Friday, September 28, 2012

Got Prescription Drugs? Get Rid of ‘em!

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day-September 29

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day This means that you can clean out your medicine cabinet with the assistance of the DEA (What is the DEA?).


To get rid of  unwanted, unused prescription drugs, simply go to your nearest designated collection site on Saturday, September 29, 2012. To find out more:
    safe disposal
    National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day




  According to the DEA Enforcement, the last DEA-led National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 28th of this year resulted in a record-breaking 276 tons of unwanted or expired medications for safe disposal at the 5,659 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories.  

With that kind of success, the DEA believes that many more medicine cabinets have yet to be cleaned out of unwanted and expired medicines. We hope that, for your own safety and that of your family or home visitors, you take advantage of this opportunity to safely clean out your medicine cabinet.

Resources for more information

Importance of the Drug Take Back Initiative

Most people would have trouble believing that they harbor dangerous drugs in their own homes. But if you are storing unused, leftover prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet, or even if you just don't monitor your medicine cabinet, you could run into some real problems.

Teen substance abuse is a growing problem and many teens report abusing the prescription and over the counter drugs they find right in their home medicine cabinets.

  • Teen substance abuse of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin combined doesn't even come close to the number of teens abusing prescription drugs – the stuff they get right from their parents’ medicine cabinet – according to the White House Office of National Drug Control PolicyEvery day, 2,500 children between 12 and 17 years of age abuse a prescription painkiller for the first time.
  • Partnership for a Drug-Free America indicates that 10 percent of teenagers have abused common cough medicines such as Coricidin, dextromethorphan, or Robitussin by drinking the entire bottle’s contents or boiling down the medicine into a powder. The powder is sometimes added to other drugs, like Marijuana.

Partnership for a Drug Free America has tips for keeping you and your home safe.

"I have expired medications. They're not dangerous, right?"

In addition to the dangers of addiction when abusing prescribed narcotics, some expired medications could lose their potency. Expired prescription drugs can break down, especially if they are not stored in a dry place or in extreme temperatures. For example, many eye drops can develop harmful bacterial contamination that could harm you if you use them past their expiration date.


In addition to teen drug abuse, there is also an issue of elderly parents or grandparents using the wrong medication by mistake. Many elderly people suffer from dementia and could confuse their medications with those of family members. It's a good idea to make sure you only have what you need and what you are actually using in the medicine cabinet or drawer. This lowers the chance of a family member taking the wrong or expired drug.

Drug treatment admissions for prescription painkillers grew by greater than 300 percent in just five years (1995-2005), according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. 
medicine cabinets
Safe disposal of unused medication can prevent abuse or accidental dosage.

Many people flush medications down the toilet or throw them in the trash. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service warns that flushed drugs end up in lakes, streams and in our water supply harming fish, wildlife and their habitats.  Throwing medications in the garbage is risky because either children or pets can get into them before the trash is picked up. 


Rik Moxley
Contributing Writer

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Corn It's A-maze-ing


Fall is in the Air!

The days are getting shorter, the night air is getting cooler and spiders are coming out in full force (at least here in the Northwest). I even observed my neighbor across the street making a new coffin for his annual Halloween extravaganza. A “dead” giveaway that fall is fast approaching. Soon we will see signs for haunted corn mazes, and it will be tough to find a locally grown ear of corn. So now is the time to look at all those delicious recipes for corn, and make it while it’s fresh from your nearby grower. Don’t miss out while it's still readily available.

What is corn?
corn ear of corn
Corn products tasty and nutritious.

Seems like a silly question… but is it? It’s not a “green leafy” veggie, obviously; it’s not a fruit (like cucumbers and avocados actually are); and it’s not a root vegetable…. So “what is it?” It is actually a grass grown cereal grain. It's important to make this distinction because corn is so often served as a vegetable with a meal. Understanding this difference is important to having a well-rounded diet, especially if you are thinking you ate your vegetables. If you ate corn, you actually ate a grain, which is a carbohydrate. It is NOT a vegetable. But corn does have its place in our American diet. In fact, given the history of corn it is more American than apple pie! Camp Silos is a history resource for kids and has a great interactive history of corn, from the first Thanksgiving in 1621. 

Lend Me an Ear

Do corn products have nutritional value?  The answer is a resounding yes! No matter the color of the corn you choose, you can be sure it offers you a cornucopia of benefits. Here is a sampling of what you get when you bite into this yummy piece of American history.
  • Antioxidants - protect our cells from damage.
  •  Vitamin A - needed by the retina of your eye.
  •  Quality Fiber Content - crucial for a healthy digestive system.
  •   High Protein Content - 5 to 6 grams per cup.
  • Provides many B complex vitamins - essential for handling stress.
  • Vitamin C - necessary for boosting your immune system.
  • High in Potassium - essential for functioning of the heart, kidneys, muscles and nerve system.
  • Eat corn with legumes, and studies show the combination packs even more of a nutrient power punch.
  • How many calories in corn - One cup is about 143 calories of nutritious deliciousness!
The Versatility of Corn

Corn can be used in many ways. Corn oil, corn syrup, corn flour, baby corn, frozen corn, and we can’t forget fresh corn. You can boil corn, grill corn, make corn bread, tortillas and corn puddings or treat yourself to a fabulous corn salad. There seems to be no end to Corn recipes. It is probably one the most versatile and most used foods we have in our diet. It is the most popular crop sold in the US. So let’s resist the temptation to take this gift from our native predecessors for granted, and keep in mind as we eat it, that it is an incredible source of nutrients, and a tasty morsel for our mouths. In fact, give yourself a real treat and eat some sweet corn fresh and raw right off of the cob!

Don’t forget the Corn Maze!

haunted corn mazes
Richardson Farm corn maze in Spring Grove, IL

Maize, it's not just great nutrition, but great fun too! Soon all of the corn plantings we saw during the summer months will be turned into corn mazes. Mazes date back about 4,000 years. They were used in the artwork and architecture of ancient civilizations. Where is the largest corn maze in America? Richardson Farm in Spring Grove, IL is comprised of four corn mazes covering 33 acres of corn. This year's maze is a Girl Scout motif. 

