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Managing Your Holiday Shopping Stress
By Carol LeBeau
12/10/2012 2:50:19 PM


“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Many of us agree with the sentiment of the familiar Christmas song and eagerly anticipate the excitement, joy and spirit of the holiday season.

But let’s be honest. The holidays can also cause significant stress.  

I’ve got to admit, between the holiday parties and get-togethers, hauling boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic, addressing oodles of holiday cards and finding the perfect gifts for everyone, my Christmas joy can get buried under the weight of all the “stuff” that must be done.

Well, this year’s going to be different…starting with the biggest stressor, holiday shopping.  For once, I’m going to follow these simple stress-relieving shopping tips:

1. Know Your Budget

Much of the stress of the holiday season comes from feeling pressured to buy bigger and better gifts for those we love, even if this puts us in debt.  (Frankly, my loved ones would feel terrible if they thought I had to over-spend on their behalf.)  This year, determine what you can comfortably spend, make a budget and stick with it. “Thoughtful” doesn’t have to mean expensive.

2. Make a List

List all the people you’d like to buy gifts for and how much you’d like to spend.  Then, next to the names, list what you’d like to get each person (This is not rocket science!) Use this as a checklist and you’ll be less likely to spend too much on impulse buys or accidentally buying more than one gift for the same person.

3. Be Efficient

Try to go to only a few stores. Check your list and see how many things you can find at the same store and try to get all of your shopping done at one mall. Try to consolidate all of your shopping into one or two trips. Finish your list first and you’ll have time for some leisurely shopping…just for fun!

4. The Earlier, The Better

For those of you who postpone holiday shopping until the last minute. Don’t! Resist the urge to procrastinate.  If you shop earlier, you’ll have a better selection of gift ideas to choose from, you won’t get stuck in the last-minute rush at the malls and post office and (my personal favorite!) you’ll be able to enjoy being done with your holiday responsibilities so you can just enjoy the season. Earlier is also better when it comes to the time of day to shop.  If possible, shop in the morning.  It’s a good way to avoid crowds, find displays in better order and enjoy a less stressful atmosphere.

5. Consider Shopping Online

While there are some things many of us aren’t comfortable buying online, there a many terrific holiday gifts to be found at your computer.  Online shopping (I love “one-click” shopping at amazon.com!) is a fast, simple and efficient way to get much of your shopping done at once.  In addition to saving you fights over parking spaces and long waits in line, in many cases you can have your gifts wrapped and delivered directly to your recipients – saving you the trouble of wrapping and the visit to the post office. (Several of our friends will be receiving mouth-watering gifts from kansascitysteaks.com this year!)

By employing this seemingly simple advice, I’m now halfway through the holiday season minus the anxiety, fear and dread I often suffer this time of year! Oh…a few more tried and true tips:

1. Buy Duplicates

If you find a great gift at a great price, consider getting one for several people on your list. This is a great way to save time and money.

2. Include Gift Receipts

Ask for receipts at the register and include them with your wrapped gifts.  You’ll have peace of mind know that if the gift doesn’t work out, it can be exchanged.

3. Get Gift Cards

For giving or receiving I LOVE gift cards!  They’re available for everything from movies to massages.  They’re quick to buy and easy to send and still offer sweet sentiments to your loved ones.

4. Let the Post Office be Your Friend

No need to lug your gifts to the post office and stand in long lines anymore.  Get them to come to you!  Visit the USPS website to find out how easy it is to get a postal carrier to come to your door, pick up your packages and deliver them for you!

This year, why not join me as we enjoy the holidays more by simplifying some of the work so we can focus on what makes this time of year special: love!

Happy Holidays!

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

The Great Pumpkin
12/7/2012 1:38:47 PM

The holidays are here and that means it’s finally pumpkin season! For me, that’s reason to celebrate because I love, love pumpkin pie. My husband will tell you it’s just an excuse to eat whipped cream (another of my most fave foods!) But that’s just not true. I actually picked up

a pumpkin pie at Albertsons the other day…just for me!  Within two days, my personal pie was no more than an empty pan. 

