Friday, November 19, 2010

'Tis the Season: How To Be An Every Day Hero

'Tis the season to give thanks, of holiday parties and spending quality time with family and friends. It's a time of reflection and resolutions as well as remembering those we've lost and sharing the wonders and delights of the season with those still with us. As I pondered what my contribution to this holiday season's blogosphere would be, I thought of opening up the "airwaves" to friends and family-to new perspectives and insights that help remind us what the season is all about.

Here's the first installation written by a friend and Joy of Fitness Buddy Training client that helps shows us how we can be an everyday hero just by being aware and thoughtful of the needs of others around us as we celebrate this holiday season and beyond.

How to Be an Everyday Hero
(by Amy Lin)
When I was a kid, I loved adventure stories. I often imagined myself as the hero(ine), riding to the rescue, capturing the bad guys, saving lives, maybe receiving a medal or two for my quick thinking and derring-do. As parents, all of us instinctively want to protect our kids from anything that could hurt them: car accidents, lead paint, house fires, sharp objects, hot stovetops... the list is practically infinite. But even in my vivid imagination, there are few things more terrifying than an unknown illness that sends your baby to the ER, limbs and face swollen, covered with hives, and screaming in fear and pain. That's how my husband and I found out that our daughter is one of the 12 million Americans who have food allergies (for her, it’s dairy, eggs, and sesame). We were devastated to learn that, unlike seasonal allergies, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that includes constriction of the airways and an extreme drop in blood pressure. "Your child could die" is something no parent ever wants to hear.
The scariest aspect of food allergies is that any food, seemingly innocuous and even healthy for most people, may be a deadly toxin to someone who is allergic to it — the most dangerous kind of threat is the one that is perceived as harmless. Everyone knows that poisons such as weed killer and drain cleaner shouldn’t be consumed, so these substances are kept safely away from kids, and the chance of ingesting them at a school or child care center is next to nil. But things like milk, wheat, and nuts are part of the human diet, and most people consider them safe. For this very reason, they pose a grave risk for those with food allergies, especially children.
What does all this have to do with heroism? Well, we now realize that we have scores of heroes in our day-to-day lives — people who help us keep our daughter safe. As she approaches school age, we find ourselves more and more concerned about how we can continue to protect her. We know we'll have to rely more and more on these heroes, and so we’re extremely grateful to have them.
A 0.3 mg EpiPen auto-injector.Image via Wikipedia
They are:
• Family members who religiously wash their hands with soap and water
• Friends who ask about food allergies when inviting us to their houses
• Parents who forgive our overprotectiveness of our food-allergic child
• Hosts who aren’t offended when our child can’t eat food they prepared
• Kids who look out for their buddies with food allergies
• Doctors and nurses who help us prepare for allergy emergencies
• Teachers and caregivers who learn how to use an epinephrine injector
• Work colleagues who share allergen-free recipes
• Restaurants who educate their staff about the seriousness of food allergies
• Last but definitely not least, the eagle-eyed moms in our daughter’s playgroup, who always track down the stray Pepperidge Farm Goldfish!
You can become one of these heroes, too. You may not receive any medals for valor, but you might save a life... and you'll be appreciated much, much more than you'll ever know.
Three easy things you can do to earn the eternal gratitude of a parent with a food-allergic child this holiday season and beyond:
WASH YOUR HANDS thoroughly with soap and water after eating, and teach your child to do the same. This will prevent food particles and possible allergens from being transferred to surfaces that an allergic child might come into contact with.
BE AWARE AND ALERT. If you're hosting an event involving food, find out whether your guests have any food allergies. If you know a child has a food allergy, try to keep watch when he or she is around those foods, especially in the case of very young children who don't yet understand that what they eat could hurt them. Their parents are probably hovering nearby, but they can always use an extra pair of eyes — we all know kids are lightning-fast when it comes to food!
LEARN TO RECOGNIZE the symptoms of an allergic reaction. It usually starts with hives and itchiness, and may lead to swelling of the tongue and throat, abdominal cramps, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and even loss of consciousness. Someone who has a known, severe food allergy will likely have an epinephrine injector (EpiPen or Twinject) on hand. It’s very easy to use — instructions are printed on the injector itself. Call 911 immediately afterward.

For more information about food allergies, please visit The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Food Diary: An Eye Opener!


When I first started this blog, in July 2010,  I declared to the world that I would be tracking my food intake for a whole whopping month. I am writing today to say I did just that, and for exactly one month. I wrote it all down on a bright, yellow paper pad that I carried around with me wherever I went and recorded everything I ate- really. However, after sitting down to organize, analyze and present my findings (which is a lot of work especially if you neglect to keep a calorie count as you go), I have decided to share just the first two weeks of my log. I mean, is it really all that exciting to see what a person eats. The important thing for me is to share what I have learned through my experience, and impart the knowledge I gained by researching the topic of food logs.

