| PUBLISHER’S NOTE
Welcome and/or Welcome Back!
would be truly remiss if I did not start out thanking all of you for the many calls and emails we received after the debut of our “Premier Issue” back in December. It is truly our honor and privilege to provide you, our hard-working federal employees and union leaders with the first magazine totally dedicated to your health, wellness, and fitness.
It is with great pride that we present to you this second issue, Spring 2017, with even more great content to help you live safer, healthier, and happier lives. We are so pleased that you enjoyed our editorial columns on nutrition, exercise, being heart healthy, and those relating to mind, body, and spirit. Well, we promise you more of the same in this issue! Also in this issue, we are starting a new feature, a cover story on someone who has faced danger and possible injury as part of what they do to make a living. It is also an inspirational story of recovery from their injuries. Many of these people you may be familiar with and some, you may not be. But, I assure you that their stories will motivate and inspire you. I first met this month’s cover honoree, Maurice “Termite” Watkins at a conference where he shared his story with the attendees. Believe me, I was inspired. My wife Barbara and I were so inspired that we invited him to be a guest on our talk radio show and he has been our guest many times since then. Maurice “Termite” Watkins has spent decades motivating others to be the best they can be. Termite became the nation’s first 16-year-old to win the National Golden Gloves Championship, with an amateur record of 128 wins and 10 losses. He went on to box professionally and amassed an impressive record of 58 wins, five losses, two draws, and 48 knockouts. He eventually fought for the world welterweight title on the same card with Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes. He lost that fight in a controversial decision after 15 rounds, but his career in boxing was not over. It simply went in a different direction. You don’t have to be a boxing enthusiast to realize that every time a boxer goes in the ring to meet his opponent, he faces possible body and organ injury and, on occasion, death. Termite has a long list of injuries that should have stopped the matches and led him to an early retirement but, he kept fighting,
HEALTH UNDER GOVERNMENT EMP LOYMENT
Phone: 832-419-2814 Steve.Levine@HUGEMag.net Or Write: HUGE MAGAZINE P.O. Box 31186 Houston, TX 77231 See us on the web at www.HUGEMag.net
Executive Publisher Steve Levine Associate Publisher/ Editor/Creative Director Barbara Davis-Levine Graphic Design Malka Levy Lavinia Menchaca
Photographers Gwen Juarez Contributing Writers Nick Darlington Archie Elliott Mark Gardner Kirby Lammers
HEALTH UNDER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT (H.U.G.E.) MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED QUARTERLY BY SANAA PUBLISHING, LLC. THE MAILING ADDRESS IS P.O. BOX 31186, HOUSTON, TX 77231. THE WEB ADDRESS IS WWW.HUGEMAG.NET. THE DIRECT LINE FOR EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER, STEVE LEVINE IS 832-419-2814 AND HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS STEVE.LEVINE@HUGEMAG.NET. ADVERTISING RATES ARE ON REQUEST. BULK THIRD CLASS MAIL PAID IN HOUSTON, TX. POSTMASTER: PLEASE SEND NOTICES ON FORM 3579 TO P.O. BOX 31186, HOUSTON, TX 77231. ALTHOUGH EVERY PRECAUTION IS TAKEN TO ENSURE THE ACCURACY OF PUBLISHED MATERIALS, HEALTH UNDER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT (H.U.G.E.) MAGAZINE CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR OPINIONS EXPESSED OR FACTS SUPPLIED BY ITS AUTHORS. COPYRIGHT 2016, SANAA PUBLISHING, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS PROHIBITED.
| PUBLISHER’S NOTE
Termite founded Fighter Nation in 2011, a boxing ministry that trains athletes to box, and he also hosts weekly Bible classes for them. In 2012, Marlen Esparza, a boxer from Termite’s gym in Houston, became the first female boxer from America to compete in the Olympics. She took home the bronze medal. Termite was inducted into the Houston Boxing Hall of Fame. By helping others achieve their dreams, Termite has found a new way to become a champion. Today, he inspires others through speaking engagements at plants, refineries, businesses, organizations, churches, and schools. He draws from his remarkable boxing career as he shares how to create a safe working environment through awareness and maintaining a positive attitude. He motivates attendees to pay the price for success because the price of failure is simply too great. I know that you will enjoy his story. Also in this issue, we “shine the spotlight” on another “Champion”, Mr. Clifton Buchanan, in our Union Leadership Profile. All who know Mr. Buchanan around the AFGE, Texas AFL-CIO, where he is the South Central Regional Vice-President, Council of Prison Locals – 33, know that he is a champion for their rights. He is a big man with a big heart and it has been our privilege getting to know him, his beautiful family, and to have the opportunity to share his story with you. It is time to let you get started on this issue of HEALTH UNDER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT. Keep up the good work and stay healthy,
Steve Levine Executive Publisher
HEALTH UNDER GOVERNMENT EMP LOYMENT
On The Cover “Termite” Watkins Fighter Nation
4 Ways You Can Work Out for Free
Gym Memberships: Are they worth it?
No Joke— Laughter Really is the Best Medicine
Nutrition Spotlight: Bananas
The Debate on Coffee: Is it Good for You?
Souping: The Low-Sugar, Healthier Alternative to Juicing
10 INSIDE 03 10
Publisher’s Column South Central Regional Vice President for the Council of Prison Locals
Exercising to Stay Well
Financial Planning for Government Employees
Financial Planning for Government Employees
Healthy Fast Food Alternatives
The Secret to Success on Your Fitness Journey
Clifton J. Buchanan
| Cover Story
Maurice “Termite” Watkins Fighter Nation Boxing Gym
Helping People Overcome the Odds, One Hug at a Time By Nick Darlington
aurice “Termite” Watkins has led a colorful life, matched only by his infectious personality. His enthusiasm, humor, love for people, and desire to help others is almost palpable. But life hasn’t been without its struggles. Despite a difficult childhood, he found comfort in boxing. During the time he boxed as an adult, he worked a fulltime job. He oftentimes dealt with severe injuries while supporting his family. Eventually his perseverance paid off, and he competed in the WBA’s Super Lightweight Championship of the World as a double-main event with the Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali “Last Hurrah” fight. He traveled to help the troops in Iraq, an experience that would change his life. There, he helped the Iraqi boxing team reach the Olympics. Termite’s journey in life has culminated in the establishment of the Fighter Nation Boxing Gym. His gym is an extension of his unconditional love for people, embodied by his welcoming attitude. “Everybody is welcome at our gym and we welcome everybody with a hug,” he says. Termite, or “The Hug Dealer” as some like to call him, is a prime example that you’re not a product of your circumstances, but the decisions you make. He has overcome the odds and continues to help others do the same, one hug at a time.
