Friday, September 11, 2009

Improving Kids' Nutrition

These are some suggestions on improving your childrens' eating habits:

1. Make it fun. Garden with children. Take them to the local farmer's market. Include them in meal preparation. This gives them a sense of "ownership" over their diet, says Jennifer Shu, M.D. author of "Food Fights". The more they are involved, the more they'll eat what is in front of them.

2. Lead by example: If your children see you eating candy when telling them to eat their vegetables, they will tune you out.

3. Teach moderation: Instead of forbidding foods like ice cream or cookies, teach your children how to eat them in moderation and savor every bite.

4. Eat the rainbow: Hang a color wheel on the frig and ask the kids, "did we eat something from nature in all of these color groups today?" suggests Ashley Koff, R.D.

5. Don't give up: Expose your children to new foods over and over. Continue to serve food that has been previously rejected. Often the veggie they "hated" last month becomes their new favorite food next month.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Combatting Stress

HOW TO RELAX: Set aside just ten minutes daily to unwind. Whether it be reading a book, sitting quietly or knitting, it invokes the "relaxation response". Cortisol levels decrease and the effects of chronic stress, like high blood pressure and sluggish metabolism are neutralized. You can actually use your mind to heal your body.

It's important to find a quiet place within yourself. It requires intention and focus. This way distractions -- of which we have many in today's society -- fade away. It takes us out of "fight or flight" mode.

FOODS THAT COMBAT STRESS: Sesame or sunflower seeds are a good source of zinc and Vitamin B, which help to maintain the health of the adrenal glands. All you need is one serving or 1/4 cup daily.

Garlic, studies have shown, may boost moods as well as help lower blood pressure. One to two cloves daily are prescribed.

Cucumbers are a mineral-rich food. They cleanse the liver and in turn allow the body to balance hormone levels. One-half cup daily will do the job.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A little "slice" of sustainability

It was Saturday night when my daughter called to say she was doing a cooking demo Sunday at the Lents International Farmer's Market.

I didn't have plans until 3:30 p.m. today, so I thought I might head over.

I have become somewhat familiar with the Lents area as I travel there weekly to my business/marketing meeting. I was familiar with many farmer's markets but not this one. And it's always good, I thought to myself, to support neighborhood happenings and spend locally. I am always good at "stimulating the economy."

I left NE Portland with $12 in my wallet.

I arrived back home two hours later with my arms and my mind full. Hence, the blog.

During the time spend there, I sampled zuccini fritters with dill yogurt sauce.
This recipe was inspired by a Greek restaurant in NYC.

I tasted a chicken tamale from a booth run by two Mexican-American women and some coconut milk cookies from a booth with Hawaiian-inspired foods.

I brought home Flavel Fungus Farms oyster mushrooms; organic zuccini, onions, squash blossoms and radishes from a local farm; got some wonderful flowers ($4) and fresh basil ($2) from SE Asian women who run a stand.

When I arrived home, it was a pleasure to wash and trim the veggies and the flowers. I plan on a stir fry tonight combined with some veggies from my own garden. I arranged the flowers into three vases that now adorn the house.

Twelve dollars = lot of joy for a day!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Music and workouts

Research has shown that music motivates you to exercise longer and more often.

Both fit and unfit people tend to show greater endurance and better workout performance when they use some good tunes as exercise partners.

Research has found that overweight to moderately obese to with a mean BMI (body mass index) of 33 who participated in a walking program 3x/wk. for six months, gradually traveled longer, recorded faster times for distance covered and burned more body fat when they listened to music while walking.

Subjects that listened to music were much more likely to stick with the program and lost twice as much weight -- an average of 16 lbs. versus 8 lbs. in the no music group.

They were also motivated to add more days of exercise to their program.

One type of music is not any more inspirational than another. Just choose the music you like. The beat is irrelevant too: it can be anything from upbeat to mellow or something in between.

Science has not yet found a connection to music and how the brain works when it comes to exercise. But study results suggest that music mostly helps by distracting the listener. It blocks thoughts about boredom and pain.

Don't be shy about asking your trainer to play your favorite music during your workout with him/her. With the additions of ipods and internet streaming, it's pretty simple to make the connection with what satisfies your musical needs.