I decided it was time to take on this endeavor to face my eating habits head-on. I wanted to better understand my eating patterns, why and how I eat, which foods I eat and with whom I eat in order to improve my diet. I also wanted to ascertain if I am in a weight gain, loss, or stabilization mode. I did not restrain myself in any manner, even knowing that I would be sharing my food diary online. This is an area in my life that I have recognized needs improvement. In order to get an accurate understanding of my food choices and eating behaviors, I needed to eat truthfully (as I have been), so that I can learn and make the proper adjustments to reach my body weight goals and exercise performance desired.  I can be pretty hard headed and in order for me to believe I need to change a certain behavior I need to "see it to believe it." I know it sounds cliche, but it's true. Keeping this food journal has indeed opened my eyes. I needed to "see" the evidence laid out in front of me in order to drive home the fact that active people like myself cannot eat whatever they want. This is a bad food attitude I have had since childhood. It also showed me why I may be having a hard time getting rid of the muffin top.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to School- Helping Our Kids Make Smart Eating Choices a Lifelong Habit

It's that time of year again, when our young ones leave the nest and are out in the world on their own- for a awhile at least. I just dropped my daughter off at her first day of four year old preschool. She had her “All About Me” bag and lunch box in tow. The drop off went smoothly (she's too independent for her own good, that one), kiss and hug and she was off playing in the classroom without a backward glance. I walk away feeling proud and bit sad- my baby girl is growing up so fast! Four hours of making her own choices (for the most part at least) without parental influence, but with a whole bunch of peer influence. Yikes. I just hope I am giving her the tools to make good choices and feel confident in those choices. One area in particular that I want to influence, or shall I say, I still have some control over, is her eating habits- what goes in her lunchbox.

A few weeks ago, my daughter and I met up with a friend and her two children at Brookside Gardens and had a very nice picnic lunch. My friend and I were talking about packing school lunches- the challenges to ensuring our children are eating healthy and in an environmentally friendly way. The wholesome part of lunch I felt pretty on top of (though it's always nice to get new ideas); however, the earth-friendly part I learned could use a little work. After a few suggestions and some thorough research, I learned just how NOT on top of things I was. I was using a lot of Ziploc type bags to hold food, disposable plastic forks and spoons, and prepackaged food such as single serving applesauce and yogurt cups, juice boxes and so on. All these things just get thrown away. Sure they're convenient, but horrible for the environment, so I was beginning to realize. I even started paying more attention to the labels on the prepackaged "healthy" food items I was giving my daughter- they're not healthy at all (full of sugar and/or sodium!). Ugh. What to do.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fit Budgeting & Savings Tips for a Fit Life

Why an article about budgeting and saving tips in a blog about living an active and healthy lifestyle? As a mother, a small business owner and fitness advocate, I think healthy living and being active encompasses both striving for physical fitness, and emotional fitness.

I believe personal finance is wrapped-up in emotion. We make countless money spending and saving choices each day. The consequences of those choices (wise or folly) affects our emotional well-being, in turn impacting our physical well-being. When it comes to household finances, the "elephant in the room" for many families, or the cause of bickering and even all out warfare in others, can be a source of stress and even anguish which is no good. Whether your a saver, spender or somewhere in between, I think it's always good to be open and honest about finances with your partner and to evaluate and reevaluate your household finances at the minimum once a year. Working out household finance issues, having a good understanding and control of our finances as well as being able to prioritize spending helps to create less emotional stress- opening up new ways of living and empowering us to happier, active living. Since we're in yet another recession (some of us are pretty familiar with recessions at this point, remember when the bubble burst in 2000), I thought it was apropos to discuss fit budgeting and savings tips for a fit life. Specifically, how to budget and save, and still do what you want- get fit, stay fit and enjoy it (hopefully). I mean we could all use a financial tone-up every now and then.  Moreover, for lots of moms, when money is tight, our own well fare becomes secondary to that of our families. We make sure all the necessities are taken care of as best we can, but tend to let our own health and fitness fall by the wayside. I want to help you make fitness a priority in good and bad times, because when mama is fit, healthy and happy that's good for the whole family! You not only improve your quality and outlook on life, but most likely your new healthy habits (both physical and fiscal) will trickle down to your family.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Taking the Time to Make Time

