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The Big 6-OH! (It’s not so bad!)
By Carol LeBeau
4/18/2014 1:49:04 PM


Sixty. I turned 60 this month! I’ve been practicing saying it for months. But now that it’s here, it seems surreal! 

Sixty. Yikes! It sounds so old, and yet, I have to admit, I’m glad I’ve lived long enough to say those words and celebrate their meaning.  I’m alive happy, healthy and surrounded by family and friends who care about me. Those are blessings…at any age.

Not only that, I’m in good company! Did you know Oprah just turned 60?  She’s still going strong and feeling pretty positive about the milestone.  In a recent magazine interview, the superstar shared a few thoughts…echoing my feelings about the benefits of aging up! 

“I’m turning 60,” says Oprah, “and – please don’t take offense, but I no longer have to be concerned what anyone thinks of me! (You know, the old, am I doing it right? Am I saying it right?  Am I being what or who I’m “supposed” to be?)  I’m turning 60, and I’ve earned the right to be just as I am.”

You go, girl!

I may have lost my once firm behind, but, like Oprah and many of you 60-plus gals out there, I’m more secure in being myself than I’ve ever been.  My skin may be saggy in spots, but at least I’m more comfortable in it!

I also happen to know some really “hot chicks” that recently turned 60. “Peeps,” the beloved marshmallow candy,” is celebrating six decades of success and longevity. More popular than ever, the iconic Easter candy is constantly reinventing itself…proving that 60 may just be the new 30!  

So, I’m not going to let a couple of gray hairs get me down. I was 20 once. Now it’s someone else’s turn.  It’s the cycle of life.  And rather than waste time and energy whining about it, I’m going to give myself a birthday gift…a piece of age-old inspiration from one of my feminist heroes…award-winning newspaper columnist, Erma Bombeck.

Check out her hilarious “At Wit’s End” column from 1992 in which the gifted humorist took aim at the problem of aging.   

“Aging Gracefully is Going out of Style”

by Erma Bombeck

One of the bonuses of growing old used to be that you could shrivel and no one cared.  My grandmother shriveled.  She also sagged, shifted, slouched and slumped.  It was as if the floor was the center point of gravity, and with glacier-like movement all of my grandmother’s parts eventually came to rest there.

    No one gave her permission for her body to go from a solid to a jelly state.  It was her rite of passage.

    Had she lived today, she might not have been so lucky. We live in times of the youthmeisters.  There’s the grandmother from West Melbourne, Fla., who wrote that she slipped into a pair of jeans one afternoon and buttoned a plain white blouse over it.  When she saw her 6-year-old granddaughter, Katie, taking it all in, she wiggled her hips and asked, “Does this blouse look OK with the jeans?”

     Katie circled her critically and said, “Yes, Grandma, the blouse looks OK, but if you’re ever gonna be a stripper, you’re gonna have to lose those thighs.”

     There’s nothing wrong with hanging onto youth, but we have gone to war with aging.  Thirty year-olds are “doing their eyes” and having skin peels.  Why?  It’s like having a car serviced with only 200 miles on it.

      My mother said to me last Sunday, “I’m going to lose this stomach if it’s the last thing I do.”  She is in her 80’s.

     Think about what you’re doing,” I said.  “Think about all those women on the Titanic who looked at the dessert cart and said, “No thanks, my waistband is getting a little tight.”

     You could lose a few pounds yourself,” she retorted.  “I’ll bet you couldn’t even fit in your wedding dress anymore.”

     “I get so few calls for it,” I said dryly.

But the pressure is there and will remain there for the rest of our lives.  When I’m 90, I will sit in front of my TV set listening to, “Give us a week – we’ll take off the weight” and shouting at it, “I don’t HAVE a week!”

      I looked through an old photo album and found a picture of my grandmother just before she died.  She had great skin and the best pair of legs this side of the Ohio River.  But she was shaped like an eggplant.  It didn’t matter.  She was beautiful, and she was supposed to look that way.”

Some things never change. 

Fitbit – A high-tech tracker that makes exercise fun…and maybe even addictive!
By Carol LeBeau
3/11/2014 2:34:25 PM


The trails at Torrey Pines may be beautiful, but after a nearly two-hour trek up and down the scenic paths recently, I needed a nap! Disappointed in my apparent lack of physical prowess, I crawled into my car and drove home only to find an encouraging e-mail from Janine that clearly explained why Torrey Pines had totally wiped me out.

