| PUBLISHER’S COLUMN
“To Go” or “Not to Go?”
Did you ever turn down an invitation to an event that you regretted doing so later?
How about accepting an invitation that you really, really wanted to turn down for a myriad of reasons, but, you went anyway and you were so glad you did? Life is about choices you make and their consequences, both positive and not so positive. Over a decade ago, I was invited to a business presentation with my wife that I really did not want to attend. I wasn’t feeling well and was certain that I would hate every minute of the presentations featuring several motivational speakers. Despite my disdain, my very persuasive wife convinced me to go with her and I was so glad that I did! Had I gotten my way and stayed home, I would not have had the chance to meet this issue’s cover honoree, Mr. Ruben Gonzalez. Ruben is a 4-time Olympian, a National Luge Champion, and a much sought after national and international speaker. He not only has become a dear friend, but, I consider him a mentor and role model as well. You are probably asking, “Exactly what does an Olympian have to do with me, a Federal Employee?” The answer is that Ruben, just like our cover honoree of the Spring 2017 Issue, Mr. Termite Watkins, faced injuries, danger, and sometimes even death in his line of work so that he could make a living and support his family. Both gentlemen have sustained very serious injuries and have inspirational stories how they recovered from those injuries. They now incorporate those experiences in their new roles. Another inspirational story is featured in our Union Leaders Spotlight. Now President of the National Capital/Southern MD Local APWU, Dena Briscoe was one of the many postal workers in the Brentwood Road Mail Processing Center in Washington D.C. who were victims of the first terrorist anthrax attack in or country. Sadly, two of the workers, Joseph P. Curseen Jr. and Thomas L. Morris Jr., did not survive. Like many other survivors at the Brentwood postal facility, Dena suffered greatly from being exposed to anthrax. Brought up by a strong role model, her mother, Dena believed in championing the rights of others and took her lemons and made lemonade. Her story is equally as inspirational as our past cover honorees’ stories. I am sure you will enjoy Ruben’s and Dena’s stories as much as we have enjoyed bringing them to you! May their stories inspire you too.
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Executive Publisher Steve Levine Associate Publisher/ Editor/Creative Director Barbara Davis-Levine Graphic Design Malka Levy Lavinia Menchaca Photographers Bill Baum Gwen Juarez
Contributing Writers Nick Darlington Archie Elliott Mark Gardner Kirby Lammers Publisher’s Editorial Advisory Board Kennith Beasley/APWU Clifton Buchanan/AFGE Dr. Jack Jensen
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.
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On The Cover Ruben Gonzalez
27 24 INSIDE 03
Ruben Gonzalez – FourWinterGames.com
Dena Briscoe – President APWU, NCSMAL
Feast or Famine?
Folks, We Have a Problem.
Will Budget Cuts Affect Federal Employees?
Victory Isn’t for Everyone
5 Summer Workouts that are Actually Fun to Do
Healthy Alternatives for Junk Food
Fitness Myths Debunked: Fitness Advice You Should Avoid
5 Tips to Eat Healthier at Restaurants
Smile More: Your Mind, Body, and Soul Will Thank You
The Story on Soy: Is it Good for You?
Nutrition Spotlight: Broccoli Home
The Importance of Blood Pressure Checks
Federal Agency Offering Government Workers Incentives
30 Remedies for Headaches and Migraines
| Cover Story
Ruben Gonzalez – FourWinterGames.com Finding the Courage to Succeed
uben Gonzalez is a 4-time men’s singles luge Olympian, #1 bestselling author, peak performance expert, and motivational speaker but the journey to the top was by no means easy. Growing up, he was a slowpoke and the benchwarmer in soccer. To anyone looking at him, Ruben’s dream of becoming an Olympian seemed impossible. But with a tenacity learned from reading about successful people, the boy nicknamed “bulldog” held onto his dream. When he saw 18-year-old Scott Hamilton win the gold medal in the Sarajevo Winter Olympics, Ruben’s life changed. He said to himself, “If that little guy can do it, so can I.” Taking up the notoriously dangerous luge, Ruben started training and, despite many broken bones, persevered and qualified for the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988. What followed was three more Olympics, many more broken bones, and the launch of his motivational speaking career, where he enthusiastically helps others find the courage to succeed. Ruben was born in soccer-mad Argentina, where every little boy dreams of going to the World Cup. When he was six, his parents moved to the U.S.A. in search of a better life. “Things were getting really bad over there in Argentina,” Ruben recalls. “There was a lot of terrorism. It was a dangerous place to raise a family.” Despite playing soccer growing up and not doing very well at it, mediocre to say the least, by age 10 Ruben had developed a passion for the Olympics and wanted to be an Olympian
when he grew up. He read everything he could find and became an expert or “Olympic groupie,” as Ruben jokingly remarks. He was so passionate about the Olympics and spent so much time talking about it that his dad eventually got fed up hearing about it. Although Ruben wanted to take part in the Olympics, it felt like a pipe dream. He lacked belief, didn’t think it was possible, and so didn’t bother getting started. Knowing that Ruben loved books and wanting him to start walking the walk, Ruben’s dad encouraged him to read biographies of successful people. In many ways, his dad was a catalyst for the greater things to come in his life. As he read, Ruben noticed that successful people shared common traits. “The one thing I kept reading about was perseverance,” reflected Ruben. “Successful people were a bunch of hardheads who refused to quit. They had a dream. They kept on trying and trying and trying!” So, as a 5th grader, Ruben decided: “If quitting robs you of your goal but perseverance at least gives you a shot, then it’s a no-brainer. So, from that day on, I didn’t quit anything.” By high school, Ruben had earned the nickname of “bulldog” because of his tenacity. He played soccer but was a slowpoke so he was always chosen last for teams. He ended up spending most of his time on the bench. Always wanting to be part of the team, he looked for ways to be useful in helping the team. He would help with the water and carry the towels, anything to be part of the team. Ruben’s perseverance paid off which garnered the respect of his teammates. And it’s the same perseverance that he’s carried with
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him his entire life that he instills in others in inspiring them to succeed. In spite of his bulldog attitude growing up, Ruben still lacked one thing - the courage to get started on his Olympic dream. But in 1984, Ruben’s life changed forever. Now aged 21, he was watching the Sarajevo Winter Olympics on television. “I see this little 18-year-old kid,” he recollects. “Scott Hamilton was his name. Gosh, he must have weighed 115 pounds, but this kid won a gold medal in figure skating. He was a little guy but he was tough. He gave me hope. I thought to myself that if he could do it, I can too.” If his dad was the catalyst, Scott was the spark that ignited the belief Ruben needed to finally take massive immediate action. “All of a sudden, I went from having no belief to believing so much. It was scary,” expressed Ruben. Once again, Ruben made a life-changing decision. He committed to being in the next Olympics, no matter what! With only four years to prepare, he had to move fast. He went to the library and started researching. It took him five minutes to realize he’d have to be a super athlete to compete in the summer sports, so he looked at winter options. With four years to train, he had to focus on his biggest strength. Ruben was never a quitter, so he turned to sports that were tough; sports where there were many broken bones and thus many quitters; sports like bobsledding, ski jumping, and the luge. Ruben continued narrowing down his choices until, finally, he decided on the luge. His dad suggested he not reinvent the wheel and that he find a mentor or a coach. But he and his
family lived in Houston where very few people knew anything about luging. Ruben decided to contact Sport’s Illustrated to find out where the nearest luge track was. They informed him that it was in Lake Placid, New York. Ruben then called the track and spoke to a guy, saying he was an athlete in Houston who wanted to learn how to ride the luge so he could compete in the Olympics. When he told him he was 21 years old, Ruben heard laughter. The guy on the phone said that he was too old and should have started 10 years ago. But Ruben - always tenacious - wouldn’t take no for an answer and remained on the line. “I figured if I hung up the phone, it was all over,” recalled Ruben.
Photo by Bill Baum
Somehow in the conversation, Ruben mentioned he had been born in Argentina. At that point, the guy at the track got excited because there weren’t enough countries participating in the next Olympics luge event and the sport was in danger of being excluded. The guy said they would help Ruben if he represented Argentina. Without any hesitation, Ruben gladly agreed. Representing Argentina, was taken under the wing of those training the competitors from different countries who wanted to participate in the luge competition. Ruben would have to train as much as possible so he could cram ten years of training into two. He would have to qualify in the top 50, with the results tallied two months before the start of the Olympics in 1988. “It was brutal,” exclaimed Ruben! “The first two years I was killing myself. I mean I was crashing four out of five times. I broke my foot twice, my knee, elbow, hand, thumbs, and ribs.” Despite his many injuries, Ruben never thought of quitting. When asked what kept him focused, he said, “The desire to compete in the Olympics.” Ruben has written several books. His first book, “The Courage to Succeed”, was the story of what Ruben had to do to get to the Olympics, and how by following certain principles anyone can reach their goals and dreams, no matter what they are. The reason Ruben chose that title was because he believes that no matter what ones’ goal is, they need
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| Cover Story
tors felt welcome, like rock stars. But Albertville was a different story. Many athletes, including Ruben, quit because of poor customer service. His coach talked him into making a comeback at the Salt Lake City Olympics, saying he would regret it if he didn’t compete because the Olympics in the U.S.A. were the best. Ruben, not one to regret things, decided to take part.
