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Stress Relief

The Ultimate Foundation for a Healthier Life

I have been using Shaklee’s Vitalizer since it deputed and I feel great!  When something works you naturally want share that product or service with everyone you know!

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Bio-optimized vitamins, minerals along with 77x’s more polyphenols ounce per ounce than juice and an amazing amount of anti-oxidants are all delivered in one strip, I get a great foundation for a healthier life in one easy to use strip!  How easy is that.

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Surviving The Tornadoes of April 27th 2011

The first tornadoes struck early Wednesday morning, April 27, 2011, followed by another round Wednesday evening. It was 2 days of tension as we were looking for bad weather on Tuesday, but it waited until Wednesday morning for those of us in the Birmingham AL area.

The tornado sirens sounded about 5:20am for us, jarring us out of bed in the early morning darkness. After a quick look at the local TV station we realized we had about 45 minutes before it was on us. Took a quick shower, dressed, and carried down my emergency items to the powder room on the ground floor. We do not have a basement, although we considered digging one quickly later in the day.

I have posted many times about being prepared for storms, spring storms like tornadoes, summer storms like hurricanes and winter storms that bring ice and banks of snow higher than I can imagine. Snow is why I live in the South. Tornadoes are why I wish there was a safer place in the South to live!

Being prepared for the storms that come our way is usually not too hard. Just make certain you have a wind-up radio, wind-radio, food for several days for myself and the kitties, water, even some hot water stored in a thermos, medicines, first aid kit, clothes, candles, matches in a dry place like a Tupperware container and a few blankets with pillows for me and the kitties. Well, you know the kittes are going to take possession of the blankets and pillows.

But these storms on April 27th were different from past storms. These storms packed winds of up to 200mph. Now I had lived through hurricane Charlie (and the 3 following hurricanes) when it hit the Walt Disney World area in 2004. I saw the trees down, the houses destroyed, the roofs removed or damaged as was mine, the power off, the houses flooded because the roof lifted and the contents of the house were exposed to the relentless rain of the hurricane, pounding at strange angles.

At that time I was in my little house when the slanted A-frame roof groaned and creaked like a ship in the storm. I witnessed the metal garage door panels separating in the continued onslaught of 100mph winds. The cat door between the garage and the house stayed open for ½ an hour or more, gently bobbing up and down but never really closing. I prayed in the powder room on the ground floor, holding my kitties and keeping an eye of the battery powered TV/radio I had with the 9 inch screen. Could not see much on that tiny black & white picture, but I knew it was not good. Finally the winds died down and the main part of the storm passed on to other parts of FL.

Power was out, for about 24 hours total. I lived near 2 hospitals and that was providential for getting power back on. But I also lived in a community where our oak trees were trimmed each year to remove excess weight. We did not lose a tree in the 4 storms. We also lived in houses that were 20+ years old with wooden siding. Some lost a few boards, we all lost some shingles on our roofs, but all was well. However, the newer houses in the adjacent neighborhoods with the vinyl siding were naked when the sun came up.

100mph winds can do amazing damage. But 200mph winds do unbelievable damage. Even looking at the pictures just does not give you a true perspective on the damage or the horror that the people of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia lived through last Wednesday.

For us, the storms went all around us. Not a good feeling when a local weather man calls out the name of the highway you live off of as the path of a tornado! We had one storm pass just over the mountain from our home. The trees at the top of the mountain swayed and the wind sounded like those ominous “trains” that everyone refers to when talking about tornados. Debris was flying about here, but it was mainly leaves for us. The 7 or 8 storms that were on the weather map in our area at one time missed us, thankfully. Prayers were answered. But we have family who were not so lucky.

I can only image the terror they felt when their homes, their place of security and comfort blew apart around them. The home that they rejoiced in, the home where they fed family and friends, the home where they mourned for friends and family, the home where they saw their children grow up, all blown to bits in a matter of seconds.