Termite was born in North Shore, Houston, on August 29th, 1956. He got his nickname the day he was born. “My dad was in the pest control industry at the time,” Termite says. “One morning a friend who worked for my dad commented that I looked like a termite, a name that was easy for my brother of two, and my dad’s friend’s daughter of three, to say. So, the name stuck.” Sixty years later, Termite still lives in Houston because he loves it so much. Despite being close to his dad, growing up wasn’t easy. At that time, his father was a “gangster, a real gangster!”, Termite says. “I saw him mistreat people and abuse drugs and alcohol. If someone looked at me in a funny way and I didn’t beat them up, he would beat me.” Eventually, Termite’s dad found the Lord and changed his ways but Termite was still going down the wrong path as a result of how his dad had led him in the past. By the time Termite was ten, his father realized that he needed to do something to redirect Termite. Termite recalls, “One day someone said to my dad, ‘Bill, why don’t you get Termite into boxing, it will burn all that energy off and give him something to do with his life.’ Anyways two weeks passed and a guy by the name of Joe Dove came to us at the baseball park. I was out in left field. But I wasn’t any good at baseball. I mean, I couldn’t even spell baseball. I was that bad. Joe Dove asked my dad if I wanted to be a fighter. My dad said, ‘I don’t know. Let’s ask him.’ So they called me over and I ran toward them. Joe Dove was driving a new single cab by Ford. His son and two other boys who were twins were sitting in the back. They asked me the same question, I said, ‘Sure, I would love to.’” What followed was a drive to his dad’s garage. “Joe put the gloves on one of the twin brothers and then me, before saying, ‘Time to learn very quick’,” recalls Termite. “That meant, brace yourself. The first twin
brother beat the devil out of me before Joe said ‘time’. It felt like forever, but it was only one minute! The next twin brother did the same before Joe once again called time. Finally, he put his son on who was the best of them all, and he boxed circles around me. After it was over, Joe looked at my dad and said, ‘You know what, Bill, I think he’s going to make it!’ At which point I asked my dad - Make what, a punching bag?!” Surprisingly, though, Termite did make it, but not without his struggles. He lost his first fight and barely won his second fight. The taste of victory didn’t last long as he lost his third fight to the same guy that beat him the first time. That night, after losing the fight, Termite knew if he was going to succeed, he couldn’t do it on his own. “I told my dad we needed to get a trainer.” So his dad found former professional boxer, Kenny Weldon, who started immediately. Termite was his first trainee. Termite’s decision proved to be a good one as he went on to win 65 fights in a row before losing again. He ended his amateur career with 128 wins and 10 losses. He became the first 16-year-old to win the National Golden Gloves Championship and he turned professional at 17. As a professional, he won 61 fights, lost 5, and drew 2. He reached the height of his professional career in 1980 when he fought Saoul Mamby for the Super Lightweight Championship of the World. That was on the same card as Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes who fought in ‘The Last Hurrah’. Despite a glittering amateur and professional career, there were many struggles Termite had to overcome. “I was the fighter that worked full-time because there isn’t a lot of money in boxing until you get to the top,” Termite remarks. “So, the journey from the start to the top was a long journey.” But he never gave up, despite the odds. His wife and kids were part of his inspiration to keep going. They also served
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Termite is very proud to have a very historic boxing ring in the center of his Fighter Nation gym. It is the ring that Muhammed Ali fought “Big Cat” Williams in at the Houston Astrodome in 1966. After that, a total of 27 World Championships fights were fought in this ring! Photo by Gwen Juarez
as motivation to minimize the number of punches he took and prevent injuries. Despite his efforts, Termite experienced quite a few injuries. In one fight, he sustained sufficient cartilage damage to his ribs and sternum that he had to take time off. On another occasion, he broke his wrist in the third round but ended up knocking out his opponent in the eighth. He also broke his jaw in the third round of a Texas lightweight fight but once again knocked his opponent out, again in the eighth round. The jaw injury caused an extended break from fighting. Showing true grit and tenacity, he returned but again experienced an injury within a few fights, this time to the eye. He was cut five times and so badly that a plastic surgeon had to sew him up in the dressing room. But his
| Cover Story
Termite is seen in this photo with Justin “Jawbreaker” Jones, a professional fighter with a professional record of 22 and 0. Photo by Gwen Juarez
Achievement Award. In addition, Intersport named him as an Arete Award Winner, he appeared on several television shows, and steps were taken to make a movie about his experience in Iraq. Termite hopes to close the movie deal in the next 30 days. The story, “They Call Me Termite”, is sure to inspire all those who watch it.
fighting spirit came to the fore as always, and he eventually won that fight. Finally, in the fight against Saoul Mamby, the pinnacle of his career, he experienced severe injuries to his kidneys (but so did Saoul). In spite of these setbacks, Termite never once gave up. He not only continued fighting in the ring, where he won despite being injured, but in life. When asked whether he wanted to quit, Termite said that he didn’t. “Some people are born with that desire to win, that desire to perform, that desire to compete, and I think I am one of them. Some people are born with brains, some with good looks. Some people got all of them. I just never wanted to quit!” At the age of 31, Termite finally retired, as his body wasn’t able to recuperate like it used to. In 2003, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Termite was hired to go to Iraq to do exterminating where the troops were stationed and rid the camps of rodents, venomous snakes, and giant dangerous spiders. While he was there, he was approached one day by Coalition Leader, Michael Gfoeller, fourth in command under President Bush. The military was trying to find a way to get the support of the Iraqi people so it was suggested that they help get a team of athletes together to not just go to the Olympics but also win. If they got a win, they might be more supportive of the U.S. and warn them about potential threats to the U.S. troops.
It was discovered that Termite had been a professional boxer, and Gfoeller approached him. Termite recalls, “One day, Gfoeller called me into the kitchen. He said, ‘Mr. Watkins, can I talk to you for a second?’ I said, ‘What’s on your mind? How can I help you?’ He asked me what the chances were of getting Iraq to the Olympics that was going to be held in Athens, Greece. I told him that he had a slim chance, like one in a million. He slammed his hand down and said, ‘Great all we need is the one! We don’t need the million! I expect you to get it done. What do you need?’ I said that we needed lots of money and he said that they had enough money. They had more than enough to use from Saddam Hussein’s cache.”
Amid all these achievements, Termite’s marriage was struggling. His time in Iraq had taken a toll on his marriage. He and his wife had drifted apart and they made the decision to divorce. So, when his close friend, Pastor Johnny Brady, approached Termite, asking if he wanted to start a gym, he declined, saying the timing wasn’t right. But years later, in November 2011, all of that changed. This time when Pastor Johnny asked him again about starting a gym, Fighter Nation was born. They started by using equipment from a friend who had shut his gym down. Unfortunately, the loan was temporary as the friend opened another gym. So Termite and Johnny had to make other plans. “The day
So, in 2003, against the odds, Termite embarked on what seemed an insurmountable task. Iraq hadn’t been to the Olympics for almost two decades, but after ten months, they achieved their dream. Termite was there to witness one of the boxers who he trained, Najah Ali Sala, win his debut fight. Sala would later lose on a controversial decision but, as Termite says, “After it was over it wasn’t about the winner because he had already won. The country was a winner and they loved him.” What Termite had accomplished during a war was remarkable. Not only had he helped save our servicemen’s lives, he had helped an entire nation for which the Boxing Writers Association honored him with a Special
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Termite attributes much of the success of Fighter Nation to Beverly Hollis. She takes care of everything at the gym (including Termite)! Photo by Gwen Juarez
Fighter Nation is a boxing gym where Christ comes first! Photo by Gwen Juarez
he took the ring away, my old trainer, Kenny Weldon, called,” Termite recalls. “He said that he wanted me to have all of his equipment, including a special ring.” The ring that Kenny gave him is the one in which Muhammad Ali fought Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams in 1966. People come from all over the world to take pictures in the ring. Fighter Nation is located behind the Nations Ministries Church on 13305 Woodforest Boulevard in Houston. Termite is assisted by Beverly Hollis who has been part of Fighter Nation since day two. She is also one of the founders. In addition to boxing, the gym offers mixed martial arts training that is led by Anthony Bernabeo who is the founder and head coach of this new division that is called Combat Nation. Termite has also remarried to Cindy Watkins. She is the love of his life and he does his best to reserve his evening time just for her. In 2012, Termite helped send Marlen Esparza to the Olympics, the first female boxer in history to represent the U.S.A. He is now helping heavyweight boxer, Justin “Jawbreaker” Jones, who’s currently undefeated and will be fighting for the World Championship this year. But the gym is so much more than a place to box and train; it’s a platform to help others overcome the odds. Termite hosts week-
ly bible lessons and through his charity, the Termite Watkins Foundation, he works with misdirected youths, children in foster homes, at-risk children, gang members, and ex-convicts. Of all the people who Termite has helped, he’s particularly proud of those who have been involved with the drug cartels. “We had one young man who was a hitman for the cartel. He killed his first person at the age of 12. He had the hardest time forgiving himself. But he gave his heart to God and changed his ways.” Maybe it’s because of his fame as a relentless, hard-hitting boxer but Termite has had great success in persuading gang leaders to release members who want to change their ways and be part of Fighter Nation. Fighter Nation trains fighters despite their background. “We don’t care about your past,” Termite says. “We care about who you are and where you are going.” Fighter Nation never excludes anyone, rich or poor, boy or girl, regardless of religion or race. Indeed, it’s this love for people and welcoming attitude that makes the gym so unique. “We just love people,” Termite says. Each new member is also welcomed with a hug. “I like to line them up and give them all hugs,” he says. It’s no surprise that one of the parents had a “Hug Dealer” t-shirt printed for him. Termite really is changing people’s lives, one hug at a time. He’s also
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changing lives by giving to the community. Aside from his work with the Termite Watkins Foundation, he donates clothes to those in need. “We don’t charge them for it,” he says. “We will help an entire family who needs clothing.” There is no doubt that Termite will continue to embody his philosophy of helping others against the odds. His story alone is one of overcoming difficulties - a tough childhood, building a boxing career while working full-time to support his family, severe injuries, and working so hard to recover from them. Quitting would have been an easier option but Termite, who is always a winner, persevered and continued fighting the fight, both in the ring and in life. He overcame despite his circumstances. He helped Iraq get to the Olympics, faced adversity in divorce, and established Fighter Nation, a vehicle to continue helping others from all walks of life. He embraces and welcomes everyone with a warm hug and touches the lives of many. Termite sums it up perfectly: “I challenge everybody out there to come get a hug if you need one. I got a big supply of them. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter who you are. I need some more hugs, come and get one.”