Photo by Bill Baum
to have two types of courage. They need to have the courage to get started and they also need to have the courage to endure; to not quit. Ruben’s website is aptly named GetStartedandDontQuit.com. Ruben elaborated, “Everything is tough at the beginning because you don’t have any skills. The courage to get started comes from believing it is possible. Remember when I first saw the Olympics, I got excited? But I didn’t believe, so I did nothing. I didn’t have the courage to get started. When I saw Scott Hamilton, the belief kicked in and I was ready to get started. I had a burning desire. I was going to do whatever it took to march in the opening ceremony. It wasn’t even about the medals for me. It was about getting to be in the club. So, quitting was just not an option. It just wasn’t!” In four years, Ruben achieved the unthinkable. His positive attitude, courage to get started, and courage to endure propelled him into the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988. And he would do it again, and again, and again, competing in Albertville in 1992, Salt Lake City in 2002, and Vancouver in 2010. He became the only Olympian ever to compete in four Winter Olympics in four different decades. Looking back, Ruben remembers how he enjoyed the Calgary Olympics. The competi-
The preparation was tough. He was training in the mornings with time off in the afternoon. He used that time to visit the track and watch other riders so he could see how to improve. He recalls the thrill of watching it close up, “You feel the speed. It’s like a rocket going by. And so one luge would go by and I would think, ‘Oh my gosh I can’t believe I do that’. And then another one would go by and I’d think the same.” Ruben watched for hours. When it was his turn the next morning, he had one of the worst crashes of his career, only a year and a half before Salt Lake City. Entering curve 13, he remembered all the people he’d watched and started doubting himself. “My brain said that I couldn’t do that,” Ruben recalls. “So, I forgot to steer. I had an awful crash. I broke my hand, my foot, and totaled my sled. My sled was a disaster. Pieces were everywhere.” With the courage to succeed implanted within him, it wasn’t long before Ruben picked himself up, once again. “Halfway over the Atlantic Ocean, I finally got my head on straight and thought, ‘You know what, I have had broken bones before. In six weeks, my bones will be fine’. I decided that, although I had a cast on my foot and my arm, the next day I was going to hit the gym. Even if I couldn’t lift anything, I will at least be back in the game.” Ruben may have been back in the game but he had another problem; he couldn’t afford to buy a sled. “I started making a list of all of my luge friends,” remembered Ruben. “I decided I would call them when I got to Houston. One of my buddies, Adam Cooke from the New Zealand team, lent me a sled. He was a lot shorter than me, so his sled was too small. I didn’t fit but I tell you it was better than sliding on my
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rear end. So, I qualified for the Olympics on his sled.” With the worst seemingly behind him, the unthinkable happened; yet another crash, only three days before the start of the Olympics. “I don’t know what they did to the track, but it was smooth like glass,” reflected Ruben. “And so, I’m coming down and I think…’Oh my gosh, this is amazing, I love this’. I was thinking so much about how nice the track was that I forgot to steer. Bam!” All Ruben remembers was seeing the sky and the ground, twice. Luckily, he didn’t break anything but he was urinating blood for the next three days. He refused to go to the doctor because they would have scratched him from the race. Ruben competed, only to later find out that he had bruised his kidneys. He was lucky to escape from serious injuries. Injuries and crashes weren’t the only problems in the buildup to the 2002 Olympics. Shortly after 9/11, many feared terrorists would target Salt Lake City for publicity. Ruben’s mom didn’t want him to go. “But it didn’t matter to me,” stated Ruben. “Because if I died, I was going to die happy. It doesn’t mean I’m brave. It just means I am that passionate about my goals and dreams.” It’s this passion that Ruben carried en route to his final Olympics in 2010 at the age of 47. Ruben jokes, “Everybody thought I was a coach because I was so much older than all the other competitors. It’s funny that all of the coaches and track workers were cheering for me and would tell everyone, ‘Come on, root for the old guy’.” Ruben’s final Olympics brought another difficult experience; he witnessed a death. This was only the second death in the luge in fifty years, despite the sport’s notoriously bad reputation. It was Friday night, the same night of the opening ceremony. He was still in Whistler where the small Olympic village he was staying was located. The riders had been training all week to get a feel for the track and make final adjustments to their sleds. Friday was the last practice before catching a bus to
the opening ceremony. Ruben had taken his final run and was standing at the finish line and looking up at the big screen. “I was watching Nodar who was one of the competitors from the country of Georgia,” Ruben recollects. “Nodar was this 21-year-old kid. He wasn’t medal material but he was better than me. He was nailing it. But as he entered curve 16, he made a mistake. I made that mistake so often that it’s a knee-jerk reaction to fix. I was almost always expecting that mistake. But it had caught him off-guard because he had never made that mistake. By the time he corrected it was too late, which made it even worse. As he was coming out of the curve, he hit the inside of the straightaway and bounced up and flew into a pole at 90 miles an hour and died instantly.” Ruben remembers how no one knew what to do on the way to the opening ceremony. They were all in shock. The phones were ringing off the hook with ABS, CBS, and NBC wanting to interview him. Ruben turned his phone off to process what had happened. He wasn’t sure whether to compete or not. Would that be disrespectful? But once he walked into the stadium, he knew what to do. “I saw the Olympic rings. That’s when I realized that Nodar had given his life for this and the best we could do was to honor him by doing what he wanted to do,” said Ruben. “The riders all agreed; they would do it for Nodar.” For Ruben, it was his last Olympics. He rode four more times, with his last run that Sunday. After Vancouver, he moved to Colorado Springs with his two children, Gabriela and Gracen, who are now both State Champions in Judo. Ruben remarked, “I tell them that life is going to be tough; that it will knock them down. But they mustn’t whine. They need to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and get back in the fight. So, our kids are little bulldogs, we don’t have chihuahuas in our house.” Indeed, Gracen has taken his father’s tenacity to heart. After not winning a single fight in the sport of Judo throughout his first six tournaments held over a period of 18 months, Gracen then won gold in his seventh tournament!
Although Ruben teaches his children lessons about having a winning attitude and principles, he doesn’t live vicariously through them. He tells them that if the Olympics isn’t their thing, they should find something that is, no matter what it is. Looking back on his career, being able to walk the opening ceremony and compete in the biggest arena against the best in the world was such an honor. It was his biggest motivation in competing in the first place. Ruben admits that he was frightened each time he did the luge run and that, in fact, he didn’t even like the luge. For him, it was just a vehicle for his dreams. Ruben reflected, “Dreams aren’t easy, they are hard. I have taken that attitude everywhere. A few years ago, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a mile higher than any mountain in the Rockies. I didn’t do it alone; I found a guy who had climbed Mount Everest. He told me, ‘For the next five days, you step everywhere I step. You rest when I rest. You drink water when I drink water.’ We did it. I am not a mountain climber. I am a mountain follower.” Ruben’s courage to succeed is unmatched and he continues to challenge himself. He’s currently planning to do a mile-and-a-half swim in open water, from Alcatraz to the shore. Ruben loves to share his advice for those wanting to achieve similar feats and compete in challenging activities such as the luge. He emphasizes the importance of knowing the reason why you are doing it. “Your ‘why’ is what will carry you through when things get tough,” states Ruben. “Why do you want to do it? Oh, because it’s been a dream of yours since you were a kid? Well, why? If you keep asking why and try to get down to the core, and your why is big enough, then you’re looking good and should go for it. But if you think it will be something that’s cool, nice to do, then you’re not going to make it! You need to be willing to pay the price, and it is going to be a huge price, no matter what your challenge is. You have to want it badly enough.” Ruben also recommends finding a coach or mentor who has walked the walk. “If they wrote a book about it but they never did it, then that’s nothing. That’s worthless. Find
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Ruben about to compete in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at the age of 47. Photo courtesy of Ruben Gonzalez
someone who has done it,” asserts Ruben. “Find someone who has lived it and then start hanging around with people who have already done it. Hang around those people because you become like the people you hang around with.” Ruben is one such person. He has done it. He has walked the walk. But it wasn’t easy. He grew up a slowpoke and a benchwarmer in soccer. Although he found a dream and developed the tenacity to never quit, he still lacked belief. It was Scott Hamilton who gave him that belief to get started. And with courage, a plan, concerted action, and a strong desire to never give up, he achieved his dream despite career-threatening injuries. What makes it even more remarkable is that, with his courage to succeed, Ruben repeated that process over and over again. As a motivational speaker for over 15 years, he now uses his inspiring story to help others find the courage to achieve their dreams. Ruben summarizes, “I want the audience to walk out thinking, ‘Oh man, if that guy can go to the Olympics, then I can do anything’. If they walk out with a little hope and belief, it’s like I become their Scott Hamilton.”
