Tired

I am tired.

Tired… of the gray skies that have loomed overhead most days of this rainy and dreary winter.

Tired… of having to do my workouts indoors.

Tired… of feeling tired because of  the weather.

Tired… of the cold.

Tired… of umbrellas.

Tired… of coats, jackets and scarves.

Tired… of seeing bare trees and no colors outside other than brown, gray and white.

Tired… of rain.

Tired… of snow.

Tired… of winter in general.

Tired.. of not seeing the sun, feeling its warmth and seeing vibrant colors all around me.

I want spring!!

 

Works for Me!

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There are many bits of advice on how to lose weight, get healthy and stay healthy.  I always read articles online or in magazines that talk about losing weight. I am not obese, but tend to put on a little bit of weight here and there, especially in the winter.  These are some of the weight loss tips I have heard over the years:

Don’t eat eggs

Don’t eat carbs

Count calories

Count carbs

Eat carbs with protein

Focus more on protein

White foods are terrible for you (breads, pasta and potatoes)

Wheat bread and pasta are better for you

Do cardio first, then weights

Do weights first, then cardio

Do a little cardio first, lift and then do the rest

You need 35 minutes of exercise 5 times a week

You need 45 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week

Continuous exercise keeping your heart rate up is best

Interval training is best

It’s better to exercise in the morning

It’s better to exercise at night

Don’t eat past 7:00 PM

It does not matter when you eat, it’s what you eat

Eat a huge breakfast and make your lunch and dinner smaller

Eat three meals a day

Eat six small meals a day

Eat small bits of food every 2 hours

 

AHHHHH!!!! No wonder people give up!!

 

After many years of hearing all sorts of theories (as I have come to regard them as), I have found a few things that work for me.

1.  I count calories.  Susan Lucci, who played Erika Kane on ABC’s “All My Children” was asked how she stayed so trim all these years.  She said her secret was calorie-counting.  And I agree! Based on my height and weight, I try to eat between 1000-1300 calories a day.  I also try to get my calories from nutritious foods.  By doing this, I noticed I can eat way more if I eat something that is good for me versus something that is not. I created a calorie chart and record my caloric intake everyday.  There are tons of apps for phones that will give you the calories of pretty much any food right at your fingertips and will track them for you as well.  I prefer writing them down to putting them in my phone, but that’s just me.

2. I measure my portions.  That scale in the picture above was a great purchase.  I had no idea how big my portion sizes were before I started measuring. For example, the serving size for pasta is one cup.  I think I was eating about 2 cups before I began realizing what one cup looks like. Ouch.  This scale is fantastic. It’s an OXO 5 lb kitchen scale and I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond. It’s $29.99 and of course, I used a coupon (they always have coupons!)  The base comes off so you can clean it and you do not have to put foods right on it.  You can put a plate on the scale and zero it out. Then, you can add your food to see how much it weighs.

3.  I exercise in the morning. It gives me more energy and there are less excuses for me not to it later in the day. Plus, I am more of a morning person, so it’s easier for me.

4.  I prefer varying the intensity of my workouts.  The days of just walking at one speed and incline are over for me.  I jog here and there along with walking and adjust the incline if I am on a treadmill or find hills to walk up if I am outside.  I also love biking and cannot wait for the warm weather to arrive to enjoy that as well!

5.  I eat 4 meals a day.  I eat breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner.  I also try not to eat quite as many carbs as I used to, but I will not give them up. EVER!

6. I forgive myself if I cheat.  I like sweets and I am not giving them up.  I might just have a bite of something or only eat one cookie instead of 2 or 4 (I like to eat things in even numbers).

 

Well, that’s it.  After spending way too much money over the years on different kinds of products and trying all kinds of diets and exercise routines, I have finally learned some strategies that work for me.  Maybe some of these will work for you as well!!  Good luck!

Nude Pics – Is your daughter sending them?

There is a new and disturbing epidemic that is happening with our children.  Boys are asking girls to send nude or semi-nude pictures to them via their cell phones and the girls are doing it – willingly.  Inevitably, the boy cannot resist and sends the picture to half the people in his contact list. He becomes known as a stud and the girl becomes known as a tramp.  And this happening in middle schools and high schools where the ages of the children usually range from 11-18.

