Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday's Child Is Full of Grace

Layla in my arms

The beautiful Layla Amelie entered the world at 4:23am, September 28, 2008. She weighed in at 8 lbs 1.6 oz and was 19 1/2 inches long. Gorgeous little Layla has her mommy's fingers & toes and her daddy's ears. She's looks so much like her mommy and aunts when they were born!

The birth was incredible. Being able to be present was the most wonderful gift I have ever been given in my entire life.

Seeing Layla in her mommy's arms and that unmistakable recognition in her eyes, "This is MY mommy!" The tender look in my daughter's eyes as she cradles her newborn made me melt. Little Layla was so very alert - she *knew* her daddy's voice and was craning her neck around to search him out.

I'm so tired - although not as tired as my daughter who did all the work! - and I need to get some sleep. We're all just in awe right now. Such a miracle, such a wonder, such a blessing from God.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

about that debate

Watching the debate last night, I was in amazement that anyone could find Obama as a suitable candidate for president. I honestly was trying to look at it with as much of a non-partisan eye as possible. Originally, I wasn't fond of either candidate...I wanted Mike Huckabee to get in there! Anyhow, Obama stammered and scrambled his way through the debate whilst McCain held command of every conversation. Obama came off like an ignorant schoolboy.

I'm still amazed that he keeps trying to spin the thing of McCain giving "tax breaks to big corporations" as if it is bad. As McCain explained yet again, it's simple economics. You make it worthwhile for companies to stay here and keep the jobs here; if you don't, they will take those jobs overseas where they get the breaks. Doing that *helps* Americans by keeping jobs home. They do it in localaities all across our country. Just north of me, in the town where my husband works, they have attracted scores of companies and made several huge industrial parks. How? By offering tax breaks!

McCain presented himself as a seasoned and well-versed candidate, one who appeared very presidential. Obama appeared...political. For the most part, he didn't present real information regarding the "how" of any of his plans, just a bunch of pretty talk (when he could manage to get the words out smoothly). He showed no real knowledge or experience in military matters or in foreign relations ("I would 'take out' Pakistan," for instance). He showed no economic understanding. He could not and did not even try to explain his pork-filled "plan." I also felt that Obama was RUDE to keep calling McCain "John" instead of "Senator McCain" as was proper in that situation. He didn't realize his goof until the second half of the debate when he finally corrected his lack of courtesy. I felt that he was trying to appear condescending in the only way he could since he was facing superior knowledge and experience.

I was seriously shocked hearing that commentators at CNN were mocking McCain's speech and mannerisms while their golden boy was going, "Uhh, uhhh, uhhhh, uuhhh" every time his mouth opened. And once he got the words going, he was still stammering over them. It was pathetic.

What I think I enjoyed most was that after McCain spoke Obama kept saying himself that John McCain was RIGHT.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fungus Among Us

Giant  Fungus Ball

I walked with Jenna this morning (I think she's in early labor, she was very crampy feeling). We saw this big fungus ball thing on the side of the road. The picture does not do justice to how big this thing was; it was the size of a slightly deflated volleyball. In other words, HUGE. I'm not sure if it was the puffball sort. I certainly wasn't going to step on it and send spores flying just to find out. There was also a softball sized one nearby.

This morning I tormented still sleepy Erin and Rhianna as they began their school work wrapped in blankets. I'm not putting the heat on until mid-late October unless it snows! And yes, that is an artificial Christmas tree in the background beside the over-stuffed bookshelves. We used it for background for the plays at VBS and then hung a Ringmaster guy that I picked up at Arabica Coffee House on it. It is our "seasonal" tree.

Photobucket Photobucket
Yesterday at the graveyard, Rhianna had Jenna take this picture so she could send it to her boyfriend who is away at college. She's going to homecoming with friends and wanted him to know that the only guys she's in contact with are cold and lifeless to her. :) This particular monument is rather eerie in the twilight. The statue appears to be gliding down the steps. Very ethereal, which I'm sure it was meant to be.

Silly at the Graveyard

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Men and Food

In reading Tosca Reno's new expanded edition of the Eat Clean Diet, I found the new chapter, "Men Can Eat Clean, Too." She feels, through her experiences, that most men don't make as much of a fuss about food as women and generally eat what is placed before them at home and what is "easiest" when out of the home. I think the idea might be that women reading the chapter should feel comfortable changing the household fare to cleaner meals because "Someone prepares the food in question, puts it on a plate and sets in in front of said man. The food is consumed, the meal is over and that is the end of it."

Not at this household. I try to serve healthy meals and Pat is used to it. He may eat the meal, but he'll be sneaking around the kitchen at 10pm frying up some greasy concoction to "make up" for whatever he had to suffer through. Should I dare serve something out of the ordinary, a quinoa casserole perhaps, he will suddenly be "too tired to eat" and will "have some later." Later never comes for the food exotic to his palate, but later does come for a dripping cheeseburger cooked after I am in bed. This has been going on for decades.

Long, long ago when we were first married...Pat would run with me and go to the gym with me. He would also seemingly happily eat the healthy fare that I set before him. Little did I know that he was stopping at his mom's house daily to fill up on the daily fried feasts he was accustomed to before heading home. I later heard from a relative that she thought I was "starving her poor boy."

I just can't agree with the idea that if you serve it they will eat it. If they've been conditioned for years to eat slime and filth, they will crave that slime and filth. They will need to embrace clean eating of their own accord. Either the waist band will have to get too tight or the doctor's report be too frightening before some men will ever adopt a healthier eating lifestyle. Some might even require alien inhabitation of their bodies!

Most of the chapter is very good though - convincing men that they can start eating clean and that their health depends on it. She brings up that it was male body builders who first introduced the concept of clean-eating and avoiding processed foods, at a time when processed foods were becoming marketing favorites. She likens cleaning eating to high octane fuel for a treasured vehicle. Thrown in is the perk that clean eating will improve their sexual health.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Review - Great Lakes Theater Company Macbeth

I had the privilege of seeing the very first performance of this classic in the newly renovated Hanna Theater. Dougfred Miller was superb in the title role of Macbeth. The character at first "to full of the milk of human kindness" (yet able to split the foe from chaps to nave) is transformed before our eyes into the hardened man who believes himself invincible. Miller is amazing as Macbeth evolves from loyal subject to bloodthirsty scourge. Laura Pernotta plays Lady Macbeth as a seductress, tempting and cajoling her husband into forcing the witches predictions into being. This is the first time I've seen Lady Macbeth played this way, usually she is done as a shrew who shames her husband into slaying Duncan.

The witches were used more fully than in any production I have seen. The costuming was fabulous, giving them a look that was part bat (or bird), part mime. The results was eerie. Combined with the war-like beating drums and gongs, it was truly unearthly.

The casting of Banquo and Macduff were also right on. These men (Lynn Robert Berg and David Anthony Smith, respectively) gave commanding performances - and were spectacular in the sword-fighting scenes.

Scenic designer Gage Williams is SUBLIME. This guy is incredible. I want his job! I would love, love, love to apprentice with someone like this. It would be a dream job. The beautiful metaphor of red ribbon for blood added color and an intensity to the drama.

Particularly great scene: When Banquo's ghost shows up at the banquet, driving Macbeth nutty.

Kudos: To the porter - he does a great job providing the comic relief. :) Who did his hair? lol

Only glitches: There were a couple of scenes that we just didn't see. The witches talking about the sailor whose boat they hit with a tempest because his wife refused one chestnuts. Not sure if they did away with that one entirely or just ditched it for this matinee performance. Also, the part of Malcom - while the actor did a very good job (Phil Carroll), he seemed to young and "pretty" for the part. It didn't surprise me to learn that he plays the part of Rapunzel's prince in "Into the Woods."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Ten 9.23.08

1. We're going to see Macbeth today!

2. I need to write a review of the Eat Clean Diet Expanded Edition. It has some great additions and a chapter on men that cracked me up. (I don't think it was supposed to). One thing about it that was great: new gluten-free meal planning and shopping lists.

3. The latest issue of Allure magazine is full of little samples.

4. Every month they follow three women who are supposedly getting a total makeover...mostly losing weight and making over their exercise/eating habits. Every year the first couple of months are okay and the rest of the year they stop losing weight and get lazy. Usually there are no amazing successes. It is happening again. I think they need to hire better trainers and work more on motivating these women to CHANGE.

5. You always hear about gradual changes and baby-steps for getting fit. Most of the time I don't buy it. Sometimes it is absolutely necessary to do a complete 180, realize that what you're currently doing *does not work for health, self-esteem, beauty* and CHANGE. They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit - and that 21 days can be brutal, especially if you're going to revamp your life. I would far rather see someone take a plunge, start getting radical changes that will really inspire them to succeed, then take baby steps that often never turn into running leaps...and seem to generally lead to failure.

6. That's how they succeed on the Biggest Loser. Radical change. I can't tell you how many kids I've seen go off to join the Armed Forces and also experience radical change - change that lasts and lasts.

7. I loved this quote about the damage done by tanning and tanning beds from Jean Krutmann, director of the Institute for Environmental Health Research at Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf, Germany. He pointed out that while people go to tanning salons with the intent to look better, "What you end up with is more wrinkles. So you don't increase but decrease your own beauty by doing that."

8. And that is seriously true. Recently I've seen girls as young as 20 with wrinkles and leathery skin. I've said it before...being tan does not make you look just makes you look darker. It does not make you look thinner...just the same size tan. What it *does* do is make your skin look dry, damaged and highlight every fine line and wrinkle. Add smoking to that and you have DISASTER.