Dena Briscoe – President APWU, NCSMAL
Fervently Championing the Rights of Others
ith a strong sense of humanity, self-confidence, and compassion for others, Dena Briscoe is the epitome of someone with an indomitable, champion’s spirit. Current President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) - Nation’s Capital/Southern Maryland Area Local (NCSMAL), Dena never planned on a longterm career in the postal service but the anthrax attack in 2001 was the catalyst that changed everything. Although growing up small in stature, Dena has a larger than life persona which can mainly be attributed to her mother who has always been her role model. Because of her strong beliefs that “everyone is equal despite their differences”, Dena continues to fervently champion the rights of others.
she was a tomboy at heart. She always wanted to play football with her elder brother and his friends. Unfortunately, the boys would tell her to go home because she was a girl and they thought she would get hurt because she was “teensy”. Contrary to what the boys thought, Dena saw herself as a giant and that’s how she has carried herself her entire life.
Dena grew up in the urban area of Southeast Washington D.C. with her mom, two brothers, and at many times, relatives and others who had nowhere else to stay. She also has two younger sisters and brothers. Unfortunately, her father passed away when she was only 11 years old.
Indeed, what she lacked in stature, Dena has always made up for it in spirit, heart, and self-confidence; something instilled within her through her mother’s example. Recalls Dena, “My mom took up the entire room when she walked in. She’d take charge of conversations with great depth. She knew how to carry her own and wouldn’t back down from anything. I watched her and, as a result, I always thought I was a strong woman.” Dena also learned kindness and humanity from her mother. “My mom would take in anybody who didn’t have a place to live. She would make big pots of soup and other meals for people who didn’t have anything to eat. Everyone still loves her cooking as she learned her skills from her own mother who cooked for many dignitaries, from Senators, Ambassadors, and affluent families. She helped people, and this molded me.”
Even though Dena enjoyed playing with dolls, jacks, hopscotch, and other girlie games,
As a child, Dena encouraged mistreated neighborhood children to stand up for themselves. She also clearly remembers her feel-
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ings when Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy died. She remembers watching the news about their deaths on television with her grandmother. “That hurt me a lot,” she reflected. “I was angry about the state of the world. I didn’t like that we had a racial divide and that there was so much hate. As an adult, I channeled this energy toward helping people. After all, we are all one people.” It is this kindness and strong sense of humanity Dena has used as the driving force to guide her decisions in life. High school was enjoyable and also tough for the diminutive tomboy; college wasn’t much easier. Dena gave birth to her oldest son in her second year of college in July 1980 before starting work as a clerk for the postal service in November of the same year. Times were tough as she juggled motherhood, school, and a full-time job that she had no intention of doing on a long-term basis. “I always had an ultimate goal of leaving the US Postal Service,” expressed Dena. More than 36 years later, Dena is still employed with the postal service and has no regrets. It was the anthrax attack in October of 2001 that changed everything in Dena’s life. It became the catalyst in transforming Dena into what she was born to be, a champion for others! Five people were killed; two from her worksite and seventeen others were affected, including Dena. The day be-
Dena Briscoe is the epitome of someone with an indomitable, champion’s spirit. Current President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) - Nation’s Capital/Southern Maryland Area Local (NCSMAL)
fore the outbreak, Dena was working a shift with two colleagues. “It was a Sunday night shift”, Dena vividly remembered. “Something smelled weird. We weren’t sure what it was. We didn’t think it had anything to do with anthrax. We just felt there was something odd about the mail and it was given to us from a rack that we had never seen before. Our chests started hurting. I’m not sure if it was because of anxiety or the mail.” They went for x-rays and check-ups at a hospital and while there, they saw a television news report about the anthrax letter found in Senator Tom Daschle’s office. Dena thought to herself, “Wow, could that have something to do with the mail we were working with?” The hospital released Dena and her two colleagues. Still in a daze and feeling uneasy, she returned to work to ask her supervisor about anthrax. Her supervisor didn’t know anything. Events snowballed in the following days. The staff was told that the building had been checked for anthrax spores and cleared. Then one of her colleagues, Joseph Curseen, Jr., said he felt ill and might go home. This was odd because Joe had not used a sick day his entire career. During this meeting, Dena spoke to the doctor who was present and told her that her throat was very sore. Dena then asked, “What is going on here?” The doctor’s answer was that Dena probably had strep throat and she should go see a doctor. The next day, Channel 7 News announced that anthrax had contaminated the postal worksite. Not only did all of the postal workers in Brentwood need to get tested but the building was closed as well. When Dena had gone to get her Cipro antibiotics, she spoke to a World Health doctor about her sore throat. He thought it could be strep throat too but Dena’s own doctor confirmed it wasn’t strep throat but didn’t know what it was. The following day, Dena struggled to breathe and was admitted to Southern Maryland Hospital for a few days. After she was given antibiotics intravenously, her condition stabilized.
Dena recalled, “I didn’t return to work until early December. When I did return, the atmosphere had become very cold which was a far cry from the usual ‘postal family’ mood with her coworkers. I worked uncomfortably at my mail case feeling confused. In addition, I was still concerned about our experiences, our present state, and our future work environment. The mail had an eerie scent and I began to get sick and felt even more uncomfortable.” Two weeks passed and still no one could tell Dena what was wrong. Things only got worse; she started vomiting and left work. “I went to the Southern Maryland Facility where all of our safety people and administrators were domiciled to tell them what was going on with me,” elaborated Dena. “I also wanted to ask them what was going on with the mail. Something was wrong. When I got there, I passed out. They took me to the hospital by ambulance and gave me oxygen.” Apparently, the irradiated mail had depleted Dena’s oxygen levels. When she returned to work, she was required to work in a separate room. At that point, Dena had enough. Given her experience, the experiences of others, the misinformation, and her strong sense of humanity, she made it her mission to gather all the facts so that she could empower herself, her colleagues, and help others. She pursued the truth with determination. “I researched everything I could about anthrax and what happened during this event and others,” Dena explained. “I would study, study, study!” The authorities dealt with the building closure by splitting everyone up into different facilities. Dena would call her coworkers and see how they were doing. They established a support group so they could help each other. “This is how we would communicate and monitor one another. It was like an underground communication system.” After, the outbreak, Channel 7 News aired a “10 Deadly Days Special” in which they interviewed postal workers who had stories to share. Dena attended and was interviewed and featured in the show. “When I went to the
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interview, I had all these notebooks of information I’d gathered,” she recalls. “They were surprised that I had been collecting all of it. I told them that I didn’t understand what had happened to us and that we had a right to be informed.’” Dena’s desire for the truth led her to help create a group called “Brentwood Exposed” after meeting with Clerk Helen Lewis and Mail Handler Terrell Worrell. Through the group, Dena, who was appointed as President, countered the authorities’ misinformation and silence. Brentwood Exposed helped many people and revealed what really happened at their postal facility. They got non-profit agencies, doctors, clergy, elected officials, and a law firm to visit and help the workers. They stood up for the rights of others by filing a case, Tort Claims, and an EEO with the Judicial Watch. Not only did the court case make it to the U.S. Supreme Court, they continued to keep the pressure on the issues through the media. Dena even continued to be vocal to help make sure that the Brentwood building was thoroughly cleaned before re-opening. “Whatever the issues were, we tried to address them,” stated Dena. “We also made sure that whatever we did came out of our own pockets. It was self-funded.” The group also held memorials in honor of two co-workers, Joseph Curseen, Dena is seen here presenting at the BMC Conference. Photo courtesy of Dena Briscoe
Jr. and Thomas Morris, Jr., who died from anthrax inhalation. Since then, the building has been renamed after them. Two years later, Dena, who had become responsible for safety at Calvert DDC where she was domiciled while the building was closed, sent a letter to the top management and the union explaining that they needed to offer safety training, put a program in place, and run simulations so everyone would know how to respond in dangerous situations. The response was positive...but nothing happened. At that point, Dena decided to not return to work at the “Brentwood” because she felt that the management and her local union were risking the chance of another life-threatening situation. But fate decided to take Dena in a different direction. All of her work - the research, establishing support groups, asking questions, and her persistent and passionate quest for the truth - led to requests from workers all over her local area for her to run for President of the APWU Local. Dena revealed the importance of her indomitable spirit when she stood up to public misinformation and exposed the truth about the anthrax as well as on the workroom floor wherever she was reassigned to work. Not only did she empower herself, she empowered her colleagues as well. At the time, Dena felt that there were many better-qualified candidates from her soon-to-be campaign team members. Even though she had been a long-time, dues paying union member, she had not attended union meetings nor had she been certified to be a steward when she took the trainings. But the seed had been planted and the workers continued to request that she run. By 2003, Dena finally decided she would run for President so over the next three years, she attended union meetings, studied to gain knowledge and gather experience, and continued to pray about the task as she felt she needed to do the job properly. In 2007, leapfrogging over the usual slow promotions, Dena was elected as President! “This was a rare situation,” explained Dena. “Most people start as a steward, a director, or another board position, and then become
