She’s San Diego’s favorite weathercaster – for good reason. Pat Brown delivers the weather on 10News with accuracy, clarity and a positive spirit that’s hard to resist. With a twinkle in her eye, a lilt in her voice and her signature sunny smile, you have to wonder can cold fronts, high-pressure systems and Doppler radar images make someone that happy?
The short answer is yes! As a friend and media colleague, I’ve known Pat Brown for 25 years and believe me, she’s the same Pat on and off the air. Since I tend to be one of those moody, melancholic, glass-half-empty people, I’ve long admired and envied Pat’s perpetual positivity.
What makes her so chronically cheerful?
“I love what I do,” exclaims the winsome weathercaster. “When you’re talking about the weather, it’s a beautiful thing. God’s the artist and I get to tell the story!” (See what I mean?!)
Pat admits she was definitely born with “happy genes,” but believes her upbringing stirred those genes to expression. “I was blessed to grow up in a loving family.”
But Pat adds she also chooses to be happy, no matter her circumstances.
“I’ve had huge down events in my life – losing my Mom, getting divorced and being laid off. It hasn’t always been easy.” But each time her world spins out of control, she stays anchored with encouragement from her friends and hope from her faith. “Maybe,” Pat muses, “I’m not always happy, but I’m usually content.”
Pat is also intentional about finding joy in life. She keeps her life simple … not a lot of “stuff” and free from debt. “I love to read, travel and learn. I’m happy when my mind is stimulated.” She also revels in life’s simple pleasures – a good night’s sleep, being outdoors, volunteering and her cool cats, “Romeow” and “Buddy!”
According to Palomar Health Psychiatrist Benjamin Hidy, M.D.,Pat exemplifies a lifestyle conducive to joy and contentment. “Pat is clearly comfortable in her own skin,” says Dr. Hidy. “Her happiness is not tied to material possessions, wealth or achievement. She finds time for herself and has a good sense of who she is in the world.”
Pat says she’s also grateful and doesn’t take life for granted. “I get up every morning and thank God for another day.” Then she enjoys her favorite breakfast, (granola and yogurt with pomegranate seeds!) with her kitties sprawled on her lap.
But Pat Brown is not only happy. She’s healthy. And it begs the question; can a sunny outlook mean fewer colds and less heart disease? Do hope and curiosity somehow protect against hypertension and diabetes?
Dr. Hidy says research on this new avenue of public health is presently inconclusive, but, he says, evidence shows stress and depression can harm the body. (See Q&A, below)
Full of excitement at the prospect of a weather system that might bring rain, Pat Brown continues to delight her viewers with her trusted forecasts and unbridled joy.
Q&A With Palomar Health Psychiatrist Benjamin Hidy, M.D.
Forget dieting and exercise! Why not make 2015 a happier New Year with a little attitude adjustment? According to Palomar Health Psychiatrist Benjamin Hidy, M.D., change is possible. I asked him if turning that frown upside down could contribute to better health.
Carol: Are happy people healthier?
Dr. Hidy: While research is inconclusive, we do know people who manage stress successfully can improve their overall health, both mentally and physically.
Carol: Why is that?
Dr. Hidy: People who are content – at peace – tend to feel more confident in stressful situations and don’t become quite as overwhelmed.
Carol: Conversely, how does unhappiness affect health?
Dr. Hidy: Depression, as a clinical diagnosis, can lead to hypertension, obesity, diabetes and other diseases.
Carol: Are we hard-wired to be either one or the other?
Dr. Hidy: It’s not as simple as genetics or environment. A lot of factors from upbringing to whether the barista got your coffee order right influence how we view the world.
Carol: Can we change our wiring?
Dr. Hidy: You can choose to change habits, recognize thinking patterns and reactions to situations. It’s hard work but it's worth it.
Carol: How do you start?
Dr. Hidy: I recommend working with a professional. Often medication and/or psychotherapy can help begin the process.
Carol: Do you believe happiness is tied to circumstances?
Dr. Hidy: Actually, people who are happiest have a good sense of who they are. They’re not tied down by expectations, debt and “stuff.” The sense of freedom is liberating.
Carol: Sounds wonderful. How do I get started?