Turns out, my walking partner and “techie” friend had been wearing her “Fitbit” as we trekked the trails that morning.  The tiny tracking device on her wrist had recorded our every step…and more… synching wirelessly with her computer and smart phone.  

The “Fitbit” computer readout justified my exhaustion. Distracted as we hiked, gabbed and enjoyed the scenery, Janine and I took nearly 19,000 steps, covering 7.71 miles – the equivalent of climbing 86 floors during 115 active minutes. (Does the Fitbit really know when we took photos and potty breaks??!!)  

Actually, the tracker uses a three-dimensional accelerometer similar to that found in the Wii Remote, to sense user movement. Simply stated, the device measures steps taken, and combines it with user data to calculate distance walked, calories burned etc.

Speaking of calories, the trendy tracker claims we burned 2,372 calories that morning! (I find that hard to believe…but it sure sounds good!) No wonder I found myself later that day crashed on the couch eating spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar!

These beefed up pedometers are making getting in shape as addictive as checking Facebook and Twitter.  Janine wears her Fitbit “Force” all the time.  She shoots for 10,000 steps a day, but with an added 4-mile run or “walk and talk” with a friend, can easily reach 20,000 steps.

“It keeps me motivated to get out there and get active on days I’m at my desk on the computer,” says Janine. “When I check my Fitbit and realize how few steps I’ve taken, I make it a point to get moving!”

I’m always late to the party when it comes to embracing new technology…but this is just too fun to pass up. Plus, these new-fangled trackers even allow you to compete with your friends.

Waddaya say, Janine?   

Game on?!

Note: The Fitbit “Force” used by Janine has recently been recalled, not for any defect in the device, but because a few users have experienced contact dermatitis (skin rashes) where the tracker comes in contact with their wrists possibly from the nickel used in the band.  Fitbit is replacing the device with one minus the nickel and offering a full refund to their customers.

Sleep Your Way to Good Health in 2014 with a Little Help from the Food You Eat!
By Carol LeBeau
2/18/2014 1:40:44 PM


After 34 years working the night shift, I wondered whether I’d be able to adapt to a normal sleeping schedule when I retired from the TV news business.

Not only have I adapted, I haven’t even seen the 11 p.m. news in more than four years!  No offense to Kimberly or my other news pals, but these days I’m lucky to make it past nine before drifting into dreamland. My body clearly loves the change. I sleep soundly and wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.  

Not only that, within a year on my new schedule – completely unintentionally, I’d lost nearly 10 pounds. What a surprise… until I looked at the facts.

For years I think I was always just a little bit sleep deprived…getting by on about seven  hours, when my body craved closer to nine in the sack. And, if I’m honest, I’d developed some pretty unhealthy eating habits working those weird hours.

On a busy night at work, I’d miss dinner altogether, then exhausted and wired after the late news, I’d come home, turn on Conan and fix myself a plate of cheese and crackers and wash it down with a glass (or two!) of wine… to unwind, you understand.  

Bad plan. A fat and calorie-laden snack combined with sugar in the alcohol often made for light, interrupted sleep. When I finally adopted my husband’s routine an early dinner with only a light snack before bed, I began sleeping like a baby and reaping the health benefits.

Adequate slumber (7-9 hours is the sweet spot for most of us!) does more than make you feel good. An abundance of sleep research has found a well-rested engine is essential for controlling your weight and sharpening your memory.  

What you eat can play a major role in the quality of your rest. My best snooze advice?

1. Warm milk can help you sleep better. Milk contains tryptophan, which your body uses to make serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes sleepiness. Because tryptophan needs carbohydrates to work its sedating magic in your brain, milk is a natural choice since it has the drowsy duo.  (While warming it up adds to the soothing sensation, I still prefer my milk cold.)
2. Avoid eating a late meal, then going straight to bed.  Consuming a heavy dinner or even a super-size bedtime snack can make you feel uncomfortably full when you lie down. Even worse, you may develop heartburn or gas… which makes falling asleep extra-challenging. For a peaceful slumber, aim to eat dinner at least three hours before you hit the sack. (When that’s not possible, enjoy a lighter meal –
less than 400 calories.)  If you need a late-night nibble, keep it at 200 calories or less.