9. Back to something I mentioned weeks ago, Clairol's Perfect Ten hair color. Allure magazine reviewed it again and gave it a nod as one of the best new innovations. No crazy minerals or anything. Hair chemists are excited about this one because it is a dye with a lower Ph which leaves the protective lipid layer of the hair intact and allows the product not to smell awful like regular hair dyes. Hydrogen peroxide is combined with ammonium carbonate that creates a molecule that changes the hair pigment while leaving keratin intact. Glycine, a natural amino acid that functions as an antioxidant was also added - this challenges free radicals created in the dyeing process which can damage hair, adding further protection. I've been using this stuff for a few months now and must say that my hair is MUCH healthier and much softer. It takes only 10 minutes but for resistant greys Clairol suggests 15 minutes. Sure beats 25 - 40 minutes, smelly dye and major damage!

10. Back to...we're going to see Macbeth! I need to finish getting ready.

When our actions do not,
Our fears do make us traitors.
  • Lady Macduff

Monday, September 22, 2008

a different sort of cattiness

Virginia September 21, 2008The evil Virginia isn't quite so evil any more. Since Camille moved out, she's been ecstatically happy and it shows. While she spends most the day napping leisurely in the best spots, she does have another favorite activity.

Virginia perches on this part of the kitchen counter every evening when it becomes dark outside. She then waits eagerly for cars to drive past, I think on the next street over. A reflection of that light causes window-pane shaped light to dance across the wall near the counter. She likes to attack it. I should say she *lives* to attack it. I used to have a calendar hanging on the wall and when she would stare at it during the day, we thought she was obsessed with the animal pictured thereon. However, when the month changed and new wildlife was up for viewing, Virginia still stared at it just as intently. There is no longer a calendar hanging in that spot. She ripped it down while attacking the light.

In the morning, after a long night of waiting and light-chasing. she is in the mood for affection. When Virginia wants attention, she is not to be denied. Try to move past her and she will swat...and her claws will be out. Last week she wanted Moogie to accept some attention from her and when he backed away from her loving rub and tail-swish, she turned and went after him, swatting and hissing the whole way, thoroughly enjoying it as he ran from the room.

She's gotten obnoxious in the morning. She wants to see every part of my breakfast making. I've been trying to get out of my protein shake every day rut and get up a little early to make egg white omelets, etc. Virginia won't stay out of my way. No matter how many times I remove her from the counter, she's right back trying to look into my dish or cup, taste my coffee (she loves coffee), find out what is in the cabinet I am opening and if she can sneak in.

Camille was the math cat. Whenever we started to work on math, Camille would come from out of no where to lounge across the math books and beg to be pet...with pencils. Preferably mechanical pencils. She didn't really like to be pet unless it was with a writing implement. Not sure why, she was a weird cat (and a bad, stinky cat). Virginia has now taken to coming and sprawling across schoolwork as well - but only for a little while. After a long night of waiting for lights to chase, she is tried and heads off to find a nice, cozy nook to sleep in.

While it does seem like she is becoming a nicer cat, she drew blood from Pat yesterday. She was perched on the banister in the hallway upstairs yesterday afternoon and decided she wanted attention. He pet her for a bit, but then wanted to go take a nap. She got ticked at him for attempting to leave and as he moved past, she reached out and sliced into his hand. When she does things like that we always call Moogie to discipline her. He *loves* that job. He chases her off somewhere to think over the wisdom in whacking humans.

I don't even like cats, but I find myself doing what she wants. I carry her around the kitchen in the morning and we look out the window together for birds. She leans back and kisses my face, all the while purring like an engine.


Rhianna is exhausted and run down from the youth retreat she attended this weekend. She ended up calling her coach and cancelling her lesson today. We have to make it up tomorrow. She's got a lot of sleep to catch up on. I was glad not to have to go out and sit at the rink for two hours. I have some stuff to do around the house and then I need to run a couple of errands.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Learning How To Bend - Gary Allan

Sometimes it's good to be stubborn, sometimes it's not. Sometimes sticking by your guns truly matters and other times it just doesn't make a huge difference in the big scheme of things.

I've been annoyed by something lately; it has to do with illogical decisions, decision that are in many ways inconsiderate of others. Yet these decisions were made in good faith, by someone wanting to "do something great" and make a difference. I've been frustrating by some of it (costly gas expenses, time crunching, etc) because I'm one of those getting effected by the inconsideration.

I hate being The One to Complain, the spokesperson for other people who are annoyed but won't do the complaining themselves. Yeah, it is great when everyone is happy and the situation gets rectified...but not when you're the "one" who is always speaking up. I'm going to stand back and see if someone else opens their mouth or that the folks involved just come to their senses on their own.

So I've decided I'm just going to bend for a while. Work on being flexible and dealing with what I'm dealing with...provided it doesn't get to the point where my bending becomes snapping.

On another bending note, I've been lazy about doing my long P90X yoga. I've been doing lots of 10 to 20 minute spurts of yoga, even a 36 minute workout -- but avoiding this long 1 hr and 25 min. yoga that my body needs so very badly.

I forced myself to do it today and am very grateful for it. My body bent and stretched, balanced and reached. I discovered that because of only doing the bare minimum lately, some of my balance postures were fairly rough. I could not stay in Crane for very long and Warrior 3 was uncharacteristically shaky. Side arm balance was tougher, especially on my wrists. I was able to do Wheel but I felt it - I normally make myself do that once a week no matter what, just to make sure that I can. (I know an 83 year old woman who did cartwheels every week until only a couple of years ago, just to make sure she still could).


Looking forward to the week ahead. These are some things on my calendar:

Nights in Rodanthe
Corn Maze & my friend's band performing
And you never know, maybe little Layla will finally be born!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

catty saturday

Had a great workout this morning and I also took the dogs for a walk in the graveyard while Erin rode her bike. Filled up on Dunkin Donuts Decaf Iced Coffee and checked Skwigg's latest blog. A fair warning: hormonal cattiness has arrived. It'll blow over and I'll be a nice girl again in a few days. :)

Before I even talk about the interesting blog... I have to say, "HA HA HA" to the folks at CERN. I can't help but enjoy that their proton smashing extravaganza will be delayed at least two months. Yes, that's right... headlines say that "The Big Bang Machine Damage Forces 2-Month Halt." According to the article:
"It's too early to say precisely what happened, but it seems to be a faulty electrical connection between two magnets that stopped superconducting, melted and led to a mechanical failure and let the helium out," Gillies told The Associated Press. I have no faith in their "project" since they can't even protect their computer system from being hacked or apparently understand the mechanics of their own machinery. I find it amusing that they made such of big deal of trying to embarrass the physicists who think their project is potentially dangerous while stupidly causing their own delays and hold-ups. If they aren't dotting all the "i's" and crossing all the "t's" now, we're really going to trust them with exploring anti-matter? Yeah, right.

Okay, now onto the above mentioned blog. Apparently Oprah had Gwyneth Paltrow on her show and Gwyneth's crazy trainer said that women should never use weights over 3-lbs. There was a caption, "How Gwyneth Got That Body!" below the video. Clearly, that would *not* be advice I would want to follow. Her posture is *terrible*. Her boobs sag (she never wears a bra and could obviously use a few good back & pec moves). I did a little check...she wasn't on Maxim's Hot 100. I don't think scrawny chicks make that list. I don't think I've ever, EVER heard any woman say, "Oh, I wish I had a body like Gwyneth Paltrow's!" Madonna, Rihanna, Jessica Biel, Halle Berry, Jennifer Garner, those I've heard. Paltrow? Never.

My amusement does not end there, I discovered that she is going to be releasing a fitness DVD. Now if Jessica Biel was going to release a fitness DVD, *that* would make sense!

The trainer for Paltrow is also Madonna's trainer, Tracy Anderson. The idea seems to be to become emaciated...very, very skinny...and then you don't have to use much more than 3 lb weights to show what looks like "muscle." So skinny that the lines in the collar bone show through (that grosses me out). That's not "fit" to me...that's just starvation scrawny. That's not functional haul your own 50 lb bags of dog food fit.

Oh and BTW, those 3 lb weights she recommends? She makes Madonna do 100 reps of most exercises with them. Why waste your time when you could use a heavier weight, get better results, and not spend your life counting away? I get bored too easily to stand there and curl my biceps 100X a piece with a rinky dink little weight.

Okay, like I said, there is hormonal cattiness afoot today.
My workout report is at:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday: the good and the bad

from the bottom of my gym bag
I found this in the bottom of my gym bag yesterday morning. It is a radish. I have no idea how it got in there, but I reached in to get my weight gloves from the bottom of the bag and felt an odd rolly-polly-ness. I thought, "Hmmmm, did the kids drop a bouncy ball?" However, the little nub on the end ruled out bouncy ball. Out I pulled it and found it to be a rather soft, overly ripe radish.

The Bad and the Good of the past couple of days:

Bad - the water heater went on Wednesday and it cost $500 for a new one (plus fittings and such).

Good - Pat is Mr. Fix-it and he was able to take out the old water heater and install the new one. Praise God that he still has plenty of vacation time and was able to take the day off. We had hot water by 8pm that night - even though he ran around all over the place comparing prices, etc. The cost for installation from the vendor: starting at $389.

