Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you


Sorry to shout- but it appears many people have some sort of hearing damage and it isn’t just old people.  We live in a noisy world and the use of personal listening devices among other things, is causing us to lose our hearing at an earlier age.  Noise-induced hearing loss happens in a variety of ways. It can be sudden and instantaneous, such as when you are exposed to an extremely loud burst of sound—an explosion or an air horn, for example. Or in the case of my son-in-law, a bomb going off next to your head. Hearing loss can also happen gradually from working on a loud construction site.

In honor of Save Your Hearing Day (does Hallmark have a card for that?) which is today, here are a few tips:
Cranking up the volume on your ipod or other device can lead to long term hearing damage.  So what’s the maximum volume of your iPod when using Apple’s stock earbuds? A little over 100 decibles,  well into the  zone where you could cause damage. In fact, at such sound levels, you can damage your hearing in a matter of minutes. Simply put, if you frequently listen to your iPod—or any music player—at loud volumes, you’re likely to damage your hearing. Studies also show that as your heart rate increases, so does the sensitivity in your ears so you should turn the volume DOWN as you heat UP.

  • If you work in an at-risk occupation, check with your employer to make sure you have adequately protected your hearing according to OSHA regulations.
  • Limit exposure time to noisy activities.
  • Wear hearing protection, such as foam or silicone plugs or muffs. Foam plugs are available at your pharmacy while muffs and specialized ear protection can be purchased at sporting good stores or safety equipment stores.
  • At home, turn down the volume on the television, radio, and stereos
  • Wear ear plugs or muffs when using loud equipment (i.e. lawn mowers, power saw, leaf blower).
  • Buy quieter products (compare dB ratings – the smaller the better).
  • Reduce the number of noisy appliances running at the same time in your personal environment.
  • Avoid medications that can be dangerous to your hearing. Be sure to ask your physician about possible effects on your hearing.
An Ounce of Prevention

Be alert to hazardous noise. Since prevention is so critical, make sure that your family (especially children), friends, and colleagues are aware of the hazards of noise. Remember: One-third of hearing loss is preventable with proper hearing protection.

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Summer Is Here?

Memorial Day is the official kick-off to summer but I’m still waiting for spring and I’m still a little nervous that it could still snow!  Let’s hope the weather warms up and we can enjoy some time outside.  Here’s a few tips to help you have a Healthy Summer:

1- Get outside and Exercise!  Walking, runnin , bike riding, rollerblading, jump roping, frisbee throwing, tag playing, swimming, etc.  There are plenty of parks and trails or even your own yard and neighborhood.  One caution- the air quality in NE Wisconsin can be trouble for those with breathing issues, this is a great site to check before venturning outside

2- Protect your Eyes.  When outdoors, wear sunglasses that block at least 99% of ultraviolet A and B rays. Sunglasses can help prevent cataracts, as well as wrinkles around the eyes, so don’t cheap out, buy a good polarized pair. When playing sports or doing tasks such as mowing the lawn, wear protective eyewear. Ask your eye doctor about the best type; some are sport-specific. I have an eye appoointment on Tuesday and am going to ask about computer glasses.  Watch for this in a future blog.

3- Hit the Farmers Markets!  I’m not sure that the farmers will have a good crop with this rotten spring, but I can’t wait to get out there and buy some fresh fruits and vegetables.  Summer is a great time for low calorie, low fat, high nutrition foods like watermelon, berries of all kinds, corn, melons, asparaugus,  and tomatoes. There are too many reasons to to hit the Farmers Market to list here so just do it! 

4- Go lite with Alcohol. Summer’s a great time to skip drinks with hard alcohol and choose a light, chilled alcoholic beverage (unless you are pregnant or should not drink for health or other reasons).
A sangria (table wine diluted with juice), a cold beer, or a wine spritzer are all refreshing but light.  There are lots of great summer craft beers to try, in moderation , of course, defined as one to two drinks daily — alcohol can protect against heart disease.