Clifton J. Buchanan South Central Regional Vice President for the Council of Prison Locals
Knowledge Is Power but Correctly Applied, It Is Priceless
By Nick Darlington
n 2000, while working at the Federal Detention Center Houston (FDC Houston), an event occurred that violated Clifton Buchanan’s rights. From that day forward, he made it his mission to represent others and fight for their rights. Clifton, Desert Storm veteran, pastor, devoted husband, and caring father has used his values of trust, faith, and respect as a guiding force in his quest to represent others. He started his career in 1994 as a correctional officer for the state of Texas, followed by a move in 1998 to the Federal Bureau of Prisons at USP Beaumont as a Cook Foreman, before joining the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) in 2000. Clifton made his way through the ranks before becoming South Central Regional Vice President of the Council of Prison Locals. This is a position he currently holds in addition to Vice President of the Texas American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). His current position allows him to represent the people and effectuate positive change on a large scale. “I teach people the basics of how to build knowledge but also how to correctly apply it, so they can stand up and exercise their rights”, Clifton remarks.
Clifton Buchanan is a champion for the rights of our federal employees. Every day he makes sure their rights are protected! Photo by Gwen Juarez
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But the ability to effectuate positive change in people’s lives may never have happened.
Clifton was part of the field artillery unit during Desert Storm where fatalities were notoriously high, but with the Lord’s blessings, Clifton, who was stationed in Baumholder, West Germany at the time, never saw any action because the President called a ceasefire and he returned home in 1992. Later in 1994, Clifton would start his career working for the State of Texas as a correctional officer. He worked for the W.F. Ramsey III Unit which is a Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institution. Thereafter, he transferred to Atascocita State Jail before moving to the Federal Bureau of Prisons at USP Beaumont in 1998.
a succession of posts, giving him extensive background and knowledge of the functioning of the union. He started as Treasurer, followed by Vice President, and later President of AFGE Local 1030 for two terms. During his time as President, Clifton served as South Central Regional Legislative Coordinator where he was involved as the legislative liaison with all members of Congress in the South Central Region. Clifton would arrange meetings with Congress and the Senate, discuss legislative issues, and educate members on the safety inside the Bureau of Prisons.
Living in Houston, Clifton had a daily commute to Beaumont and back. During this time, he applied for a transfer to the Federal Detention Center in Downtown Houston. It was accepted and he was now eligible for paid administrative leave, despite already residing in Houston. A paid administrative leave entitles you to 40 hours of administrative leave to close on the purchase of a new home. Despite being eligible, the warden declined his request. Clifton, a union member at the time, realized that the warden had no right to deny him this and approached his union leader. However, as he recalls, “The timeframe of 45 days had already passed so I was not able to write a grievance or file an EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) complaint. I’d missed my window of opportunity.” Regardless, the warden had violated his rights. From that day forward, Clifton decided to fight for the rights of others so people didn’t have to experience something similar. “I worked toward the goal of justice, equality, and fair treatment for all, regardless of color, religion, race, and sexual orientation”, Clifton states. The first step he took was to join the AFGE Union in 2000. What followed was
Clifton presents at many union and AFL-CIO conferences. He is seen in this photo reporting on federal issues for the leadership of the Texas AFL-CIO at the C.O.P.E. Convention. Photo courtesy of Clifton Buchanan
Clifton was later elected South Central Regional Vice President of the Council of Prison Locals in 2010, a position he currently holds. In the 80-year history of the Bureau of Prisons, Clifton is the first African American to ever be elected to this
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position. He also serves as one of the Vice Presidents of the Texas AFL-CIO. As Vice President of the Council of Prison Locals, Clifton is responsible for overseeing five states (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and New Mexico). In this position, Clifton is able to fight for the rights of others on a large scale and has won arbitrations representing employees as a result of disciplinary actions. In addition, he has settled cases prior to formal hearings. Clifton also Co-Chairs the re-entry Joint Policy Committee (JPC) that writes national policies that covers all of the re-entry initiatives within the Bureau of Prisons. With re-entry initiatives, the Federal Bureau of Prisons is aggressively trying to curb recidivism, which is the tendency for criminals to re-offend. They’re trying to give people the direction and tools to become better people because, as Clifton mentions, “You are going to see these people again. You are going to see them in your neighborhood. You are going to see them in your grocery store. You are going to see them at your church. You are going to see them in your community! With our experience, we can make sure these offenders, who are going to inevitably return to society, return as better people.” Clifton is also engaged in nationwide stewards’ training. He’s taught with the Council of Prison Locals and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Recently, he taught district-wide stewards’ training in San Juan, Puerto Rico for all new stewards within the AFGE in Districts 5, 10, and 14. This process ensures they not only become better stewards but that they know their rights. “I teach them how to interpret contracts and the statutes”, Clifton remarks. His end goal is to not only teach stewards how to represent but also how to apply the knowledge. He adds, “One of the
At the center of Clifton’s heart and the passion for all he does is his unwavering support of his family. He is seen here with his daughter, Mykala and his lovely wife, Demetra. Photo by Gwen Juarez
are always looking for that smile. I greet people with a smile because I believe that the cup is half full and not half empty. I believe in staying positive and not dwelling on the negatives of the past.”
things I emphasize in my training is that knowledge is power but knowledge correctly applied is priceless. When you learn how to exercise your rights correctly, it makes you a better advocate and makes for a better workplace.” As a representative of the people, Clifton also makes sure he maintains his integrity and class. “They like to call me ‘the Professor’ because I’m always dressing the part”, Clifton says. “When I’m representing people at a meeting, I’ll either wear a suit or a bowtie. Sometimes, the attendees say that I look like a manager. That’s good. It shows them I’m here to do business, that we’re all equals, and I’m going to demand the same dignity and respect that I will give them. That has helped me become successful.” The success is evident in the number of awards Clifton has received for serving his Union. One such award is the Basil McDavitt Legislative Action Award that he has received twice for his superb legislative work in the Council of Prison Locals. Trust and respect have also been crucial for building relationships along the way. Clifton firmly believes trust and respect are important for relationships of all types, whether it is a social, working, or a personal one such as marriage. Indeed, Clifton’s marriage has been built on these values.