Bad - Erin pulled a muscle in her neck & shoulder region badly this morning. We don't even know how exactly it happened. She is a tough one - she hates going to the doctor so she'll downplay pain to avoid it. It hurt badly enough that she wanted to go right away.

Good - I had called the doctor's office to issue the order for her thyroid panel to be done and was supposed to go up there anyway to pick it up.

Bad - Her regular doctor wasn't in that office today.

Good - His partner was and it turned out that she likes him better. AND he was very pro-active feeling about her thyroid. The other doctor hadn't gotten around to writing the order. This one read the ultrasound report, her old test, checked her over, and said if it was him he would have her on treatment now. He wrote the order for the blood work; I'll be taking her to have it drawn on Monday morning.

Bad - There was an outdoor event that I was supposed to attend and give the devotional at tonight - after it is dark out. I'm feeling frazzled and fried, not feeling like I could do a good job.

Good - Finding more good in it, Erin's injury makes it impossible for me to attend. I have no choice but to stay at home and REST. Poor Erin has some medicine to take at night that is going to knock her out, but she has been in enough pain that she wouldn't be able to sleep like this. Therefore, I sent my planned devotional over to the hosts.

Bad - The weather has made my curly hair even more uncontrollable.

Good - A couple of bad hair days in a row may be just what I needed to push me into trying some new strategies for managing my wild mane. The Curly Girl Method for Curly Hair. Shockingly, it involves not shampooing your hair. (Yeah, I have a hard time getting over that, after all I've been a shampoo-rinse-repeat girl my whole life). Instead if you "shampoo" you are supposed to do it with the conditioner.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Persuade me, please don't pressure me

"Naggers always know what they are doing. They weigh up the risks, then they go on and on and on until they get what they want or until they get punched." Jools Holland

persuade - to prevail on (a person) to do something, as by advising or urging; to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince

coerce - to compel by force, intimidation, or authority, esp. without regard for individual desire or volition; to bring about through the use of force or other forms of compulsion; to dominate or control, esp. by exploiting fear, anxiety, etc.

pressure - to force (someone) toward a particular end; influence

nag - to annoy by persistent faultfinding, complaints, or demands

There is always someone out there who wants you to do something you don't want to do or simply wants you to let them have their way. I would far rather be persuaded to take up a cause, an activity, an obligation than I would to be coerced or nagged into it.

Where do some people learn to nag and whine to get their way? How is it that their parents let them get away with it? It doesn't fly around here. My children learned early on that "No" means "no." If you ask for something and are told you can't have it, you are also generally told why the answer was "no." Whining doesn't change the outcome, the reason behind the negative
response is still there. If you are to begin to beg or fuss to get your way, you will soon see disciplinary action.

My youngest daughter has a friend who was not taught this. She is 12 years old and behaves like a toddler when it comes to fussing in order to get her way. She quickly discovered that it does not work with me. Because of that I can tolerate her - many others can't. She is finding out that my own 12 year old is not responsive to nagging either. The other day, Erin was at her house and "S" wanted her to stay another 30 minutes. Erin said she could not. "S" began to plead, she began to cry, she brought the phone to Erin and pushed it towards her. Erin would not budge - she is determined to teach this girl that she won't be bullied into anything or frustrated into anything. I was proud of her because it is very, very hard to resist a peer.

I know this. Here I am, 44 years old and I have a friend who attempts to pressure me into things I don't want to do or don't have time for. She doesn't "hear" when I say "no." She doesn't hear the reasons that I give...she just keeps going. I've gotten to wear if I say "no" and she doesn't pull back, I go into a litany of stresses that I'm dealing with. I figure that I'll suffocate her with my overwhelming response to her trying to place another straw on this camel's back. It's been moderately effective. She may soon get tired of hearing a deluge of tragedy every time to she tries to get past one of my "no" answers. She attempted to get my husband to do something last week and he was firm in his answer. He even told her, "Nagging won't work with me."

She replied, "It always works with X." (Her husband). He looked her in the eye and said, "I'm not X."

I know that my attempts to nag my husband to care about his health have failed miserably. I've worked various ways to pressure him and to coerce him into eating a clean diet and working on his physical fitness. Failures every time. I'm working on the persuasion angle. After all, as the old saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." That horse has to be thirsty. You simply cannot make someone else thirsty.

Not that I haven't tried my darndest. I think we all do occasionally. We want something so badly that we try all sorts of tactics to get it. Perhaps we will attempt some friendly persuasion, but if that is unsuccessful we may try to negotiate agreement. Often we just head down the nagging trail...and then sometimes into full fledged coercion. "Do this, or else."

Persuasion *is* an art form - but not everyone appreciates the same art. You cannot convince or convict everyone, regardless of whether your aim as simple as getting that person to accept a small task or as difficult as getting them to see your political point of view.

Hopefully as we mature we get better and better at restraining our inner two year old. I'm hoping that as I'm getting older and more grown up (and we just keep growing up, don't we?) that I'm getting better at the art of persuasion and less apt to fall into the trap of contentious nagging. I also hope that I have the grace to accept "no" for an answer even when I don't like it.

Today's workout is posted:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Summertime (6.02.07)

Do what we can, summer will have its flies. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lazy, hazy days of summer? Who is kidding who? Looking at my calendar for June, there will be no laziness and that is certain.

Although summer doesn't officially astronomically start until June 21st, convention says that summer begins Memorial Day weekend. And even though it doesn' t end on the calendar until late September, Labor Day weekend is when we say our farewells and start unpacking sweaters and pencils.

In my location, two days of the year will actually be the longest - June 21st and 22nd will both see the sunrise at 5:54am and set at 9:02pm. I wonder how much I can pack in to those days.

I remember when I was a kid growing up in New Jersey. My father was a school teacher - and also director of the summer school. Back then, summer school wasn't remedial, consisting of classes for the students who couldn't pass during the regular school term. No, summer school was fun; it was enrichment activities. Because he was the director, his children were required to go. Thankfully, it was just in the mornings - still, you did so very much want to sleep late. Any way, the first six weeks of every summer morning of my elementary and middle school years was filled with gymnastics, cooking and sewing classes, art, poetry readings, even typing.

The afternoons - now that was the when the real fun began. Until it was closed, we spent most afternoons at a lake along the Rockaway River called Oak Ridge Lake. If my father didn't bring us, my oldest sister, CeCe did. We swam for hours, caught tadpoles, and made friends. When that lake closed down due to the building of a development which polluted its waters, we began going to Morski Oko, which was walking distance from my house.

Every summer we purchased a membership pass - as did my best friend's family. Many mornings we would be there and we'd be the only ones swimming. There were two diving boards, a high dive and a low dive. My brother, my friend, Michele, and I would pretend to be Olympic divers. My father sat in a lawn chair, laden with books (he was forever going after new degrees - Masters in mathematics & English, Bachelor's in Accounting & Philosopy, Associates in accounting, and probaby something I'm forgetting). "Watch this, Dad!" and he'd pretend to look up for a minute.

We rarely went to the lake on weekends. Weekends were when all the Polish immigrants from around Jersey City drove the 40 - 50 miles out to the lake. Vodka was flowing freely as early as 10am. Many of the immigrants did not speak English, so the signs in the snack bar were in both languages. I can't imagine many other beachside snack bars that sold pierogis, but they did. In the early 80s, political activists came with tables of information promoting Solidarity in the home country. Not too many other kids knew who Lech Walesa was, but we did. That was a name we heard often, playing in the sand and swimming at Morski Oko. We even found that it was named after Morskie Oko, a beautiful lake in Poland.

Morski Oko was about a mile or two from my house. If one could cut across the golf course without getting caught, I think it was closer. As it was, it was a walk down Schoolhouse Rd, a turn, a walk past a horse farm, past two beautiful ponds, around a bend where wild roses grew thick and their heady smell filled the air, through a wooded area, over a bridge and then... the entrance. The road was a rough, bumpy dirt and rock road. Very narrow, it would up a steep hill, higher and higher. You always hoped that no cars were coming down when you were driving up - and walking, you worried more because it kicked all the dust into your eyes. The sides of the road were no use for escape because one side was like a wall of dirt, rock, trees and shrubs, and the other side was a precipitous drop. When you rounded the last steep bend, the lake lay before you, almost a perfect circle. The road continued all the way around the lake, but the beach was to the left. Picnic tables were scattered throughout the woods which surrounded the lake, picnic shelters were located on the far side - near a set of bathrooms.

If you went on the weekend, you also got to see a lot of them swimming in their underwear. Back at that time Maidenform had an advertising campaign running in Glamour, Mademoisselle, and Cosmopolitan that showed a woman in their undergarments, posing in an unexpected place, with the caption, "The Maidenform Woman, you never know where she'll turn up." Well, we used to joke "The Playtex 18 hour woman, we know EXACTLY where she'll show up!" We're not talking women in Victoria's Secret type bras and panties - this was heavy duty, over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder territory and thick girdles. As for the men, well, we saw more Speedos than I care to recall! Speedos are flattering on very, very few people. :(

When I was a teenager, my friend, Michele, became a lifeguard at the beach. This meant that Dad didn't bother coming anymore and we could walk to the lake. Polish boys from the cities would come and try to flirt with all of us local girls and try to get us to join the Miss Morski Oko pageant, and walk the dock in our bikinis. It didn't happen, but...we did meet some very cute guys.

