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body. mind. spirit. A Times Union Publication

What's in Your Food? Probably some GMOs

Lose those last pounds




• The 411 on mascara wands • That time of the month • Is reconciliation possible?

April 2013

Buyer Beware!

The pitfalls of online buying

Marathon Mania

Why more women are going the distance

bite-sized lessons True Blue

You know that blueberries are good for you. But did you know that blueberries could help fight aging, combat disease, lower blood pressure, and protect the heart and brain? This little fruit softens dry skin, boosts your memory, and may even prevent cancer. Eating just a half-cup a day, fresh or frozen, is all you need to reap the benefits with only a mere 41 calories. Toss a handful of blueberries on your favorite foods, like cereal, salads, smoothies and yogurt, or try this easy, yummy salad, perfect for the season, with nuts and berries.

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Blueberry Salad Servings: 4 Prep Time: 5 min. Ingredients: 1 package Fresh Express® Baby Spinach Salad 2 ounces Cabot™ Shredded 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese 1/2 cup raw walnuts 1 apple, cut into bite-sized pieces 6 tablespoons Wish-Bone® Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing 1/2 cup Hannaford Croutons 1/2 cup fresh blueberries Directions: 1. Place greens into a large salad bowl. Add cheese, walnuts and apple pieces. 2. Drizzle with dressing and toss. Top with croutons and blueberries.

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body. mind. spirit.

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HealthyLife is published ten times per year. If you are interested in receiving home delivery of HealthyLife magazine, please call (518) 454-5768 or email For advertising information, please call (518) 454-5358. HealthyLife is published by Capital Newspapers and Times Union 645 Albany Shaker Road, Albany, NY 12212 518.454.5694 The entire contents of this magazine are copyright 2013 by Capital Newspapers. No portion may be reproduced in any means without written permission of the publisher. Capital Newspapers is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Hearst Corporation.





every issue

22 You’ve Come a Long Way, Lady

51 Ask Emma

  8 talk back

More women than ever are entering endurance races

26 That Time of the Month

What’s normal — and what’s not

30 The Keys to the Kitchen

Aida Mollenkamp answers all your cooking questions

36 Losing the Last 10

Drop those stubborn pounds

40 What’s On Your Plate?

Genetically-modified food?

44 From Hair to Eternity What extensions can do for your hair

Claim your space

52 Buyer Beware

Potential pitfalls in online buying

55 Act Like Adults!

Even adult stepchildren have needs

spirit 63 My Word

Learning to love the coffee bean


12 editor’s note 14 fit & fab 16 news & views 20 did you know? 34 owner’s manual

All about your spleen

70 cover model Q&A

Up close with Holly Mittan

65 Building Bridges

Moving from estrangement to reconciliation

68 Magic Wand

Not all mascaras are created equal


10 on the web

Hair and makeup by Kimberley’s A Day Spa, Latham, (518) 785-5868. Select clothing available at Boscov’s Clifton Park, Clifton Park Center, (518) 348-0800. On the cover: green top by Premise, white jacket and jeans by Calvin Klein, scarf by D&Y, earrings by Trifari, leather bag by Kenneth Cole. At right: dress by Ronni Nicole, bag by Nine West. Photos taken by Philip Kamrass at Rensselear Rail Station.

april 2013

68 70




talk back

The story behind the story from our contributors What’s in Your Food? Valerie Foster  I always read labels, but after reporting the GMO article, I realized that some ingredients I thought were OK are anything but. Who knew that soy and corn — which are in just about everything that is processed — is a GMO unless it’s organic. Label reading has now taken on a life of its own. See Valerie’s story on page 40.

Marathoning Mommas Laurie Lynn Fischer  There are different versions of how the marathon originated. They all date back to an ancient-Greek messenger who ran a long way. Though the roots of the endurance race are more than 2,000 years old, it has taken women less than 50 years to narrow the gap with men in terms of participation — especially in the half-marathon. We’re off to an amazing start. See Laurie’s story on page 22.

join the conversation!

! n i w or a Like us f o win chance t of all kinds ! free stuff HealthyLifeNYmagazine

“Try harder and don’t give up if your goal is a healthy one.” Beth Cooney  When your goal weight eludes you by one jean size or a few pounds, it can be incredibly frustrating. The truth about shedding the last 10 pounds is that it takes scrupulous attention to detail, certainly lots more than the first 10 pounds. The takeaway from my chat with the experts: Try harder and don’t give up if your goal is a healthy one. See Beth’s story on page 36.

Don’t Drink and Click! Cari Scribner  The biggest eye-opener for me was realizing that if I don’t pay off my credit card in full each month, I start accruing interest, meaning those online “bargains” aren’t such a great deal after all! See Cari’s story on page 52.


Brianna Snyder  It might seem as if hair extensions are a frivolous investment, but it turns out to really be about boosting your self-esteem. Women with thin or fragile hair — or, in some cases, women who’ve lost all their hair in chemotherapy treatments — really get a big lift from seeing themselves with lovely and lustrous full heads of hair. That’s certainly anything but frivolous. See Brianna’s story on page 44.

That Time of the Month Cathleen F. Crowley  Thanks to a new classification system, diagnosing and treating abnormal periods is more standardized today. Before the international guidelines came out in 2011, even doctors used confusing and inconsistent language to describe symptoms. See Cathleen’s story on page 26.

We asked, you answered!  What’s everyone making for dinner tonight? Inspire the rest of us! Taunia: hmm, feels like a ‘comfort food’ kind of night ... so maybe meatloaf and mashed potatoes? Alicia: Crockpot Irish stew and dumplings! Merci: Leftover pork chops cut up with leftover beans and rice and put in a burrito! Melissa: Homemade chicken noodle soup loaded with veggies!


Giving Your Hair New Life

Those Last 10 Pounds

 This weekend, I’m going to ... Bichi: Clean for an hour, relax for four. Then repeat a few times!

 My favorite, can’tdo-without-them brand of tweezers is … Crystal: From Avon. I’ve had them for years and they’re still the sharpest and most precise. Cute pink case too!

download the form from their website and pay shipping. Last for years!

 What’s everyone’s favorite funny movie? Anne: Three Amigos; Airplane; Annie Hall. Whoa, I must be old!!! Charmaine: Airplane, also When Nature Calls and Super Troopers. LeAnn: Trains, Planes, and Automobiles!

Debra: Tweezerman for sure.

Krista: Slap Shot!

Alayne: Tweezerman. You can have them sharpened for free. Just

Molly: Who could forget about Keeping the Faith?

Danielle: Maid in Manhattan!

Kevyn: Dumb and Dumber!

Which hospital provides the best results for patients with complex neurological and neurosurgical needs?

The Answer is Albany Med.

We offer breakthrough treatments by world-class specialists, the most advanced procedures available, and state-of-the-art operating and treatment suites. Our collaboration and expertise provide the best outcomes for our patients. When you need expert care for your brain, spine and nervous system,


on the web HealthyLifeNYmagazine

check out the healthylife channel

Read our Q & A with model Holly Mittan on page 70, and head online for more pictures and a look behind the scenes.



GET THE RECIPE We loved Aida Mollenkamp’s new cookbook. Read all about it on page 30; then head online to get a recipe for Curried Chicken Soup with Roasted Peanuts.

WATCH VIDEOS Midlife Mom Rebecca Haynes, editor of HealthyLife Connecticut, offers her perspective on life and motherhood while she navigates the teen years and beyond.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVES Digital Assets All your online data is valuable. What’s going to happen to it when we die? Find out how to manage those challenges at

Healthy Tips

Not all mascaras or wands are the same! Read all about it on page 68. Then watch our video on the best ways to apply!

Writer and freelance editor Beth Cooney scans the web to bring you the latest info and tips for healthy living.

Healthy Life

E-Records What are the advantages and disadvantages of electronic medical records? Find out on our website.



Writer and designer Carin Lane shares her success stories with losing weight her way — without a gym membership, a personal trainer, or special foods.

Hair extentions ... ever wondered what they’re all about? Read the article on page 44. Then see how they work in our exclusive video. Got a smartphone? Scan the QR code at right to link directly to our YouTube playlist. 

Photos/Illustration Computer mouse, ©Irina Iglina; Locked laptop, © Winterling; Internet icons, © Darkworx.


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editor’s note

Healthy Eating

PHoto by Krista Hicks Benson.


pride myself on eating fairly healthfully. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 30 years and I try to buy organic foods as much as possible. Turns out that may not be enough. While I’ve been generally aware of the debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the food industry, I had no idea how widespread the use of GMOs are in food production until I edited our story on page 40. According to the Coalition of States for GMO Labels — and New York is one of the 30 member states — 80 percent of the processed foods we eat contain GMOs. The five main GMOs found in these processed foods are corn, canola, soy, sugar beets and cotton seed. Nor are we safer by trying to eat more fresh produce. Genetically modified produce is increasingly common on supermarket shelves. Whether or not GMOs are a health problem is still up for debate, but if knowledge is power, it seems only fair that consumers be given the information to make the food choices they want. HL


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news and views compiled by beth cooney

Moms Pay the Price at Work cleaning and carpooling) may sacrifice when it comes to workplace career advancement. A new study out of the University of California finds that all things being equal, female professionals are less likely to pursue promotions and other job advances when they are also chief executives at home. “It appears that being in charge of household decisions may bring a semblance of power to women’s traditional role, to the point where women may have less desire to push against the obstacles

to achieving additional power outside the home,” says UC Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen, a co-author of the study. While household decision-making power was highly valued by both men and women who participated in the study, women reported that high-level domestic duties made them less likely to pursue promotions and other career advancement steps at the office. This was not the case with men, whose professional goals were not affected by their domestic roles, according to the researchers. source:

A New Wrinkle for Overactive Bladders

Pollen Exposure and Asthma


the faces of Hollywood celebrities. Injections of the botulism derivative, which have also been used to treat migraines and stop profuse sweating, have recently been approved by the FDA for the treatment of overactive bladder. Overactive bladder is a condition that occurs when the bladder squeezes too often or without warning. Often common in women who’ve had babies or who have gone through menopause, its symptoms include leaking urine and feeling the sudden and frequent urge to urinate. In a statement announcing its approval of Botox as a treatment for the disorder, the FDA noted that clinical studies have found that when the drug is injected into the bladder muscle, it causes it to relax, increasing storage capacity and reducing episodes of incontinence. Injecting the bladder with Botox is performed using cystoscopy, a procedure that allows the doctors to see the bladder interior during the injection process. source:



A mother’s exposure to pollen during pregnancy may play a role in childhood asthma.

IT’S WELL ESTABLISHED that there’s a connection between certain allergies and asthma in children, but new research takes the connection a step further. It suggests that a mother’s exposure to pollen during pregnancy may play a role in childhood asthma. Researchers at Sweden’s Umea University studied data gleaned from more than 100,000 pregnancies and births in the Stockholm area. They found when women were exposed to heavy amounts of pollen during the last 12 weeks of their pregnancies, asthma hospitalization rates for their offspring were especially high. (The analysis was adjusted for exacerbating factors such as smoking and fluctuations in seasonal pollen rates.) Researchers have several theories on why asthma rates seem to be higher in children born to these mothers. One possibility is that the exposure somehow triggers an immune system reaction in the infant in utero. Or, they suggested, it’s also possible that pregnant women who have a severe reaction to asthma may suffer complications that can affect their children such as premature births, a known risk factor in childhood asthma. Further research into the cause-and-effect relationship, they say, is warranted. source:

Photos:; Woman at work, © Monkey Business Images; Lily, © Lepas; Man and Woman, © Nyul; Berries, © Zhekos.