5-Take a Vacation! Improve your heart health: take advantage of  the great summer weather to take a vacation!  Vacations have multiple benefits: They can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones such as cortisol, which contributes to a widening waist and an increased risk of hear disease and heart disease. Even a couple days off at home without the phone or internet can be very refreshing!

6- Sleep Well. Resist the urge to stay up later during long summer days. Keep the same bedtime and wake-up schedule and don’t drink alcohol within three hours of bedtime. I love a good nap on my day off but it is a  good idea to avoid naps during the day unless you take them every day at the same time, for the same amount of time. I guess this means I will need to nap at the office as well! 

Have a Happy and Safe Memorial Day and a Healthy Summer! 

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Sunday Morning Inspriation

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

Mother TeresaCatholic Nun, Missionary
Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

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Let’s Eat our Veggies!

Vegetarian Stir-Fry

I found this recipe on the Worlds Healthiest Foods website and thought I would give it a try.  I’m not very good about eating vegetables so I am trying to find ways to get more of them into my diet.  Luckily, my husband is not a picky eater and goes along with my experiments.  He was a little surprised by the tofu but he went back for seconds so it must have been ok.  I served it with Uncle Bens Brown Rice, it cooks in only 10 minutes.  Seaweed rice that they suggest seemed a bit extreme.  Total calories per serving of stir fry: 117!  I had 1 serving and Randy finished the rest . that’s alot of food for not many calories BUT the rice adds 170 calories per 1/4 cup so I might skip that next time. 

Vegetarian Stir-Fry

Stir-fry is a wonderful way to enjoy a wide variety of health-promoting nutrients. It is also a great way to use whatever vegetables you have available in your refrigerator.

Prep and Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced thick
  • 1 TBS vegetable broth, you could use just water
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, pressed.  I use the jarred stuff, it’s easier
  • 1 TBS minced fresh ginger (I didnt have any so I used Chinese 5 spice)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into slices.  The red adds color, you could use green if you want a less expensive pepper
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms.  I used button but you can use any type, remove stems
  • 2 cups sliced green cabbage
  • 5 oz extra firm tofu cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 TBS light soy sauce
  • 1 TBS sesame seeds
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • any other veggies you have on hand such as carrots, celery, etc.


  1. Slice onions and press garlic and let sit for 5 minutes
  2. Prepare rest of vegetables.
  3. Heat 1 TBS broth in a stainless steel wok or 12 inch skillet. Stir fry onion for about 2 minutes in broth over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Add red pepper, mushrooms, cabbage and any other  veggies. Continue to stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and continue to cook stirring for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add rest of ingredients and cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  6. Serves 4 (at our house it served 2)

Serving Suggestion: Serve with Seaweed Rice

From start to finish this took about 15 minutes, depending on how fussy you are with your chopping.  I started the rice, then stir-frying at the same time and they finished up in 10 minutes.  I have to say it was tasty and filling!

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Healthy Food Friday!

I can’t wait for the Michigan Blueberries to arrive at the Farmers Market but they probably won’t be ready until early July.  Until then, I stock up when the produce department has them at a reasonable price.  They freeze well and are much better than the blueberries in the freezer section.
In case you didn’t figure it out, the healthy food of the week is:

In the same category- blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and purple grapes

Why are blueberries good for you?  They may improve memory, intelligence, and coordination.  (really?? I better eat more!)
Blueberries contain the most antioxidants of all fresh fruits and vegetables. Blueberries are the least perishable of all the blueberries, they’ll keep in the frig for about 2 weeks if kept dry.

How to  use them: The less you cook them ,the better. You can eat them raw, even in a blueberry pie-just fill a pie crust with fresh blueberries mixed with melted bluberry jam.  Pancakes, waffles, and muffins cook so quickly that the fruit is just briefly heated.  I throw a handful of blueberries on my Kashi Go  Lean Crunch or oatmeal every morning.