So it's summertime and I'm all grown up --- and my calendar is packed! When is there going to be time for lazing around? Every single weekend in June there are birthday parties, graduation parties, and bridal or baby showers. During the week, there are vacation Bible school meetings, skating camp, doctor and dentist appointments. Oh and always, bills to pay. Thanks to the Lord for our pool, because the way the price of gas has gone up, I don't foresee any long trips anywhere - nor do I see any do-able weekends any time soon.

Yesterday, while out buying a shower gift, we had to go through one of the most dreadful summertime rituals -- I had to take the girls out to get new swimsuits. No one likes shopping for swimsuits - no matter how buff you might be, there is always a problem. Fitting room mirrors are not kind - and there is that age when their bodies are awkward, gearing up for growth spurts and it's usually a source of tears and frustration. I can happily say that we all left with great swimsuits with little or no angst this time! Better yet, I can say that we all ended up with wonderful stuff from the clearance rack and saved a fortune. (I also got three cute shirts and a belt on clearance, hurray!)

This is good because my pool was open on Memorial Day and there have been kids in it every day since. The girls and I just returned from a bridal shower - they were swimming before we left and they're swimming again.

Robert Herrick wrote this poem in the 1600s to remind young women that their beauty wouldn't last forever - but it reminds me that some how, there has to be time to ENJOY life, to use the summer wisely - but not miss out on the opportunity to have some lazy, hazy, crazy days.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

Stevia Wonder (8.14.07)

Stevia rebaudiana bertoni, also known simply as "stevia" and as "sweetleaf" whose extracts have up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar. It is slowly becoming a popular sugar alternative in the US (it already is widely used in Japan), although the FDA has not approved it as such - here it can only be sold as a "nutritional supplement." It is also banned for use as a "food" in Singapore and Hong Kong.

The Coca Cola Company is hoping to change that. Coca Cola Company working jointly with Cargill is developing a sweetner called Rebiana with the intention of gaining FDA approval in the US and marketing it in our country and throughout the European Union. What grassroots groups have been trying to do for year (legalize stevia as a sweetner), these two companies probably have the political muscle to get the job done.

For centuries, the herb as been used in Paraguay and Brazil by the Guarani tribes as a sweetner in their yerba mate and for medicinal purposes. As for the latter, promising studies have been done showing the usefulness of stevia in treating obesity and high blood pressure, as well as enhancing glucose tolerance.

In Japan, stevia has been widely used since the 70s and can be found in Coca Cola and other soft drinks purchased in that country, as well as packaged for table use.

Once upon a time, a 1985 study indicated that a mutagen causing liver damage could occure from the breakdown of two of the sweet steviol glycosides BUT that study was criticzed for mishandling of data in such away that even distilled water could appear as mutagenic. Newer studies have shown no saftey issues. Recent data compiled by the World Health Organization suggested that policies to ban stevia as a food were obsolete.

I personally think the biggest hurdle that stevia has had towards acceptance in the US is that it is NATURALLY occurring. Therefore, no patent is required to produce it and no one saw the potential for their pockets to be handsomely lined. Enter, Cargill, a multinational corporation whose business activities include purchasing, processing, and distributing grain and other agricultural commodities, and the manufacture and sale of livestock feed and ingredients for processed foods and pharmaceuticals. With more and more people worried about the effects of aspartame and unsure of Splenda, the sweet smell of monetary incentive must've opened their eyes to limitless possibilities. After all if you can label something "natural" there is a huge demographic that you will be reaching.

Currently, stevia is cultivated and used for food in South America, much of east Asia (including China, Tawain, Malaysia, Korea and Thailand), and Israel. In Ontario, Canada it has been grown on an experimental basis to test its feasibility as a large scale commercial crop.

An interesting tidbit of information: Purdue University's Dental Science Research Group has concluded that Stevioside is both fluo-ride compatible and "significantly" inhibits the development of plaque, thus Stevia may actually help to prevent cavities.

Another tidbit: Stevia doesn't work too well in meringues because it does not carmelize as sugar does.

As for me, I use stevia in small amounts. I'm trying to avoid Splenda as much as possible. I already avoid Aspartame like the plague. I *have* to have Sweet n' Low in my decaf coffee...nothing else tastes right. Putting stevia in there is utterly horrible. For some reason, mixed with coffee, it takes on a licorice-like flavor. ICK. Bleech. Yuk. It seems to be fine in iced tea and is also great in my protein shakes. I'm currently buying a whey protein powder that is sweetened with stevia. I've also had a protein bars by Bio-Chem that use stevia and found them to be very good.

I'd be concerned to use anything in large amounts... I'm sure the original users of stevia were not such sweet-toothed pigs as consumers are today. Guzzling down massive quantities of the stuff in soft drinks may be telling as far as safety is concerned.

Reverse Aging (5.25.07)

John Bingham, aka the Penguin says, ""Age is no longer an excuse for inactivity, and inactivity is no longer the reward for getting old."

We all know that exercise makes you look better, some of us will admit that it makes us feel a heck of a lot better, but studies are pouring in proving that resistance training actually REVERSES the aging process in muscle tissue.

A report released online on May 23rd from McMaster University in Ontario detailed a study that involved the before and after analysis of gene expression profiles in tissue samples taken from 25 healthy older men and women. "The gene expression profiles involved age-specific mitochondrial function; mitochondria act as the "powerhouse" of cells. Multiple studies have suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction is involved in the loss of muscle mass and functional impairment commonly seen in older people. The study was the first to examine the gene expression profile, or the molecular "fingerprint", of aging in healthy disease-free humans."

As we age, our mitochondria start to malfunction - this causes, Sarcopenia - the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle and strength seen in the elderly. As Jon Benson puts it, "Sarcopenia is just the wasting away of muscle
due to age and under-use." It is linked to poor gait, poor balance, falls and fractures. Add osteoporosis to that and you have certain frailty of old age.

Think: Resistance training strengthens the bones.
Resistance training strengthens the muscle.

There is a decline in mitochondrial function as we age. Mitochondria are our "cellular power plants," they generate most of the cell's supply of ATP which is used as a source of chemical energy.

The study showed this decline present in the subjects. However, exercise resulted in a "remarkable reversal of the genetic fingerprint back to levels similar to those seen in the younger adults. The study also measured muscle strength. Before exercise training, the older adults were 59% weaker than the younger adults, but after the training the strength of the older adults improved by about 50%, such that they were only 38% weaker than the young adults."

With age and no resistance training, researchers found 596 genes expressing themselves with "aging", or decreased mitochondrial function.

But when subjects engaged in resistance training, in this case simple weight training, look what happened --

-- Their strength increased by over 20%;
-- And their genes literally "reverted back" to the
same markers as "younger" genes after only
six months of exercise

We don't *have* to be old and frail, faltering in our steps, too weak to carry our own loads. We chose to become that way by being too lazy to take care of our bodies. You only get one body - why not take care of it in the best way possible so that it is useful for a long, long time? Why maintain it the way you would maintain your most prized possessions?

(Chances are, if you take care of your skin the way you should, your body will not only function like it is younger, you'll look like you're younger. This is where my anti-tanning speech comes out: Tanning does not make one look younger. It does not make one look thinner. It dries your skin. It ages your skin. There is no such thing as "safe" tanning. When you feel the urge to bake yourself in the sun or in a tanning bed, think of how stupid George Hamilton looks. Think of the last over-tanned, hard-looking 50 something you saw that was wrinkled before her time. Don't do it - and don't smoke either!)

Rant on Aging

Why is it that so many people think it is okay/necessary/important to take care of their motor vehicle, but not so their own bodies? They change the oil, rotate the tires, take it to the car wash, have it tuned up regularly, etc and so keep it running as well as it can for as long as it can. How is it that some of the same people can not see their bodies as their most important vehicle, a vehicle that also requires maintenance and special care?

You would not pour sugar in your gas tank because your car needs gasoline. The human body isn't as specific and can take a variety of fuels, but they must be balanced. If you fill your body with junk, its performance will diminish.

When a vehicle sits unused for a period of time, bad things happen. Parts rust. Gaskets crack. Gunk builds up in places you don't want gunk to build up. The same thing happens with the human body. You may be able to trade your vehicle in for a new one, but you only get ONE body.

All you have to do is go to a car show to see that old vehicles can still be beautiful and well running. They may not have the latest gadgets and technology, but they can be reliable and enjoyable just the same.

People make a choice to take care of their vehicle ... or not. Whether they drive a rust bucket or a clean ride depends on the time they are willing to put in for the required care and maintenance.

In his book, "Chasing Life" CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta makes an important case for taking care of our bodies to not only live longer, but to live better. The same goes with "You: Staying Young, The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty" by Michael Rozien and Mehmet Oz. Both books examine what works. I like what a review of You: Staying Young says, "You--as mayor, resident and street cleaner -- have the power to balance your biological budget to ensure a life that's both healthy and strong. Thankfully, just as cities can invest in renewal and improving their repair processes, so can you."

So basically, what I'm saying - and prepare to be ticked off at me - is that anyone could look good and feel good at 50 and beyond IF they are willing to put out some effort. I really have a bad attitude about people who want everything to be easy or they don't want to do it. Cory Everson (like her or not) does not have to be an exception to the rule. Plenty of people do it without money, without plastic surgery. I see them at 5K races all the time, I see them at the gym. You don't even need a gym membership - show just how fit one can be with just using your own body for exercise.

