December Personal Best

email_PBdec15(Note: to access the Personal Best – click on the left side where it says, “view or send post card now”, then click on the link to the December Postcard to access the full issue)

In this issue:

1. Get in the Slow Lane
2. Good Sleep habits Run in the Family
3. Neck Pain no More
4. Exercise from Your Wheelchair
5. Year-End Assessment
6. Transitioning from Work to Home
7. Preparing for Vacation – at Work
8. Watch Out: Tax Scams
9. Clean Your Home for Less
10. annual Safe Gift Guide
11. Stressed Out?
12. Say Goodbye to Food Cravings

Cool Running: 6 Ways to Keep Warm When Jogging in the Fall

Young woman running outdoors on a cold winter day

If you maintain a regular jogging routine, the cool weather of fall and winter can be challenging. Cold air makes it less comfortable to run outdoors but you don’t want to let it keep you from exercising outside altogether. Here are 6 ways to keep warm when jogging in the fall and even into the winter:

1. Warm up inside. Before you head out into the cold, warm up indoors. Stretch, run in place, and do jumping jacks. Warming up will decrease the likelihood of injury from cold muscles. When your muscles are warm, they are more flexible which helps prevent cold weather injuries. When you feel warm and ready, head outside.

2. Get cold weather gear. Head down to the athletic store and stock up on warm weather running gear like thicker socks, moisture wicking under layers, a hat, gloves, and outer layer gear that’s designed for cold weather.

3. Get hand and feet warmers. Most sportswear stores sell packets that will heat up for a short period of time that you can place in your gloves, pockets or even your running shoes . When it’s cold out, your extremities will be the first thing that feels cold as your body tries to conserve heat so keeping your hands and feet warm is essential to cold weather preparedness.

4. Run at the warmest time of the day. If you’re the type of person who tends to run first thing in the morning or at night when it’s coldest, consider switching to a daytime run. It tends to be warmest outside mid-day. Try running at lunch, at least until it warms up outside.

5.  Cover your skin. When you’re dressing yourself to run outside, make sure you cover as much of your skin as possible. This will help keep your body warm as you expose yourself to the elements.

6. Mentally prepare yourself. Finally, it’s helpful to psyche yourself up to run in the cold. Listen to uplifting, energetic music. Repeat a mantra. Whatever you need to do to get yourself into a good mental place to run- do it. Then, get running!

Finally, don’t forget to hydrate- even if you aren’t sweating. Also, use your best judgment and don’t run when it’s too cold- that is, if it’s cold enough that it might be unsafe to run. Remember to consult with your primary care physician before starting an exercise program.

National Family Caregivers Month


The theme for National Family Caregivers Month November 2015 is:

Respite: Care for Caregivers”

caregiversRespite – the chance to take a breather, the opportunity to re-energize – is as important as any other item on your caregiver’s to-do list. People think of respite as a luxury, but considering caregivers’ increased risk for health issues from chronic stress, those risks are a lot costlier than some time away to recharge. Respite is the key to your own well-being. Respite protects your own health, strengthens family relationships, prevents burn-out and allows your loved one to stay at home up to three times longer. No wonder respite is one of the most frequently requested support services for family caregivers.

 R     is for “Rest and Relaxation”

        Everyone needs a little “R and R” – especially family caregivers. Relaxing is the best way to return refreshed to handle your many responsibilities as a caregiver.

E     as in “Energize”

Caregiving is often round-the-clock 24/7. Respite isn’t simply “getting a few hours off.” It’s necessary to help you reenergize, reduce stress and provide care for your loved one.

S     as in “Sleep”

Caregivers often have sleep problems. Address sleep problems and insomnia before they take too great a toll on your health.

P    is for “Programs that can help you”

Respite – which can be in the home or out of the home – can be hard to find but there are programs available to help you.

I      as in “Imagination”

Let your mind run free; read a book; see a movie. You have been so occupied with the nuts-and-bolts of caregiving that refreshing your mind will actually help you be a better caregiver.

T     as in “Take Five”

…or better yet, take ten.  Do you find yourself saying, “I wish I had  just ten minutes to myself”? Don’t feel guilty. You need a reprieve – a few minutes to temporarily disengage.