Research attributed to Christopher Capuano, Ph.D., director of the school of psychology @ Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, N.J.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Talented Legacy

Lots of deaths this week. In addition to some loss this week in our circle of friends, there was Farrah Fawcett, Jeff Goldblum and Ed Mc Mahon.

But yesterday's news of the untimely death of Michael Jackson was a big one.

You undoubtedly have seen the interviews and the replays of all of his music and videos over the past couple of days. They'll continue until there's another major news event.

Jackson was a part of videography from its infancy.

Of most importance for me, though, is what his music means.

He sang with soul; he was a genius at blending Motown (which I grew up with) with rock; some of his songs have social meaning; he provided escapism and joy; he brought dance and music together with such talent; he had a good heart.

But, primarily, for me, whose job has been heavily dependent upon music, he is quite memorable. Along with the launch of his albums "Bad" and Thriller", there was a launch in style. As aerobic instructors, we were gifted some pretty incredible music to teach to. And good music was pretty difficult to find. The beats were important. The message was important. But the motivating, upbeat sound was key.

Music was and still is in many cases critical to the success of a great cardio workout. We had Talking Heads, Devo, Level 42, Aretha Franklin, Eurythmics and Madonna, to name a few.

So, in the midst of all of the media mayhem, I chose, as a personal trainer, to play Michael Jackson's Greatest Hits in the gym today. Clients responded with where they were when some of the songs/albums were released. Some spoke of how he was acquitted of the crimes he was accused of. But it was overwhelmingly positive in remembering him and his music.

All in all, we look back to a career that many of us relate to in some way. We remember the talent, the gifts he had and the childhood he lost.

With his death he can finally rest in peace. It's my hope that we will let him.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rain, rain go away!

Today and for the entire weekend I have the pleasure to pet sitting for my daughter and her partner's puppy, Quimby. I have been looking forward to it ever since they asked us earlier in the week.

Every afternoon at around 3 p.m. my buddy, Otto, and I head to Normandale dog park. So I was anticipating taking not just one but these two little characters to the park this afternoon.

As of 2 p.m. there have been Biblical-like downpours. So I then had to decide: take them and bathe not one but two muddy dogs when I get home or stay home and let them wrestle. I opted for choice #2.

I realize how much that little park is a part of Otto and my life. The dog varieties are astounding and the 3 p.m. "shift" of park goers provides a whole lot of fun.

It has a little subculture of its own. We discuss everything from movies to dog food brands and harnesses from weekend trips to (touching on) politics.

So here I sit this afternoon at my computer, looking at the rain and these rascals playing tug of war with a stuffless animal.

I will bet there are some hardcore visitors at Normandale. But I'm not one of them.

Mind Over Matter

According to Robert Allen, best-selling author, "No thought lives in your head rent-free."

Think about that one.

T. Harv Eker, in an article written for Success magazine (July 2009), explains well Allen's way of thinking.

You pay for your negative thoughts in money, energy, time, health and happiness. It can actually cost more of all of those than one would at first glance realize.

Eker then explains how you can move to a new level in your life rather quickly. He suggests we divide our thoughts into two categories: empowering and disempowering. "Observe them, and determine if they are supporting your happiness and success. Choose to entertain only the empowering thoughts.....I call this process 'power thinking'."

He is convincing when he explains that humans are creatures of habit. We have to practice. He suggests practicing getting out of our comfort to someone you may normally avoid or try something that scares you.

"Living a mediocre life does not lead to happiness. What does lead to happiness is living in our natural state of growth and reaching our full potential."

I couldn't agree more.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Carrot Ginger Saute - great source of Vitamin A!

The sweetness of the organic carrots in this dish contrasts nicely with the warm spiciness of the ginger.

Six servings.

1T. olive oil
1/2 c. sliced onion
2 T. minced fresh ginger
1 lb. peeled carrots, sliced on the bias
1 T. warm water
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. black or white pepper
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat olive oil in skillet over med. heat. Add onion and saute about 2 min., stirring frequently. Add ginger and cook for an additional min. Add carrots and 1 t. water. Cover and continue cooking for 5 to 7 min. until carrots begin to soften.

Lower heat to med. and add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Cook uncovered for 2 to 3 min. or until most of the liquid is gone. Garnish with cilantro just prior to serving.

