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4/15/2013 11:17:54 AM

I love my in-laws. Seriously. I realize that’s anathema for many of you. I know. I’ve heard the horror stories. It’s just not my story. When I married Tom, I hit the jackpot. Along with finding the love of my life, I became part of a most remarkable family.

Last month, nearly every branch of the Hamilton family tree was represented at a reunion of sorts in Destin, Fla. Since most of the clan hail from the eastern and mid-Atlantic states, a little time in the sunshine along Florida’s Gulf Coast was a welcome break from the late winter’s wrath.

Brothers, sisters, cousins and spouses converged on the resort community setting up camp in a lovely high-rise condo complex overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The Emerald Coast at Destin is actually part of the famous 90-mile “miracle strip” between Pensacola and Panama City and it is stunning!

Accustomed to beautiful beaches here in San Diego, Tom and I (the “California cousins”) were nonetheless blown away by the breathtaking beauty of the Gulf Coast’s sparkling white beaches and aquamarine waters.

But as the family arrived, the mild weather and ocean views quickly took a back seat to what I call “aerobic” visiting…a fun-filled, week-long, non-stop gab fest! Fourteen of us packed into a different condo each night laughing, scratching, telling stories and just spending time together. The “women folk” prepared homemade desserts that would make Martha Stewart weep.

Thanks to Cousin Robert’s stories and Cousin Billy’s jokes there was no shortage of laughter and groans! Daytime activities included walks on the beach with Cousin Carolyn, touring with Tom’s brother, Clay, lunch with sweet Susan and movie matinees with Patsy, Donna and the rest of the gals.

Dinner out meant a trip to “Louis Louis’s” for some fabulous, fresh fish. My mouth still waters when I think about the great grouper I devoured at the eclectic local eatery. Destin is known as the world’s luckiest fishing village, so mouth-watering fresh fish is a staple at most of the coastal restaurants.

But if you don’t fancy fish, I recommend going Italian the iconic Fat Clemenza’s Brick Oven Pizzeria. The eggplant parmigiana is to die for. But that’s just the start. It would take months to sample every restaurant and eatery in the resort community. I’m still working off the extra pounds. But I assure you, it was worth every calorie!

Even for this California girl, Florida’s playground proved the perfect reunion getaway for a heaping helping of food, family and fun!
Coming from a small family, I remember being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of Tom’s extended family. No more! I’m just grateful to have been grafted into this fun-loving, faith-filled, caring and fiercely loyal family.

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

Fat-Fighting Foods
By Carol LeBeau
4/10/2013 2:54:30 PM


Spring may be in the air, but summer is just around the corner and that means swimsuit season is upon us. (At my age, it’s actually become more like capris and T-shirt season!) But whatever stage of undress you plan to display this summer, now’s the time to start paring down and tightening up.

Exercise is a great start, but eating right can get you to your goal weight faster than anything.

Like you, I hate, HATE dieting, but love little nutrition “tricks” that help maintain my weight without embarking on some cumbersome, complicated diet “program.”

Fortunately, some foods can actually help you fight fat! I’ve been “sneaking” some of these slimming super foods into my diet lately and already last year’s capri’s are feeling a little looser!

Perhaps these fat-fighting foods can help you look your best no matter what you plan to wear this summer!

1. Chili powder This spicy powder contains capsinoids, which burn belly fat. When volunteers in a 2009 study popped 6 grams of capsinoid oil a day, they lost five times as much fat as those who did not.
2. Grapefruit When volunteers ate half a grapefruit before every meal in a University of Arizona study, they shaved an inch off their waists, thanks to naringenin, which experts say may help burn fat.
3. Nonfat ricotta Muscle loss as you age can tank your metabolism. Made from whey protein, ricotta can enhance muscle building and metabolism.
4. Bell peppers Vitamin C is an unsung weight loss weapon, and one bell pepper provides twice your daily dose.
5. Romaine lettuce Filling up with a leafy green can trim the overall number of calories you eat by 10 percent; two cups of romaine rack up half your daily fill of Vitamin A, plus 11.3 percent of bone-building Vitamin K.
6. Nuts Their satisfying trifecta of protein, healthy fat and fiber can help you slim down. To slow your intake, choose nuts in their shells.
7. Melon Satisfy your sweet tooth by spooning a thick slice from the rind for just 45 calories.
8. Canned salmon Protein requires more calories to digest and keeps you feeling full. With nearly 17 grams of it per three ounces, salmon makes getting your fill of protein a breeze. (If, like me, you just can’t do canned salmon go for a small can of nice, light, white albacore tuna!)
9. Edamame Packed with an intelligent combo of protein, healthy fat and fiber, these pods are guaranteed to keep you full and satisfied for hours.
10. Dark chocolate (yes!) chips These flavor bombs put the brakes on a craving. The little pieces fool you into thinking you’re getting more, helping you eat less, finds new research.
So, fire up for swimsuit season by filling up on these fun, fat-fighting foods.

See you at the beach!

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

A Dose of Humility
By Carol LeBeau
4/6/2013 1:55:12 PM

Humility is not a word usually associated with a leader these days. Yet that was the word the media have most often used to describe the new Pope of the Catholic Church…to be known only as Francis.

While extensive media coverage highlighted the new Pontiff’s impressive academic background and doctrinal stands, the “buzz” kept coming back to his servant’s heart.
In Buenos Aires as Bishop, he rode the bus. He cooked his own meals. He washed the feet of people with AIDS. Radical stuff!