Three smart pre-sleep snacks that work for me:
*1 cup fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt topped with some crunchy, low-sugar cereal
*3 cups low fat popcorn topped with grated Parmesan
* Rice cake topped with hummus and a slice of turkey breast or (my fave) peanut butter

3. Talk to you doctor about sleep aids.  One of the most popular options is melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles. You can even increase your intake of foods that naturally contain melatonin…like tart cherries, walnuts or some special sleepy-time teas. (Nights when it’s difficult to fall asleep or when I travel, my doctor prescribes Ambien but only occasionally…and ONLY with my doctor’s okay.)

Don’t minimize the importance of sleep.  It’s crucial for good health and wellbeing.

Sweet dreams…

Tips to Start and Stick with your Fitness Program in 2014
By Carol LeBeau
1/14/2014 10:40:11 AM


I used to think personal trainers were for someone else. Not me. I’m motivated to work out on my own, thank you.  I don’t need some guy with six-pack abs watching my every bicep curl.

Well, last year that all changed when I realized I needed help. Following multiple surgeries, I had developed aches, pains and muscle weaknesses that only seemed to get worse the harder I pushed on my own at the gym. Even swimming left me with a stiff neck and knot in my back.

Frustrated, I asked for advice from one of my fit friends.  His recommendation? You guessed it – a personal fitness trainer. Desperate, I took his advice and called Bret Smith a credentialed instructor and the owner of the “Move Strong Studio” in San Diego.  
Bret quickly assessed my situation and gave me simple, corrective exercises I could do at home. After several sessions with “my” personal trainer, I began to feel better, stronger and happier as my aches and pains subsided. Because of Brett’s personal attention and expertise, I’m grateful to be back hiking, biking and swimming strong.  
As I’ve gotten to know Brett, it’s clear he’s more than a fitness trainer. Not only is he knowledgeable on all facets of health and fitness, he’s a wonderful (but gentle!) motivator! (Go check out his website at www.movestrongstudio.com!)
So, as we begin a new and (hopefully!) healthier new year, I asked Brett to share some of the tips he gives his clients to help them start and stick with a fitness program.
Here are Brett’s Top 10 Tips for looking good and feeling great in 2014:
1. Just Get Moving! Starting a new fitness program can be daunting with all the "have to's" and all that information can lead to overload.  The simple and best way to start is to just get moving and increase your general activity level throughout the day.Taking a walk after lunch or dinner; taking the stairs instead of an elevator; standing while on the phone or when someone walks into your office; parking a little farther than your destination – little things that can add up and make a big difference in helping you move and feel better.
2. Have an Accountability Buddy. This will help you stick with a plan.  You and your workout buddy both promise to not let the other skip a workout.  This buddy may be a friend with similar goals to yours, a family member, co- worker or even a fitness professional who will motivate you to stay on track.
3. Choose Activities You Enjoy. And do them! Again and again! Nothing will short- circuit your workout plan faster than a boring, non-eventful activity. Even if it's completely new, but sounds interesting, you're more likely to stick with something you enjoy. Don't be afraid of trying a bunch of things to see what connects with you.
4. Pick the Pro especially if you're just getting started, unsure or just unaccustomed to having regular activity in your life. Investing in a Certified Fitness Professional can get you off on the right foot helping you build a solid foundation, focus on your goals and prevent injury. Word-of-mouth and referrals from trusted family and friends is best way to find the best pro for you.
5. Set Your Goals! Write these ideas down and be specific. How many pounds? Dress size? Body fat percentage?  Whatever it is, get it down on paper. Then post the goals, completion date and workouts completed to date in places you see regularly. Consistent reinforcement is key to your success.
6. Be Relentless in your dedication to succeeding. Set your schedule. Stick with it. No excuses.  Make your workouts as important as showing up for work, being with your family or having fun.
7.  No 4-Letter Words!  Banish the CAN’T’s, DONT's and WONT's from your vocabulary. It may take some self-talk and gentle reminders but focus on what you CAN, WILL and WANT to do. One step at a time.
8.  Prepare For the Journey. Consider your new undertaking as the journey of a lifetime. As you and your journey grow, you'll explore new and exciting ways to stay happy, healthy and fit along the way. One of the highest rates of success in sticking with a fitness and wellness plan is sharing it with a group, partner, friend or spouse. Be part of a team and see how everyone benefits.
9. Make it Social. We are social creatures and one of the highest rates of success in sticking with a fitness and wellness plan is sharing it with a group, partner, friend or spouse. Make them part of Your Team and see how everyone benefits.
10. Ignore the Hype. If you are easily influenced by the hype of a fad diet or latest fitness gadget, stop and ask two simple questions. For whom? For what? These programs and equipment promise you success with little time or effort.  The truth is, it takes time, work, dedication and determination. No diet or a trendy gadget will change that. There are no shortcuts to success...only detours and u-turns if you fall prey to the hype.