Per serving: 53 cal. 2 g. fat, 8 gr. carbs, .8 gr. protein, 2 gr. fiber

If you have leftovers, turn into carrot ginger soup be adding several cups of vegetable broth and mixing in a blender before heating. Add cilantro garnish to each bowl.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ultimate Detox Salad

The best way to flush toxins isn't a fast or an herbal cleanse, says nutritionist Natalia Rose, author of "Detox for Women"(William Morrow, 2009).

Instead, eat water-rich food like leafy greens and cabbage to fight yeast overgrowth, restore PH balance, and eliminate impurities.

Remember -- organic is best.

Makes 2 - 4 servings

1/2 c. red cabbage
1/2 c, yellow bell pepper, julienne or chopped
1/2 c. carrots shredded
1/2 c. alfalfa sprouts
1 c. mesclun greens or baby lettuce
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
Stevia to taste
1 t. fresh garlic, diced

Place the greens on a serving plate and arrange the carrots, red cabbage, yellow peppers and sprouts in four circular piles along the top of the plate like a rainbow. Mix lemon juice, stevia and garlic together and drizzle over the top.

This recipe is the courtesy of "Detox for Women" by Natalia Rose. Natural Health magazine, May 2009.

hugs.....go a long way

Upon composing my last blog entry I began to contemplate, "..... dig my grubby little hand deep into the cereal box".

The innocence of childhood. The spirit of excitement with discovery. The passion for each new day. The exuberance with which emotions run. The freedom to say what one pleases. The many lessons that lie ahead. Time moving slowly.

I had the pleasure of visiting with my great niece, Chloe, last weekend. She is the daughter to my firstborn niece who is also my Goddaughter. Her mother, father and big brother, Jack are very special to us. They live close by but we don't see them nearly enough.

No grandchildren for us yet -- just a grandpuppy. So it was a real treat to hold this little two-year-old. Her giggles, her vocabulary and her hugs were delightful.

Sometimes they think you are so funny -- and for no apparent reason. Sometimes they think you look funny -- also for no apparent reason.

She says she likes cottage cheese. She also likes onion tops.

There's really nothing quite like having a child on your lap. They mold into your body with their warm elfish figures. Inevitably (and I guess if you're lucky) they lay their tiny head on your chest.

I got lucky Sat. night.

We'll get to see her for our son's graduation on Sunday. I guess I'll be serving cottage cheese and onion tops.

And maybe I'll get lucky again.

Mmmmm.....there are some simple pleasures life hands you that are cherished.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Wag More, Bark Less"

Portlanders are known for their bumper stickers. You can idle behind a car at virtually any stop light around the city and get a pretty good feel for what the person in front of you believes.

I personally try to limit my bumper stickers. I have to work at limiting them, though. I like to keep my car looking neat and clean. But I am also a fairly opinionated person. So there is always a "push/pull" within.

I guess you could say I am heavily into quotes. They are posted around my house. I like to gather them to recite at the closure my business meetings. I have them posted in the gym. They help me to live one day at a time. Hopefully they inspire the people around me.

They are gentle, daily reminders of what is good in life. They are little inspirations.

That's why I proudly post one of my stickers, "Wag More, Bark Less".

It's one of my favorites. I first got one out of the box of dog treats I once purchased at my local Trader Joes.

When I discovered it in my dog's box of dog treats, it at once took me back to my childhood days.

When I was a kid, I would always do my best to opt for the box of cereal that contained a "prize." You know, like Cracker Jacks. It made the eating all the more exciting. I would dig my grubby, little hand as deep into the box as it could reach to find the treat in my cereal. Upon first indulgence, it was a challenge I was determined to conquer.

Over this past year my favorite bumper sticker has begun to show wear.

Today, upon strolling N. Mississippi St., I discovered, much to my delight, that Salty's pet store sells this sticker in a variety of colors. It made my day!

So today, Sunday, I took the time to remove my old black and white one and replace it
with a fashionable pink and brown.

Take note.....voice the good before the bad, the positive before the negative, the happy before the sad, the compliment before the criticism, the smile before the frown.

It make so much difference to those around you.

If you try, you could see a difference in your life.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Green Garlic and Spinach Frittata

2 T. olive oil
3 stalks organic green garlic
4 c. chopped organic spinach
6 large eggs
1/4 t. kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
1 T. fresh parsley

Heat skillet and saute chopped garlic. Cook for approx. 5 min., until soft and golden.