Cornmaze.com is a website dedicated to information about corn mazes, where you can also find a corn maze near you. You can also type in your location with corn mazes in your browser's search box (Ex. Doylestown corn mazes) to find local corn mazes. 

Where is your favorite corn maze located? Share your family fun with us and let us know where you've visited a corn maze and how long it took you to solve it! Have a FUNTASTIC and healthy time!

Gwendolyn Adams
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Family Health and Fitness Day USA


Saturday September 29th 2012 is Family Health and Fitness Day USA.  So what is health fitness and what does it exactly mean?

The first thing that comes to my mind is, time to get the family out of the house and get those muscles moving.  Well, that's pretty much what it is!

The USA started this 16 years ago to promote a healthy lifestyle through physical fitness.  It falls on the last Saturday of September every year. The goal is to get people involved in some kind of family fitness for the day and then engage in physical activities more often as a family by setting up a fitness plan.

fitness plan physical fitness
Health and Fitness starts with the Family and doing it together.
Children as well as adults need to exercise at least 30 minutes each day and have some kind of work out plan. On average only one out of three American children are participating in daily physical activity.  The U.S. Surgeon Generals report on Physical Activity and Health reveals that the majority of Americans do not exercise regularly, in particular children between 12 and 21. The report advises moderate physical activity for thirty minutes each day.

Family Health and Fitness Day can help remind kids how much fun fitness can be. Plan an activity as simple as a family walk around the block with the dog or maybe head down to the closest park or school and play a little basketball.  Many communities organize events for this day. Check with your local schools, YMCA and health fitness gyms to see if they are sponsoring something special for the day. Use September 29 as a day to kick off your own family fitness plan.

I know it's easier said than done when everyone is so busy all the time.  At first it may be hard to figure out how you can fit in exercise each day, but remember, we only need about 30 minutes of physical activity per day to achieve health benefits.

Easy and fun activities for your family
  • Walk the dog or just a family walk
  • Bike rides
  • Game of basketball
  • Playing catch
  • Swimming 
  • Street Hockey
  • Sack races
  • Jumping rope
  • Hopscotch
  • Ping pong
  • Relay races 
  • Tennis

If health and physical activity are fun then kids will not lose interest.  Picking something enjoyable will make them want to come back for more. Once they get into a groove they will look forward to it and won't let you forget it's time to go exercise and play. Also, once they get older this is a habit they can continue and teach to their own kids. Many kids love to be a part of something and team sports are a great way to get them involved and active.

work out plan
Family Fitness can be as easy as playing in the water together.
Many communities have health and fitness centers that families can join to become more active.  Joining a fitness club has benefits for the whole family and most centers have trainers that can help with fitness tips or work out exercises. The wonderful thing about a fitness center is that there is usually something that the whole family can enjoy. It can be easier to set and reach personal fitness goals.  Goals could include specific activities like swimming, basketball, racquetball or even tennis.

Your goal may just be to get active for thirty minutes a day and save on expenses. If that is your goal, you can do that just by walking after dinner or playing catch outside twice a day for fifteen minutes. Your family can enjoy health benefits just from setting up some kind of fitness plan. It will lead to a lifetime of fitness that your whole family can enjoy.

Marci Psalmonds
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rev Up Family Life With a Library Card

Library Card Sign-Up Month

As the American Library Association (www.ala.org) is quick to point out, studies show that children learn best when they have the opportunity to pursue their own interests.  With your kids going back to school, consider the library card as one of the most important school supplies of all.

Get a library card today!
Why not celebrate learning by making sure your kids (and you!) get a library card this month?  It's never been easier – many local libraries let you sign up for a library card online.
 
The library card is the key that unlocks access to a world of fun and learning opportunities. Libraries provide students with access to innovative programs, classes and educational resources to satisfy their curiosity. Best of all, it won’t cost you a thing – it’s all free with a library card.

Libraries are Family Fun
If you want libraries to be a part of your family life, here are a few ideas to get you started and to help make it a habit.

1. Be an example

Let's not overlook the obvious; what you do influences what your children do. If you want your family members to value the library, value it yourself. Make it a habit to go regularly so they can see it matters to you.

Don't just get books, but also consider sharing what you learned from the books you borrowed with your library card. Did you find a new recipe or learn something about history? Maybe you finally read that book everyone has been telling you about. Share that information. Let your kids see how much you are enjoying your local library.

2. Make a regular library day

Remember that a library can be one of the cheapest forms of entertainments in town. Make library day special by letting it also be the day you do something else special – perhaps making the family's favorite meal, or regularly stopping by the playground or favorite park on the way home.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of having a weekly or monthly family library outing is that you are making it a habit. You're opening a portal of fun and learning that kids can continue beyond their childhood years.

3. Make It a Game

There are many ways to make the library more than just a place to read books or to study. In fact, many websites are dedicated to sharing ideas for making the library fun.

Games can be purchased at www.librarygames.com. You might even get some ideas for games you can make yourself, like a library scavenger hunt. If you've never done this before, buying a game might be the easiest solution.

You can probably think of some simple games that tie into a lesson at school. For example, if your child is learning about changing seasons and why leaves fall, use a library scavenger hunt where the mission is to find out what photosynthesis has to do with tree leaves. Rewards could be a healthy snack, a new book or an extra trip to the library!

Slimekids.com or your school libraries are also resources for kids' games. St. Joseph's School Library online is a great site with links to many online games that teach kids how a library works, the Dewey Decimal system, book genres and more.

4. More than books

Libraries are also a great resource for job hunters. Many offer internet access, job clubs and other services that can really help. Some will help with job searches and information specialists or resource staff can also help search out services you might be entitled to.We’re happy to say that many libraries stock FamilyWize Prescription Discount cards. Please ask your local library to make them available to job seekers and others who may not have sufficient prescription coverage or may have none at all.