I have been thinking a lot lately about my schedule and how I am going to get it all done, including a little time for me. I have sort of been freaking out, because my schedule is going to be picking up a lot here soon- not a bad thing, I know, and I am not complaining. I am actually really excited as well as very anxious. I have been a stay-at-home mom for four years, slowly growing my fitness business as my daughter becomes more independent. She will be in five day a week preschool come this Fall, so I have filled in those preschool hours with my Moms In Motion classes and Buddy Training clients. This will be the biggest increase in work load I have taken on since giving birth to my sweet baby girl. As you can see, time has been on my mind, and the timing could not have been more perfect for me to have come across the wonderfully insightful article entitled, Space for Change: Time Planning for a Better, Happier You written by Kay Cross, Med in the IDEA Fitness Journal (a professional fitness publication I subscribe to). I would like to share some of what I learned. Even though the article is geared to my profession, I think the basic concepts apply to all of us no matter our vocation, age, or stage in our lives. I also feel that if we can take control of our schedules, we'll be happier and healthier!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Let's Get a Physical, Physical...Every Year!

No,  I am not talking about the Olivia-Newton John song. Though it is the hit TV show Glee's reincarnation of the song and music video (check out the video  if you haven't seen it. It's a riot!) that not only brought back some horrible memories of fashion and hair style choices from my youth (I digress), but got me thinking about the importance of getting an annual physical exam every year. The connections I make sometimes scare me...that's supposed to be a joke. :)
No really, it's just as important as your OBGYN exam and your kids check-ups!

What's supposed to happen at an annual physical exam and why is it important you ask? 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Muffin Top- Time to Get Serious

Now I am going to talk about why carrying around that excess body fat around the mid-section isn't so good, but in a moment.

First, indulge me with a little digression. I'd like to talk about how both nature (what we're born with- our genes, heredity) and nurture (environmental conditions, behaviors, experience) play a role in what we look like (duh, you say) Bare with me. I think we all know the behaviors that have gotten us to where we're at body fat wise, and that behaviors can be modified. However, sometimes I feel we forget how much of a role nature does play in how we look, how fat is distributed within our bodies, length of bones and so on- our body type, you could say. Now, that is no excuse not to do the best with what we've got- to get and stay in shape (whatever that shape may be).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Food Diary

The Food Diary in calendar format is up and running for all to see(scroll down and you will find it). Don't go too crazy now- I know this is exciting news! Really, my goal is to chronicle my food intake for a month. My husband thinks I am insane. I secretly think, deep down inside "who gives a crap!" We'll see. I think it will actually help me to eat better (that's the selfish reason). Maybe if anything, this food diary will provide some insight (along with a lot of potential humiliation) into the eating habits of a middle class, full time mom, and small business owner living in the city/burbs. That sounds kind of scientific, doesn't it. I'll keep telling myself that. If you click on the food items, I give some fun tips/facts/etc. So check it out if you dare! Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Story

“And... push!” I huff and puff. “And push!” my husband repeats. My screams reverberate throughout the drab hospital room and down the hall. Completely fatigued, I implore, “Any progress?” “Yes.”, the OBGYN replies. I'm relieved my efforts were productive. Two hours later, my daughter was born. She was well worth the nine months of incubation, the movie of the week-worthy labor, and even the forty-five pounds of weight I gained..

About that weight gain. This mama-to-be had a thing for French toast and ice cream. Don’t get me wrong, I took my prenatal vitamins as prescribed and ate a well-balanced diet. But despite everything I read about proper diet and caloric intake during pregnancy and regardless of my doctor’s concern, I surrendered to my cravings. I love food and was thrilled to have the excuse to eat more of it. Suffice it to say, I was pretty lucky to have had a complication free pregnancy and to have given birth to a healthy baby. However, I wasn’t off the hook. After my postnatal physical, I learned that I had above normal total cholesterol levels that put me in the borderline high risk category for heart disease. Not a good finding, considering heart disease runs in my family. I also found out that I had a genetic blood clotting disorder called Factor IV Leiden, which increases the tendency of the blood to clot, leading to sometimes serious and/or life-threatening complications depending on the location of the clot. I was really counting my blessings at this point, that I had a rather medically boring pregnancy and healthy baby!

Muffin Top

A muffinImage via Wikipedia
That's right muffin top. I am sure you've heard the term and if not well here's what the oracle told me (the www that is), as follows:
I love the show 30 Rock on NBC. When they did the muffin top episode, I was rolling on the floor with laughter (please note I did not write ROTFL. I am too old for that) Anyway, it was a good laugh and sometimes you need a good laugh, especially when the reality of that muffin top song hits home!
So, check out the link to the clip.

Get a good laugh, because it's funny and o.k. to laugh!