Together with his wife, Demetra, they have a beautiful daughter, Mykala, who is ten years old. Clifton and Demetra’s devotion for one another is evident in their lasting marriage of 19 years. Clifton shares the same devotion towards his faith. Now a pastor, Clifton was baptized into the Body of Christ by the Church of God International in 1996. He began his Ministerial Apprentice Program in 2006 before becoming an ordained pastor of the Church of God International in 2012. He’s been faithfully serving his brethren ever since. In addition, Clifton and Demetra have traveled the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Jamaica to serve church brethren and minister to them. Clifton exercises this faith not only in words but in actions. “I never go around telling people I’m Christian”, he says. “I want them to be able to look at me and notice my character through my actions.” It’s Clifton’s faith that serves as his moral compass and keeps him grounded, especially when he is traveling regularly throughout the year. “I’m traveling to over 122 facilities of the Bureau of Prisons, across all states”, he remarks. “Because I’m away from my family a lot, my character must match my actions. I am always in the spotlight. I meet many people, people who
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Clifton also believes that if you look for greatness in people you will find it. He says, “I teach and inspire people to unlock their greatness and reach their highest potential. I take people with the smallest voice and those who struggle standing up for themselves. I teach them to not only stand up for themselves, but also others. I do it from the standpoint of my three key pillars of representation: education, legislation, and representation. I help them build and apply this knowledge so they know their rights, stand up for their rights, and exercise their rights.” Helping people exercise their rights is something Clifton has been doing since his rights were violated in 2000. It has been a long journey that nearly didn’t start due to his involvement in Desert Storm. With the Lord’s blessings, a ceasefire allowed him to return home before he was involved in combat and begin his career in corrections in 1994. From the days of working as a correctional officer to his extensive involvement as South Central Regional Vice President, Clifton has had a long, distinguished career and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down either. With fierce determination, he continues to fulfill his mission of helping and inspiring others by educating them and showing them how to use their knowledge to exercise their rights. After all, knowledge is power but correctly applied, it is priceless!
Exercise has tremendous benefits.
t keeps you feeling younger, healthy, prevents illness, lowers stress levels, increases brain function, reduces pain, increases oxygen and blood flow, gives you energy, reduces chances for heart disease, stroke, cancer and many other diseases. The bottom line is exercise makes you feel good. So why don’t we exercise on a continuous basis when exercise has so many advantages? Yes, I know, some of you do not even like the word exercise. I will address the many reasons why we don’t, but should exercise everyday and what to do about it in this article.
We seem to do the things that are easy and have a comfort factor to it. It’s comfortable to lie back in a recliner or on the couch to watch television or take a nap. Hours can go by watching television and all you have done is be sedentary. We sit too much at work and at home and sit driving the car to and from work. Wow, is seems like we are sitting all day. Yes, the statistics prove this is so. When we sit we need to do something with our hands so we choose to eat or drink to satisfy our energetic hands. The problem is we are not burning these foods and drinks off and it is turning into fat, which leads to poor health. The longer you sit - the more shallow you breathe - the more shallow you breathe - the less amount of oxygen you receive, This equals to less brain function which
allows for mistakes and a decrease in productivity and efficiencies. Sit less and live longer - breathe deeper and increase you value. Exercise will cause you to breathe deeper and feel better. We have too many distractions that pull us away from doing what benefits us most. We need to stay the course and push all those distractions away. Did you know we can exercise all day long if we want and it doesn’t matter what gets in our way as long as we have the right attitude and habits? Create winning habits and your self-defeating habits will slip away. Be realistic and patient with yourself, log and track what you do and increase your exercise routines when your program gets too easy, and remember to reset goals monthly. Here are a few simple and beneficial exercises you can do anytime of the day: Exercise 5 minutes out of each hour at work or 10 minutes every two hours if you can’t get in a 30 to 45 minute workout. Utilize flex bands, fitness ball, desk and chair, perform calisthenics, walk, climb stairs do push up on the floor or push against the wall, stretch, perform squeezes, run in place, stand on one foot then the other for 1 minute at a time, take up a sport or activity such as tennis, boxing, basketball, running, soccer, ping pong, dancing,
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waking for a fund raiser or any activity you desire that requires excursion of energy.. Did you know that house cleaning, yard work, washing the car by hand counts as exercise also? There are no excuses. Anyone can do it. Supply your own motivation, make the time and create your own energy and the more you exercise, the more you want to exercise. Be a Health Initiative Leader and build a strong following, set the example and you will feel great about yourself. Visualize success for yourself and everyone around you; sleep eight hours per day to support your “feel good” initiative, reflect on your accomplishments, reward yourself and reward others who support your efforts. Get going and keep going. This is forever! My message is simple – exercise every chance you get to stay energetic, reduce stress, keep disease at bay, increase your productivity, be alert and focused and most of all to provide the example for all others to follow. Stay well and always know – I am cheering you on.
Kirby Lammers Owner – Mind, Body and Business www.MindBodyandBusiness.com
Financial Planning for
Government Employees Social Security Benefits. One Way to File Doesn’t Fit ALL! By Mark S. Gardner
t some point in life, it’s mandatory to start thinking about your retirement plans and Social Security is one of your biggest components for a retiree. The History of Social Security Retirement Benefits and How They Affect You. Social Security act was signed into law on August 14, 1935 by Pres. Franklin D Roosevelt two major provisions relating to the elderly or title I grant to states for old age assistance which supported state welfare programs for the age entitled to federal old age benefits title II was then new social insurance program we think of today is Social Security. One of the greatest social and economic successes of the 20th century, the original law provided benefits to workers only it wasn’t until 1939 that the act was amended to include benefits for spouses and minor children of workers as well as survivor’s benefits paid upon a worker’s death. While this social program dramatically improves the lives of many Americans, benefits remained a level amount for some 15 years until 1950 when cost-of-living adjustments (COLA’s) were introduced. At that time, COLA’s were made available to workers, but war only actually grant-
ed upon enactment of special legislation by Congress each year. It wasn’t until 20 years later in 1972 that the act was modified to include the current Cola provision which allowed for automatic increases in retirement benefits based on the annual increase in consumer prices. One should note, a cola increase is not guaranteed each year. Social Security benefits are funded through two types of payroll taxes: The Federal insurance contributions act (FICA) and the self-employment contributions act(SECA), these are two separate Social Security trust funds these monies can be only used to pay benefits and program administrative cost any money not needed in the current year is invested in special treasury bonds guaranteed by the US government. Market rate of interest is paid on the bonds and when money is needed or the bonds mature there redeemed Since its inception there been continue modifications to the Social Security program the most significant modification for purpose of this article was the enactment of “Senior Citizen’s Freedom to Work Act” signed by Pres. William Clinton on April 7, 2000. This act eliminated the Social Security retirement earnings test for workers who reach full retirement age (FRA). Prior to this enactment, all workers, regardless of age were subject to a reduction in bene-
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fits because of excess earnings. Voluntary Suspension Were Amended to Preclude Auxiliary Beneficiaries from Receiving Benefits Congress enacted an amendment in December 2010 for the so-called payback rules. Prior to 2010 a worker could file for reduced Social Security benefits at age 62 and take those benefits to just before 70 at that point the worker would withdraw their original benefit claim pay back all the benefits they had received and immediately filed a new claim and receive full benefits from the point onward. The bipartisan budget act of 2015 past and produced two key changes to Social Security retirement benefit roles first it deemed filing the rule that provides an applicant is filing for benefits to which they’re entitled was expanded to include all applicants not just those who were under full retirement age and was the case prior to enactment as a result, workers at full retirement age may no longer restrict their application to only one type of benefit at that time of filing, rather applicants are deemed to be filing for all benefits available to them when the application is made this provision therefore negates the popular restriction application for spousal benefits only strategy applicants who reach age 62 on or before January 1, 2016 were grandfathered under the old rule and may restrict their applications to a particular benefit when they
achieve FRA. Second the rules relating to voluntary suspension were amended to preclude auxiliary beneficiaries from receiving benefits based on the record of a worker whose benefits are in suspension. Auxiliary benefits include spouses, former spouses, children, adult disabled children and dependent parents this portion of the act therefore eliminated any benefit that resulted from the popular “file & suspend” claiming strategy which was used by applicants not for purpose of drawing a Social Security benefit but to allow other eligible individual to receive benefits based on that record. How your benefits are calculated is based on your earnings average Your benefits are also affected by the age at which you start receiving retirement benefits. If you start receiving them at the earliest possible retirement age your benefits will be lower than if you waited until your full or normal retirement age. There is a formula computed for Social Security
benefits to determine your average index monthly earnings. Virtually all FERS employees with a CSRS component will be affected by the windfall elimination provision (WEP) that’s because they are eligible for a pension based in part on work where they didn’t pay Social Security taxes because of that they will have a lower formula used to calculate their Social Security benefit only those with 30 or more years of substantial earnings under Social Security will receive the full benefit anyone with fewer years of substantial earnings will receive proportionately less.