Really? Has the whole world become so self-absorbed that the notion of a leader who serves is breaking news? How sad.

Humility and modesty are two character strengths often overlooked in the modern day. Look how much of our attention is focused on “worshiping” celebrities who are completely self-absorbed and egotistical.

Like the popular country song, “it’s hard to be humble…” but it’s of critical importance if we’re going to get along and be happy in life.

Part of the problem is that humility gets such a bad rap! To be humble is not to be weak. It’s also not about being a doormat to be walked over.

Humility is simply this…having a healthy perspective of your abilities (neither egotism nor low self esteem) as well as your limitations – combined with value for the importance and abilities of others.

Tao Te Ching said this about humility:

“All streams flow to the sea
Because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power.
If you want to govern people,
You must place yourself below them.
If you want to lead the people,
You must learn how to follow them.”

Don’t we all love humility in other people? How many times have we pointed out the boss, athlete or celebrity who’s so nice, kind and down to earth? Maybe that’s why so many are drawn to the humble leader of a 1.2 billion-member church who still pays his own hotel bill?

And guess what? Humility is good for your health! Here are a few benefits mental health experts say come from humility:

  • A reduction of anxiety, fear and depression
  • A reduction in conflict, anger and aggression
  • An increase in happiness and well-being
  • An increase in optimism
  • An improvement in friendship and intimate relationships
  • Openness for new experiences and new learning
  • Greater empathy, compassion and altruism
  • Higher job satisfaction and morale at work

While humility may be good for the soul, clearly a servant’s heart is also good for daily living. The new Pope apparently agrees. As he took his place for the first time on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis did not seek to bless but to be blessed. What a concept.

“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”
Matthew 23:11

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

Allergy Myths
By Carol LeBeau
4/4/2013 2:09:19 PM


From the cheerful red geraniums adorning my neighbor’s patio to the symphony of color popping up along the freeway…spring has arrived in the southland in an explosion of buds and blooms. That’s the good news.

The bad news? For many of us, springtime means seasonal allergies. But is it really those poor little petunias, poppies and pansies causing my eyes to water and itch? Are daffodils, daisies and dandelions to blame for my incessant sneezing? I wanted to know so did a little research that helped separate fact from fiction when it comes to allergies.

What a surprise to learn a lot of what I believed about allergies wasn’t true! Check this out and find out what’s really making you sneeze this spring!

1. Desert Climates Cure Allergies
MYTH. Changing climates can affect your reaction to allergy-triggering substances called allergens – but only to a limited extent. Some Easter and Midwestern plants are rare out west, but grass and ragweed pollens are found nearly everywhere. Besides, once you move, you may simply start reacting to different allergens.

2. Flowers Commonly Trigger Allergies
MYTH. Some florists with prolonged exposure to flowers can have allergy symptoms. But very few people are allergic to a bouquet of beautiful blossoms. (Yay!) The culprit is usually the pollen produced by trees, grasses and weeds (and yes, occasionally flowers) picked up by breezes and carried through the air.

3. There’s No Pollen at the Beach
MYTH. (Surprise to me!) Beaches generally have lower pollen counts. However, grasses are common near beaches, and ragweed pollen can be found as far as 400 miles out to sea! Also, even a short drive or walk from the sand will expose you to the region’s pollen-emitting plant life.

4. Pollen Counts Can Predict Bad Days
FACT. Pollen counts determine how many grains of pollen were measured in a specific amount of air over a specific amount of time. You can use the daily pollen count as a tool for minimizing allergen exposure.

5. You Will Outgrown Your Allergies
MYTH. Some children do outgrow certain allergies. But very few outgrow hay fever. A study in Sweden tracked 82 patients with allergic rhinitis. The patients reported 99 percent still suffered from the allergy 12 years later, although 39 percent reported improvement.

6. Rain Washes Away Pollen
FACT. The best day for allergy sufferers to go outdoors are those immediately following heavy rains. Pollen levels can be affected by temperature, time of day, humidity and rain. Pollen counts run lowest on chilly, soggy days and highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., especially on hot, dry, windy days.

7. Mold Allergies Strike Only Indoors
MYTH. Mold spores are fungi and can be found almost anywhere. They grow on soil, decaying leaves and rotting wood – especially in damp weather. You’re most likely to have an allergic reaction to mold in the summer. Most outdoor molds aren’t active during the winter.

8. Hay Fever Comes From Hay
MYTH. Hay fever isn’t a fever and it doesn’t come from hay! (Sure taught this Iowa girl a thing or two!) Hay fever or allergic rhinitis is caused by tree, grass and weed pollens, as well as mold spores. If you have allergies, you may be more likely to suffer a reaction in a rural area. (But, some studies show children who grow up on farms are less likely to develop allergies.)

9. No Childhood Allergies? No Worries.
MYTH. Allergies often begin in childhood. But you can develop them as an adult, too. Some occur after you change your environment and encounter new allergens. Some adults redevelop symptoms they had during childhood.

10. Regular Injections Can Ease Allergies
FACT. While there are no full cures for allergies, allergy shots – also known as immunotherapy are the closest thing. If you have bad allergies or reactions to many different allergens, you may benefit from immunotherapy. Regular injections may dramatically reduce your reaction to certain allergens.

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


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