Dr. Hidy: First, find time each day for yourself. Engage in activities and surround yourself with people who make you feel present, competent and valued.
Carol: And if you suspect your unhappiness may be depression?
Dr. Hidy: Please, see your doctor! Depression is an illness that needs medical treatment.
I’m a big fan of innovation and technology. How did we ever get along before the TV remote?! That said, I’m really pretty “old school.” I still get the newspaper and read books (the bound, paper kind!). I prefer phone calls to email and texting and would much rather shop in a store than on line. Believe it or not, I actually don’t mind watching a TV show live…with the commercials!
But then again, I’m no spring chicken and sometimes change is a challenge as I age. So it was with great joy I recently read a fun article in Real Simple magazine on the many health and beauty products that have transcended time…including stuff I use today…and have been using for decades!
Why? Because they’re wonderful…and they work!
Remember Dippity-do? The popular pink gel was invented in 1965 for setting curls. As a teen, I couldn’t live without it. And it’s still around. With its unique, jellylike texture, Dippity-do later gained popularity among young men. As a result, the packaging went from a jar to a blue squeeze bottle. Despite all the other gels, sprays and mousses out there, when I want to make sure my hair won’t move, a little Dippity-do will do it!
Speaking of unmovable hair…there’s not a “firm hold” hair spray that can compete with good old AquaNet. Dubbed the “all-weather” hair spray, AquaNet is famous for providing a firm, lasting hold in any climate. I admit, I don’t use the spray every day, but I’ve got a travel size in my purse for times when my hair needs to be bullet proof!
Remember Biore’? The first-of-a-kind strips are still removing blackheads since its launch in 1997. How ‘bout the Clinique Facial Soap Bar? Around since 1968, this must-have cleansing bar was (and still is) part of the three-step skin care system Clinique is famous for.
But when it comes to cleansing, my personal favorite has been around since 1947 and still going strong. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is my dermatologist’s favorite…for good reason. Soap and fragrance-free the gentle formula is safe for all skin types. (I keep the handy cleansing cloths in my travel bag.)
Did you know Q-tips have been around since 1923? They’re still in every home in America…along with Vaseline and ChapStick…both around since the 1800’s!
For my dry skin, I buy Dove Beauty Bars in bulk at Costco! Soap dates back to at least 600 B.C., but until 1957, when the Dove Bar was introduced, it was always considered drying. The first soap-free cleanser on the market, the Dove Bar was innovative because it cleaned without stripping skin. (It’s still Dove’s best-selling product globally!)
My absolutely-can’t-do-without legendary product was introduced in 1945. Aquaphor was initially used as a base for preparing other emulsions…then revamped as a multi-purpose salve in 1998…when it became known as the “healing ointment.” I gotta have it for everything from chapped lips to chafing from my Speedo!
Oh, don’t forget Johnson’s “No More Tears” Baby Shampoo formula…and for us big kids, “Clairol’s Professional Shimmer Lights Shampoo….predating by 30 years the explosion of color-enhancing and preserving shampoos.
Who can forget Chanel No. 5, MAC’s Lip Pencil in Spice and Maybelline’s Great Lash Mascara. Introduced back in 1971, Great Lash sold once every 1.3 seconds in the US and still (in my humble opinion) beats the pricey brands, hands-down.
These are but a few of the lotions, potions and fragrances that have claimed their spots in the pantheon of beauty greats. I challenge you to give them a try…for the first time, or for the first time in a while. You won’t be disappointed.
When it comes to technology, I may be a dinosaur. But when products stand the test of time, I think it’s OK to be a little “old school.”
I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of all the doom and gloom email forwards that fill my inbox. I guess the one about AIDS-tainted needles imbedded in movie-theater seats is making the rounds again. I’m sure I’ve deleted it a half dozen times over the years.
Although I refuse to buy into the sky-is-falling emails, it hacks me off when these scary (and often irresponsible) warnings plant a seed of doubt. I actually found myself scanning my seat before a movie recently…just in case a needle was about to stick me in the bum.
Well, no more. No more hand wringing over bacteria or other dangers lurking out there. I’m going to relax and enjoy life…and I owe it all to a viral email from someone who has also had it with those email “freak-outs.”
Kinda puts everything in perspective, don’t you think?