You can apply in person or by calling Social Security office at 800-772-1213. However, I am available at 214-762-2327 to run a complimentary comprehensive analysis as I am Certified in Social Security Claiming Strategies (CSSCS) designation. There are more than 570 different strategies that we run to help you possibly receive substantially more benefits than just going in and filing.
While this social program dramatically improves the lives of many Americans,
Fast Food Alternatives
hile it may just be easier to hop in the car and go through the nearest fast food drive-thru, consider the effects the food from these places have on your health: The amount of grease, fat, and calories that come from fast food can significantly add up and isn’t exactly healthy for your body. Instead of your go-to meal with fries and a drink, consider these healthier fast food alternatives. Local Grocery Stores No, we’re not suggesting that you buy groceries and make your lunch at home in the middle of a lunch break. However, grocery stores often have prepared food sections that have lunch options already made and ready to eat, that are actually pretty healthy. These meals can range from salads and soups to more filling meals like grilled salmon. In addition, grocery stores have foods that can serve as a healthier alternative to fast food, like snackable baby carrots and fruits, and celery sticks with hummus. Stop by your local grocery store to see what they have to offer! Fast-Casual A separate field from fast food, the fast-casual category includes restaurants that
serve freshly prepared meals—at a comparable speed to fast food joints. Some popular restaurants that fall under this category include Chipotle and Panera Bread. Fast-casual places like these create all of their meals in-house, with healthy ingredients, such as Chipotle’s hormone and antibiotic free chicken. If you have to pick a restaurant to grab lunch from, a fast-casual restaurant is always going to be your better option over a fast-food place. Smoothies There are plenty of smoothie options that can actually be used as a full meal replacement. Smoothies with a balanced combination of good carbs, healthy fat, and lean protein have enough to fill you up, all while giving you the nutritional boost you need. If there’s not a smoothie place nearby, you can also create your own smoothies at home with just the right tools and ingredients. The best part about making your own homemade smoothie? You can pick and choose any of the ingredients you want to go in your drink, from your favorite fruits to your most preferred Greek yogurt! Why not drink a healthy, tasty smoothie instead of greasy fries? Lunch from Home And if neither of these options sounds good to you when you’re at your hungriest, it’s always healthier (and cheaper) to invest
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in an insulated lunch box and bring lunch from home, rather than taking another trip down the street to frequent your favorite fast food drive-thru. Putting together a nice salad or sandwich is always a good default lunch that’s easy to create, even if you’re in a hurry to get to work on time. Leftovers from dinner are also suitable and healthier alternatives to the usual number 4 combo. Fast food doesn’t always have to be your option for lunch every day, and it’s not the only option either. By being more mindful about the types of foods you’re including in your diet, you can maintain a healthy body for a very long time. Your eating choices have a great impact on how well your body is able to function on a day-to-day basis. When you eat healthier, your body functions better. So before you consider taking the easy way out and driving to go to your trusty fast food drive-thru, think about your body’s nutritional needs, and opt for going to a nearby grocery store, fast-casual restaurant, or smoothie place for the best nutritional items. Better yet, save yourself the time and money by making your own smoothies and lunches from home. Your wallet—and your body—will thank you.
The Secret to Success on Your Fitness Journey By Archibald “Ace” Elliott Founder of Symmetry Fitness
rom the very first time I started training clients to even now, people always ask for advice on how to lose weight, gain muscle, get faster, get stronger, etc. It’s to be expected as it comes with the territory. After all this time, what I’ve come to realize is that is that most people have a very good general idea of what they “should” do. What they’re looking for is that extra little secret that will get them shredded or pack on slabs of muscle. The truth is, there is no secret muscle building, fat obliterating technique.
They have other definitions that are along those same lines but we’ll stick with this one as it serves our purpose well. Besides its definition, another thing we need to understand about willpower is that’s like everything else, it’s a finite resource. Just like our muscles get fatigued and tired, so does our ability to utilize our willpower. According to the article, scientists have found that willpower is depleted when performing self-control tasks. For our purposes a self control task could be resisting ordering that hamburger at lunch or making ourselves go to the gym after work instead of watching television.
The technique is hard work. The secret is willpower.
We can also take it a step further.
Willpower is what allows you to stick with that grueling training program. It’s also what keeps you eating chicken and tuna when everyone else is ordering hamburgers. Willpower keeps you consistent long enough to see the fruits of your labor in the gym and in the kitchen.
If you constantly find yourself in positions where you have to exert self-control, say with a difficult boss or stressful home environment, these tasks deplete our willpower reserves. At the end of the day, resisting that glass of wine or slice of cake becomes significantly more difficult.
The APA did a great article on this very subject. According to most psychologists, willpower can be defined as: The ability to delay gratification, resisting short term temptation in order to meet long term goals.
All is not lost, however. Scientists say that willpower depletion can be kept at bay with positive changes in our mood, attitude, beliefs, and diet. Thoughts and beliefs are self-explanatory. Whenever we are in a good mood or thinking positively about
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ourselves or our surroundings, we will tend to make better decisions or exert more self -control more easily. The article also goes to say that keeping a balanced diet for a steady stream of brain fuel (glucose) can help maintain a strong willpower. And finally, scientists say that we never completely run out of willpower. Just when you think you have no more, you always have some left. So now that we know that willpower is that secret ingredient that can demolish fat and pack on slabs of sinewy muscle, what can we do to get more? Well, I’ve put together a list of 8 things you can do to resist temptation and strengthen that willpower: 1. Get Rid of Temptation – If it’s out of site, then it’s out of mind. That’s why most smart trainers and dieticians tell you that if you want to stick to healthy eating habits, get rid of all the junk food and don’t put yourself in situations where you’ll be tempted. We can apply this to exercise as well. Pack your gym clothes with you when you go to work or the night before. If you say you’ll get them when you need them or change later, you’ll probably find an excuse not to go.
2. Develop if – then scenarios (have a plan) – Most people know what their day looks like so have a plan of action for all those situations that you can’t avoid. If you have to meet someone for lunch then you’ll order X. If you miss the gym, then you’ll go for a run. It’s a lot easier to have a plan for situations that to rely on making good decisions on the fly.
And finally, scientists say that we never completely run out of willpower. Just when you think you have no more, you always have some left. comes a habit that you don’t have to think too much about. Once it becomes a habit, shift your focus on to the next target.
