Remembering Our Fallen Military Men and women

Memorial Day, a solemn occasion for so many of us around the country. For me however, its not just a day set aside by our country to recognize the thousands upon thousands of fallen troops that gave up the ultimate cost. Although it is a very worthy act that we honor our fallen troops, it is more personal than that to me.

I understand exactly how lucky and blessed I am because of their sacrifice. I have two brothers who served our country honorably during the Vietnam Era. My family was blessed because they both returned home unharmed. More recently, one of my nephews served time during the Iraq War. After serving three tours of duty there, again our family was blessed by him being discharged from the military honorably and unharmed. Currently I have a dear godson who is being transferred to a military base in Germany after serving two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

But I pause as we all give respect in remembering the thousands of families who were not so lucky. A few of them are people I knew personally. Like Franklin Payne, who was a dear friend and a member of my high school class. His injuries during the Vietnam War left him paralyzed from the neck down. Although he was sent home to his family with much medical support when he was strong enough; my friend was severely frail and he died not too long after his arrival home. And then there was another friend, Jonathan Roaker. He was a boy I liked when I was in the fifth grade. Poor Jonathan paid the ultimate cost during the Vietnam War. His family was not as lucky as Franklin’s. At least Franklin’s family was able to see him again and spend precious moments with him before he died. But Jonathan was killed during battle and his family never got to see him alive again.

This brings me to the actual reason for this blog today. Memorial Day is not just a day set aside to remember our fallen soldiers…although that’s a first rate reason, its more than that. Remembering the fAMILIES of all those fallen soldiers are equally as important. They should not be forgotten, instead we should embrace and honor them for their family member’s sacrifice.

TAPS, (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) provides emotional support and resources for the grieving families of our military men and women. Their website title=”TAPS”> explains what they do in detail for our grieving military families and encourages donation of time and resources. On this Memorial Day Holiday perhaps you would be inclined to visit their website and offer your generous donation.

Have a safe and healthy Memorial Day.
Healthy Trails to You

Childhood Obesity

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Children and Obesity

As a person who was afflicted with obesity during childhood, I was prompted to write this blog today. The reason? There is a new study that was presented this week that suggest that nearly 42% of Americans are overweight. But even worse, the trend is starting very early in children. While we all want to be responsible parents, sometimes it seems to be easier to simply ‘give in’ to the unhealthy food demands of our young ones. Perhaps you will reconsider when you consider these facts: In America, according to studies done by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, more than 300,000 people die annually due to diseases caused by obesity. And the cost of obesity to society is estimated around 100 billion dollars every year.

Unfortunately,there is a physical price we all must pay for over-indulging in unhealthy foods. I too, was branded with obesity for far more years than I’d like to admit. This is despite the fact that I’ve worked as a health care professional for more than 30 years, and I know full well of the consequences. I know a lot about this subject mostly because I am still struggling with this disease today. Once a person develops bad eating habits, it is extremely difficult to overcome. But never-the-less, it can be done. I became the healthy warrior when I began my weight loss journey and subsequently lost more than 150 pounds. I am striving to live healthy every day and also to educate others in health issues of the day.

Overeating on the sugary and high fat foods may taste good, but they have very little nutritional value; AND that kind of habit will certainly lead to obesity. Obesity is almost certain to be accompanied with diseases that will dramatically affect a person’s health in a negative way. In the case of morbid obesity, the diseases also include decreased mobility and even premature death.

Therefore we must pay closer attention and take control of the kind of foods we allow ourchildren to consume. This should happen when they are very young in order to avert bad eating habits and avoid conflicts later. Children should not feel deprived or hungry between meals. This will only lead to more problems like sneaking food and resentment. Healthy snacks should be offered such as fruits, whole wheat or whole grain crackers and low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks. Instead of offering sodas that are loaded with sugar, offer instead all natural sugar free fruit juices, and ice pops.

Obesity can also be combated with an increase in the amount of physical activity. In this high tech age we live in, children no longer play outside the way they used to. Once they are home from school, they tend to go to the computers, iPods and other technical devices. Some will simply flop in front of the TV.

You can encourage your children to exercise more by participating in physical activity with them. Go to the park and let them runaround and play. This is a twofer because you will get in some desired physical activity too. Also, you can put on some of your favorite fast paced music and dance. Just you and the kids… or you can make it a family affair by including your spouse as well. You can add more fun by having a dance contest and offer a small prize to the winner. Practically any physical activity you can think of that will capture your children’s attention should be encouraged. The important thing is to get them involved in more physical activity early in life.

