Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So What Exactly IS a Green Drink?

There is nothing better than starting your day with a glass of green juice or a green smoothie! For those unfamiliar with green drinks, let's review the difference:

Green juice: A combination of pounds of greens and other vegetables like celery that are juiced together. Because they are juiced, the fiber from the greens is filtered out, resulting in a very smooth liquid. Advocates feel that juicing is an excellent way to obtain daily nutrients. Juicers are typically required for making green juice.

Green smoothies: A combination of fruits and vegetables that are blended instead of juiced. The fiber from the fruits and vegetables is kept intact. A high speed blender is preferred for making smoothies.

Following are some of my favorite green smoothie recipes! Enjoy -- and let me know what you think :)

Dr. Oz Green Drink
(as seen on Oprah)
Serves 1-2

1 cup spinach
4 celery stalks
1 cucumber
1 large apple (cored and peeled)
1 juiced lemon
1 juiced lime
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled)
Small handful of parsley
Water (for blending)
Ice cubes (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a blender except ice cubes. Blend until smooth. It may be necessary to blend on high two or three times. Serve in two tall glasses with ice cubes (if desired).

Apple Lime Smoothie
Serves 1-2

5 medium bananas
2 apples (cored and peeled)
2 leaves kale
1 cup of spinach
2 medium juiced limes
1/4 cup water
Ice cubes to taste (optional)

Place all ingredients in blender except ice cubes. Blend. Add ice cubes. Blend again. Serve in tall glasses.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

E-book Gift-Giving Made Easy for Kindle Apps

This holiday season, I gave my best friend a Kindle! I have loved my ebook reader since I got it last July... and wanted to share the joy! Why the Kindle you ask? As opposed to the nook or one of the many other e-books? One of the main reasons is that as of November, I was able to buy a Kindle book as a gift. It has been surprisingly difficult with any of the services to purchase books as gifts until then.

When you purchase a Kindle book for someone, obtaining the gift is really easy. You will need to enter their email address at the time of purchase. The recipient will then need to click on a link in the email and click on another link once they get to the Amazon site to accept the gift. Once accepted, all that remains is downloading the book to their Kindle. This same process also works for any of the free Kindle apps, including those for the PC, smartphone or tablets rather than the device itself.

As a Kindle user who has many friends with Kindles, I'm glad that Amazon finally began offering this option. And I'm surprised that Apple, Barnes & Noble and Sony haven't followed Amazon's lead! Think of all the money being left on the table! What retailer can afford to do that?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Are YOU a victim of recall fatigue?

Seems like every time I turn the television on lately... there is a new recall. 2010 started with the big Toyota and Tylenol recalls ... and then within the past month, McDonald's asked customers to return 12 million Shrek glasses... Campbell Soup asked that we return 15 million pounds of Spaghetti-Os... 2 million cribs were recalled by 7 crib manufacturers... and Kellogg's warned us about 28 million boxes of Froot Loops and other cereals. Doctor's offices were even dinged for handing out trinkets with Cadmium as a treat for good little boys and girls. Frighteningly... those products we heard about are just a fraction of the items that were recalled in the United States just over the last month.

Most of us never even find out if a product we own, use or are planning to consume has been recalled. Even though the government maintains a massive recall site at www.recalls.gov... and a SmartPhone app makes it possible to check for recalls as you shop. Seems like overload to me! If you paid attention to every recall notice that comes out, it would be more than a full time job.

So it's obvious that the national recall system that we have simply doesn't work. The easy part is getting the items pulled from the shelves. The hard part is dealing with those items that are already in our homes. It's been noted that the best way to deal with this is for the manufacturers to notify the consumers directly... so they are aware that a particular recall applies to them. Well... that's one thing to have a car manufacturer use registration information provided at the time of purchase to notify me when my brakes are defective... but I really don't want to complete a registration card for each can of SpaghettiOs or box of Froot Loops I buy... do you?

Notification concerns were behind a new federal law that took effect this week that requires manufacturers of durable baby and toddler items (such as bathtubs, cribs and high chairs) to include registration cards with those products. But what guarantee is there that they will be completed and returned? Brings to mind the registration card I just pitched for the new entertainment center in my den!