Alright, so to play devil's advocate...what if your car has something wrong with it, like the Dodge Grand Caravan I used to have? The serpentine belt went on that stupid thing every 12 - 18 months. The only vehicle I ever had that had a serpentine belt problem. Well, if you know that your car is prone to something like that you prepare in advance. You know of the problem and you make the proper adjustments (in this case, to the budget - being prepared to have it replaced). So if we are talking about your personal human body and you know you are pre-disposed to certain ailments --- you can prepare accordingly, you can make the proper concessions...and you can still attain fitness and your best health. Just look at America's Athletes with Disabilities for inspiration.

If your life is busy with things you like to do - reading, crossword puzzles, etc.... be aware that physical exercise IMPROVES brain function and has been shown to protect your brain from cognitive decline associated with aging. If you like to do these things and want to enjoy them when you are elderly, then perhaps you had better consider physical exercise NOW. Exercise causes the release of growth factors, proteins that increase the number of connections between neurons, and the birth of neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region important for memory.

Why do some so easily try to separate the brain from the rest of the body? It's all one unit - and the poor health of any part can effect the whole. If you enjoy brain-oriented activities, then you had better take care of your muscles and cardiovascular system if you want it to keep functioning properly. If your car's carburetor is clogged, the radio may work...but without the whole car running to charge that alternator, you are going to run the battery out and there goes listening to the radio!

I wrote a blog on stability, on those little proprioceptor cells that are stimulated when we perform activities requiring balance. I'm not going into the whole thing, just follow the tag that says "stability." I'm pretty sure it was imported over here, if not...then it is lost forever and I'll have to think up all of that stuff again.

I've hardly mentioned the whole vanity aspect of looking good as one ages, but I might as well now. According to Cynthia Dermody surveys were done regarding weight loss and sex. 80% of women said they felt sexiest when they weighed less. In obese women, the number jumped to 95%. Women weren't alone in their insecurities - 70% of men felt that being thinner would lead to better sex. 42% said they would only go shirtless in front of their partner. When asked to rate themselves as "yuck, " "ok" or "hot" only 14% of women and 20% of men chose "hot." 25% of women and 13% of men chose "yuck." Low self-esteem can lead to or be a part of depression. Depression hurts - not just the depressed, but those around them.

Feeling good about yourself is nothing to be ashamed of because there are obvious perks - like better sex. And sex is a good deal - meaningful sex induces the release of the hormone oxytocin which is involved in social recognition and bonding - it makes us feel happy and loved. Sex also can lower blood pressure and it tells your stomach not to send signals to the brain to eat. So lots of good, healthy sex can lead to weight loss. Sex is wonderful and certainly doesn't have to die off with age. We're human beings - we're wired to like looking good for the opposite sex. Nothing wrong with that - at any age!

Confidence is another plus that comes with feeling good about yourself. Confidence happens to be a powerful aphrodisiac.

35% of men surveyed wished they had a body like Brad Pitt's. Well, I'm not into the idea of looking like other people - I think being happy with who you are is important. The whole Hollywood ideal of what is good looking or what isn't is very lopsided as far as I'm concerned. There's more to be said for an intelligent face, a face that reveals the personality behind it. Brad Pitt is nothing ... Tom Hanks totally rips him as far as sexy is concerned.

I think of women I know and everyone of them has those days where they get dressed and can "find nothing to wear." Days where they look in the mirror and call themselves a cow or complain about the roll around their waist, that their buttocks has dropped midway down their thigh, etc. That stuff sucks - and the way women talk to themselves sucks. In order to avoid berating oneself like that, doesn't it make sense to do something about it? Healthy self-esteem assesses the problems realistically, accepts them and decides on a course of action (either stay that way and stop beating yourself up OR make the effort to change).

That, ladies and gentlemen, is my rant for the day. I still think Cory Everson looks AMAZING. I'm also pretty darned impressed with Chuck Norris. AND Jack Lalanne will forever be inspiring to me. :)

Not Soy Good (12.12.07)

Soy has been promoted so much in recent years as a wonder food, wonder supplement and all around health good guy. I say...hold your horses! I think part of it was a marketing scheme to help the agricultural community out -- as the studies come in, soy is turning out to be a bit on the dangerous side.

First some personal experience. I had some blood work done...thyroid stimulating hormone My test came back a nasty 3.65 (It should be .3 to 2.0, preferrably for me under 1.0). For some reason I was drinking a bunch of soy protein that I'd gotten on sale and tried some soy yogurt. I had another blood test 3 weeks into my soy binge. My TSH had risen to 4.85. I pulled out all the soy and started on thyroid hormone...and it went down accordingly. Soy is a goitregen. It blocks your thyroid from using iodine to create necessary thyroid hormones. Anyone with a thyroid problem should stay far, far away from soy. It can even be a problem with people with healthy thyroids, so if you're having a hard time losing weight in spite of watching your diet and exercising, ditch the soy and see if that helps.

Supposedly soy is good for the heart, there is some report that consuming soy instead of other proteins adds in lowering consumption of heart-damaging saturated and trans fats, just by replacement. HOWEVER< there is absolutely NOT a shred of scientific basis to believe that the phytoestrogens in soy are heart protective.

In some studies, dietary soy has been shown to INCREASE the risk of breast cancer. The phytoestrogens in soy appear to promote cell growth and division, which is not so good when you're talking about cancerous cells.

It takes LARGE amounts of soy to lower LDL cholesterol. It also takes large amounts to have an effect on slowing bone loss. The amount of soy necessary means a great bombardment of the body with phytoestrogens and the goitregenic effects. Not a good trade off. Soy beans are high in phytic acid, which in large amounts can blockt he uptake of essential minerals in the intestinal track.

According to Dr. James Mercola: "One study of close to 4,000 elderly Japanese-American men found that those who ate the most tofu during midlife had more than double the risk of later developing Alzheimer's disease."

Some more insight from Dr. Mercola's site, from an article written by Dr. Mary G Enig and Sally Fallon:

"In 1997, researchers from the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research made the embarrassing discovery that the goitrogenic components of soy were the very same isoflavones.50

Twenty-five grams of soy protein isolate, the minimum amount PTI claimed to have cholesterol-lowering effects, contains from 50 to 70 mg of isoflavones. It took only 45 mg of isoflavones in premenopausal women to exert significant biological effects, including a reduction in hormones needed for adequate thyroid function. These effects lingered for three months after soy consumption was discontinued.51

One hundred grams of soy protein - the maximum suggested cholesterol-lowering dose, and the amount recommended by Protein Technologies International - can contain almost 600 mg of isoflavones,52 an amount that is undeniably toxic. In 1992, the Swiss health service estimated that 100 grams of soy protein provided the estrogenic equivalent of the Pill.53

In vitro studies suggest that isoflavones inhibit synthesis of estradiol and other steroid hormones.54 Reproductive problems, infertility, thyroid disease and liver disease due to dietary intake of isoflavones have been observed for several species of animals including mice, cheetah, quail, pigs, rats, sturgeon and sheep.55

It is the isoflavones in soy that are said to have a favorable effect on postmenopausal symptoms, including hot flushes, and protection from osteoporosis. Quantification of discomfort from hot flushes is extremely subjective, and most studies show that control subjects report reduction in discomfort in amounts equal to subjects given soy.56 The claim that soy prevents osteoporosis is extraordinary, given that soy foods block calcium and cause vitamin D deficiencies. 50. Divi, R.L. et al., "Anti-thyroid isoflavones from the soybean", Biochemical Pharmacology (1997) 54:1087-1096.
51. Cassidy, A. et al., "Biological Effects of a Diet of Soy Protein Rich in Isoflavones on the Menstrual Cycle of Premenopausal Women", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1994) 60:333-340.
52. Murphy, P.A., "Phytoestrogen Content of Processed Soybean Foods", Food Technology, January 1982, pp. 60-64.
53. Bulletin de L'Office Fédéral de la Santé Publique, no. 28, July 20, 1992.
54. Keung, W.M., "Dietary oestrogenic isoflavones are potent inhibitors of B-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase of P. testosteronii", Biochemical and Biophysical Research Committee (1995) 215:1137-1144; Makela, S.I. et al., "Estrogen-specific 12 B-hydroxysteroid oxidoreductase type 1 (E.C. as a possible target for the action of phytoestrogens", PSEBM (1995) 208:51-59.
55. Setchell, K.D.R. et al., "Dietary oestrogens - a probable cause of infertility and liver disease in captive cheetahs", Gastroenterology (1987) 93:225-233; Leopald, A.S., "Phytoestrogens: Adverse effects on reproduction in California Quail," Science (1976) 191:98-100; Drane, H.M. et al., "Oestrogenic activity of soya-bean products", Food, Cosmetics and Technology (1980) 18:425-427; Kimura, S. et al., "Development of malignant goiter by defatted soybean with iodine-free diet in rats", Gann. (1976) 67:763-765; Pelissero, C. et al., "Oestrogenic effect of dietary soybean meal on vitellogenesis in cultured Siberian Sturgeon Acipenser baeri", Gen. Comp. End. (1991) 83:447-457; Braden et al., "The oestrogenic activity and metabolism of certain isoflavones in sheep", Australian J. Agricultural Research (1967) 18:335-348.
56. Ginsburg, Jean and Giordana M. Prelevic, "Is there a proven place for phytoestrogens in the menopause?", Climacteric (1999) 2:75-78."