3. Have a strong why – Our beliefs and mindset have a lot to do with our ability to exert willpower. That’s why it’s important to develop a strong reason to why we’re doing whatever it is that we’re doing. Remember our definition of willpower? Having a clear goal and strong reason for it will carry you through those tough times.
5. Be Observant – Now that we know that our willpower is a finite commodity, we need to be observant of when we’re starting to run low. This is where those if-then scenarios come into play. Have an escape plan or a plan B and use it when necessary.
4. Focus on one goal at a time – Because our willpower is limited, it makes sense to try and use it for our most important goals first. Prioritize your goals in order of importance and don’t spread yourself too thin. Focus on that one main goal until it be-
6. Exercise (your willpower) – If it can fatigue under constant use, it stands to reason that, just like a muscle, it can also get stronger with proper training. Practice selfcontrol in all areas of your life, not just with diet and exercise. The more you use it, the
stronger it gets and the easier it will be to slip right by temptation, unscathed. 7. Eat healthy – One of the big factors that exasperate the affects of willpower depletion is fuel depletion. Because it’s an actual cognitive process, your brain needs energy to accomplish it. Keep a balanced diet and steady blood sugar levels to ensure your brain has the fuel needed to maintain a strong willpower. What it all boils down to is the only secret to success in or outside of the gym is willpower. Work on that and everything else will seem easy. What are some things you do when you’re running low on willpower? Archibald “Ace” Elliott is Founder of Symmetry Fitness located at 4665 Southwest Freeway Houston Tx 77027. You can reach him at (404)307-3421 Direct or email
4 Ways You Can Work Out for Free Exercising more or losing weight are among one of the most popular New Years’ resolutions and is the primary reason for the influx of gym membership purchases around this time of year.
owever, although you may be fully motivated and prepared to hit the gym, your wallet may not feel the same way. A gym membership can be a financial burden, especially if you’re only frequenting the gym a couple times a week. But don’t let the cost of a membership prevent you from reaching your fitness goals; if a gym membership isn’t quite fitting your budget, here are 4 ways you can exercise in a similar workout environment for free:
1. Embrace the Outdoors One of the easiest ways to fit in a workout is to hit the outdoors. You have the ability to burn plenty of calories just by going for a walk or run outside; for example, try making a couple of laps around your neighborhood. In addition, look up any nearby hiking or biking trails in your community to walk or bike on to work on cardio while spending some one-on-one time with nature and the wonderful fresh air it has to offer.
2. Join a League If one of the reasons you like the gym is for the social and motivational aspect, try
joining a sports league! By actively participating in sports, you can burn plenty of calories while having fun and enjoying something you like with other people. In addition, you’ll always be surrounded by others who share the same love of the sport as you do, which can lead the way to lifelong friendships! And if you’re in need of motivation, the idea of winning a game against another team is always motivational enough to get you moving!
3. Find a Park A simple playground at the park can also serve as a suitable alternative to the gym. Why? Look at the equipment! Every playground has at least a set of monkey bars that can double as basic pull-up bars. In addition, there are plenty of benches and other rigs at the playground and park that allow you to practice lunges, dips, and more if you’re creative enough. Overall, you can get in a pretty good circuit training-like workout.
4. Turn Your Home into a Gym Believe it or not, there are quite a few everyday items in the home that can double as gym equipment. For example, use a couple of filled water bottles to use as weights, a kitchen or dining room chair
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as an anchor for tricep dips and squats, or a wall for classic wall sits. Have stairs in your home or apartment complex? Try stair running to substitute for the gym’s stair-master! If you’re looking to match a fitness program a gym might offer, look online for videos with similar workouts that you can perform right at home in your living room. The best part about these locations? They’re always found within a reasonable distance from neighborhoods and communities! Chances are, you’ll likely find one of these gym-alternatives within a few miles from where you live. You can always take your workout on the go—walking or jogging to one of these places to maximize your exercise! While investing in a gym membership is a great way to obtain a good workout session, there are plenty of other options available that will allow you to achieve the same results without the cost! Whether you embrace the outdoors, participate in your favorite sport, take a nice stroll around the part, or even stay at home, these are only just the beginning of the places you can frequent to get the workout you’ve always wanted.
is Ruining Your Posture Imagine this: You’re sitting at your favorite coffee shop after ordering a warm cup of coffee. Looking around, there are plenty of items that serve as a nice stimulation to distract you while you wait, from the eccentric art pieces to the calming atmospheric music.
owever, you feel like this isn’t enough to keep your attention for long, so you reach for your trusty mobile device. As you peruse your favorite app, you sit hunched over, head in front of your shoulders.
Did you know that this is a common posture for most people who look at their phones? Look around you— how many other people do you see hunched over their phones, too? Whether we like it or not, we often sit with our necks craned forward to better view our digital screen. However, this position can lead to bad posture and can have adverse effects over a longer period of time. Here are 3 ways your phone is ruining your posture:
1. Circulation How well your blood circulates to your brain depends on the blood vessels in your neck. When your head is even a few inches in front of its normal position, you can actually cut off some of the circulation of the blood that flows through the veins and arteries near your spine. This can lead to serious side effects like migraines and even long-term damage to the blood vessels themselves. Make an effort to keep your head straight and back in line with your shoulders; instead of bending over to the phone, let the phone come to you!
2. Breathing By positioning your head past your shoulders, you can actually affect your breathing. Bending your head for-
ward can limit the capabilities of your airway. When you align your head straight and in line with your shoulders, however, you may notice that you’re able to take a much fuller breath in comparison to when it’s bent over.
3. Muscles and Joints Did you know that your head weighs about 10 pounds? When your head is tilted past its normal position, the added stress can make it increase up to 60 pounds! Your muscles and joints around your neck and upper back have to work extra hard to hold your head up, leading to aches and pains you may feel in these areas at the end of the day. If you keep your head balanced over your shoulders, you evenly disperse the weight of your head throughout the rest of your upper body posture (and lower body posture if you’re standing). Phones and other mobile devices have allowed us to take great leaps in technology and how we work and play on a daily basis. However, can too much of a good thing—as like all other good things—can be a bad thing. That’s not to say to throw your phone out of the window, though; just be more mindful of your posture the next time you look down to check a new message. For a better posture, and to avoid any complications from a bad posture, try sitting with your spine tall and your head brought back in a way that your ears are hovering above your shoulders. The more you sit this way, the easier it will be to do without reverting back to a bad posture. You’ll start to see that your head, neck, and back will feel better too!
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Gym Memberships: Are they worth it?
This is the time of year where people consider signing up for a gym membership to follow through with their New Years’ resolution to exercise more or lose weight.
ut very often, there are many who hesitate before signing up for a gym membership, for a few valid reasons. For one, there’s no guarantee that you’ll use or visit the gym frequently enough to make it worth the monthly or yearly dues. Secondly, many believe that even if you do visit the gym often, the fees you pay still don’t seem worth all the amenities you receive in return. However, there are many reasons why gym memberships are in fact, worth the price.
Exercise at Your Fingertips With a gym membership, especially a 24hour gym membership, you can easily fit in a workout into a busy schedule any time of the day without having to compromise your time or schedule. In addition, if you don’t have gym amenities where you live, a gym membership to a local gym is good to have on hand in case you plan on exercising or starting a new fitness routine. Plus, daily exercise is good for you anyway, so what better way to achieve it than inside a nearby gym?