Need a Good Laugh? Learn how to give your cat a pill!
By Carol LeBeau
12/30/2013 11:24:43 AM


My sweet kitty, Bing, is getting over a little infection. The vet said it was no big deal. All I had to do was give her a tiny pill twice a day for a week.  

Bing is young…an adolescent, really…and not very cooperative (to say the least) when it’s time for her pill.  Anyone with a cat can identify with my dilemma. Talking with my step-Mom, Kaye about battling with Bing and her pills, we had a good laugh about “herding cats” and the like.  

Two days later, a note from Kaye arrived “snail mail.” Inside was a copy of an old Ann Landers column from 1999 which included a piece called “How to Give Your Cat a Pill,” by Bob Story.  

It’s hilarious.  In fact, I haven’t laughed that hard in years – no decades!  That laughing jag made me feel so good; I’ve decided to pass it along.  And please, no complaints from cat lovers.  (I love cats more than anyone, believe me!)  It’s just a piece of humor.  I hope it gives you a chuckle.

How to Give Your Cat a Pill  
By Bob Story
Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as though holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to his cheeks. When cat opens up, pop pill into mouth. Cat will then close mouth and swallow.
Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa.  Repeat the process.   
Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.
Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, immobilizing front and rear paws. Ask assistant to hold cat’s head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into cat’s throat. Flick pill down ruler with forefinger and rub cat’s throat vigorously.
Retrieve cat from living room valance.
Carefully sweep shattered figurines from hearth and set aside for later gluing. Remove next pill from foil wrap.
Wrap cat in beach towel and ask assistant to lie prone on cat with cat’s head visible under assistant’s armpit. Put pill in end of paper tube you’ve made for this purpose. Then force cat’s mouth open with pencil and blow.
Check label to make sure pill is not lethal to humans. Sip water to take away taste. Apply bandage to assistant’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with soap and cold water.
Call 911, ask fire department to retrieve cat from eucalyptus tree.  Remove remaining pill from foil wrap.  Tie cat’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and securely tie to leg of dining table.  Put on heavy-duty pruning gloves.  Force cat’s mouth open with tire iron.  Drop pill, previously hidden in one ounce of raw hamburger, into cat’s mouth.  Hold head vertically with nose pointed to ceiling and pour one-half pint of water down cat’s throats and two jiggers of whiskey down your own.

Ask assistant to drive you to emergency room. Sit quietly while doctor administers anesthetic, stitches forearm and removes pill remnants from eye. Drop off cat, along with a generous donation, at animal shelter and adopt a goldfish.

There you have it. And now it’s time to give Bing her next pill. This is gonna be fun!


How Dry I Am! Lip Tips to Keep Your Kisser Kissable!
By Carol LeBeau
11/18/2013 2:00:21 PM


I have a confession to make.  I’m addicted to my lip balm!  I’m not thrilled about this. But at least I’m not the only one constantly reaching for that next lip fix.

‘Tis the season, after all – the sunny, hot and extremely dry season, that is. With temperatures rising and high pressure building, they just don’t make enough Chapstick to keep my miserably dry, cracked lips moist!

The spectacular autumn sun may be shining brightly, but with dry Santa Ana winds and humidity dropping below 10 percent, many of us look for relief from constantly re-applying our favorite lip balm.  (Bee’s for me!)

Annoying and uncomfortable at best, chapped lips can become dry, cracked and sore interfering with daily activities such as smiling, eating, talking, singing and kissing.  Even worse, cracked tissue can be painful and lead to infection.

So Cal’s “devil winds” aren’t the only reason our kissers become cracked and chapped.  Yes, over exposure to wind, sun, cold and dry air are the main culprits, but people who breathe through their mouths (for a variety of reasons) can develop chapped lips.  Certain medications or allergies to cosmetics or skin care products may also be the cause.

When lips are exposed to moisture, they absorb water and plump up.  No surprise there, but conversely, when dehydrated they can dry out.  As we age, it’s hard for skin to retain moisture and dryness tends to increase in the winter.  

So, what’s a person to do?

