Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Obsessing Over Weight Loss

The world is filled with constant reminders of methods for weight loss; exercise programs, diet plans, pills, etc.  Losing weight seems to be something that is on the forefront of many consumers’ minds.  Are all these messages and thoughts somehow creating a negative impact on personal weight goals?

For example, I know some people who never discuss ‘feeling fat’ or ‘needing to lose weight’ and they are in great shape.  It’s just not something they stress out about on a regular basis.  They don’t seek out special methods to achieve weight loss or worry about the foods they consume.  They say active without overly obsessing as well.

Having regular thoughts of good health can be important to ensuring a healthy future. However, when these thoughts consume the mind, too much control and obsession can cause a negative reaction. It’s understandable that consumers’ desire control but I feel that if the consumer focuses on a few small lifestyle changes, the impact lasts longer. 

Obsessing over many dietary and physical activity changes at once can backfire, causing the consumer to feel like a failure.  It can create a pattern in which the goals seems father away. Small changes that slowly become lasting habits are meaningful to the consumer and help to ensure better success rates while meeting personal goals.  Could weight loss be achieved if consumers actually stop thinking about it so much?

Joyce Rode, MA
Sunday, September 20, 2015

Eating Local and In-Season all Year

So I admit that this time of year, I start to panic.  As fall begins and winter approaches I feel as though this is my last attempt to save the flavors of summer and fall gardens.  There is so much preparation to be done if a seasonal vegetarian wants to ensure the freezer is stocked with local produce.  Once the snow begins to fly, there are many vegetables that no longer will be offered.  For example, in season fruits and vegetables right now consist of tomatoes, peppers, peaches, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, watermelon, grapes, etc.   

Other vegetables are easily stored and offered despite the colder temperatures.  Squash, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic, for example are heartier and last longer without preserving. Unfortunately, the human diet requires balance and variety.  What can be done to ensure that unique benefits from most fruits and vegetables are obtainable despite lacking fresh availability?

The good news is that they can be canned or frozen during their peak and preserved until a later date.  Tomatoes can be juiced and cooked down for canning.  Other vegetables can be washed and steamed, trimmed and cut for canning or freezer storage.  Although this type of preparation can be time consuming, the benefits are amazing and well worth the effort when inches of snow blanket the ground where a lush green garden once provided colorful produce. 

It’s wonderful to walk into a grocery store and have the option of purchasing delicate fruits such as strawberries in the middle of winter. However, one has to ask themselves if the flavor and nutrient content are the same as those grown locally, picked during peak season and enjoyed within hours of harvest.  Could there be some back home in the freezer ready for a smoothie? How much better will a fresh berry taste when the season arrives again next year? 

Eating local is slowly gaining awareness.  There are many farmers markets that are offered year-round as well. Combining what the farmer can harvest and store, with what was canned or frozen at home during peak season, can make sustainable meals/snacks from nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables for long winter months.

Joyce Rode, MA

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Benefits of Volunteering


You know that good feeling you get when you help someone?  The act can be anything from something small and short term or assisting on a regular basis. Have you thought about the long-term benefits and how this feeling enhances mental and physical health as well?
Volunteering and helping others has been shown by research to create a sense of personal happiness.  This positive feeling impacts many other aspects of the volunteer’s life as well. 

Just knowing that you can help someone in need boosts self-confidence.  Increased positive image carries though in social situations, job performance, and family life. A happier individual is more energetic and productive.

Mental stimulation, by keeping the mind focused on task, helps with thought awareness.  Less thoughts are directed to negative situations or circumstances when more involved in a current situation while helping others.  When someone is working to help another individual, their mind is often occupied with the task at hand and less on negative or wandering, unhealthy thoughts.

 As a result from positive mindset, symptoms of depression can also decrease.  While volunteering, there are opportunities to socialize and this interaction generates positive energy.  Additional opportunities from socialization include making contacts and building relationships that benefit current or future careers, making friends with similar interests, and create sense of belonging.

 Finally, as the volunteer stays active, this benefits physical health. Depending on the type of activity, there is still some level of movement.  In turn, assisting others can cause the volunteer to take a closer look at personal health and the choices they make in an effort to make positive changes for themselves. 

 Volunteering is a win-win situation for everyone.  It can be done in as little as a few hours a week or on a regular basis.  There are many places that look for volunteers and they are always willing to accept any amount of time someone can provide; just think of the positive impact!

Volunteering and it's Surprising Benefits, retrieved September 15, 2015 from HelpGuide.org: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/work-career/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm#wellbeing

Written by: Joyce Rode, MA
Monday, September 14, 2015

Physician Assisted Suicide

As a society, we tend to avoid talking about the end of our lives.  We prefer to think about future plans with our current, healthy bodies.  Not everyone has this luxury, however.  According to the National Cancer Institute, between 13 and 14 million people have cancer at any given time in the United States.  While not all cancer leads to death, there are certain types of cancer with a very specific prognosis.  In most states, patients given a prognosis of six months of life to live are offered a simple plan:  get your affairs in order and prepare for the end.