5. Quiet Study

Studying at the library provides a quiet place to concentrate. Going to the library to do homework or study helps homework become a habit because it is a set place and time where homework gets done. Not only do you have easy access to reference materials, but nearly all libraries today offer free Internet access to any patron with a library card.

Librarians are also a great reference source when looking for information. They can tell you where a book or reference material is located, but they can also suggest references that you might not have thought of.

Get a library card today!

To learn more about Library Card Sign-Up Month, “like” atyourlibrary.org on Facebook or follow it on Twitter and use #librarycard hashtags.


Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


Monday, September 24, 2012

Cholesterol – Know Your Numbers


cholesterol high cholesterol
© Xaoc | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
As the fall weather edges closer, special health months remind us of important aspects of our well being. September is National Cholesterol Education Month, a great time to learn about heart health. Keeping cholesterol levels in check gives us a healthier outlook for avoiding heart disease and stroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 6 Americans has high cholesterol. I didn’t know it was so common until my dad told me he was cutting down on things like bacon and cheese. He said he had to keep an eye on his cholesterol. At that moment, I realized just how common cholesterol issues are for many families.

Heart disease and stroke are risks for people with high cholesterol. I'm proud of my dad for watching his dietary cholesterol. If you are concerned about cholesterol, check with your doctor. A simple blood test can give you your numbers. Ask questions and learn what you can do to control cholesterol. Simple changes in diet may be all you need. However, if your doctor feels you need medication to control cholesterol be sure to take them as prescribed.

What Is Cholesterol

If you are unfamiliar with cholesterol, you may wonder, what is cholesterol, what is high cholesterol or what is good cholesterol. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute defines cholesterol as “a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body.” High cholesterol may cause artery walls to have a buildup of cholesterol clogging the passageways. If blood flow is clogged or slowed, the patient is at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

Not all cholesterol is bad, though. High density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered good cholesterol while low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is considered bad cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is good because it takes cholesterol from different parts of your body and transports it to the liver where it is removed from your body. LDL cholesterol is bad because it clogs the arteries, restricts the flow of blood, and puts you at risk for a variety of heart conditions, including coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, carotid artery disease, and stroke, to name just a few.

However, there is new research that suggests that not all LDL cholesterol is bad or even a risk factor for heart disease.

Cholesterol Numbers

Ideal cholesterol numbers change with age. Normal cholesterol numbers for one person may be considered very high for another, often depending on their health. According to WebMD, an LDL level below 100 is ideal for most people

LDL Cholesterol:
  • Less than 100 – Optimal
  • 100-129 – Near optimal / above optimal
  • 130-159 – Borderline high
  • 160-189 – High
  • 190 and above – Very high
HDL Cholesterol:
  • 60 and above – High / optimal; lower risks
  • Less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women – Low; considered a risk factor for heart disease
Triglycerides are also important when measuring cholesterol. The chemical form of fat stored in the body, triglycerides are calories your body doesn’t need to convert to energy right away.

The Mayo Clinic shares the following numbers for triglycerides:
  • Normal: Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or less than 1.7 millimoles per L (mmol/L) 
  • Borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
  • High: 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L) 
  • Very high: 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above) 
The American Heart Association (AHA) advises that 100mg/dL or lower is preferred to lower risks and improve heart health.

Eating a healthier diet, watching your cholesterol, getting some fresh air and good exercise, and of course, taking any medications as prescribed by your doctor are all the things you can do to live a healthier life. The FamilyWize prescription drug card may help lower the cost of your prescriptions. On average, patients have saved 40% oh cholesterol drugs. Even if you have prescription coverage, FamilyWize may be able to help. Search for your prescription medication here and see how much you can save today.

If you have loved ones watching their cholesterol, as I do, keep their dietary requirements in mind when you invite them over for dinner. Be sure to take on the role of cheerleader, too, encouraging that great behavior when it comes to watching those cholesterol numbers.

Do your own research, read about new advances in medicine and health topics and talk to your doctor about what you are doing right and what you can be doing better, and differently, for your health.

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 21, 2012

New FamilyWize Team Members

Here at FamilyWize, we put out the welcome mat for two young ladies who joined the marketing team!

Aura Mastraghin graduated in May from University of Pennsylvania where she studied marketing with a special interest in creativity.

Love her name? Her mom and grandmother are both named Aurelia and her name is a creative spin off.  

In her spare time she likes to do "nerdy things." (Her words, not mine!)  One of those "nerdy things" is a video game called Age of Empires which is a real-time strategy game.  She is an only child and the proud mama of three cats--Bella, Tomba, and Indy.  

The one thing people would never guess about her is that she doesn't speak with a foreign accent.  If you're scratching your head, would explaining that she has only lived in the United States for a little over a decade explain it?  Aura moved to Philadelphia when she was 11 after her family won the Visa lottery.  Talk about luck!  Since she spent a while growing roots in Romania, she enjoys going back every year to visit her grandmother, aunt and cousin  as well as the friends  she has kept in contact with all these years.  

One thing that not too many people know about her is that she has never been to a football game! I told her she's not missing too much anyway.  There is a 50/50 chance of one of the teams winning. 

Aura will be responsible for the creative marketing aspects of the FamilyWize branding campaigns.  She builds messaging, imagery, creative content in line with the goals of the FamilyWize program.  Her strength in understanding the customer's experience helps drive her every project as she works to communicate our message and guide the team in reaching new communities to help.



Christina Colon graduated in May from DeSales University in Pennsylvania where she studied marketing and finance.   

She called herself a "Jersey Girl" up until recently when she moved to the keystone state to go to school and ended up moving in with some girlfriends after she graduated.  What's the one thing she misses about Jersey? Having her gas pumped!  In her spare time, she likes to get to know the city of Bethlehem where she recently moved with her friends who double as tour guides.  