“As we progress through 2014, I want to thank you for your educational e-mails over the past year. I am totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery.
I can no longer open a bathroom door without using a paper towel, nor let the waitress put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.
I can't sit down on a hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.
I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one's nose.
Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have consumed over the years.
I can't touch any woman's handbag for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public toilet.
I must send my special thanks for the email about rat poo in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge on every envelope that needs sealing.
ALSO, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.
I can't have a drink in a bar because I fear I'll wake up in a bathtub full of ice with my kidneys gone.
I can't eat at KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes, feet or feathers.
I can't use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
Thanks to you I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.
Because of your concern, I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.
I no longer buy fuel without taking someone along to watch the car, so a serial killer doesn't crawl in my back seat when I'm filling up.
I no longer use Cling Wrap in the microwave because it causes seven different types of cancer.
And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face, disfiguring me for life.
I no longer go to shopping centers because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.
I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a huge phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore and Uzbekistan ...
Thanks to you I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big black snake could be lurking under the seat and cause me instant death when it bites my butt.
And thanks to your great advice I can't ever pick up a dime coin dropped in the car park because it was probably placed there by a sex molester waiting to grab me as I bend over.
I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bit by the Violin Spider and my hand will fall off.
If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, and the fleas from 120 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor’s ex mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's best friend's beautician!
Oh, and by the way...
A German scientist from Argentina, after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mails with their hand on the mouse.
Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.
P.S. I now keep my toothbrush in the living room, because I was told by email that water splashes over 6 ft. out of the toilet.
NOW YOU HAVE YOURSELF A VERY GOOD DAY”
When I first heard about Shellac two years ago, it sounded too good to be true!
The sign at Tammy’s Nail Salon in Hillcrest touted the benefits of the new “30-minute, in-salon manicure that dries almost instantly, promising perfect polish for two weeks.”
Like many women, I’d tried it all. Maintaining acrylic nails took too much time and left my nails paper-thin. None of the gels last and are a mess when they start to peel. Going natural wasn’t the answer either. My nails constantly chip and crack and most polishes last about a day (especially after working out in a chlorinated swimming pool!)
So, amid the growing “buzz” over the new manicure technique, I gave Shellac a try. Amazingly, the iridescent, candy-red on my fingers stayed fresh, shiny and entirely chip-free for 18 days!! I’ve been a fan ever since.
But a few months ago, a scaly patch appeared on the top of my right hand. So I’ve been taking a time out from my nail routine to check things out. Could that tiny patch possibly be skin cancer? If so, could the nail salon dryer be the cause?
A quick check with my dermatologist ruled out skin cancer, but a Google check confirmed my suspicions. According the Web MD, the dryers emit primarily UVA light-the same kind of ultraviolet light used in tanning beds-and are used to dry nail polish or to harden gel manicures. One study suggests the damage can occur in as few as eight visits to the manicurist.
But don’t cancel your next nail gel appointment just yet. While previous studies have linked the UV lamps with increased risk of skin cancer, newer research indicates the risk may be minimal.
After testing 17 different lamps in nail salons, researchers calculated that it would take between eight and 208 visits, depending on the machine, to damage skin cells in a way that raises cancer risk.
Published in the journal, JAMA Dermatology, lead study author Dr. Lyndsay Shipp explains, “I wouldn’t tell a patient to stop going unless they were going multiple times a month.”
Dr. Shipp’s team believes earlier studies on the UV lamps may have been flawed. “There is a theoretical risk,” says Dr. Shipp, “but it’s very low.”
The study explains lamps with higher wattage bulbs emit the highest levels of UV radiation, but it’s not easy for a salon client to check the wattage before using a machine.
What to do? If, like me, you’re concerned about the possible risk, but want to continue getting gel manicures using UV light, here are a couple of options:
1. Coat your hands with sunscreen before having gel nails applied
2. Wear UV-protective gloves with the fingertips cut off so only the nails are exposed to the light.
As far as I’m concerned, problem solved! And if I run into you at Tammy’s Salon, I’m happy to share my sunscreen!
For all you “foodies” out there, this may be hard to believe, but I have never watched the Food Network. I can’t tell you where to find the Cooking Channel either.