Add the spinach and cook for 2 min. until wilted.

In a bowl, whisk eggs, salt, pepper and parsley.

Pour egg mixture into skillet on top of the garlic and spinach.

Cover skillet loosely and cook until egg is set - about 8 min.

Place skillet under broiler and continue cooking until egg has completely set and is browned.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly prior to serving.

ENJOY! What a dish -- protein and veggies.

Serves 8. 97 cal.; 7 gr. fat; 3.5 carbs; 5 gr. prot.

"Red Betty"

It's 85 degrees here in Portland. Time to dust off "Red Betty" for the season and get on it for commutes.

Biking is a low impact way to burn calories and to boost your cardiovascular health.

Upon my own transition from running to biking, it was unbelievable how forgiving biking was on my body, from the spine to the ankles.

It's an ideal activity if you have any low-back or knee issues. And you're not pounding the pavement!

It's difficult, as a personal trainer, to lure runners from their sport into another, like cycling. However, once an injury occurs and becomes chronic, it's a bit easier to convince them to "go to the other side."

Prior to doing any exercise, be sure to gently stretch your major muscle groups. This will increase your range of motion. Begin your ride with an easy, warm-up period of 3 - 5 minutes.

Of utmost importance is to be fit properly on your bike. Any qualified bike shop can help you with that.

Portland is known for its bike culture.

But when you ride, remember it is you, the cyclist, that is the vulnerable one. Think like a vehicle, not a pedestrian. Stick to the bike lanes and obey traffic signals. Be visible. Choose bright colors to wear, including a helmet.

Keep your eyes on the road. Be consistent, assertive and predictable.

But above all, enjoy all this great city has to offer -- up close and on your bike!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"What's love got to do with it?"

A few weeks ago I rummaged through stacks of papers and unused items. You know the drill; an attempt at Spring cleaning.

I tried my best to follow the simple rule: If you haven't seen it or used it in two years, then toss it.

But there was one item I discovered after 34 years that will break the rule. It will find its way into my mother's "Hope Chest".

I inherited Mom's chest upon her death five years ago. Over the years Mom and I had combed through it periodically. It has in it yearbooks dating back to 1931, family birth certificates and passports, World War II food rationing stamps, President Kennedy memorabilia and love letters written from my father to my mother when they were mere teenagers.

What I found during my purge was a love letter of another kind.

I have a close friend from childhood who attended my wedding in 1975. Along with a wedding gift she sent quote to us handwritten on a fine piece of flowered rice paper.

It read:

"Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves."

When I stumbled upon it, I must admit that it stopped me in my tracks.

Whether it be in a personal relationship, a friendship, a business relationship or a family relationship, the quote rings true. It's simply a good rule to live by.

As it turns out the quote was a far larger gift than any present could have been. It has endurance.

It will join the other specialty items in the chest today. Perhaps our children will find it years from now and reflect on what the quote actually symbolizes.

To share in the love and the unity of those around you certainly has the merit to bring happiness to one's life.

Happiness brings contentedness and wellness. That's the "domino effect" at its finest.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mole Patrol

Our skin comes under that enormous "umbrella" of health.

Some of us grew up in sunny climates and should take some responsibility for our skin, which daily performs an overtime job for our bodies. Remember that even if you feel that you take meticulous care of your skin now, reflect on how you spent your time in your teens and 20's. That is what counts for us "baby boomers."

What follows is the ABCD system for detecting skin abnormalities from the American Cancer Society.

ASYMMETRY: one side looks different from the other.

BORDERS: irregular, notched, scalloped or otherwise indistinct.

COLOR: more than one shade.

DIAMETER: larger than a pencil eraser.

Early detection is the key to describing skin cancer. Make it a habit to scan for suspicious moles every two or three months. Visit your dermatologist annually.

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables -- like watermelon, berries, cooked tomatoes, and peppers -- contain antioxidants that can protect your skin from sun damage. These heighten your body's natural SPF (sun protection factor).

Avoid white bread, white rice, and processed foods made with refined sugar. Reduce the amount of saturated fats you eat every day.

A Swedish study conducted in 2007 linked high blood sugar levels to malignant melanoma.