When she's not at FamilyWize, she is a part-time hostess at a modern restaurant and hang out spot around the corner from the office.  

One thing not too many people know about her is that she loves to cook.  Most of her recipes were first an experiment and then became a recipe card.  Her specialty is stuffed turkey burgers which her roommates request often.  I would describe them, but you would drool and we don't want that! 


Something people would never guess about Christina is that she doesn't know how to ride a bike and she's not ashamed of it either! She said she wasn't blessed with coordination.  Plus, growing up in a big city, riding bikes wasn't a huge part of their activity.

Christina will be responsible for the direct to consumer data marketing points for FamilyWize.  She is a data driven marketer who understands, visualizes and communicates the marketing trends our data provides us.  Her gift is both as a tactical marketer and as a communicator of the results of our efforts each day.  She is a fast study of technology and marketing in a digital world.  Her ability to influence using social media and online tools will be one of her greatest assets to our marketing team.

Krysta W.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Turmeric: Spice Up Your Health!

Turmeric. Many people are familiar with this spicy little plant native to parts of Africa, South India and Indonesia, but few are aware that it could have health benefits as well. Turmeric spice has been used in mustard, curry dishes and even clothing dye. But did you know that it's also used as a treatment for common indigestion and an antioxidant by many who practice alternative medicine?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports basic information about turmeric health benefits. However, while animal testing confirms some turmeric benefits, they caution that findings have not been confirmed in people.

Benefits of Turmeric
turmeric recipes
There may be health benefits of turmeric.
  • Anti-inflammatory - Turmeric has been used in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Some report that it may help with the pain experienced with these conditions, as well as the loss of movement.
  • Heart and Stroke - Possible benefits are lowering key risk factors such as buildup of arterial plaque, lowering of LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
  • Cancer - Antioxidant properties found in turmeric may help treat different forms of cancer.
How Stuff Works explains that the active ingredient, curcumin, in turmeric may reduce inflammation. Inflammation is the main cause of pain and immobility in arthritis and has been linked to Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and certain cancers.

 Turmeric and Alzheimer's Prevention
Studies in animals have shown that Curcumin can reduce the amount of a protein plaque called amyloid that is linked to Alzheimer's disease. Vitamin Research Products states that the occurrence of Alzheimer's in India is much lower than it is in the United States. Turmeric is a common spice in many Indian dishes.

The findings that Turmeric can reduce plaque associated with Alzheimer's are preliminary. Two issues currently being studied are what dosage of Turmeric is needed to prevent Alzheimer's and how do we help our bodies absorb the right amount of Turmeric? Nutrition Wonderland talks further about the need for more research about Turmeric benefits.

Turmeric supplements can be found in many stores and can be taken in pill form by themselves, or with food. You can also add fresh turmeric to your food or use bottled spices. Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D., noted author and herbal product formulator, finds that curcumin, the turmeric root extract, can be beneficial in killing cancer cells connected to prostate and other cancers.
Turmeric is considered safe for most adults, but people with gallbladder disease should avoid using it because it can make the condition worse. Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric can also raise the risk of bleeding in people who take prescribed blood thinners, aspirin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen or who eat foods that thin the blood. Before deciding to use any complimentary or alternative treatment for health issues, always check with your doctor.  The Time to Talk campaign through NIH gives tips about what questions to ask and how to approach the subject.  For a full list of possible benefits, safety concerns or turmeric side effects, visit this link to MedicinePlus.

Many spices are reported to have health benefits in addition to spicing up the foods we eat. While there is not much scientific evidence to reveal the benefits in humans, we do know that adding different spices can be a great substitute for things like salt and sugar, both of which are proven to raise health risks.


turmeric health
Add turmeric to potato salad for color and taste.
My mom and I are trying to cut down on salt. We stopped using it while cooking and do not use it at the table. But, we do miss the taste and sometimes find that food tastes bland. We don't use specific recipes for turmeric, but we add it to many dishes and in place of other things like table salt. I've found that adding turmeric to things like grilled chicken or fish, potato salad and eggs gives a nice flavor and even color to our meals. That can also be important because as we age, our sense of smell and taste can diminish. When food no longer attracts our sense of smell or taste, we sometimes lose interest in eating. Adding colorful spices to food that pack a little zing or even sweetness has helped my mom maintain her appetite. I know that she is still interested in fueling herself with great food, well I think it's great but I'm the chef so I'm partial! But I also have the comfort of knowing that I'm not increasing the salt in her food and she's not eating high sodium, high calorie sauces or flavor substitutes that are bad for her health. Improved taste and reduced sodium are two proven benefits turmeric has to offer.

While trying to spice up the taste of our meals, I found a great website where I can type in the name of a spice and find recipes that include it. Allrecipes.com has turmeric recipes and many others that may add spice to your diet and your health.

How do you spice up your meals? Have you tried turmeric? Please share you own turmeric recipe with us!

Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Make a Motion–Daily!

In a previous FamilyWize article Is Sitting Bad for Your Health? we introduced good and bad news. The bad news from the online journal BMJ showed that sitting too long can lead to a reduction in life expectancy. The good news from author Gretchen Reynolds is that making small changes in your daily routine can significantly improve your health.

Cutting daily sitting time to under three hours and moving your body can extend your life by two years, according to BMJ group. By improving our health through less sitting and extra body motion, we’re not just extending life but improving the quality of our lives.

Overcoming Obstacles

What if my work requires me to sit more than three hours daily? How do I get started with a plan to add regular physical activity?

Is Sitting Bad for Your Health? suggested "deskexercising". Taking a break every 2 hours to walk in place or do simple arm and leg stretches can increase calorie burning. WebMd suggests "60 Second Aerobics." Forbes shows exercises that help relieve carpal tunnel, stretches to help your lower back and more.