Here’s a great recipe for breakfast or an afternoon snack:

Fresh Fruit Parfait

>Sugar free light vanilla yogurt.  Blue Bunny scores a 100 on the Nu Val Nutrition scale!
>Strawberries and/or raspberries
>Walnut pieces

Spoon some yogurt into a parfait  or wine glass.  Actually, any sort of container will work for this but it is impressive in glass!

Top with blueberries, then more yogurt, then raspberries, then yogurt, then blueberries.  A dollop of yogurt  on top and a sprinkle of walnuts make it look pretty! 

This is a low calorie, low fat, extremely nutritious treat- enjoy!

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Warning- Pregnancy Story Ahead!

It is my oldest daughter’s 27th birthday today (yes, I started young!) and I don’t get to be with her so I am writing a birthday posting for her. 

My pregnancy story:
When I was first pregnant with her I had such horrible morning sickness that the doctor told me to eat double meals so I could at least keep some of it in.

When I was about 6 months pregnant, the doctor told Randy not to buy me candy for Valentine’s Day because I was getting too fat.  Yes, I kept eating for 2 even after the morning sickness ended.  Randy bought me a cherry pie, he didn’t think I was fat- or he know better than to say anything.

When I went into labor they put me on a SCALE!  Really?? The pain isn’t bad enough, let’s show you how much you weigh.  I was 195- a gain of about 75 pounds.

I leaned quickly that removing  a 7lb 7 oz baby will not remove 75 pounds from your body. I went back to work 6 weeks later wearing maternity clothes. I was lucky that at age 21, weight does come off without alot of work because in those days I did not exercise.  It took me about a year to lose it all. 

Fast forward to today- I currently have two pregnant women in my classes, they both cycle 2-3 times a week and strength train 1-2 times a week.  Both are due in about 2 months.  My niece had a baby by c-section in March and was out running as soon as her doctor cleared her. I sure wish I had known about working out back in the day! 

Anyway, I googled “healthy birthday” looking for a cake recipe but found this “gem” instead.

Healthy Birthstones: May: Emerald

The emerald is a symbol of rebirth and is thought to contain the goodness of life. Its magical properties include peace, harmony, love, fidelity, honesty, and good fortune. Placing a stone on the tongue or wearing it the left side of the body is said to bestow the ability to see the future. Emeralds are considered to have great healing power, especially for the heart, lungs, blood, pancreas, eyesight, and lymph nodes. Healers also use emeralds to improve the immune system, lift depression, and restore mental and emotional equilibrium.

Hmmm…not sure that I am into putting an emerald on my tongue, but to each his own.  If you would like to find out the health benefits of your birthstone click here.

Hey Daughter #1- have a Happy and HEALTHY Birthday!

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Can you hit your Target?

I’m talking about your target heart rate- do you know what it is and do you get there often enough?  First, a real life story.

The COO of our supermarket chain recently had a pacemaker installed and he shared his experience with us.  He just turned 60, non-smoker, healthy weight and exercises frequently.  Long story short, he fainted not once, but twice so he decided to get checked out.  Turns out his heart has an electrical problem so a pacemaker was needed to keep his heart in rhythm.  It was not a major surgery and he can go back to being as active as ever. 

 What do we learn from this?
Listen to your body.  He had some flutterings before (which is fairly common) but as it got worse, he started to pay attention

-GO TO THE DOCTOR.  You dodn’t have to wait until you pass out.  If things don’t seem quite right, get checked.  Even if things seem OK, get a yearly physical. If your car was sputtering you wouldn’t hesitate to see a mechanic!

-You need to exercise your heart. Your heart needs exercise to keep it strong and healthy.  We tend to baby our hearts and are afraid to let it beat hard.  This is where your target heart rate comes into play.

