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Bellevue Reporter February, 2011

GET A BOOST: Natural Memory Enhancers

FIGHT BACK: The Latest in Self-Defense

7

FOOD MYTHS: FACT OR FICTION?

PLUS: Make the Best of Stress Be a Better Parent

NO PAIN,

TV icon and former Bond girl Jane Seymour reveals how ballet, back injuries and angels have shaped her life

NO JANE


2 | body & more | February

2011

feature

table of contents FOOD MYTHS ....................................................................................4 Dieting tricks or mealtime misperception? Read on.

WHEN THE BEST OFFENSE IS SELF DEFENSE .................................8

CELEBRITY HEALTH:

Women’s self defense isn’t just empowering – it can be lifesaving, too.

JANE SEYMOUR

SHARP AS A TACK ............................................................................9

The TV icon reveals how ballet, back injuries and angels have shaped her life.

How to keep the brain agile through better eating, exercise and fun.

REDRESS STRESS ......................................................................... 10 It visits everyone from time to time. Learn how to make friends with this foe.

PAGE 6

DO AS I DO ...................................................................................... 11 When given the right tools, kids can build themselves into happy, healthy and successful adults.

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February 2011 | body & more

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4 | body & more | February

2011

FOOD MYTHS … FACT OR FICTION? Dieting trick or mealtime misperception? Read on to

behind chili peppers – can speed up metabolism by up 25 percent for up to three hours after consumption. Other hot peppers, like jalapeños or habañeros, have the same effect, and so adding them into a salsa recipe can help burn more calories and fat. While those unable to tame the fiery flavor of hot salsa won’t burn off calories, Mangieri reassures that even mild salsa has its benefits: It’s a great source of vitamin A and C and is an easy way to get an extra serving of vegetables. Grieger also explains that it may depend on a person’s own eating habits. The body needs calories for energy, which it’ll use during the digestion process. “The thermic effect of food uses about 10 percent of our daily energy expenditure,” she says. “That’s 150 calories if you consume 1500 calories per day.”

By MICHAEL JULIANO CTW FEATURES

Blotting Pizza Makes It Considerably Less Fattening

D

There are two types of pizza eaters: Those who savor the pool of grease on a hot slice and those who find it absolutely disgusting. For those in the latter camp, trying to let some of the grease drip off might seem like the obvious solution, but it might not actually be doing all that much. “While using a napkin or paper towel to blot visible grease from pizza may soak up a few fat grams,” says Mangieri, “the exact amount is unknown and will not result in making the pizza considerably less fattening.” It’s true that every little bit can help reduce fat and calories, but Mangieri suggests that the best solution is to simply skip high-fat meats as toppings and opt for vegetables instead.

on’t believe everything you eat – or is don’t eat everything you hear? Regardless, there are plenty of food myths that get passed around every day without any thought about whether or not they’re actually true. Here, Heather Mangieri, licensed dietitian, nutrition expert and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, and Lynn Grieger, registered dietitian and personal fitness coach in Manchester, Vt., evaluate which of these “foodisms” are fact and which are fiction.

Eating Salsa Burns Fat Salsa can surely burn tongues, but can it burn fat too? “Possibly, but it depends on how it’s made,” says Mangieri. Studies have shown that capsaicin – the kick

Fat-Free Foods are Loaded with Sugar Unfortunately for all of us, fat tastes good. So when food manufacturers remove the fat from food, sugar is

often used as a flavor replacement. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better, though. “The problem comes from over-consuming fat-free products,” says Mangieri. She explains that the body takes carbohydrates, or sugars, and turns them into fat when there are more calories consumed than necessary. Fat-free doesn’t necessarily mean artificial, though, as Grieger notes a healthy snack like an apple is naturally fat-free with no added sugar. But all excess calories are stored as fat, regardless of what type of food they originally came from. Fat-free foods high in sugars leave us feeling less satisfied, which leads to a higher consumption of calories, which – you guessed it – isn’t good.

The Worst Time of Day to Eat is Right Before Bed Ideally, the bedroom and the dining room are distinct domains, but sometimes the temptation of a late night snack is too much to bear. The real issue here is not when we eat, but what we eat. “Research actually shows that the amount of calories we consume in a day has a bigger impact on body weight than the time of day that we eat,” says Grieger. “Many people tend to eat more junk and snack food at night, which could potentially increase our fat and sodium intake.” Instead, Grieger suggests snacking on fresh fruit at night to get fiber and beneficial nutrients. Eating before bed, in general, though, means that your body undertakes processes like digestion, absorption and metabolism while you’re sleeping, which can have a negative impact on the quality and length of sleep. “What a person eats or drinks before bed may be the difference between a restful night of sleep and a night of tossing and turning,” says Mangieri.