MOMS WHO DO ALL THE HEAVY LIFTING at home (think cooking,

The Sleep-Love Connection LONG-TERM COUPLES in a romantic rut often complain

their partners take them for granted and don’t express appreciation for all the loving things they do on a typical day. The culprit for that indifference? It just may be sleep deprivation, according to a new study out of the University of California. “Poor sleep may make us more selfish as we prioritize our own needs over our partner’s,” says Amie Gordon, a UC Berkeley psychologist and lead investigator of the study, which she conducted with UC Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen. Their findings were recently reported at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychologists. More than 60 couples, with ages ranging from 18 to 56, participated in the study. In one experiment, participants kept a diary of their sleep patterns and how a good or bad night’s rest affected their appreciation of their significant other. In another experiment, they were videotaped engaged in problem-solving tasks. Those who had slept badly the night before showed less appreciation for their partner. Overall, the results showed poor sleepers had a harder time counting their blessings and valuing their partners. How to remedy that? “Make sure to say to say ‘thanks’ when your partner does something nice,” suggested Gordon. “Let them know you appreciate them.” Oh, and try to get a good night’s rest.

BERRY Good for Your Heart


ONCE AGAIN, science is giving us a reason to nosh on

blueberries and strawberries. This time nature’s sweet treats, which have been linked to everything from the prevention of cancer to the onset of dementia, are now being praised for their ability to prevent heart attacks. That’s good news for women, who can still claim heart disease as their number-one health risk. A new study, recently reported in the journal Circulation, gleaned its data through the famed Nurses’ Health Study, which has examined the health of a large group of young and middle-age women spanning an 18-year period. In this study, women’s diets were analyzed and correlated to the number of reported heart attacks. The data found that women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries were 32 percent less likely to have heart attacks than their peers. This number remained high even when the berry eaters were compared to women who otherwise ate copious amounts of fruits and vegetables. Researchers believe the results may be attributable to high levels of compounds in berries that can potentially clear arteries of plaque buildup that can cause heart attacks. Considering that berries are a delicious low-calorie snack, what better way to eat to your health. source: continued on page 18 


news and views

On Your Dime

New Guidelines for

Lung Cancer Screening

IS YOUR COLLEGE STUDENT an academic slacker? Or


most devastating and fatal of all cancers. One reason it’s been so difficult to detect is the lack of simple, low-risk tests that can spot it in its earliest, most treatable stages. Now, new recommendations from the American Cancer Society have the potential to lead to earlier diagnosis for some high-risk groups, most notably heavy, long-term smokers ages 55 and beyond. The new guidelines were published recently in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. There are some risks associated with CT scans because they are a type of x-ray and involve some radiation exposure. The tests also can turn up false positives, which may lead to unnecessary follow-up tests, biopsies and, in some cases, dangerous complications. For that reason, the ACS is only recommending these tests be done routinely on former heavy smokers and current smokers. The American Cancer Society’s new screening guidelines include current smokers and those who have quit within the last 15 years. While the group says the screenings will save lives, there’s still a long way to go. Lung cancer kills about 160,000 Americans each year. source:

Flu Vaccine Protects Unborn Babies

have those high school honor roll grades slipped into a category that’s more Bminus than A-plus? The reason, according to an intriguing new psychological study out of the University of California, may have to do with who is bankrolling the bills. And if the answer is mom and dad, chances are your child may be officially in the coasting category. It turns out that college students whose parents significantly underwrite their higher-education costs are more likely to have their grades slip than those young adults who pay their own way or rely on grants, loans, work study, veteran’s benefits and scholar-


tating flu epidemic, this news should be especially interesting to pregnant women, women planning to conceive, and their doctors: A new study out of Norway suggests that two groups especially vulnerable to flu exposure — namely pregnant women and babies in the womb — truly benefit from being vaccinated. Many people get nervous about taking preventive vaccines for diseases and viral illnesses such as the flu because they worry about exposure to the small amounts of virus contained in the shots intended to build protective immunities.

ships. (Researchers noted these funds are increasingly difficult to access.) The study did have a silver lining that may have some tuition-burdened parents breathing a sigh of relief: The parent-supported students included in the study had lower grades but higher graduation rates than their self-supporting peers. “Students with parental support are best described as staying out of serious academic trouble, but dialing down their academic efforts,” UC researcher and sociologist Laura Hamilton wrote in the study, which recently appeared in the American Sociological Review. source:

But researchers funded by the Norwegian Institute for Public Health found in a comprehensive study of pregnant women in their second and third trimesters that mothers receiving the flu vaccination did not have higher rates of infant mortality and there was some evidence that receiving the vaccine may have improved the infant’s odds of survival. The study, reported in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, involved a comprehensive look at expectant Norwegian mothers during a 2009 flu pandemic. source:

Photos:; Baby, © Teraberb; Books, © Micah Olson; Blackberry, © Coldsilence; iPhone © Dmyla.

continued from page 17

Brown Eyes Have It WHEN IT COMES TO WINNING peo-

ple’s trust, it’s the brown-eyed girls (and boys) who come out on top over their blueeyed rivals. Czech researchers, studying the impact certain facial features such as shape and eye color had on making an impression, found there were certain traits that made others rate strangers shown to them in pictures as trustworthy. When it comes to eyes, they found that it’s brown eyes (not beguiling blues) that were rated high on the trust meter. But the researchers noted it was not brown eyes alone that seemed to elicit trust. Rather, it was overall features (including face shape), coupled with brown eyes, that study subjects noted were appealing, specifically rounder, softer features, rather than thinner, angular features. The study was reported recently in the journal Plos One. source:

Blackberry vs. iPhone:

The Health Winner Is ... SINCE THEY HIT THE MARKET, us-

ers have debated ad infinitum the relative merits of owning a Blackberry or an iPhone. Now the health community is weighing in. And in the case of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, they’ve declared a clear winner for your health. Drum roll please, it’s the iPhone that gets the doctors’ organization’s thumbs-up for being relatively free of allergens in its materials. Specifically, the ACAAI cited Blackberries as potentially dangerous for the presence of nickel, a known allergen than can cause rashes and flaky patches along the cheek, chin and ears when it is pressed against the face. “Approximately onethird of all Blackberries contain nickel, but neither cobalt nor nickel was detected in iPhones or Droids,” allergist Dr. Tania

Mucci, lead study author, says in an ACAAI press release. The organization notes that Blackberry users with known allergies should limit long conversations, use their phones for texts and e-mails, and reduce time spent handling their phones if they notice symptoms. The ACAAI also suggests using plastic phone cases and earpieces for further protection. The findings were reported at the ACAAI’s 2012 annual meeting. source:


fast facts

did you know?

compiled by brianna snyder

50 percent Over 50 percent of people older than 64 years old suffer from some type of sleep disorder.


In 1977, Wesley Paul, an 8-year-old from Columbia, Mo., became the youngest person ever to complete the New York City Marathon with a time of 3:00:37. This was before the marathon began enforcing an age minimum of 16, later bumped to 18.

Approximately 70 percent of women of menstruating age use tampons. A woman may use nearly 11,400 tampons in her life.

The first known heart medicine was discovered in an English garden in 1799. Physician John Ferriar noted the effect of dried leaves of the common foxglove plant on heart action. Still used in heart medications today, the plant slows the pulse and increases the force of heart contractions and the amount of blood pumped per heartbeat.

source: tinyurl. com/hl13period

source: tinyurl. com/hl13heart






Photos: Foxglove, © Vilor/; Tampon, ©; Illustration: ©


Photo: David H. Lewis/GettyImages.

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You’ve Come a Long Way, Lady more women than ever are entering endurance races


egend has it that a Greek messenger dropped dead after running non-stop for miles during the Battle of Marathon. How times have changed since 490 BC. During the first modern Olympics in the 19th century, the marathon race was strictly for men. It was still all-male in the 20th century, when the distance was standardized at just over 26 miles. Not so in the 21st century. “Men used to dominate the sport,” says Cathy Sliwinski of Albany, codirector of the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon and Half Marathon. “If you went back 10 years, you’d see a remarkable difference.” Female participation rose in the Mohawk Hudson River Half Marathon from 52.3 to 67 percent between 2002 and 2012, and in the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon, from 37.1 to 44.5 percent between 2006 and 2012, says Albany Running Exchange President Josh Merlis. The numbers are jumping “across the board,” he says. “The longer the race, the higher the percent increase of women.”



Nationally, the number of female race finishers rose from 25 to 55 percent between 1990 and 2011, according to Why are so many women hitting the pavement? “People have their bucket lists,” says Sliwinski, who has completed more than 100 half marathons and marathons. “(It) is an attainable goal. Women are increasing the popularity of the sport. They’re the planners.” Running is also easier to make happen in the juggling act that is many women’s lives than, say, getting to a Zumba class at a certain time.“It’s uncomplicated,” Sliwinski says. “You just need a pair of sneakers. You can run outside any time of day or night that you want to. It’s a stress releaser. It’s a wonderful way to keep your weight under check and feel good — like you’ve accomplished something.” Sliwinski got her start running alongside her children on their bikes. Later, she trained with her husband. “It was probably the most wonderful thing we ever did for our marriage,” she says. continued on page 24 

Photos:; Footprints, © Zelli. Race, © Michael Spring.

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         

The social aspect of the sport is also rewarding, says Sliwinski. “You have friends that you can go out and run with and talk to and go out for breakfast (with) afterward,” she says. “Sometimes they’re marketed as a destination race, so you can go to Florida or Hawaii with your girlfriends. For the last two years, my girlfriends and I have tried to do a half marathon a month. It’s our excuse to go away for the weekend.” Saratoga Stryders member Laura Clark has raced as far as 50 miles on roads and trails. “It just seems to be the thing to do right now,” she says. “A long-term goal, as opposed to just a short-term goal, is appealing. It’s not easy, but it gives you a certain sense of satisfaction. It’s kind of an empowering feeling. You figure if you do something like that, you can probably do anything.”



Photos: Sneakers, © Blasbike; Woman finishing race, © Gregory Johnston;


unning is not without risks. Once, in the Adirondack Marathon, Clark saw a bear on the roadside. Overexertion is a bigger threat. “If you go too far too fast too soon, you’re going to get burned out or injured,” she says. Heat is another danger. “When I did Boston, it was one of those horrendous years,” Clark recalls. “It was 90 degrees. It looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. They had all these emergency vehicles on the side.” Traffic and safety are also hazards. “We’ve had nearmisses,” Sliwinski says. “We try to run in places with shoulders on the road. We run facing traffic and we do a lot of our training at the state office campus and SUNY. It’s lit. Everybody wears reflective gear or head lights when we run at night.” Half marathons are easier to undertake than marathons, Sliwinski says. “My first marathon, I felt like it was a parttime job,” she says. “You have to train consistently during the week and put in some longer miles during the weekend. Half marathons seem to be very popular because it’s a doable distance. You can usually fit your life around your training — much more than a marathon.” Those who prefer structured training options have plenty of local options. Team Utopia has a coach, a nominal annual fee, and a group that trains together. The Albany Fleet Feet Sports store’s Fleet Feet Distance Project is pricier. It includes training, mentoring and coaching. Your first marathon is probably the hardest, says Clark. “The toughest part of a race is getting to the starting line,” she says. Part of that has to do with the psychology of marathons, Clark says. “A lot of the wall is mental,” she says. “You get into patches where everything is really awful, and you just want to give up, but if you keep on going, it’s fine. Crossing the finish line mostly feels really good. It’s a good sense of accomplishment. It’s something large.”  HL

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female health

That Time of the


what’s normal — and what’s not


t age 41, Jennifer’s period became erratic. One month was heavy, the next was light, and there was bleeding in between. Jennifer, a medical transcriptionist from Latham, talked to her doctors, had a few tests and learned nothing was wrong. “Then it went away,” she says. Normal is hard to define when it comes to periods. Some women bleed long and heavy. Others breeze through each cycle. “There is a wide range of what is normal,” says Dr. Mary Joyce McGinnis, of McGinnis Women’s Medical Care in Albany. Menstruation is the regular shedding of the uterine lining. Every month, a woman’s body prepares for pregnancy. If



no pregnancy occurs, the uterus casts off its lining and the blood and tissue are expelled. Periods usually start around age 12 and continue to menopause around age 50. On average, a woman’s period occurs every 28 days but normal cycles range from 24 to 34 days, according to the National Institutes of Health. Most periods last 3 to 5 days, but anywhere from two to seven days is normal. Between 9 percent and 14 percent of women of childbearing age have irregular menstrual cycles or excessively heavy menstrual bleeding, according to the NIH. How do you know when something is wrong? Gynecologists say talk to a doctor about anything that deviates from your normal cycle or anything that concerns you.