What is Target Heart Rate?
There is alot of medical terminology and smart sounding stuff to explain it but I’m not a doctor and I’m not that smart so I am dumbing it down.  There are more accurate methods of checking your heart rate and calculating your max rate, but this system gives you an accurate starting point.  PLEASE- check with your doctor if you have any questions. 

What does this mean?  
 Basically, you need to get your heart rate up to your max heart rate and keep it there for 30 minutes to get the most benefit.  However, if you are just starting to exercise, you need to pace yourself so aim at the lowest part of your target zone during the first few weeks. Gradually build up to the higher part of your target zone . After six months or more of regular exercise, you may be able to exercise comfortably slightly higher than the top of your range but don’t go over the “do not exceed” number.  Again, there are variables to this such as medication or blood pressure problems so check with your doctor if you have questions.

How should you check? 
 I prefer to count my pulse for 10 seconds and use the chart below to see where I am.  Finding your pulse in your neck, just below your jawbone hinge, is the easiest but you can use your wrist as well.  Count the beats for 10 seconds and then check the numbers below:


Heart Rate while Exercising -count for 10 seconds.  Beginners stay to the low end. 
Age Low end High end Don’t exceed
25 16 24 33
30 16 24 32
35 15 33 31
40 15 23 30
45 15 22 29
50 14 21 28
55 14 21 28
60 13 20 27
65 13 19 26

If your heart rate is not in the zone for your age, you need to push yourself harder- if this is new to you it will feel odd and, yes, you will sweat!  If at any time you get dizzy, stop and make an appointment to see your doctor.  If you are just tired- KEEP PUSHING!! 

Youl also need to cool down and let your pulse go back to its normal rate (probably around 10 beats in 10 seconds as an average)before stopping activity.  Walk slowly, stretch and drink water- never stop completely when your heart is beating hard as you might get lightheaded or pass out.  Cooling down is as important as speeding up! 

At the risk of being repetitive, this is not the most accurate measurement but it is a general guideline.  See you doctor or trainer for more information. 

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Do you like the smell of Burning Money?

Why are we talking about money on a Healthy Living Blog?  Because financial health is just as necessary as physical health!  Budgeting your money and living within your means can remove alot of stress and will help you get a good nights sleep. Even if you area a good saver, here are a few ways that you might be throwing away your money.

There’s no need to spring for premium fuel if the manufacturer says regular is just fine. You should also check to make sure your tires are optimally inflated to get the best gas mileage. And are you still paying for an oil change every 3,000 miles?  Then stop it! Almost all of today’s cars can last 5,000 to 7,000 miles between changes.  Check your manual and follow the recomendations.

Are you still indoor tanning?  There is now a 10% tax on indoor tanning services but the true cost of tanning, which the World Health Organization lists among the worst cancer causing practices, is higher than just the money- it could kill you.  It is healthier and less expensive to use a self tanning moisturizer. 

Brand name is not necessarily better than store brand. Having worked in a supermarket for so many years, I have learned that most fancy name brand and generic products come off the same production line, only the label has changed.  Marketers get paid alot to tell you their fancy packaging means there is a better product inside.  Nope, it usually isn’t true.

Buying beverages one at a time.  This is another tip from working in a supermarket. If you buy bottled water, coffee-by-the-cup or vending-machine soda, you are wasting alot of money.
 Water– buy a  reusable container and fill with tap water, use a filter if you don’t like the taste. 
  Coffee-Brew your own pot of coffee.  Coffee prices are expected to go throgh the roof so stock up! 
Soda- Buy your soda in 12 or 24 packs and bring it to work rather than hitting the vending machine.  OR- better yet- drop the soda habit and drink water for free! 

Paying for things your rarely or never use. Do you watch all those cable channels? Do you need those extra features on your phone? Are you getting your money’s worth out of your gym membership? Are you taking full advantage of your Netflix, and magazine subscriptions? Take a look at what your family actually uses, then trim accordingly.