Now these folks are looking at a pile of rubble. Some were at work when the storm hit. They have been back to their homes, their neighborhoods and could not even find their lot. Nothing looked recognizable to them. All the normal landmarks are gone.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine coming home to find the trees, gardens, swing sets, storage sheds, garages, street signs and such are not all gone? It is like being dropped in a war zone. The landscape is alien, trees stripped of limbs, leaves, while what is left is twisted, contorted into bizarre shapes. Neighbors are bruised, battered or worse yet, dead.

Vehicles are flipped over, crushed by trees or parts of houses. Power poles are down, wires are all over the place, some still live and others not. Dangerous. The boards that litter the yard are filled with nails, screws and splinters. There is no safe place to be, no clean place to sit and have a meal, no bathroom to shower, no toilet to use, no faucet to give water. Cell towers are down so no communications can get through. Nothing is normal.

Whole towns are gone. Homes, businesses, churches, schools, theaters, professional buildings for Doctors, accountants, restaurants, fast food joints, donut shops, bait shops, lawyers, fire stations, police departments. All damaged or gone. Wiped off the face to this earth. A concrete slab with pipe stubs marks buildings with no reference as to what they used to be.

Not only are homes gone. But jobs are gone. Medical care is displaced or gone. Resources that normally help in times of small crisis are having a big crisis themselves.

Now the arduous task of putting their lives back together has begun. They have to bury their dead. Some have to locate family and friends still missing. Some will be rewarded with good news and will rejoice. Others will not be so blessed and tears of mourning will flow.

Every time they need something it is not there. All that is around them at “home” now is rubble. Paper, books, shingles, boards and such flew in the tornado and landed miles from their original homes. So you look in your yard and there are checks form a lady in a town 60 miles away who went to the Piggly Wiggly (grocery store) in 1992 and spent a few dollars on food! Bizarre.

I have experienced the numbing task for burying 3 of my immediate family members one fine May day several years ago, after they were killed in an auto accident by an 18 yr old who lost control speeding. I know how impossible that is to get through the sudden deaths of family and friends. But add on top of that immense sadness the loss of homes and everything else you used to own, and see how that feels. It is a level of pain of high magnitude.

So how can we move on from this assault on our bodies, souls, minds, property and emotions? What can we do to make a step forward when we feel like we weight a thousand pounds and cannot possibly take a step in any direction? All we want to do it get our lives back to the way it was before Wednesday. And of course that will never be.

We will never know the sound of that home again in the same way. We will never hear the laughter of our dead friends and family. The swing set will never squeak in its own peculiar way again. The bar-b-que grill is in pieces scattered over 3 counties and will never be the site of family get togethers. How can we possibly move forward?

It is not easy. These survivors will make the slow process of moving forward inch by inch, day by day. Since they are alive, their grief will come in unexpected places. They will absentmindedly reach for something only to realize that it is forever gone. They will reach for the phone to call someone only to be reminded that that person is dead. Sadness will grip them in unusual places at unusual times. But slowly, they will heal.

Their homes and lives will be rebuilt. They will form new communities with different people, different values and different goals. The survivors will move to new places, stay in the same area or leave the state entirely. Change has happened and the final place to start again will be part of the process.

Right now the immediate need is for shelter and comfort, food, clothing and a sense of safety. The survivors will find bits of their lives and pack them away in boxes for use later in their new homes. Their memories will be their touchstones for what has happened. The things of their lives will change, they will change and they will being again.

The slate is blank for them now. They can create their own future based on what their past was, or not. Moving forward can take them in different directions and only God knows what he has in store for them. New paths, new directions, new talents maybe. New passions, new skills forged from the newness of the raw earth. It is a time of renewal, it is a time of rediscovery and of forging new identities. Old habits can be laid aside easier since the stimulus is no longer there.

We are lucky in the Birmingham area to have many resources coming to help with aid and comfort. Churches, Red Cross, Salvation Army, private individuals, Television and Radio stations doing all day coverage linking people and needs together as well as fundraising. People looking for lost pets, people looking for the dead, people looking for the survivors who have not connected with loved ones.