Another alternative is that all stores be responsible to maintain customer information and track purchases, similar to Costco, so that notification is easy in the event of a recall. However, do you want your health insurance provider to have easy access to each bag of potato chips you purchased so they can refuse your high cholesterol treatment? Thought so... :) A blog post for another day ;)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How Often Should I Weigh Myself?

University of Minnesota researchers reviewed studies with 3,000 people who were either trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss. Of those 3,000 people, approximately 40% weighed themselves daily, 20% weekly, and the remainder avoided the scale as much as possible. After 2 years, folks who did daily weigh-ins lost an average of 12 pounds. Weekly weigh-ins lost 6. While those who avoided their scales gained 4.

Folks who did daily weight checks said that their frequency helps them to avoid gaining back unwanted pounds. If they see the scale creep up a bit, they act on it quickly. Researchers speculate that consistent scale feedback helps dieters set goals and eliminate small fluctuations before they are large gains.

However, there is a lot more to a scale than a mere measure of weight. In our culture, we (women especially) have given scales a lot of power. Their feedback of our weight tends to directly correlate with our body image and self confidence. I am sure that your daily, weekly, or infrequent weigh-ins have their own ritual... Perhaps you...

1. Carefully clean your scale before stepping onto it?
2. Grab the towel rack and gingerly set each foot onto the scale before releasing the bar and gently easing your weight onto it?
3. Hold your breath, close your eyes, look down and only then carefully open your eyes?
4. Measure a known quantity item, e.g., a 10 pound bag of flour, to ensure your scale's accuracy before weighing yourself?

I don't know too many women who can blithely hop onto their scale, glance disinterestedly at the number, and merrily go off to face the day.

So, while it is a good idea to keep tabs on the numbers... keep the following in mind before you let them ruin your day... or develop an unhealthy obsession that just might lead to an eating disorder.

1. Scales do tend to be inaccurate and do not indicate if the weight is due to muscle, bone, flesh or flab.
2. Your body weight can fluctuate up to as much as five pounds during the course of a day.
3. Your body weight can fluctuate alot more than that as a result of your monthly cycle.

It is much healthier to use a range of measurements to determine overall fitness, including BMI, body fat, and circumference measurements than to paint a picture of yourself based on the numbers on the scale. And whatever those numbers are, don't attribute your entire self esteem and self worth to those numbers. We really are more than what we weigh ;)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Prednisone Side Effects

Anyone ever experienced the joys of Prednisone? Well lemme tell ya! A while back I experienced the joys of prednisone to address some back pain due to a fall, and the resulting prednisone side effects. Now... to be fair... the doctor did warn me that some of the prednisone side effects would involve weight gain. He said that I MIGHT experience an increase in appetite and/or sudden weight gain. Might?? MIGHT?!?!?!? There were no mights about it! I literally dropped clothes off at the dry cleaners... picked them up 10 days later... and couldn't even get my leg into my pants! ACKKKKK!

So... drastic times call for drastic measures! I decided to try one of those "unhealthy," fad diets that I have been seeing a lot of buzz about. The HCG Diet. You buy this bottle of drops and place 6 drops under your tongue 6 times a day. And you go on a 500 calorie a day diet. Seems to me that you would lose weight just from being on such a restrictive amount of calories each day? But I looked at their FaceBook page and from their 65,000 members... did not find any unhappy or snarky comments. So that in itself said something to me -- unless of course their customer service people are really quick to remove them. (Always a possibility).

I called the company and talked to the customer service rep. She claims that the drops keep you from getting hungry, and reset your metabolism while you are starving yourself (my words - not her's - LOL!). The claim is that as you gradually resume a normal, HEALTHY diet after reaching your goal weight and enter the maintenance phase, you will not regain the weight. She also says that the drops have you losing weight from the problem areas, rather than places you don't want to lose from. We'll see. I got my drops and started the "load phase" today. The load phase takes place on days 1 and 2 of the diet.

During these 2 days, while your body is loading up on the staving off hunger part of HCG, you get to eat anything and everything you want. This is kinda fun! I will keep you guys posted on my progress over the upcoming weeks, and leave some tips on how to do the HCG Diet should any of you decide you are crazy enough to try it yourself ;)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Most Common Birth Control Side Effects

When my younger daughter started taking "the pill," she started experiencing many of the hormone-related birth control side effects that I'd taken for granted for years. With there being so many options on the market today, and Google-info-geek that I am, I thought it might be an idea to check into the ways to alleviate birth control side effects... mostly so I wouldn't have to listen to her whine ;)

Headache, Dizziness, Breast Tenderness: Wait it out. Once your body gets used to the influx of hormones from "the pill," these symptoms will likely subside all on their own. If not? Talk to your doctor about switching brands.