Photo: Jeffrey Coolidge/GettyImages

by cathleen f. crowley

Here are some of the common problems that send women to the doctor: My period is heavy It looks much worse, but experts say women lose only two to three tablespoons of blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Women with heavy flow may lose twice as much blood and may develop anemia. A technique that helps measure is tracking how many tampons or pads you use. Generally speaking, soaking through a tampon or pad every hour for two to three hours in a row is considered excessive. “If you have a lady who bleeds so heavily she misses work, or has to take two sets of clothes to work or doesn’t leave the house for two days, it is a lifestyle thing but it is also not normal,” McGinnis says. “In today’s world, it’s going to be difficult for somebody to hold a job or function in the world if they are constrained by how much they are bleeding.” Excessive bleeding can be a sign of sexually transmitted infections and ovulatory disorders and can be a risk factor of endometrial cancer. Most cases of heavy bleeding are not caused by an underlying problem, however; it’s just how your body works. The good news is treatments do exist that can help control it. “I think most doctors actually take it more seriously than patients do,” McGinnis says. “I get the attitude from patients who say ‘My mother said she bled like this.’ But it’s 2013, not 1913.” My period is irregular Timing is everything. Cycles that are shorter than three weeks or longer than six weeks are worth talking to a doctor about, especially if you’ve previously been as regular as the lunar cycle. Spotting and mid-cycle bleeding also can be signs of a problem. Hormonal changes, excessive exercise, stress, and of course, pregnancy, can cause changes in a woman’s cycle. Gynecologists recommend keeping a calendar of when your period starts and There’s an app for that, too. “I have had patients who have come in with spreadsheets of every period they have had their entire life from the age of 12 and it’s been 25 years,” McGinnis says. “That is a little obsessive, but it can be helpful for people to record the first day of a period.” My period hurts Some discomfort is normal during a period, but severe pain is not. Pain is more common among teenagers and young women during the early years of menstruation. Pain that develops later in a woman’s life may be related

to something more serious such as endometriosis, infection or fibroids. About 30 to 40 percent of women have fibroids — an overgrowth of the uterine muscle — says Dr. Melody Bruce, an OB/Gyn with Community Care Physicians in Clifton Park and Troy. “They are almost always benign,” Bruce says. If you feel pain, check with your doctor. What are those chunks? Blood clots are completely normal during a period. They occur when blood flows slower and has time to coagulate before being expelled. A sudden appearance of a large number or size of clots is worth mentioning to a doctor, but otherwise, they are nothing to worry about. “It’s not a sign that you are hemorrhaging,” Bruce says. It is blood doing what it is supposed to do. Hemorrhaging, however, appears as bright red blood that soaks through pads quickly and runs down the legs. It requires immediate attention. Oh, it’s just perimenopause After age 40, a woman’s menstrual cycle becomes less regular as her hormones shift and start to shut down reproduction. This process, called perimenopause, can last two to eight years until periods stop entirely. It is common for periods to become lighter and less frequent during perimenopause. continued on page 28 

See your doctor about your period if: • Your period suddenly stops for more than 90 days.

• You have severe pain during your period.

• Your periods become very irregular after having had regular, monthly cycles.

• You are bleeding more heavily than usual or using more than one pad or tampon every one to two hours.

• Your period occurs more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days. • You are bleeding for more than seven days. • You bleed between periods.

• You suddenly get a fever and feel sick after using tampons. • You bleed after menopause.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health


Photo: © sjlocke.

female health

continued from page 27

“I have numerous ladies in their 40 to 55 age range that are bleeding continuously, bleeding heavily, bleeding through their clothes who tell me, ‘Oh, it’s just part of menopause. I didn’t worry about it,’” McGinnis says. “Frequently, what they are telling me would not be normal — ever.” It should be investigated. I’m bleeding after menopause A woman is officially in menopause one year after her last period. “After menopause, you should not bleed,” McGinnis says. Most bleeding is benign, but it can be a sign of uterine cancer. Get it checked out. What’s next? Talk to your doctor about your concerns. “There’s a new focus on getting women to understand that there is more to gynecological care than the pap smear,” McGinnis says. “If you’ve had a pap smear (that is normal) it





Between percent and percent of women of childbearing age have irregular menstrual cycles or excessively heavy menstrual bleeding, according to the NIH.

doesn’t mean you ignore abnormal bleeding.” In 2011, the International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians released a classification system that places abnormal bleeding into nine basic categories. Previously, the nomenclature was confusing and inconsistent. The new system helps doctors diagnose and treat abnormal bleeding. Your gynecologist may order tests such as a pelvic ultrasound, endometrial biopsy, hysteroscopy (a scope to view the uterine cavity) or a sonohysterogram (another type of ultrasound).

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Menopause: This is the time in a woman’s life when her period stops. It usually occurs naturally, most often after age 45. Menopause happens because a woman’s ovary stops producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for one year. Changes and symptoms can start several years earlier.

Life is a journey. Wear comfortable shoes.

Postmenopause: The period after menopause when female hormones no longer go up and down the way they used to during the menstruation cycle. They will stay at very low levels. Postmenopausal women cannot get pregnant. Source: National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health NEW

Women today have many options for dealing with abnormal bleeding from birth control pills, IUDs, medications that staunch the flow on heavy days or minor surgery. “There are so many treatments now for abnormal bleeding, or excessive bleeding, that the number of hysterectomies in this country has been dropping steadily for years because we no longer just have to take out somebody’s uterus,” McGinnis says. The vast majority of problems are not serious. “It could be be nothing, or it could be something,” says Jennifer, the medical transcriptionist. It’s worth a chat with your doctor. HL










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The Keys to the Kitchen Kingdom

aida mollenkamp answers all your cooking questions by janet reynolds |  photos by alex farnum/chronicle books


hether you’re an experienced cook with decades under your spatula or a relative newbie who knows a little but could really use a primer, Aida Mollenkamp’s new book Keys to the Kitchen, can help take your cooking to the next level. Former host of the Food Network’s Ask Aida and the Cooking Channel’s FoodCrafters, Mollenkamp offers straightforward advice on everything from prepping to poaching (for the newer cook) to something she calls The Riff, a section for more experienced or adventurous cooks who want to learn how to get away from obsessively following recipes to cooking from the hip. In this section, she offers over 100 additional cooking ideas, including how to reinvent last night’s



Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen: The Essential Reference for Becoming a More Accomplished, Adventurous Cook, photographs by Alex Farnum, Chronicle Books, 448 pages, $35

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leftovers. And who doesn’t need to know that? One section, called Label Lingo, helps you figure out — finally! — the meaning behind the labels manufacturers place on their foods. What, for instance, is the difference between heritage and heirloom crops? Mollenkamp also includes a helpful drawing of pigs, poultry, fish and beef with all the sections labeled. You’ll never wonder about the difference between a Boston shoulder and picnic shoulder again. She also explains basic tools and their purpose, certain assumptions you should make about all recipes — produce, for instance, should be ripe — and the differences between minced, finely chopped, medium dice, etc., complete with helpful drawings. The recipes are just as clear and include difficulty ratings as well as total time and hands-on time. Each includes tips as well. “Cracked bulgur is cracked wheat that is the same size as cornmeal and is used to make tabbouleh,� she writes in the margins of her recipe for eggplant casserole with pine nut-yogurt sauce. “If you can’t find it, you can use quinoa (cook according to package directions) or leave it out.�


ollenkamp says she decided to write the book in part because she kept being bombarded by questions from family and friends. The Millennial generation — of which she is a member — loves to eat, she says, but generally doesn’t know how to cook well. “[In] my age group you see a lack of home economics [training] in the schools and then as a result of modern conveniences you see people marketed to that it’s a hassle to cook. I wanted to take a stand against that,â€? she says. “Anybody can put dinner on the table if you know some basic skills in 30 to 40 minutes.â€? Mollenkamp also wants to help more experienced cooks get out of their culinary ruts. “One of the things I stand by is every time you enter the market, every time you sit down to eat or cook, you have a chance for a food adventure.â€? “People who are confident in the kitchen, the majority are stuck or not comfortable going out of their comfort zone,â€? she continues. “I wanted to help them get beyond that. I wanted to help them riff and get beyond that.â€? Mollenkamp says she gets her cooking inspiration from her life experiences. She has traveled a fair amount and grew up in Los Angeles, a city known for its multi-ethnicity. “I turn to the flavors of Latin America, the Middle East and Asian groups because I grew up around them,â€? she says. The key to good cooking — and what Mollenkamp hopes readers will take away from her book — is to relax. “It’s that riffing concept,â€? she says. “I hope they are comfortable enough in the kitchen that they can make the food their own.â€? see recipe on page 32â€‚ď ľ

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cookbook continued from page 31

Chipotle Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs and Avocado ingredients for the eggs 8 cups water 1 teaspoon vinegar (optional) 4 large eggs for the hash 1 yellow onion, diced small kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste 1 green pepper, diced small 1 pound sweet potatoes, diced small 1 clove garlic, minced 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, minced 1 /2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or water 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced or 1/4 teaspoon dried 1 medium ripe avocado, sliced for garnish sour cream, optional method for the eggs Bring the 8 cups of water to a simmer in a medium frying pan and, if using, add the vinegar. Break each egg into a separate small cup or ramekin. Gently slide the eggs into the simmering water, cooking two at a time. Cook until the whites are just set, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lift the eggs out of the water. Place in a bowl of warm water to hold their heat while finishing the hash. for the hash Heat some oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the onion, season with salt, stir to coat the onion pieces in oil and cook until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and stir to coat in oil. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sweet potatoes just begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chipotle and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth or water, cover and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the cover and cook until the liquid has almost completely evaporated (the bottom of the pan should have a film of liquid), about 3 minutes. Stir in the thyme, season generously with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Serve the hash topped with 1 or 2 poached eggs for each serving and garnish with sliced avocado and, if desired, a dollop of sour cream.




Vinegar can help the eggs set up. Also fresh eggs poach best so use the freshest you can find.

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owner’s manual

Your Spleen — a primer compiled by linda tuccio-koonz


soft, spongy purple organ about the size of your fist, the spleen sits just under your rib cage on your left side. It’s about 4 inches long and is part of the lymphatic system, which fights infection and keeps body fluids in balance. Your spleen helps control the amount of blood in your body and filters about 95 gallons each day.

organ. This accumulation can be caused by problems varying from mononucleosis and other infections to liver disease and blood cancers.

You can live without your spleen if it’s damaged or injured because other organs, such as the liver, will take over some of its work. Living with no spleen does, however, increase your risk of serious infections.

A ruptured spleen is serious and requires medical evaluation because it can cause internal bleeding that can be life-threatening. Signs include pain/tenderness in the upper left abdomen, lightheadedness, confusion, blurred vision and fainting. A spleen can rupture at the time of trauma, or even weeks after the injury.

Splenomegaly, or an enlarged spleen, can occur when blood accumulates in the

An overactive spleen is called hypersplenism. The spleen helps filter old and damaged blood cells, but when it’s overactive it removes the cells too early and too quickly, leading to anemia and sometimes frequent infections.

Lymphomas — blood cancers that start in the lymphatic system — can attack this organ, leading to spleen cancer. Cancer from other parts of the body also can spread to the spleen; one example is leukemia, which starts in the bone marrow.

 

Wearing a safety belt is the No. 1 way to protect it.