It’s Better to Eat 6 Small Meals Each Day Rather Than 3 Squares The short answer to this: not true. But Mangieri explains that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Different people have different caloric needs, and activity level, individual preference and scheduling can all play into what number of meals works best for an individual. Having snacks during the day may control hunger levels and curb overeating, but it might not necessarily check weight gain. No matter how many meals you eat, Mangieri advises two simple guidelines: start with breakfast, and do not skip meals. •


February 2011 | body & more

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6 | body & more | February

2011

The TV icon reveals how ballet, back injuries and angels have shaped her life

Celebrity Health:

Jane Seymour By LISA IANNUCCI CTW FEATURES

A

t almost 60 years old, Jane Seymour is still as stunningly beautiful as she was when she began her illustrious film career and had her breakout role as the Bond girl in the 1973 film “Live and Let Die.” Born the daughter of an obstetrician, you might think that the benefits of good nutrition and exercise were instilled in her when she was a little girl. “I was also the daughter of a survivor of a Japanese concentration camp in World War II,” she explains. “My mom wanted to make up for that and cooked mainly Indonesian food, and it was good food, but it was the worst for you.” Her mom and her dad suffered from weight issues and her grandmother had diabetes. As a youngster raised in the Wimbledon district of London, Seymour regularly dined on cheese, fried foods and fried rice, and said that she didn’t realize until she moved out that food wasn’t supposed to be covered in salt. More JANE SEYMOUR next page


February 2011 | body & more SEYMOUR from previous page

‘When you go through something you have to open your heart if you want to receive the messages.’

was concerned that her back wouldn’t allow her to dance. “I hadn’t danced a step in 40 years,” she says. She met with DWTS pro Tony Dovolani, who promised her that he could get her to dance without injury. The two met with Seymour’s physiotherapist, and after training she never needed to return to therapy. She finished the competition in sixth place. “I did pull a muscle in between my ribs during dancing, which was painful, but overall I loved every single minute of doing that show,” she says. “It was one of the highlights of my life. I was able to turn the clock back and with hard work, no surgery and passion. I did something that was very challenging to do and very satisfying to the 5-year-old in me who had flat feet.” Today, Seymour is just as busy as ever with her painting, jewelry, skincare line, film work and her newest book, “Among Angels” which provides her thoughts about angels, as well as quotes from literature, spiritual texts, and personal stories that honor the importance of the angels among us. Her mother, Mieke Frankenberg, died from complications related to a stroke, and Seymour says that her mom communicates with her through single white feathers that randomly show up where they wouldn’t typically be. “When you go through something, you have to open your heart if you want to receive the messages,” she says. “I got that from my mother, that stuff happens in life, and if you open your heart by reaching out and helping someone else’s, it will help you in return. It takes the pressure off your own grief, and you feel able to do something and that you have a sense of purpose.” •

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Enrolled in ballet at an early age to help her flat feet and speech impediment, Seymour was just 13 when she made her professional debut with the London Festival Ballet. “I took it seriously,” she says. “I knew now that certain foods were healthy and some weren’t, and I was always careful. I was too thin for just a few minutes but saw girls in my class die from anorexia, and I didn’t want to be like that.” Unfortunately, Seymour was encouraged to give up ballet because of her bad knees, but fortunately for us, she turned to a career in acting. She’s had many roles throughout her career, but her most notable were as Cathy/Kate Ames in the “East of Eden” miniseries, Elise McKenna in the movie “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve, and Dr. Michaela “Mike” Quinn in the TV series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” in the 1990s. (She quips, “You never saw Dr. Quinn jump from a carriage because of my knees. There was always a guy around to help her.”). She also had a memorable role in the 2005 comedy “Wedding Crashers.” After the birth of her now 16-year old twins and a hard sneeze in the wrong direction, Seymour’s career was almost halted with a debilitating back injury. “I herniated a disk in my back and never experienced that kind of pain before,” she says. “I was lying on the floor and couldn’t move.” She had emergency back surgery the next day and took her rehab very seriously. “I realized that what goes wrong with your spine is the direct result to how weak or strong your stomach muscles are,” she says. Since then she swears by stomach crunches and an exercise where you suck in your stomach muscles as far as you can and put your arms in a circle in front of you as if you’re hugging a tree. She doesn’t work out regularly, but when she does she does Pilates and Gyrotonics. A few years ago, Seymour was approached several times to become a cast member on the hit show “Dancing with the Stars,” but she