I suppose I should feel guilty for my annual splurge of the creamy confection I have loved since childhood.  But the more I learn about what’s good about pumpkin, the better I feel.  (Ok, an entire pie is a little over-the-top.)  But it doesn’t stop there.

Pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin beer – the options are endless and endlessly mouth watering this time of year.

Not only is fall’s signature squash versatile enough to fit into all the above, it also packs some powerful health perks like keeping heart health, vision and waistlines in check (although you might want to eat your pie one piece at a time!)

Here are eight reasons why the Great Pumpkin is great for your health!

Pumpkins Keep Eyesight Sharp

A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your RDA of vitamin A, which aids vision, especially in dim light. Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, including beta-carotene, which the body converts into a form of vitamin A for additional peeper protection.

Pumpkins Aid Weight Loss

Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with three grams per one-cup serving and only 49 calories (without the whipped cream!) it can keep you feeling full longer on fewer calories.

Pumpkin Seeds Can Help Your Heart

Nuts and seeds, including those from pumpkins, are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been show in studies to reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol.”

Pumpkins May Reduce Cancer Risk

Like their orange comrades the sweet potato, the carrot and butternut squash, pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Pumpkins Protect the Skin

According the “Health” magazine, the same free-radical-neutralizing powers of the carotenoids in pumpkin that may keep cancer cells at bay can also help keep the skin wrinkle-free.

Pumpkin Seeds Can Boost Your Mood

Pumpkins seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan…important in production of seratonin, one of the major players when it comes to your mood.  Web MD reports, “a handful of roasted pumpkin seed may help your outlook stay bright.”

Pumpkins Can Help After a Hard Workout

Bananas are often touted as nature’s energy bar. But a cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient, potassium with 565 milligrams to a banana’s 422.  A little extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.

Pumpkins Can Boost Your Immune System

Well, maybe. Whether or not vitamin C can really ward off colds is still up for debate, but pumpkins are a solid source of the essential nutrient.  One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 11 milligrams, or nearly 20 percent of the 60 milligrams recommended daily for women. (Men should aim for 75 mg.)

Tis the season for overindulging…but go for the treats featuring pumpkin and you won’t have to beat yourself up.  That creamy piece of pumpkin pie is packed with all kinds of good things for your health.  Just take it easy on the whipped cream. 

I will if you will!

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

Meet Bing, My New Cat!
By Carol LeBeau
12/4/2012 2:08:05 PM

I lost my sweet kitty “Little Girl” recently.  I can’t even describe how much I miss the not-so-little rescue tabby that brightened my life and our home for many years.

In a bizarre twist of fate, the faithful feline who never left my side as I recovered from breast cancer surgery earlier this year, succumbed two months ago to an aggressive form of lung cancer.

For weeks, I instinctively looked for Little Girl on her favorite chair in the office and   longed for the warm spot she created curled up against my leg as I slept. It’s not that I haven’t loved and lost a precious pet before.  It just seemed to hurt more this time.

But time really does heal, and after two months, Tom and I realized our house just wasn’t a home without a cat to love. And with so many kitties out there who needed love, we decided now was the time. With countless shelters and rescue facilities from which to choose, we started in our own backyard at the wonderful Coronado Animal Care Facility.

It was Samantha who first caught my eye. The stunning 10-year-old calico was seated majestically atop her kitty condo. But as I reached out to pet her, a scrawny black kitten climbed right up my leg! Like Velcro, Little Luigi stuck with me while I met the rest of the gang. 

Rufus, a rambunctious 7-month-old butterscotch…Levi, a thoughtful tabby… timid but sweet Sarah…loveable Lucy and two darling, little jet-black brothers named Miney and Mo. And that was just the first enclosure.

As we wandered the facility, (Luigi still hanging around my neck!)  Tom alerted me to a quiet, one-year old female intently (hopefully?) watching us from her cage.  Looking back, I believe the timid little white cat with tabby markings chose us.  Because as “Bing” purred and nuzzled our hands, I knew I was ready to love another kitty. 