Older children who may already be obese or who are heading in that direction should be seen by a physician. The physician will recommend a specific diet plan or refer to a nutritionist. Obese children will not only grow to be unhealthy, but they are subject to getting picked on or bullied by other children. This sort of thing can possibly lead to low self esteem and other psychological problems later.

Some of the diseases that are associated with obesity includes:

1) Diabetes

2)Heart disease

3) Hypertension/high blood pressure and stroke

4) High cholesterol level (can damage the arteries)

5) Sleep apnea

6) Bone and joint conditions, such as hip problems and arthritis

7) Early puberty

8) Psychological problems like poor self esteem

Therefore as you can pretty well determine, obesity is a serious disease that needs to be stopped in its tracks. Don’t allow your child or yourself to be over powered with this disease.
Here is to yoursuccess in living a healthy and long life free of obesity.

Healthy trails to you.

Music Therapy for Meditation and Stress relief

From where I stand, stress is something we all face from time to time. Some of us have more stress than others. Unfortunately, there are many people who can’t get through a day without some sort of stress. Although the degree of stress varies, stress is still stress; and it adds up. I don’t believe that stress is always a bad thing. Some would say that a certain amount of stress would help to make you a better person; because we learn and grow from our experiences. However, it is the constant high level stress that could be overwhelming for so many of us.

I’m pretty sure you already know, or at least have heard that constant high level stress is not good for us. Chronic stress leads to a lower immune system, giving opportunity for diseases to set in. Some of these diseases include anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure. Such chronic illnesses lead to a stroke and heart disease. Multiple complications can develop as a result; including something so severe as premature death.

A good way to prevent stress is to be more organize. in other words to plan better, and avoid procrastination. If there is something coming up a week from now that you need to take care of personally, make sure you have done everything you need to do on your part to make it happen. Procrastination usually will only cause you more stress in the end. You can prevent this by simply being better organized.

A well balanced diet is very helpful in eliminating stress by boosting the immune system.. For example, when choosing carbs to eat, you should know that there are some carbs that are more powerful than others. This is because they help to reduce stress better. For example a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk can increase the level of serotonin. Serotonin is an important nutrient that acts as a calming brain chemical. Carbs in general will help to spike the serotonin level, but the complex carbs are the better choice. They digest more slowly, which makes the serotonin level longer acting. These foods includes breads, pastas, and whole grains. Sugary carbs (the simple carbs) like the sweet comfort foods and sweet drinks, contain serotonin also but would not produce a long lasting effect. They are good to make you feel good for a short amount of time only. It is not recommended that you consume very much of the simple carbs.

Exercise is another important way to lower the stress level. Regular exercise has many benefits including weight loss, muscle strengthening and endurance. It also helps to gain control of high blood pressure and cholesterol level and more great benefits. But in relation to stress elimination, exercise is helpful in stimulating chemicals in the brain that will make you feel more relaxed and happier. Regular physical activity of some sort is not only very healthy, but could also be very enjoyable.

Lastly, let’s not forget about meditation. Meditation is a very relaxing ritual that helps to calm you. Meditation helps you to keep your focus better and to clear your mind of stress. It will improve your mood and outlook on life as it stimulates you to see life in a different perspective. Meditation will help you to work calmly in getting (and keeping) your life in wonderful functional order.

This is written mostly for people who are chronically stressed out. I hope that you will be encourage to slow down and take the time to really enjoy life more. People who are not stressed are happier and friendlier. They tend to smile and laugh more. There is a study scientist has concluded on laughter that suggest that laughter helps people to live longer. When people are stressed out they don’t laugh as much. Given the choice, I think I would rather be among those that laugh more. Wouldn’t you?
Healthy trails to you