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2011

When the Best Offense is Self Defense Women’s self defense isn’t just empowering – it can be lifesaving, too

By JEFF SCHNAUFER CTW FEATURES

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ot too long ago, a young woman was walking down a street in New Jersey on her way to her apartment complex. As she walked, a car passed her, turned around and parked across the street. A lone male emerged from the car, following her into the complex. But she was ready. As he attacked her from behind, she turned towards him and delivered a roundhouse kick to his leg, sending him to the ground in pain. Realizing she had some sort of martial arts training, the attacker ran – hobbling and cursing – away. “This art is life-saving,” says Heather Bridle, 32, who recalls the tale from one of her students at the Kung Fu San Soo academy in Tarzana, Calif. From college students to college professors, women from all areas of life are finding peace of mind – and fitness – in self-defense classes. And while there are no official statistics, some self-defense classes are even reporting an increase of enrollment of women.

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“In my experience there are about two to three women per 10 men, where in past years there may have been one female for every 20 males,” says Khadi Madama (Sijo, which is a Chinese martial arts title received at instructor level), 59, of Toms River, N.J. Women have dozens of self-defense styles to learn from – including street smarts and martial arts. Women are taught to jab, elbow, palm heel and kick to soft tissue at areas such as nose, throat, top of the foot, knee, instep and groin. And some techniques are more damaging than others. “Spiked heels work better thrust into an eye socket than they will on a man’s shoes,” Madama says. While techniques may differ, many classes teach similar philosophies. “Being mentally and physically prepared will increase a woman’s options and can lead to a successful escape,” says Amy Bond, 41, a self-defense instructor, third-degree black belt in Okinawan Shido-kan karate, from Horseheads, N.Y. “We teach that there are three ways to defend yourself: Prevention, use of your voice and physical retaliation,” Bond says. “Prevention is the preferred method, don’t get yourself into a situation, you don’t have to get out of it.” A situation can be halted without your knowledge, simply by how you carry yourself, Bond says. “By presenting a confident image to the world and using a strong voice, you tell a potential attacker that you are someone who is not easily controlled, which is what they look for in a victim.” Indeed, Bridle says self-defense/martial arts classes can not only help women defend themselves, but they can build “confidence, responsibility, pride in themselves and what they can do, and in essence a continual build on their human character.” And don’t forget the fitness benefits – enhanced by hourslong classes featuring cardio workouts, punching and kicking bags and sparring. “We work out a lot!” says Asiah Medawar, 19, from Hesperia, Calif., who initially took a self defense class to be able to defend herself after late night classes on her college campus. “Workouts are four hours a day, three days a week. We start off by running two miles, go inside and do core workouts and then we do bag drills or gin in the ring and spar.” Medawar’s classes, sponsored by the local police department, focus on boxing and teach straight punches, hooks, uppercuts and jabs. Her stamina also has gone up. And one extra bonus: “I really enjoy boxing,” she says. “You get all your frustrations out.” •

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8 | body & more | February


Sharp as a

Tack How to keep the brain agile through better eating, exercise and fun

By DAWN KLINGENSMITH CTW FEATURES

D

oes the herb gingko biloba guard against memory loss? Forget about it. A preponderance of research shows gingko does nothing to sharpen or preserve memory, nor does it stave off or slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. But though there’s no magic pill to keep your mind from springing leaks, there are plenty of proven natural ways to help keep your memory intact. Studies have shown you can prevent cognitive decline by maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. This includes exercise, getting enough sleep, not smoking, being social, eating a sensible diet and limiting alcohol to one or two drinks a day (a small amount of alcohol has been shown to be protective, while immoderate amounts can increase the risk of dementia). “Better brain health is a whole-health issue, and we need to think of it as such,” says Dr. Cynthia Green, assistant clinical psychiatry professor, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. What stays in your brain depends in part on what goes in your mouth. “Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain,” says Dr. Fernando Gómez-Piniella, professor of neurosurgery and physiological science, University of California, Los Angeles. Studies suggest Omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, walnuts, kiwi fruit, to name a few) promote synaptic plasticity, or the synapses’ ability to change strength, GómezPiniella says. Synapses connect neurons in the brain and are often described as “firing” when learning occurs. Memory retention also occurs at the synapses. Recent studies also have shown a lower risk of mental decline among people who follow a “Mediterranean diet” rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. In addition, observational studies suggest that a diet high in antioxidants is protective of cognitive function, says Dr. Kaycee Sink, associate professor of geriatrics and director of