Bing, Luigi, Samantha and the rest of the gang at Coronado’s Animal Care Facility are ready to adopt and love because of an amazing grass roots organization called PAWS, Pacific Animal Welfare Society of Coronado (pawsofcoronado.org).

The team at PAWS believes that “Saving the life of one animal will not change the world, but for that one animal, the world will change forever.” 

Since 2003, PAWS has worked closely with the Coronado Animal Care Facility to provide shelter and find homes for the orphaned cats and dogs of Coronado…including stray or abandoned animals, those surrendered by their humans or rescued from abuse or neglect.

From the moment we entered the facility, the animals in their care were extremely socialized relaxed, trusting and loving.  I learned it’s due, in large part, to the PAWS cat petting (and dog walking) programs.

Because of the caring hands and hearts of the ACF staff and PAWS volunteers, our new buddy, Bing has quickly and effortlessly become part of our family. In fact, in true cat style, Bing has quickly becoming the boss around here!  She’s a love and we’re blessed to have found her. 

Actually, I think Bing found us!

If you’re looking for a pet to love, consider rescuing a cute critter from one of many animal rescue facilities in San Diego County including:

  • San Diego County Humane Society (San Diego)
  • Friends of Cats (El Cajon)
  • Helen Woodward Animal Center (Rancho Santa Fe)

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

How to Know if You're Too Sick to Exercise
By Carol LeBeau
12/2/2012 3:15:39 PM

The moment I woke up, I knew something was wrong.  The left side of my throat was scratchy and sore.  Mildly dizzy and a touch achy, I felt like going back to sleep.  In retrospect, that may have been a good idea.

Looking forward to a good workout with my Saturday morning swim group at La Jolla Cove, I discounted my symptoms and told myself I wasn’t going to let a little head cold get in the way of my plans.  Why, a chilly dip in the ocean might just be what I needed to ward off my symptoms.  

Bad decision. The next two weeks I was down for the count – sore throat, runny nose, body aches and fatigue. Hard to say for sure, but that brisk swim may have just turned a little head cold into the virus from hell!

The onset of the flu season brings some tricky exercise questions: Is it OK to hit the gym with a stuffy nose? Or take your Pilates class while nursing a fever?

Whether to exercise while sick depends on your symptoms.  Doctors say in most cases, exercise is fine if you have simple cold symptoms, including a runny nose, sinus headache or scratchy throat.

But you should probably avoid exercise with flu-like symptoms including a heavy cough, body aches, chills or diarrhea.  Even with a cold, it may be difficult to work out with the same intensity. I’ve found I need to lower my exercise expectations when I’m fighting a bug.  (Some easy laps in a heated pool may have been a healthier alternative to my planned open water workout.)

“When you’re feeling ill,” says Dr. Keith Veselik, medical director of primary care at Loyola University, “first take your temperature.  If you have a fever, your heart is already pumping harder and your metabolism is revved, so working out would make you feel worse and raise your body temperature.”  He adds, “If your temperature is above 100.5 degrees, take time away from the gym.”

My doctor suggests doing a “neck check” for a quick answer on whether to work out.  Symptoms originating below the neck mean you should take a few days off.  Those above the neck mean you shouldn’t have to break your routine.

As a general rule, avoid group exercise classes to keep from spreading germs. Obviously, those with chronic conditions including heart disease or diabetes should check with their doctor before exercising.

Fearing I’ll lose my fitness level, I become impatient getting over the flu and come back too quickly.  That mistake has cost me more time without exercise due to relapse.  Best advice I’ve ever received?  Listen to your body.  If you find yourself literally “willing” yourself through your workout, take some time off.  (There’s nothing like “fresh” arms after a little break from swimming!)  It’s ok to rest and let your body heal itself.

And for those who tend to give up a little too quickly, it is possible to be too cautious when feeling sick.  Know when to ease up, but don’t stop exercising at the first sign of illness because exercise is a natural immunity boost says Dr. Veselik. 

Just give it a try and see how you feel.  Trust what that still, small voice is trying to tell you. Because staying healthy can sometimes be more art than science.


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


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