Usually doctors can feel an enlarged spleen, but X-rays and other imaging tests may be used to determine its size. Treating the disorder that’s causing the enlargement usually solves the problem, but sometimes the spleen must be removed. HL

For additional information on the spleen, go to



Photos: Woman, ©; Spleen, Images.

The spleen is a reservoir for immune cells — monocytes, a type of white blood cell that fights off infiltrators that can cause infection or other problems.

To keep your spleen healthy, be sure to exercise, eat a balanced diet, and drink plenty of water.


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Members of the NYOH staff, clockwise: Dr. Lawrence Garbo, Chairman, Research Committee; Sharon Krause, RN, Director, Research Dept.; Carrie Kreitner, RN, Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner; Dr. Karen Tedesco, Director, Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment Program; and Debra Yelenak, MT, Laboratory Supervisor.

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your body

Losing the



yes, you can drop those stubborn pounds by beth cooney



Photos: © Steven Frame/


hen Weight Watchers leader Vicky Romanow coaches dieters throughout the greater Albany area, it’s not the clients who arrive at weekly weigh-ins with 100 pounds to lose who pose the heftiest challenge. Her tough cases are the people who can see their goal in the scale’s window, but continue to find it elusive. “It’s the last five pounds, 10 pounds that are often the toughest,” she says. “I very rarely hear someone say, ‘Hey, this is the easy part.’” Romanow knows all about that seemingly insurmountable 10. When she began a weight-loss journey with Weight Watchers that resulted in a 52-pound weight loss, it was those last small increments — sometimes mere ounces of weight loss — that required the most mental and physical exertion. What helped her reach her goal weight in January 2012? “I had to go back to basics,” she says. “I had to do all the things I had done to lose the first 10.” And more! Vicky stepped up her game. She focused exclusive-

10 pounds to go! What’s in your way? ly on eating whole foods such as lean protein chicken, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. “And exercise played a huge part. I had to do more. I had to step everything up a little bit,” she says. “And still, some weeks, I lost something small, like a half pound. It required a different kind of determination than the first 10.” Indeed, whether you’ve been on an epic diet or are just trying to shed a few pounds that have gradually crept onto your frame over the long winter, losing weight when you don’t have that much to lose often demands almost excruciating attention to caloric detail, says weight-loss expert Kim Bensen. “There’s a lot of subtle sabotage and little splurges that can get in your way,” she says. Bensen, who lost 212 pounds over a two-year span and has kept it off after years of yo-yo dieting, says it’s common for long-term dieters to begin to veer off course as their goal approaches. She often works closely via her online and in-person meetings and video coaching sessions with this close-to-goal subset of dieters through her Shelton, Conn.-based Kim Bensen’s Weight Loss Center. Bensen, who chronicled her journey in the bestseller Finally Thin! explains what these small losers are often up against is both physical and emotional. “A million things can get in your way. A lot of times it’s sloppy eating. You’ll just be less careful than you were in the beginning and have bites, licks and tastes of things that really add up.” There are interpersonal demons too. Chief among those saboteurs are the well-meaning friends and family who herald an accomplished dieter’s success as they slip into skinnier skinny jeans. “When people start to tell you you’re skinny, you can start to believe it, even if you’ve got a ways to go,” Bensen says. “I tell people, lose it now. Don’t drag it out. The longer you do, the less chance you have of making it to goal.” This was a phenomenon experienced eight years ago as I joined four former daily newspaper colleagues on a year-long public diet we chronicled monthly for readers. At the start of the year I had the least to lose: my last 10 pounds of postpartum baby weight. Throughout the year, however, I was confronted by well-wishers and skeptics alike who questioned why I was dieting. (One even asked my then-editor if she was promoting eating disorders.) Interestingly, my goal of 124 pounds was not remotely unhealthy considering I’m around five feet, three inches tall and pe-

Here’s what the experts have identified as reasons those last 10 pounds are so hard to drop. You’ve Become A Victim of Your Own Success  Often, when people who’ve lost significant amounts of weight get close to their goal, they celebrated with oodles of positive feedback from family and friends. “It can get in your head in a way that’s counterproductive,” explains Bensen. “You start to say to yourself, ‘Hey, I look good, so I don’t have to try so hard.’” But as Bensen notes in a world where obesity is a huge public health issue, more and more of your wellintentioned friends and colleagues are likely to be overweight. “So you do look skinny to them.” The results of completely buying into their praise can be psychic sabotage. “They are the people who will go ahead and tell you to have the cheesecake,” says Bensen. “The rest of the world really doesn’t want you at that (goal) weight.” You’ve Slipped Off Track Without Realizing It  Mills says it’s normal to forego some of the attention to detail that may have gotten you off to a successful start. “Are you keeping a journal?

Are you measuring? Are you working out just as hard as you were when you started?” Bensen says many otherwise dutiful long-term dieters don’t take responsibility for their undocumented BLT’s (that’s bites, licks and tastes.) “Little things can add up to a lot of calories.” You Haven’t Changed Your Routine  Success can breed a certain kind of monotony. “Women tend to rely on cardio, cardio, cardio,” says Tropea, who sees this phenomenon with both diet and nutrition. “People say, “Oh, my weight is up, I have go Spinning or do Zumba, when really they should be hitting the weights hard.” Since any plateau almost always demands new diet strategies and fitness routines, Tropea also suggests focusing on “whole, real foods” — skip processed snacks and empty calories — and making sure to have some “healthy fats and oils.” They’ll keep you sated and your metabolism purring. You’re Skipping Meals or Not Eating Enough  “Often at Weight Watchers when I work with clients who’ve hit a plateau, we have to encourage them to eat more,” says Mills. Not having enough to eat can slow your metabolism, making it harder to lose.


your body

tite. But somehow, the naysayers’ skepticism and insistence I “looked fine” crept into my subconscious. It was license for me to eat cookies and ice cream whenever I wanted. (In my case, that’s fairly often.) No surprise, I barely got halfway to my goal. A decade later, that little bit of extra weight I never lost is still with me and it’s that much harder to lose. Monique Boulet, a personal trainer and nutritionist who works with clients out of Organique, her Saratoga Springsbased practice, suggests middle-aged women have a unique set of challenges when they strive for goal weights. Women in their 30s and beyond “are dealing with a number of stressors and hormones that wreak their own kind of metabolic havoc,” she says. Couple that with the fact that many people rely on the same tried-and-true meals and workouts to try to shed pounds “and it’s hard to get past your body’s set point.” Boulet urges her clients to change their attitude along with their diets and fitness routines. “There’s got to be a commitment for the long haul. It’s then you can begin to see that number move.” HL

▲ ADDING A LITTLE MORE vigor to your normal routine can help you reach your goal.

 Celebrate Every BreakThrough At her weight-loss center Bensen treats the elusive last 10 pounds like a momentous occasion that calls for a celebration. For her clients, “it’s like a New Year’s countdown. We celebrate every pound. We do a countdown and make a big, big deal out of it.” Her strategy is an acknowledgement that “the last part of the race is really hard, but it’s so exciting when you reach that finish line.”  Realize that 10 pounds is a Heavy Load If you start to think that 10 pounds “isn’t such a big deal” then try this trick suggested by Bensen: Walk around carrying a 10 pound barbell, sack of potatoes or a sack of phone books for a while. “It’s a burden on your whole body; especially the joints that have to carry that weight around.” Ten



pounds, for many people, also can make a huge difference in their blood sugars, cholesterol levels and other important health benchmarks, notes Bensen.

dumping the cream in your coffee (as Mills did) or your nightly scoop of low-fat ice cream or simply keeping more copious track of what you are eating.

 Don’t Sweat the Setbacks The closer you get to your goal the more likely you are to see slight fluctuations on the scale. So if you have a bad day or week, realize your victories may take a bit longer now that you’re closer to goal, says Mills. “I found it was really helpful to stick with people who had been through it and hit the same plateaus.“

 Change Up Your Routine If a daily three-mile walk and a yoga class or two has helped you drop pounds, now may be the time to add some more heft to your routine. “I had to do all my exercise with a lot more intensity,” says Mills, who also invested in a harder series of fitness videos and took up running. She also focused on a “cleaner” diet. Some of her switches included ditching regular sweetened yogurts for more protein-packed Greek varieties, more lean proteins and vegetables. She tended to avoid lowcalorie processed snacks and some desserts she had allowed herself losing the first 100 pounds.

 Get Back to Basics Now is the time to pay scrupulous attention to the details. Our experts all suggested some variation of a food log and exercise journal as essential for dieters who are close to goal. Getting there may require more significant tweaks; perhaps

 Build Muscle Particularly as we age, lean muscle mass is your metabolism’s best friend. Tropea says building muscle is essential, and women with muscles have an easier time shedding fat and often wear smaller sizes than their peers who have lower scale weights.  Consult a Pro For those folks who are do-ityourselfers, working with a nutritionist or personal trainer can be helpful if you’ve hit a plateau. “Let me get out my tape measure and help you set some goals based on your waist circumference,” says Tropea.  Be Scrupulously Honest “Sometimes, deep down anyway, we know what we’re doing or not doing that’s keeping us from reaching our goal,” says Bensen. “Sometimes, just owning that is a step in the right direction.”

Photos: Step Aeorbics, chris_tack; Woman with scale, © esolla.

How to Reach That Elusive Goal

Losing weight when you don’t have that much to lose often demands almost excruciating attention to caloric detail.


healthy eating


What’s in your

corn flakes

Photo: Š Serrnovik/

probably GMOs, or genetically modified organisms



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ention GMO and watch the reaction. There might be some eye-rolling. Or maybe a quizzical look that means the person has no idea what you’re talking about. Then there are those who’ve heard of GMOs — genetically modified organisms — but really don’t understand what they are. Honestly, chances are even if you think you understand GMOs, you might actually be harboring lots of misconceptions. I know I was, and I’m a seeker of organic produce, grass-fed meat and poultry, and wild fish low in mercury. It’s an involved and complicated subject, so HealthyLife has made a cheat sheet of sorts. We promise to keep it simple.

What is a GMO?

Many of the foods we eat today are hybrids, the result of grafting or cross-breeding to create a new or improved food. Think about it: You can breed a cow with another cow to get a better cow, but you can’t breed a cow with a banana. Hybrids are not GMOs. The cow/banana combo would necessitate gene mixing and technically would be a GMO. But, of course, it’s more complicated than that. In many cases, GMOs translate into plants and seeds that are resistant to certain insects and pesticides and grow in less favorable conditions than they would ordinarily need. Many of the seeds only work with one pesticide, so the manufacturer sells them as a combo package. According to the Human Genome Project, combining genes from different organisms is known as recombinant DNA technology, and the resulting organism is said to be genetically modified. GMOs do not happen in nature. But they’re found in medicines, vaccines, foods and food ingredients, feeds and fibers, which means it’s getting nearly impossible to know if you have eaten or ingested GMOs.

GMOs in food

Our focus today is on our food supply. Tara Cook Littman is the founder of GMO Free CT and also was instrumental in beginning the Coalition of States for GMO Labeling, an organization of about 30 states — including New York — committed to full disclosure on food labels. “We do not tell people whether they should eat foods containing GMOs, but we do educate them,” she says. “We do think that everyone has the right to know what is in their food. Food labels should say whether the food contains GMOs or not. People can make up their own minds.” Littman says that 80 percent of the processed foods we eat contain GMOs and that the five main GMOs found in processed foods are corn, canola, soy, sugar beets and cotton seed. Check food labels and you’ll discover how accurate that 80 percent figure is. “Ingredient labels are also confusing,” Littman adds. “For example, lethicin is made from GMO soy.” (Lecithin is an oily substance that occurs naturally in soybean plants and egg yolks. It has

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healthy eating

... the five main GMOs found in processed foods are corn,

canola, soy, sugar beets and cotton seed.