Eating out frequently. Spending $10, $20, $30 per person for dinner can be a huge drain on your wallet. Throw in a $6 sandwich for lunch every day and you are spending far too much on food. Learning to cook and bringing your lunch from home can save a couple hundred bucks each month. I used to spend $5-$6 dollars a day in the deli for my lunch, not only was it expensive, it was unhealthy.  When you do go out, don’t order appetizers or dessert and watch the alcohol- all these things not only add unnecessary calories, but dollars as well.

That is just a few tips to get you started.  Take a serious look at your spending habits and decide where you can make some changes.  Change your choices-change your life!

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Get Up! Stand Up! Save your Life!

Twenty years ago chiropractors worked on people who moved too much, today the work on people who move to little.

Your body needs to be in motion to be healthy, without movement, your muscles and ligaments don’t get a good blood supply. This applies to those who sit at a desk, or plop on the couch to watch TV or surf the web all night. (some of us do both)

Here are some ways sitting at a desk for long hours negatively affects your health:

  • Spine damage. Sitting all day can result in a pinched nerve or a herniated disc.
  • Computer eye strain. Almost 90 percent of people who use a computer for three or more hours a day have symptoms of computer eye strain. These symptoms include blurred vision, headaches, and neck aches.Wow- no wonder I am going blind, I stare at a computer at least 8 hours a day. I think vision health will be a topic this week.
  • Heart health. A desk job that keeps you sitting all day can lead to being overweight and under active. That is bad for your heart and it can decrease longevity. When you are sitting, you are not burning calories and you are not getting the aerobic exercise your heart needs.

So- what can you do to keep your body healthy even though you have a desk job? 

Practice good ergonomics. Keep your computer directly in front of you, slightly below eye level. Have your hands reach the keyboard without having to bend your wrists; have good back support; and have your weight evenly distributed. 

Maintain good posture. From behind, your back should be straight. From the side, your lower back and neck should maintain their normal curves. Twisting, slouching, or stretching and extending your back or neck can cause pain and damage.

Follow the 30/5 or 50/10 Rule.  I have an alarm on my desk that reminds me to get up every 30 minutes.  I walk around the store or the house, stretch, look out the window, anything other than sitting and staring at them computer.  I do this for 5 minutes.  If you sit for 50  minutes, move around for 10.  This doesn’t mean you are taking work breaks, I  sometimes make phone calls during my up time. 

Stretch Your Back.  Stand up, bend forward and touch your toes. If you can’t make it down to your toes, just touch your knees. Keep your knees just slightly bent.  Do a BIG inhale through your nose, feeling your ribs expand, then a big exhale out slowly through your mouth.  Do this three times.  With each exhale you can stretch a bit deeper. 

Then stand up, put your hands on the small of your back and lean back, looking toward the ceiling.  Do these stretches several times a day.

Stretch Your Neck.  Don’t roll your head around in circles.  Gently tilt to the right, inhaling and exhaling.  Then do the same for the left and middle putting your chin toward your chest, then to the back.  Continue with nice big breaths and relax. 

Loosen Your  Upper Back.  I feel a lot of tension in my upper back so I do these stretches several times a day.  Arms go straight out to the sides, thumbs up.  Inhale deeply, the exhale pressing back, pulling your shoulder blades together.  Rotate your wrists and stretch your fingers while in this position.  Bring your hands behind your back, linking  just your thumbs.  Pull down, then back giving you a BIG stretch through your chest. pulling your shoulder back.
Sit down, and lean forward, letting your chest rest on your thighs and your fingers go to the floor. Allow your shoulders to relax.  A few more breaths and you are ready to go.  Sit up, roll your shoulders forward and back. (please, leave your shirt on if at work!)

 Ahhhh…you are refreshed and ready to go. 

Just because your are stuck at a desk it doesn’t mean you are stuck sitting.  Get Up and save your life! 

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Sunday Morning Inspiration

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week.

If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the world.

If you have money in the bank or in your wallet, you are among the top 80 percent of the worlds wealthy.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

Author Unknown
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