Nausea: Nausea will also subside after a few months. Remember that birth control is tricking your body into thinking it is pregnant, so you are experiencing the equivalent of morning sickness. If you are taking an oral contraceptive pill, try taking it with some food. If you are using NuvaRing or a contraceptive patch, you may need to switch methods entirely.

Breakthrough Bleeding: Now this is a birth control side effect that can drive you completely crazy! Mostly because you never know when it will happen. If you are on the pill, try taking it at exactly the same time every day. Spotting can also be prevented by taking an anti-inflammatory or additional estrogen. Discuss it with your doctor if it continues.

Decreased Libido: Adjust your method. Switching to a more testosterone based product will take care of this in a jiffy ;)

Mood Swings: If your hormone-based birth control method is indeed causing mood swings, all hormone based products will likely have the same effect. Doctors usually prescribe an anti-depressant to combat mood swings due to birth control.

Cost: My daughter is still trying to get over the fact that her health insurance provider covers Viagra for their male members, but not her birth control! (Come to think of it, I am still trying to get over that too!) Check into coupons for your birth control prescription. Coupons, discounts and patient assistance programs are usually available from the manufacturer's website. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about samples, rebates and exclusive savings offers.

Pregnancy! Yep, pregnancy! My daughter got pregnant her third month into being on "the pill." After she figured she was regulated and ready to depend on it as her sole means of birth control. Starting on a hormone-based birth control method can be tricky and usually requires adjustments over time. Sometimes your dose isn't high enough to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. While we would not trade our (now 2 year old) bundle of joy for anything!... you may want to use a back up method until you are sure that you are on the right dose... and of course taking your pill as close to the same time as you can every day helps too :) If you miss a day, be sure to use an alternate method for sure!

Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please talk to your doctor for specific information about addressing side effects from using various methods of birth control. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Got a Pain in the Neck?

Seriously! If you have a pain in the neck like I did today, the day seems endless and you're just not functioning as well as you could be. My 15 hour days hunched over my keyboard are the worst culprit. Take my word for it, the following tricks really helped to unkink the neck muscles and alleviate my neck pain so I wasn't completely miserable for the whole day. Use one or two of the following tips to increase flexibility and strength, and alleviate your "pain in the neck!"

1. Apply heat. Take a hot shower to soak those painful neck muscles. Or use a hot, wet towel or heating pad applied directly to your neck. Don't make the mistake of applying the heat for too long a period of time or you will wind up aggravating the pain and making it worse.

2. Stand up straight. For every inch the head is forward in posture, the weight of your head on your neck increases by ten pounds. Keep your shoulders down, not rounded forward. Center your head over you
neck and spine, not down on your chin while you are pounding away on the keyboard. Higher monitor placement so that your work is at eye level is crucial!

3. Talk a friend or loved on into a quick 10-15 minute neck massage. Massages are a great way to provide temporary pain relief. Make sure your buddy or partner uses oil or lotion and uses gentle to moderate pressure while rubbing your neck in small circles of downward strokes.

4. A few minutes of abdominal breathing will do wonders to relieve stress, one of the main causes of most neck pain.

5. Try a few gentle neck-stretching exercises:

Slowly bend your neck towards the right side. Stretch your right ear to your right shoulder. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to your original position. Then bend your neck to the left and hold for 5 seconds. Return to your original position. Repeat 5 times.

Turn your head slowly to stretch your neck as far to the left as you can. Hold for 10 seconds. Then turn your head as far to the right as you can for another 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cetaphil Coupons

Cetaphil is a wonderful facial cleansing product for those of us with dry skin -- especially in the winter. A bit pricey to buy on a regular basis though. Yesterday I found Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (8 oz) priced at $5.47 at Walmart. That combined with the $5 printable Cetaphil coupon I scored from the official website made for a great deal!

Head here to take a 4-minute survey and join the club to net two $5.00/1 Cetaphil product coupons. After you print your first coupon, click the back button to print your second coupon.