One of my best friends is a high school guidance counselor and I have heard her talk about this for the past few years.  Several of the girls sent pictures of themselves thinking that only their boyfriend would see it (how naive)  and others sent it just because they were asked (for attention?).  She often gets the parents of both parties involved and there are a lot of tears and embarrassment. A few times, legal action was taken because the student who sent the pictures was 18 and the girl was underage.  No matter the situation, the damage was done.

This weekend, my niece told me about a girl in her class who sent a picture of her breasts to a male friend who proceeded to send it to half of the people in the school.  She is now being called a “whore” and gets taunted by the other girls every day and many of the boys snicker and whisper when she walks by. At 11 years old, she has ruined her reputation. And she is only in 6th grade.

The fact that seemingly so many girls are willing to share their bodies at such a young age is extremely disturbing to me. Parents and teachers need to talk with girls about not using their bodies for attention or love.  I know that is a tough thing given all they see on TV shows, in music videos and all over magazine covers, but they must realize that their private parts are just that – private.

I will never forget my mother giving me a piece of advice I have followed all my life.  She said, “Don’t ever do anything that prevents you from holding your head up high as you walk down the halls.”  That was one of the most valuable things she ever told me and I wish more girls would heed that advice. We all knew girls in high school who did things that caused them to have terrible nicknames and bad reputations. Back then, it was for fooling around or “going all the way” and people had to decide whether or not they believed the boy or the girl.  Today, kids can SEE the evidence.

Girls must be more respectful of themselves and their bodies. They must understand that one bad decision can lead to years of misery.  All with a click of a button.

Friday Favorite – AmLactin Lotion

FF - Amlactin

This lotion is absolutely incredible.  The first person to introduce this to me was my father.  Now, my father is not really a “lotion” kind of guy.  In fact, the only lotion I ever saw him put on his skin was suntan lotion when he got older because his medications would cause his nice Italian skin to burn.  My dad is going to be 67 years old and has hardly any wrinkles on his face, arms, hands, etc.  He is lucky to have great skin. It’s not oily, but there is just enough moisture to ward away those pesky wrinkles except for one place – his  elbows.  My dad’s elbows were atrocious.  They were so dry and scaly that he proclaimed them to be “crocodile skin” and to be honest, I don’t think he was too far from the truth. The skin was so dry that his elbows looked white and if they happened to brush up against you, you felt it.  Ouch!  (Sorry, Dad!)

But one day, everything changed. At a doctor’s visit last summer, he mentioned his excessively dry skin and the doctor recommended this bottle of magic – AmLactin.  It’s about $17 in CVS, but as soon as my dad started using it twice a day as prescribed, the crocodile skin that plagued and embarrassed him for years softened up and disappeared. I could not believe how smooth and clean his elbows looked.  I honestly never thought that any cream could be that powerful and effective.

I immediately went to the store to get a bottle for myself. My elbows are not quite as bad as his, but they certainly do not look smooth.   I  knew that if it worked on my dad’s reptilian-like elbows, it would work on mine as well. And it did.  I also tried it on my heels, which get so dry, I could sand molding with them. Within two days, I saw a difference.  No longer do I have to worry about accidentally scraping my husband’s leg with my sandpaper heels at night. We are both happy about that!

A few tips – Make sure you use it twice a day for really dry skin.  I tried using it once a day at first and saw very little difference, but using it twice a day did the trick.  Also, after I shower, I put the AmLactin on my heels on while my skin is damp and then put socks on right away and keep them on while I am getting ready.  I think it seals in the lotion and really lets your skin absorb it well.

Spring is coming soon which means short sleeves and open toed shoes.  If you have crocodile elbows or sandpaper heels, give this a try so you will look good and feel good showing your skin.  I doubt you will be disappointed!

Just Wondering…

 

 

Today, I have a few questions on my mind.  These are definitely random thoughts (squawkings) that likely have no answers, which frustrates me.  I am sure there are many theories, and I certainly have a few of my own, but I am not sure there are real answers.  I hope I am wrong…

I am wondering…

  • Why can’t people count change anymore?
  • Why don’t people use capital letters in their writing?
  • Why are kids allowed to curse at teachers and their parents?
  • Why do drug dealers get more jail time than rapists and kidnappers?
  • Why are there not stricter laws for stalkers?
  • Why are people so mean to each other?
  • Why do we value looks more than character?
  • Why people don’t say “thank you” when you hold the door for them?
  • Why do people, especially kids, feel a sense of entitlement?
  • Why do people always try and take the easy way out?
  • Why do people post everything and anything on social media?
  • Why is there more of an emphasis on ME instead of THEM or US?
  • Why don’t people value religion and God anymore?