Everyone knows the suggestions to park further away from the office to include a walk before and after you begin your day. Taking the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator is a great way to get activity into your busy day. But what can you do right at your desk to add some movement to your sedentary day?
  • Pump your arms over your head for 30 seconds.
  • Jumping rope for a minute. You can hop on both feet at once or alternate each foot. While sitting, you can make the arm motion of turning the rope and alternate tapping your feet.
  • Marching in place while sitting in your chair 20 times for each leg is a great way to include movement and burn some extra calories.
  • Simple leg and arm stretches or shoulder rolls can burn calories and loosen any stiffness from sitting too long.

Walking for health

A brisk walk is one of the easiest exercises and a great way to introduce regular physical activity. Many people walk during their break, even a ten minute walk around the office building can burn calories. Adding this kind of movement throughout the day can improve your health. Walking is a great office exercise. Here's why:
  • Only moderately strenuous. Compared to more strenuous exercises walking is more gradual and less intense, but just as effective.
  • Less sweating.  Walking doesn't make you work up a sweat as much as other exercises. It's possibly the easiest heart-healthy exercise for you to into the middle of a workday.  You can walk briskly in many climates throughout the year for 20 minutes without having to change your clothes afterward because of perspiration.
  • Walking requires the least amount of equipment. Good walking shoes and loose-fitting clothes are helpful but they are not required to get benefits from walking. High heels of course are inadvisable.
Always review your options with your doctor before adding any new exercise routine to your lifestyle.

For many Americans, getting started is the big challenge.  According to the BMJ report adults are sedentary for 55% of their day. Many Americans do not have a regular exercise routine – certainly not enough to overcome the risks that have been identified with lack of motion. Starting new exercise routines takes effort, especially when the goal is to make it a habit.

Other workouts for health improvement

If you want to make exercise workouts more challenging away from your desk, consider these alternatives for aerobic exercise:
aerobic fitness exercise workouts
Biking to work keeps your body in motion.
  • Biking to work is fun and healthy. It can be more fun than walking or running. Biking can be an alternative way of commuting and enjoying the scenery.
  • CrossFit is a rapidly growing strength and conditioning program. There may be a CrossFit gym in your area. Its known for faster results through a full body workout, including strength and aerobic fitness.
  • P90X is a home-based exercise program that is known for its intensity and giving a complete body workout.

Get Moving on Your Get-moving Plan

Failure to plan is planning to fail.  To go from sedentary living to regularly exercising, the first step is to define your plan. Of course, make sure your very first step is to consult with your doctor!

To help you get started, consider the following suggestions for exercise workouts. You will get your body in gear by increasing your physical movement and elevating your heart rate for a period of time.This is one of the best ways to improve heart health.

Get moving … Regularly!

That's what it comes down to: get moving, and then keep moving on with it.  It's important to find exercise that you enjoy doing. The more you enjoy it, the more you will stick with it. Best of luck to you!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Be Prepared: Emergency First Aid Kits

By definition, emergencies are rarely planned – they catch us by surprise, and can happen in a moment's notice.  When an emergency occurs, time is a critical consideration. That's why it may not be enough to rely only on your area's 911 emergency systems, no matter how well-funded or organized it is. 

The initial minutes after an injury are often entirely in the hands of those around you, without trained emergency personnel on site.  This is one of the main reasons why having a stocked and ready emergency first aid kit in your home, your car and workplace is a good idea.

Are you ready for an emergency? Do you have first aid kits in your car, home and workplace? Do you know what's in your first aid kits and supplies?  Do you know how to use the supplies that are in your first aid kit?
 
What Do You Need?

When you are getting ready to assemble a first-aid kit, you have two options:

1.Buy premade emergency first-aid kits.
2.Assemble homemade first aid kits.


If you are not certain what to include in your emergency or disaster first-aid kit, buying a premade kit is probably the best option. This way you can be certain that you at least have the basic supplies you need for the most common emergencies.

Assembling homemade first-aid kits requires you to know what should be in them. So, you might need to do a little homework to find out what you should include. A good understanding of what emergencies you might face and how to handle them will help you decide what supplies you need.  This will help you to be better prepared to use your kit should the need arise. The U.S. government site, Ready.gov, is a good resource to learn about building and maintaining your first aid kit.

A premade kit is a good start for emergency preparedness, but if you purchase a store-bought first-aid you may need to add supplies to it to be fully prepared. Also, whether premade or assembled at home, remember to replace any supplies as soon as they are used. Also, restock items like batteries, from time to time, to make sure that they will work in case of an emergency.

first aid kits and supplies
You can buy premade emergency first-aid kits for the car.
What first aid kit supplies should you have on hand?  There are certain basics that should be in all emergency first aid kits, but there are also other considerations:
basic first-aid kit
Examples of general first aid kit supplies you can use.
  • General first aid kit supplies:  To be prepared for common household or workplace injuries, your first aid kit should include various types of bandages, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, cold packs, latex or synthetic gloves.  Review the  Mayo Clinic's recommendations for a basic first-aid kit, for a list of supplies.
  • Consider your lifestyle:  Beyond the basic first-aid kit supplies, consider the hobbies or other unique activities that may require special supplies. For example, if you or your family members are avid hikers, your basic first-aid kit should include a snake bite kit or poison oak first-aid supplies.
  • Consider your geography: A basic first-aid kit may not include supplies that are of necessary for your location. For example, extreme heat or cold, high altitude environments or an area known for a particular species of animals or insects known for venomous bites or stings.
First Aid Training

It's one thing to own an emergency first aid kit; it's another thing to know how to use the first aid kit's supplies. Some disaster first aid kit's supplies may not need instruction for use, such as Band-Aids. But do you know how to make a tourniquet? Or when you should use one? What about the right way to treat a first-degree burn versus a second-degree or third-degree burn?