GMO pros and cons

The Human Genome Project lists many GMO benefits: enhanced taste and quality; reduced maturation time; increased nutrients; hardiness in animals; better yields of crops, meat, eggs and milk; improved animal health; friendly bioherbicides and bioinsecticides; better natural waste management and more efficient processing. For a complete list, check out ornl. gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood.shtml. But the HGP also lists concerns, including potential human health impacts, such as allergens and transfer of antibiotic resistance markers. Then there are environmental impacts, including GMO transfer through cross-pollination (for example, a bee pollinating a GMO plant with his next stop an organic field), loss of flora and fauna biodiversity, domination of world food production by a few companies, genetically inserting an animal gene into a plant, and vice versa, and lack of labeling. (The complete list of controversies follows the advantages on the Human Genome Project’s website.)



Labeling bills

According to Littman, 61 countries around the world have GMO labeling. So some American food manufacturers have two different labels, she says, one for countries that don’t require labeling, another for countries that do. In November, Proposition 37 failed in California, which would have required GMO labeling and prohibited the food designation “natural.” The voting was close: 48.5 percent of voters were in favor of labeling; 51.5 percent against. California Watch, an independent nonpartisan initiative of the Center for Investigative Reporting reported that money poured into California to support both sides of the issue. The “No on Prop 37” campaign received $44 million from companies such as Monsanto and The Hershey Co., while proponents raised $7.3 million. According to, 17 states have bills moving through their legislatures that would require some type of GMO labeling, including New York. Castellano’s GMO Free NY has the same purpose as GMO Free CT: to ensure passage of a GMO labeling bill in the Empire state. A bill — State Assembly Bill No. A1367 — has been stalled

Photo: © Vesna Njagulj/

emulsification properties that make it a perfect food additive. It’s primarily found in candy, bakery items, tea bags, cough drops, prescription medications and some asthma inhalers.) Nor are you necessarily avoiding GMOs by eating fresh produce. Some of the produce on your grocer’s shelves is genetically modified, with the most common including corn, soy, Hawaiian papaya, and small amounts of zucchini and crookneck squash. Alfalfa fed to animals also can be genetically modified. When it comes to crops, many foreign countries have banned growing GMOs, according to Greenpeace. In the United States, only the California counties of Mendocino, Trinity and Marin have banned growing GMO crops. “But it’s important to remember that we are not trying to get anything banned,” says Peter Castellano, the state coordinator for GMO Free NY. “We just want people to be aware. Today, in every grocery store, you see people reading labels, looking to see how much sugar, protein, fat and fiber is in the food. We want them to be able to look at the ingredient list and understand exactly what they are eating. Then they can make up their own mind about whether they want to eat that product.”

in the New York Legislature since 2011. Castellano and his organization are working to move it along. This organization is new and only has a Facebook page — GmoFreeNewYork — but has plans for a website. “We only need a few states to pass a GMO labeling bill to make it standard throughout the country,” Littman says. “The food companies will not make different packaging for different states.” HealthyLife tried — in vain — to get a statement from the FDA regarding GMO labeling. Even the famed Dr. Oz only had a written statement from the FDA when he aired a show on GMOs. It read: “We recognize and appreciate the strong interest that many consumers have in knowing whether a food was produced using bioengineering. FDA supports voluntary labeling that provides consumers with this information and has issued draft guidance to industry regarding such labeling.”

What’s a consumer to do?

The Non-GMO Project is a nonprofit that was started in 2005 by natural-food retailers to provide customers with better information and reliable non-GMO choices. The project created a third-party standard and verification program to test products for GMOs. If deemed GMO-free, the product can display the non-GMO seal. Currently, the project has 6,100 non-GMO-verified products with another 2,500 in the process of being verified. All told, 689 brands are enrolled in the verification program. “Often people feel overwhelmed by the prevalence of GMOs in processed foods,” says Courtney Pineau, assistant director of the project. “It is important to remember that even small changes can be meaningful.” Her tips: • Remember that the most common GMOs are corn, soy and canola. Check the ingredients lists on every nonorganic product for this trio. • Buy organic products as much as possible since they cannot intentionally contain GMOs. • Start with one meal at a time and find non-GMO alternatives. For example, start with breakfast and kick out the high-GMO-risk breakfast cereal. • Check out for a list of all products that have received the non-GMO seal. “I want to live in a GMO-free world,” says Littman. “Others might not, and that is their choice. But everyone should have the ability to decide if they want to eat GMOs, and until there is labeling, we have no choice.” She adds that since the commercial sale of GMOs only started in 1994, research on long-term effects on humans is scarce. Until there is labeling, there is an invaluable website,, which lists non-GMO products, including ones that are GMO-free but have not received the non-GMO Project’s seal. It also lists the products that are awaiting verification from the project. They even have a free iPhone app that you can take shopping to immediately see if a product is GMO-free.  HL


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hair care

From Hair to

Eternity what extensions can do for your hair by brianna snyder  |  photos by tyler murphy


aren Sani had always wanted hair extensions. A busy mom of two, the Saratoga resident found herself cutting her hair short so that she wouldn’t have to tend to it as much. But she missed her tresses. “I’d done a lot of research on extensions until finally I just went and bit the bullet and got them done,” Sani says. Sani went to Janette Nammour, owner of Salon Onaj in Albany, for a consult. Because Sani’s hair is very thick — which is unusual for most women looking to get hair extensions — Nammour warned her it would be a long process. And it was — Sani needed double the usual number of extensions because of her already-thick hair. But Sani didn’t mind. “We started at a little before 8:20 in the morning,” Sani says. “By 1 we were still working on the back of my head. I got home around 4.” That’s a full day of sitting in a salon chair, but Sani says she was “completely comfortable.” “It did not hurt at all,” she says. Our hair is one of the few parts of our bodies that can change dramatically — and quickly. Marri Aviza, owner of Rumors Salon and Day Spa in Latham, was diagnosed last year with breast cancer. She lost her hair in chemotherapy and the wigs she wore pulled and irritated her scalp. So she got extensions. “It was like my own hair,” says Aviza, who’s now in remission. “My business partner said to me the minute that (the extensions) were in, the sadness was lifted off my face. They made me feel so much better.” Nammour says many women who get extensions have thin, fine hair that breaks before it reaches a certain length. “They want the long, full, luscious movement,” Nammour says. Celebrities like the Kardashians and Christina Aguilera? All their beautifully thick, shiny hair is fake, she says. That’s one reason she suspects extensions are so popular. continued on page 47 




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hair care

Many women “want the long,

full, luscious movement” that hair extensions provide.

continued from page 44

But actually “fake” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s true that when you go for hair extensions you walk out with hair that isn’t yours. High-end procedures, however, often involve the use of real human hair, which can be a tricky business. Ruthie Steciuk, extension specialist at Rumors, says hair quality varies by ethnicity and region. In the business, Chinese hair is considered coarser than Indian and European hair. Synthetic hair is least desirable; it mats and tangles easily and gets stringy, loses its shine quickly and is easily damaged by heat (so curling or straightening irons shouldn’t be used on it). Pricing depends on the quality of the hair. Extensions can be applied in a number of ways. Synthetic-hair clip-ons can be purchased at beauty shops such as the Sally’s Beauty Supply chain (found in several places in the Capital Region). Anywhere from $20 to $100, those are cheap, say our experts, and have short lifespans and start to look questionable fairly quickly. Rumors has a next-level alternative to that clip-on, though: clip-on bangs and clip-on ponytails. “We can match it up to the hair, texture and color and we can personalize it,” Steciuk says. These can be attached at home and last a long time. They cost around $140, and come either in synthetic hair or human hair. Unlike clip-ons, strand-by-strand extensions become part of your hair. Lasting about six months with regular maintenance, these extensions can cost anywhere between $700 and $3,000, depending on how much of your hair you fill in. Some women choose just to fill in certain thinner areas. Others come for the full shebang. The process is usually done using keratin-based bonds to attach the extension to your real hair. And because keratin

is a natural substance — it’s what your fingernails are made of — our experts say the procedure does no damage to your real hair. (Compare this with older or less-expensive methods, which use glue and can damage your hair.) Gina Ellis, master stylist at Hair and Body Essentials in Clifton Park, says that while extensions can make a thin-haired woman look as if she has a full mane of thick, natural hair, not everyone can or should really get extensions. Some medical problems, such as certain thyroid conditions, render hair too weak to support extensions. And women whose hair is too short might have to wait a couple of months before extensions will work. “Sometimes people come in with an unrealistic idea of what they would like,” Ellis says. “I’ve had people come in with a pixie haircut and wanting to get extensions.” Without a good three or four inches of hair to apply extensions to, the procedure can be too difficult and the result will be less natural. “You want them to be well-disguised within the hair,” Ellis says. “You don’t want to see the bonds all around the hair.” Upkeep is fairly simple, our experts assure us. It’s a good idea to brush your hair at least twice a day and wash it with sulfate-free shampoos, which are gentler on the hair and keep it looking nice for longer. Sani says she couldn’t be more thrilled with her extensions. “I absolutely love the way they look,” she says. “I love them and I definitely think I’m going to get them done again. In the end, it was best investment I think ever made.”  HL

Want to learn more? Watch our video about how to apply hair extensions at Got a smartphone? Scan the QR code at right to link directly to our HealthyLife YouTube playlist.


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Ask Emma: Claiming Your Space 51 Your Online Spending 52 Healthy Relationships with Stepparents 55


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ask emma

Room of Your Own have you claimed enough personal space to grow? by emma tennant

Photo: ©; Lise Gagne.


few years ago, Tess was sent to me by her mother. A brilliant 17-year-old, she played the cello, edited the yearbook, and possessed a curious and literary mind. She was also very angry, and had recently thrown a dozen textbooks at a boy in her class. OK, the boy had mocked her square, shapeless haircut. But one of the things that I began to notice was that — despite being very pretty — Tess dressed oddly. It was as though her clothes were something mailed to her by a stranger who had no idea what a teenager was. Things didn’t quite fit. She was dowdy. Eventually the subject came up. “I feel I have to dress this way because I’ve always dressed this way. I don’t feel that prettier clothes are ...” “What.” “I don’t feel like they could belong to me.” That got me thinking. If Tess didn’t feel she had dominion over how she looked and presented herself, what else might be going on? “Describe your bedroom to me,” I said out of the blue one session. Tess said nothing. She looked puzzled. “There’s a bed. I have a chair and a desk. I have a dresser that I’ve had since I was 8.” She looked at me as though I were nuts. “What’s on the walls? “Nothing,” she said, still puzzled. The room she described was cold, overlit and void of feeling and personality. What emerged in time was what I would describe as Tess’s failure — up until that point — to claim her body and the space around her as hers. Her mind was rich, but her body and material world were barren, cold and foreign. Being an only child had a lot to do with it in her case. She grew up alone and felt alone, and she also grew up without a rival and friend, someone to define herself in relationship with. Her father and mother governed her life very strictly, and, in response, Tess had withdrawn from the physical world, inhabiting rooms and inhabiting clothes — but not really living in them. Hence the anger. Inside was a vibrant, beautiful, strongwilled young woman who simply had never taken the stage in her life, or claimed her space. She felt that space belonged to her parents and that she could not dare to set foot in it. We made a lot of progress. Funky boots, better hair, a looser, freer style of dressing. She got a lamp for her room

that was warmer, more sensual. Impressionist pictures went up on the walls. She started to play music at night when she went to bed that made her feel safer, uplifted. Tess had grasped the problem once we had discerned it. She started to define the space around her and never looked back.


any of us take it for granted that we should put plants in our office, pictures on the walls, and fabric on the floor. Some of us claim our place in the world as easy as breathing, but when you think about it, such a move is quite a radical process. In effect, we take our self-idea and project it into the world around us, making a space for ourselves that mirrors, flatters and enhances our self-worth. That means taking that space from someone else in many cases, or daring to project it into shared space, and that can be a source of conflict. Some of us have our reach into the world squashed before we get started. Either we feel so small and insignificant that we don’t dare to impose on the world, or we come up against forces that make us feel we don’t have the right. What about that parent who dictates every aspect of our lives — our clothes, our living space — and gives us the explicit or implicit message that only they get to define the environment? If that goes on forever and persistently enough, we may always be a prisoner of a kind, without really understanding why others seem so free, so big, and we feel so small. The good news is that it is never too late to start. For most of us — at this point in our lives — we simply haven’t cultivated the habit of making the space around us reflect our tastes. We are free to walk out of that flavorless room we inhabited as children any time we want. All we need is a little encouragement. Why am I thinking about this issue this month? A few weeks ago, a woman in her 70s came to see me. Very angry. She had just moved in with her sister, and felt unwelcome and imposed upon. She has a fine, literary mind but dresses as though someone mailed her a box of clothes from Goodwill. I asked her about her bedroom. HL Emma Tennant (not her real name) is a practicing psychotherapist. All advice offered here is simply that. If you have a pressing concern, you should see a specialist in person. If you have a question you’d like addressed or a comment for Emma, send it to askemma@ Inquiries will be treated with confidentiality.


savvy shopping

 potential pitfalls in the online shopping world

by cari scribner


o one denies the benefits of online shopping. The convenience of trolling for goodies from your couch, the special deals, the anticipation of receiving a package — all of it just a few mouse clicks away! What’s not to like? But the fun can easily fade if your purchases aren’t up to standards you expected, or if you fall into other online spending traps, and you get a serious case of buyer’s regret. One of the first steps to smart online shopping is to understand the many ways the sites draw us in and try to get our attention. Snazzy photos, fun, interactive sites and promises of future special offers are common. All these and more can make it easy to lose track of what we’ve spent until the dreaded Mastercard bill arrives in the mail.