I could go on and on, but decided to stop here. Any answers? Thoughts?  As always, thank you for reading and listening…

I Love the South!

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For the past few days, my husband and I were in Wilmington, North Carolina visiting our beloved aunt and uncle.  I have always loved North Carolina and am always reminded of the goodness in people and the beauty of nature when I return from my favorite southern state.

I love the South. There really is Southern hospitality. It is not a myth.  People hold the doors for you.  They greet you if you pass them in a store or on the street.  They say “ma’am” and “sir” and are very respectful of each other.  People are even considerate on the highways and local streets while driving. I remember one time my aunt got in the wrong lane and need to move over to the correct lane to make a turn. My uncle simply rolled down the window and flagged the driver in the lane next to us.  “Excuse me, Sir.  We are in the wrong lane.  Would it be alright if we went ahead of you when the light turns green?”    “Sure,” the man responded. And he let us in.  And my uncle just sat back like that was a normal thing. I could not believe it.  That is something I had never seen before.

I love the South.  I  always look forward to eating and enjoying Southern foods such as hush puppies, sausage biscuits and gravy, cornbread, grits, fried oysters, and okra. I also love fried clams,  shrimp and catfish. MMMMM!! My LORD do I love Southern food. I never eat fried foods at home, but there is something about the fried food down there that warms my heart and my tummy!  I think it might be because the food is made with love and to think that some of the recipes have not changed for hundreds of years is amazing to me.  During this visit, my uncle introduced my husband and I to red-eye gravy. It is salty goodness made with a hint of coffee and served over grits.  It is fantastic! I have to learn how to make that at home.

I love the South.  I enjoy the entire atmosphere of taking things a little more slowly than up North.  I like the way Southerners speak – not just their accents, but their sayings. My uncle was born and bred in North Carolina and the phrases he uses are priceless. My uncle is very rational, frank and honest without being offensive. My husband calls my uncle’s sayings “nuggets of genius” because you cannot argue with them. What he says is true.  And if he has nothing to say, he does not say anything.  As he said during this trip – “Say what you mean and mean what you say.”

I love the South.  The weather is wonderful, though it can get hot and humid.  But, when it does, you can enjoy one of the sandy white beaches and actually see the bottom of the ocean if you venture in for a swim.  As a result of the warm temperatures, many flowers, trees and shrubs are in bloom almost all year round and their colors are bright and vibrant. The flowers on top of this post were taken in front of a hospital.  Southerners take pride in making things aesthetically pleasing and I love that.  It shows that they take pride in the appearance of their homes, yards and businesses.

I love the South. It warms my heart and soul and reaffirms the fact that there are really good and decent people in this world.  Not that there are not any in the North, please don’t get me wrong.  It just seems that the laid back, honest, hard-working, down-home lifestyle actually makes people happier.  And when people are happier with themselves, they are kinder to others. And that is a good thing.

Being in one of my favorite places with some of my favorite people makes every trip a great one.  The next one cannot  come soon enough!

Respect the Position

 

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Happy Presidents’ Day!  This holiday was originally created to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two men who led the nation during very difficult times. Any president who led our country while we were at war had a tremendous task – to make sure that America was secure.  Over the years, the day has been changed to honor all of our presidents.  Men who chose and were elected to the highest position in the world.

I won’t talk politics, but will say a few things about the position of the President of the United States:

1.  It is not just the president who makes the decisions. He has numerous advisers, cabinet members and even family members and friends who affect what he does and says.  However, it is he who ends up taking the blame for his entire administration, which I guess is only right since he does have the final say.  But his decisions are based on information gathered and given by others.  He is only one man with many things to handle in American and overseas.  He must base his decisions from intelligence and the experience of others.  He does not and cannot possibly know every single thing about every single issue. He relies on others to do this for him.