Check out these timely tips to help you keep those luscious lips soft and moist…

*Avoid lip smacking or licking your lips.
When you do, you provide a drop of moisture which evaporates quickly, leaving the lips drier than before.  Saliva contains digestive enzymes that can break down the protective barrier on the lips.

*Stay hydrated.
Drink plenty of fluids to moisturize from the inside out.  Set up a humidifier in your home or office.

*Be sure your lip balm contains sunscreen.
According to researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, “sun damage to the lips can cause dryness and scaliness…the same way it damages the rest of the skin.”

*Ladies, wear lipstick!
A creamy lipstick (non-matte) can soothe chapped lips and opaque lipstick filters out harmful light.  This may be why women seldom get lip cancer.

*Apply lip balm.
Look for hydrating ingredients such as beeswax and petroleum.  Beware of camphor and menthol…camphor-based medicated lip balm may be irritating.

*It’s OK to reapply often.
Apply it before you go out…several times while you are out and after you eat or drink.

Apply a thick layer of balm at bedtime to lessen chapping.  Many of us sleep with our mouths open, which leads to dry lips.  (Since I began slathering on a generous layer of Aquaphor at night, no more painful cracks in the corners of my lips!)

Oh, and don’t be concerned about actually becoming “addicted” to your lip balm.  There are no physically addictive ingredients in balms.  A psychological habit?  Maybe.  But it’s safe…so grab another tube!

Dream Big! Lessons from super swimmer, Diana Nyad on how to keep your dreams alive!
By Carol LeBeau
10/14/2013 3:24:13 PM


I didn’t believe she could do it. 

And I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t think Diana Nyad should have even attempted the grueling ocean swim that recently catapulted the 64-year-old into the record books. 

After all, Nyad had already tried to swim from Cuba to Florida four times since her first attempt in 1978…all unsuccessfully.  And for good reason.  Sharks, jellyfish, chronic nausea and exhaustion who could blame her?  I remember talking to my TV as I watched Nyad’s fourth attempt come to a disastrous and disappointing end.  “Enough already, Diana.  Let it go.” 

Besides, you’re too old, Diana.  Face it.  At 64, it’s too late to attempt something so physically taxing.  You’ve already accomplished so much as a swimmer, author, motivational speaker and reporter.  Rest on your laurels.  Leave crossing the Florida straits to the youngsters.

Clearly, I had no idea what a woman with a dream and the iron will of Diana Nyad was capable of.  As Nyad emerged victorious from the Atlantic Ocean after completing her historic swim, I was eating crow.

You’d think I’d have been her biggest cheerleader.  After all, almost 60 myself, I’m also an open water swimmer.  In fact, I had the great experience of being a “buddy swimmer” for my friend, Becky Jackman, as she successfully crossed the English Channel some years ago.  

Honestly, it was sometimes difficult to watch as Becky pushed beyond her limits…spending12 hours in the choppy, bone-chilling waters of the Channel fighting exhaustion and the powerful current…literally crawling onto the beach at Calais…completely spent, swollen and delirious.  But as Becky moved from delirium to euphoria, there wasn’t a dry eye on the boat.  Our friend was glowing with the joy of achieving her lifelong goal.

Emerging from the Atlantic Ocean in Florida, that’s exactly what Nyad experienced – overwhelmed with emotion as she fell into the arms of her coach.  All I can say is shame on me and everyone else who didn’t believe in Diana Nyad.  Fortunately, she didn’t listen to us. She listened to her heart.

“I think it was her belief in herself that she could do this,” says Kathryn Olson, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation.   “That’s what makes her different.  She worked through the pain.  She had such a strong belief in herself and her ability to do this.”

The fifth time was the charm for the determined Nyad.  Her open-water swim encompassed roughly 110 miles and 53 hours.  Her superhuman feat makes Nyad the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage fulfilling a dream that began 35 years ago.

Diana Nyad’s incredible feat has inspired millions to dream big and go for it.  And the remarkable endurance swimmer has some pretty sage advice for anyone with doubts (or doubters!) about on pursuing their dream.

As she walked triumphantly from the water in Key West…deliriously jubilant…Diana Nyad smiled and told a mob of spectators, “We should never give up.  You’re never too old to chase your dream.”

Thanks Diana.

What’s Pickleball?!
By Carol LeBeau
9/16/2013 12:18:17 PM


What’s Pickleball?! It’s the fastest-growing new sport in the nation and it has nothing to do with pickles!