A good book to read is The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food by Dr. Kaayla Daniel. Some insight the books shares:

Soy impedes the sexual maturation of boys (p. 335)
Soy accelerates the sexual maturation of girls (p. 339)
In newborns, the hormonal effects of soy may be irreversible (p. 333)
The average daily dose of soy estrogens in soy formula (38mg) is higher than the amounts that cause thyroid problems and endocrine disruption in adults (p. 334)

Of Mice and Men (6.15.07)

There's supposedly a "new" fat gene that's been discovered...Lipin. It's been found in mice, of course. Don't they find everything in mice. Maybe that's because if you've read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, mice created the planet. ;) According to Jon Benson, "Lipin, the new gene on the block, is now reported as the "gene that regulates how the body stores and burns bodyfat." In mice, that is. It's a start. This could mean there is a treatment in the near future. Or this could be another bust...just like leptin."

Leptin, "the great fat hope," was debunked in January 2007, ten years after it was announced and five years everyone thought it was their miracle answer to the fat they had.

So now that they've found lipin in mice, they're going to look for the magic "gene turner-off-er" and some infomercial is going to jump on the bus and start hawking lipin control pills, promising overnight weight-loss WHOOSH. In the long run, it'll probably all turn out to be so much bunk. Tsk, tsk.

I was looking for a new magazine yesterday and noticed that while the Women's Fitness Rx wasn't new, there was a new men's issue. The cover read, "14 Best lifts for killer ABS, BICEPS, TRICEPS, CHEST, SHOULDERS, BACK, QUADS, CALVES"...gee, that about covers everything. I thought, "What the heck?" I'd check it out.

In reading the magazine I discovered a few things. For starters, men are really worried about erectile dysfunction, both inability and lack of staying power. If this magazine is right, you guys really do think with your pants. :)

Some tidbits on that from Men's Fitness RX:

--Smoking damages penile blood vessels (which can make things difficult or impossible). SO DON'T SMOKE!
--There is some anethetic spray to increase staying power for guys with PE, which (WOW!) effects 30% of all men. The spray isn't very user friendly - one of the effects is creating the same sensation down there as you get in your coms following a Novocain shot at the dentist's office. Doesn't sound like fun.
--Lack of exercises makes men go limp. Regular endurance exercise is just as effective as Viagra.
--ED is one of the best predictors of heart attacks and strokes. Exercise, a balanced diet and weight loss are the best defenses.

I loved this one: "Male Sweat Makes Women Hot - Don't cover up your natural body odor with overpowering colognes and aftershaves. Scientists from the University of California, Berkley found that male sweat contains chemicals that trigger sexual arousal and excitement in women. The sweat increases production of the adrenal hormone androstenedione, which triggers physiological and psychological changes in women." WELL, DUH! We could've told you we can't stand it when you're overpowering us with your cologne! Also, your celery, as I mentioned before, it contains androstenedione and if you work up a good sweat after eating it, you'll pump out more pheromones. :)

Another great one was a piece that warned about wearing the stylishly baggy pants during yoga class. It said, "When in yoga class, flashing the woman next to you in down-dog should not happen." Advice was included on proper yoga-wear. Thank you, Men's Fitness Rx! I have been flashed and it's not often a pretty sight.

What cracked me up the most was an article about "Better Sex: The Roadmap to the Big O" -- are you guys still in the dark ages? There was all kinds of Victorian propoganda malarkey in there. "Women need 20 - 30 minutes to become aroused." Science as disproved that, you nerds! Omigosh, then there was so much absolute silly crap and nonsense, I cannot even go into here. Suffice it to say, I was totally laughing my *ss off.

This magazine was hysterically funny - and I feel that it was written at a very dumbed down level. Guys, you'd be better off reading Muscle & Fitness or Flex. I was also VERY disappointed... those 14 Best Lifts - well, they were nothing new, nothing amazing or earth-shattering.

Lateness (5.30.07)

Nothing is too late,
Until a tired heart shall cease to palpitate.
~ Henry W. Longfellow

I live in an area where lateness is the way of life. I've learned over the years not to get in a dither about someone being late. Living in my neck of the woods, you realize that if you schedule a party or a meeting or whatever at say, 10am... expect people to start filtering in between 10:05 and 10:15. That's just the way it is.

Growing up, I was always taught to be a few minutes early. A few - not too many. In my part of Ohio, showing up early can mean that you're waiting around extra long for anything to begin because all of the majority of other people are always a few minutes late. There can be a ghastly feeling when you pull into the parking lot and you're the only car there, thinking, "Is it the wrong date? Have I the wrong time entirely?"

In some passing reading, I noticed a column where a person raged about lateness - this person felt that it was a sign of disrespect, a sign that the late person did not "honor" the occasion or the person enough to be on time. I think they are wrong. I think that most mild lateness is due to the fact that we are such a rushed and time-consumed people that we try to squeeze every available minute we can for one more wink of sleep, for extra preparation time, for sanity - and some times we miss the mark, don't account for traffic delays or urgent phone calls. Oscar Wilde once said, "He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time."

Sadly enough, I've found that over the past 10 years of this I'm slowly being assimilated into this late way of life by no longer being early. I usually manage "right on time" nowadays. There's an attitude that develops, a "why bother" being prompt when no one else is?

My sister was scheduled for a biopsy on Friday. She's an early bird, so besides the extra time before her scheduled appointment, she was in the waiting room an hour past that appointed time...and two others in the waiting room were queued ahead of her. A big sign was posted "if you are more than 20 minutes late for your appointment, you must be rescheduled." I guess that doesn't apply to the doctor?! She was looking at at least another hour, hour and a half wait...minimum, so she approached the desk, got a bit testy and said she would call back to reschedule.

Some things it is never too late for:

To ask forgiveness
To extend forgiveness
To say "I love you"
To say a prayer

I have to add here that I've always HATED when people show up too early. Say you invite them to come for dinner at 7pm... and they arrive between 6:30 and 6:45pm. Those last few minutes are for a quick swish of the toilet brush, a fast makeup check, a quick counter-clearing, refrigerator wiping, or even a momentary collapse on the sofa.

A Hard Pill to Swallow (8.16.07)

Literally. I have to take these enormous antibiotics for my ear/sinus infections and it has been a great source of consternation for me. I can relax in the fact that I'm not only. Apparently 40% of all American adults share in my anguish. Too bad that doesn't relax me enough to get the pill down faster!

According to a 2004 poll by Harris Interactive, "To facilitate swallowing, more than half (55%) of those who have had difficulty swallowing pills drink lots of liquids, 48% drink water in big gulps, 43% tilt their heads back, and 31% place the pill on the back of their tongue. Some of the other coping strategies are trying more than once to swallow the pill (30%), splitting the pill in two (17%), and taking a deep breath before taking the pill to minimize the gag reflex (13%).

About twice as many women (51%) as men (27%) experienced pill-swallowing problems, and interestingly, more people between ages 18 and 64 reported having these problems (44%) than those age 65 and older (26%).

Most people that had problems taking pills described the sensations as having a pill stuck in their throat (80%), having a bad after taste in their mouth (48%), or gagging (32%)."

It's not about phagophobia, the general fear of swallowing... no, it has more to do with a sensitive gag relfex and the tightening of the throat muscles.

I'm not sure when my problem developed, but I think it may have stemmed from choking on London broil when I was 10 and having to have the Heimlich maneuver performed on me. It was not a pleasant experience and all I could think about at the time was that I hadn't finished reading "Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" while I was gasping for air. Since that time, pills bigger than a small tablet of aspirin have been an issue for me.

For the most part, I handle it by chewing pills or cutting them into pieces. It usually doesn't bother me if there is an icky taste, although prenatal vitamins tested the limits of my ability to withstand the assault on my tastebuds. Often after trying to chew a prenatal vitamin, I'd wind up worshipping at the porcelain much for those extra nutrients.

My super-wonderful doctor in Florida used to give me such a hard time about this, saying "For Pete's sake, don't you swallow beans?" How silly, of course I do... I chew them. I bet he didn't realize 40% of his patients probably had issues, they just weren't brave enough to admit it. Me? I always asked for liquids, for itty bitty pills, or things that I could break, crush or chew.

For the past week, I've been taking Erythromycin 333 mg, 3X a day. It is a large, hard tablet. A big warning label on the side of the bottle reads: DO NOT CRUSH OR CHEW. SWALLOW WHOLE. This sucks, it just plain sucks. So for a week, I wrestled with the dang things and ended up waterlogged. Every night it would seriously take me 32 oz of water and 20 - 30 minutes to get one stinking pill down. That meant, of course, that I was waking up at least twice in the middle of the night to pee. Not fun. Amazingly, first thing in the morning was only a 3 - 5 minute, 8 - 10 oz problem. I called the pharmacy after a week of torment to see if I could cut the dang things in half (I actually did it a few times before asking). The response? NO, absolutely not! They are time-released, chopping them up is a big no-no. (Oh well, I'd done it and hadn't died in the process).

I felt defeated by the pharmacist's words. I'd hoped that I could cut them and then I would have done so in fourths. She worried me enough about it that I haven't cut them since she said it was taboo. So I thought...why is it that my morning dosage only takes 3 - 5 minutes? It dawned on me that I was so thirsty that I wasn't tensing up as much because my body wanted liquid, quickly please. Therefore, I let myself get feeling almost dehydrated for my afternoon dosage and BINGO! Down went the pill. It wasn't as easy at the bedtime dose, but it didn't take 20 minutes either.