2.  No matter how you feel about a president, he deserves respect.  He is the most powerful man in the world and he represents America.  I cannot stand when people publicly bad mouth our leader. While we do have freedom of speech, hearing someone call our president a “baffoon” or “idiot” on TV or in the newspaper makes our entire country look bad. Even if we think that, it should not be said publicly. You can certainly say it in your home or when you are with friends, and everyone is entitled to their opinions, but statements that degrade our president in front of the world make us look bad.

Years ago, while touring in England, the Dixie Chicks said they were “ashamed” of President Bush. I had a ticket to go see one of their concerts and immediately sold it.  I think it was disgraceful that they bad-mouthed the leader of our American family, especially in another country and especially during one of the most difficult periods in American history. Say what you want about Bush, but no other president was ever put in the situation he was and many would agree that 9/11 was by far, the darkest day in our history.  We needed to stand together, not blame one person for the response.  The same goes to those who blame President Clinton for not having Bin Laden killed when he had the chance or who feel that Bush knew there was a hijacking attempt in the works.  If you want to blame one man for 9/11, go ahead.  But blame the person who was really responsible –  Bin Laden.

I am glad that all of our presidents are honored today. While some certainly did more than others for our country, we have to remember the time period in which they served. If it was a peaceful time, they did not have to do too much.  But those who served during crises in America and  abroad are the ones we really remember.  Their ability to lead was put to the test.

A president’s legacy is all about timing.  And they have no idea what may happen while they are in office.  We have to hope and trust that whatever does happen, our chosen leader will assist and protect us to the best of his ability.  So, please – at the very least, respect the position of being President and while you can say and think what you want, remember who might be listening…

 

I Am in Awe of Nurses…

Nurses are amazing and incredible caregivers. They are the ones in charge of taking care of people when they are sick, hurting, weak, scared, confused and traumatized.  Hospice nurses take care of those who are dying and try their best to comfort their patients and the families who are watching their loved ones slip away.  Imagine seeing that sadness every day, yet coming to work with a smile and making every patient feel special.  That’s what good nurses do.

On Friday, my aunt had an extremely painful surgery on her neck.  They had to cut through muscles and she is in a tremendous amount of pain.  The nurses taking care of her are so compassionate and comforting that we feel at ease when we leave her to grab a bite to eat or go home to sleep. Although my aunt is on pain medicine, she is still hurting and they know it.  You can see the pain in their faces as they move her, knowing their actions are causing her more discomfort. They are polite, respectful and cheery and are definitely making an unpleasant situation bearable.

Over the years I have seen many family members recover from heart surgeries and my father had his colon removed.  The care that nurses (and their aides) give is simply astonishing.  Nurses (and their aides) deal with things that most of us could not – from cleaning up bodily fluids to changing dressings and bandages on wounds to emptying bedpans and containers of urine.  It really does take someone with a strong stomach and a huge heart to do these things for complete strangers.  I could not do it.

It truly does take a very special person to be a nurse and they should be admired.

 

 

 

Friday Favorites – Avon Anew Rejuvenate Cream

Anew

I hate to admit it, but a few months ago, I started noticing little lines around my eyes and on my forehead.  I kept telling myself that these lines were the results of all the smiling I had done over the years and that I should be grateful to have had so many happy times in my life.  Yeah. Whatever. It didn’t make me feel better. I wanted those lines GONE. As it was, I started going gray in my 20s and did not want these lines to remind me that I was about to hit the big 4-0.

I was always very good about taking care of my skin thanks to my mother who does not look anywhere near her age.  I remember she and I standing in the bathroom mirror in our nightgowns, washing our faces and putting on lotion every night before bed.  Mom used “The Magic of Aloe” routine of washing, exfoliating and moisturizing and would let me use it as well. I felt so grown up!  Later, my mom discovered Keri lotion.  It is wonderful and she still swears by it, but it is a bit heavy and looks greasy.  I think I actually scared my husband with it on a few times because it makes my face shiny. Very shiny. It is a great product, but I felt like I needed something different that wouldn’t make my husband have to squint to look at me and I found it.  It’s Avon’s Anew Rejuvenate Cream and it truly has made my skin look better.