to try having the same work-life balance that she has developed. Dena also continues her lifelong quest of helping others through her involvement in the church, choir, community, and “DOVES”, a youth teen girls’ program at church. She’s on the board in her community and at her former school, Ballou Senior High School. Dena is the Secretary of the Metropolitan Washington Council. “We get together once a month,” says Dena. “Like the President’s Conference, though we deal with concerns of a collaboration of unions and try to be impactful in the labor movement in the DC, Southern, and Suburban Maryland areas.” President. But because of what we were dealing with, our Membership voted me and our team into office.” She added, “Being President has been very rewarding. I really enjoy helping people; helping people process issues, build up their coping skills, learn their rights, learn how to be more effective employees, and learn how to make their careers last.” Aside from her Presidency, Dena is also Vice Chair of the APWU National President’s Conference. They run three conferences or conference meetings every year where they discuss topics such as the constitution, contracts, political issues, and health and wellness. Dena is especially focused on health and wellness and the importance of maintaining a balance in life. She actively promotes this because she went from spending a lot of time working as a US Postal Dock Clerk to spending a lot of time in front of the computer when she became President. She missed using any annual leave days off her first year in office, and the next year began getting really sick. She started getting migraines, had high blood pressure, vertigo, and ended up getting a blood clot in her leg. Since then, Dena does take time off for herself and participates in a variety of activities to improve her health including joining a Double Dutch group, hula hooping, and taken up swimming, walking, cycling, and eating healthier. Dena also spends more quality time with her two sons, her brothers and sister, and especially her mother. She encourages everyone
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Always thinking of others, Dena helped organize a 10-year memorial and a 15-year memorial in memory of all those affected by the tragic anthrax attack. For the 15-year memorial, a monumental podium and benches were erected in honor of her two co-workers who died. Dena and postal management are pushing for it to become a federal monument so that people never forget the tragedy and learn from it. Small in stature as a child, but always a giant in spirit, Dena has used her strong sense of humanity, self-confidence, and compassion that was instilled in her by her mother to stand up for those who cannot or will not stand up for themselves. The anthrax attack in 2001 is something she will never forget. She stood up to public misinformation to expose the truth and empower her colleagues. She stood up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves, and with the many memorial services she’s helped organize, she reminds us all of that tragic event and that it should never, ever happen again. She continues to help others through her community involvement. Last but not least, as the President of the APWU, NCSMAL, Dena will fervently continue championing the rights of others long into the future.
Feast or Famine?
Is food your friend or enemy? Is food working for you or against you? By Kirby Lammers
n many cases we find food is actually working against us and causing us to become ill, feel lethargic, lack of energy, declined brain function, and pointing us toward diseases like, heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and diabetes. Is this what you really want? Would you choose to befriend someone who actually is known to be your enemy? I don’t think that would be working very well for you, right? Hanging out with your enemies is no fun and could actually be bad for your health. I am sure you would want to only hang with your friends.
We vote with our dollars and whenever we purchase junk foods, fast foods, or any food with preservatives with too much salt, fats and unhealthy carbohydrates, we vote for these known disease causing foods to continue. Choose foods and drinks that actually like you and work for you versus against you. When choosing a meal or even grocery shopping, ask yourself if this particular food is going to work for you or against you. Educate yourself to know the differences between good and bad foods. I know you like the bad foods because it taste great and sometimes you crave those foods. Guess what? The bad foods are designed to make you crave them so will purchase more. People are eating these
bad foods three times a day and even know it is bad food, but can’t seem to stop. Yes, these foods are habitual and now you have become a food addict. It is ashamed we have been dealt this bad hand. Let’s play our on cards and reverse all the terrible and harmful foods that have caused us to be a sick society. We all deserve to be healthy and happy. What do we do? Buy fresh and organic, prepare your own meals, you control all the amounts of salt and spices. Eat smaller portions. Portion sizes can be broken down with this easy method. Your protein portion size should be the size of a deck of cards or a bar of soap, your vegetables, starches and carbohydrates should be the size of your fist or a baseball. This is simple and does not require you haul around a scale or measuring cup. Eat 5 to 6 times per day and for a snack choose a small piece of fruit along with a protein, such as a hand full of walnuts, or a teaspoon of almond butter. Drink water and cut out all the sodas, fruit juices, alcohol, or any drink that produces calories. Get your calories from food and not from what you drink. Your water intake should be half your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 150 lbs, you should drink 75 ounces of water each day. It is also helpful to drink 8 to10 ounces of water before your meal to cause you to fill more full before you begin to eat. Chew your food well. Chew each bite until it turns in to liquid. This may require chewing 15 to 30 times depending on the texture and density of your food. Breaking down your food in this manner will help to prevent indigestion and other stomach issues. Eat slowly and enjoy your meal. The bottom line is to choose your food as you would choose a friend and hold on to your choices to create a long term relationship. The small changes you make today will yield huge benefits for the coming days. Eat and drink clean and smart so you will feel at your best and set 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
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Folks, We Have a
Every day a baby boomer is turning of age
By Mark S. Gardner
n fact, on average there are approximately 10,000 every single day turning 62. And National Averages of people who are 65 are now living 25 to 30 years into retirement. For many of us there are three major concerns. first one is a longevity problem the next one our health issues and the third not necessarily in any specific order is a concern that is on most people’s minds--will I outlive my savings.
gle, a retirement account is countable resource subject to spend down unless funds invested are into an annuity. The number one goal is for the individual to meet the resource limit without them spending their savings on said care. In doing so the goal is to have the government help pay for care costs
For most Americans, their largest assets are their homes and their retirement accounts.
However, teacher’s retirement accounts do not qualify for this exemption. The amount of countable resources a single person may have for Medicare eligibility is $2000. The maximum countable resources and married couple can have for Medicaid eligibility if their Social Security wages pensions and annuity income totals more than $3022 per month as 120,900. Depending if their income is less then the couple can protect a large portion of their assets without spend down qualifying for the government to help pay for some if not all the long-term care cost.
If you’re like many of the baby boomers they do not have long-term care insurance coverages. Since all are working years we paid into Social Security, FICA and Medicare many people feel that Medicare will take care of them if they go into an assisted living facility or nursing home or hospice.
Now the next question I have for you is do you have the old insurance policies or the new ones? Or do you even have an insurance policy? People are living longer today and the newer policies provide many benefits that the old ones didn’t offer. A small percentage of folks have either a long-term care policy or the new insurance policies that have a component for long-term care insurance features. Long-term Medicaid is “means-tested. This means that you must meet the resource test for the government to help pay for the care cost. Your home is exempt if the equity value is under $560,000 in Texas if the applicant is sin-
Texas is treating tax-deferred annuities within a traditional Ira, step or Roth are as non-countable.
Medicaid planning strategy of purchasing a tax-deferred annuity within a retirement account Is beneficial in three areas 1) the Medicaid applicant is single and has an IRA; 2) the Medicaid applicant is married and the couple’s combined income from Social Security, pensions, wages and annuities is greater than $3,022.50 per month; and 3) if the Medicaid applicant is married and has an IRA, but doesn’t want to withdraw from it since the Medicaid recipient must have
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less than 2000 of contributor will resources within one year resulting in income taxation. Medicaid requires all countable resources over $2000 be transferred to the will or community spouse within one year. If that happens and we didn’t change the nature of the investment to a tax-deferred annuity, then there will be taxation on the partners when they withdraw the same from their retirement account
Texas may be the only state where this works The proposed “Closed Annuity Loopholes and Medicaid Act” has negligible impact on the use of tax-deferred annuities and retirement accounts and planning for Medicaid eligibility, it should be noted that any governmental benefit is subject to politics. Financial advisors are strongly urged to consult with a knowledgeable elder law attorney before purchasing an annuity within an IRA if only purpose was to qualify for Medicaid.
Mark S. Gardner SW Regional Manager of RetireWellDallas & CPA Team Based Model 6060 North Central Expressway # 500, Dallas, Texas 75206 Mobile: 214-762-2327 Fax: 469-914-6088 email@example.com or markgardner@ RetireWellDallas.com www.RetireWellDallas.com or www.ConservProductsLLC.com
Will Budget Cuts Affect
Federal Employees? For months, federal employees have been anxious about the new administration’s plans for extensive budget cuts that would eventually lead to an increase in military spending.
he rumor mills haven’t helped either; many experts shared the belief that these potential cuts would affect tens of thousands of federal workers.