The pet people are my favorites. I cannot imagine the terror of having my kittes separated from me in the storm. To know that there are folks out looking for, recovering, treating injuries, feeding and caring for the pets warms my heart. I re-post on facebook when I can so others can see the need and help match owners with found pets. What a wonderful reward after such a tragic event.

So the next time I post something about being prepared for a coming storm, listen and take heed. Gather your precious things around you whether they be people, pets or things and be ready for action when the house explodes around you. Have a plan. Know who to call. Know what is really important to you and let go of the rest. For in the end, your family, friends and pets are all that really matter. Stuff can be replaced, memories are in your heart, and smiles are on the faces of those you love. Stay well and stay safe!

Disasters and Storms, Are You Prepared?

Each year I write about severe weather &  natural disasters and how to be ready in case it comes your way. After the terrible earthquakes in Japan recently as well as the tornadoes that are happening in Iowa and other parts of the country, we do need to take time again to determine our preparedness.

Earthquakes and severe weather events are violent acts, they disrupt our lives and often change to course of our lives. We can do ourselves justice by doing a few simple things to reduce the immediate stress of a bad storm or other disaster.  Reducing your stress begins early, before the event happens.  so treat yourself well!
1. Check your home.  Do you have a way to cover windows in the event of a hurricane or severe thunderstorm?   Do you have a Weather Radio that is tuned to a NOAA Weather station in your vicinity?  Do you have an escape route if the house catches fire?  Do you have an escape route planned in case of flooding or fire?  Flood insurance?

2.  What are you going to do with your Pets?  Do you have horse trailers available for your horses and ponies?  Cat and dog carriers?  What about food and medicine for the animals? Water?  Veterinarian papers since you could be traveling with them?

3.  Children and the elderly need special attention too.  Do you have blankets, water, medicine, food, extra clothing, first aid kits, flashlights, batteries.  They often need special medications and supplements.  Water, food, treats, blankets, pillows, warm clothes even in the summer, games, books, pen & paper, playing cards.

Wind-up Flashlights and wind-up Radios are the best for me since I provide the power and don’t have to worry about a normal battery running out of power in the midst of a crisis!

Think ahead a little and gather the important papers you need, your emergency kits and water and then relax.  Hopefully you will not need them this year! Stay well.

Reducing Workplace Stress

We all have stress these days.  Stress just is.  However, as we go about our daily lives, there are steps we can take, choices we can make that will reduce the stress.  Stress is part of the “fight or flight” response that keeps us safe.  We are designed to handle stress, but with breaks in between instances.  However, if this stress lingers,  is not resolved, our bodies are still in the fight orflight mode and those hormones keep on coming.

Cortisol is released in our bodies to repair the damage caused by the stress.  Ongoing release of cortisol ends in this cortisol being stored in fat tissue around our middle section, otherwise known as belly fat.  The desired effect is the Cortisol turning into natural Cortisone used by the body during sleep to help repair and renew our bodies. Reduce the Stress.

We are spending more time in the workplace.  Now that workplace may be like mine, a space in my home, but it is still a workplace.  Whether you work in an office away from home or in a home office, the stresses are real.  Modifying your workplace to provide a calm surrounding is very important to your health.

Plants, comfortable furniture, pleasant paint colors, natural lighting, fresh air and quiet spaces are necessary for better moods, better morale and higher productivity.  Whether a home workplace or an office

Fern Tree Close-Up

“cube farm” or a traditional office space, the environment you create effects the output of that space.  Don’t skimp on the comfort and ambiance of the space as that will be counterproductive in the long run.

Plants have long been the champion in decorating workplaces.  Turns out that many Fortune 500 companies have chosen to add living plants, not those fake silk things, to their offices.  Plants bring life, pleasant scenery, air filtration and humidity control to the workplace according to an article by Interior Office Plants.  My plants are helped along by the kitties who do occasional pruning and suggest re-potting!  So bring in a few plants and enjoy the scenery.