Ensure that you and your family members are prepared to perform the act of first aid until trained personnel are on hand:
  • Make sure your first-aid kit includes a first-aid manual.
  • Consider first aid training
How do you find first-aid training?  
  • Check with your local YMCA, YWCA, or American Red Cross chapter for available first aid training classes.
  • Google "first aid training" and the name of your city or community to find training near you.
  • Check with your workplace. Many companies offer free first-aid training classes as part of their disaster preparedness.
In an emergency, training could mean the difference between life and death – for your coworkers, your family members, or even you.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teaching Children the Basics of Money

money lessons
Teaching money skills to kids will make them happy.
Kids LOVE money so why not teach them great money skills? I think the more kids understand about the value of money and how to save money the better off they will be when they become adults. 

You can teach your child how to count money just like you teach them to count numbers.  There are a lot of activities for children that teach them how to count money. Learning through games, counting money worksheets and going to the store with you are great ways to learn about money.  Many parents taught their kids about money and how to use it by having them total the cost of groceries with a calculator as they put items in the basket. This helps them with their math skills and helps them grasp the cost of things.


Money Doesn't Grow on Trees

In our household of four we have two spenders and two savers. Our youngest, like me, loves to spend. Our oldest likes to save, like my husband. Our kids were able to see how to spend and how to save, which was valuable. If my husband and I both liked to spend, they might not have learned the value of saving. We tried to teach them at a very young age the famous saying "Money doesn't grow on trees." 

When they were preschoolers the money lessons were very easy. We used piggy banks where they could save their money.  After saving some, we took them to the store and let them buy something they wanted.  Although they didn’t completely understand the concept at that age, at least they knew that saving coins in their banks meant they could get something that they really wanted. As they got older it was easier to explain.

That’s when we started assigning chores and an allowance for our kids was established.  Not only did they apply saving money, but they also had to start making decisions about purchases based on their savings.
 
Learning by Doing
Money skills money lessons
Chore chart to track progress.

Keeping a chore chart and paying kids an allowance at the end of each week lets kids see their progress. Free Behavior Charts is a website where you can print out a free chore chart. They can be customized with popular characters your kids know and love. Goal for It also has free customizable chore charts that you can print, or use on line. Computer savvy kids might love that!

Putting up a visible reminder also adds extra fun and motivation to chores and will gives kids a sense of pride when they can track their accomplishments. Add some colorful magnets and it's even more fun!

For children under ten years, a list of chores and activities like this could work well:

•  Brush teeth
•  Feed pets
•  Homework
•  Make your bed
•  Clean your room

For kids over ten, your list could look something like this:

•  Dishes
•  Clean up after pets
•  Mow lawn
•  Vacuum
•  Wash car

Make learning about money a family activity:

•  Have a "Money" game night and play Monopoly, Pay Day, or my favorite Life. 
•  Make a lemonade stand that the whole family can enjoy.  Let them borrow the money for supplies, and explain that they need to pay back the loan with their earnings. This teaches kids about what a bank does and the importance of paying back a loan.

As our children get older their toys become more expensive. If they understand the value of money they may understand why they can't get that expensive toy right away.  Our girls kept asking us for a Mac laptop and we just kept telling them to save their money.  Finally last month, they had both saved enough money to each buy one. They are very nice computers and my daughters take very good care of them.  I think it is because they know exactly how hard they had to save and work to buy them. They appreciate something they worked hard for and they both have a sense of pride when they tell everyone that they saved up for it all by themselves.  It also made me very proud to know that my girls are responsible and they understand that you have to work hard to get things in life.  Oh, and it was also nice to keep my checkbook in my wallet while they spent some of their hard-earned cash!

Marci Psalmonds
Contributing Writer 
 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Concerts in the Park


The fall season is a wonderful time to enjoy concerts in the park and the great outdoors. The local entertainment section of your newspaper often lists fun outdoor activities to attend this time of year, especially in our beautiful public parks and community venues. In addition to concerts, there are outdoor festivals that families and friends can enjoy together.

upcoming events
Summer brings many music concerts to local venues.
When my husband and I vacationed in New Orleans a few years ago, we enjoyed a wide variety of live music outside in the French Quarter. The sun was shining and people all around were dancing, singing, and having a great time. Since then we have been to a number of other outdoor concerts, like the Lehigh Valley’s famed Musikfest and live music performances at area bars and country clubs. Listening to music outside has become a favorite pastime for us as a couple, and now that we are plus-one with our little girl, we will be looking for more community events to enjoy as a family.

We're located in the Lehigh Valley and finding upcoming events is really easy. Music concerts are often announced through television programs and radio. A concert schedule or listing of other local events with live music in your area by searching on Eventful or Pollstar.

Concerts in the Park
Checking out a concert at the park with your family or friends can be a memorable summer or fall activity that everyone will enjoy.  A concert in park can combine music, fresh air and a good time doing something a little out of the ordinary. If you enter your community name and FREE concerts in your browser's search box (Ex. Bethlehem free concerts), you can find events in your area.

The concert in the park series in the Lehigh Valley usually includes an array of performers, from the very well known to new and upcoming acts. Events in your area might draw well-known performers and new, local artists. One thing is certain, a good time will be had by all. Many concerts in the park actually begin in the early summer, so remember to start checking in June next year if you missed any this year. But don't worry, there are still some events coming up.

upcoming events concerts
Enjoy a concert at the park with friends and family.
Bethlehem Pride

Recycling isn’t limited to product packaging. Bethlehem is proud of having recycled a historic landmark into a great venue. SteelStacks is an incredible arts and cultural campus located at the site of the historic Bethlehem Steel plant. Check out www.steelstacks.org for a listing of upcoming concerts. We're also very proud of Celtic Fest. This fun festival has everything from a herding show starring energetic border collies to a haggis eating contest. This year the 25th Celtic Classic takes place September 28 – 30 at its standard location in Bethlehem. Food, beer and merchandise vendors as far as the eye can see make this annual event a versatile and  terrific way to spend an afternoon, evening or the entire day.