In a 1995 landmark study at Baylor School of Medicine in Houston, individuals who had been treated for non-melanoma skin cancer managed to slash their risk of developing new precancerous skin growths by 75 percent simply by lowering their intake of saturated fat from 36 percent of their total calories to 20 percent.

We now have clothing with protective sunscreen available to us.

Lastly, slather on generous amounts of "broad-spectrum" sunscreen before you go out -- even on cloudy days.

We Pacific Northwesterners do enjoy the sun when it does appear. But be smart. With the above guidelines in place, we can still enjoy our lovely outdoors and keep our skin safe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Friendships=Happiness in the "City by the Bay"

Recognize this place?

According to Tony Bennett, many of us leave our hearts here.

In my case, this city holds a special place in my heart. I left many beautiful friends there. Of the group I know, all but two of us remained in the Bay Area. Some were kindergarten classmates. A few of us received our First Holy Communion and our Confirmation together. Many of us went through elementary school and onto Catholic High School "joined at the hip." So, yes, there's a bond.

I made a promise to myself five years ago after burying my mother in San Francisco's (Colma) Holy Cross Cemetery (she joined my Dad who died 9 years prior): I would make an annual Spring sojourn to S.F., not only to place flowers at my parents' grave but to keep a connection with the girls I grew up with.

After three days of updating one another on our lives, families, ambitions and our beliefs, I left feeling rejuvenated by the beauty of the city and with a renewed appreciation for friendships established long ago.

It's a unique city. It's a unique bond.

We all knew one another's parents; played in the neighborhoods of S.F. together; learned our way around the city as kids on public transportation; bumbled our way through the teen years side by side; broke rules and kept secrets; shed tears and laughed until we cried (and, well, okay, we got into trouble together).

Through it all we have come out on the other side of age 50.

I spent time on the return trip to Portland contemplating how and why we have become the adults we are.

One thing I do know for sure. We each had a hand at one point in time in "raising one another."
There's a lot to be said for that.

We agreed we'd set our sights on another "city by the water" next year for our 40th high school reunion.

New York City, here we come!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Springtime - Boosting the Immune System

Okay, you have read it in the newspaper, online and in your magazine.

Partake in physical activity. Hmmm.....seems simple!

Whether it be power walking (use those arms and hips), cycling, strength training, swimming, practicing yoga or Pilates; they all boost your immune system.

With all of the recent weather changes in the Pacific NW, many of us are still falling victim to the recent flus that still abound.


Exercise boosts the immune system. It keeps inflammation in check and encourages problem cells to self-destruct.

A 2006 study from Rutgers University found that mice that ran on a running wheel developed 30 percent fewer tumors -- and smaller, slower growing tumors -- when exposed to UV light than mice without a running wheel in their cage.

Statistics show that the risk of all types of cancer, including skin, is higher in people that are obese.

GET STARTED: Exercise for thirty minutes everyday. Try to maintain a healthy BMI of up to 24.9.

For more info go to

Movement is a good thing. Right? Being stiff and immobile is no fun!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rock-A-Bye, Baby

INSOMNIA by definition is the inability to sleep or to stay asleep for a period of time.

One-third of the population of our society has insomnia.

We share the roads with the sleep-deprived, work with them and live with this population on a daily basis.

So, let's understand some of the condition:

People who get less sleep are prone to obesity. They release more cortisol which, in turn, deposits more fat in the body.

Here are some solutions:
*Start the day with a good breakfast, just like your mother always suggested!

*It is okay to nap if you didn't have a good night's sleep. Research has proven that if you nap for 15 min. you will feel more alert and less sleepy, even if you haven't slept well the previous night.

*WATER: Losing as little as 1/2 cup of body water could turn into low-grade chronic fatigue. Drink eight 10 oz. glasses of water/day. Add four more glasses if you have exercised that day. Empty your bladder prior to retiring for the night.

*Exercise earlier in the day (but, by all means, exercise!).

*Cut caffeine after 2 p.m. Refrain from alcohol within three hours of bedtime. Don't forget that there is caffeine in colas, chocolate, tea and some medications.

*Go outside when it's sunny and turn on the lights in your home in the morning. This will help to set your awake/sleep cycle.

*Play some of your soothing music prior to retiring.