E     is for “Exhale”

A simple breath in and then a long exhale can help you focus and increase your vitality. A few deep breaths can give you more energy, reduce stress, and lift your mood.

During National Family Caregivers Month, remember…


Care for Caregivers”

Skinny Caramel Apple Pie Trifle

apple-pie-trifleThis colossal trifle is yummylicious!!! It’s an easy to make, low-fat, fall and winter dessert! Perfect for potlucks, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah. It uses mostly prepared, store bought ingredients, except the fresh apple pie filling. That’s made easy by cooking the cinnamon apples in the microwave. The thing that takes the most time is chilling the cooked apples, before you assemble this dish. And, this dessert tastes best when refrigerated for at least 1 hour to marinade the flavors. Each skinny serving has 139 calories, 2 grams of fat.

Prep Time: 30 minutes, including cooking apples
Refrigerate Time (to cool cooked apples): 30 minutes
Refrigerate Time: 1 hour before serving

8 cups apples, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons reduced-fat butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1½ tablespoons cinnamon
1½ tablespoons water
1 (12 ounce) ready baked angel food cake, cut in half and into 1-inch cubes, see shopping tips
2 snack packs of already prepared vanilla or tapioca pudding, see shopping tips
1 (8 oz) container fat-free frozen Cool Whip, thawed
3 tablespoons Hershey’s Classic Caramel Sundae Syrup, see shopping tips

1. To prepare the apples: In a large microwave-safe bowl, add butter, cover and melt in microwave, about 20 seconds. Stir in sugar, cinnamon and water. Fold in chopped apples. Mix well. Cook in microwave about 8-10 minutes, until apples are soft. The apples create a lot of liquid, once cooked, which you’ll want to use. Place the bowl of cooked apples in the freezer to cool, about 25 minutes or in refrigerator, for about 1 hour.

2. To assemble trifle: In a large serving bowl or trifle dish, place half the angel food cake pieces on the bottom of bowl. Sprinkle half the cooked and cooled apples evenly over cake. Dollop 1 package of pudding all over top of apples. Use the back of the spoon to spread around.  Spread ½ container Cool Whip evenly over pudding. Use back of spoon to spread. Drizzle 1½ tablespoons caramel syrup over the top of cool whip.
Repeat the steps starting with angel food cake and ending with Cool Whip and caramel syrup drizzled over top.

3. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight, before serving. Store any leftovers covered in refrigerator. You can freeze the leftovers too. 

Makes 16 servings (each serving about ¾ cup)

Food Fact
Trifles are terrific desserts because they’re made in advance and feed a crowd.

Shopping Tips

Ready baked angel food cake can be found in the produce section in most large supermarkets. It might also be in the bakery aisle.

Already prepared vanilla or tapioca pudding is usually displayed in the aisle where boxed dry pudding mixes are sold.  It’s available in a 4-snack-pack size. If you can’t find it make your own with a dry package of instant vanilla pudding. Prepare it with fat-free milk.

Hershey’s Classic Caramel Sundae Syrup is sold in most supermarkets. It’s usually displayed on a side aisle so you might have to ask for help finding it.

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

alzheimer10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

The Dirty Dozen Plus

1_applesEating fresh produce is the best way to obtain the nutrients that support optimum health, but the pesticides used on many crops remain a major health concern. By choosing organic foods, you can reap the health benefits of fruits and vegetables without exposing yourself and your family to potentially harmful chemicals. Pesticides present real health risks, particularly to children and those with health concerns. The toxicity most commonly associated with pesticides in animal studies include disruptions in the normal functioning of the nervous and endocrine system, and increased risks of cancer.

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes

Plus these which may contain organophosphate insecticides, which EWG characterizes as “highly toxic” and of special concern:

  • Hot peppers
  • Blueberries (domestic)

Why should you care about pesticides? The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood. Here’s a video in which I address the importance of avoiding pesticides.

Also keep in mind that maintaining your family’s health is not the only reason to choose organic food. Pesticide and herbicide use contaminates groundwater, ruins soil structures and promotes erosion, and may be a contributor to “colony collapse disorder,” the sudden and mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees that threatens the American food supply. Buying or growing organic food is good for the health of the planet.