At a recent family reunion, I learned my husband’s sweet, petite cousin, Carolyn, is also quite the athlete.  I had no idea, but cousin Carolyn and her husband, Dale, are the reigning New York state double’s champions… in pickleball!

“Wow!  That’s awesome,” I said…fake smile masking the fact I had absolutely no idea what Tom’s cousins were into.  Pickleball?  I’d never even heard of the game with the funny name.  Turns out, Dale and Carolyn are on the cutting edge of a sports trend that’s exploding in popularity especially among older adults.   

Unfortunately, I was still in a pickle about pickleball!  So, I talked to Carolyn and got the “scoop.”  First off, the game often described as a mixture of tennis and ping -pong has nothing to do with pickles! 

Here’s the deal.  If you take a game of tennis and slow it down, use a smaller court, slower racket and harder-to-hit ball…you get pickleball!

The sport is played with a wooden paddle and a plastic ball on a short, square court.  The net is hung at 34 inches in the middle (it’s 36 inches for tennis.) There is a non-volley zone on both sides of the net to prevent high-speed spikes as dictated by the U.S.A. Pickleball Association rulebook.  Players score when the other side can’t return a shot.  The first side to reach 11 points with a two-point lead wins.

Pickleball’s popularity has made it the first sport to be added for competition in the National Senior Games (NSGA) in 20 years.  The pickleball movement is averaging a thousand new players a year.  There are now more than 100,000 players in the United States and the number of pickleball courts has doubled to more than 5,600…just since 2010.

“It’s good exercise,” says cousin Carolyn.  “In my first six months of playing pickleball, my cholesterol dropped 40 points!”  But she also loves the social aspect of the game.  “It’s fun.  It’s something Dale and I can do together and we meet so many wonderful people.”   

Interestingly, the popularity among seniors is creating a trickle-down effect, with pickleball becoming more popular with school PE programs and at recreational camps nationwide.   

And that includes the San Diego area. If you’d like to try your hand at pickleball, you can find teams and leagues from Oceanside to Alpine, La Jolla to Lakeside.  Check out San Diego Parks and Recreation for more information and become part of the fastest growing sport in America!  

In fact, San Diego boasts a gold medal-winning pickleballer.  Pat Carroll took the gold in the 70-74 age division at the National Senior Games last month in Cleveland! (Where, if I may brag just a bit, Dale and Carolyn placed fourth in the doubles division. Way to go, Cousins!) 

As more folks become sweet on pickleball, maybe it’s time to give it a try.  “This is a game that has a lot of participation from people who have never been an athlete in their life,” says Tom Burkhart, pickleball competition director for the NSGA. “They can still acclimate and become a decent player.”

Need a little incentive to try your hand at pickleball?  According to a report on San Diego’s KPBS, “Pickleball is really a great game with a silly name. It’s addictive and might just lead you on the path of health, happiness and a heck of a lot of fun!” 

Spa Water - Relax, Refresh and Hydrate with your Favorite Flavors
By Carol LeBeau
8/30/2013 11:17:13 AM


I can still remember my first spa experience. The day of pampering was a birthday gift from my husband – a relaxing day including a massage, facial, pedicure and a lovely (and healthy!) spa lunch on a peaceful patio surrounded by lush gardens. It was heavenly!

That special day years ago also included my first taste of spa “water.” Coolers of water throughout the facility were infused with fun flavors from cucumbers and lemons to mint and watermelon. Who knew water could be such a treat!

These days, you don’t have to pop for spa services to enjoy fruit and veggie-infused H20. Waiting for the color to set at my hair appointment last week, I relaxed with a glass of cool water infused with a delicious combination of fruits, veggies and herbs. Doug Yeagley, owner of TOPS Salon in Mission Hills, says he wants to provide his clients with a healthy alternative to coffee and sugary drinks.

“For good health, we need to drink lots of water,” says Yeagley. “But water can be boring. Why not add a little flavor and make a glass of ordinary water something special?!”

I’ve had cherry-flavored water in a hospital lobby and orange and pineapple-infused water at my gym. Even my favorite Coronado boutique features a cute cooler of water “seasoned” with basil and fresh chunks of strawberries.

And when you’re not out and about, why not have a taste of spa water at home? My friend, Pat always has a chilled pitcher of yummy water with all kinds of fun, floating fruits. (My fave is her lemon and ginger combo…so soothing.)

I’m excited about this growing trend that’s getting many of us to drink more water. We have an obesity epidemic in this country and replacing sugary soft drinks with healthy water alternatives is a great way to cut calories.