How did previous federal funding work? Traditionally, the common practice would be to continue funding at the same levels in these types of situations. However, it has been said that without additional funding, all sorts of budget cuts would have to occur, such as reductions in training, maintenance, repairs, deployments and military personnel reassignments. This creates a sense of urgency to correct the issue of supplemental funding as soon as possible.
When is the official 2017 federal budget proposal going to be revealed? In the meantime, the government is about to release a federal budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year in the beginning of May. An initial version has already triggered disagreements and sparked debate over potential budget cuts in federal agencies other than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security. These fights are likely to grow more passionate as more details are revealed about such cuts.
three respective departments, mainly the Department of Defense. If approved, this would have resulted in equal fewer jobs at the other agencies starting in October. The prelim federal budget proposal also suggested eliminating about 20 smaller federal agencies or sub-agencies and closing down many other government programs. With this significant budget cut from other federal agencies, layoffs would be inevitable, according to officials and various workers’ unions. For this reason, many federal workers are becoming concerned about job security. Government agencies are preparing for the worst by shaving percentages off of their own budgets.
What’s happening with the budget now? The administration has revealed in their latest proposal that they would like to increase the funding for homeland security and defense—as was expected—by $33 billion in the current budget proposal for 2017. This amount is due to be
What was the initial federal budget proposal? The preliminary federal budget proposal requested to move $54 billion from other government agencies to fund these
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partially offset by $18 million in budget cuts from other government agencies. How is Congress responding to this budget request? As of right now, Congress has postponed their decision until further notice.
What does this mean for federal employees? If approved, the latest federal budget proposal will likely threaten employee leaves, since the budget cuts would take place more than halfway through the 2017 fiscal year. Even if Congress holds off on addressing the April expiration date of a short-lived funding allowance that covered most government agencies, this same issue could still arise later in the year. Many federal workers are taking proactive steps to prepare for whatever ends up happening with this new budget. Some are considering early retirement, while others are willing to stick it out to wait and see how Congress responds to this new proposal.
Victory Isn’t for
“I built my talent on the shoulders of someone else’s talent”- Michael Jordan.
Archibald C Elliott
ne of the most important things when looking for success in anything is to find someone you can look up to. Someone who might have done what you’re trying to do or is an inspiration in some way, shape, or form. Michael Jordan as well as anyone who has ever been successful at anything will tell you that they drew inspiration from somewhere outside themselves. This inspiration doesn’t have to mean that you emulate or try to copy someone. In fact, your inspiration for success could be from someone that has accomplished something in a completely different field. Bruce Lee changed martial arts, he would look to other individuals and forms of martial arts that led him to be so creative and revolutionary. I will always look to others for inspiration
while trying to achieve personal accomplishments. It’s evident in the sports I compete in, jobs I’ve had, and the friends I associate with. It’s also evident in how I train. Primarily my training regimens are benchmarked from top athletes in various sports. From boxing and MMA, to football, basketball, and soccer, the idea is to highlight a small portion of what it takes to get to that elite level in hopes of continuing to inspire others as well as myself. I’ve had the privilege of not only training at high levels but also being around those who do. Being that close to the action, you adapt the mentality of what it takes. You then realize that victory isn’t for everyone. Sun Tzu in his infamous Art of War put it best when he said “Victory is reserved for those willing to pay the price”. That price is simply too high for some people.
I’ve compiled a list. 1. Imperfect action. No individual, spends too much time worrying about insignificant details. Scientific methods states for anything important to start, begin imperfectly and work towards perfecting it versus waiting till the time is just right. The time will never be just right for anything. You can read all you want to about it, but I promise you that you’ll be ahead of the game if you take a basic understanding and put it to use rather than sitting on an idea. I’m guilty of this. However, I’ve learned that if I just get started, even if it’s not perfect, I can correct actions along the way. Even if I’m wrong, I’ve gained experience that can’t be taught in books.
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2. Patience. This one gets everyone. It happens when you watch or see something or someone that inspires you to begin. Maybe it’s a sports figure or movie, whatever it is, it makes say “I’m going to do that”. Then you start doing it and you start to realize after a few days that it sucks. People that reach the highest levels of anything realize and appreciate the process. They understand that nothing happens overnight and that the “grind” is the best part of the process. 3. Intensity. If you were to see how some of the top Olympic or sport athletes train, it would blow your mind. Just the thought of 2 to 3 training sessions a day that last at least 2 hours a piece is hard for some people to wrap their minds around. Pushing yourself to the apex takes a commitment and desire that most will never understand. However, if you’re going to pay the price for victory, get used to pushing yourself to the limit. Find comfort in the discomfort. 4. Focus. Training is like being on a hill with a pair of skates. If you aren’t going forward, you’re going backwards and fast. When you’re competing at the highest levels of sport or business, there is no off season. Everything you do revolves around the goals you place for yourself. This isn’t to say you can’t take breaks every now and then, you must allow time for mental and physical rest. With clear understanding it’s to make you better, not a license to do whatever you want.
Archibald C Elliott is Founder of Symmetry Fitness (404)307-3421 www.acefitbody.net
HEALTH UNDER GOVERNMENT EMP LOYMENT
5 Summer Workouts
that are Actually Fun to Do Summer is finally here! There is a deep romantic bonding between summer and the outdoors.
ummer calls for more than just a verbal praise or gleefully peering outside through the window. This season motivates us to go outside and embrace what feels like a fleeting moment of perfect weather. Switch your workouts from inside to outside to take advantage of the beautiful weather and some outdoor activities that go with it. For some outdoor workout inspiration, take a look at the five alternative activities mentioned below.
Outdoor Yoga Take your yoga sessions outdoors. Yoga has always been known to be a stress-reliever; also take into account the facts that it improves your memory, relieves chronic pain, and even helps you get a better night’s rest. By taking the yoga outside, you are not only feeding your skin with more vitamin D but also making way for a greater calm to settle deep inside of you.
Beach Jogging If you live close to the beach, you are luckier than most people. Don’t just dillydally under the cool shade of an umbrella, take advantage of the sun and sand by jogging along the shoreline. Use this opportunity to take your regular jogging to a new level. It’s said that by running on the sand you burn 30% more calories than during a session on a typical terrain. The added effort you put in will strengthen your calves and ankles, reducing your risk of impact injuries.
Beach running can prove to be a challenging task, especially when one runs across the deep sand. When you are running on the beach, protection from the sun is a must. The heat radiating from the sun and the added reflection from the water are enough for anyone to wear an adequate amount of sunscreen. In addition to that, you can focus on your run better while wearing a hat and sunglasses.
Hiking Take leave from the mundane cor-
This form of exercising is beneficial for those who need more resistance within their workout routine without doing so much heavy lifting. After your tiring run, you have the added luxury of jumping into the ocean and cooling down.
Rock Climbing If you’re an adrenaline junkie this is something you have to try this summer! By rock climbing, you will test your boundaries and take your workout sessions to the next level. Rock climbing is a great way to work out your entire body and it enhances your muscle tonnage if you do it often enough. Plus, you will be faced with scenarios where you have to calculate your next move, the higher you climb, the more you enhance your natural skills along the way.
Hula Hooping Exercise doesn’t always have to be so serious! If you have children or a bigger family that are always looking for a recreational way to spend more time together, this is simple. Buy a couple of hula hoops and encourage your family to join in a silly session of hula hooping. You can even get competitive about it, by looking for who juggles their hoop the longest. It is a fun way of keeping kids active without forcing them, all the while burning a lot of calories. Don’t mistake it for a child’s toy, it has proven time and time again to be effective in helping adults to lose their weight and tone their body. After a long day of lazing at your desk, hula hooping can give strength to and tighten around thirty core muscles.
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porate world and go for an exhilarating hike outdoors. Hiking makes you use almost every muscle in your body, while also aiding in heart disease prevention and lowering blood pressure. On top of those health benefits, nothing beats the fresh air that you breathe and the aesthetic beauty will no doubt reduce your anxiety.
According to a study by Indiana University, it has been found that people when climbing rocks get into a trance, this can create euphoria and act as a barrier for pain. Other than this there are several benefits that climbing shares with other activities, such as the fact that it reduces stress levels. Head outside with the sunshine on your shoulders and try out all these workouts. Just remember to stay adequately hydrated and apply sunblock to your skin.
Healthy Alternatives for Junk Food
Snacking, in general, is not necessarily a bad thing, but junk food has given eating between meals a bad rap.
his has led many people to believe that any type of snack—regardless if it’s healthy or not—isn’t a good idea to have between meals. However, contrary to popular belief, many experts actually promote eating several small meals throughout the day, healthy snacks more so than junk food.
