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Don’t sign up for that class

Mean teacher 17607What do a teacher and a headache have in common?

If you return to your school days, regardless of level of education, you’ll likely find one or two teachers you deemed a headache because they were either unrealistic in their expectations or ambiguous in their approach. Those aren’t the ones I mean. I’m talking about learning from a real, physical headache.

If a teacher is someone or something from which you learn, then my headache qualifies. But before I tell you how I learned, I need to clarify that this is not just head knowledge – no pun intended. I’m talking about the information that you obtain, process, and act upon as opposed to the kind of information you understand but park away in the recesses of your mind rather than apply it.

For years I’ve heard that I should drink water. “It’s good for you,” said both my parents and doctor. But in my younger years, I thought it worked better as cleansing agent for dirty feet. It had no flavor. As I grew older and understood the health benefits, I tried to incorporate more of the liquid into my diet, and it ever so slowly moved from tolerable to refreshing. That said it was still not a priority if coffee, tea or some other flavored beverage were available.

Benefits-of-Drinking-Water-Mind-MapNext I had to overcome my frugal nature – nice way to say cheap. I began purchasing bottled water but more for my husband than for me personally, until, that is, we had a real cold spell where we had to crank up the heat in the house. That’s when the headaches started. I tried all of the normal over0the-counter pain remedies, but they failed. Thanks to the internet, I discovered I was dehydrated. With only a couple of bottles of water, the headaches disappeared and did not return.

So the moral of the story is this. Make drinking water a priority in your life. Don’t wait until you are thirsty or have headaches.  Headaches can be very effective teachers, but I recommend you don’t sign up for that class.

Which do I want — a donut or a radish?

I have always found teens to be fantastic people, which is one of the reasons I so loved teaching in our local Christian high school. Of course these students still struggled with growing pains in lots of areas, but I loved to listen to their ideas and offer resources to help them reach their potential. Yet there ensued a problem in these conversations.  The students came to know me as well, maybe too well.

Donuts anyone?

jelly-donuts-11299689394INgFrom our more light-hearted conversations, it did not take long for them to discover I had a penchant for donuts, especially cream or jelly filled ones. On holidays, they’d often bring me a whole box of these fried and sugared cakes oozing with various jellies to take home. I remember my mouth watering at the thought of devouring these delicacies. I could not wait to dive into them. They were that good. Fortunately for my figure, I had teenagers of my own at home who helped to polish them off.

During those years, we lived in a rural area with no Yum Yum or Dunkin Donut shops within a 45 mile radius so when you got a real donut, it truly was a treat. Later when we moved to the suburbs of a larger metropolitan area, you could find a donut den on almost every corner. Now I could indulge more frequently. Alas, you know what happens to those sweet snacks that are so delicious on the lips. Yes, they end up on your hips. So as I dieted to try to lose weight and even as I strove to eat healthier – reduced sugar, natural fruits and vegetables, just because I should – I gave them up but the donuts still called my name. More times than not, I could pass them by, but they had not lost their appeal until just the other day.

What’s up with the radish?

bunch-of-radishesThat day I ran into the grocery store on a mission – trying to find the soursop fruit.  As I headed to the produce aisle, a bunch of the largest, most beautiful radishes caught my eye. And whoa! They called my name, just like the donuts used to, and I REALLY wanted those radishes. You will be proud of me as I did wait until I purchased them and returned home before eating them, but they really were GOOD and not just something good for me.

Moral of the story

This experience was really strange, but I think I can find a moral to this story. The more I focused my eyes on the right foods and chose them over the sugary unhealthy ones, the less attractive the empty calorie items became until I really desired the good ones. Can you imagine the transformation in my life if I fix my eyes on Jesus? Wow.

Is it cold enough for you?

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Baby, it really is cold outside. If you’re like me, you’ve had enough of this recent cold snap that’s hitting Pennsylvania and other parts of the country – where is global warming when you need it? Even though Florida is experiencing cooler days than usual, a trip there sounds inviting. Yet if you’re like me and unable to travel to escape the frigid temperatures, you might benefit from some of these tips.

Dress for it

The other day, I saw a store customer wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. Just looking at him made my teeth chatter. Most people, however, have common sense sufficient to know you need to dress appropriately in cold weather. Layers are better than bulky outer wear. A hat offers more protection than you might think, so if you’re going to be outdoors for even a short length of time – you can get frostbite in 30 minutes – make sure you have one. Here’s something I learned that will explain Mama Cat’s consternation at her naughty kitten. Mittens provide more warmth than gloves. This makes sense as your fingers are aligned close to one another and keep each other warm with body heat rather than being separated by a layer of cloth.