the Memory Assessment Clinic at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C. Neither Omega-3 fatty acids nor antioxidants in the form of supplements had protective effects when studied, though. “Follow your heart” is sound advice for making lifestyle choices that are good for brain health. “Anything that’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” Sink says, and that includes exercise as well as a diet low in animal fat and high in fruits and veggies. Physical fitness and mental sharpness go together. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that adults ages 65 and older who exercised more than three days a week had a lower risk of dementia than their sedentary peers. Another study looked at teens, 30-somethings and 50-somethings who exercised and found that all three groups had a decreased risk of dementia in their 70s. “You don’t need to go out and become a marathon runner. If you’re sedentary, just going out and walking three times a week can decrease your risk by as much as half,” Sink says.

to go out d e e n ’t n o d u “Yo arathon m a e m o c e b and dentary, e s e ’r u o y f I . r runne alking w d n a t u o g just goin ek can e w a s e im t e thre risk by as decrease your much as halfci.”ate professor of geriatrics

ic at e Sink, asso essment Clin — Dr. Kayce Memory Ass e th of or ct and dire University Wake Forest

February 2011 | body & more

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Our brains need regular workouts, too. Challenging your brain with mental exercises is believed to stimulate communication among brain cells. “Brain tissue is not a muscle,” Sink says, “but it has the capacity to remodel and make new connections.” In order to do so, it needs to be exercised by doing something cognitively challenging. “Look for activities out of your comfort zone. If you like to read, try a pottery class,” says Green, says Green, author of “Brainpower Game Plan” (Rodale, 2009), her latest of three books on memory. However, you don’t need to puzzle over calculus problems or study Mandarin Chinese. Board games, crossword puzzles, or even a group discussion can build mental muscle. In fact, staying social has been shown to potentially cut your risk for memory impairment in half, Green says. Multitasking leads to memory lapses because our attention is too divided. “You have to maintain focus on something you want to commit to memory,” Sink says. While it’s not as though cramming new data into our brains causes older data to “fall out,” it’s true that the brain can only process so much information at a time, she adds. And what it can’t process, it can’t retain. •


10 | body & more | February

2011

Redress Stress It visits everyone from time to time. Learn how

to make friends with this foe

outside for a walk. Zip along at a quick clip to burn off energy or slow to a stroll and brainstorm ways to address the challenges you face. And remember to focus on your breathing.

... sit still.

By BETH KUJAWSKI CTW FEATURES

S

tress, in general, has gotten a bum rap. But all stress is not created equal, and how people respond to it can mitigate its effects. Even better, it can even be used to your advantage, as the nudge needed to make the changes necessary to become healthier and happier. “There’s good stress, and there’s bad stress,” says Allen Elkin, Ph.D., founder of the Stress Management and Counseling Center in New York and author of “Stress Management for Dummies” (For Dummies/Wiley, September 1999). “Good stress can act in a number of ways to promote functioning. Some stress becomes a motivator, it becomes a focuser, it awakens you in a way that makes performance results better.” Of course, some stressors are bigger than others. The loss of a loved one or the loss of a job affect us greatly. But many of the stresses that we perceive as great are really somewhat small. As pat as it may seem, the most effective way to manage many stressors is to simply change the way we look at them. “Often the big gun is just changing attitude. ‘Will I remember this in three years? Three months? Three weeks?’ Perspective is great,” Elkin says. In need of a nudge? Use your stress to ...

... get moving.

Stress produces adrenaline. Use it. You may feel too overwhelmed to lace up, but if you get moving, you’ll feel better. Leave your concerns at the door when you walk into the gym and focus on your workout. Alternatively, head

Meditation is an excellent way to manage stress, but it takes practice. Find a quiet place, close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and try to clear your mind. If that’s tricky, focus on an image or scene. “It’s hard to think of nothing,” says Elkin. “Thinking of nothing is a vacuum, it invites everything else in. It’s like ‘Don’t think of pink elephants.’ It just invites that. So try to replace it with a positive image.” Meditation may feel pointless the first few times you try it, but persist. If the notion of finding enough time or a quiet place seems impossible, start small. You don’t have to carve out a block of time every day. Get up a few minutes earlier than usual and enjoy the stillness of your home. Take five minutes in the car when you arrive home to center yourself before you walk in the door.