Healthy Swaps for Junk Food When planning all those wise meal choices and healthy snack swaps, it is important to compare your options. The following is a useful list of healthy snack food alternatives: • Popcorn: If full-fat microwave popcorn is your go-to snack, consider this food swap idea: try the fat-free version. If you purchase plain popcorn, it is okay to drizzle a little butter or reduced calorie (trans-fat free) spread. This way, you can control the fat portion. • Fresh fruit or smoothies: Fruit is always a smart healthy food alternative. If you want something a bit more filling, make a fruit and a dairy smoothie. • Ice cream: This is by no means meant to be an everyday snack, but there are good choices available when you crave ice cream. Many brands offer light versions with fewer calories and some with virtually no fat. There are also reduced calorie ice-cream bars; some even offer fiber!
• Cookies: Again, this is not a wise everyday snack choice, but okay for an occasional indulgence. There are fat-free, sugar-free food substitutions on the market, but they are not a good option if you end up eating a lot more of them. Your best bet is to try to avoid them entirely. • Cheese and crackers: Reduced fat cheese is a good healthy snack swap. Many light brands taste just as good as the original and even offer more protein. Select lower fat, whole grain crackers to enjoy with your cheese; high-fat crackers are usually full of harmful trans-fats. • Cereal: Stick with natural grain cereals that are high in fiber and low in sugar like oatmeal or farina. Choose a low-fat or fatfree milk to eat with your cereal. • Yogurt: A rich calcium source, yogurt is one of the best healthy swaps for junk food. It doesn’t even need sugar. Just add granola, fruit, or unrefined sugars—like a drizzle of raw honey or agave. • Frozen yogurt or fruit bars: These are excellent food alternatives on a hot day. Skip the ice cream and grab a 100 percent real fruit or yogurt bar—a snack that’s refreshing, delicious and nutritious. • Vegetables: The best healthy food swaps ever! If you’re trying to convince picky kids to eat healthy snacks, try serving raw vegetables; some children are turned off by
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the cooked texture. Also, experiment with a variety of choices and colors. Add assorted veggies on a platter and serve with flavorful dips, such as hummus or light ranch dressing. • Peanut butter: A nutritious food substitution—but again, in moderation. Keep the portion size to a tablespoon and serve with raw veggies, or whole grain toast or crackers. • Granola: If you are purchasing granola bars, keep in mind that chewy varieties have more fat and sugar than crunchy. Also, remember that healthy food alternatives are not covered in chocolate! If you have to, you can experiment and make your own granola at home; there are many good recipes available online. Common philosophy says that just like with your regular meals, your snacks should maintain a type of schedule as well. The best times for snacking fall right in-between meals, which is roughly every 3 to 4-hour interval. When you do snack, make sure you don’t eat to the point of being stuffed; the theme of this article is moderation. By keeping up with this type of snacking plan, you have the ability to eat regularly, and avoid the risk of overeating entirely!
Fitness Myths Debunked: Fitness Advice You Should Avoid
Regular exercise is becoming the new norm across the nation and around the world.
hether you work out once a week or every other day, continuously being active has shown to result in a healthier mind, body, and soul. As exercise becomes a more prevalent activity when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there is an increase in fitness trainers—experts and professionals who have specialized in knowing what are the best practices when it comes to working out. But, having one of these trainers as your personal mentor can be pricey, depending on your needs; some feel that they can learn all they need to know about their fitness regime online instead. However, with that comes the dangers of coming across the wrong fitness advice, from those who may not exactly be an expert in the field, and even from seemingly credited workout programs that promise certain results. We trust that you’ve already got a good fitness program in play; but for those of you still searching for fitness tips and advice, here are some pieces of fitness advice you should never follow:
1. Exercise = Weight Loss Absolutely false. This fitness myth tends to come from a multitude of workout programs, promising that a complete exercise program will help you shed pounds in a shorter amount of time. If your goal is to lose weight, exercise isn’t the (only) answer. Your diet plays a key factor in how successfully you’re able to manage your weight, whether if it’s how many calories you take in daily, or the kinds of foods you’re eating. It’s not completely about how much you’re actually burning off. While exercising does help, it can’t work alone. For the best results, maintain a regular balanced diet in addition to regular exercise. 2. “No Pain, No Gain” While this may sound motivational from a fitness trainer, it’s not exactly the best way to go about exercising. If you’re in severe pain, it’s not 100% because “your muscles are working hard,” or that they’re “improving.” Pain can also be a sign of damage, too. You also have to consider that maybe you didn’t stretch properly before the workout, or you’re just simply being too hard on your body. Always remember that there’s no need to push yourself to the point of pain; if you’re not an athlete, and just want to be active to stay healthy, there’s no reason
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to put yourself through any discomfort. In fact, you can actually still achieve the same benefits from working out by exercising or being moderately active multiple times a week for 30-40 minutes. This can include walking, jogging, swimming, or even participating in your favorite sport. 3. You Can Burn More Fat Working Out Before a Meal Working out before you’ve eaten can actually be quite harmful to your body—your muscles specifically. Your body breaks down the protein found in your muscles to use as energy while you are asleep. If you don’t provide your body or muscles with enough energy through food, especially before a workout, then your body will continue to break down your muscles to compensate, decreasing your overall muscle mass, and actually decreasing the rate of your metabolism. And yes, this means that working out before a meal is actually counterproductive to burning fat. As you embark on a new fitness routine, keep these common fitness myths in mind; if you’re trying to be active and healthy, just make sure you’re eating the proper diet and that you’re not putting your body through any more stress than it needs to
5 Tips to Eat Healthier at
Restaurants It’s easy to eat healthy when you plan and prepare the meals you eat at home; you have the ability to maintain full control of all the ingredients and portion sizes.
ut, when you indulge in dinner out on the town, it’s time to splurge and ignore all the rules. Right?
That’s fine if you only eat out occasionally. Special event? Go for the gusto and enjoy! But, if eating outside of healthy home cooked meals is part of your weekly routine, you may want to make eating healthy at a restaurant a regular habit.
The Healthy Eating Restaurant Guide Put the following five techniques into practice to help you start eating healthy at the best restaurants and still enjoy a satisfying meal:
1. Choose your restaurants wisely. Start by choosing restaurants wisely, especially if you want to stay on target with your fitness goals. It is no fun dining at a place that offers limited healthy options, and being forced to always abstain and use willpower. Choose restaurants that fit into any of these categories for the best healthy options: • Steakhouses – Steakhouses offer a variety of high-quality protein dishes with side vegetables for a great nutritious meal. They often offer dishes that are sure to fill you up fast and prevent you from overeating.
• Seafood – Seafood fare is a prime healthy choice if you live near the coast, and have access to fresh seafood. (Fast food chain restaurants don’t count here.) • Tex-Mex & Mexican – Mexican restaurants are known for their delicious, fattening food, but they also offer a good selection of healthy food options, like grilled chicken, shrimp, vegetables, and salad bowls. • American – American food restaurants may not be the best choice, but if you have limited options, there is always at least a salad or something grilled on the menu.
2. Review the menu before getting to the restaurant. At all the above-listed restaurant options, a healthy choice can be made. First, review the menu carefully. If you can, scout restaurants online first and do a preview of what they feature. Select what you want to eat before you get there so you don’t spend time wavering and possibly lose your will to order something healthier. If you will be dining with a group, speak up and place your order first. Don’t give in to the pressure of ordering unhealthy food because everyone else did.
3. Avoid starches at all costs if you can. Avoid too much starch, or just ditch it altogether. Most restaurants will give you the option of a protein with a carbohydrate,
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meat, and potato or rice, and/or a vegetable side. If you follow a Paleo diet, skip the carbs and add more veggies. If you are not following the Paleo craze and want to enjoy the starch, try switching sweet potato for white, or choose baked instead of French fries. If you want to add butter, you can, but avoid going overboard with sour cream.
4. Pick your salad dressing carefully. If you opt for a green salad at the restaurant, make sure you order it with dressing on the side. (Even if you get a Caesar salad.) This is because some restaurants may overdo the dressing; even if you’re eating a healthy salad, the dressing can quickly ruin your efforts in the right amounts. When choosing your salad dressing, stay away from creamy types; oil and vinegar varieties are best.
5. Say no to the dessert. Finally, decline dessert, and don’t just make it an option. Save the sweet stuff for special occasions, not as part of an everyday meal. Every calorie matters, so don’t load up on the empty ones. Although this may seem difficult when they have your favorite cheesecake on the front page of the menu, think about the health benefits you’ll reap by vowing to eat healthier, both at home and abroad!
Smile More: Your Mind, Body, and Soul Will Thank You Smiling has been shown to be more than just a response to something funny or sweet.
n fact, research suggests both involuntary—and even forced smiling—can have a powerfully uplifting effect on your mind, body, and soul. An upturn of the lips can also help lower stress levels, and lift the spirits of those around you.