The summer heat has arrived. What better time to fill a water pitcher with your favorite fruits, veggies and herbs and drink to your health.

Here are 50 awesome flavored water ideas. Pick your favorite combo and have fun staying hydrated!

1. Watermelon
2. Cucumber
3. Lemon
4. Cantaloupe
5. Orange
6. Cherries
7. Lime
8. Grapefruit
9. Basil
10. Mint
11. Grapes
12. Blood orange
13. Rosemary
14. Lavender
15. Strawberries
16. Blackberries
17. Raspberries
18. Pineapple
19. Kiwi
20. Papaya
21. Honeydew melon
22. Fresh ginger root
23. Mango

And don’t be afraid to try fun combinations of the above ingredients. Get creative and combine them, so it never gets dull. Here are some of my favorites:

24. Watermelon and mint
25. Cucumber and mint
26. Lemon and mint
27. Cherry and lime
28. Watermelon and cucumber
29. Ginger and lemon
30. Orange and pineapple
31. Lemon and lavender
32. Lime and mint
33. Cucumber and lime
34. Lemon and basil
35. Strawberry and mint
36. Blackberry and ginger
37. Lemon and blueberry (yum!)
38. Thyme and blackberries
39. Cucumber and rosemary
40. Cantaloupe and watermelon
41. Cucumber, lemon and mint
42. Lemon and lime
43. Strawberry and basil
44. Cranberry juice and lemon (use a capful of unsweetened cranberry juice)
45. Ginger and lime
46. Pineapple and mango
47. Strawberries and lime
48. Orange, lime and lemon (my absolute favorite!)
49. Lemon and a pinch of cayenne
50. Papaya and mango

The possibilities are endless! Have fun coming up with your own creative combos. Then, drink up!

Helpful hint! For the herbs, crush or chop them up to get the best flavor. Similarly, squeeze citrus wedges, slick or cube melons and crush berries.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@pph.org.

By Carol LeBeau
8/1/2013 3:18:48 PM

I hope you don’t mind, but I just have to brag a bit about my Dad.  A “health nut” before it was fashionable, my Dad, Carter LeBeau, not only taught me the importance of healthy living, he has inspired countless others. 

Dad was honored recently at a celebration in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for 40 years of participation in the bicycling event known as RAGBRAI.   But even more than his participation in the ride, at 86, my Dad has been an inspiration and encouragement to thousands of cyclists…in Iowa and beyond.

RAGBRAI is an acronym for the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.  It’s the granddaddy of all cross-state bike rides, drawing cycling enthusiasts from around the world – from beginning bikers to seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong.

Palomar Health physician and Iowa native, Dr. Joan Meyer makes the trek “home” every year to do RAGBRAI.  “I wouldn’t miss it, “says Meyer of the fun, folksy and challenging cycling event across the Hawkeye state. (see photo)

RAGBRAI is an annual, seven-day, bike-riding party that begins in a selected community along Iowa’s western border and ends in a town along the state’s eastern border.  Ten thousand riders cycle some 470 miles while each year, seven different communities “host” the throng…providing everything from welcoming cheers and free lemonade to campsites and host homes.

The oldest, largest and longest touring bicycle ride in the world, RAGBRAI celebrated 40 years of riding in July and my Dad has been on every one.

It all began when two Des Moines Register newspaper feature reporters decided to go on a bicycle ride across Iowa, writing about their experiences.  Of 300 riders starting the ride, 114 (including my Dad!) completed the trek.

But while he’s pedaled all the miles over the years, his most important roles have been as encourager, cheerleader and mentor to cyclists just starting out.  Before it was fashionable, Dad knew the importance of physical fitness.  But he also believed fitness should be fun. 

After retiring, Dad began a new career of organizing other cycling events including the popular TOGIR, TIGER, BEAR and LION rides.  He’s bicycled cross-country twice, celebrated his 66th birthday by cycling the entire Route 66 and, with a buddy, biked from Sydney to Melbourne…Australia!!

He’s advocated for improved bicycle lanes, helped lead the Quad Cities Bicycle Club in its exploding growth and speaks to civic groups about the benefits of biking.  My nephews call him, “Grandpa Bike!”

As for me, I’m so proud of my Dad and celebrate his 40-year milestone with RAGBRAI and his many years of promoting health and fitness through an event and sport he so loves!  Way to go, Dad!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.