I've read that drinking your water from a soda bottle will help. It has to do with the sucking action of pursed lips triggering the swallowing reflex and I guess that trumps the gag reflex. Supposedly bubbly things make that trick work even better. Putting things in applesauce or peanut butter never helped me...that only meant "more" that I was having to get down with the pill.

I was listening to Brad Paisley's new single, "Online" and part of the chorus goes, "I'm so much cooler online." I have to laugh - not me! I repeatedly expose my nerdiness and/or wimpiness on a regular basis.

Creature of Habit (7.14.07)


1. an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.
2. customary practice or use: Daily bathing is an American habit.
3. a particular practice, custom, or usage: the habit of shaking hands.
4. a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality

My phone rang this morning, too early it seemed. I groggily fumbled for it and instantly woke up to my friend, Julie asking, "Glynis, where are you?" That was easy, I was curled up in bed getting some much needed, stress-relieving shuteye. Where I was supposed to be was completely different. I had totally and utterly forgotten that she was expecting me to meet her at her favorite new running location at 7am. It was 7:20 and she'd finally decided she'd better call and find out why I wasn't at the agreed upon starting point.

We had made this plan last Saturday, but it had slipped my mind faster than a greased hog at the county fair. My cranial cavity had been so overloaded with the chaotic week that I had gone to bed telling myself that a 9am run in the graveyard was in order. After all, that was my habit since Julie hadn't been able to run with me much since she had some health problems last year. She hadn't called to remind me about our plan for this morning, so my body just expected to sleep in until 8am. I'd gotten accustomed to the habit of running alone on Saturdays, just as it had once been habitual to meet Julie at 7am.

There was no way that I could get ready and drive out to where she was, so after filling her in on my crazed week and getting her feedback on the doctor my dad was seeing, I fell back asleep for another 1/2 hour. When I got up, all I could think of was getting to the graveyard to run - but that I needed to make Dirt Cake for 25 for today's community picnic that our church was holding.

Instead of my habitual protein shake, I reached for some cold Lake Tong Ting Chicken in the fridge. That stuff is delicious - chicken in a light white sauce (kind of like the sauce for Moo Goo Gai Pan) and cooked with snow pea pods, broccoli, baby corn, carrots, celery and water chestnuts.

I decided that before I headed out for that run, I'd better make the Dirt Cake. Sure enough, the only milk in the house was sour -- no one really drinks milk here and I forgot to buy milk when I bought the other ingredients. (Mind you, I felt baaaad about the stuff in my cart when I went shopping for Dirt Cake ingredients. Four packages of reduced-fat Oreos, a bag of confectioner's sugar, 2 packages vanilla pudding mix, gummy worms, Cool-whip, light cream cheese. That's probably why buying fresh milk slipped my mind, my conscience was winching at the crap my cart was overloaded with and I just wanted to get out of the grocery store!)

There went my morning run. Every bit of time was gone. I had to get dressed, look presentable, get milk, make the Dirt Cake, start some laundry, etc, etc, until it was suddenly 10:30 and I had to be up at the church by 11 for skit practice.

Meanwhile, I hadn't drunk my habitual morning protein shake and felt miserable without it. So at 10:30, I whipped out the blender, gathered my whey, flaxseed and other ingredients and made myself the proper meal I needed.

Samuel Johnson once said, "The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." This got me to thinking about just how many things have become habits in my life. From brushing and flossing, right down to how I fold the towels, I am most definitely a creature of habit.

For the most part, I have developed lots of very good habits over the course of my lifetime. Daily exercise, healthy eating habits, all those nice hygenic things that make a person a bit more pleasant to be around :) Of course, there are the habits that we develop which are more like idiosyncracies; for instance, I alternate two pairs of running shoes. There was a good, scientific reason behind it when I started, something from Runner's World - but I've long since forgotten why. I just do it, almost without fail. Nervous little habits can form as well. My family knows that when I feel anxious or tense, I tend to rub the side of my neck. Even if I swear up and down that I'm fine, they know I'm full of crap when they see my hand move to my neck.

As far as bad habits go, they become just as second nature to us as the good ones do. Unfortunately, bad habits are very hard to break. I tend to say, "yes" to any project without considering first all the other things on my plate. Habitually being 5 minutes late has become part of how I am. I realize that this developed by most of the people around me always being 10 - 15 minutes late for meetings, parties, etc. I went from being a few minutes early, to leaving my house with just enough time to get to an event 5 minutes after the scheduled start. I hate it, but it has become a hard habit to break. Thomas Jefferson wisely said, "He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual." Any thing we do, which we know is not right but do it anyway, can become habit-forming. We let down our guard, we make excuses, we justify, we validate. Just as in Jefferson's illustration with lying, bad habits break our moral fiber. I'm determined to follow the advice of Benjamin Franklin who said, "Each year, one vicious habit rooted out, in time ought to make the worst man good." I need to attack the bad habits I'm developing head on and root them out with ferocity.

Shamefully, I've also begun a habit of breaking good habits. 10 o'clock had been my bedtime for ages up on ages, except on weekends. 10 o'clock saw me tucked in, lights out - because I value a good night's sleep and with a hard workout planned in the morning, I know that I need it. For the past three or four months, I've been pushing the limits of bed time, hitting my workout without the required sleep and feeling zonked by mid-afternoon. Because of this lapse, I'm now breaking another good habit I once had - I used to always wake up and read my Bible before I did anything else. Now I find myself trying to catch every last wink of sleep possible before hitting the gym, and tell myself "don't worry, I'll get to it later." Some days "later" never comes. According to Aristotle, "Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts." If I want to do the good things I plan on doing, I must do them and do them and do them. Things like getting to bed on time, reading my Bible at the start of my day, etc, should be as imporant as drinking that darn shake and heading to the gym on time.

The picture at the top is a too bright cell phone shot of the wonderful set we created for vacation Bible school. Buddy Davis will be preaching from our outdoor scene tomorrow morning. :) We were thinking of standing him in the river with a ducky tube around his waist. I wonder what sort of sense of humor he has...

Now it is time for me to catch the run that I missed this morning - then I need to clean out the refrigerator. On top of all the activities of the week, the youth group is coming to our tomorrow for their monthly hangout. Once a month they hang out at someone's home, either a kid in youth group's or just a family that wants to open up their house to the group. It's our turn, so we've been trying to get things in order. I realized the volley ball has a leak, so tomorrow after church I need to run out and get a new one - plus a couple of more lawn chairs.

Fluorescent Lighting Part 2

In reading the comments to my first blog on this, a comment was posted regarding the "small amount of mercury" hit hard... that small amount can be deadly. Just the amount of mercury in a normal size fluorescent tube can contaminate 30,000 liters of water beyond a safe level for drinking...that's approximately 7917 gallons. I was horrified to read that she and others just dumped them in the dumpsters at work or with their regular trash. Yikes! Think of the magnitude of the damage if everyone is so nonchalant about this!!!

It was also mentioned that the fluorescent light was brighter. Well, there are issues with that: Over-illumination is a health hazard. "Health effects of over-illumination or improper spectral composition of light may include: increased headache incidence, worker fatigue, medically defined stress, decrease in sexual function and increase in anxiety." Also, the common levels of flourescent lighting in offices are sufficient to elevate blood pressure by EIGHT POINTS. Evidence has been gathered that suggests, again, that daily exposure to moderately high levels of light screw with sexual performance (that means diminish it, folks) as well as lead to increased stress and worker error. The part about decrease in sexual function should scare everyone. :) (Mmmm, brighter lights or better sex...which would you choose?)

Susan L. Burks, Managing your Migraine, Humana Press, New Jersey (1994) ISBN 0-89603-277-9
^ Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine, edited by Andrew Baum, Robert West, John Weinman, Stanton Newman, Chris McManus, Cambridge University Press (1997) ISBN 0-521-43686-9
^ L. Pijnenburg, M. Camps and G. Jongmans-Liedekerken, Looking closer at assimilation lighting, Venlo, GGD, Noord-Limburg (1991)
^ Igor Knez, Effects of colour of light on nonvisual psychological processes, Journal of Environmental Psychology, Volume 21, Issue 2, June 2001, Pages 201-208
Craig DiLouie, Advanced Lighting Controls: Energy Savings, Productivity, Technology and Applications The Fairmont Press, Inc., (2006) ISBN 0-88173-510-8

AND on the vain side of things, putting on your make up in flourescent lighting SUCKS. People with blue eyes tend to have ruddier skin, which will be accentuated under the blue light that is emitted. However, people with brown eyes tend to see that their skin appears more yellow or green. Most people will concur that it washes them out or makes them look pasty. Many women compensate by applying extra blush or going heavier on their eye makeup, but wait until you get outside in natural light - you'll look garish or clown-like. The flourescent lighting also accentuates lines and shadowing, making under-eye circles appear to be more pronounced. Nice warm incandescent lighting is generally yellow or red, both of which have a softening effect on all colors. If you get a portrait done, either have it done in natural light or incandescent.

Need I even mention what fluorescent lighting in fitting rooms does? ICK! Think the mirrors are bad? It's mainly the lighting that is the problem. Let's just wash out the color in your whole body and accentuate things that you'd rather were left alone.