Not ready to turn that frown upside-down? Here are some surprising benefits of smiling that should encourage you to smile more!
Just like laughing or yawning, smiling is contagious. Due to the intricate brain activity that takes place in the act of a smile, the gesture can be contagious. Science has found that by simply looking at a smiling person, that activates the brain location that controls facial movement, leading onlookers to mimic the grin. So, by smiling, not only are you making yourself feel better, you’re making the people around you feel good too!
A happy expression reduces stress and anxiety. It can be hard to smile during stressful times, yet, that is exactly what you should be doing! One of the health benefits of smiling is that it helps people recover from stress. Even an involuntary smile will help calm you down and lower your heart rate. Not convinced? Try smiling now! Do you at least feel a fraction better than you did before? According to research, you should!
By smiling, you lower the risk of heart disease. You read it right, smiling can lower the risk of heart disease! Not only are you reducing your levels of stress by smiling, you’re also preventing high blood pressure. Studies have shown that those who smile have
lower heart rates than those with a neutral or upset facial expression.
Smile more to release endorphins. Another benefit of smiling: it releases stress-relieving endorphins, the happy hormones. Endorphins help control anxiety; these are the same chemicals that are released during a strenuous workout or that famous high that keeps runners hitting the pavement for miles. So why don’t you save your feet the extra trouble, and smile more instead!
Improve your immune system by smiling. By smiling, you’re promoting a higher production of white blood cells, an important function of your body that helps fight disease by strengthening your immune system. In fact, one study revealed that children who were hospitalized and were visited by people who made them laugh and smile had a higher white blood cell count than those who remained neutral.
People who smile often are more attractive. A smiling face reflects the body, mind, and spirit. A balanced mind is very attractive, as is a happy expression. A person who smiles naturally comes off as approachable, empathetic, and easy going. Smiles are beautiful for many reasons; people aren’t attracted to frequent frowners. The next time you’re about to walk into an interview or meet someone new that you want to impress, try smiling more; it’ll make you more memorable. And, you’ll feel better about your social interaction, too!
People who smile appear more trustworthy. If you’re looking to boost your credibility,
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all you need do is smile more. Most people are not so trusting at first, but a smile can surely help put them at ease. Smiles are often associated with people who are trustworthy and even more competent. Smiling is a simple way to improve your mood, boost your health, make you and others around you feel better overall, and show that you are a person to be trusted—a loyal leader. When you find yourself in the throes of one of life’s tougher moments, try working that grin so you can take full advantage of the many benefits of smiling. Smile more!
The Story on Soy: Is it Good for You?
For a long time, soy has been the choice food alternative for traditional foods that are usually packed with protein.
any people—including those on vegetarian and vegan diets— have enjoyed the large amount of protein soy contains, in addition to the other benefits it offers. However, since soy has gained popularity in many diets and has been introduced as substitutes for foods such as milk, cheeses, and even certain meats, there has been some debate as to whether or not it really provides the nutritional benefits people claim it does. Here’s the real story on soy, to settle this debate once and for all!
The Cause for Debate The main reason why many people have started to argue recently that soy does not really produce the benefits previous experts claimed it did, is because there’s simply no clear evidence of this yet. Some researchers have found that soy could possibly affect menopause symptoms, the hardening of arteries, bone loss, mental abilities, and even certain types of cancers, but have not collected strong enough data to deem this as definite. And every time tests have been done, there are almost always mixed results.
ever, soybeans contain the largest concentration. Isoflavones are known to bind to estrogen receptors, which result in an increased exposure to estrogen. Science has shown that the excess estrogen can result in the development of breast cancer. However, other studies have linked eating decent amounts of soy with a decreased risk for breast cancer. 2. Is soy dangerous to heart health? This question has floated around for a while, but the decision is this: soy is actually good for your heart. Studies have suggested that foods with isoflavones may actually help lower blood pressure in young adults. Soy is also a healthier source of protein when it comes to your heart, especially when compared to meats with saturated fats.
What are the concerns over soy?
3. Is soy bad for the thyroid? So far, research has shown that soy does not have an effect on a normal functioning thyroid. However, this same research suggests that soy could potentially be dangerous for those who may already have existing thyroid problems—especially those taking medications for the condition. This is because soy products may interfere with how this medication is absorbed in the body, which can reduce the medicine’s effectiveness.
Another cause for the debate over soy are the multiple concerns some experts are having with the popular vegetable:
Soy’s Definite Health Benefits and Risks
1. Can soy cause breast cancer? Soy contains natural chemicals known as isoflavones. These plant chemicals can be found in a number of other legumes; how-
Soybeans—the source from which soy products are produced—alone have a range of health benefits to offer. For one, soybeans contain many important nutrients, including:
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• • • • • • • • •
Calcium Copper Folate Iron Magnesium Manganese Potassium Phosphorus Selenium
Soybeans also have large amounts of riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamins B6 and K. Keep in mind, however, with all of these nutrients also comes high amounts of phytates, substances that bind minerals together and reduces their ability to be absorbed in the body after consumption. In addition to its minerals, soybeans are also decent sources of protein compared to other plant proteins, especially for those on vegetarian and vegan diets who still need to consume a source of protein outside of meats. However, you’ll have to be careful on the type of soy food you consume; soy that has been processed at higher temperatures reduces the amount of protein it contains and its overall quality. Your best bet is to consume whole soybeans for the best source of protein. There are also quite a few other benefits and risks soy may have to offer that have still not yet been confirmed. Moral of the story? Like other foods, the best way to reap soy’s benefits and avoid its potential negative effects is to simply consume it in moderation.
Broccoli may not be a crowd favorite among children, but plenty of adults enjoy these healthy veggies for the numerous benefits they provide; besides being easy to incorporate into almost any recipe
hey have a large number of nutrients and minerals, making them definitely worth mentioning for this month’s nutrition spotlight! Here are some of the health benefits broccoli has to offer:
Nutrient Powerhouse Broccoli has a unique variety of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, ranging from significant amounts of vitamins C and K to other minerals such as manganese and phosphorus. These organic compounds work together to provide the body with a major health boost!
Cancer Fighter Studies have suggested that sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that can be found in broccoli and other “plantlike” foods, contributes to the green vegetable’s cancer-fighting abilities. Eating large amounts of broccoli has been associated with a reduced risk of developing certain cancers, such as lung, prostate, liver, kidney, and colon cancers. In addition, folate— another important vitamin found in broccoli—has shown to help decrease the risk of breast and uterine cancer in women. This is due to broccoli’s large amount of anti-carcinogenic compounds that help fight cancer.
Improves Bone Health Only one cup of broccoli contains nearly 92 micro
grams of vitamin K, which is actually well over the recommended daily value. For that reason, it is a choice vegetable when it comes to bone health because the vitamin K helps improve your bone health by allowing it to absorb calcium more effectively. And speaking of calcium, broccoli has that too! The same single cup of broccoli can contain almost 43 milligrams of it.
Makes You Look Younger Who knew that by eating broccoli, you can make your skin look younger? That’s right! Broccoli also contains the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C, which not only helps repair sun damage to the skin, it also reduces wrinkles, smooths the skin, and aids in the formation of collagen, a natural substance that allows your skin to stay taught instead of loose. This super food also has vitamins A and E, both minerals that are critical for healthy skin. Protects Your Eyes Broccoli’s zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, phosphorous, and vitamins A, B complex, C, and E are actually amazing for eye health. These nutrients and minerals help protect the eyes from macular degeneration as well as cataracts. On top of that, broccoli’s organic compounds have the ability to repair damage to the eyes from radiation.
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Prevents Heart Disease Broccoli contains a lot of natural fibers. Together, with its high levels of beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids, it can help reduce bad cholesterol as well as maintain your blood pressure. Another mineral in broccoli, chromium, aids in the regulation of insulin and blood pressure.
Natural Detox Broccoli’s natural fibers, when consumed, can improve your digestion by preventing constipation and helping you stay regular to excrete toxins from the body. Broccoli also has the ability to rid toxins from your body with its properties of vitamin C, sulfur, and certain amino acids. The types of toxins this powerful green vegetable can remove include free radicals and uric acid; by doing so, your blood is more purified and reduces the chances of you developing problems associated with these toxins, such as boils, gout, and certain skin diseases like eczema. For a long time, we’ve understood that by eating any type of vegetable, you can significantly reduce your risk of various health conditions. However, by including more broccoli in your life, you can lower your risk of cancer, and improve your bone, skin, and digestive health too! Add a serving of broccoli to your dinner plate today!
Home Remedies for
Headaches and Migraines Tension headaches are usually presented as pain stemming from the neck, shoulders, and scalp.
ension headaches are usually presented as pain stemming from the neck, shoulders, and scalp. A migraine, on the other hand, is a more severe, pulsating version that is often only on one side of the head, or temple. Unlike normal headaches, migraines are usually preceded by warning signs like numbness, tingling or visual aura. The symptoms are different for individual sufferers and can even vary from one migraine headache to the next. However, one thing everyone has in common when it comes to these conditions is this: itâ€™s never pleasant.