In some states, however, cancer patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live are given another option: physician assisted suicide.  Those states (Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) have enacted Death with Dignity Acts.  If the patient with that specific prognosis meets other specific criteria (competency, second opinions, residency, etc.), they can request a prescription for a lethal dose of medication.  Once given the prescription, they can have it filled at a pharmacy and then must administer the medication themselves – no one else can give it to them.

Some states, such as Montana, have legalized physician-assisted suicide via case law (see Baxter v Montana).  Other states are working on legislation similar to Oregon (they were the first to pass such legislation) and other states have legislation making physician assisted suicide illegal.

Where does your state stand?  You can look it up at this website:  http://euthanasia.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000132

Other sources:

Valerie Connor, MA CCC-SLP
Saturday, September 12, 2015


Tomorrow, I will take my children on our annual visit to a local apple orchard.  It is one of our favorite traditions.  Even though my children are now in their teens, they still enjoy this yearly trip to pick apples.  It helps that the orchard also makes the best apple cider in town, so we tend to stock up for yummy drinks on those chilly, fall nights.

Apples offer many nutritional benefits.  Here are my top five reasons for eating apples (besides their yummy flavor):

1.  The fiber in apples can help lower cholesterol.
2.  Apples are low in calories, but provide a satisfying snack.
3.  Apples are a good source of vitamin C.
4.  It is possible that apples help prevent colon cancer.
5.  Apples can help reduce the risk of developing Diabetes Type 2.
Even if you don’t have a local apple orchard, most grocery stores sell a wide variety of apples and apple cider.  Here is a spiced apple cider recipe for you to try!

8 cups fresh apple cider or apple juice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 whole cloves
1 orange, cut into slices
8 cinnamon sticks
1 cup sweetened whipped cream
1.  Heat the cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and orange slices in a 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the mixture is hot, stirring occasionally.

2.  Strain the cider into a heatproof pitcher or individual mugs. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and whipped cream, if desired.

Valerie J Connor, MA CCC-SLP

For more information:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/04/health-benefits-apples_n_1855590.html
Friday, September 11, 2015

Fourteen years ago...

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  I mark these years by the age of my son – he was born a few short months before September 11th, 2001.  Sometimes it occurs to me that my children will never know a world that did not experience this terrible tragedy that changed the landscape of our country.  Very few other events have shaped our sense of security and well-being.

Today is the perfect day to reflect on your blessings.  Studies have shown that taking time each day to “count your blessing” actually improves your emotional and physical well-being.  Sometimes it is easier to reflect on negative thoughts – they certainly push positive ones out of our minds quite quickly.  Today, however, in honor of those who gave their lives to protect our country, and in honor of those who tragically lost theirs due to strife in our world, we can take a few minutes to be thankful.  Here are some easy suggestions:

1.  Keep a gratitude journal – jot down a couple of things each day that you appreciate.  It can even be as simple as a beautiful sunset or your favorite cup of coffee.
2.  Use visual reminders – sometimes we need cues to remind us.  Try putting a note on your mirror or car dashboard. 
3.  Use social media – try a week or month long campaign where you share your gratitude publically on your favorite social media site.
4.  Change your self-talk – this is something I work on with my daughter.  She can bog herself down with negative thoughts.  I remind her to develop a mantra of positive comments that override the negative thoughts.  Sometime as simple as “Today I will appreciate… “.

Today is a day to remember and reflect.  It is also a day to count our numerous blessings.  My thoughts are with those who lost a family member or loved one on this day 14 years ago.

Valerie Connor, MA CCC-SLP

For more information:  http://www.cfidsselfhelp.org/library/counting-your-blessings-how-gratitude-improves-your-health
Monday, September 7, 2015

Chocolate Everywhere!

Written By: Renee Gosselin, MS MBA RD
Nutrition Instructor

This weekend I spent the weekend in Hersey, PA which is the home of you guessed it Hersey Chocolates. While I was there, I got to make a stop and make my own chocolate bar. I found this fun and interesting along with the great information they provided. The instructor provided information on how chocolate is made and also the origins of the seed used to make this. Yes, you heard right it is actually a seed used not a bean as we may think!   

Here are just some fun points I learned while on this trip: 

·         Cacao Tree – where cocao “bean” is grown
·         The only insect really interested in pollination of this pod is midges – gnat-like insects
·       Cocoa bean – oval pod that contains the “bean”
·         Cocoa beans differ in taste dependent on where the tree is found
·         Cocoa beans have to be opened with a machete
·         One pod normally contains about 20-50 beans “seeds”
·         Cocoa nib- are the directly roasted nib – these are bitter and nutty 

·         The fat taken away from cacao beans is known as cocoa butter
·         White chocolate is the cocoa butter with absence of cocoa liquor
·         The FDA regulated that to be called white chocolate there must be a minimum of 20% cocoa butter

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