If outdoor music concerts aren’t what you're looking for, there are probably plenty of fun things to do in your area. Autumn is the time of year for hayrides, haunted houses, pick-your-own pumpkin patches and corn mazes. To find events in your area, type your county, city or community name and FREE events in your browser's search (Ex. Bethlehem free events) and I'm sure you will get a list of great things to do in your community.

Tell us what Autumn entertainment you enjoy most. What fun family activities are popular in your neck of the woods.  Are you aware of any upcoming concerts not listed in our post? Please feel free to share your feedback in our comments below.

Kathryn M. D'Imperio
Contributing Writer 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fruits and Veggies: More Matters


"Eat your vegetables!"

What mother hasn't said that to her children at least once? Chances are you grew up hearing it so many times, from so many different sources, that it’s one of those tapes that play, unbidden, in your head. 

Well, why are vegetables healthy?  Why eat more fruit? Is the argument for them so convincing that you follow through on that ingrained message?  Or maybe you are one of those lucky people who can’t get enough fruits & veggies because you love them SO much. After all, fruits and veggies are low calorie, convenient and fun to eat!

My experience with clients is that they need more convincing.  Given the choice between eating something that tantalizes my taste buds or something that is “good for me,” I often have to be convinced too.

That is one of the reasons I do what I do. Teaching and writing about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables keeps my eyes on the goals that I have for my life. If I eat poorly, everything in my life suffers. This is more important the older I get.  If I eat for nutrition's sake I reap the benefits I so long to have.

The Case for Fresh Fruits and Veggies

vegetable list, fruits
Fruits and vegetables feed the whole person.
I am on a quest to “make a case” for choosing nutrient dense foods. These are foods that actually fuel the body.  They have a positive effect on mind, body and soul. You see, the part your mother may not have told you is that fruits & vegetables feed the whole person. We are a tightly knit package of chemicals and biological reactions. If we do not give our bodies everything they need, it has an impact on everything in our lives.  As we get older, we can feel the effects of our food choices, good or bad, in many ways.  At Fruits & Veggies More Matters, we are told to fill half our plate with fruits and veggies. Many experts tell us that conditions like a lack of energy, depression, some chronic illnesses and even premature death can be caused by a lifetime of poor nutrition choices.  But don’t despair. The body has a truly amazing capacity to heal itself!

My Story

I have dealt with illness since I was a child. I am sure it is one reason I decided to pursue this career.  I consider myself like a person who knows every diet under the sun, yet still struggles with obesity.  Working and training others at holistic health centers I have found one thing to be true consistently:  Give the body what it needs, and it will heal.  This is not to say that we may not need the assistance and guidance of the medical establishment, but I feel that there is more power in healthy vegetables and fruits than we give them credit for. Science is backing this up more and more as time goes by.  Many studies show the health benefits of eating more fruits and veggies.  There are more than I can count, and I study this subject for a living! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises us to add more fruits and vegetables to our diet.

National recognition of the need for more fruits and veggies; how they impact health and the long term benefits of making them a bigger part of a healthy diet have become a priority in our nation’s thinking and conversation. Now we need to make them a priority in our shopping bags and at our tables!

Where Should We Start?

I’m often asked to give people a list of vegetables, or a fruit list that they can take to the store. While I will do this for individual clients, for others that can be a sticky situation. Individuals have different needs and the person might be taking prescribed medications. There are certain prescriptions that can be affected by some fruits and vegetables. Drugs.com is a website where you can check for interactions between prescription medications and some fruits and vegetables. This can provide some information, but you should always check with your doctor before adding anything to your diet that could interact with a prescribed medical treatment.

healthy fruits and vegetables
Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables
I am a strong advocate for eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and by rainbow I mean eating as many colors of fruits and veggies as you can within each day (or at least within three days). However, I would not suggest a vegetable list or even fruit without knowing an individual’s medical history.  A specific list of fruits and vegetables should be decided between you, your doctor and your nutritionist. 

What I will do is end with a question. How many fruits and vegetables do you eat each day?  Our society is very number conscious. We have to know our phone number, social security number, cholesterol counts, blood pressure, etc.  Knowing your _______ number is important and can be valuable. Knowing the number of fruits and vegetables you eat each day is equally as important.

Have a wonderful fruit and veggie filled day!

Gwendolyn Adams
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ovarian Cancer Month – A Time to Reflect


cancer cancer months
Teal Ribbon represents ovarian cancer awareness
Cancer is something that can touch anyone at any time in different ways. It can strike someone we know, a friend or family member, or even ourselves. September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It is the perfect time to reflect on our own health and wellness and the health of those we love.

Ovarian cancer diagnosis is difficult because it is often not found until the later stages of the disease. Symptoms can be mistaken for a mild irritation or pain that is not obvious enough to trigger a diagnosis or alert us to go to the doctor in the first place. Part of the problem may be that the symptoms are often common issues that many people have from time to time.

According to the nonprofit group, Teal Ribbon Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation, Inc. (TROCRF), some common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

•    Feelings of bloating, discomfort or fullness after eating
•    Frequent or urgent need to urinate
•    Backaches
•    Constipation or diarrhea
•    Nausea
•    Shortness of breath

None of these symptoms really screams cancer.  So what should a woman do if she has one or more of them? It's important to talk to your doctor whenever you have unusual or uncomfortable symptoms. If you feel something is out of the ordinary, check with your doctor. Don’t second guess yourself and listen to your body.

Ovarian Cancer Statistics

A silent killer of women, ovarian cancer is one of the most aggressive of the gynecologic cancers. It can be especially devastating to women in their childbearing years that may not have started their families yet.  More than 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. Finding a cure for ovarian cancer and funding cancer research is more important now than ever before.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance reports the following statistics on ovarian cancer:
  • Women have a 1 in 71 chance of developing invasive ovarian cancer in their lifetimes.
  • They have a 1 in 95 lifetime risk of dying from an invasive form of this disease.
  • About 15,500 women die from ovarian cancer each year.
Ovarian cancers grasp on the female reproductive system is staggering. “Approximately one out of every ten ovarian cancer cases is hereditary,” says the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. The statistics have some women even questioning whether they should have their ovaries removed to lower their risk of ovarian cancer. Some consider this life-changing surgery even if the disease just seems to run in the family. The treatment options are very personal for individuals facing this disease. Women should consult their doctors as well as doing their own research about the disease before making a decision.