How is the lighting in your workplace?  Do you have a window or skylight?  If so, maximize the benefits of the natural light.  Often in the South, we tend to put up heavy drapes and blinds to block the heat of afternoon sun.  Find ways to modify the heat by using window films and blinds to divert the sun, but allow the light to come into your workplace.  Natural light is easier on your eyes and will lift your mood!

Personalize your workplace as much as allowed.  Previously, my office space was an interior space with no window and no skylight.  Now that was hard, not seeing the beautiful weather during work hours.  To balance the lack of sun, we added plants and as many personal photos and artwork as tasteful.  Bringing in personal photos adds a calming touch to a busy work area.

Artwork is important to your workplace.   Choose images that are calming for waiting areas.  Brighter, more active images are good choices for work spaces.  And don’t forget the break areas and restrooms!

Talk with your boss to see what input you can have in reorganizing the workplace to take advantage of the light, fresh air and paint colors you have.  Active participation will give you a boost to your morale, your productivity and your general well being!

Holiday Eating Challenges

Just a quick post about the Challenges of Holiday Eating.  We all end up in January with extra pounds, well most of us anyway!  And I am never happy to see them on my hips and other places.  So this year I am going to follow a few simple rules when it comes to Holiday Eating.  Hope they will help you maintain a healthy relationship with food throughout the holidays!

Give the Gift of Health

1.  I will eat small meals throughout the day, keeping my energy level up and my craving for sweets on impulse down to a minimum.  Small meals will keep my protein and carbohydrate levels in balance, so I can resist those plates of sweet calories that float through the the day tempting me! Of course I will take my Shaklee Supplements!

2.  I will stay hydrated. Drinking half of my weight in ounces of water each day will help me stay hydrated, keeping my body healthy, brain sharp and stomach full feeling.  Often when we reach for something to eat it is because we are de-hydrated and need water.  So hop on the scale and look at your weight.  Take half of that figure and drink that in ounces each day.  So if you weight 150 pounds, you will need to sip on 75 ounces of water throughout the day.  Not tea, not coffee, not sodas, but filtered water!   Don’t try to drink it all at once.  It is to be sipped throughout the day.

3.  I will eat a treat each day, thereby avoiding the possibility of eating a whole cake or platter of cookies because I have not eaten treats for several days.  I will admit that I love, LOVE Chocolate and will be amiss if I don’t try to reign-in the desire to eat a whole platter of brownies at a party!  So eating a treat each day is the way to control the weight!

4.  I will not give up on myself if I make one error and eat too much one time.  But I will not let that be an excuse for eating too much every day.  Prevention is the way to stay healthy and I don’t plan on being ill.  I plan on staying healthy for many, many years to come.

So, what is your plan to make it through the endless food detours that are in our near future?  We have another month or more of food opportunities to sabotage our healthy weight goals and we really need to plan our way through rather than Eat our way through the next month!  Stay Well!  And Happy Holiday Eating!

Fall and Football

Yeah, finally getting some cooler weather here in the South.  I had been concerned that the kids would need some air conditioning for their Halloween costumes!  I could just see the pumpkins drooping in the 90degree heat we have been having in October.  But happily cooler weather seems to have come to stay for a while.

Southern Fall

Fall to me means football.  Of course, living in the South I am surrounded by football fever!  Everywhere you go there is a big college with a big football team.  Fans can be rabid when it comes to their favorite college team.  Rooms are decorated in team colors, with team pictures and fancy artwork on the walls.  Chairs are covered in team colors with pillows sporting team logos.  Children are named for favored coaches!  Really! And of course, weddings are planned around those games.

Small Southern college towns swell to 3 or 4 times their population on football weekends.  Crowds begin to gather mid-week for pregame festivities.  RV’s and tents are set up in special areas of each campus.  Small villages are created as friends and family get together for some fellowship for a few days before the game on Saturday.

Tailgating is an art!  Tents, team logos on shade canopies, very fancy grills, coolers the size of small cars, BBQ recipes passed from generation to generation are just a few of the items found on Saturdays.  Face paint, shakers and “winning” shirts, socks, pants, shoes and more come out of the drawers to be worn once again so the favored team will win.