I’ve been using it for about 6 months now and I really do see a difference.   When I apply the cream (using the tip of my ring finger as my mom taught me), I can feel my skin tightening, but not like a mask and not in an uncomfortable way.  It makes my skin feel firm and smooth. Since I began using it, I actually do see fewer lines around my eyes and some have faded altogether. Plus, it’s made in the USA and there is absolutely no animal testing with Avon products.  Those are two more benefits.

One more tip – I read that if you apply cream on damp skin, it absorbs better and deeper than on dry skin.  So, my routine at night is to wash my face with Oil of Olay’s Daily Cleanser, lightly pat my face dry, and put on the Anew.  And let me tell you, I feel like a-new person (sorry, couldn’t resist).  I highly recommend this cream to help tighten your skin and fill in those darned smile lines. I hopefully have many more smiles ahead of me, but my face does not need to show it!

To Give or Give Up? That is the Lenten Question…

Christianity religious symbols, cross and book

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent for Catholics and other Christians.

It was the first of 40 days of  fasting and repentance.

But today is Valentine’s Day and when this day of love falls during the season of sacrifice, it poses a problem for some people.  According to what I was taught, Lent is about sacrifice, abstinence from pleasures and moderation.  But Valentine’s Day is about giving – jewelry, flowers, chocolate, food, wine….love. As you can see, these are quite the opposite of what we are supposed to observe during Lent.

According to dictionary.com, Lent is:

(in the Christian religion) an annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 weekdays to Easter, observed by Roman Catholic, Anglican, and certain other churches.

Typically, people give up sweets or chocolate or snacking between meals.

If you do observe Lent, you might be asking yourself these questions…Should I eat my chocolates even though I gave it up for Lent?  Should I indulge in that ice cream brownie dessert after dinner if I’ve give up all sweets?  Am I allowed to have dessert during Lent?  If I eat the chocolates later this afternoon, is that snacking?  Aren’t we supposed to fast between meals? Or is it all day? Can I cheat on Sundays? Does abstinence really mean abstinence from ALL pleasures?  HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

The practices of Lent have changed drastically over the years.

Here is a brief history of Lent from my Catholic family’s experiences:

My parents are the same age, but one grew up in New York and the other in New Jersey.  When my father was a child, it was a sin to eat meat ANY Friday during the entire year. He was told it was a  mortal sin (one that could lead to a person going to hell).  My mom was told it was a venial (minor) sin, but still it was a sin. No meat on Fridays ever. This was during the 1940’s – 1960’s.

When I was a child in the 70’s and 80’s you were not to eat meat on Fridays during Lent and we also gave something up for the full 40 days.  In the 90’s when I was a young adult, I used to give up chocolate for the 40 days and twice I gave up drinking. That was a huge sacrifice when I was in my 20’s.  I was the designated driver every week and saw a whole different view of “going out.” But I did it and I was pretty proud. Which I think is actually a sin.

Then, in the early 90’s and early 2000’s, I heard from my students who were in CCD that their priest said they were allowed to cheat on Sundays during Lent. It was a “free day” to indulge in whatever they gave up. I was really surprised.  This was quite different from what  I had been told and I kind of felt that it was cheating.  Why wouldn’t the sacrifice last the entire 40 days? When did that change?  Was the priest just being nice to the kids?  Did that apply to adults as well?

At mass one Sunday a few years ago,  a priest said that it was more important to do things for others than to make a sacrifice during Lent.  He said Lent was a time of service and that we should be devoting our time to helping others and doing good deeds. Maybe we could volunteer, offer to help  neighbor.

While I think we are supposed to be helping those in need anyway, I am wondering if we are still supposed to give something up.  And, if Jesus sacrificed his life for us, aren’t we supposed to make a sacrifice for him? I was very confused.  I am still confused.

One thing is for sure though. Not eating meat on Fridays during Lent is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.  It was something made up by the Church.  From what I heard, the fishing industry in Rome was doing poorly and that the Catholic Church created the “no eating meat on Fridays” rule to help them out.  If people did not eat meat, they would eat fish. Today, in America, it’s the pizza parlors that profiting from this rule.

So, for the next 39 days, should we give or give up?  Is Lent about service or sacrifice?  I really have no answers.  I do know that I cannot seem to understand or keep up with the ever-changing rules of the church.  However, I will continue to try and live a good life and be a good person. That is one teaching that hasn’t changed.  And one I can follow without question.