Get the Motivation You Need Gyms are filled with other people who want to exercise, just like you. Being surrounded by others who are exercising is a great motivator for you to exercise more regularly too, especially if it’s your first time at a professional gym or you are starting a new fitness program. It’s also an opportunity to meet other like-minded people since gyms have become more of a place for social gatherings with group fitness classes. Everyone you meet at the gym typically has similar goals as you, with maybe some differences in fitness goals. This can range from general fitness goals such as losing weight, to more specific goals such as building more upper body muscle. In addition, many gyms have fitness trainers that are available to help personally give you fitness advice and motivation as well. More Amenities than You Can Imagine While people may believe that gym memberships aren’t worth the lack of amenities they provide, there’s actually a lot that gyms offer that many don’t even know about. For example, most gyms now have special yoga or Pilates studios, lap pools, and even saunas and steam rooms. There are even some gyms that may offer spa
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treatments and even child care services for those who want to get a workout in but don’t have time to find a babysitter. Not sure what amenities your local gym offers? Simply ask at the front desk before you sign up so you know what exactly what amenities you’re paying for in addition to access to the gym! So are gym memberships worth it? Once you’ve dedicated yourself to a gym and experienced it for a couple of weeks, you’ll find that gyms really aren’t that bad. There are many gyms that are now more conveniently located near neighborhoods and communities to accommodate nearby residents so you never have to sacrifice your time again. In addition, you’re always surrounded by people who are there for similar reasons as you, and you might find yourself enjoying the gym so much because of the environment and amenities that it becomes a good habit. Still reluctant? Visit a gym to check things out to see for yourself! Before you sign up, make sure you understand what all the gym offers such as amenities and if they have special membership plans that can be discounted based on where you work. You’ll be hitting the gym in no time!
Laughter Really is the Best Medicine Even though science has proven that the number of muscles used to frown is slightly less than the number of muscles used to smile, researchers still stand by the fact that it’s just a little bit harder to frown since you don’t use those “frown muscles” very often—meaning that in a way, you really go out of your way in order to frown at something.
ven though science has proven that the number of muscles used to frown is slightly less than the number of muscles used to smile, researchers still stand by the fact that it’s just a little bit harder to frown since you don’t use those “frown muscles” very often—meaning that in a way, you really go out of your way in order to frown at something. But why do that when it’s easier to smile or laugh? Besides, it’s healthier for you anyways. Believe it or not, the common adage, “laughter is the best medicine,” isn’t too far from the truth, and here’s why:
1. Laughter helps you relax. Having a good laugh now and then helps relieve physical tension and stress; it can leave your muscles relaxed as long as 45 minutes afterward! In addition, laughter can also help you relieve mental stress. Ever wonder why people laugh in tense or awkward situations? It’s actually quite comforting; after a long stressful day at work, try watching or reading something lighthearted that can give you a few chuckles. We promise you’ll feel better for it!
2. Laughter strengthens the immune system. Laughter is very good at decreasing the lev-
el of hormones that give you that “stressed” feeling while increasing the number of immune cells and antibodies, further strengthening the immune system. In other words, more laughter equals a healthier immune system! Feeling under the weather? Smiling and laughing more will make you feel better, both physically, and mentally too. Laughing at something lighthearted can even distract you from the thought of being sick, leading to a quicker, healthier recovery!
3. Laughter is good for the heart. Another benefit of laughter: laughing can lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function as well as blood flow, lowering your risk for a heart attack or stroke. It can also prevent the risk for other cardiovascular complications. So laughter isn’t just good for the mind and your immune system; it’s also good for your heart.
4. Laughter burns calories. While you shouldn’t expect to drop several pounds from laughing, studies have shown that laughing for about 10-15 minutes can actually burn nearly 40 calories. To put this in perspective, if you laughed for at least 10 minutes every day, you could lose around 3 or 4 pounds over the course of a year! If you’re not in a hurry to lose pounds or want to feel a little better about eating a slice of your favorite cake, try laughing!
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5. Laughter strengthens relationships. Have you ever been in a stressful confrontation with anyone? Try laughing the situation off with each other. Nothing can diffuse conflict faster than laughing together. Laughing can also help everyone move on from the situation without feelings of resentment or bitterness. The next time you find yourself in a confrontation with someone, try bringing some lighthearted positivity into the conversation; you’ll both walk away feeling better.
6. Laughter makes you feel happier. While this may seem like a no-brainer, laughter is doing more beyond making you smile; laughing helps the brain release endorphins, natural chemicals that give you that “feel good” feeling and also helps relieve pain. These endorphins are also good in reducing depressive symptoms and give you a better sense of well-being. Overall, laughter has the ability to help you relax, diffuse a stressful situation, and benefit your overall health! In addition, any time you ever feel sick or down, laughing can instantly help you feel better in a matter of seconds. Our conclusion? Laughter really is the best medicine.
id you know that bananas are one of the most consumed fruits in the world? In fact, Americans eat more bananas than oranges and apples combined! While it may seem that it may be good to mix up your fruit options, bananas actually offer quite a few benefits that have allowed them to become a choice fruit. From nutritional benefits to health advantages, here are all of the benefits bananas have to offer us:
Improves Heart Health
Aids in Weight Loss
Minerals and vitamins such as potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C in bananas all promote a healthy heart. For example, potassium is essential for lowering blood pressure and has been associated with a lower risk of stroke. In fact, studies have shown that people who include plenty of potassium in their diets have up to a 27% lower risk of heart disease. Bananas can even help reduce bad cholesterol levels. Want a healthier heart? Add more banana to your diet!
Bananas are relatively low in calories; on average, a ripe banana contains just over 100 calories. In addition, the carbs and water in bananas give your stomach a fuller feeling much faster than other fruits would. This can help reduce your appetite and cravings, preventing over-eating from occurring. The fiber in bananas can also help improve your digestion, which also helps regulate your metabolism.
Reduces Risk of Cancer High Nutritional Value Bananas contain a wide variety of vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients, including: • Copper • Fiber • Magnesium • Manganese • Potassium • Protein • Vitamin B6 • Vitamin C All of the vitamins and nutrients in bananas make up a decent percentage of the recommended daily value (DV), especially fiber. This makes them a convenient go-to snack if you’re ever in need of an extra boost of vitamins and nutrients. In addition, bananas are low in fat, and packed with water and carbs, making them a healthy alternative if you want to feel fuller and practice control over your intake of food and/or calories.
Because bananas are a good source of vitamin C, they can help fight the formation of free radicals that are known to cause cancer. The vitamin C in bananas can also help strengthen your immune system. In addition, the high amount of fiber that can be obtained from fruits and vegetables such as bananas are associated with lower risks of colorectal cancer.
Reduces Risk of Diabetes Bananas contain pectin, a type of fiber that helps give bananas their shape. Pectin and other resistant starches in bananas may have the ability to moderate and stabilize blood sugar levels after meals. Because of this, bananas do not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. In addition, multiple studies have shown that the resistant starch in bananas may improve insulin sensitivity by as much as 33-50%.
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Helps Reduce Soreness Have you ever experienced that sore feeling in your muscles after a long or intense workout? Turns out, bananas can help with that, too! The potassium in bananas can help your muscles recover faster, and even strengthen them as they begin repairing themselves, causing an increase in lean muscle mass. Bananas have more benefits than you can even begin to imagine! This list is only just the beginning of the many advantages this unique yellow fruit offers to its consumer. For example, bananas can also help boost your mood and reduce stress, reduce bloating, strengthen bones, improve vision, sleep better, and have more energy. It can also serve as an all-natural detox too! Who knew bananas had so many benefits? Look for a banana the next time you reach for that fruit basket!