... get things done.

Make a to-do list. Stress saps our ability to remember details. A list allows you to keep tabs on what you have to do but also enables you to cross items off as you go. The ability to see yourself making progress provides a sense of relief. Also, create a tiered list of larger projects along with the detailed steps required to get them done. Listing a large project may create stress by virtue of feeling too big to tackle, but when it’s broken down into its components, it’s much easier to manage. Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take one step. Complete one task. Then complete another. Accomplishments build on each other, fueling your can-do attitude and alleviating anxiety about how much you need to get done.

... clear away clutter.

Disorganization creates its own stresses. When you’re running late for work and you can’t find your keys, you day takes a turn for the worse. Eliminate opportunities for stress to arise in everyday tasks. (Getting dressed in the morning should not be stressful.) Use the energy created by stress, for example, to sort out your closet. Donate items you no longer wear, create a pile to take to the tailor, make note of what you need, put what’s left back into the closet, organizing as you go.

... define goals.

This plays into the to-do list notion, but on a more macro scale. To-dos are more day to day; goals are big picture. Then again, feeling stuck or not being able to define a goal provides another source of stress. Find clues in what you do when you don’t have to do anything or think about what you would do if you had time to do nothing. Likewise, if you feel as though you’re constantly running up against brick walls – frustration is a form of stress – take that as a sign to re-evaluate.

... embrace the negative.

Of course, to-do lists never end. But if yours is too long, perhaps the time has come to relearn the word we all loved as kids: “No.” Some live their lives at what feels like a time-lapse pace, but no one can continue that pace indefinitely. Yes, there will be hectic periods, but if life has become consistently crazed, the time has come to re-examine your goings on. There are only so many hours in a day. You have to prioritize your life. Reclaiming your time requires learning to say “no” nicely.

... be more assertive.

Use smaller accomplishments to build your confidence toward addressing larger interpersonal issues you’ve left untended for too long. Relationships change, and some fade. Find the wherewithal to assert yourself in lopsided relationships. The other party may have no idea that an issue exists. Or it may be necessary to end relationships that have run their course but still linger.

... drop it.

Sometimes, the best tack is just to let go. Think of someone who can’t swim. The inclination is to panic. But the solution is to relax and float. When we’re stressed, we lock ourselves into a loop of creating more stress. “Panic just creates more evidence to prove that the panic is valid and justified,” says Julia Rogers Hamrick, author of “Choosing Easy World” (St. Martin’s Press, 2010). “But when you stop and get yourself to relax, even for 30 seconds, even for a split second, and then you choose it for another split second, you go into appreciation.” “Find something to be grateful for, because gratitude puts you at the vibrational level of things to be grateful for. When you’re being grateful, you’re attracting more things on the level of which you’d be grateful for. So, it’s like using your stress to your advantage: Use the fear and use the panic to remind yourself to switch your modes, to raise your vibration, to go into a state where you are able to attract that which you want and need.” •


February 2011 | body & more

When given the right tools, kids can build themselves into happy, healthy and successful adults

| 11

divvied up into each. For example, one jar may be for charity while another is designated for long-term savings. This progresses to envelopes and dollars then to the bank. Some parents use chores as the de facto method of earning money while others try to get more creative. Winston stresses that regardless of how one begins to teach her children about money, it’s most important that lessons just get started – and early. “The earlier they start, the better to help them understand it,” she says. More, Winston has seen the fallout of not educating children about how to earn and save money. “If we don’t do it,” she says, “we are doing them a huge disservice and crippling their financial health for life.”

The Gift of Giving

DO AS I DO By DANA CARMAN CTW FEATURES

I

t’s no secret that many of the lessons people learn as children carry into adulthood. What is a bit more surprising to learn is that the earlier that we teach our children, even as young as toddlers, about money, nutrition, exercise, philanthropy and how to handle stress, the better off they’ll be in the long run. According to Dr. Fran Walfish, a child and parent psychotherapist based in Los Angeles, there is a parallel between toddlerhood and adolescence. “The objective for the child during both is to individuate themselves from their parents,” Walfish says. Certainly there will be lessons we wish we’d never unknowingly passed on to our kids, but parents can instill in their children a healthy respect for the following and, perhaps, not have to worry quite as much about the adults they’ll become.