Drink lots

Hydration is particularly important when it is cold. Those layers of clothes you just added will cause you to perspire, and that fluid needs to be replaced. While warm liquids like coffee, tea and hot chocolate may tempt you, they’re really not the best choices as their caffeine acts as a diuretic prompting more loss of fluid.  Good, old fashioned water is best, and if you’ve just pulled it from the fridge, they say it will force your body to generate more heat. If you really are interested in a warm beverage, try heating up some apple cider, sugar water or an energy drink.

Define activities

Common sense says, “Stay indoors if you can,” and this is wise. Why go out if you don’t have to? But you live in a real world where you may have to walk to a bus, work or store from your car or a train. You may even have to work outside during bitter cold weather. If so, take precautions with frequent breaks to get warm and dry and time your activities to the warmest parts of the day. Keep this in mind for the kids playing outdoors as well.

If you’re staying indoors, add some moisture to the air. Hot air and heating systems can dry out your skin, hair, sinuses, nails, furniture, walls, floors and more. And as I have discovered, lack of humidity can even cause headaches. Placing open containers of water on a wood stove, heat registers or on the range will add a measure of moisture to your home. If you don’t mind seeing clothes hanging around the house, using a clothes rack instead of your dryer will also increase the indoor humidity without the additional purchase of a humidifier.

If Aruba or some other tropical paradise is not in your immediate plans, try some of the above tips and stay warm.

What wasn’t I thinking?

What wasn’t I thinking? No, this title question does not contain a typo, though I will admit the sentence structure is a bit awkward. I could have just as easily asked what was I thinking, but unfortunately I was not thinking at all. And the fact of the matter is I missed out on something that is really good for me because I never really took the time to “get it.” I’m not talking about a pot of gold under the rainbow or a get-rich-quick formula, so don’t run the other way. Let me explain about what I neglected. It’s so simple that it is embarrassing, but perhaps it could help you as well.

bottled-water1Of course I know about the value of drinking water, and I agree wholeheartedly. I see the health benefits. I understand the science. So why am I not drinking more of this healthy liquid? Am I just too lazy? Perhaps that’s a factor, but the bottom line to my discovery is that I’m just too cheap. Here’s what I found.

I buy bottled water to pack in my husband’s lunch. I did not purchase it for my consumption because why should I pay extra when I have water running from my tap? But the convenience of the bottled water appealed to me when I was recovering from a bad cold and truly felt dehydrated. I grabbed one of the bottles from the fridge and in no time at all had emptied it. No effort involved, and I was truly refreshed. Yet this is not the part where I “get it.”

While getting ready for the day, my thoughts turned to water – who knows why I’m thinking about bottled water? I really do have blonde roots, but I digress … again. Anyway, as I was thinking about drinking more water, I thought about how much I enjoyed being able to grab a bottle rather than getting a glass and filling it from the fridge. I considered that I would do it more if it weren’t for the cost. – Drum roll, please. This is where the light bulb went on. I could buy a whole case of water for the price of a package of cookies.

This led me to the web to see if this were really true, and guess what I found. You can buy 35, 16.9 ounce bottles of water this week at Giant for $3.99. This breaks down to a total of 591.5 ounces for $3.99.  Also this week, Giant is offering a sale on Chips Ahoy cookies. For $5.00, you can get 2 packages weighing 15.25 ounces each or a total of 30.5 ounces for your $5 bill. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover which purchase makes a better financial investment – I already knew the water was better for me than the cookies.

I can’t be the only one who makes obvious discoveries so late in life, but you have to admit, the awkward title of this blog is right on target.

Crawling with Crullers

powdered donut 89691937If you’ve ever turned to chocolate or another form of sweets after a particularly stressful day, you understand that it works – albeit temporarily – to boost your morale. Well, other than a lingering cold, I had nothing particularly stressful in my life yesterday, so why did I eat not one, but two cream-filled Dunkin Donuts? It was not because I was hungry – I had just eaten a healthy snack of almonds. It was not because they were calling my name. I really had no desire for them, but eat them I did – at least I did not eat them together.

In trying to make better eating choices in 2013, I am trying to take baby steps to move forward to eliminate sugar from my diet – especially refined sugar and the kind found in the donuts. This is one of my first priorities. I’ve already moved to using honey and other forms of natural sweeteners, so I figured this would be easy. Evidently not.