A Personal View

My own life was touched by ovarian cancer when my friend developed ovarian cancer. It was no easy battle, but her spirit remained strong and she won her battle. Her enthusiasm and joyful personality warms the hearts of those around her. All of us who know her are so thankful that Sandie was blessed with a successful return to good health.

My friend, an author, and some of her fellow writers penned a set of devotionals that are sold so a portion of the proceeds can go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. This ovarian cancer society continually works to provide funding for research to successfully identify and treat ovarian cancer and to find a cure.

If someone you know is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it is important to show your support and to keep a positive attitude. According to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that ovarian cancer patients with a strong network of friends and acquaintances experience successful recoveries and longer lives.

Fighting Back

Showing your support to find a cure and to further research is both noble and admirable. If you don’t have a lot of money or time, don't worry. Anything you can do to help goes a long way.

Here are some ways to get involved this month:
  • Participate in an ovarian cancer walk. Find upcoming walks on the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s website.
  • Attend an benefit, such as a 5k race or a concert.
  • Make a donation to your desired ovarian cancer foundation to help fund ovarian cancer research.
  • Volunteer your time with a local ovarian cancer alliance or cancer fundraiser.
  • Display cancer ribbons for the cancers that have affected people you know. Proceeds from purchasing a cancer ribbon often benefit organizations.
Cancer awareness months are a great way to drive support for research and the quest for a cure. Show your support any way you can. If you know someone battling ovarian cancer let them know they are in your thoughts.

If you have other ideas or points you would like to share about ovarian cancer or ovarian cancer month, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

National Childhood Obesity Month


national childhood obesity month
The cycle of an Obese Child.
September is National Childhood Obesity Month.  It's become a very important topic of awareness in the United States.  Kids are becoming more and more overweight every year and we need to take control.  There are many doctors who think that obesity in America is caused by poor diet, lack of exercise and technology that encourages a sedentary lifestyle.

Growing up in the 70's and 80's most of us rode our bikes or big wheels around the block, jumped on  a pogo stick or played ball in the street.  I can still hear my Dad's whistle calling us to come in for the day.  From sun up to sun down I was outside playing everything and anything possible.  You couldn't keep me in the house. Things have completely changed since then and now kids spend much more time indoors playing games on their phones, i pads and computers.  Do kids today even know what kick the can is or how to jump on a pogo stick?

Obesity is Becoming an Epidemic
Obesity rates in America have greatly increased over the years.  More than 23 million (yes MILLION) children and teenagers in the United States ages 2 to 19 are obese or overweight. Many experts are calling these high numbers an epidemic. The effects of obesity have put nearly one third of America's children at early risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke, conditions usually associated with adulthood.

Fast food is another cause of obesity. It has become a comfort food to many kids who eat it daily, sometimes more than 2-3 times a day. In many children's lives, fast food is their main meal. The accessibility of fast food is one reason that obesity in teens has skyrocketed, and they might not be receiving encouragement to make healthier choices and add physical activity. We need to help kids understand that just because it is easy to access doesn't mean it should be eaten daily. There are plenty of alternatives to make eating healthy, easy and enjoyable for kids.
obesity definition
Fruit instead of candy is a great healthy switch!

Alternative snacks for kids
  • Popcorn instead of chips
  • Fruit instead of candy
  • Flavored or just plain water instead of soda or juice
  • Flavored rice cakes instead of crackers
  • Hummus instead of dips
  • Frozen yogurt instead of ice cream
  • Frozen Grapes instead of Popsicles
  • Fruit smoothies instead of high calorie energy drinks


The list is endless and after awhile it becomes easier to think in terms of making smarter and healthier choices for your child when it comes to eating.

We all know that many kids (and adults) love their sweets and junk food. They don't need have to go without them completely, but should make healthier choices more often and eat the junk food in moderation.  Otherwise, they could risk obesity and the health issues that may come from that.

The obesity definition states that if a person's body weight is more than 20% greater than the recommended weight for his or her height, the person is considered obese. 

As a professional educator, I come in contact with kids everyday. I see many overweight children and I wonder why are children obese and how can we change it?  I think the key is keeping them active.  In my personal experience, my kids have always been involved in some kind of sports activity.  Both our girls started gymnastics at the age of two and they loved it. It kept them active helped them with their coordination which helped in other activities.  Once they were old enough to play organized sports, for us the age of four, we got them started.  First it was soccer then baseball and then after that they tried everything from basketball to dance. It became second nature to them to be physically active and not stay in the house and watch TV.  Don't get me wrong they still watched their cartoons on the weekends and played their Wii when we weren't running around doing something.  We just tried to do it in moderation and not make it an everyday activity.  Now that our girls are older, they have maintained their active lifestyles. We found that starting at an early age helped them to make activity a habit that they continued as they got older.

What do you do if your kids do not want to play in organized sports? Or maybe that isn't an option in your area.  It doesn't have to be an organized school team.  Here are some other activities that kids can do that will also keep them active.

Healthy Activities for Kids
cause of obesity
Prevent Obesity by keeping your kids active and healthy
  • Swimming
  • Golf
  • Bowling
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Bike Riding
  • Go-Carts
  • Fishing
  • Dance
  • Horseback Riding
  • Surfing or Body Surfing
  • Bug Collecting
  • Kite Flying
  • Rock Climbing
... and the list goes on.  Family activities like hiking, fishing or horseback riding are great ways to keep the whole family active and to set an example that kids can follow. They can also be low-cost alternatives to add some healthy activity to our lives.  Here's to helping our kids live happy, healthy and active lives!

Marci Psalmonds
Contributing Writer