Get A Good Night’s Sleep; No Muss, No Fuss


For a simple natural act as sleeping, it is amazing of the number of people who go through their day being sleep deprived. Some are sleep deprived because their schedule is stretched so far that falling into bed after 2am has become the norm. There is nothing wrong with falling into bed at 2am; but the problem occurs when you have to be awake at 7 am and out the door for work by 8am. That’s really pushing it for most folks. There is also another scenario. For countless of others who are in bed by 10pm night after night still aren’t able to sleep.
Sleep deprivation is no joke. A lack of sleep leads to increased stress, poor ability to concentration, poor judgment, and poor overall job performance. A lack of sleep could also lead to a decreased immune system which increases opportunity for diseases.
So what to do in order to get enough sleep? First of all, you need to schedule your activities so you can be in bed early enough to get 8 hours of sleep. There is nothing wrong with having a busy schedule, but going without sleep night after night is not healthy. There are a number of things you can do to get your brain to shut down for sleep.
Try exercising. Not much is needed. Maybe 5 or 10 minutes; enough to help wind you down. Exercise helps lowers stress and will help your mind to unwind. Lowering stress and unwinding should help sleep to come much easier.
Take a long relaxing bath or shower. The warm water will be soothing on your skin and once out of the shower, you will naturally feel clean and refreshed. This should help you to be more prone to relax and will help induce sleep.
Drink a hot cup of tea. Make it green. A cup of green tea will help promote a calmness because it is relaxing. You can ignore the fact that tea has a small amount of caffeine in it. Green tea has something in it that blocks the effects of caffeine. After you get into bed to go to sleep, the relaxing cup of green tea should help to make it happen.
Try vitamins and minerals. There are certain vitamins and minerals you may be interested in also. The vitamin Bs… B3 and B6. Among others, seem to help induce sleep because they increase the serotonin level. Serotonin helps to regulate your mood, appetite and sleep. Also you can try melatonin. Melatonin is another important nutrient that is helpful for inducing sleep.
Use herbs. Celery, lemon balm, and lavender. Actually I must confess that I can’t vouch for the effectiveness of any of these herbs, but I understand from others that they could be very helpful; especially the lavender because it has a very mild and pleasant sent that relaxes you.
Medical assistance. For more complicated medical issues (for example severe anxiety and stress), a medical remedy may be indicated. In those cases perhaps an anti-anxiety pill or a sleeping pill is needed; something that is prescribed by a physician. I don’t advocate taking any heavy medication unless it is the absolute last resort, and not for a prolonged length of time. If a physician should happen to prescribe a sleeping pill or an anti-anxiety pill, please take care to administer it only as prescribed.
That about does it for the suggestions I have for those who might be suffering from sleep deprivation. I hope that one of these natural remedies will help. Hopefully you will get a good night’s sleep; no muss, no fuss.
Healthy trails to you.

Don’t Sabotage Your Diet because of Hunger

Hungry? Dieting? Dieting and hungry? Gee, I’ve been in that predicament many times in the past. It took me awhile, but I finally caught on to what I needed to do in order to beat the hunger pangs. Many times when I was faced with hunger pangs, I’d seek satisfaction by binge eating. Once I started my bingeing, there was never enough food to satisfy me. In other words, I’d throw my diet and anything resembling a diet right out the window. It seemed that I’d make a small step forward but only to take a giant leap backwards. The hunger pangs and the binge eating were both destroying my chances for success. Thankfully I was able to outsmart those hunger pangs, and stopped the binge eating for good. AND I went on to lose more than 100 pounds. So you see, it is possible for you to lose weight without feeling deprived or hungry. This is how I did it.

First of all, a very helpful tip would be to stop thinking of yourself as being on a diet. This is especially helpful for people who have a large amount of weight to lose. For most of us, diets don’t work. Diets are usually abandon long before we can get halfway through. And unfortunately, most will regain whatever weight that was lost. So forget the diet mentality and switch to a lifestyle change instead. Make your new eating habits a lifestyle change and you will never have to diet again.
Getting through the rough patch will take a little time at first, but once you get through that, it will all be a piece of cake…pardon the pun. Here is what you do to avoid getting hungry:
Get into the habit of eating 5 to 6 times per day. In addition to eating breakfast lunch and dinner, include a snack during the day, and another one during the evening. For some people, it is a good idea to have 3 snacks instead of 2…and that would be okay. They may need 1 mid-morning, 1 in late afternoon, and a final one late evening. Also, drink plenty of sugarless beverages throughout the day. I personally drink diet ice tea or water with a few drops of lemon juice added. I drink coffee also, but I usually limit it to only once in the mornings. The snacks should not be another meal (obviously), but something you like and will be satisfying for you. And the snacks should not be loaded with calories. There are many different delicious foods to choose from, but keep them low in fat and sugar content. I’m currently working on a free PDF document called “100 Great Snacks for any Time of the Day.” Please check back later this month and I hope to have it posted.
Make your meals tasty. No need for bland foods like cottage cheese and lettuce leaves every day. There are plenty of delicious foods you can have. It is a good idea to fill up on high fiber vegetables also. They will help to keep your stomach feeling full and satisfied. Experiment with vegetables and learn to cook them several different ways. Sometimes I add lemon juice to certain veggies, or I may add a little salsa sauce. I thought I would never appreciate vegetables at the extent that I do, but finally I get it and they are delicious.

When you eat what you like, your foods will sustain you. You will be happy and less prone to overeat, binge eat, have cravings, or make unwise food choices. If you can do these things, I can practically promise you that the pounds will melt away…no more hunger, no more binge eating, and no more diet sabotage.
Healthy trails to you