I realize it’s my loss. It seems everyone I know loves to watch and learn from cooking shows. And while I could certainly use a little help in the kitchen (just ask my long-suffering husband!), I’ve just never found slicing and dicing or simmering and sautéing all that interesting to watch.
Until I met Melissa d’Arabian!
Left: Melissa d'Arabian (3rd from left) with emcee, Pat Brown (left), yours truly and friend, Vicki Hesterman.
The New York Times best-selling cookbook author, host of “Ten Dollar Dinners,” and winner of the “Next Food Network Star” recently wowed a crowd of 400 as the keynote speaker at my church’s (First United Methodist Church, San Diego) annual “Spring Fling” women’s luncheon.
Melissa may be a pretty face, a celebrity chef, and an engaging TV host, but as she shared her compelling life story, it became clear she also possesses an inner beauty and depth of character not often seen in the celebrity world.
Early in her work life, d’Arabian found success in corporate America. She received her MBA from Georgetown University and was enjoying a career in corporate finance when she met her now husband, Philippe, in Paris.
When the two returned to the States and started their family in Coronado, d’Arabian made a career shift to stay-at-home mom. And with four daughters close in age, her work schedule was packed full.
One challenge was figuring out how to feed four young children on a sustainable budget, but with her love of cooking and financial savvy, d’Arabian discovered how to kill two birds with one stone. She began making her own baby food and yogurt at home. “I was saving $125 to $150 a month on yogurt alone!” she says.
The idea became so popular among her friends and family, she began self-recording home yogurt-making tutorials on her cell phone to share with even more moms.
The concept of combining delicious recipes and money-saving techniques spread quickly leading to her victory on season five of Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star.”
That was five years ago and the TV competition was true to its name. Melissa is now well known as the star of Food Network’s “Ten Dollar Dinners.” She has a best-selling cookbook of the same name and her second book is due out soon. She is also featured in numerous publications.
But Melissa’s successes are just part of her story. The gifted, bright-eyed beauty is also a down-to-earth, passionate woman of faith…a faith that has carried her through life’s trials, including her mother’s suicide when Melissa was only 19 years old.
As Melissa shared, it became clear that success and celebrity are not what’s most important in her life. Her main focus is to be on the path God wants her to be on, which affects her daily decisions as a woman, wife, mother and professional. “I focus on staying in a place where I’m grateful for everything I have. Faith is what gets me through.”
Melissa has even turned the pain of her mother’s loss into an opportunity to help others as she champions the cause of suicide prevention through a variety of organizations. She is an active Girl Scout leader for her daughters and was recently honored by the organization as one of San Diego’s “Cool Women.”
I have to agree with the Girl Scouts. In fact, Melissa d’Arabian is not only “cool,” she’s a breath of fresh air. And now that I’m one of her fans, I plan to DVR her show, if for no other reason than to get a little boost from her million-dollar smile.
Who knows, I may even learn how to separate an egg in the process!
(I recommend her Salad Nicoise. It’s yummy and so easy, even I can make it!)
Imagine sadness so profound, despair so deep, that it seems the only way out is suicide. Tragically, that scene plays out for hundreds of San Diegans every year.
In 2012, 413 men, women and, yes, even children, died at their own hands – a record number of suicides in San Diego. Sadly, the number of self-inflicted deaths continues to rise, with no end in sight.
Perhaps that explains the huge turnout recently for the annual “Save a Life” Walk sponsored by Survivors of Suicide Loss. A record crowd of 2,000 gathered for the annual 3.1-mile trek around Balboa Park, with most walking in memory of loved ones lost to suicide. (Learn more www.soslsd.org).
Despite the disturbing theme, as a survivor (I lost my mother to suicide) and participant, I assure you the “Save a Life” Walk is neither depressing nor somber, but full of love, laughter and hope – due, in part, to the presence of Pastor Joe Davis.
As we gathered together before the 5K begins, emotions run raw for many. But Joe’s uplifting invocation never fails to include a perfect prayer to comfort those who have survived the loss of a loved one to suicide.
You might say Joe’s the perfect guy for the job! Every day, as chaplain for the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office, Joe ministers to grieving families dealing with all kinds of traumatic death, including suicide.