To avoid buyer’s regret, financial experts advise online shoppers to always adhere to the warning “buyer beware.” “It’s a wild, wild west marketplace online,” says Kerry Mayo, certified financial planner with Capital Financial Advisors of NY in Albany. “If you don’t know much about the site, be wary of who you’re dealing with. Major retailers like are usually trustworthy, but other smaller sites may not be.” Mayo recommends setting up and using a PayPal account for online purchases because it limits your spending to the amount that you’ve allocated there. Before buying something, always review the seller’s ratings and read customer reviews online. Also, check retail store websites and sale flyers first, because their deals may be better than sites you Google.

One more tip: The Better

Business Bureau (BBB) compiles a list of safe, secure and approved places to visit online. Businesses displaying the Accredited Business Seal online have been determined to comply with the BBB Code of Business Practices, including its online standard. Currently, nearly 200,000 websites display the BBB Accredited Business Seal. To check a specific online site for accreditation, log onto consumer and type in name of business and the state in which they do business.

Photos: On the couch, © eucyln; handbags, © gerenme.

Buyer  Beware

5 Ways to Shop Online Wisely 1. Read product reviews to research the best buy for what you need. 2. Read user reviews for shopping sites before ordering.

Be aware that online shopping is a twoway street: You want the product, but some 3. Use one credit card exclusively sellers want to get as much information for online purchases, set a low about you as possible. Consider all the info maximum credit amount and they require during the checkout process, pay off in full when you receive including your e-mail address, which is used your monthly statement. to send you a barrage of updates on future 4. Only buy from reputable deals but is often sold to third-party sellers who may inundate you with e-mail offers. One way to pare down the amount of personal information you share with the seller is to check out as a guest, a process that’s generally faster and may not require you to input your e-mail address. The perils of drunk dialing old boyfriends, ex-husbands or just about anyone you’ve pledged to never call again are well known, but there’s a new risk in town: drunk shopping. After a couple glasses of wine, that fuzzy pillow that pulls out into a sleeping bag, purse with reversible patterns, or houseplant that waters itself can look incredibly appealing. If you find yourself regularly imbibing while online shopping, or becoming a habitual online shopper, it may be time to take a look at why this activity is so enticing. Ruth Geller, a licensed mental health counselor in Delmar, says it can be easy to get caught up looking for items to buy online that you don’t necessarily need. “Women may spend time shopping out of loneliness or boredom, or it may be a case of low self-esteem,” Geller says. “It’s easier to buy a pretty dress to feel better than to do the inside work, which is looking at how to find confidence elsewhere.” Geller recommends finding other activities during the time typically devoted to online browsing. “Substitute healthier behavior,” Geller says. “Shut down the computer and get away from it, go for a walk, even wash the dishes to break your focus. Or look at the clock and give yourself just enough time to buy one item for your husband or friend, then turn off the computer and walk away.” Finally, be sure to read the fine print, especially when it comes to return policies. Similar to contracts, a company’s return policy may be several clicks away from the merchandise pages, requiring you to actively search for it. While major stores like L.L. Bean and Lands’ End offer generous, long-term return policies, don’t assume every online retailer will do the same. Remember, too, that great deals are calculated before shipping is added, a cost that may make that deal less than a steal. If that’s the case, exercise your right to close out of the site and shop elsewhere. HL

sites with clear buyer protection plans. 5. Keep a copy of your order number and receipt, and note which credit card you used. When you receive your credit card statement, review it to make sure that the charge placed on your card is correct and that there are no extra fees or charges. SOURCE:


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family life

Act Like

Adults! step relationships can be a challenge — even for grown children by jeanette mcnamee


ecoming part of a stepfamily is an adjustment for everyone, and not just when the children involved are small. Adult stepchildren can have a difficult time as well, since expectations frequently differ regarding what each person’s role should be in the new family. And whose responsibility is it to foster relationships and work out conflicts between stepparents and adult stepchildren? Is it the job of the biological parent, the stepparent, all parties or someone else? Jenness Clairmont, a licensed clinical social worker and family therapist with Samaritan Counseling Center in the Capital Region, believes it is the responsibility of all parties in a blended family to openly communicate with each other to work out issues together, so

that the biological parent is not caught in the middle. “Acknowledge the fact that there is an adjustment process,” Clairmont says. “Allow for new traditions and for each person to have different feelings.” Issues that often arise in blended families include feelings of abandonment on the part of stepchildren, concerns about how a parent’s or stepparent’s financial matters and long-term health problems will be handled, and feelings of isolation by the stepparents. Clairmont’s parents divorced and remarried when she was young. Her biological parents and stepparents “maintained a degree of consistency and tradition” so there was no pressure or feeling of guilt about where to spend the holidays. continued on page 56 


family life

Her stepfather died when she was 19, and her mother later remarried. Gaining a new stepfather as an adult “was very different,” she says. “I was concerned about how he would feel about my loyalty to my father.” Just like younger children, adult stepchildren also must adjust to seeing a stranger in their parent’s home and life. Susan’s parents divorced after more than 30 years of marriage. Her father remarried soon after the divorce when Susan was in her 30s and her mother remarried about 15 years later. “I was happy that Dad found someone he could be happy with and who seemed to love him very much,” she says. But she was disappointed that her stepmother made it clear she didn’t wish to be “anyone’s Grandma.” Susan’s four children were all under the age of 12 at the time of the marriage. “My visits put a crimp in her lifestyle because she did not know how to relate to kids and was hypercritical a lot of the time,” says Susan, whose last name and city of residence have been withheld to protect her privacy. “There is no close relationship between my (now adult) kids and their granddad and step-grandmother. Dad was always working when they were growing up and had no time to build a relationship with his grandkids.” Her father and stepmother are now in their 80s and 90s, and she visits them two or three times a year. “I have tried to establish and maintain a cordial relationship with my stepmother for my dad’s sake as well as mine,” she says. “I have always tried to be accepting of her and her daughter, but I



don’t feel that has truly been reciprocated. Now, as an empty-nester, I just chalk it up to whatever time I can have with my dad, and accept that my stepmother is a part of the visit.” Belinda, who also asked to be anonymous, was in her 40s when her father remarried in 1999, a couple of years after her mother died. “I knew he had been desperately lonely,” she says. “I was not ready for someone else in my mother’s home, but I realized what I felt didn’t really matter. What mattered was whether or not it would make him happy.” “It was odd for a while to see her put out my mother’s dishes” at gatherings, Belinda admits. Sharing holidays with her stepmother’s large family has been an adjustment since Belinda grew up in a small family with one brother, who is now deceased. She and her husband do not have children together, while her stepmother has three adult children, grandchildren and siblings.


erhaps no family member is more maligned than stepmothers, thanks to Cinderella’s dysfunctional family. Author Wednesday Martin, a stepmother herself, set out to dispel the myth of the evil stepmother in her 2009 book Stepmonster. Not a psychologist, she has a doctorate in comparative literature and has taught cultural studies and literature. “My book looks at the history and sociology of stepfamily life and suggests that anthropologists, historians, sociologists and legal scholars provide crucial perspectives that have gone untapped in our approach to understanding and

Photos: ©

continued from page 55

YOU BELONG AT THE Y. SAVE $100 supporting stepfamilies and stepmothers,� says Martin, who lives in New York City with her family. For Stepmonster, she “synthesized and distilled dozens of academic studies (sociological and psychological) on stepfamily life.� She believes it is not enough to only help stepmothers “deal with their feelings� because there are cultural realities about stepfamily life that are not fixable. “When you talk to psychologists and therapists who work with women with stepchildren, they say these women often describe feeling isolated, alone and misunderstood,� says Martin. “It’s a lot of stress to be a woman with stepchildren if your husband or partner does not support you as an equal in the household and encour-

“Acknowledge the fact that there is an adjustment process. Allow for new traditions and for each person to have different feelings.�  — Jenness Clairmont

age his children to treat you civilly at the very least and if there is an angry or undermining ex-wife in the picture.� When women with stepchildren realize it is normal for tension to exist in a stepfamily, they quit trying to blend everyone into one big happy family, which is “the source of much of the tension and much of her resentment,� she says. Martin was 34 and her husband was 42 when they married. His daughters were 11 and 14 at the time. “He and I felt a developmental imperative to try to ‘blend’ his girls into our life and marriage and ‘blend’ me into their dad and daughter relationship,� she says. “However, his daughters had a very different developmental imperative — to be separate and independent. So, we were at crosspurposes from a developmental perspective.� She doesn’t “buy into the ‘extended family’ paradigm. Stepfamilies are not first families, and once we all accepted that, things got a lot easier,� she says. She and her husband have two sons, now ages 4 and 11, who enjoy seeing their big sisters when they visit. Martin said reactions to Stepmonster ranged from positive conversations with her stepdaughters to people who were outraged by the idea presented in her book that children shouldn’t come first when it comes to remarriage. “The couple bond is much more fragile in a remarriage with kids than in a first marriage, and you don’t want everyone experiencing another divorce,� she says. “Many remarried couples with kids loved the message, and some adult stepchildren were offended by it.� HL

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Have you heard about this new technology that is FDA cleared, and non-surgical treatment for back pain?

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Non-surgical spinal decompression may be the last back pain treatment you will ever need. And you may be able to forget the pills, getting endless shots, struggling through exercise programs...and...risky surgery...because with this amazing new technology...if you are a candidate... they may be a thing of the past. You’re about to discover a powerful state-of-the-art technology available for: Back pain, Sciatica, Herniated and/or Bulging discs (single or multiple), Degenerative Disc Disease, a relapse or failure following surgery or Facet syndromes. Best of all -- you can check it out yourself for FREE! CALL 518-300-1212


magine how your life would change if you discovered the solution to your back pain.

In this article you’ll discover powerful new back pain technology that has the potential to be that solution for you. This incredible technology is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression and the DRX 9000. Here’s the amazing story how it was discovered and why it has a chance to help YOUR back pain...

How Science Helps Back Pain The lower back is a series of bones separated by shock absorbers called “discs”. When these discs go bad because of age or injury you can have pain. For some the pain is just annoying, but for others it can be life changing...and not in a good way. It has long been thought that if these discs could be helped in a natural and noninvasive way, lots of people with back and leg pain could lower the amount of pain medication they take, be given fewer epidural injections for the pain and have less surgery.

Recent medical breakthroughs have led to the development of advanced technologies to help back and leg pain suffers!

Through the work of a specialized team of physicians and medical engineers, a medical manufacturing company, now offers this space age technology in its incredible DRX 9000 Spinal Decompression equipment.

The DRX 9000 is FDA cleared to use with the pain and symptoms associated with herniated and/or bulging discs. . . even after failed surgery. What Conditions Has The DRX 9000 Successfully Treated And Will It Help YOU? The main conditions the DRX 9000 has success with are: • • • •

Back pain Sciatica Spinal Stenosis Herniated and/or bulging discs (single or multiple) • Degenerative disc disease • A relapse or failure following surgery • Facet syndromes A very important note: The DRX 9000 has been successful even when NOTHING else has worked. Even after failed surgery. What Are Treatments On The DRX 9000 Like?

After being fitted with an automatic shoulder support system, you simply lie face up on the DRX 9000’s comfortable bed and the advanced computer system does the rest. Patients describe the treatment as a gentle, soothing, intermittent pulling of your back. Many patients actually fall asleep during treatment. The really good news IS... this is not something you have to continue to do for the rest of your life. So it is not a big commitment. Since offering the DRX 9000 in my Colonie office, I have seen nothing short of miracles for back pain sufferers who had tried everything else. . . with little or no result. Many had lost all hope. Had herniated disk operation 8 years ago another disc became herniated. Doctor wanted to operate have arthritis from 1st one (did not want to go under knife again) very grateful to DRX9000 (thank you Dr. Claude D. Guerra, DC) Very happy camper. Raymond F Niskayuna, NY Age 55 This treatment was a miracle for my cervical disk herniations. Only other alternative was surgery, which I no longer have to face. William I Schenectady, NY Age 63

I was told by a doctor I wouldn’t be able to work. I cannot afford to not work so I tried Dr. Claude D. Guerra, DC, and not only did the pain go away but I never missed a day at work. Rick S Clifton Park, NY Age 42 I would love to shake the hand of the person who invented this machine. It was a life saver for me and a lot better than going under the knife. I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone with chronic back pain. Dawn H Colonie, NY Age 49 Before the DRX 9000 treatment. I had no quality of life. Couldn’t do anything for myself. Thank God for Dr. and the DRX machine. I can live again. Yvette K Schenectady, NY Age 47 I suffered for three years, before I received treatment on the DRX 9000. Today, I can sleep and get out of bed like a normal human being. Before, I couldn’t even drive my car because the pain in my hips, legs and feet were so bad from the sciatica nerve being pinched by my Herniated Disc L4 and L5, which also prevented me from sitting in a chair or even using my computer lap top at any time. Today things have changed due to advance technology therapy on the DRX 9000. They always try

A DV E R T I S E M E N T I would definitely refer people to your office. Dr. Guerra and his staff have made this experience a pleasure. Ed H Hoosick Falls, NY Age 70 Pain free, numbness in the left foot is gone. DRX 9000 is GREAT and does work. Sal L Niskayuna, NY Age 50

Dr. Claude D. Guerra, DC demonstrates the DRX 9000 to a patient

to regulate the treatments that work. What is up with this taught process???? The world is changing and so have I. Frank A Troy, NY Age 52 Before receiving the DRX treatments, my quality of life was very poor. I could hardly do anything other than going to work and going to bed. After the DRX treatments my quality of life has improved 90% which has resulted in me being able to go for long walks without a cane and go shopping. Anne P Burnt Hills, NY Age 70 I am so appreciative of this method of therapy because when I came to the office I had to use a cane and had muscle pain in walking. After 2nd treatment sciatica nerve pain was gone in my left leg. Judith W Albany, NY Age 64 Prior to this treatment my only options appeared to be invasive pain management, or surgery. After receiving 24 sessions on the DRX, I am markedly improved, relatively pain free and am able to function as I had in previous years. Highly recommend to anyone with disc issues. Alan P Scotia, NY Age 53 I would choose this therapy again! Painless treatment that gets your life back to

normal. Stick with it-it works! Linda G Broadalben, NY Age 53 I am so happy I came to Dr. Guerra. I was in a lot of pain and after being on the DRX I tell you I do not have pain. I feel wonderful and the staff are very nice. Dr. Claude D. Guerra, DC is wonderful. If you are in pain try the DRX it really helps. Edith C Schenectady, NY Age 71 I think more people should know about this procedure before considering any surgery. Medications help the pain but they don’t cure the cause. I am back to my old self again. Lorraine B Scotia, NY Age 78 I highly recommend this machine. I had my doubts but it really and truly works. Dr. Claude D. Guerra, DC is a wonderful doctor and his staff is great too. Linda D Clifton Park, NY Age 46 I was extremely skeptical at the beginning of treatments - Progress was slow in coming - But... then it worked! What a relief!!! Joan K Delmar, NY Age 71 I had no where else to go with this problem. The DRX 9000 was just what I needed. Many thanks! Burton S Mechanicville, NY Age 50

I’m able to go on long walks and get all night sleep (I’ve had 3 surgeries since 2006) Without the DRX I would be in for a 4th back surgery. I’m getting back to doing activities with my 10 year old son. Lisa V Catskill, NY Age 45 I wish to thank you very much for all the help I received with the spinal decompression therapy. Your entire office was very helpful and compassionate. No longer do I sit at night with my heating pads, moving them from sore spot to sore spot. My knees are no longer on fire and I’m able to go up and down the stairs much easier than before. Mable D Ballston Lake, NY Age 68

SPECIAL OFFER Call Dr. Claude D. Guerra, DC’s office at 518-300-1212 and mention to my assistants that you want a FREE back pain/DRX9000 qualification

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Here is what you will receive: • A consultation with me, Dr. Claude D. Guerra, DC to discuss your problem and answer the questions you may have about back pain and the DRX9000 • A DRX9000 demonstration so you see for yourself how it works! Due to current demand for this technology, I suggest calling today to make your appointment. The consultation is free. We are staffed 24-hoursa-day, 7-days-a-week. Call 518-300-1212 right now!

It’s absolutely FREE with no strings attached. There is ONE Big Problem: My busy office schedule will limit how many people I’m able to personally meet with... so you will need to act fast. Call 518-300-1212 right now... to be sure you are among the first callers and we will set up your free consultation today. We have the phones answered 7 days a week 24 hours a day so call now... 518-300-1212. (Free consultation is good for 45 days) 2016 Central Ave., Colonie

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— Cover model Holly Mittan


A Love Letter to Coffee 63  Rebuilding Bridges 65

All Kinds Of Mascara 68  Cover Model Q&A 70


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my word

Coffee Clutch by cari scribner

Photo: © egginton.


n English, the word “coffee” means so much more than a hot, caffeinated beverage. “Let’s meet for coffee,” a friend says. “Anyone for coffee?,” asks the waiter. Loosely translated, the word “coffee” sometimes seems synonymous with the word “linger.” Coffee extends the visit or lovely meal. But having a cup of joe can also reflect rushing, as in “I’m just going to grab a cup of coffee.” It’s portable, inexpensive if you skip the frills, and a great way to score points if you grab a cup for a friend/spouse/co-worker. Sharing coffee is a modern-day ritual. Coffee brings people together. In the movies, when one character turns on the coffee pot, you know they’re in for a long, heartfelt discussion that will inevitably alter one of their lives forever. No one in the movies ever bonds over a late-night glass of fruit juice. The word “coffee” is on the lips of more than half of all Americans as they wrench themselves out of bed every morning. Automatic coffee makers set to brew a pot just before you rise are necessities for many. When Keurig machines entered the marketplace, they ignited a brave new world of convenience and speed. And the flavors! Donut shoppe! Peppermint mocha! Hazelnut! You don’t have to agree on one flavor; every coffee drinker can choose her own. I make these observations because for most of my adult life, I was a non-coffee drinker. During the decades when coffee was said to be growth-stunting and mania-inducing, I felt virtuous for not imbibing. But now, with coffee cleared of its bad reputation and even said to stave off forgetfulness during the aging process, I launched my mission to join the coffee club. It’s not that I didn’t have role models. My mom has been a black-coffee drinker forever. My 17-year-old son has been ordering coffee in restaurants for about four years, young enough that some waiters looked as if they wanted to ask him for I.D. to show he was old enough. Many people have a story about bonding with a family member or friend over a cup of coffee. For my son, it was Sunday mornings with his brother, when he was poured a half-cup and filled the rest

with milk and sugar. I don’t have a bonding story. All I had was a desire to run with the crowd. I didn’t want to order water when my fellow diners had coffee, or turn down a hot cup when offered at a friend’s home. I wanted to linger. And so I embarked on a journey to become a coffee drinker.


ike scotch, coffee is an acquired taste. I defy you to find someone who, after their first swig, wiped their lips and said, “Now that’s a delicious drink!” It’s strong, and if the first swallow doesn’t strike you as overwhelming and bitter, the aftertaste will. Early on, the taste of coffee was so abhorrent that I needed to wash it down with a mouthful of something sweet (read: highly caloric). My choice of chaser was a chocolate glazed donut hole. Or two. I tried biscotti, which seemed like a classy coffee side dish, until I read the nutrition information and discovered they had as many calories as the aforementioned donuts. I tried pairing coffee with Clementine oranges, another failure (you don’t see many orange/coffee brews; there’s a reason for that). I psyched myself up to drink coffee, bellowing, “Wow, I could use a cup of coffee,” first thing in the morning, even when I was alone. I found a favorite mug. I volunteered to make a pot of coffee after dinner and served it to members of my family. “Who wants coffee?” were common words off my lips. Sip by sip, the flavor of coffee became more familiar to me, although I still add skim milk and artificial sweetener. Now I love holding a steaming cup to warm my hands. I love the stirring and the sipping. I feel like a grownup. Who cares if my preference is for light blends and I still can’t drink the dark roasts? That’s between me and the Keurig. I was out to dinner recently with my family and a friend who didn’t know I’d crossed over to the java side. When the adults (and my son) ordered coffee, and I chimed in, too, my friend was visibly stunned. “Yes, I drink coffee now,” I told him. And then we all lingered for a nice long chat. HL


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Illustrations: People, ©; Bridge, ©

Building Bridges navigating the waters from estrangement to reconciliation by elizabeth keyser


strangement hurts. We are, after all, social creatures and want to be close to others. Feeling rejected, misunderstood or cast outside the family circle seems to diminish us at our core. So how do we get back in once we’re on the outs? Therapists say reconciliation is a process — a long and arduous one. There’s no one route and it’s likely to be bumpy. The guidance of a therapist is often necessary for the hard work of self-examination, honesty and change that must be achieved within before making an overture to an estranged family member or friend. If you are estranged, know one thing: You are not alone. Therapists say it’s almost inevitable, given the intensity and closeness of family relationships, and the fact that family members are often very different from one another. “It’s not unusual to have family members estranged from one another,” says Ellen Singleton, a clinical social worker who practices in Albany. “It’s a recurring issue,” says Anne Bryan Smollin, executive director of counseling for laity at the Consultation Center of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. “Families don’t deal well with conflict. They hold grudges. They bury feelings.” continued on page 66 



continued from page 65

Therapists say

reconciliation is a process — a long and arduous one. There’s no one route and it’s

likely to be bumpy.

loss and grieve it. It can take a long time.” And don’t dive into the new relationship with abandon. “I have my mother over for a certain time limit and I give myself plenty of time to recover from her, like a month or so,” says Davis. Many therapists recommend not rehashing the past. There are two versions of the story. There are layers of complicated, often contradictory and counterintuitive feelings. “It’s such a raw topic,” Richard says. A therapist can help us understand how and why the rift happened. A full-fledged rift occurs because of an injustice, says Sichel, between an “injustice collector” and a peoplepleaser. “The injustice collector is the king or queen of their imaginary kingdom. They hurl accusations.” The peoplepleaser has an overly developed sense of responsibility and a belief that they can fix the significant others in their lives. Yet they are full of shame and self-doubt. People who reveal being sexually abused by a family member often are shut out by the family. Davis speaks of her first-hand experience and of others who were ostracized.

Tips on Reconciling There’s no one right way to reconcile, and sometimes it’s not possible or advisable, but for best outcomes, experts offer these tips:


 Do your homework. It takes maturity, acceptance, sensitivity and judgment, compassion, honesty and accountability. Whew! Working with a therapist is recommended.  Go slowly. Reconciliation is a long, slow process played out over time.


 When reaching out, start with today. Apologize and move forward. Don’t rehash.  Don’t be disappointed if your initial overtures are not met responsively. The family member hasn’t had the same amount of time to prepare that you’ve had.

 Rebuild on safe, common ground.  Establish boundaries, meet for prescribed amounts of time and give yourself plenty of time to process (recover from) each meeting.  Forgiveness is worthwhile even if you don’t reconcile with a

family member. Freeing ourselves of bitterness and resentment is good for us. Start with having compassion for yourself, then widen the beam of your compassion upon your family.

Illustrations: People, ©

It’s easier to reconcile with friends. “Friends can pick up where they left off,” says Mark Sichel, author of Healing from Family Rifts: Ten Steps to Finding Peace after Being Cut Off by a Family Member, and a family therapist. “They can tread more lightly. Family is much more fraught, much more powerful.” Family estrangement can seem like a black mark, but there’s no need to feel ashamed. In fact, Sichel believes that “cut-offs” are becoming more common. “There’s more intolerance and small-mindedness,” he says. “There’s a belief in freedom and standing on convictions.” In the past, “People didn’t feel ‘entitled’ to break up.” Nancy Richards was deluged with e-mails from people suffering from estranged relations after she published Heal and Forgive II: The Journey from Abuse a nd Estrangement to Reconciliation. “Our society is rampant with estrangement,” she says. But she believes it’s nothing new. We’re just talking about it more. Physical estrangement can be a necessary step that precedes reconciliation. “I don’t regret it for a second,” Richards says of the 15 years she didn’t see her mother. “It was one of the healthiest decisions I made. I worked with a therapist and I became so healthy I could come back and find a balance and have a relationship with my mother.” They’ve been reconciled for seven years. But don’t expect a Hallmark moment. “The fantasy is that you both grow and change and renew a deeper, transformative relationship,” says Laura Davis, author of I Thought We’d Never Speak Again: The Road from Estrangement to Reconciliation. “And that that does happen sometimes, but it’s not the most common outcome.” That’s why therapists like Singleton spend time preparing their clients. “I have people think about what their fantasy is of what will happen if they reach out, and to think about how they will take it if it doesn’t go well. I have them play it out and prepare. The only person you can control is yourself.” Experts advise taking it slowly. “Time is a crucial element of reconciliation,” says Davis. “You need to work through your own feelings,” adds Smollin. “You need to look at the

Families have a strong desire to keep the status quo, the dynamics and equilibrium they are familiar with, no matter how dysfunctional. “They view the estranged one as the problem,” Davis says. A people-pleaser can be an injustice collector, too. Davis writes about a woman who was cast out of her family because she came out as a lesbian. “She’d done nothing wrong. But her mistake was she hung on to her resentment. She relived it, sharpened it. She carried her resentment for 20 years.” Before reconciling with her family, she had to release her resentment. To help clients do that, Smollin asks them to put pen to paper to write everything they need to say to their estranged family member. “Then I ask them to re-read it and tear it up in a billion pieces. Never send it.” But one client did send a letter. “She couldn’t interact with her father. She wrote him a letter saying she’d never felt loved,” Smollin says. A couple days later, he appeared on her doorstep, threw his arms around his daughter and said he loved her. Author Ruth Brennen’s family reconciliation came almost too late. “My mother was in her 80s with dementia and she said to me, ‘Don’t I have a sister? How come she doesn’t visit me?’” Brennen explained that they’d had a rift long ago. Her mother replied, “I can’t remember what it was about. So it can’t have been that important. I’m so lonely for my sister.” Brennen, as she recounts in Gathering Family, called her aunt, who came to visit. “They talked quietly,” Brennen says. Watching them, she felt a sense of regret for her mother and her aunt, but also for the way the rift had infected her generation. “It split the family; everyone had to take sides. To this day, my cousin barely tolerates me.” “The worst thing is to pass (the estrangement) on to the next generation, who had nothing to do with it,” says Davis. Children can be used as weapons, says Sichel. “(Withholding the children is) a tool an adult child can use to hurt their parents,” he says. “I had a client whose son would not let her see his children, until one of them was diagnosed with autism and they needed her help.” Richards, however, says it was her kids who pointed out the depth of dysfunction that had become normal to her. “When my kids were 9 and 11, they said, ‘It’s not good for us to be around your mom.’ When I saw that her behavior was affecting my kids, I told my mother I couldn’t be around her anymore.” But children also can bring families back together. “I negotiated a civil and cordial amnesty with my father so that my children could have a grandfather,” says Sichel. Did it last? “For a while,” he says. Davis reports a happier ending, “If you had told me 30 years ago that I would be my mother’s caregiver, I would have said you were crazy,” she says, “But I do it willingly and happily.” HL

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makeup tips

Magic Wands

by kristi barlette  |  photos by colleen ingerto not all mascaras are created equal f you had to choose one makeup item to Smaller wands with comb-like bristles pro-


wear today — just one — what would it be? For most women in America, the answer is mascara. A survey from BellaSugar, a makeup, beauty, hair and skin blog, asked women which single makeup item they always wear. The team at BellaSugar received thousands of responses, but that little tube filled with makeup that women sweep on their lashes took first place with 37 percent of the votes. OK, so we know mascara is essential in many a makeup bag. But what, really, do we know about the liquid lash enhancer that lines shelves and fills makeup counter cases with options almost as confusing as Facebook privacy settings? With options from volumizing to thickening to lengthening, what’s a lashchallenged woman to do? “Choosing the right mascara is about what you want it to do,” says Amy Jones, an Albanybased makeup artist. “And, more than likely, what you’re missing from your own lashes.” If you have short lashes, look for an extender. If they’re sparse, or you like a more dramatic look, find one for volume to make them look fuller. Fuller wands will make fuller lashes, so a big wand such as Benefit Bad Gal Lash or DiorShow will yield voluminous, full lashes, says Jones.



vide more separation and definition. The rubber bristle wands have become especially popular lately, says Jones, who uses Benefit’s They’re Real, Bare Escentuals Buxom lash and Covergirl Lash Blast on her clients. These allow more bristles for a fuller look but separate lashes more than traditional wands so you get volume with fewer clumps, according to Jones. Denise Dubois, owner of Complexions Spa & Salon in Albany, also says wand size and shape should be a factor when purchasing mascara. “Skinny brushes will enhance the lash without clumping, and a curved wand will help curl the lash,” says Dubois.


ngredients are equally important to keeping lashes supple and healthy-looking, says Dubois. Some mascara contains vitamins that will hydrate and condition lashes, such as Pro-Vitamin B5. For deeper hydration, a cream or lubrication may be needed. Volumizing mascara often includes a buildable formula that allows multiple coats without a lot of flaking, says Doria Tremante, owner of Makeup by Doria in Scotia. That’s a plus for women who like to apply — and reapply. The formula may include vitamin E or B5 or

even different types of wax that make the application smooth. With any formula, the more coats, the more dramatic the lashes will look. Think longer, fuller and darker — three traits most women want out of their mascara. The other popular option that often confuses customers? Waterproof mascara. Contact lens wearers, especially, turn to this variety so their mascara doesn’t smudge or run. It’s also a natural option if you’re going to be sweating a lot (a summer picnic) or possibly crying (a wedding). But waterproof isn’t always the best choice. The ingredients in this product — the contents needed to keep the makeup in place when it comes in contact with moisture — can be less than lash-friendly. “Waterproof mascara … is too harsh on the lashes and you may prematurely shed them when trying to remove your makeup,” Tremente says. “If you absolutely need a waterproof product, I recommend using an entire makeup setting spray like Model in a Bottle.” Model in a Bottle is basically a mist that is applied with a spray bottle and is designed to maintain all your makeup. It can be used on your entire face. Whether you opt for volumizing, thickening or waterproof mascara, experts agree conditioning formulas — almost a “basecoat” for your lashes — can be helpful. This is where lash conditioners come in. Just as conditioner in the shower strengthens hair, lash conditioners can strengthen, enhance and even lengthen eyelashes. Also in a wand, the conditioner is swept onto the lashes and allowed to dry — it’s white — before the mascara is applied. Our experts recommend using it every day. Regardless of the formula or wand you choose, it’s the application that will help you achieve your desired look, says Denise Dubois of Complexions Spa & Salon. “Start at the roots of your eye lashes and wiggle the brush through to the tips,” she says. “With some formulas, the more you apply the more dramatic look you’ll achieve.”  HL

Want to learn more? Watch our video with some tips on how to apply mascara at timesunion. com/healthylife. Got a smartphone? Scan the QR code at left to link directly to our HealthyLife YouTube playlist.

Great tip to keep mascara off your skin ... Learn more about it in our exclusive video!


cover model q&a

up close with... Holly Mittan by brianna snyder  |  photo by philip kamrass


olly Mittan has always loved hiking, and after an eightyear marriage with a partner who didn’t share all her interests, Mittan felt unfulfilled. Though separated, Mittan says she and her ex are still on great terms. Now, Mittan, 39, has a boyfriend and the two love to hike, boat, four-wheel and dance. Oh, and she’s lost 67 pounds. Mittan is a makeup artist at Kimberley’s A Day Spa in Latham. She grew up — and still lives — in Broadalbin, about an hour from Albany. But she’s right on Sacandaga Lake, where she spends a lot of time when the weather is warm, playing in the water and with her dog, Azure. After the split with her husband, Holly made a list of everything she wanted to do. “I had to learn to do all the things I loved to do, that I had given up, on my own and I really just dug deep to make sure I am making the most of my life,” she says. “I really focused on what made me truly happy and part of that was food and eating well, which led to the weight loss; another was hiking and going for it out in the woods alone, etc.” What kinds of food do you like to eat? I love Indian food and Thai food. But losing weight, I really limited and almost cut out processed foods. I would only have meat on weekends and it was usually grilled chicken. I count calories. I try to eat spinach or kale every day. A lot of legumes and brown rice, quinoa, vegetables.



What do you like to do for fun? I snowmobile and I boat. I like to cook. I’m learning how to ice-fish right now. In the winter it’s all about snowmobiling and in the summer I do a lot of boating and swimming. What kind of music do you like to listen to? The big one I’m into right now is Florence and the Machine. I’m all over the board when it comes to music, though. I love country music; I love a lot of that. Thursday nights, [my boyfriend and I] have a dance party in our living room. Thursday night is like my Friday night and I’ll get home from work and we’ll just dance. What are you most looking forward to doing this spring? I really want to do a lot more hiking. I’m working on doing all the waterfalls in Hamilton County. Camping, we want to do more camping this summer. And boating. I love being out on the boat. What do you like so much about hiking? I like being away from everything. There’s no cars, no sound. You’re just out there and when you get done you’re like exhausted but it’s a good exhaustion. That feeling like you just sweated it all out. You feel cleansed. It’s peaceful.  HL

Behind the Scenes Hair and makeup by Kimberley’s A Day Spa, Latham. Photo taken by Philip Kamrass at Rensselaer Rail Station. Above: Green top by Premise, jeans by Calvin Klein, scarf by D&Y, earrings by Trifari. Select clothing available at Boscov’s Clifton Park. Visit to view our Behind the Scenes photo gallery, or scan the QR code at left to link to our HealthyLife photos page on Facebook.

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Healthy Life April 2013