The Debate on Coffee:
Is it Good for You? We’ve all fallen victim to post-workout soreness.
hile some studies show that coffee has many health benefits, others have shown that coffee’s side effects produce negative effects on your health that may actually outweigh the positive benefits it provides—so which is it? Is coffee good or bad for you? Before you reach for another cup of coffee, here are some of the pros and cons of coffee you need to know:
Health Benefits of Coffee •
Improves Energy – We all reach for a cup of coffee in the mornings for a reason; it’s an easy way to get that extra boost of energy we may need before we head off to work or perform our errands for the day. Coffee can increase your energy level thanks to a substance called caffeine. Caffeine is a type of stimulant that helps block a neurotransmitter in your brain known as Adenosine; this neurotransmitter, in particular, is what makes you feel sluggish or tired. Helps Burn Fat and Lose Weight – Did you know that in most fat-burning supplements, caffeine is a key ingredient? That’s because caffeine has the ability to speed your metabolism up, by at least 3-11% more. In addition, caffeine helps break down body fat to use as energy, which
can result in weight loss. Weight loss has never been so enjoyable for coffee lovers! Contains Essential Nutrients – Coffee contains a number of nutrients that are good for your body, including vitamins B2 and B5, Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium, Niacin, and even a large number of antioxidants. And who ever said coffee didn’t have nutritional value? Boosts Mood – If you’re a long-time coffee drinker, you may already feel a little happier from just the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans. And that’s just the beginning—drinking a moderate amount of coffee can stimulate the production of neurotransmitters in the brain like dopamine and serotonin, which can boost your mood and fight depression. Prevention – Drinking a moderate amount of coffee per day has shown to help prevent the risk of Type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, cirrhosis, and even certain types of cancers. Want to put these diseases at bay? Drink a healthy cup of coffee each day!
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Negative Effects of Coffee •
Inhibits Protein Digestion – Drinking coffee on an empty stomach results in the production of hydrochloric acid (HCl), an acid that aids in breaking down food in your stomach. This can cause you to have a cramping or painful feeling in your stomach if you haven’t eaten prior to drinking coffee. If HCl is produced when your stomach lacks a full meal, it might have a harder time producing enough when you actually do eat a large meal, which can slow your metabolism down quite a bit if it happens often. • Acids Irritate Your Digestive System – The high levels of acid found in coffee can irritate the lining of your small intestine and stomach, which may lead to ulcers or cause cramps. In addition, the acids in coffee can cause heartburn. However, to avoid this, make sure you eat a full meal beforehand. • Dehydration – Coffee, consumed in larger amounts, can lead to dehydration because it is a diuretic, a substance that increases the production of urine. Make sure you drink plenty of water if you consume coffee in large amounts to avoid this. It seems like coffee can produce many health benefits, and with moderate consumption, you may be able to avoid the negative side effects, too. So is coffee healthy for you overall? What’s your take on this age-old question?
The Vitamins and Minerals Checklist:
What does your body need?
Vitamins have letters associated with them for a reason; there are just so many different kinds, it’s our only way to keep up.
here are plenty of vitamin and mineral supplements available now that allow us to get all the vitamins and minerals we’ll ever need to stay healthy. However, how many of these supplements do you actually need? In other words, which vitamins and minerals are you more likely to better receive from natural foods instead of the supplement? Here are a few of the most important vitamins and nutrients you need and how you should consume them:
Beta-carotene This antioxidant is commonly found in green peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes. After consumption, beta-carotene is converted to what we know as vitamin A, which is good for healthy vision, skin, and a well-performing immune system. It is also an essential antioxidant for normal growth and development. Studies have also suggested that beta-carotene has properties that can help neutralize free radicals that can cause heart disease or cancer growth.
However, if you’re lactose-intolerant, you may prefer to take a calcium supplement instead. If you must take the supplement, make sure you do not take more than 500 milligrams at a time, and be sure to pair the supplements with a source of vitamin D for better calcium absorption.
Folic Acid Also known as Vitamin B, folic acid can be consumed through grains such as fortified breakfast cereals, bread, and pasta in addition to legumes, dark green vegetables, and citrus fruit. This vitamin is important for preventing and treating low blood levels of folate and helps the bowel to absorb nutrients effectively. Some studies have suggested that folic acid can help prevent colon and cervical cancer as well as several heart diseases. Folic acid is especially important for pregnant women or women who are planning to have children because it helps prevent miscarriage and birth defects such as spina bifida. The recommended daily value of vitamin B can easily be obtained through the foods you eat, but you can also receive a decent percentage through supplements.
Calcium Found naturally in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, calcium is used to maintain healthy bones. In addition, calcium can help prevent osteoporosis.
Iron Iron is a critical mineral that is important for healthy red blood cell function. Foods high in iron are not typically enjoyed as
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much as other foods; organ meats such as liver is a great source of iron, although not seen as delectable. To combat this, try including foods such as lean meats and seafood, as well as green, leafy vegetables and nuts in your diet. You may only need an iron supplement if you are currently anemic or about to undergo a surgical procedure.
Potassium Potassium is an important mineral that helps lower blood pressure and boosts your overall heart health and can be found in bananas, oranges, leafy greens, and milk. Potassium also helps you maintain healthy cellular and electrical function; in fact, it is one of the main minerals known as “electrolytes.” You may need to consider a potassium supplement if you are at a higher risk for heart disease. However, keep in mind that too much potassium can have harmful effects under certain conditions. There are also important vitamins such as vitamins C, D, E that are important for your overall health, but they can easily be consumed through the foods you eat without the help of supplements. Try including more of these foods into your diet to naturally consume these vitamins and minerals!
Souping: The Low-Sugar, Healthier Alternative to Juicing ast year, juicing became a popular, nutritional health craze that dominated the way we consumed healthy fruits and vegetables on the go and detoxified the body. Now, “souping” has become the new juicing, according to an article from The New York Times. While soup may not be as easily portable as a handy bottled juice mixture, it can help provide your body with just as many nutrients, without the extensive natural sugars that come from the fruit included in juices. And let’s be honest, when you’re feeling under the weather, there’s a reason soup becomes your next best friend! Here are other reasons soup is a healthier alternative to juicing: You Absorb All the Nutrients When you juice, you are actually oxidizing the ingredients rather quickly, losing nutrients along the way. However, the nutrients of the vegetables you add into a stock pot are never lost. In fact, the nutrients are more digestible once they are broken down this way. Soup is More Filling
With soup, you can mix in a variety of additives, from vegetables, lean meats, beans, herbs, and more. All of these ingredients can turn your soup into a complete meal, allowing it to be more filling than a traditional juice. Soup also has the tendency to absorb the important fiber from its ingredients; resulting in a satisfying, fuller feeling. Helps with Weight Loss And don’t worry—just because you feel more full, doesn’t mean your weight will show it; the large amount of water found in soup actually allows you to get your fill with significantly fewer calories, which can help with weight loss. And don’t just take our word for it; studies have backed this up too! A research study found that those who ate a serving of chicken and rice soup reported that they were just as satisfied as others who ate a serving of a chicken and rice casserole! Effective Cleansing Option Many people who opt for a detoxifying juice often feel hungry during the process. A juice cleanse can be rather difficult because you’re not ex-
actly chewing or digesting anything, leaving behind an empty, unsatisfied feeling in your stomach. However, with the right detoxifying soup recipe, you can achieve the same cleansing results, without feeling deprived of tasty meals. Healthier Meal Option By now, you probably understand why soups are considered healthier than juices, but soups also make a healthier meal option! Soups have the benefit of being versatile; it’s easy to throw in a variety of vegetables into a stockpot and end up with a tasty broth. No vegetables on hand? Leftovers from last night’s dinner can even be made into a good soup! Because soup is so easy to make, it’s a great meal option if you’re always on the go; in fact, it’s the best meal option, especially if you’re one to often frequent the fast-food drive-thru or a restaurant during your lunch break. So instead of getting out the blender, try pulling out the stockpot for an easy, quic
It is truly our honor and privilege to provide you, our hard-working federal employees and union leaders with the first magazine totally ded...
Published on Mar 6, 2017
It is truly our honor and privilege to provide you, our hard-working federal employees and union leaders with the first magazine totally ded...