Prevention Against Headaches and Migraines Headaches and migraines occur for many reasons. While the most common culprit is stress, there are other factors that can increase your risk of developing one of these conditions. To prevent headaches from forming, avoid substances known for inducing the painful problem such as alcohol, MSG, too much caffeine, cheese, chocolate, fermented foods, and artificial sweeteners. If you still feel a headache or migraine brewing, steer clear of all electronic devices; this includes your mobile phone, tablet, and laptop. Try to ingest healthy foods at set intervals to keep your blood sugar at a steady level, and try to fit in 30 minutes of exercise at least three times per week and always remain hydrated. Doing so will promote regular blood flow to and from the head, and will help in preventing future headaches.
Natural Remedies for Headaches and Migraines
for 30 minutes. Remove with lukewarm water.
The first thing many people do when they start to feel pain is pop a pill. Others may experiment with something holistic like acupressure, or chamomile tea. No matter what type of treatment used, most are willing to try anything to end the misery; head and migraine relief rarely comes easily. Fortunately, here is a list of effective natural remedies for headaches that will hopefully help ease the pain and restore your well-being.
4. Simple stretches can sometimes reduce the severity of certain types of headaches. Try moving your chin up and down, then to the left and to the right. Bend your neck to one side, then to the opposite shoulder. You can also rotate your neck clockwise and counter-clockwise, slowly, to encourage the neck and shoulder muscles to relax.
1. Ginger is known for providing instant headache relief. This natural elixir reduces inflamed blood vessels, reducing headache pain. Since ginger is also good for digestion, is helps suppress nausea that often accompanies a migraine. Steep the root for tea, or juice it and mix with lemon.
5. An ice pack on the back of the neck may provide some migraine relief. The cold will help reduce pain-causing inflammation. It also provides a numbing effect. It has also been found that soaking feet in hot water can help reduce headache pain. To help fight a severe headache, add a small amount of hot mustard powder to the foot soak.
2. Peppermint oil opens clogged vessels in the head that cause pain. It also contains menthol, which enhances blood flow. Breathe in the aroma deeply or mix with almond oil and massage in your temples, or in the back of the neck. Lavender oil can also be inhaled, used as a massage oil or mixed with peppermint oil and added to a hot bath. Peppermint leaves can also be crushed and applied to the forehead or steeped into tea. 3. Cinnamon is a very effective at treating headache pain. Simply grind sticks down into a powder and mix with water to make a paste. Apply the thick mixture to your temples and forehead, lie down and let sit
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The next time you feel an intense headache or migraine coming on, try some of these tips at home to further ease your discomfort!
The Importance of Blood Pressure Checks Every time your heart beats, it’s pumping blood all around your body to provide it with the proper amount of energy and oxygen it needs to continue functioning normally.
s the blood flows and circulates throughout your body, it exerts a force on the sides of your blood vessels. How strongly the blood presses against the blood vessels is a measure of your blood pressure. A high blood pressure—also known as hypertension—is a common medical condition among older adults. Having a high blood pressure means that there is extra strain being put on your arteries and heart. If left untreated, this extra tension over time causes arteries to weaken, lose their flexibility, and grow thicker walls. When this happens, the interior of arteries become narrower, making them more likely to become clogged. A blood clot can become a very dangerous problem, that puts you at an increased risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
Checking Your Blood Pressure Your blood pressure is a reflection of your overall health. By checking and monitoring it frequently, you can better keep an eye on your bodily health and make sure you’re implementing healthy practices to keep it at its best. Fortunately, a routine blood pressure check is included in virtually all medical examinations. If a health issue arises, your primary doctor may order repeat blood pressure tests to screen for high or low blood pressure, prehypertension, heart disease, or other medical problems.
How Frequently Should Blood Pressure be Checked? A blood pressure check should be performed every two years as a preventative measure, beginning at age 18. For adults 40 and up, or 18 to 39 with a high risk of developing hypertension or heart disease, blood pressure should be read at least every year. If you are overweight or have a family history of heart conditions, your doctor may suggest screening at an earlier age. If an abnormal blood pressure has already been diagnosed, more frequent blood pressure checks will be needed. Whether or not you have a pre-existing condition or a family history, it is important for your doctor to monitor your blood pressure information. This ongoing data can provide vital information about the state of your health.
Checking Your Blood Pressure at Home Along with routine tests at your doctor’s office, it may be recommended that you keep track of your blood pressure at home. There are many easy ways to operate automated blood pressure models available for home-use. If you have hypertension, you are at a higher risk of developing future health problems; regular blood pressure checks at home can save your life.
Your Blood Pressure Reading Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers: your systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Your systolic blood pressure (recognized as the first or top number in blood pressure checking devices) is a measure of how much pressure your blood is exerting on your arteries every time the heart beats.
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Your diastolic blood pressure (recognized as the last or bottom number in blood pressure checking devices) is a measure of how much pressure your blood is exerting on the arteries in between heartbeats, or when your heart is at rest. With these measurements, doctors can understand your health and your risk for heart disease. There are five blood pressure ranges that are recognized in medicine: • Normal Blood Pressure – The optimal blood pressure range is 120/80 mm Hg or less. • Prehypertension – Also known as early stage high blood pressure, prehypertension is diagnosed with blood pressure measuring between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg. • Hypertension Stage 1 – 140/90 mm Hg – 159/99 mm Hg. Doctors may prescribe lifestyle changes and possibly low-dose medications to help reduce blood pressure. • Hypertension Stage 2 – Blood pressure reading of 160/100 mm Hg or more. Doctors will likely suggest lifestyle changes combined with blood pressure medications. • Hypertensive Crisis – Blood pressure of 180/110 mm Hg or more. If you are experiencing any form of chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty speaking, or weakness, call 911 immediately for medical attention. Fortunately, there are countless ways to take charge of your health so less strain is put on your heart and arteries, and you can maintain an optimal blood pressure reading!
Federal Agency Offering Government Workers Incentives
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that, pending the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) approval, it will offer early retirement benefits and buyout incentives to its federal government employees.
his may be one of many announcements being made by federal agencies, as a result of the administration’s reorganization plans for government agencies and
According to EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Michael Flynn, the agency’s goal with these new benefits and incentives for their federal employees is to be prepared for the now highly possible workforce reductions by the end of the 2017 fiscal year.
of at least 50 individual programs for the next fiscal year. For this reason, the EPA is becoming proactive by preparing a system for employees to have the option of early retirement as well as other buyout incentives as a safety net for employee financial security.
EPA Early Retirement Benefits Early out incentives permit federal government agencies to allow employees of 50 years of age of older, with a minimum of 20 years of service—or 25 years or more of service at any age—to retire early.
EPA Budget Cuts What makes the EPA so sure about these cuts? The EPA was originally targeted for extensive cuts in the preliminary budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. The administration’s more recent budget proposal for the EPA in the 2018 fiscal year have made the agency consider a more definite future. The administration’s plan is to be laid out in more detail in May, but the proposal includes a $5.7 billion budget, a significant 31 percent cut from 2017. This budget cut would force the agency to reduce their federal workforce by over 3,000 employees, which is about a fifth of the EPA’s entire workforce. In addition, this new budget would result in the elimination
Buyout Incentives With buyouts, agencies are allowed to offer federal employees who have served for at least three years up to $25,000 through a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (with OPM approval). For larger agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), this amount can be up to $40,000, pre-tax. However, if the government employee accepts this buyout incentive, and later decides to work for the federal government within a five-year time frame, they will have to pay back the entire balance.
Federal Agency Hiring In an effort to prevent more reductions in
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the workforce, the EPA is also going to continue its current hiring freeze, even though the federal government freeze no longer exists. Also, affected by the preliminary cuts, the State Department will follow suit, except for a few national security posts. In addition, TSA will only be hiring for front line positions. The official budget has not been decided; negotiations will take place in the coming months. However, a memo from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has recently circulated, mapping out new agency structures and federal government job cuts, assuming that all goes as planned. It also ensures fast consideration of buyout and early out requests, even though neither has been recommended or opposed.
The Future of Other Federal Agencies With the EPA taking the first step with implementing this early retirement and buyout program for federal employees at risk for these cuts, other federal agencies are starting to move towards a similar direction with other benefits and incentives. We may see this model begin to play a role across many federal agencies who are receiving cuts as a result of the new administration’s budget.
Did you ever turn down an invitation to an event that you regretted doing so later? How about accepting an invitation that you really, reall...
Published on May 19, 2017
Did you ever turn down an invitation to an event that you regretted doing so later? How about accepting an invitation that you really, reall...