I am trying to create more self-awareness in this area, however, so this is a start. Instead of making a giant leap forward, I realize I’m not even taking a baby step. I’m crawling, and I’m crawling with crullers, no less. But here’s the real lesson I learned and maybe it is helpful to you. I realized I had no plan and without one, I would do it again.

In this particular case, I did not get into my car and go to the store to purchase them. They were brought to the house as a thoughtful gesture and special treat from someone dear to me. Yet in these moments of weakness, I definitely realized several things – it was a deliberate choice to put them on plates and wolf them down. Was I thinking about the money spent or the thoughtfulness behind the gesture that I did not want to waste these fluffy, fresh, powdered pastries? Probably yes on both counts; nevertheless, I need a plan so that these demons don’t find their way into my mouth at the wrong time again. Any suggestions you have are warmly invited. In the meantime, here are some of the ideas that came to mind.

  • Receive the gift appreciatively and wrap it in plastic, freeze and serve later
  • Cut them into smaller bite-sized pieces before wrapping them in case a treat is warranted at a later date
  • Share them with someone else

Hopefully, today will be better and I’ll take a baby step forward on my way to the giant leap of living sugar free.

Do you have trouble sleeping?

I am always amazed at the benefits we receive from our food. For example, on a recent discussion with my daughter-in-law, she told me she read that tart cherries were good for helping you sleep. Since I experience irregular sleep patterns and insomnia, I thought I’d give it a whirl. It certainly could not hurt me.

I purchased the tart cherry juice and poured a regular-sized juice glass three quarters full. I’m guessing it was about three ounces. I slept through the night and felt refreshed the next morning. Hmmm. Could this be working or was it merely a coincidence? I planned to continue the experiment.

I tried it the next night. I awoke to a strange noise, but I returned to a deep sleep shortly after dismissing the sound as harmless. I then slept deeply until morning. This pattern continued for about a week. Then about the eighth night, I climbed into bed and realized I had not had my cherry night cap. Too tired to go back downstairs, I decided it was probably ok to skip it this once. Ironically, I was awake almost every hour and had really weird dreams. Was there a connection?

I Googled tart cherry juice and discovered there really is a connection between the cherry juice and sleep. Evidently, you can receive extra Melatonin from cherries. It is Melatonin that helps you not only get to sleep, but stay asleep and wake refreshed the next morning. It seems to work for me. What an easy remedy? And it all came from food.

What should you look for in a hospital?

Let’s face it. Choosing a hospital is likely not the highest priority on your list of things to do today – or any day for that matter. Yet when your health requires specialized care beyond the confines of your doctor’s office, you’d like to know you’re in good hands. Obviously, you may not always have a choice, but if you need some things to consider, check out this article from US News and World Report on How to find the best hospital near you. 

Although the quality of medical care you receive should hold the highest priority, value can come from another side of the equation that excellence in medical science cannot address. That side of patient satisfaction arises from treating patients as people. What a novel idea – combining the best in modern technology and scientific approaches with old fashioned compassion and personalized care. It’s a type of pay it forward concept.

It would appear that some hospitals are getting the picture and the Internet has enhanced their efforts. Now you can not only go online at a hospital’s website to find a doctor for your specific health need but you can also send a greeting to a patient, “Like” them on Facebook or watch a video about their efforts in-house and in the community. If you like what you see, you can make a donation or pay your bill – all from the comfort of home. You’ll notice if you’re on their premises, they have stepped up their efforts to train their staff in professionalism and patient safety yet they don’t neglect customer service and plain, but always appreciated, common courtesy. They also instruct their staff to smile more – as is appropriate, of course.

Hospitals are also employers, and they’re getting the picture in that arena too as they strive to engage their employees to set the example. Morris Hospital outside of Chicago, IL decided to encourage their staff, volunteers and visitors to get some exercise and take the stairs instead of the elevator with a special campaign. They enlisted local students to paint outdoor scenes in the stairwells to encourage people to take that route. It’s an interesting concept. Click here to see a video of what they did.

With the exception of the maternity ward, no one enjoys going to the hospital. Hospital executives, however, seem to be grasping the connection between quicker healing and better health with their proactive efforts. It makes good business sense, too. Though most patients hope they don’t have an occasion to return themselves, they understand the need for these facilities is a fact of life. Hospitals understand this too. A satisfied patient will spread the word.