Al Gore once said, "``Third World nations are producing too many children too fast... it is time to ignore the controversy over family planning and cut out-of-control population growth...''. When asked how to go about this he suggested expanding birth control and abortion programs in developing countries. He also says, ""Clearly, it is time for a global effort to create everywhere on earth the conditions conducive to stabilizing population." - Al Gore, Earth in the Balance Explains why he is so hepped up about compact fluorescent lighting... diminished sex drive, less children. Ugly women in clownish makeup walking the streets with men whose daily exposure to over-illumination by florescent has led to erectile dysfunction, yeah, that ought to reduce the population. Think they'll go for it in the Third World? :)

Fluorescent Lighting

Is it "greener" to switch to flourescents? NO!!!

I watched a bit of the Live Earth snoozefest and was right away hit with the crap about how everyone should switch from incandescent light bulbs to "energy saving, money saving compact fluorescent lamps." In seeing this, my first thought was "How incredibly stupid? What about the dangers of disposing them?" You see they contain mercury and there are precious few disposal or recycling programs for them.

CF bulbs contain about 4 milligrams of mercury sealed in the glass tubing of the bulb (roughly equivalent to the tip of a ball-point pen). Mercury vapor converts electricity into light. Mercury is most toxic when it leaches from landfills into the water and then into fish. Therefore, compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs or fluorescent tubes must NOT be thrown away with your regular garbage.

Read this lovely article about one woman's horrible experience when a fluorescent bulb broke in her daughter's room. Ready for the Hazmat team to come in?

Aside from that, fluorescent lighting has been reported FOR DECADES to cause and/or aggravate migraine headaches, eye strain and seizures.

Dr. Alan Gaby, medical editor of the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Holistic Medicine reports, "Time-lapse cinematography studies have shown that first-grade children sitting under fluorescent lights become hyperactive, compared to those exposed to standard lighting.

"The radiation emanating from television sets (not to mention the questionable programming) may also have an adverse effect on behavior. In one study, rats were placed in a cage fifteen feet away from a television set. Although the sound was turned off and all visible light from the screen was shielded by a piece of black cardboard, the rats became hyperactive and aggressive. However, if a lead shield was placed over the black cardboard, the rats behaved normally."

From experience: I had a daughter tested for epilepsy a few years ago. One of the tests involves blind-folding the child and holding strobe lighting over their face. Even with their eyes shielded, the brain can sense the flickering/strobing and this shows on the EEG. It has been shown that the strobe effect of fluorescent lights can cause similar reactions in the brain.

I'll add another bit from life experience around me. Two boys I know started out in public school - filled with fluorescent lighting, of course. Both boys were determined to be ADHD by the time they finished first grade. Both boys were taken out of school to be homeschooled - yep, they sat at home in natural and incandescent lighting for the rest of their learning. SURPRISE! Neither of them ever exhibited any more symptoms of ADHD. Both are now in high school, brilliant young men, calm, great to hang around. (FYI they have plenty of friends and social outlets).

Some quickies:

Flicker can be unhealthy. It causes seizures in about 4% of patients with epilepsy
Jeavons, P.M. and Harding, G.F.A. (1972). Photosensitive Epilepsy. A Review of the Literature and a Study of 460 patients. William Heinemann Books, London. 121pp.
The rapid imperceptible flicker from visual display terminals and fluorescent lighting affects eye movements.
Wilkins, A.J. (1986). Intermittent illumination from visual display units and fluorescent lighting affects movements of the eyes across text. Human Factors, 28(1), 75-81.
Fluorescent lighting causes eye-strain and headaches.
Wilkins, A.J., Nimmo-Smith, I.M., Slater, A. and Bedocs, L. (1989). Fluorescent lighting, headaches and eye-strain. Lighting Research and Technology, 21(1), 11-18.
People with agoraphobia can be sensitive to light. Their heart rate is increased when fluorescent lighting flickers imperceptibly.
Watts, F.N. and Wilkins, A.J. (1989). The role of provocative visual stimuli in agoraphobia. Psychological Medicine, 19, 875-885.
Hazell, J. and Wilkins A.J. (1990). A contribution of fluorescent lighting to agoraphobia. Psychological Medicine 20, 591-596.

I think Al Gore is one of the biggest buffoons to ever walk the planet. I think that a lot of this "think green" business is a bunch of malarkey. By all means should we take care of our earth and stop polluting and poisoning our environment - but let's think up some reasonable responses and not push the first crappy idea that comes to the top of our head like flourescent lighting. How silly and how

We have been in a period of increased solar activity, apparently it has been increasing for the last century but particularly in the last 20 years. The amount of greenhouses gases produced by this increase in solar activity dwarves any amount caused by human stupid (which does not mean I advocate continued human stupidity). Any radioactive output by the Sun effects the energy balance of the Earth's surface, atmosphere and climate. Was anyone aware that Venus has been heating up due to increased greenhouse gases caused by solar activity.

In this report, Scafetta, N. and West, B.J. 2006. Phenomenological solar contribution to the 1900-2000 global surface warming. Geophysical Research Letters 33: 10.1029/2005GL025539. , it is summarized that: "The two researchers determined that the sun contributed some 46-49% of the 1900-2000 global warming of the earth; and considering that there may have been uncertainties of 20-30% in their sensitivity parameters, they suggest that the sun may possibly have been responsible for as much as 60% of the 20th-century temperature increase." Later researchers have indicated that "that some of these phenomena may to some degree be independent of, and thereby add to, the simple TSI forcing Scafetta and West employed, which suggests that the totality of solar activity effects on climate may be even greater than what they calculated."

It'll be a cold day in hell before I switch to fluorescent lighting in my home. It makes me feel sick, gives me headaches and is a VERY annoying light to read by.


ef·fort: The use of physical or mental energy to do something; exertion;
A difficult exertion of the strength or will; A usually earnest attempt

It is no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary. Winston Churchill

As a society we are spoiled rotten. We want life served to us on a silver platter. We want results without effort, we want success without paying our dues. We want enjoyment without challenge. We don't want to exert ourselves... we migrate toward flashing signs that say EASY, FAST, , SIMPLE, EFFORTLESS. "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." Samuel Johnson

It's amazing how a seemingly innocuous comment someone made can send my mind steamrolling. No offense intended, just my mind flying off on a tangent! The comment was regarding exercise and someone needing to enjoy things, needing to like things, needing not to get bored in order to stick with it. I could be wrong (but I don't think I am), but that will usually get you the bare minimum of results. Bare minimum results lead to disappointment, disappointment leads to abandonment of a program, abandonment leads to failure.

When did we, as a society, evolve this attitude that we need to like things in order to apply ourselves to them? I feel this attitude is largely responsible for the epidemic of credit card debt and obesity in this country. Think debt and obesity have nothing in common? You see it, you like it, you want it, you get it or eat it ... no thought to the effects on your health or your economic condition. Why? Because you like it, because it provides temporary pleasure. The marketing machine has picked up on this and we are bombarded with temptations at every turn.

I always tell my kids (and myself) that some things must be done because they are right. Some things must be done because they are good for you. Some things must be done because they simply must be done. It's called discipline and we all need it.

dis·ci·pline: Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement;
Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control.

It always amazes me when I hear parents talking about what their kids will not eat. Will not? Wow. You eat what is set before you. Period. As a parent, one should be making mature food choices for their children's health, not catering to taste buds that scream for sugar and starch. If your kids start from the get-go knowing that there are no "ifs," "ands" or "buts," they'll eat the broccoli, they'll eat the whole wheat pasta. Maybe they won't like it, maybe they will learn to like it. Start teaching them that every meal is all about enjoyment and that food is entertainment, see what happens... (I loved the show on TLC, "Honey, We're Killing Our Kids" - too bad it's all too true for many families).

The spoiling goes on when we feel we have to gratify every little want and desire. Who hasn't heard the kids screaming in Wal-mart and the parents who placate them by giving them what they want? When my kids used to do this, we'd break out into song, "You can't always get what you want, no, you can't always get what you want... but you get what you need..." That shut them up fast. :) My kids are all turning out to be nice, practical, non-spoiled young ladies with level heads, praise God.

We need to ditch this pattern of thinking that says, "I'll follow this exercise program if I'm not bored, if it's not too hard, if I enjoy it." "I'll follow this diet if the recipes are good, if I can have substitutes that taste like ice cream and pudding." How many fad diets are out there that promise this and don't deliver? How many namby-pamby exercise programs that just don't deliver? We have to stop coddling ourselves and get realistic.

Regarding a healthy diet & exercise: You do it because it is good. You do it because it is right. You do it because it must be done. You do it because you only get ONE body, one life on this earth. You do it because that body should not be taken for granted, it is a prized possession to be treated with respect and love. Sure you have a choice, life is full of choices - live a quality existence in a body that is as healthy as possible, or grind to a feeble halt in a body that has been abused and fed the wrong fuels.

Effort isn't fun, it's work. The results, however, the results are worth that element of struggle. Nothing tastes better than the sense of accomplishment that comes when hard work pays off.

At the gym today, the guy who trains his friend had them over by the free weights doing barbell curls to muscle fatigue. He had that weight loaded on there and the pain was evident on his face. His arms were shaking, his face was in grimace and his buddy was saying, "Just one more, one more, one more..." He did it. Dropped the weight and groaned, "That sucks! That sucks so bad, it sucks." BUT...he was smiling. He was willing to suffer for the tennis ball sized peaks that he wants on his biceps. He was willing to expend effort doing something that he didn't like because that something would provide maximum results.

In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe