body. mind. spirit. september 2013
•A chy knees? How to deal •B ully prevention •6 shampooing mistakes •a nd MORE!
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www.healthylifect.com Publisher Michelle McAbee Editorial Janet Reynolds, Group Executive Editor Rebecca Haynes, Editor Brianna Snyder, Associate Editor Design Tony Pallone, Design Director Colleen Ingerto, Emily Jahn, Tyswan Stewart, Designers Krista Hicks Benson, Contributing Designer
Friendly, Prompt, & Complete Care for Non-Life Threatening Illnesses & Injuries
Contributing Writers Molly Belmont, Beth Cooney, Laurie Lynn Fischer, Valerie Foster, Jayne Keedle, Elizabeth Keyser, Carin Lane, Elizabeth Floyd Mair, Merci Miglino, Emma Tennant, Linda Tuccio-Koonz, Melinda McGarty Webb Contributing Photographers Krista Hicks Benson, Colleen Ingerto, Tyler Murphy Circulation Bill Mason, Circulation Director Business Ray Koupal, Chief Financial Officer
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I f y o u ’r e s u f f e r i n g f r o m l u m b a r d i s c p a i n o r s c i a t i c a , you must read about this non-surgical treatment...
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24 No Sweat
62 No Bullying!
28 Achy Knees?
66 Getting Physical
34 Laboring Over Baby
69 Live Within Your Means
36 Fish Facts
74 My Sister, My Frenemy
Lunchtime exercise that works How to keep this important joint healthy What’s new in the delivery room What, and how much, should we be eating?
44 Dinnertime Survival
Local chef offers inspiring recipes
52 Quest For Perfection
Top fat-reduction procedures
55 True or False?
Debunking fat myths
56 Hair Care
6 common shampooing mistakes
Telltale signs to watch for New ways to help trauma survivors heal Tips for creating a debt-free life Sharing a special kinship
spirit 81 Forgive Yourself
Why it’s easier said than done
84 Keep the Fire Burning
With these date-night suggestions
91 Lost That Lovin’ Feeling? 10 tips to recapture the romance
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84 every issue
10 contributors’ page 12 what’s on the web
14 editor’s note
16 news and views
20 fit and fab 33 did you know?
94 Cover credits: Clothing/ accessories provided by Ann Taylor, Westport. Hair and makeup by the Christopher Noland Salon & Beauty Spa, Greenwich. Cover and inside model photographs taken at Weir Farm National Historic Site, Wilton. Photo by Krista Hicks Benson.
51 your body: an owner’s manual
61 ask emma
79 my word essay Gym break-up
94 cover model Q&A Up close with Lydia Heilmann
90 East Ridge | Ridgefield, Connecticut | 203.438.5555 ridgefieldvna.org | Follow us on Facebook Staff Drop-in Site: 385 Main Street South | Southbury, Connecticut 203.264.3250
The story behind the story from our contributors Shampooing — the Right Way Brianna Snyder I had no idea what sulfates were before talking to local salon owners about best shampooing practices. Sulfates are what make your shampoo lather up, but they also can irritate your scalp and fry your hair. As with all things these days, it’s better to go for natural alternatives. See Brianna’s story on page 56.
Keep Those Knees Healthy
“My knees ached more and more with every interview I did for this piece.” Elizabeth Keyser Since interviewing experts for this article, I’ve started doing simple exercises to strengthen the muscles around my knee and they feel better. I’ve given up washing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees. But I must admit I’m not ready to switch from my beloved tennis to a lower-impact sport. See Elizabeth’s story on page 28.
Watching Your Dollars Elizabeth Floyd Mair While researching and writing about living within your means, I was reminded of the importance of talking to kids about budgeting, and giving them choices so that they can help the family stay on budget. See Elizabeth’s story on page 69.
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Keep That Fire Burning Merci Miglino Make a decision to fall back in love. Then whatever you do from there will work out. Read Merci’s story on how to rekindle that flame on page 91.
Laurie Lynn Fischer Growing up, my older sister and I often fought with each other. Our relationship improved immensely once we reached college age. Researching this article made me realize that this is a common pattern, especially when there’s a twoyear age difference like ours. Read about dynamic sister relationships on page 74.
Hot New Fat-Reduction Valerie Foster It’s not that I couldn’t stand to lose some of my fat, but I’m too chicken to have it sucked out by liposuction. But the new non-invasive fat reducing techniques I discovered reporting this story? Definitely something to save my pennies for! See Val’s story on page 52.
We asked, you answered! What’s the kookiest diet you ever tried? Valerie: Beverly Hills. Especially loved the two days of eating only watermelon.
What’s your goto method of losing a few pounds? @healthylifect
The Sister Relationship
Loredana: Resetting with a few days of eating very clean. Veggies, low glycemic fruit and quinoa.
Drinking lots of water. Bruce: Nothing with white flour; no late dinners (after 7 p.m.); regular exercise.
So, how many of us looked like Kate Middleton a day after giving birth? Corrinn: I remember my look so well. Best described as a cross between Kermit the Frog and Rodney Dangerfield …
What’s one hairstyle you always wanted to pull off but couldn’t? Corrinn: Bangs. Kami: Going gray.
What was your toughest birthday? (And what was your best?) Loredana: 18th was my toughest. 38, 39, 40, 41 progressively fabulous! :)
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Behind the Scenes HealthyLife went to Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton to take cover photos for the September issue. If you’ve never been, go! It is truly a treasure in our own backyard. But before the camera started clicking, our cover model, Lydia Heilmann of Fairfield, had her hair and makeup done at Greenwich’s Christopher Noland Salon & Beauty Spa. And the great clothes/accessories Lydia wore were courtesy of Ann Taylor, Westport. Our thanks to store manager Jody Gourley for helping us find the perfect looks!
➺ More Recipes!
Want to make these yummy Asian chicken lettuce wraps or oven-baked fries with Parmesan and rosemary from Debra Ponzek’s The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook? Go to our website for the recipes.
Weir Farm welcomed us.
Exercises Check out our exclusive online video on exercises to help keep those load-bearing knee joints working properly.
Got a smartphone? Scan the QR code at right to link directly to our YouTube playlist.
➺ Take Care of Even if you have perfect vision, you shouldn’t ignore your eye health. Read our online story about the common eye conditions — and their symptoms — we all should be aware of.
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Photos: Cover model behind scenes, Rebecca Haynes; Doctor with patient, © Monkey Business Images/ Dreamstime.com; Knee exercise photo, Tyler Murphy; Asian chicken lettuce wraps, Steve Legato/Running Press.
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New beginnings S
eptember has always been among my favorite months. The nights get cooler, the air feels crisper and the kids head back to school, which in my house was mostly a good thing. But for some kids and their families, back-to-school time is filled with fear: Will the bullies who tormented Michael or Katie last year continue with their bad behavior? My kids had occasional run-ins with bullies, particularly during the middle school years. But the problem got worse for our youngest (who’s now 18), when social media began to play a bigger role in kids’ interactions with each other. It’s heartbreaking to see your child get harassed for no reason — just someone deciding it was fun to do. And when the problem continued, we met with school administrators, who worked with us to put an end to it. Did you know that 1 out of 10 students in this country drops out or changes
schools because of repeated bullying? Or that 6 of 10 kids witness some form of bullying at least once a day? Or that more than 1 in 3 kids of middle- and high-school age has experienced cyber threats online? Those are some powerful statistics. Turn to page 62 to read our story on bullying and you’ll learn even more. Our experts offer lots of advice on how to handle this difficult situation. Now onto a more pleasant topic … our cover models. Have you ever pictured yourself on the cover of HealthyLife? If so, now is the time to jump into action. Our cover model contest for 2014 is about to begin. You can access the application online at healthylifect.com. Fill it out, attach a photo of yourself, write a very short essay (100 words) on how you live your healthy life, and hit “submit.” The contest runs Sept. 16-30 and all of our models for next year will be chosen shortly thereafter.
I think any of our past cover models would agree it was a really fun experience. So go for it! We love to hear from you. Send your comments or ideas for future stories to email@example.com. And join us on Facebook, where you might even win a prize for your comments. Thanks for reading! HL
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news and views compiled by beth cooney
FEEL SLUGGISH after breakfast or lunch? Researchers suggest it may be because you ate too much fat. A new study published in the journal Sleep suggests that when otherwise healthy, non-obese adults eat heavy, fatty foods (think burgers, deep-fried foods and greasy, cheesy
pizza) during the day it can impair alertness. Interestingly, the study subjects tended to fare better on the alertness scale when they ate carbohydrates and other foods that were not high in fat. Protein consumption didn’t seem to have a positive or negative impact
on the study subjects. Researchers noted that there are implications beyond packing on the calories for eating too much fat. It can affect productivity and even impair public safety by diminishing mental acuity. source: tinyurl.com/hl13sleepy
Calcium for Life TAKING A CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT of up to 1,000 milligrams a day accomplishes more than boosting mineral intake and keeping bones healthy and strong. It can also help you live longer, according to a new study. The study by Canadian researchers, recently accepted for publication in a journal published by the Endocrine Society, is intriguing because calcium supplementation has become somewhat controversial in recent years. Some studies have associated calcium supplementation with an increased risk for heart disease. But researchers seeking to clarify whether calcium is a body’s friend or foe looked at data
gleaned from the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study and concluded it actually seems to enhance longevity in women. Researchers noted that they found no significant difference in the longevity of women who sourced their calcium from food or supplements, saying both approaches seem to be beneficial. Interestingly, these benefits were derived whether or not the calcium was combined with a vitamin D supplement. Also noteworthy: Calcium supplementation seemed to have no particular benefit for men, although researchers weren’t sure why. source: tinyurl.com/hl13calcium
Photos: Burger, Juanmonino/GettyImages; Calcium, Anthony-Masterson/GettyImages; Feet, © iStockphoto. com/bgwalker; Alarm, Günay Mutlu/GettyImages; Sleeping, Floresco Productions/GettyImages.
Hereditary Footprint? SUFFERERS OF BUNIONS often complain of a variety of problems because of the prominent bulge protruding from their misshapen feet: throbbing pain, trouble buying shoes, interference with sports and, of course, the aesthetic issues of having odd-looking tootsies. Researchers now are saying quite definitively that bunion sufferers can blame Mom, Dad or some other blood relative for passing on the foot disorder. According to research out of Harvard Medical School, which involved more than 1,300 individuals participating in the Framingham Foot Study, Caucasian
men and women of European descent seem most vulnerable to inheriting bunions. In fact, researchers dubbed the deformity, which impacts some 23 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 65, as “highly inheritable” based on their research. While many people complain anecdotally that they inherited “Grandma’s feet,” actually correlating the condition with genes has some treatment implications, researchers noted in a press release about their study, which was recently published in Arthritis Care & Research. An awareness of heredity may help adults be more
proactive about their foot health and engage in strategies to keep bunions from developing (such as wearing comfortable, supportive shoes). source: tinyurl.com/hl13bunions
Deadly Side Effect HERE’S RESEARCH WORTH CONSIDERING by parents — and prospective parents — who are considering the practice of bed-sharing with their babies. A new study says sharing the covers with a little one significantly increases a baby’s risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The risk of such deaths increases five-fold over babies who sleep independently. British researchers noted bedsharing can increase the risk of the devastating syndrome (where babies die suddenly and sometimes inexplicably) even in households where parents don’t abuse drugs or alcohol. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and
Topical Medicine noted some 88 percent of the deaths they investigated probably could have been prevented had the child slept near the parental bed in a crib, cot or bassinet. Researchers noted their findings were true even in cases where babies were breastfed (a factor known to protect against SIDS) and the infants lived in households where the parents did not smoke, drink excessively or take drugs (all factors known to exacerbate the syndrome). The study was reported recently in BMJ Open and was accompanied by a call by researchers for more education on the practice and its risks in an effort to prevent deaths. source: tinyurl.com/hl13sids
Sleep Apnea’s Heavy Burden THE PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS of America’s obesity epidemic continue to mount with the latest bad news on the impact being overweight has on getting a good night’s sleep. Researchers in Wisconsin have found rates of sleep apnea — a condition in which sleep is interrupted when breathing stops temporarily — are perilously high in obese adults they studied in that state and claim those rates may have climbed as much as 55 percent in the last two decades. Their findings were reported recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Sufferers of sleep apnea often report being chronically tired during the day, while other studies have tied the condition to a higher incidence of heart disease. The good news? Sleep apnea is treatable and sometimes even modest weight loss can improve the condition. source: tinyurl.com/hl13apnea continued on page 18
news and views continued from page 17
Cut the Salt
FITNESS ENTHUSIASTS love to debate the benefits of running versus walking, and now researchers have weighed in on which form of cardiovascular exercise wins in the best-for-your-body category. When it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, running takes the gold according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, which looked at the long-term weight-loss successes and BMI (body mass index) of groups of devoted walkers and runners. While itâ€™s not clear why running was more efficient, researchers, who published their findings recently in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Medicine, had a few theories. They suggest the aftereffects of vigorous exercise, such as running, may burn more calories throughout the day, revving the bodyâ€™s calorie-burning engine for the long haul. Also, they point to existing research that suggests intense exercise, such as running, seems to diminish appetite more efficiently than more moderate walking. While walkers may want to give running a try, researchers and fitness experts note there are still plenty of good reasons to walk. For one thing, walking (as well as running) is excellent bone-building weight-bearing exercise and, also, studies have noted fitness walkers are especially devoted to their routine, maintaining their healthy habit for the long haul. source: tinyurl.com/hl13run
Photos: GettyImages. Runner, Cavan Images; Salt, Jamie Grill Photography; Dog, Pat Gaines; Sleep, Peter Dazeley; Depression, Chris Fertnig.
DESPITE LOTS OF RESEARCH that suggests consuming too much salt or sodium is harmful to the body in innumerable ways, the average American continues to ingest way too much on a daily basis. Indeed, most folks still down a whopping 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, way more than the 2,300 milligram maximum recommended by the federal government. The findings were reported recently by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Evidence has shown that reducing sodium intake also reduces the risk of high blood pressure as well as stroke and cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in American women. How to cut salt? Ditch the table shaker and read labels carefully for sodium content, which is particularly high in canned and other processed foods, meats and junky snacks.
Heart’s Best Friend
YES, FIDO, you really are your owners’ best friend — at least when it comes to their heart health. The American Heart Association recently made it official, publishing a scientific statement in its journal Circulation, which reveals good research suggesting pet ownership appears to be beneficial in reducing stress, blood pressure and improving cardiovascular function and reducing obesity. The AHA noted that dogs appear to be the most beneficial pet to own because of the health benefits derived from walking them. Still, the AHA cautions that even with all the benefits that appear to be associated with pet ownership and heart health, it’s not reason enough to adopt, rescue or buy a dog or any other pet. Pets take love, money and time to nurture and it’s best to carefully consider whether you and your family are up to the task before taking one into your home. source: tinyurl.com/hl13fido
Healthy Sleep HAVING TROUBLE SLEEPING? Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are offering yet another good reason to take chronic insomnia seriously. According to their research, middle-aged and older adults with sleep disorders are more likely to be hospitalized for a variety of health problems and also require the services of a home health aide or admittance to a nursing home. This news is nothing to snooze about. Insomnia is a chronic problem for an estimated 50 percent of adults ages 60 and older and is also a common syndrome in women during their preand postmenopausal years. The Johns Hopkins researchers, who reported their findings recently in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, suggest that insomnia be carefully monitored by both sufferers and their health care providers because of its implications for longterm health problems.
Depressing Genes WHY SOME WOMEN DEVELOP debilitating postpartum depression after childbirth and some women are spared has long been a curiosity. Researchers are homing in on two genes, which they suspect may be particularly reactive to estrogen, as a possible explanation for why depression afflicts some women more than others after childbirth. A small study that recently appeared in the journal Molecular Psychiatry hones in on two genes, which when altered slightly appear to exacerbate depression. These genes, the scientists involved in the study note, appear to be particularly sensitive to the hormone estrogen, which is elevated during pregnancy. While the work is preliminary, they suggested it could ultimately lead to screening that could alert women they are vulnerable to depression after childbirth. source: tinyurl.com/hl13postpartum
source: tinyurl.com/ hl13insomnia
fit & fab Drops to Your Health: Hydration is key to a properly functioning body, but even the best quality waters can be too acidic — and that opens the door to illness and other health issues. Smooth 8 Purify Water Drops are chemical- and preservative-free drops that help you stay perfectly hydrated. Add 10-20 tasteless drops, or up to 60 drops a day, into anything you drink. $19.95 per 600 drops. Visit smooth8.com.
It’s a Wrap: No socks, no shoes? No problem. Nike’s Studio Wrap Pack footwear system — a wrap, flat and ribbon — gives you the feel of socks and shoes and the breathability of going barefoot. Wear them while doing yoga, barre, dance or most any workout and afterward, take them straight to the street. The wrap goes over the top of your foot and the flat slips over the wrap for gripping any surface. The ribbon ties around the foot and up the ankle for extra support and style. $110. Available at Dick’s Sporting Goods and most sneaker retailers, or visit nike.com.
These hot new FIt and Fab finds will take your current health regimen to the next level — or get you started off right. by carin lane
You can visit Carin on facebook at www.facebook.com/ carinlane.healthylife or follow her on twitter @tiredorinspired and Pinterest at pinterest.com/carinlane. Have a new
Try this on for size: the 5-pound Women’s Hyper Vest SXY. Fashionable, lightweight and adjustable, it fits like a glove with moisture-wicking fabric and a sturdy zipper to keep things snug. Each weight pocket holds half-pound weights, giving you up to 5 pounds to work with. You can also purchase 2-pound “booster packs” to add more weight as you get stronger. Add this vest to your workout, errand-running or just doing chores at home. $129.99. Visit hyperwear.com.
product you’d like to share? E-mail Carin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step It Up: CrossFit workouts are super hot, and so are these Reebok Nano 3.0 sneakers built for CrossFitters. New and improved from the earlier Nano 2.0s, the DuraCage upper gives you the protection and flexibility you need. The wide toe and anti-friction liner keeps things comfy; shock absorption gives those tootsies a softer landing on the box jumps; and the grippy, soft soles help you go higher and push harder. At 9.4 ounces they won’t feel like cinder blocks when you start to tire, either. $119.99. Available at Dick’s Sporting Goods and most sneaker retailers, or visit reebok.com.
Skinny Rules: Follow the rules and you’ll get super fit. The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper has created a killer 3-DVD set — Core, Cardio and Strength — that combines his toughest exercises into short, high-intensity, circuit-style workouts comprising 15-minute segments. Beginners will need to modify at first; the more advanced could add this to their current regimen, or do more circuits. To reach your goal faster, also check out Jumpstart to Skinny, Harper’s best-selling book that inspired these workouts. The book includes his 13 rules to live by and some tasty meal plans. $29.95, DVD set; $20, book. Visit amazon.com.
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OK, so you slipped up ➺ on your new healthy eating
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regimen. Don’t use this as an excuse to stop trying. Think about the self-control you had before the slip-up and KEEP GOING!
Don’t Sweat It 24 Dealing With Bad Knees? 28 Did You Know? 33 Making Labor Easier 34 Which Fish Is Best? 36 Surviving Dinner 44 Your Lungs — A Primer 51 Hot Fat-Reduction Procedures 52 Debunking Fat Myths 55 Don’t Make These Shampooing Mistakes 56
Fitness that won’t have you sweating buckets
by valerie foster | photos by colleen ingerto
ew studies have HealthyLife wondering if sitting in front of your computer all day might be the most dangerous job in America. Our experts won’t go that far, but all agreed we need to get up more. And is there a better time to get moving than at lunch? “Just when you feel like you may go into a slump, pow, hit it with a metabolism jolt,” says fitness guru Leslie Sansone of www.WalkAtHome.com. “You will regain energy, clear a foggy brain, reverse a blue mood. You will feel confident, alert and creative.” NEED MORE ENCOURAGEMENT? A study in Sweden found that when healthy men reduced the amount of daily steps they took — either by 4,000 or 8,000 steps — both groups had a 60 percent increase in the amount of insulin circulating in their blood, increased their risk of heart disease factors and increased abdominal fat by seven percent. And that study was conducted over two weeks! The Mayo Clinic cites another study that looked at adults who spend fewer than two hours a day in front of the TV and those who spend more than four hours a day — many fewer hours than many people sit at their desks. The latter group had almost a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause and a 125 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including chest pain or heart attack. Dr. Travis Stork, host of The Doctors, writes in his The Lean Belly Solution that a brisk 20-minute walk — compared with sitting your entire lunch hour — burns an extra 49 calories. Do the math: seven days a week, that totals 343 calories. In a month, that’s an extra 1,372 calories. It all adds up. continued on page 26
SIDE STRETCHES Arms overhead, stretch to one side, bending from your waist. Slowly come up and bend to your other side.
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work workouts continued from page 24
But where to start? With your mindset, which our experts say is the hardest part. “Even if it is just 10 or 15 minutes a day, it’s important to get some oxygen into your lungs,” says Etelka (Etti) Geczi, owner of 4 Ever Fit Body Personal Training in Greenwich. Sansone suggests dividing your lunch break: 50 percent to eating, 50 percent to exercising. “Even 10 short minutes of brisk exercise can be huge in health improvement and, yes, even weight loss,” Sansone says. And don’t worry about changing your clothes or sweating. Today’s suggestions will raise your heart rate a tad and make you a bit warm, but not hot enough to need a change of clothes. The key is to keep moving, says Vania Isaac of H.E.A.R. Fitness Studio in Monroe, who says she’s usually in motion, even when she’s not teaching classes. “When I am on the phone, I am not sitting down. Instead, I am walking around. Or, I might be stretching my legs out.” She also recommends standing at meetings or walking to a co-worker’s desk instead of picking up the phone or sending an e-mail. It’s no surprise that Sansone feels midday is the perfect time to walk. “A brisk walk … increases circulation, which sets off a whole host of reactions in the body that improve everything from blood pressure to blood sugar to stronger heart, lungs, bones — and it burns big calories,” she says. Her website always includes a one-mile walk workout (it changes monthly), that anyone can plug into for free. “You can always fit in 15 minutes,” she says. “One day you might want to walk around the office parking lot. Another day do our one-mile walk.” Adds Jo Rasmussen, owner of Fitness Works in Westport: “Walking out the door at lunch time is the best exercise you can do. You come back a better person, a better employee. It is something you can do for yourself each day that helps you collect your emotions.” SHORTER WORKOUTS, GREAT FORM This is what Geczi favors, adding that stretching and breathing exercises can be done in most work settings. “It’s important to lengthen and strengthen your muscles to prevent injury,” she says. “When your body is under stress — which often happens at work — it is on alert and releases cortisol, which makes you store fat.” Geczi suggests: • Front bends (see example on right) • Side stretches (see example on previous page) • Vertical stretches: Stand tall and with arms overhead, reach toward the ceiling.
What’s for lunch? Eat before or after exercise? Walking expert Leslie Sansone says exercise first because if you ate a healthy breakfast — and we all know we should — you should have the energy from that food working for you. Once exercise is done, slow
down and eat a healthy lunch. Jim White, a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, agrees but says that for some, a light snack 20 minutes before exercising will keep blood sugar levels even. “Exercising on an empty stomach can make some people feel weak,” he says.
While stretching, Geczi says remember to breathe, do each slowly, and repeat each a few times. If you need help, log on to YouTube and search “Classical Stretch, The Esmonde Technique.” “These videos are great for short stretches at the office,” she adds. SCHEDULE YOUR WORKOUTS Rasmussen understands that work often interferes with even the best intentions, which is why she favors scheduling workouts into your day planner — and then leaving the office. Her no-excuses attitude is evident: “You cannot tell yourself you don’t have the time. You have to make the time. Jump rope. Take a 20-minute walk around the building. Or walk up and down the staircase a few times. All are cardiovascular, which are so important.” CAN’T LEAVE THE OFFICE? Rasmussen recommends the following: • Squats (see example on right) • Stationary lunges: With one leg forward, one leg back, bend knees and lower body into a lunge. Front knee does not go over the toe, weight is on your heels. Don’t lock knees. Slowly come up. • Wall push-ups (see example on right) • Abdominal contractions: Self-explanatory and done simply when sitting in your chair. OFFICE PILATES Isaac recommends Pilates-style stretching to make the most of a lunchtime workout. “It will tone you up and work your body without breaking into too much of a sweat,” she says. “What is most important is to move slowly and concentrate, really focusing on the muscles you are working.” Isaac offers several suggestions, her first being squats, and recommends starting with a few repetitions and working up to 10. In addition: • Leg stretches: While sitting in a chair, bring knees into chest. Slowly and controlled, stretch left leg out while contracting abdominal muscles. Repeat on right leg. • Resistance band bicep curls (see example on right) • Leg raises: Place lightweight weights around ankles and perform seated leg raises on each leg. HL
His snacks of choice include a few whole-grain crackers spread with almond butter or hummus; Greek yogurt; a piece of fruit; string cheese with almonds; or a hard-boiled egg. Within an hour after exercising bring on more substantial fare. He recommends a turkey sandwich with a piece of fruit;
canned tuna mixed with lowfat mayonnaise with a few whole-grain crackers; a highprotein soup such as lentil or chicken noodle; a salad with a protein such as chicken or beans; or a protein shake. And one more suggestion from White: Eat real food and skip the processed stuff.
RESISTANCE BAND BICEP CURLS
WALL PUSHUPS Place palms against the wall and feet together, as far away from the wall as is comfortable. Slowly push back, then slowly come forward.
Buy a pair of resistance bands. Place them around your feet and in a seated position, do bicep curls.
Raise arms overhead, bend from your waist trying to reach the floor with your hands. Keep knees slightly bent.
(can be done holding on to your desk). Feet hip-distance apart, slowly bend your knees as if you are going to sit in a chair. Slowly come up.
Achy-Breaky Joints how to deal with bad knees
by elizabeth keyser
Walking puts one and a half times our body weight on each knee.
Photo: Petar Chernaev/GettyImages.
licking and grinding. Pain when we run. An ache when we go up or down stairs. Stiffness when we sit too long. Our knees are the largest and most complicated joints in our bodies, and we put a lot of wear on them. No wonder we’re likely to have problems. In fact, knee problems are more common in women than men because our wider hips put more pressure on our kneecaps. Think about the weight our knees carry. Walking puts one and a half times our body weight on each knee, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Walking up stairs puts three to four times our body weight on each knee. Being overweight adds three pounds of pressure on the knee for every additional pound. That means if we’re just 10 pounds overweight (and how many of us are only 10 pounds over?) we’ve added 30 pounds of pressure to our knees. No wonder they ache! Physical therapists, sports trainers and yoga instructors work with knee issues every day. “Pain is a sign there’s something wrong,” says Todd Wilkowski, a certified sports therapist and owner of Performance Physical Therapy, which has offices in Greenwich, Stamford and Westport. “The sooner you treat it, the better the chance of recovery,” he says. Our active lifestyles and intense exercise habits can lead to overuse injuries and Wilkowski says
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inward. Yoga builds strength and flexibility so that the entire body moves toward better alignment. Tight psoas muscles, a major core muscle that connects the lumbar to the legs, can tip the pelvis forward, which leads to overarching of the back, a pronated (pigeon-toed) angle of the feet and inner angling of the knees. Tight hamstrings can tip the pelvis back, reducing the curve of the back and over-rounding the upper back. This can turn the femurs (the thigh bones) outward and make people roll onto the outer edges of their feet — not a healthy situation for the knees, say yoga teachers.
Photos by Tyler Murphy.
ood shoes that support your feet also are important. Physical therapists recommend smaller local stores, such as Hawley Lane Shoes (in Norwalk, Stamford, Shelton and Orange), where the staff is specially trained to measure feet for a proper fit and where they carry a large variety of shoes that offer good support. One of the most common knee problems physical therapists say they encounter is patellofemoral syndrome, a catch-all phrase used to describe pain or grinding in the knee cap when this small, roundish bone glides over the end of the thigh bone. It can be remedied with easy exercises that stretch the hamstrings and strengthen the gluteals, such as one-leg mini squats, exercising the hip extensors and doing the Bridge yoga pose. Having a sedentary job tightens the hamstrings. Take frequent breaks and stretch. At FISIO Physical Therapy and Wellness in Being overweight Danbury, owner Karin LaBanca, who holds a adds three pounds doctorate in physical therapy, uses a taping of pressure on the technique developed by Australian physiknee for every cal therapist Jenny McConnell to address additional pound. patellofemoral pain. “We use taping to put — American Physical the kneecap in proper position to minimize Therapy Association wearing,” she says. “It relocates the kneecap earlier onset of “arthritic changes” in women more to the inside of the leg and makes the in their 50s caused by the wear and tear of an kneecap glide over the thigh bone. It gives immeactive lifestyle. diate relief and we’re able to work with the client to Although they are vulnerable, we can take care of strengthen their glutes.” our knees to prevent and remedy problems several ways. Playing sports that involve running, jumping, sudden stops It begins with the way we stand. Yoga practitioners train and changes in direction are punishing to the knees, and themselves to build and maintain healthy alignment from women and girls are four to six times more likely to suffer a their feet to their heads. This means the knees are subjecttear in the anterior cruciate ligament, or the ACL, that coned to less twisting and torque and can flex in the direction nects the thigh bone to the shin bone. Female high school they’re designed to go in. and college athletes have less-developed muscles than their When yoga instructor Cindy Argo of Ganga Flow Yoga in male counterparts, making them more likely to strain their Milford goes to the grocery store, she often watches the way ligaments. The bad news is that studies show that young people walk and stand. “I see how out of line they are,” she athletes who require ACL surgery are at risk of developing says. The Tadasana, or Mountain, pose is the foundation of osteoarthritis years later. yoga standing poses, and it’s all about alignment and evenly Experts underscore the importance of stretching and distributing weight. The knees should stay aligned with the warming up before playing sports as a preventive meaheels, say yoga masters. They shouldn’t bend outward or
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ZUMBA AT THE PLAYHOUSE sure. And as difficult as it is to contemplate, as we age we might think about replacing hard-impact sports with low-impact sports, such as swimming, rock climbing or yoga. Or taking a brisk walk instead of running. Wilkowski says a common injury he treats in runners is ITB Syndrome, which often causes sharp or burning pain on the outside of the legs when the iliotibial band, the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin, becomes inflamed. Another common injury is a tear in the meniscus, the shock-absorber-like pads of cartilage between the femur and tibia. As we age, the meniscus gets more rigid and is more prone to tearing. But even the most common, mindless movements we do in our own homes can cause strain or injury. When you lift and carry a laundry basket or load a dishwasher, don’t twist and bend. Bend from the hips and knees. Treatment for knee problems needs to be tailored to the individual. But knee issues are helped by a few one-size-fits-all solutions. Wilkowski says knee problems point to a need for “overall physical conditioning, good nutrition, getting enough sleep and an exercise program that is enough to strengthen the muscles,” — including the core musculature and muscles around the pelvis — “but not enough to irritate the injury.” And losing weight? It’s probably the best thing you can do for your knees. HL
Wednesday, Sept. 25 Celebrate National Women’s Health and Fitness Day with a Zumba Class on the Playhouse stage!
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Want to learn more? Watch our video for some tips and exercises for dealing with knee pain at healthylifect.com. Got a smartphone? Scan the QR code at right to link directly to our HealthyLife YouTube playlist.
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Are you picturing yourself on the cover yet? If so (and you are between the ages of 35 and 54), send us your essay along with a headshot and a photo of you in an activity that helps keep you healthy, if possible. Entries can be submitted online from Sept. 16 through Sept. 30 at www.healthylifect.com/covermodelsearch. Finalists will be notiďŹ ed by Oct. 7 and must be available for a trial photo shoot on either Oct. 15 in Danbury or Oct. 17 in Bridgeport.
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did you know?
Most people fall asleep in seven minutes. (We donâ€™t recommend counting the minutes until you fall asleep to test this theory. Just take our word for it.)
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30 percent Italian researchers have discovered that steaming broccoli increases its concentration of glucosinolates (compounds found to fight cancer) by 30 percent. Boiling actually lowers the levels.
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Special Delivery making hard labor easier
y babies were born at home, without medication. My sister had a Cesarean. We became mothers at the turn of the millennium, when one out of four infants in Fairfield and Litchfield counties entered the world surgically. The national C-section rate was below five percent when we were born in the 1960s. Although natural childbirth was popular back then, our Mom received Demerol for pain and laughing gas when our heads crowned. What’s it like to have a baby today? How popular are medications? Are women using any new techniques to avoid drugs but still be relatively comfortable? About a third of 2010 births in Fairfield and Litchfield counties were Cesareans, according to the latest statistics from the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Between 2000 and 2010, the lowest average Cesarean rates were at Danbury Hospital (25 percent) and St. Vincent’s Medical
by laurie lynn fischer
Center (26.6 percent). The highest rates were at Stamford (36.6 percent) and Bridgeport (35.2 percent) hospitals. In between were Greenwich (34 percent), Norwalk (31.2 percent) and New Milford (32.7 percent) hospitals. Bear in mind that some facilities handle more high-risk births than others, notes the health department. The “ultimate pain relief” available for women in labor is the epidural — an analgesic administered through a catheter in the lower back — says William Cusick, who chairs the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Vincent’s Medical Center, home of the only in-hospital midwifery unit in Fairfield County. Between 80 and 90 percent of women at St. Vincent’s have epidurals, he says. “Those numbers are pretty representative of most women in hospitals around here,” Cusick says. “It would be a little unusual to have women not laboring with it.” Spinal blocks — injections that numb the lower body for
Photos: GettyImages. Baby feet, serts; Water birth, IAN HOOTON.
about an hour — are used prior to C-sections, Cusick says. Pitocin, which stimulates uterine contractions, is administered to “initiate or expedite” labor, he says. Rupturing the membranes also may speed up the labor process, he says. “The longer they’re in labor, the higher the risk for certain complications,” he says. Non-pharmacological means of pain management range from walking to acupuncture, according to Cusick. While many women take drugs, others rely on visualizations, vocalization, yoga breathing, pressure point massage, warm baths, showers, dim lights, music and encouragement, says Cory DeMaio, a birth doula who attends laboring mothers statewide. Medical births are getting “more medical” and home births are on the rise, says Cynthia Overgard, whose Westport business — HypnoBirthing of Connecticut — offers everything from doulas to parenting education. “Many women are comfortable with the ‘I’ll get that baby out of you’ mentality, because they’re conditioned to be so afraid of it all their lives,” she says. “At the same time, there’s a small growing community of people who are taking back their births.” About two of three women who take her class have hospital births; the others do it at birthing centers or at home, Overgard says. “The whole goal of hypnobirthing is to be calm and in control through labor,” she says of the program in which women learn a variety of techniques to help them work with, rather than against, the birth process. “The majority of women who take the course have natural births. They don’t necessarily want natural birth; they don’t want unnecessary medical intervention. Even the women I’ve taught who have Csections say ‘Thank God I took the class.’” Overgard says the frequency of C-sections among mothers using hypnobirthing is Birthing around 13 or 14 percent — less than half the national average. “When you work with hypnosis, you flood the unconscious mind with simple positive suggestions,” says hypnobirthing instructor Barbara Davison. “Leading up to the birth, you flood them with positive thoughts. That’s what this mom is focused on. She’s been a chalice for this baby. She’s been its protector. Together, they are giving birth.” Post-partum doula Jen Matlack of Bethel says half her clients have scheduled C-sections, and she recommends birth plans for all expectant mothers. “Write exactly what you want to happen,” she says. “Spell it all out and give copies to your doctor and the nurses. For instance, I wanted to cut the cord.” Matlack went to Lamaze class to prepare for her daugh-
ter’s arrival. “It was all about the importance of using your breath to work through it, to try to calm yourself as much as possible,” she recalls. “The more you tense up — if you become really anxious about it and afraid — the harder it’s going to be, and it’s going to hurt more. I wanted it to be as organic as possible. I knew I was just going to have one baby and wanted to be fully present during labor and delivery. I didn’t want to be drugged up or knocked out. I wanted to have control over my body.” Because she was past her due date, Matlack’s doctor wanted to induce labor. “I sat in my office and meditated and started talking to the baby and said, ‘You need to come.’” The next day, contractions began. She labored for eight hours in the whirlpool bath in a Danbury Hospital birthing room. “That and the doula totally saved me,” she says. “I was
pools can help soothe the pain of labor. focusing on the water sound. My doula sat quietly by me the whole time. She got me ice. When things were getting really intense, she was very supportive and encouraging. When I was going through a contraction, I would let my body go in the water. The doula behind me held my head up. I let the pain wash over me. I was riding it.” When she couldn’t stand it any longer, she requested a paracervical block, which is a local anesthetic injected into her cervix. “It took the edge off,” she says. “I felt renewed. About 10 or 15 minutes after that shot, I was ready to push. It was 12 hours from the time my water broke until the time I delivered. I had a beautiful pregnancy and a beautiful labor and delivery and a healthy baby. It was the best day of my life.” HL
e’ve all heard that eating fish is good for us. It’s widely considered a great source of protein that’s relatively low in saturated fat and calories, packed with omega-3 fatty acids to help your heart and brain. Many types of fish also are great sources of vitamins D and B12, iron, zinc, phosphorus and a laundry list of other nutrients. But standing at the seafood counter at the local market can be confusing. We’re told to consider the mercury content, as well as whether the fish was sustainably caught. Who can keep track of the mental juggling and still plan a decent meal based on the day’s catch? In general, bigger predatory fish have higher mercury content. In fact, the EPA and FDA warn against eating shark, swordfish, King Mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury. That joint recommendation further suggests people eat up to 12 ounces per week (about two average meals) of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, including shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish. And no — mercury found in fish isn’t the same type of mercury used in thermometers or compact fluorescent bulbs. Instead, it’s methylmercury, a neurotoxin that accumulates more quickly in our bodies and takes longer to be eliminated than elemental mer-
what, and how much, should we be eating? by melinda mcGarty webb
cury. In high doses, methylmercury can be particularly harmful to the developing nervous systems of young children and unborn babies. And cooking doesn’t reduce mercury levels. It’s not like a bacteria that can be killed at high heat. If it’s in the fish, it remains there regardless of how you prepare it. You can feed lower-mercury fish to a young child twice a week, but in smaller portions than the 12 ounces recommended for adults, say the FDA and EPA. Still, direct ingestion isn’t the only way our children can be exposed. Women can pass methylmercury to their babies during pregnancy, and nursing mothers can pass it through breast milk. What makes this even scarier is that methylmercury can accumulate in a woman’s bloodstream before pregnancy and then be passed to her unborn child once she’s pregnant. That means it’s not enough to monitor your mercury consumption while you’re pregnant. If you are of childbearing age, you might want to be mindful of how much mercury you ingest. The body eventually removes it naturally, but it could take more than a year for levels to drop significantly, according to the FDA. But don’t be scared off. “Fish is a lowfat and low-calorie source of protein,” says Nicole Greene Barrato, a registered dietitian who practices in Westport. “Fatty fishes like salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3
Photo: GettyImages/Dwight Eschliman.
Prepare your fish, safely
Did You Know?
Thawing Thaw frozen seafood gradually by placing it in the refrigerator overnight. If you have to thaw seafood quickly, either seal it in a plastic bag and immerse it in cold water or, if the food will be cooked immediately thereafter, microwave it on the “defrost” setting and stop the defrost cycle while the fish is still icy but pliable. Cooking Most seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. If you don’t have a food thermometer, there are other ways to determine whether seafood is done. Fish The flesh should be opaque and separate easily with a fork
Shrimp and Lobster The flesh becomes pearly and opaque
Scallops The flesh turns opaque and firm
Clams, Mussels and Oysters The shells open during cooking — throw out any that don’t open
Uncooked, spoiled seafood can have an ammonia odor that becomes stronger after cooking. If you smell an ammonia odor in raw or cooked seafood, do not eat it.
— Courtesy of the U. S. Food and Drug Administration
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or poultry.” Now that doesn’t give you license to gorge on stuffed lobster with drawn butter, Coquilles St. Jacques and fried whole belly clams drenched in tartar sauce. It’s the manner in which shellfish is sometimes prepared that can be problematic. Instead, try steaming, boiling, grilling, broiling or baking your shellfish. Those methods all preserve its natural sweetness and don’t pack on the fat and calories.
Photo: GettyImages/Thomas Barwick.
fatty acids, which are helpful in preventing heart disease and improving mood.” This type of fat helps decrease triglycerides and total cholesterol in the body, and also has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect. Fish is also high in antioxidants and rich in calcium, phosphorus, minerals, zinc and potassium. It’s also a great source of B12, particularly trout and salmon, and it’s high in iron. “These fish can be 80 to 100 percent of the daily value [of B12],” says Barrato. “Oftentimes, my clients don’t realize that if they need to increase their iron intake, eating fish is a great way.” As a protein source, fish ranks right up there with chicken and red meat. One ounce of any of those foods has approximately 7 grams of protein. And while chicken and beef are comparable in terms of protein, they’re both higher in fat and cholesterol. So let’s move on to shellfish, which some of us avoid because we think these mollusks and crustaceans are high in cholesterol. But that’s not the case. “There are a few reasons why shellfish may have a bad reputation when it comes to cholesterol,” according to information from NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan. “First, shellfish contain a variety of sterols, a group of chemical compounds that includes cholesterol. Previously, scientists could not distinguish among the different sterols and all were labeled as cholesterol. As a result, the amount of cholesterol in shellfish was overestimated. In reality, shellfish contain less cholesterol than meat
hen it comes to fish, simple preparations can be very satisfying. “Just bake it with some low- or no-salt seasoning, like Mrs. Dash. Or marinate it with a low-calorie/low-fat sauce or even a lowfat salad dressing,” suggests Barrato. “When working with patients on weight loss, I tend to limit the amount of oil they use. While oils contain healthy fats, it can be too much of a good thing.” Broiling and baking certain kinds of fish is beneficial for another reason, and it has to do with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. These toxins accumulate in the fat of fish, particularly in farmed salmon. “To reduce your exposure to PCBs, trim fat from fish before cooking. Also, choose broiling, baking or grilling over frying, as these cooking methods allow the PCB-laden fat to cook off the fish,” notes the Environmental Working Group, referring to farmed salmon. “When possible, choose wild and canned Alaskan salmon instead of farmed, and eat farmed salmon no more than once a month.” The wild-caught versus farmed fish debate has been raging for years, and who knows better about the public’s concerns than the folks on the front lines — those who man the seafood counters and answer our queries. Jack Driscoll, a seafood specialist at Big Y in Bethel who has been selling fish for more than 30 years, says customers have definitely started to ask more questions. “People want to know where their fish comes from now,” he says. “It’s often a wild-caught versus farm-raised issue. Years ago, nobody really cared about where the fish was from, but the farm-raised people got some bad press a few years ago.” He’s talking about the fact that in 2003, seven of 10 farmed salmon purchased at grocery stores in Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Portland, Ore., were contaminated with PCBs at levels that raised health concerns, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group. (Disposal of PCBs into waterways contaminated rivers and oceans throughout the United States until their manufacture and use was banned domestically in 1976.) Immediately, many consumers started questioning the source of their salmon. Was it caught in the wild, or was
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your nutrition it raised on a “farm”? Farmed salmon live in densely populated tanks or pens where diseases can spread rapidly. To keep these illnesses at bay, they’re often treated with antibiotics, and they’re fed a steady diet of fish meal with color enhancers to give their flesh that salmon-pink color. The fish accumulate PCBs not only from the water in which they swim but from the fish meal they’re fed, which consists largely of ground-up small fish. PCBs tend to accumulate in the fat of fish, and the meal is designed to be high in fish oil. “On average, farmed salmon have 16 times the dioxin-like PCBs found in wild salmon, 4 times the levels in beef, and 3.4 times the dioxin-like PCBs found in other seafood,” according to the Environmental Working Group. Farmed salmon is less expensive than wild-caught, however, and it’s plentiful. After all, our supply of fish is not limitless. “Humans have been fishing the oceans for thousands of years. But over the past five decades technology has allowed us to fish farther, deeper and more efficiently than
ever before. Scientists estimate that we have removed as much as 90 percent of the large predatory fish such as shark, swordfish and cod from the world’s oceans,” according to literature from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Our oceans are in a state of “silent collapse,” they say, threatening our food supply, marine economies, recreation and the legacy we leave our children. “Through better practices, we can create healthy, abundant oceans for everyone.” HL See sidebar on how to buy fish, page 43
Tuna — the old standby For many people, canned tuna is a pantry staple — a quick, inexpensive sandwich, an easy way to add protein to a salad, or even a comforting casserole or pasta dish. But be wary of which type of tuna you choose. Canned light tuna is preferable to albacore, (the white tuna), in terms of mercury contamination because the smaller light tuna is likely to have accumulated less. The FDA and EPA advise limiting intake of both albacore tuna and tuna steaks or fillets to up to six ounces, which is about one average meal, per week.
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your nutrition continued from page 41
Selecting fish — how do I know if it’s fresh?
Follow these general guidelines for safely selecting fish, shrimp and shellfish.
Shellfish 1. Look for the label
Fresh Fish and Shrimp
Photos: GettyImages. Raw shrimp, Ursula Alter; Woman buying crab, Juanmonino; Perch, salmon and tuna, Nina Gallant.
1. How it’s stored
Only buy fish that is refrigerated or displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice that is not melting (preferably in a case or under some type of cover.) 2. How it smells
Fish should smell fresh and mild, not fishy, sour or ammonia-like. Shrimp should have little or no odor. 3. How it looks
A fish’s eyes should be clear and bulge a little. Whole fish and fillets should have firm, shiny flesh and bright red gills free from milky slime. Fish fillets should display no discoloration, darkening or drying around the edges.
Look for tags on sacks or containers of live shellfish (in the shell) and labels on containers or packages of shucked shellfish. These tags and labels contain specific information about the product, including the processor’s certification number. This means that the shellfish were harvested and processed in accordance with national shellfish safety controls. 2. Discard cracked/ broken ones
Throw away clams, oysters and mussels if their shells are cracked or broken. 3. Do a “tap test”
Live clams, oysters and mussels will close when the shell is tapped. If they don’t close when tapped, do not select them. 4. Check for leg movement
Live crabs and lobsters should show some leg movement. They spoil rapidly after death, so only live crabs and lobsters should be selected and prepared.
Shrimp flesh should be translucent and shiny with little or no odor.
— Courtesy U. S. Food and Drug Administration
4. How it feels
Not all fish are sustainably equal
The flesh should spring back when pressed. 5. Check the label
Some refrigerated seafood may have time/temperature indicators on their packaging, which show if the product has been stored at the proper temperature. Always check the indicators when they are present and only buy the seafood if the indicator shows that the product is safe to eat.
Even if you know what type of fish to buy, there are situations when you should ask where and how the fish was caught. With haddock, for example, if it was caught in the United States with a hook and line, then it’s a
great choice. Think twice if it comes from anywhere else or is trawled in the U.S. Tilapia farmed in the U.S. is the best because it’s farmed in an environmentally friendly and responsible manner. Tilapia farmed in Central or South
America is still a good option, but if it comes from Asia, it’s listed by Seafood Watch as a fish to avoid because it’s being caught or farmed in ways “that harm other marine life or the environment.” — seafoodwatch.org
Want to do your own fishing? Go to www. healthylifect.com learn about EPA advisories.
Find the recipe for Coconut and Lime Cream Pie and Deb’s Flaky Pie Crust, both pictured here, online at healthylifect.com
local chef hopes to inspire with easy, healthy recipes
Surviving Dinner D by valerie foster | photos by steve legato/running press
ebra Ponzek understands that fast food, eating on the run and processed foods have contributed to a childhood obesity epidemic in America. She also knows busy. Along with her husband, Greg Addonizio, she oversees Aux Délices, four preparedgourmet food shops; Aux Délices Events, a full-service catering business; a cooking school; and the new Aux Délices Bistro in Westport. The couple also has three children, ages 12, 15 and 17. All this has combined to make her just-published fourth
cookbook, The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook: Delicious Inspiring Meals for Busy Families, timely and important. And even though this internationally acclaimed chef knows her way around a kitchen, Ponzek understands the complexity of feeding a family healthy meals seven days a week. “People might assume that, with our lives, I don’t cook dinner each night. But I do — every night,” Ponzek says. “Each morning I ask everyone what they want for dinner, so I can think about it during the day. They might say hamburger or chicken, and that becomes the basis for supper. There is
The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook: Delicious Inspiring Meals for Busy Families, by Debra Ponzek, with Mary Goodbody, Running Press (a member of the Perseus Books Group), 257 pages, $22.
nothing worse than facing 5 p.m. with no thoughts as to what to serve for dinner.” The book is divided into 10 easily defined chapters. Craving soup? Check out chapter one. Is the grill beckoning? Chapter four is what you need. Fish, chicken, pasta and burgers star in other chapters. There is also a breakfast-for-dinner chapter, a practice that Ponzek grew up with and one she has continued in her Greenwich home. “Let’s be honest. Sometimes a bowl of cereal really is all anyone wants to eat at night,” Ponzek says. “So I included a recipe for the best granola you will ever taste, because if you are going to have cereal, why not have the best?” Just the name — apricot, honey and almond Granola — can start those taste buds salivating. Ponzek says she always has been a healthy eater, and maintains the key to any nutritious diet is moderation and avoiding processed foods, which all too often are the mainstay of an American diet. With her recipes you will shop the perimeter of the supermarket, filling your basket with fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry and dairy. She laughs about one recipe — bacon burgers with fried eggs and pesto mayonnaise — definitely not high on the healthy-eating scale and one she admits is over the top but too delicious to leave out of the cookbook. “But I would never eat this every night,” she says. “Once a month? Absolutely!” “When you make a meal yourself, you know every ingredient that you are putting into that meal,” she adds. “And if there is something in the recipe that you don’t like, leave it out or substitute. If you want less salt, that’s easy. If you are not big on cream and butter, change up those things. For example, you can always substitute nonfat Greek yogurt for sour cream.” Once a stickler for dried beans and fresh pasta, Ponzek now reaches for canned beans and no-boil pasta noodles. “I am a fan of kitchen shortcuts, as long as the result tastes good,” she says. “I believe in cooking what you like to cook. … And if you like a recipe, and cook it several
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Southwestern Salmon Tacos with Avocado Salsa Serves 4
Ingredients 2 avocados 2 tomatoes, cored and diced 1/2 cup finely diced red onion 1/4 cup loosely packed, chopped cilantro Juice of 1 lemon Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 (5- to 6-ounce) salmon fillets 1/4 cup canola oil Eight 6-inch flour tortillas Chipotle sour cream, recipe follows Cilantro leaves for garnish method Cut each avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Carefully scoop the flesh from the shell and dice it. Toss the diced avocado with the tomato, onion, cilantro and lemon juice. Stir to mix and season to taste with salt and pepper. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil until smoking over medium-high heat and cook the salmon, flesh-side down, for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Transfer the fillets to a platter to cool slightly. Spoon heaping tablespoons of the avocado salsa onto each flour tortilla. Gently flake each salmon fillet with your fingers or fork. Top the tortillas with salmon, chipotle sour cream and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.
times, you get to know that recipe and it becomes an easy go-to meal for you. The problem is that most of us find ourselves cooking the same five things for dinner. It becomes a formula, and although we might want to try cooking something different, we don’t know where to start. This book is an easy way to try out some new recipes.” She and her family have eaten every recipe in the book, which is not to say that everyone loves every recipe. Her kids have their own tastes, which is fine with Ponzek. She lives by the words of her grandmother, who told her you that if you don’t like a food, you have try it seven times. “The lesson here is to keep trying a food, even if you don’t like it the first time,” she says. She also admits it was easier to get her children
Chipotle Sour Cream Makes about 1/2 cup
Ingredients 1/2 cup sour cream 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can Kosher salt method Stir together the sour cream, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and mix well. Serve right away or refrigerate if not using soon.
to eat unusual foods before they knew what they were eating. Asking her to pick her favorite recipe from the cookbook is like asking her to choose a favorite child. But she came up with two mains, one side and one dessert, all of which take fewer than 30 minutes to prepare. The Asian chicken lettuce wraps are a family favorite, since the kids can make their own. It also introduces many to ground chicken, which Ponzek calls an often-overlooked delight. Her recipe for southwestern salmon tacos with avocado salsa is a great alternative to the omnipresent grilled salmon. She says most children like tacos, and this is the perfect way to introduce the younger set to fish. It’s served with chipotle sour cream, which packs a bit of heat but
can be toned down a tad or left off. Instead of frozen french fries, consider Ponzek’s oven-baked fries with parmesan and rosemary, so much more flavorful than the stuff that comes in bags. And for dessert? Coconut and lime cream pie. She includes a recipe for crust, but if you’d rather buy a premade crust she says, “Go for it!” “I can think of no better compliment than someone taking one of my recipes, making it a few times, adding their own touches, and finally turning it into something that is their own,” she says. “That was my goal for writing this book.” HL For more recipes, like Asian chicken lettuce wraps and oven-baked fries with parmesan and rosemary, visit healthylifect.com.
carries Gluten Free Low Sodium Reduced Sodium Organic Natural Low Fat Fat Free No Sugar Added Sugar Free
Your Wellness Resource Helping you to enhance the health and lifestyle of you and your family
When it comes to your well being, you know there is no "one size fits all" approach. Wellness means different things to different people and your personal preferences play a part in what foods you select to fit your lifestyle. As a part of our LiveRight with ShopRite® program you will find color coded shelf labels throughout the store to identify product choices in several categories: Gluten Free, Low Sodium, Reduced Sodium, Organic, Natural, Low Fat Free, No Sugar Added, and Sugar Free.
Look for the Live Right with the ShopRite® name throughout the store to help you find product choices that are Right for you and your family.
for a ShopRite nearest you and to learn more about Live Right with ShopRite® Pharmacy, and Wellness Education.
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— a primer lungs
compiled by linda tuccio-koonz
Photos: GettyImages. Lungs, PIXOLOGICSTUDIO; Woman, Fuse.
ur two lungs take up most of the space in our chest and together make up one of the largest organs of the body. Part of the respiratory system, they are protected by our rib cage and take oxygen from the air we breathe, passing it to the bloodstream so it can be carried to every cell throughout the body. The lungs partner with our diaphragm — a dome-shaped muscle that sits beneath them — allowing us to inhale and exhale.
The lungs are not the same size: the left one is smaller to make room for the heart.
The right lung has three lobes (sections) and the left has two. Each lobe is similar to a balloon filled with a sponge-like tissue.
Air moves in and out through one opening, the bronchial tube, which splits into two bronchi, one leading to each In 1987, lung lung. The bronchi are lined cancer surpassed with cilia (think very small breast cancer hairs) that carry mucus to become the to the throat so it can be leading cause of coughed up or swallowed, cancer deaths in eliminating dust, germs and women. other unwanted matter we breathe in.
While resting, you breathe in and out from 12 to 20 times per minute. After exercise, the rate can increase to over 60 times.
Asthma is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors and triggers differ from person to person. Attacks occur when airways narrow after irritation. Symptoms include wheezing, frequent coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
Smoking is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer, connected with 87 percent of all cases. Radon (colorless, odorless gas found naturally in soil) exposure is the No. 2 cause.
You can live without one lung, but it limits your physical ability.
Regular exercise increases lung capacity, which means you can move oxygen through your body faster. HL
For additional information on the lungs, go to healthylifect.com
The Quest for Perfection fat-reduction procedures target trouble spots by valerie foster
Cryolipolysis, branded as Coolsculpting, freezes fat, but not your skin. The frozen fat then dies and is absorbed by the body over time. The machine is likened to a mammogram: The fatty area is squeezed
Coolsculpting photo courtesy of Zeltiq. Surgery markings photo, Brad Wilson/GettyImages.
ighty percent of women don’t like their bodies. This stat from Psych Central — an online independent mental health social network run by mental health professionals — should come as no surprise to most of us. Nor should this: Women comprise 87 percent of the population who opt for cosmetic surgery. We are nip-tucking ourselves into our skinny jeans. But thanks to technology, the knife is not our only option. For the past three decades, women have turned to liposuction to suck the extra fat from our bodies. In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, liposuction is the third most popular cosmetic procedure with women, right behind breast augmentation and nose reshaping. “Liposuction is still the gold standard for ridding the body of large collections of fat,” says plastic surgeon Dr. Jack Fisher, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. It is the technique he uses because it’s a one-shot procedure, although invasive surgery that requires anesthesia and a recuperation period, that has been proven to be effective in his practice. Other doctors are turning to less invasive processes that don’t require surgery. Plastic surgeon Dr. Alan Gold, spokesman for American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, says all of the new processes accomplish the same end — removing localized fat under the skin. They are divided into two groups:
into a hand piece between two metal plates and the area is slowly chilled. Treatments last one hour and patients experience minimal to no discomfort. Non-surgical “liposuction” that uses ultrasound or lasers to melt and liquefy fat cells. One of the most popular is Zerona, which uses a cool laser to melt fat. It has been featured on TV, first on The Doctors, followed by The Dr. Oz Show, where Oz himself gave it his seal of approval last year, calling it a “miracle procedure.” And we all know what happens once Oz says something works. His face is also prominently displayed on the Zerona website. COOLSCULPTING Plastic surgeon Dr. Joseph O’Connell, of Plastic Surgery of Southern Connecticut in Westport, has been using Coolsculpting since it first came out a few years ago. He says it’s an attractive option for his patients for many reasons: The cost. While liposuction usually starts around $10,000, Coolsculpting costs around $1,500, depending on the areas that need treatment. In many cases, additional treatments may be needed to reach desired results. Time. Since it takes an hour, a patient can come in during lunch or after work. Recovery. There is none. Most of his patients leave his office and return to normal activities. No anesthesia. No incision. Minimal risk of skin injury. Registered Nurse Maureen Pothier performs Coolsculpting on clients of the Greenwich Medical Skincare & Laser Spa. She explains that the process is meant to sculpt the body and take away the bulge, and is only FDA-approved for removing fat from the torso — abdomen, flanks, back and thighs. What it won’t do is tighten skin. And if you are expecting instant results, Coolsculpting is not for you. It takes three to six months for the body to metabolize and excrete the frozen fat cells through the urine. One more caveat: “This is not a weight-loss treatment,” O’Connell adds. If you have a lot of weight to lose, he suggests diet and exercise first. And for some patients, he recommends liposuction. And although the fat cells are eliminated in an isolated area of the body, patients must eat a healthy diet and exercise to keep the results. “We are fortunate in Fairfield County that most people who come in to have Coolsculpting have done their research,” Pothier says. “Most of them do not have unrealistic expectations.” ZERONA Dr. Sharon J. Littzi, of Aesthetic Dermatology of Fairfield County in New Canaan, has been using Zerona for a few years. She’s a dermatologist with many patients who have struggled for years to lose stubborn fat, many of whom were opposed to surgery. “No matter what they did, they could not get rid of all their abdominal or thigh fat,” she says, add-
ing that this was the compelling reason why she decided to start offering Zerona treatments. She has used Zerona on men and women to reduce inches from their torsos. The machine looks like an octopus, with four laser “tentacles” that circle over the patient, who is lying down during the procedure. “Zerona is a low-level laser that delivers energy, resulting in small holes in fat cells,” Littzi explains. These punctures cause the fat to slowly leak out and leave the body over time. It does not destroy the fat cell. You can liken it to a balloon: Prick it with a few tiny holes and the balloon collapses. Like Coolsculpting, results are not immediate but gradual, although most patients see a difference after two weeks. Littzi herself had one treatment, and saw results the next Coolsculpting is a relatively low-cost, quick alternative to liposuction, with no recovery time required.
day. And although reports on Zerona’s Web site say some patients have lost 20 inches, Littzi says the majority of her patients lose between 3 to 11 inches, which usually translates into a dress size. In most cases there is not a drastic drop in weight, since fat weighs less than muscle, and patients are only losing fat with Zerona. She also says that it is not a procedure for the obese and that the patients with the greatest results are those who drink lots of water to flush the fat away, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Each session takes 30 minutes, there is no downtime, no scarring or discoloration, no incision, no anesthesia, and the patient feels nothing. She recommends 10 treatments, which costs $1,250. Although the FDA has approved Zerona for use on the torso, Littzi says her patients lose inches all over their bodies, just like they would if they were dieting and exercising. She also says that it does not work on everyone and is not sure why some people lose while others don’t. “But the majority of patients do see a difference,” she adds. HL
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true or false?
Debunking Fat Myths compiled by rebecca haynes
mericans are obsessed with fat — particularly how much of it we have on our bodies and how we can get rid of it. We’re bombarded with “facts” on the subject. So HealthyLife decided to look at some of what we’ve heard over the years about fat, then research whether it’s true — or not. Read on to see what we discovered.
We are born with a set number of fat cells that never changes. FALSE: Researchers have found that our pool of fat cells increases through childhood and adolescence and levels off as an adult — then doesn’t change. The number of fat cells we end up with does seem to be linked to our genetics.
Fat cells serve a biological purpose. TRUE: The main role of fat cells is to store energy, cushion major organs and insulate the body. They also produce hormones and secrete a variety of substances that are important for metabolism. But when the cells are larger, they secrete these substances at higher levels, which can cause health problems related to obesity: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, liver disease and certain types of cancer.
Losing weight doesn’t eliminate fat cells; it just makes them smaller. TRUE: When you lose weight the amount of fat being stored in the cell decreases. And although recent research has proven that fat cells do die, they are replenished at the same rate so their numbers stay the same. Surgery and liposuction can remove fat cells, but researchers disagree over whether your body regenerates them to maintain your body’s “normal” level.
If you cut way back on your calorie intake you’ll shrink fat cells and lose weight. FALSE: When you don’t eat enough calories to maintain basic functions your body goes into “starvation”
mode and will try to hoard away even more in your fat cells the next time you eat. Studies have shown that people who eat three meals a day generally keep metabolism on track and are less likely to over-eat.
You can’t target one area of your body for shrinking the fat. TRUE: Despite every promise you see to the contrary, your body burns stored fat everywhere, not from one specific place.
Eating fatty foods is more likely to make you fat.
FALSE: Fat comes from calories. So if you eat too many calories, whether it’s in a big salad or a big burger, you’ll gain weight. The caveat is that there are generally more calories in high-fat foods, so it takes smaller servings of them to eat a higher number of calories.
You can’t be healthy if you’re overweight.
FALSE: People can be fit,
physically, and still carry excess body fat. HL Sources: New York Times, Johns Hopkins Health Alerts, ScienceBlogs, Fit Day, Mayo Clinic.
Hair Care 6 shampooing mistakes you’re likely making by brianna snyder
t’s not as if any of us really got a lesson in washing our hair, did we? I can’t remember my mother sitting me down and saying, “Listen, you have to make sure your hair is completely wet before you wash it.” Nobody in high school ever pulled me aside to say, “Hey, watch out for chemical sulfates.” At some point we start washing our hair and basically, are just glad not to get soap in our eyes. Turns out we missed some points. We asked area experts what mistakes most people make when shampooing (and conditioning!).
THE FIVE R’S OF HAIR-WASHING: Right product Right amount Right place Right way Right price
The Glenholme School shampoo-and-conditioner That in-one deal is hooey “Shampoos and conditioners can’t be mixed in one bottle,” says Dawn Blom, owner of DPZ on West in Danbury. “It’s kinda like oil and water.” You just can’t cleanse and moisturize at the same time because the shampoo just washes out all of the conditioner.
shampoos with Avoid chemical sulfates Sulfates are what make your shampoo lather; they’re the parts of shampoo that actually clean your hair. But we should avoid chemical sulfates, Blom says. Make sure to use naturally derived, coconut-oil-based sulfates. And read your bottles. Steer more toward those natural shampoos or shampoos with no sulfates at all, such as WEN hair-cleaning products, which contain alternative cleaning and conditioning agents.
Alternate shampoos and conditioners
The oils in your hair adapt to the shampoo you’re using. So switch it up every few weeks to reinvigorate your tresses. “I like to do every other bottle,” says Aleeta Bensen, stylist at Salon V in Fairfield. But: “It’s best if you use the same brand [of shampoo and conditioner] together, because they’re chemically formulated to work best together.”
your hair totally wet Get before you wash it
Make sure your hair is thoroughly saturated. This helps with even soap distribution and lets your products work at top capacity.
Brush before you wash
“Brush your hair with a cushion paddle brush,” Bensen says. “Brushing your hair all the way to the scalp before you wash it will remove impurities in your hair.” Brushing will allow greater access to your roots, and a better clean overall.
Give yourself a good scalp massage when you shampoo, Bensen says. “Concentrate shampoo on your scalp and don’t overwash the ends.” You’re not likely to have too much buildup there; it tends to collect on your scalp. Once you’re finished with shampooing, put your conditioner in and let it sit for a few minutes. Bensen suggests washing and conditioning your hair as soon as you get in the shower, that way the conditioner can sit as you tend to your other shower needs: exfoliating, shaving, etc. Then rinse just before you get out. “That’s the way to do it,” she says. HL
The Glenholme School combines a traditional boarding school experience and a therapeutic atmosphere complemented by a positive motivational program, devoted to young people who struggle with Asperger’s, depression, anxiety, and various learning differences. The school offers challenging extracurricular courses to instruct students to achieve competence, socially and academically. With an education based in strong character values, the graduates of Glenholme matriculate to colleges and universities and go on to meaningful careers. Enrollment is open for Glenholme’s middle school and high school, and post-secondary and summer programs. Contact the Glenholme Admissions Office Phone: (860) 868-7377 • Fax: (860) 868-7413 email@example.com 81 Sabbaday Lane, Washington, CT 06793 www.theglenholmeschool.org Devereux Connecticut
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Just Do It
a certain amount of risk-taking can make you happier
by emma tennant
Photo: © iStockphoto.com/Lise Gagne.
’ll be driving on the highway and every now and then some guy on a motorcycle — no helmet, T-shirt flapping — will blast by, zigzagging out of sight. This last weekend, the guy was wearing a pair of sunglasses and an equally helmetless blond girlfriend hanging on for dear life — one arm around his waist, the other trying to hold up her jeans. “Idiot,” I said, and then found myself drifting toward the slow lane and dropping my own speed by about 10 miles an hour. Does this guy have no idea what happens to unhelmeted girlfriends who hit stationary cars or concrete guardrails at 80 miles an hour? While I do understand that young men — and this is true — have an entirely different brain than middleaged women psychotherapists, I also understand in a way that Captain Invincible and his girlfriend do not that there are downsides to risk. Your odds of living a long and healthy life diminish substantially if you ride a motorcycle without a helmet at that speed. At least he’s in charge of the machine, I thought. “She must be brainless, or soon will be” was my conclusion, as I pulled into my comfortable, safe driveway. Thing is, though, I also know that — assuming they arrived at their destination — Mr. and Mrs. Invincible’s excursion was a lot more enjoyable than mine. They were having fun. I was merely traveling. The truth is that studies have shown that people who take risks tend to rate themselves as happier. Or to be more specific, the more curious people are — the more willing they are to eat raw octopus or attend post-modernist operas — the more likely they are to have a greater sense of personal agency, to find life richer and more colorful, and find it easier to get themselves out of ruts. It makes sense when you think about it — the willingness to take risk and live with a bit of anxiety is necessary if you want to keep learning and discovering the world. As we get older, this gets harder to do. As we surround ourselves with comfort and familiarity, we lose the sense of adventure that makes life interesting. As I write this I think of my patient Tim. We go back a long way. Tim lived with his father until his father’s death, and then came into therapy and I became his “father,” in the sense that I’m a replacement for this old relationship even though I’m a woman. He lives alone. He has worked for the same accounting firm since he left college. One day, about seven years ago, I said, “Get a dog.” I don’t know where it came from, but I think I just couldn’t stand that nothing was happening. There was no relationship going on. So, the conversation started. “It will cost too
much. What if it gets run over by a car? How do I get rid of it if I don’t like it? They are dirty. Should I take a class in how to take care of a dog?” This conversation went on for years until a neighbor got ill and asked Tim if he’d be willing to adopt his dog, Mulligan. “No,” Tim said to the neighbor, and then came into my office to explain to me that he was proud of his decision to say no because Mulligan was the wrong kind of dog.
try not to get angry with my patients. But every now and then you just have to let your feelings fly and I said, “What happens to Mulligan if you don’t take him.” Silence. “I’ll tell you what happens to Mulligan,” I went on. “He goes to the pound.” Silence. “You’ve been talking about getting a dog for seven years, and now one is handed to you on a platter and it’s the wrong damn dog?” “I’m not ready.” “I see,” I said. “So Mulligan dies because you are not ready.” Yes, it is true. I pushed Tim into it. But I didn’t do it unthinkingly. I knew that his risk-averse nature was such that he could only imagine the worst outcomes of change — and was unable to conceive of a richer life, one with a companion, one with love. The story ends happily. Tim took Mulligan. He was mad at me, particularly when Mulligan spent the first weeks hiding in the spare bedroom. But eventually, dogs being dogs, the two bonded and the give and take of love — feeding, being met at the door by a joyous housemate — has opened up new vistas of self-satisfaction for Tim, and more importantly, greater emotional risks with others. I leave you with this final thought. Another patient, Melissa, like Tim, lives alone. She worries about money. People “are hateful,” she says. “OK,” I say. “I’m going nowhere,” she says. And I wait. I wait for the moment when she says, “There’s a woman I work with who is taking a karate class.” Great, I think to myself, now we can really get started. 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@healthylifect. com. Inquiries will be treated with confidentiality.
Bullying … how to combat its destructive effects
by valerie foster
physical and verbal aggression of their peers. But there’s more: 6 out of 10 American young people witness bullying at least once a day. 1 out of 10 students drop out or change schools because of repeated bullying. More than half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying. More than 1 in 3 kids of middle and high school age has experienced cyber threats online. A recent Yale School of Medicine study reports a strong connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide, called bullycide. The same study says suicide rates among adolescents have grown more than 50 percent in the past 30 years. Approximately 25 percent of school bullies will be convicted of a criminal offense in their adult years. Adult bullies were often bullies — or bullied — as children. “School is an environment where every child should feel safe and protected,” Hertzog says. “When a child is bullied,
ullying isn’t new. But thankfully, it’s no longer viewed as a rite of passage and kids just being kids. Julie Hertzog, director of the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights’ National Bullying Prevention Center, puts bullying into perspective: “We know how destructive it is, and the research is telling us that bullies are skewing younger. … Add cyber bullying and the evolution of social media to the mix and everyone began to understand that how we were handling bullying was not working and that we had to take action with new approaches.” Hertzog says today’s emphasis is on prevention, working with kids as young as preschool to teach ways to build healthy relationships. It is equally important to engage communities to work together, taking a more collaborative approach to eradicating the issue, which is the goal of National Bullying Prevention Month in October. So how does bullying affect kids? Hertzog says three ways: Their feelings about school, their health and their safety. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, each day about 160,000 students in the United States refuse to go to school because they dread the
Signs a child is being bullied:
there are repercussions that often follow, such as depression, anxiety, kids cutting themselves or having eating disorders. Too many people never make that connection. And 95 percent of school shooters were kids who were bullied.” WHAT IS BULLYING? Bullying is a term often used incorrectly: it’s unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. It has to be repetitive and make someone feel unsafe or uncomfortable. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, bullying includes making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. And one more misconception: Boys do not bully more than girls. “There is a lot of research that shows boys and girls bully differently,” says Stephanie Stacy, coordinator of community education and prevention for The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County. “Boys tend to be more physical, so it gets noticed more often. Girls engage in relational bullying, including emotional isolation.” Stacy says it’s never too early to plant the seeds for good behavior. “We have pre-kindergarten programs that focus on teasing and hands are not for hitting,” she says. As the children age, preventive education workshops deal with safe friendships, bullying — what it is and how it is harmful — conflict resolution, cyber bullying and Internet safety. “The focus now is on building healthy relationships,” she says. “For instance, having positive conflict resolution skills may help a child stay out of an unhealthy relationship in the future.” Connecticut’s Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws, signed in 2011, takes comprehensive steps to ensure every child’s right to learn without fear of teasing, humiliation or assault. But it is up to each school district to create its own policies about bullying. For example, in Greenwich there were bullying policies in place but nothing mandated by town. Mary Forde, director of Pupil Personnel Services for the district, says there is now a common language used to keep the message consistent and easily understood by everybody, including parents. And if kids witness bullying they’re encouraged to tell an adult instead of keeping it a secret. As they get older, they can choose to stand up for the victim and/or befriend the victim after the episode. Children also are educated about safety and responsibility on the computer, and that once something is sent over the Internet, it cannot be taken back. “Anything we do is to skill-build for students, to set up an environment that makes it less likely that bullying will happen,” Forde adds. HL For steps to take if your child is the victim of bullying, turn to page 65
Unexplainable injuries Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness Changes in eating habits — suddenly skipping meals or binge eating (kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch) Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves or talking about suicide
Signs a child is bullying others: Gets into physical or verbal fights Has friends who bully others Is increasingly aggressive Gets sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently Has unexplained extra money or new belongings Blames others for problems Doesn’t accept responsibility for actions Is competitive and worries about reputation or popularity — U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Advice for parents The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has three steps for parents to take if their child is the target of bullying.
First, thank the child for coming to you, emphasizing that it is not the child’s fault. Then ask these questions: Who is doing the bullying? Is it verbal, physical or cyber bullying? What days and times were you bullied? Where did it take place? How did you respond? Did other children or adults witness the bullying and does the child know the names of these people? Write all this information down.
For information on National Bullying Prevention Month, visit healthylifect.com.
Photo: Katrina Wittkamp/GettyImages.
Be sure you understand the school’s written policy on bullying and harassment. Meet with the child’s teacher to discuss everything you learned from your child and ask what will be done to keep your child safe at school and on the school bus. Keep a written record of this meeting. Meet with the principal to discuss the bullying situation and the meeting you had with the teacher. Mention how the bullying is affecting your child physically and if the child is having reservations about attending school.
Work with the district administration if the previous steps did not bring results.
Write a letter or e-mail to the district superintendent requesting a meeting to discuss the situation. Include name of child, age, grade, school, your address and phone number, background information of the bullying situation and how you have tried to resolve
it. Keep the letter brief and factual and include the times you are available for this meeting. Send copies of this letter to the principal, special education director (if child is receiving special education) and chair of the school board. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself. Prepare for this meeting by organizing the information you have kept and the questions you want to ask. Remember to ask what can be done to keep your child safe in school so the child can learn. If you want to take people with you, clarify their roles: take notes, provide support, contribute information about your child. Keep a written record of this meeting, including who was present, what was discussed and any decisions that were made.
If the bullying has not been resolved after these steps, contact a parent center or advocacy organization for help.
Getting with your Physical feelings new ways to help trauma survivors heal by molly belmont
nyone who’s experienced trauma knows that the sensations: Are they experiencing shortness of breath? Eleffects are physical as well as mental. Trauma surevated heart rate? Racing thoughts? Is there pain or numbvivors often store tension in their bodies long after ness, and if so, where is it located? the initial incident, and people who suffer from postIn time, this continual shift of attention from mind to body traumatic stress disorder can experience frightening physical and back again, has a restorative effect, allowing the patient symptoms every time they relive the traumatic event. to work through the trauma without reliving it, and at the Two relatively new therapies, somatic experiencing therapy same time, re-balancing the body’s central nervous system. and sensorimotor psychotherapy, combine traditional psyOften, issues present themselves in a physical way, providing chotherapy or “talk therapy” with body awareness techniques a new point of entry for the therapist. For instance, Osadto achieve startlingly effective results for trauma survivors. chey had a patient who would jut her chin up when she was Introduced by Peter Levine in his 1997 book Waking the Tidistressed. When Osadchey pointed this out, they were able ger, Somatic Experiencing offers a natural way to heal trauto connect the action back to a near-drowning the patient ma based on Levine’s study of animals threatened in experienced when she was 12. the wild. Levine realized that while they’re con“It was like she was trying to keep her head stantly experiencing life-threatening situations, above water, just like she was 40 years be“Bodies hold animals don’t sustain trauma the same way fore,” says Osadchey. By paying attention humans do. Instead, they have regulatory to this physical cue, the patient was able onto trauma, and processes within the autonomic nervous to finally achieve catharsis. trauma really gets system that protect them; human beings During somatic experiencing, patients stored there have the same kind of instinctive regulaare guided gradually through their stountil we are able tory processes, but owing to our more ries. That’s because patients who are complex brains, these impulses often are made to tell their whole story all at once to soothe the body inhibited by emotions such as shame, emcan become too activated. Prolonged or and release it.” barrassment or guilt. As a result, fight-orrepeated activation can lead to chronic — Yvonne Bregman flight impulses aren’t always discharged, crestates of hyperarousal (anxiety, panic, inating a lasting impact on the patient. Somatic ability to relax, hypervigilance, digestive probexperiencing tracks physical responses during a lems, chronic pain, sleeplessness, and hostility or therapy session to gently release these impulses and rage ) or hypoarousal (depression, chronic fatigue, rebalance the body’s central nervous system. exhaustion, dissociation or disorientation). Somatic experiencing is based on a thorough understand“The fight-or-flight mechanism gets stuck in on or off,” ing of the nervous system and the physiological responses says Christina Morrow, a therapist in Weston who is trained people have to trauma. Instead of processing and releasin somatic experiencing. The goal is to help patients reconing these physiological responses, some people store them, nect with their autonomic nervous system so that it funchampering their ability to regulate themselves on a day-totions properly; “In other words, you’re not constantly running day basis, says Sherry L. Osadchey, a therapist in private away, you’re not constantly trying to fight,” says Morrow. practice in Farmington who is trained in somatic experienc“The focus is to really drop down into the body and reing. Osadchey talks with patients just as in a traditional therally let the body do the talking,” says Jennifer Sabbah, a apy session, but also asks patients to focus on their bodily Stamford therapist. Sabbah specializes in affect regulation,
helping young children control their behavior and regulate their emotions through somatic experiencing. “When the body is on high alert and upset, nothing’s going on in the head,” she says. Sabbah teaches children as young as 4 to track their physical responses to emotions and then ground themselves using breathing, counting and imagery.
Photo: Donata Pizzi/GettyImages.
ioneered by Pat Ogden in the 1970s, sensorimotor psychotherapy draws from somatic therapies, as well as neuroscience, attachment theory and cognitive approaches. This modality is based on the idea that human beings remember trauma less in words and more in their feelings and bodies, making talk therapy a less-than-effective way to deal with it. Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, many victims are still struggling with PTSD and other related symptoms, even after undergoing traditional talk therapy, says Katherine Coffey, a Danbury therapist trained in sensorimotor psychotherapy. They struggle with fight or flight responses or numbness. Many have turned to self-medicating behaviors, like drinking or drugs, to dull their emotional responses. Sensorimotor psychotherapy, which allows clients to explore traumatic events without becoming triggered by them, holds striking promise for them, she writes in an e-mail. “It’s all encoded in the body; the problem is that all we think about is the brain,” says Jayne Dean, a therapist with the West Hartford Counseling Center trained in sensorimotor psychotherapy. To unlock that body knowledge, sensorimotor psychotherapists employ tracking similar to somatic experiencing, but they also use a series of physical exercises designed to elicit responses from patients, with the goal of bringing about a resolution, or “opening,” says Dean. For example, one of her patients who has a hard time expressing anger would unconsciously curl her hands into fists when talking about specific people or events. When Dean pointed this out, they connected the fist with her reluctance to voice her anger, and then the patient began to consciously clench her fist as way to express and work through her anger. “Bodies hold onto trauma, and trauma really gets stored there until we are able to soothe the body and release it,” says Yvonne Bregman, a Ridgefield therapist trained in sensorimotor psychotherapy. “Our bodies really do keep score.” As patients experiment with new ways of moving — shifting shoulders down when they are usually hunched up, sitting up straight when they are usually leaning forward — they uncover new things about themselves. “When you move the body in a different way, new emotions come up,” says Bregman. “We all come out of childhood with deficits. Then we go out into the world to find what we didn’t get,” says Dean. “The goal of this therapy is to change self-limiting behavior and become more adaptive to the moment.” HL
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Do You Have a Debt Problem?
Your Means tips for creating a debt-free life by elizabeth floyd mair
hen Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto set out to buy a home in Fairfield over 20 years ago, she and her husband weren’t fussy about style. They hoped to have a family and wanted something with four bedrooms and two baths. Most importantly, they wanted to be able to pay the mortgage even if they both lost their jobs. They ended up in a ranch home rather than the huge colonial so often considered the home of choice in the area. Now Zelinsky-Syarto writes a popular blog — followed by readers around the country — called Two Frugal Fairfielders, filled with tips on money management and how to do more with less.
But while her blog and Facebook page increase in popularity — the blog gets an estimated 500 visitors daily — her focus on frugality is sometimes a harder sell in her own home. ZelinskySyarto says one of her biggest challenges can be convincing her children of the benefits of frugality, particularly when they visit friends who may have bigger houses or more gadgets. She expands on this in a recent email interview. “It makes me cringe when I overhear things like ‘I have the iPhone 5, you don’t and you must be poor.’ Or, ‘My house is so much bigger than yours.’ Or the best one, ‘I go to Disney World every April vacation, why don’t you ever go?’ I’ve written about all of this on my blog, and I have
Signs that you may be living beyond your paycheck are myriad, traditional finance wisdom holds. Here are a few signs that our experts say may suggest you have a cashflow problem.
Large credit card debt . Generally you should be able to pay off your credit card debt each month.
You can’t pay monthly mortgage and/or utility payments.
Lack of an emergency fund. How much to have put aside depends on the risk level you’re comfortable with. Most experts recommend an emergency fund of several months’ worth of expenses — think 3-6 months — to help alleviate periods of financial stress.
Your solution to a credit crunch is to apply for another credit card. For simplicity, have a few credit cards that you can easily monitor rather than one for every store you frequent. Limiting the number of cards can help keep spending in check and payments on schedule.
You regularly need to choose
between paying one bill over another. A slow or late payment
history — as well as having a number of items in collections due to lack of payment — can negatively affect your credit rating.
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wealth health Getting Started Want to scale back but not sure where to start? Here are a few pointers offered by our experts. Think of your means as a pie, with slices allocated to your mortgage, education, savings, credit card debt, etc. If one slice grows, you have to reduce
the other pieces to stay whole. Keep fixed expenses — mortgage or rent payments, car payments, utilities, insurance premiums, groceries, etc. — to 50 percent or less of your
pre-tax income. Strive to save at least 20 percent of your after-tax income to give yourself a healthy financial safety cushion and more financial flexibility if life
tosses you a curve ball. With the exception of your home and education,
pay for things with money that you have in the bank or don’t buy them. Keep your fixed expenses low and stockpile cash
for living: save to spend. Be intentional with how you use your money
— spend less on stuff and more on what’s important. Drop the financial baggage when talking to your kids about money. If you have to say no to something
Photos: GettyImages. Cutting card, Tuomas Marttila; Clothing, Michael Blann.
to continue to live within your means, give kids an explanation that they can understand — and give them choices so that they can play a role in helping your family keep within budget.
taught my kids to say things like, ‘We love every inch of our house,’ which we do! I may get a lot of hate mail when I say this, but there are a lot of parents out there who buy their kids the latest, greatest technology but can’t afford to own a home.” Living frugally, she says, isn’t about being cheap. “It’s about being creative and resourceful and living an uncluttered, high-quality life.” As readers know very well, Connecticut is not one of the easiest places to live on a budget in the United States. Zelinsky-Syarto estimates in a recent blog post that what she pays for basics such as heating oil, electricity, property taxes, gasoline and cable have doubled — and in some cases tripled — in the last 20 years. Given this disconnect that can be especially wide in Fairfield County, we
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decided to speak to some professionals for pointers on how to make sure we live within our means.
eg Molina, director of social services in New Milford, has regularly offered programs in recent years called “Living Within Your Means and Setting Financial Goals.” She says the economic downturn “has definitely made things worse.” People are more financially stretched than ever before, even as our consumer mindset is unchanged. She says she often sees people “paying well over 50 percent of their income toward rent or mortgage.” (According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling website, your monthly housing costs, including mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance and condominium or
cooperative fees, if applicable, should total no more than 28 percent of your monthly pre-tax income.) The danger with paying more than that for housing, Molina says, is that something can always go awry. If a budget has no safety net for car repairs, appliances that break, birthdays and wedding gifts, then we either need to think about more income (a different job? another part-time job? a roommate? go to court to get the child support that’s not being paid?) or lower expenses. The story of Grace Decker (not her real name) of Fairfield is a cautionary tale. Decker, 49, and her engineer husband Matthew (whose name has also been changed), 51, first started to run into trouble when some unexpected expenses cropped up. First the air conditioner went, which needed
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wealth health Think of your means as a pie. If one slice grows, you have to reduce the other pieces to stay whole.
fixing. The car was next. They bought new dining room and patio furniture. Eventually they found themselves with $50,000 in credit card debt. They buckled down and paid a little extra back each month. They decided to start paying off the credit card — they had three — with the smallest amount owed, followed by the nextsmallest. Whenever they received any company bonuses or tax refunds, they immediately applied the entire amount to the debt. After five years, it was completely paid off. “When we paid that last credit card,” Grace Decker says, “I gotta tell you that weight was lifted. It’s a beautiful thing.” They still have credit cards, she says, but they don’t use them. They only keep them, Decker says, to pay things such as their E-Z Pass bill. “Now what we’re trying to do,” she adds, “is build up our
credit card payments other expenses
savings. Because if he ever got laid off, we’d savings be in trouble.” Their resolve is clear if you were to walk into their living room: They don’t have any furniture in it — none. “But that’s OK. We’re not going to get any until we have the money saved for that.” Julie Pryor, owner of Pryority, a holistic health and fitness center in New Canaan, sees the emotional and physical impact of living what she calls an inauthentic life all the time. “Unrealistic expectations and financial issues can manifest in physical pain, emotional stress, mental haze and stifled spirituality,” she says. The pressure in some communities to maintain a certain lifestyle and match the success of neighbors can make it easy to fall into debt, she says. But this
lack of authenticity and overcompensation in terms of financial matters can be a classic trigger for lower back pain and foot problems. “There is a literal and figurative blockage in your foundation,” she says. “You may feel you don’t have a foot to stand on.” Freeing up your wallet, then, to purchase what you need rather than what you want can bring physical and spiritual freedom too — or, as Pryor puts it, “a sense of wealth in a healthy, peaceful mind and body.” HL
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My My Frenemy
from sibling rivals to lasting friends, sisters share a special kinship by laurie lynn fischer
y sister mailed me a gift. I don’t recall what it was, but I do remember the packing peanuts’ supercharged static cling. When I sent her birthday package, guess what I used as padding? With sisters, you’ve got to take the good with the bad. As girls, my sister and I squabbled over everything from shoes to who rode shotgun. As adults, we’ve faced remarkably similar challenges with marriage, parenting, even biology. She understands like nobody else our family’s foibles and the cultural milieu that surrounded our coming of age. For all its idiosyncrasies, our relationship isn’t unique. Erin Gardner Metz of New Milford has sisters in Danbury, Stamford and Glastonbury. Growing up in Brookfield, they fought over everything from borrowing clothes without getting permission to her older sister not wanting to drive her to school, she recalls. “We had sibling rivalries all the time, right through high school,” she says. “Throughout our childhood, our mother encouraged us to always look out for each other and told us we would be best friends forever. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve all become close in different ways. I know which sister to call if I want to do a race with somebody or have a cup of tea. Now, we fight over little things, but we can always talk around it and agree to disagree.”
Though huge variations occur between individuals, across cultures and through time, psychologists do draw generalizations about sisterhood in our society. “Many sisters are literally best friends,” says Litchfield marriage and family therapist Lisa Rene-Reynolds, an author and psychology professor at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. “Then there’s the other side of the coin. Because you’re born sisters, there’s an unspoken expectation that you’re going to be besties. Sometimes you’re very different and it’s awkward. I’m working with a woman now who had a falling-out with her sister. It’s devastating to her.” Sisters who are close in age are more apt to clash, ReneReynolds says. “Sibling position is super important,” she says. “When girls are in the same stage, there’s overlap. They’re competing for attention in the same sorts of things. I have three daughters. My daughters have distance because their four-year age difference gives them a different developmental stage. One of them is driving and going to college. The other is just starting high school and just discovering boys.”
elationships between sisters often improve over time, Rene-Reynolds says. “Sisters tend to have a lot of arguments growing up,” she says. “Once they enter adulthood, they get closer. It’s usually not until their mid-20s. Then,
Photos: Adult sisters, Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy/GettyImages; Young sisters, Simon Kirwan/GettyImages.
women are looking at a job and finding a life partner and thinking about these things. That brings them together in a new, common way. Rather than boys and clothes, it can be more about stable things and supporting each other.” Sister relationships are usually different than brother relationships, she says. “I teach psychology of women,” she says. “When you’re talking about gender differences, brothers are physical when they’re younger. Females tend to have closer, more communicative relationships. They talk more, disclose more and have a deeper level of friendship than male friends do. The problem with that is because there’s an expectation of depth in female relationships, females are looking for more than just the superficial ‘We’re sisters.’ If a sister is not similar to you in life choices and personal relationships, it can be hard to have that platonic relationship.” When families divorce, stepsisters and half-sisters can experience similar dynamics in their relationships as biological sisters. When Stamford High School graduate Michele Lurie was a toddler, her father remarried and had two more children. Her half-sister is six years younger. “Despite how much love he had for us, which was a ton, she was a favorite,” Lurie recalls. “They just had an incredible relationship. I had typical issues when she was 2 or 3 and I was 8 or 9. She’d come sit next to me on the couch, because she thought I was everything, and I’d inch away. I can remember my father taking me aside and telling me we’d be best friends when we were older, and he was right. Our father passed away three years ago from pancreatic cancer. We were close before, but we have an extra bond with him gone now. She comes to me with things she would go to him for.” When Lurie was 13, her mother remarried. “My two stepsisters lived with us half the time,” she remembers. “The 15-year-old went to college fairly quickly. The other one was also 13. She and I were very close at first. We were kind of like twins in a way, but we grew apart toward our senior year in high school. Our friends were different and we were both interested in the same boy. It caused such a rift, she stayed at her mom’s for a month and a half. Now we can laugh about it.” HL
Sister pet peeves We asked, you answered: I hate how ... it feels like I’ll never measure up to her, no matter what. they leave me out. little respect she had for my privacy. she’d torment me until I’d resort to violence, then smirk when I was punished.
it’s my thing, but she’s better at it. she won’t help out at family food events; then she makes fun of me for acting stressed. she reinvents our history to make herself look good. she’s always been jealous of me.
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... with the gym
by beth cooney
never meant to quit the gym. Honest. And I suppose in order to completely believe that, you’ll just have to take my word that when it comes to fitness, I’ve never been a quitter. I’m the kind of person who would roll my eyes and insist there’s “no excuse” to anyone who dared to protest they were too busy, too stressed, too tired or too broke to work out. My mantra has always been where there’s a will — and a pair of size 27 skinny jeans that needs zipping — there’s a fitness way. So my unceremonious departure from the gym, like most cases of acute appendicitis, was completely unplanned. On a sunny June morning, more than two years ago, I started my day with a Zumba class and ended it being wheeled on a gurney into an operating room pumped up with painkillers. Having your appendix out, as contemporary surgeries go, isn’t a big deal. Sure, your scar-free bikini days are officially over, but most people are walking around their hospital rooms in 24 hours. In my case though, complications arose. My digestive system struggled to recover from the insult of abdominal surgery and for weeks afterwards, I was pathetically sick and weak. I just wasn’t in the mindset for Pilates, Bodypump, Spinning or Zumba. Besides, the sun was shining and my kids were on school vacation. So I called my gym and put my membership of 17 years (I told you I was devoted!) on hold. I told the front desk staff I expected to be back in September. And I meant it. Meanwhile, to gently rebuild my stamina, I started to walk. And a funny thing happened as I paced the hilly streets around my neighborhood. Even though I would have predicted I’d be lying on the bed by the end of the summer in a tugof-war with the zipper on my favorite jeans, I actually dropped a few pounds. My legs toned up. People told me I looked good. Even better, I saved some cash — 90 bucks a month on gym dues and more on gas. I began to love the new gymfree rhythm of my days. I booked play dates on street corners and picked up milk at the gas station convenience mart on my route. I no longer needed to rush off to a class that
began at 9 a.m. sharp, often forgetting to pack clean underwear in my gym bag. Nor did I have to listen to the hotto-trot singleton jabbering about her bad date on the next Spin bike. And while I missed my gym buddies, some of whom I’d known and loved for years, I formed an equally social walking posse. My pedestrian companions included the cutest dogs on the block — Edie (a pug) and the mutt Vader (short for Darth) — and a bunch of fitness-minded members of my mom squad. The most regular among them was a recently unemployed friend who, like me, was freelancing from home as she figured out her next step. September came — and went — and I had no urge to go back to the gym. I figured I’d return in late fall, when it got cold, but the winter of 2011-12 was fairly mild. I decided to keep saving on gym dues and invest in new sneakers. And I kept walking, because, well, my jeans still fit. Then something unexpected happened on my new fitness path. My most reliable walking buddy got a great job and although she tried to negotiate a flexible schedule (so she could walk) it hasn’t quite worked out that way for her, me, or Vader. More and more, I had to step out solo. I began to realize what moves me to elevate my heart rate are social interactions. Walking alone (even with an iPod blasting vintage Madonna) just isn’t the same. We all have fitness personalities and mine seems to revolve around aerobically bonding. Our recent winter, with its 38 inches of snow piled along the streets of my neighborhood, didn’t help. My route felt more treacherous. I walked less often. I started to fight with the zipper on my jeans. And then I saw my arms in one of those cruel three-way fitting room mirrors. Walking just doesn’t keep the guns from going flabby. Recently I was sitting in the bleachers at one of my son’s games when an old gym buddy, still flush from her workout, told us about a new class she had just taken. It’s called Bowka and while it sounds a little kooky (it has something to do with writing cursive letters with your feet) I was intrigued. We made a date to meet at the gym. HL
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sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself
Photo: Andrew Penner/GettyImages.
by jayne keedle
ohn Hicka knows a lot about guilt, about forgiveness, and about the need to come clean. As a licensed clinical social worker in Stamford, he specializes in the treatment of people with addictions. His clients may have gambled away the house and the college fund, lost jobs, or abused and sacrificed loved ones in their quest for the next high. But no matter how grave the sins, Hicka knows something else too. “If you don’t have self-forgiveness, you’re stuck and won’t be able to move on or forgive others,” he says. We’ve all done things that we wish we hadn’t, said things we wished we could take back, and blamed ourselves for sins both real and imagined for which we just can’t seem to forgive ourselves. But though some of us may pray to be
“forgiven for our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” when it comes to forgiving ourselves, we often struggle. GUILTY SECRETS Most of us are raised from an early age to apologize when we are in the wrong, and we’re also encouraged to forgive people who say they’re sorry. But the things we are most ashamed of — and least able to forgive ourselves for — are often the things we tell no one about. Finding a safe place to share these secrets is one way to move beyond the guilt. That’s one reason that groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are so effective. People can talk about their awful
behaviors without fear of being judged. In these confidential groups people will often confess to things they did that they’ve never shared with anyone else. Confession, the saying goes, is good for the soul but this isn’t just about talking to your particular god. “It is important to tell your story because that‘s what identifies and connects you,” says Hicka. “You might think that recreates shame but it doesn’t. When you come clean and join the group, you’re one of them.” People in the group learn they’re not alone and, as they discover they share common experiences and accept and forgive the person sitting next to them, it becomes easier to do the same for themselves and to forgive the people who have hurt them, too.
We often say “forgive and forget,” but though forgiveness may be the end goal, there’s a difference between putting a painful memory behind you in order to move on and obliterating it all together. Janis Abrahms Spring doesn’t believe forgiveness is something to be asked for and granted because it’s “good” for us. A nationally acclaimed expert on issues of trust, intimacy and forgiveness, and author of After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful, and How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To, this Fairfield therapist focuses instead on acceptance and meaningful acts of atonement. “Forgiveness is not a thing I believe that is granted cheaply, and forgiveness, genuine forgiveness, must be earned,” she says. “If you are the offender and you have hurt someone, it requires humble, heartfelt, hefty acts of repair. Asking for forgiveness asks nothing of you unless it’s backed with these concrete steps. “Most people, when they have wronged somebody in ways they did not deserve, feel guilt. And we feel bad about ourselves, so it is as much a gift to that person as to ourselves to right that wrong and to feel like a decent human being,” Spring says. “Self-hating serves no useful purpose but remembering the wrong, how we’ve wronged someone and learning from it, might stop us from doing it again.” Hicka agrees that it’s not enough to just say, “I’m sorry.” “If you make an apology and it’s hollow and it’s not followed up by sincere behavior, that’s not a true apology,” he says. And while it’s important to express true regret, he adds, there should be no expectation that forgiveness will be forthcoming.
“It’s not about that,” he says. “It’s about clearing my side of the street so I can continue to stay a forgiving person.” UNBURDEN YOURSELF Talk to enough people about the need for forgiveness and one analogy comes up time and again: Feeling guilty is like carrying around a bag of rocks. It’s a heavy burden and one that is inherently useless, yet people often cling to it so tightly that the pain they experienced and the wounds they’ve inflicted come to define them. “Left-brained people think I’ve got to work this through, and they’re in therapy for 40 years. It’s something that happened, it’s often very painful, but to endlessly talk about it? You are carrying a burden,” says Dr. Michael Murphy, founder of the Love, Loss and Forgiveness Project in New York, who travels the world offering workshops on the topic. “You don’t have to understand it. You just put it down. It is that simple.” Life has no do-overs. As much as we’d all like to go back in time and right the wrongs we’ve done, we can’t change the past. There is, however, always the opportunity to do better. “It’s inherent in the human condition to be broken in some sense, to be finite, frail, fragile. To err is what we know and to be forgiven is what we want in the innermost chambers of our heart,” says theology professor Michael Canaris, who teaches a course on sin, suffering, forgiveness and redemption at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. “It’s seeing the goal, falling short of it, getting up and going after it again.” As long as we are willing to face our mistakes, make amends, and treat ourselves with the same compassion that we strive to show others, Canaris says, none of us is beyond redemption. HL
Photo: Tom Merton/GettyImages.
CONTRITION VS. ATONEMENT
Our Strength is in our Outcomes. Our Commitment is to Care. Six Steps to Self-Forgiveness
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“The practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt, depression and stress and leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self-confidence. Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as physical health. It also influences our attitude, which opens the heart to kindness, beauty, and love” — The Stanford Forgiveness Project The following tips come from the Stanford Forgiveness Project, which was founded by Dr. Frederic Luskin, one of the foremost researchers on the topic. 1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience. 2. Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else. 3. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.” 4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes — or 10 years — ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings. 5. At the moment you feel upset, practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response. 6. Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them. To learn more about Dr. Luskin and his work, go to learningtoforgive.com/9-steps.
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Fire Burning 21 tips for a great date night
by beth cooney
he National Marriage Project diligently analyzes the state of marital bliss from a psychosocial perspective. Recently, its researchers, based at the University of Virginia, have taken note of an interesting phenomenon: Date night is becoming a trend. Communities from Palm Beach, Fla., to Chicago and Chattanooga, Tenn., have launched organized datenight initiatives. The premise behind these make-it-acouples-night projects is a simple one: Couples who play together are more likely to stay together. And a growing body of research seems to support that theory. Studies have found that couples who make time exclusively for each other, sans kids, the
iPad or the distraction of other domestic obligations, seem to fare better in many areas of their union. Indeed, researchers W. Bradfrod Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew noted there is a voluminous and growing body of research that suggests regular date nights encourage more romance, compatibility and communication among couples. One interesting point the social scientists’ make: Couples who engage in something new together seem to experience more romantic spark. In other words, dinner and a movie is great, but predictable to the point of boring. In the spirit of togetherness, HealthyLife searched Fairfield County for ideas to get out of your “let’s rent a movie rut” rut. Here are a few:
Photos: Fireplace, Kevin Fishel/GettyImages. Couple walking on beach, © Iofoto/Dreamstime.com; Star photo, Charles Scovil. Concert photo, Tyler Sizemore/The News-Times. Bluefish mascot, Christian Abraham/Connecticut Post.
Put It In High Gear
While it’s not a NASCAR pace, the go karts at On Track Karting in Brookfield are anything but kid stuff. Indeed, kids and adults run separate heats at what’s been designated as one of America’s largest indoor cart tracks. Slip into an authentic race-car suit, helmet and give the high-performance track a spin. Trust us; we tried it and it’s pedal-to-the-metal fun. Visit ontrackkarting.com for schedules, pricing and details.
What’s more romantic than a night under the stars? Well, maybe one where the view entails a breathtaking view of the universe. The Stamford Museum & Nature Center opens its observatory for star-gazing on specific weekend nights and guests are most welcome for these dateperfect sessions narrated by knowledgeable astronomers. Visit Stamfordmuseum.org for details.
Take in a Show
From old-time rock ’n’ roll to worldclass dance ensembles, Fairfield County is full of interesting venues that feature a diverse array of date-night ovation(3) worthy performances. Check out the schedules for Stamford’s Palace Theater, the Ridgefield
Playhouse, the Fairfield Theater Company and Bridgeport’s Klein Auditorium to get in on the act.
Have a Ball
The Bridgeport Bluefish stadium at Harbor Yard arena boasts waterfront views and puts on a terrific fireworks display for many game nights. Indulging in America’s pastime and fireworks to boot, what’s not nostalgically romantic about that? Visit BridgeportBluefish.com for details.
Crack Yourselves Up
Research shows laughter has a medicinal quality, so imagine what it can do for your love life. Stamford’s Curtain Call theater offers improv theater and stand-up style classes that could make for a hilarious weekly date night. Visit CurtainCallInc. com for schedule and details.
Stimulate Your Collective IQs The Open Visions lecture series at Fairfield University brings a diverse array of celebrities, politicos and intellectuals to campus for provocative evenings that boost
your brain power. This year’s forum kicks off with lectures by 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft, actress America Ferrera, author Isabel Wilkerson and New York Times film critic A.O. Scott. Visit fairfield.edu/arts for details.
Be A Class Act
Most communities in Fairfield County boast exceptional continuing education programs where you can study a classic romance language — French, Spanish or Italian. Make the class a standing date night and practice saying something amorous in a foreign language over dinner afterward.
Stroll by the Sea
Yes, “walks on the beach” are a cliché perpetuated by many an online dater, but there is something romantic about a waterfront stroll. Try Stamford’s Cove Island Park, Bridgeport’s St. Mary’s By-the-Sea, the shoreline along Fairfield Beach Road, Audubon’s Coastal Center at Milford Point, Milford’s Silver Sands State Park, Westport’s Compo Beach, Sherwood Island State Park or Greenwich Point. Just call ahead about beach admission policies, especially if you don’t live in the town where the beach is located. continued on page 87
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(13) (17) (21)
continued from page 85
Tuck into Some Tapas
Every meal out doesn’t have to be a stuffy three-course affair. The Spanish concept of tapas is hot in Fairfield County, where restaurants offering a smattering of small-plate courses makes feeding each other from samplesize plates an appetizing dining alternative. One place to try: The Barcelona chain, which has outposts in Greenwich, Stamford, Fairfield, South Norwalk and New Haven.
From soup kitchens to neighborhelping-neighbor programs such as Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCares, there are many ways to make a difference in the community. So sign up to volunteer together. The pay-it-forward benefits of helping someone else sideby-side will enhance your appreciation for each other.
Dance without the Stars
Many churches and synagogues and other faith-based institutions offer couples’ retreats and Bible-study-style programs centered on partners. Pray together. Stay together.
You don’t need to be a celebrity to be transformed by ballroom dance and the romantic connection of gliding across a dance floor in perfect unison. Learning dances such as the romantic waltz and the sexy samba have become a popular outlet for couples interested in reconnecting. And think about all the calories you’ll burn.
Keep the Faith
Expose Yourself To Art 13.
Fairfield-based The Studio offers a lively series of studio-style painting, sculpting and pottery
classes that are catered to novices for a try-it atmosphere. Reservations are required and couples are encouraged. Visit thestudiofairfield.com.
Get in Sync
More and more research is showing a demonstrative connection between listening to pleasing music and the body’s pleasure center. Enjoying a musical performance together at a local symphony, acoustic café or dance club is a great way to connect.
Make a Racquet
Squash is an up-and-coming sport in Fairfield County and perfect for competitive sport-minded couples as it’s often played one-on-one. Give it a try at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, where the squash courts are bordered by a pub for après workout socializing. Other places to work on your game: Southport
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Total knee replacement is intended for use in individuals with joint disease resulting from degenerative, rheumatoid, and post-traumatic arthritis, and for moderate deformity of the knee. As with any surgery, knee replacement surgery has serious risks which include, but are not limited to, blood clots, stroke, heart attack, and death. Implant related risks which may lead to a revision include dislocation, loosening, fracture, nerve damage, heterotopic bone formation (abnormal bone growth in tissue), wear of the implant, metal sensitivity, soft tissue imbalance, osteolysis (localized progressive bone loss), and reaction to particle debris. The information presented is for educational purposes only. Knee implants may not provide the same feel or performance characteristics experienced with a normal healthy joint.
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Heat Things Up
Hot yoga is a sweaty way to increase your flexibility together and studios abound in Fairfield County, some offering couples classes. Check in with your favorite studio to see whether it’s part of their menu.
Get a Couples Massage 17.
Romantic reality shows make the art of receiving a massage side-by-side seem so decadently romantic. So why not try it out yourselves? Give a call to your favorite luxury spa and ask if they can accommodate two masseurs in one room. Or better yet, have a come-to-you service such as Fairfield County’s Massage Mavens bring their portable tables and luxury service to your home. Massagemavens.com.
Couples on a budget can struggle to pay for entertainment and a sitter in pricey Fairfield County. One way to beat the cash crunch is to engage in a kid swap with like-minded friends or relatives who need an occasional night out, too. Plus, the kids have built-in entertainment of buddies or cousins.
The Aztecs favored chocolate for its amorous properties and health experts adore dark chocolate for its good-for-you antioxidants. Pair it with a glass of great wine and savor the romance. Sample such a decadently delicious evening at the Chocopologie cafés in South Norwalk, Stamford or New Haven.
Learning to cook a beautiful meal can be an act of love for your
family and downright romantic when you have a collaborator in the kitchen. There are some exceptional cooking schools and chefs in Fairfield County who share their craft on a regular basis and many affiliate themselves with town continuing education courses. Or try the exceptional cooking school associated with the Aux Delices gourmet chain in Stamford. Visit auxdelicesfoods.com.
Share a Sip
The concept of a wine bar, where customers can sample exceptional wines guided by knowledgeable sommeliers, has wonderful appeal for the budget-conscious couple who want a romantic restaurant evening without splurging on a three-course meal. Of course, you can have great noshes, too, at wine bars including New Canaan’s Cava and Sarah’s in Ridgefield. HL
C F ORTHOPEDICS
No Bones About It! AVOID THE SLIPPERY SLOPE
Ronald A. Ripps, M.D.
lips and falls are the most common cause of bone fractures, and fortunately most of these are preventable. The National Floor Studies Institute conducted studies that show that 55% of slip and falls are caused by a hazardous surface and 25% by improper footwear. In the work place slip and falls account for nearly 20% of all workers’ compensation expenses, or about 36 billion dollars a year in premiums and lost productivity.
lthough OSHA only requires our floors to be clean and dry, we have to do better than that. There are a number of floor treatments- such as brushed concrete for outdoors, abrasive vinyl or epoxy with surface aggregate indoors- that are slip resistant. Adhesive strips and chemical etching are also available. Non slip finishes can be applied to marble, terrazzo, and other hard surfaces. Fix crumbling walkways, repair cracks, and replace missing tiles. In the
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bathroom, rubber bath mats and non-slip throw rugs are a must. In the shop, highly absorbent high-traction mats will make oily surfaces safer. Along with making the surface safe, we must strive to keep it uncluttered.
afety shoes are generally stiff,ugly and uncomfortable. But, if the steel toe and shank are not necessary, there is a large selection of fashionable and comfortable shoes that are skid resistant (see shoesforcrews.com). At home, although the most slippery foot is the wet bare foot, most of the orthopedic slip and fall injuries we see are in people running in their stocking feet. The safest shoes are light weight with a low heel and a skid resistant heel and sole. Women should use shoes with straps, men shoes with laces- and, of course, they must keep the straps buckled and the laces tied (I didn’t have to tell you that, did I?). If the tread is bare over an area greater than two pennies, replace the sole.
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Lost that Photo: Strawberry Mood Photography/GettyImages.
Lovin’ Feeling? 10 tips to recapture the romance by merci miglino
he thrill is gone. You’ve been together for a long time and it’s feeling longer every day. Where’s the spark, the fire of when you first fell in love? According to experts, the spark may never be as incendiary as it once was, but you can certainly fan the flames and fall back in love with each other. “I do believe people can fall back in love if they have fallen out of love,” says Nicholas Strouse, director and practicing clinical social worker at Westport Family Center. “You can still reach back to the deeper, more tender place or you can return and rekindle.” “I see a fair number of couples in this situation,” says Judith Shapiro of Ridgefield, a marriage and family therapist.
“Things have grown old and stale and tired. I think you really have to look for and create opportunities to find some pleasure and novelty again ... becoming somewhat more adventurous whether sexually or in your day-to-day activities.” Couples therapist Dr. Linda Olson of New Canaan agrees, but suggests couples build a healthier relationship instead of focusing on trying to recapture the past. “Rather than [ask] how can we fall back in love, [ask] how can we create a healthier, happier relationship?,” says Olson, who has worked with couples for 30 years. “Because it’s not about falling back in love. It’s about creating a safe relationship. And the truth is that most people think relationships are a lot of work. They’re not a lot of work if you have a safe, trusting relationship.” With this in mind, we asked our local experts for their suggestions on how to fall back in love. continued on page 92
Using Imago Relationship Therapy, a form of marriage therapy that takes a relationship rather than an individual approach to problem-solving in a marriage, Shapiro urges couples to create a safe and trusting space between you. “This means respecting each other’s boundaries. You’re honest with each other and you have fun together, which, in a nutshell, creates safety in the relationship,” she says. “And once you create more safety, you blossom. You’re going to have the best-ever relationship.”
education classes, go antiquing together or learn a new sport such as golf or tennis as long as it engages both of you. Consider ballroom dancing, says Michael Stavola, who runs Ballroom DanceSport studios in Weston and Derby with his wife Nicole. “There’s nothing like ballroom dancing for re-connecting with your partner,” says Stavola, who has been dancing and teaching for over 30 years. “Many of us fell in love on the dance floor. You’re holding on to each other, learning something new together, laughing, making mistakes, and working on something together. It’s wonderful.” The key is that the activity must be something both partners want to do. “You can’t drag someone kicking and screaming to classes and expect it to be a great experience,” he says.
Start a Couples Club.
Shapiro says some people are bored by each other and are afraid to be alone together because it isn’t fun anymore. If this is the case, she recommends starting a couples book club or movie club with a handful of other couples. “There are couples who never go out alone together. They always have to include other people. That’s OK. Go ahead and include other people if it makes it more fun,” says Shapiro.
Shapiro often assigns her couples homework to surprise each other. “Go on dates. Alternate who’s planning the dates. It’s more fun to be asked out on a date. So take turns,” says Shapiro. “I had a couple who alternated planning vacations. The person planning the holiday was just told what to bring, what to pack, and it was great. It was so much fun for them.”
Learn to Trust Each Other Again.
Do Something New Together
“The truth is, most couples live in fear of each other because at the core they don’t trust each other enough. They don’t trust each other enough about money or cheating or whatever it is. They’ve got to be open and willing to learn to trust again,” Shapiro says. “And that means no blaming or judging of each other or the marriage.”
After many years together, things can get pretty ho hum, says Shapiro, so make something new happen. Try adult
Surprise Each Other.
Photos: Gettyimages. Dancing, PhotoInc; Vacation, Pam McLean; Love you, Tom And Steve; Sightseeing, Hybrid Images.
continued from page 91
Work on Yourself and the Relationship.
Marriage can break down even in the healthiest relationships if people aren’t evolving and growing individually, says Strouse. “I have the most success when people are willing to work individually and as a couple. Because what you’ll find is that the individual has not fully grown as an individual in most cases before they’ve gotten married, and that even if they have achieved all of the quote-unquote requisite life stages before they get married, they still have growing to do as an individual. And that challenges the other individual,” he says.
pessimistic after feeling as if your relationship is in a rut. “It’s not going to work. It’s going to get boring. He’s so boring. He’s so dull. That kind of negative talk makes it hard to remain positive and hopeful about the marriage.”
Don’t Make Assumptions.
Familiarity, argues Greenberg, does not breed contempt but fondness. It’s easy to assume you know someone you have been living with for some time and become bored or even annoyed with them. To get the marriage back on track emotionally, Greenberg suggests couples stop making assumptions and instead start asking questions. The more you express interest in your partner, the more interesting he or she becomes.
Don’t Avoid Conflict.
One of the biggest issues that cause people to fall out of love is the avoidance of conflict. When people first fall in love, there is the well-known honeymoon phase where they are being admired, adored, respected, needed, and wanted, says Strouse, but this soon passes. “The stakes are the highest when we give our heart to another. When we lock our bond with our mate, it is so dear, so precious, so profound and important that to lose it feels like we are losing a part of ourselves,” says Strouse. “That means the fear of abandonment and a tendency to avoid conflict. But when people want to fall back in love, they have to look at this fear of conflict and resentment, and the corresponding loss of self.”
Keep it Mostly Positive.
It is important to share in our partner’s joy and disappointment, says Dr. Barbara Greenberg of Fairfield. “We have to be able to share our ups and downs. This deepens our love and connection.” And that means keeping our comments to each other more positive than negative. “For every negative thing you share,” she says, “share four positive things so we are living in joy and not disappointment most of the time.” Shapiro suggests staying open and positive about the relationship as a whole because it’s easy to become
Don’t Wait to Seek Help.
Don’t wait until the marriage has broken down to get guidance, Olson says. “That’s like saying you’re going to smoke cigarettes but wait until I get cancer before I go to the doctor,” she says. “Everybody should work with someone who can help him or her support and nurture a healthy relationship. The truth is, we all need support. None of us can do it alone.” HL
up close with ...
Lydia Heilmann by rebecca haynes | photo by krista hicks benson
ydia Heilmann loves a challenge — and the 37-year-old Fairfield resident is about to get one. She heads to her native UK in September for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in London, where she will compete in the sprint triathlon category with her U.S. teammates (she became a citizen in 2007), an honor she achieved through top-place finishes in local and regional races. “I’ve always been competitive,” she admits. “It doesn’t really matter what it is — whether it’s doing the best in an exam or racing — I think it’s something that’s just inside of you.” Of course it helps that her husband, Per Heilmann, gives her support and encouragement. The pair met in 1998 while working on their MBAs in Cambridge, England. He came back to the states after graduation and the couple had a long-distance romance. But that came to an end in 2001 when Lydia moved to New York City. They married in 2005. “He’s very proud of me,” she says of her athletic accomplishments. In fact, she started doing triathlons in 2004 after Per decided to take them on in lieu of rugby, a sport he’d played for years. But serious training is serious business and something Heilmann does her best to juggle with being a mom to Lars, 5 and Tor, 3. She also freelances as a Dutch translator, working from home on documents ranging from legal to medical to novels. Have you always been an athlete? Yes. I played field hockey and netball in England. It’s kind of like basketball, but it’s for girls. And I was always a runner … I really got into racing in 2000 and did two marathons that year. The main thing is, I always need a challenge. I do [triathlons] now. Really long-distance running doesn’t suit my body type and with the triathlons, you do three different sports, so it’s a total body workout. You’ve said you’re highly competitive. But it is ever hard to maintain that mentality and continue to push yourself? Definitely the physical side of training isn’t the only thing. The mental side of it is huge and that’s where my yoga comes in. I’m a yoga teacher and really into Kundalini yoga. The breath work helps you with endurance and gives you the ability to push through the hard points of a race and keep your focus. It’s a balance between effort and ease, which is very mental and really comes from the yoga.
So what’s next after the world championships? Coming first over the finish line is something that I thought I would never achieve, so it was great to start winning the local and now the more regional races. But there’s only so far you can go. There’s always somebody faster and always somebody who’s going to beat you and you can really get caught in this track. I don’t want to start getting stressed out about it — having to maintain that level and win. My family is more important to me and there are so many other things I want to do, like playing my cello and starting to translate again. You play the cello? I play in the Fairfield University Orchestra, on and off, between the kids. Am really just going back to it in September. I played in the Manhattan Lawyers’ Orchestra, but that was before we had kids. I grew up in Salisbury and I really enjoyed the historic nature of the area, the cathedral and Stonehenge. I was a musician and used to sing in the choirs at the cathedral. It’s something I miss now. HL Clothing and accessories provided by Ann Taylor, 97 Main St., Westport, (203) 227-7557, anntaylor.com. Hair and makeup by the Christopher Noland Salon & Beauty Spa, 124 Greenwich Ave., (203) 622-4247, christophernoland.com; Ewa Marcinczyk, stylist; Zuzana Mizerova, makeup. Cover and inside model photographs taken at Weir Farm National Historic Site, 735 Nod Hill Road, Wilton, (203) 834-1896, nps.gov/wefa.
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