Every time he speaks at the annual Walk, Joe says he can count on someone coming up to him, reminding him about the time he came to their home, “with the news that their son, or wife, or father had died at their own hands.”
It’s an emotionally taxing job, but the affable and easy-going Joe believes he’s been called to comfort families and friends of loved ones who have died. He deals with death of every description. “What makes suicide different,” says the chaplain, “is that other deaths can usually be explained.” So Joe says his job is to be there for distraught loved ones “trying to make sense out of something that never makes sense.”
He admits, dealing daily with death and human anguish hasn’t been easy. Several years ago, plagued by emotional stress and stomach problems, Joe turned to prayer asking, “If I’m supposed to be doing this, why is it so hard?”
He believes God’s answer was loud and clear, “If you’re going to get that involved, you’re no good to the families and you’re no good to me.”
“Now, instead of being part of the storm,” explains Joe, “I’m the calm in the midst of the storm.”
But last year, in a tragic irony, the “storm” came to Joe personally when he got the call that rocked his world. Following years of depression, his own father had taken his life. “It was the most painful, horrible training I’ve ever had,” Joe told me, tears welling up.
As he deals with his own lingering pain, Joe believes his experience has helped him better help others. “Now I can honestly say, ‘I know what you’re going through.’”
And so Joe continues his unpaid job, as the only full-time chaplain for a medical examiner in the US, with his faith and signature sense of humor to carry him through the next crisis.
“I don’t know the shelf life of a coroner’s chaplain,” quips Davis. “I’m just being obedient to where I’m supposed to be.”
Thank you for making a difference, Joe.
Q&A with Badalin Helvink, M.D.
According to Badalin Helvink, M.D., medical director of the Psychiatry Program at the Palomar Center for Behavioral Health, suicide is our nation’s top public health issue. Here she explains how we all play a role in saving lives.
Carol: Why is the suicide rate rising?
Dr. Helvink: Violence, economic stress, substance abuse, depression and anxiety, family history of mental illness, access to guns, lack of access to health care … take your pick!
Carol: How do we get a handle on the problem?
Dr. Helvink: First, by talking about it. Sadly, a stigma still exists when it comes to mental illness.
Carol: Why can’t we get past the stigma?
Dr. Helvink: Unfortunately, the barriers are still there. Families don’t want to talk about it. Patients don’t want to be on medication.
Carol: What about the media?
Dr. Helvink: Sensationalized celebrity suicides can actually cause a copycat effect. Cyberbullying through social media causes severe pressure on kids. Nearly 16 percent of kids admit thinking about suicide.
Carol: Sounds like an issue for everyone.
Dr. Helvink It takes a village—a collaborative effort of family, friends, community and providers.
Carol: How can I help prevent a suicide?
Dr. Helvink: If you know someone who’s struggling – isolating, consumed with sadness or morbidly preoccupied – don’t wait for them to “snap out of it.” Reach out.
Carol: How do you know when it’s serious?
Dr. Helvink In my practice, if I hear, “I’m a burden” or “I can’t live like this anymore,” or when a teen hears her friend say she “wishes she were dead.” If they voice it, take it seriously.
Carol: Some say suicide is an act of cowardice.
Dr. Helvink: I invite them to have compassion about something that’s tragic, and for many, a result of major depressive disorder.
Carol: Can there be a happy ending?
Dr. Helvink: I had a patient who took a serious overdose. After successful treatment for her depression, she told me she never knew she could actually feel good again.
Carol: What do you want people to know?
Dr. Helvink Depression is a very treatable condition. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There is help.
See our full story on Behavioral Health in The HealthSource.
Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month which is a good time to be extra vigilant with friends and loved ones dealing with extreme sadness or a sense of hopelessness.
Warning signs that someone may be thinking about or planning to commit suicide include:
• Always talking or thinking about death
• Clinical depression – deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating that gets worse
• Having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
• Losing interest in things one used to care about
• Making comments about being hopeless, helpless or worthless
• Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
• Saying things like "it would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
• Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
• Talking about suicide or killing one's self
• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
Be especially concerned if a person is exhibiting any of these warning signs and has attempted suicide in the past. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20 and 50 percent of people who commit suicide have had a previous attempt.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.