Veggies and Fruits Don’t Come in Packages

A love of healthy foods starts really, really early according to Shara Aaron, a registered dietitian, certified fitness instructor and co-author of “The Baby Fat Diet” (Alpha, 2008). Aaron says that moms-to-be can do their babies (and themselves) a favor by eating lots of fruit and vegetables to influence baby’s palate. This is notable also because it highlights an essential ingredient to helping children learn these valuable lessons: parent as example. Each child has his or her own personality, of course, and as babies grow, they become picky toddlers and veggies and fruits are often an enemy. “Vegetables can be a challenge for young palates so don’t overstress about it,” Aaron says. “Don’t get in a food war.” But – and this is a big but – that doesn’t mean Mom and Dad are off the hook. Healthy foods should be on a plate every night (if not almost every meal) says Aaron, even if a child has expressed his extreme distaste. Aaron suggests encouraging veggies and fruits they typically like and giving them choices (broccoli or carrots?)

“Use the no-thank-you-bite rule,” Aaron says. “He has to take one bite and if he doesn’t like it he doesn’t have to eat anymore. Studies show it can take a dozen tries before a child will enjoy a new food.”

Model Behavior

It stands to reason, then, that if parents are sedentary, children will be, too. “Adults must be active if they want their kids to be active,” Aaron says. “Kids are naturally active if they have the opportunity to be.” She suggests creating fun opportunities to be active, such as using jump ropes, balls and cones, which also are inexpensive. Take walks outdoors with kids at young ages and engage their senses. Aaron also says to cater to your child’s interests – perhaps karate or gymnastics would be a good fit? Team sports are great, she says, but not a necessity for getting and keeping a child active. Exercise doesn’t have to feel like a chore – to parent or child. “You can talk about how it makes the body healthy and strong from pretty early on, age 3 or 4,” Aaron says. She stresses creating those fun opportunities for activity – and parents should be wholly involved. More, limit the couch time spent on video games, television and computer games.

Show Me the Money

The concept of money isn’t easy for some adults to grasp, but a 5-year-old? According to financial expert Denise Winston that is not too early to start. The Bakersfield, Calif.-based former banker suggests starting with raffle tickets, rather than cash. The tickets are earned and “cashed in” to illustrate the point. Overall, though, the methods parents use should be based on the child. “Money isn’t one size fits all,” Winston says. “Know a child’s learning style and what motivates them.” One approach Winston recommends is starting with small denominations of change and jars. Each jar is labeled and sized according to its priority and change is

Speaking of money, philanthropy doesn’t just have to be financial, says Carol Weisman, president of Board Builders, St. Louis-based nonprofit organization. Parents can start with children as young as 3 years old. “You can do really simple things,” she says. “Help a friend or neighbor who is sick, explain what you’re doing and involve them in the process.” Weisman cautions that right off the bat it’s easy to turn off children by teaching them that giving means losing. “You don’t give until it hurts,” she says. “You give until it feels good. A lot of people ask children to give up toys when they’re not ready, and they start to resent it.” A few tips Weisman suggests: Send those old toys somewhere else after your child has received new ones, and teach them that those less fortunate deserve new toys, too. Also, she says that while volunteering can be highly popular, especially around the holidays, most non profits are not set up for children, so get creative. She and her children used to make sandwiches for a men’s shelter.

Stressing Lessons

All children experience stress and anxiety, even newborns, says Dr. Fran Walfish, psychotherapist and author of “The Self Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond With Your Child” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). She points out the example of learning to sleep through the night as one of the first big stressful things a child will experience. How parents react to these situations is the key. In fact, Walfish says that many of the behaviors adults display are manifests of things not learned in childhood. Between 18 months and 4 years old, children need to learn a lot and master things like delayed gratification, Walfish says. “That means I’m not always first and can’t always have what I want,” she says. “We see a lot of adults struggling with this because parents didn’t teach them how to handle this.” She advises parents to calmly react to these “stressful” episodes by avoiding defensiveness with the child, to narrate a dialogue about what the child wants and how he is feeling, and to empathize with him. However, Walfish says, this doesn’t mean negotiating. If a child won’t turn off the television to come eat dinner, she doesn’t get five more minutes. “The reason they need to do this,” Walfish says, “is what we are here to teach them is that we cannot stop life’s disappointments and letdowns. All we can do is equip them with life skills to cope.” •


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