Then there is the Team Walk in to the stadium.  Home teams often have a certain time that they enter the stadium, with part of the band playing while fans cheer each player.  It is quite emotional as grandfathers hold grandchildren on their shoulders, introducing the children to the family’s love of their team.  The players are surrounded with adoring fans wishing them well and showing appreciation for all the hard work of the team.

So, now the weather has cooled, gather the kids, some favorite foods, throw in the grill and some beverages and head to the nearest college campus.  Have a fun day gathering with friends and family, making new friends and supporting your team.  No matter which team wins, you and the kids will still have a great time!

Saturdays in the South are more than just a few hours in the stadium.  Saturdays are a total experience of food, sounds, friends, family,  Frisbees tossed on campus lawns,  t-shirts and sweatshirts purchased and worn in pride, bragging rights, cool breezes blowing and so much more.  Have fun!

Habits and Change

Be Healthy

So how has this week been? Changing one bad habit for a good is not easy is it! We humans like the easy way, the way with no pain and no thought. We just want to keep going on the same path like cows who move from field to field, never straying from the old paths.
But last week we talked about doing some good for ourselves, developing a few healthy habits that will give us a healthier, longer and happier life. Now that is a goal worth a little effort isn’t it?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being ill. Days of fever, headaches, muscle aches and such are not my idea of fun. Vacation is my goal, not illness. Taking days off for illness does not refresh my spirit.
Change is good for us. Breaking those old habits that are keeping us in unhealthy ruts take time, patients and determination, but are rewarding when accomplished. Changing a mindset is important. How we think about something impacts how we take care of ourselves.

That is why I asked “How Many M&M’s do you eat?” last week. Thinking about taking more than one Alfalfa Complex tablet sends some people into panic mode! Funny really when they eat handfuls of candy at a time, handfuls of popcorn, bunches of grapes and more.
It is all about how we perceive a task. Our thinking that handfuls of one thing is okay while handfuls of another is impossible to accomplish even when the items are the same size, holds us back from reaching optimum health and wealth.
Change your thoughts Change your life.
When you Change the Way you Look at Things the Things You Look at Change!
Stay Well, Elise

Obesity, Diabetes and Hypertension in US Population

In results from recent NAHANES studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was noted that over one-third of the population over age 20 has a chronic health problem. Some are diagnosed while others remain un-diagnosed. Obesity, Hypertension and Diabetes, high Cholesterol were found to be increasing.  These diseases are life threatening  and are associated with cardiovascular disease.  A high percentage are preventable using diet, exercise and wise supplementation.  Prevention is something we can all practice.

The key findings were listed as:

*  Forty-five percent of adults had at least one of three diagnosed or undiagnosed chronic conditions—hypertension, hypercholesterolemia(high Cholesterol), or diabetes; one in eight adults (13%) had two of these conditions; and 3% of adults had all three chronic conditions.
* Nearly one in seven U.S. adults (15%) had one or more of these conditions undiagnosed.
* Non-Hispanic black persons were more likely than non-Hispanic white and Mexican-American persons to have at least one of the three conditions (diagnosed or undiagnosed).
* Non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white persons were more likely than Mexican-American persons to have both diagnosed or undiagnosed hypertension and hyper-cholesterolemia. Non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American persons were more likely than non-Hispanic white persons to have both diagnosed or undiagnosed hypertension and diabetes.

The study found race and ethnicity disparities in adult obesity.  “Among women in 2007–2008, non-Hispanic black women (49.6%) were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white women (33.0%). Similarly, Mexican-American women (45.1%) were more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white women (33.0%). Similar disparities existed in 1988–1994 (22.9% of non-Hispanic white women, 38.3% of non-Hispanic black women, and 35.3% of Mexican-American women were obese).”

