like that in his home but he was not allowed to speak to his daughter like that in my home. I was prepared to follow up with telling him to leave if he dared say anything.  And if they all left I was prepared for that too. Abusing that angel of a girl was not going to happen in front of me. You could have heard a pin drop. Nobody said anything after that for a while.  Eventually, conversation started up again and it was forgotten. Except that I never forgot it. I hope that little red-haired girl remembered I responded to her father’s remarks. I hope she got the message loud and clear and that it was a pivotal point in her life. Like Charlie Brown, I was a big fan of that little red-haired girl. With any luck, maybe her father got the message too.


It’s good that this video incident is getting so much attention and conversation. It’s the young and naive women who need to hear it most, although the older generation isn’t immune.


Domestic violence is not good for anyone’s health – not mentally or physically, or even financially. Not for the wife, not for the husband, not for the children. As a good health advocate, I hope to see women make more enlightened decisions about their partners and their futures if they should decide to go it alone. Life is a struggle. Don’t make it harder than it is by choosing the wrong partner. It’s better to have no one than to have someone who abuses you.




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