Similar disparities were found among men as well with “non-Hispanic black men showing an increase in obesity at 37.3%, while Mexican American men had an increase to 35.9%  and non-Hispanic white men had an increase to 31.9% of the population.”  Use the links to both studies to find out more.  Remember to keep up the diet, exercise and good supplementation to be healthier!  Stay Well, Elise

Coping with Stress

Stress is one of those words that keeps making headlines.  We are all faced with stress each day. Dealing with the kids, the pets, what to wear, driving to work, catching a plane, or making pans for any kind of social gathering, and even watching the news causes stress.  Stress is the little gift that keeps on giving!

According to WebDM, your body responds to stress as if you were in danger.  The flight or fight response that is left over from our origins kicks in with lots of hormones that increase our heart rate, our breathing increases and we have a burst of energy.  Normally we would either stay and fight the cause of this stress or we would run, hence the flight part.  This can be good if we are coming to a deadline, or finishing a race or an important task.

We are designed to handle stress, but with breaks in between instances.  However, if this stress lingers, is not resolved, our bodies are still in the fight or flight mode and those hormones keep on coming.  Cortisol is released in our bodies to repair the damage caused by the stress.  Ongoing release of cortisol ends in this cortisol being stored in fat tissue around our middle section, otherwise known as belly fat.
Belly fat is not easy to get rid of.  Exercise does not really remove it all, so the natural solution is to prevent it from building.  Exercise helps, but not having ongoing stress helps more.  Our reaction to stress is important.  We need to work out every day. We need to laugh each day and do something fun not just repetition! Do what you enjoy in your work out. Walking, dancing, running, boxing, Wii fit and gyms are all options for reducing stress.  Change your routine every few days.

In addition to exercise, play and laughter, we need to maintain proper nutrition levels.  Eat well, not junk food.  Eat in moderation, not junk food! Use your natural supplements so you body has the fuel it requires to recover from the bangs and bumps of exercise.  All this will help you get the rest your need.

Our need of good sleep is a major way of recovering from daily stress.  Exercise combined with good nutrition will aid our sleep so we are truly rested and our bodies are repaired, ready to face a new day and less stress!
Smile, laugh, have fun, sleep.  A good plan to stay well!

Dealing with Stressfull Holidays

Fountain and Lights by Elise Hearn 2009

Fountain and Lights by Elise Hearn 2009

So how is it going this December?  Is your calendar full of parties, family gatherings, programs at school, church, community?  Is your shopping complete? Perfect presents chosen and wrapped for everyone on your list?  You did make a list didn’t you?  How is the house looking?  Decorations up and looking good?  Trees decorated?  Cookies made? Cards signed, addressed and mailed?  Bedrooms ready for the in-laws?  Casseroles waiting in the freezer for all those holiday meals?  Turkey, ham, goose, duck waiting for final preparation?

This could go on and on and on!   We all know what extra pressure the holidays bring to our lives.  Often we forget the real reasons we are doing all these activities!  Stress takes over and we end up grumpy, tired, irritated, depressed and miserable.  What to do!?!

Stress can be dealt with in several ways.  One thing is to make a list of things you need to accomplish each day, keeping 3 to 5 chores on the list, no more.  Don’t overload your day.  Keep the tasks each day in a reasonable amount of time and effort, spreading the harder chores over time (and maybe people too) will help keep you energized.

Ask for help and expect help with bigger projects.  Dinner for the extended family means others can bring different dishes, the kids can set the tables, your spouse can do the last minute dusting and vacuuming!  Asking for help is a good thing!  People like to feel useful and part of an event.  So delegate those chores!  You are making others feel needed and wanted. Perfect.

Choose Healthy Snacks

Choose Healthy Snacks

Another way to help with stress is to exercise and eat good food each day.  Keep up the membership to the gym and use it during the holidays!  You will be able to work off that extra cookie and not gain weight during the holidays!    Look at the events on your calendar and plan light meals before these events.  Choose a protein shake and drink a warm cup of green tea!  Then when you are at the event, all those high calorie finger foods will be easier to limit.  Choose your calories and carbohydrates with care and enjoy those seasonal treats with no guilt.  Keep your immune system happy and healthy, while lowering stress.

Enjoy the time with family and friends!  Time flies and hot summer will be here next week! Stay well.

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