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«Gold Standard of Thin Janice Rowland & Kathleen Rowland Copyright 2012 Petals in the Gazebo Press, Kathleen Rowland Cover Art Copyright 2012 Mariya ...»

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If you’re taking a beach vacation, pack some beach reads. Reading some pages from a good book shields our nervous system from decompression jitters (the kind we get when our minds are still at work). Becoming lost in characters’ lives eliminates thoughts of our own problems. Light fiction keeps our minds from running on obsessive thoughts. Fix up a comfy lounger under the shade of a beach umbrella, have a jug of iced cold tea handy, enjoy the sound of the surf, and immerse yourself in a good tale.

**** Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, proved the relationship between a nation's fast food consumption and its rate of obesity. Schlosser contends that “it seems wherever America's fast food chains go, waistlines inevitably start expanding.” Schlosser argues that the United States has the highest obesity rate of any industrialized nation. More than half of all American adults and about one-quarter of all American children are now classified as obese or overweight. Those proportions are believed to have increased dramatically during the last few decades, along with the consumption of fast food, so that the rate of obesity among U.S. children is now twice as high as in the late 1970s.

An obese person is someone with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Today about 44 million American adults are considered obese, with an additional 6 million so-called superobese—i.e., they weigh about a hundred pounds more than they should. Schlosser comments that “No other nation in history has gotten so fat so fast.” In simple terms, Schlosser argues, when people eat more and move less, they get fat. In the U.S., people have become increasingly sedentary and consume more restaurant meals, including fast food. As people eat more food outside the home, they consume more calories, less fiber and more fat.

**** Good stress is hopeful. Bad stress is fearful, and Janice says, ”Nothing good ever happens in The Valley of Woe. I’ve done my time there, but now I know how to climb out. When I have too much to do, I make a list. I forgive myself if I can’t get it all done perfectly, but eating two pints of ice cream doesn’t make the stress go away.” Now she piles fat-free cottage cheese in a bowl, dices an apple, and gives it a shot of cinnamon. “Not bad!” Martin Seligman, Ph.D., has spent three decades researching the topic of positive psychology. In one of his many books, Learned Optimism, Dr. Seligman encourages people to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. By learning a solution and practicing it, we become more optimistic rather than feeling helpless and overwhelmed. The process gives us confidence.

**** Are you going to a funeral? My family is quirky and emotional. To cut down on stress when

my dad passed away, I wrote up some funeral etiquette:

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**** No matter how busy you are or how long your to-do list, new research shows that you can still keep yourself in tip-top shape. These self-caring boosters will fit into a busy woman’s

hectic schedule:

 Ease tense muscles in your aching back by turning on the radio during your commute. Sitting behind the wheel for long periods aggravates the lower back, and stress from heavy traffic gives us more back pain than heavy lifting.. Stress hormones trigger inflammation and tension in back muscles explains author Shawn Talbott PhD of her book, The Cortisol Connection. Listening to favorite music relaxes muscles, distracting us from discomfort.

 Avoid cancer with vitamins—A Vanderbilt study shows that a multivitamin must contain calcium, magnesium, zinc and iodine in a balanced blend. Not only do these minerals cure tiredness, they control more than 300 enzyme systems to help cells divide normally without cancer-causing mutations.

 Banish fatigue by s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g. According to Cornell University researchers, stretching for two minutes three times daily raises your intake of energizing oxygen by 30%. This boosts alertness and productivity by 60%. Do gentle head rolls, shoulder shrugs, arm and leg stretches. You can sit in your chair, roll down and touch your toes. Breathe deeply.

 Top your vegetables with just a dab of butter or olive oil. Oil doubles your absorption of thousands of youthifying antioxidants, as researchers at Connecticut’s Manchester Memorial Hospital report. Fat binds to plant compounds and help them slip through the digestive tract easily. You don’t want to consume a lot of fat, but just a dollop of plant-based oil stabilizes blood sugar.

 Cure insomnia by pulling a few plugs. I’m referring to high-tech gadgets like cell phones and laptops that make noise. Anyway, these gadgets bring work home and make us feel tense. Isn’t silence a whole lot better?

**** Do you ever wish your family would pitch in with the laundry, yard work, or dishes?

How about convincing your co-workers to do their part on projects? Honey attracts bees, and using the honeybee mentality, here’s a way to delegate your workload. Praise excites the same areas of the brain that get stimulated when we win the lottery. The more times those areas are activated, the more people want to experience that good feeling. MRI scans show that people want to offer a helping hand if you praise them for work they’re already completed. Try “Hey, good job on the XYZ project” or “Honey, you picked up your room and threw in a load. Good job!” This strategy works the other way, too. Psychiatrist George Vaillant (author of Aging Well) suggests that happiness (and successful aging) is derived by giving to others joyously whenever one is able; receiving from others, gratefully, whenever one needs it; and being capable of personal development in between. Dr. Valliant believes that the paradox of life is that old age can be disturbingly wonderful! “Gratitude is almost always more fun than spite or regret.” **** Will someone take your picture soon? Getting along with ourselves means putting one foot forward and looking our best. A modeling position, known as ‘contrapposto,’ makes us look ten pounds thinner. This pose is favored by fashion models. Go ahead and try it. A slight twist and asymmetry it causes in our pelvis, torso, and shoulders makes us appear more graceful as well as thinner. Another trick is to wear short sleeves. Exposing part of an arm shaves off about four inches from our midsections.

**** The secret for getting what we want for ourselves is ages old and is based on quantum physics’ Law of Attraction. When we put Secret Number Two from the Little Gold Suitcase to work for us, it means that our thoughts emit magnetic vibrations, and these vibrations have the power to attract anything in the universe with similar vibrations. Have you ever thought of calling someone, and an instant later, that person phoned you? The Law of Attraction is not a coincidence. You might know positive thinkers. They get what they want by attracting people, resources, ideas, and whatever they want in their lives. For instance, say we want to be lean and healthy. We can let ourselves be drawn to strong green tea that gives us energy to be more active.

We can eat a little protein that curbs our runaway appetite for junk because what we want for ourselves is more important. Send out a vibration to your thin, healthy self, and trick your brain into feeling that way already. Visualize yourself the way you want to be. Are your steps more bouncy? Trust your instincts when you feel like stretching. Stretch and feel how slender you will be. Affirm that you can be a certain size and dance around the house. Visualize yourself as happy, fit, and already thin, and you will be!

Martin Rossman, M.D., offers directions for practicing imagery in his book, Guided Imagery for Self Healing.

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**** Can we mix religions and ideologies? Of course, we can. I know a nun who practices Zen. I like knowing who I am in my own culture but enjoy the wisdom and beauty of meditation practice. Zen offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercises as a means of learning the skill of mindfulness—being awake and fully aware. From washing the dishes to listening to a message from a difficult relative (ha, ha) to peeling an orange, every moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward self understanding and peacefulness. I don’t expect complete understanding and total peacefulness, since I am only human. You can try this at home—sit on a cushion in a half lotus with three points of bodily contact with the floor. Keep your back straight.

This is important because the neck and head should be aligned with the spinal column. They should be straight but not stiff and wooden. Keep your eyes focused about a yard in front of you.

It’s fine to smile a little. Now begin to follow your breath and relax your muscles. Concentrate on staying aligned and following your breath. Let everything go. Let that little difficulty go. You are not in charge of it. As a half smile appears, you are letting go of worrisome facial tension. Be like a water plant that flows with the current.

Chinese philosophers know how to relieve stress. For more than 2,000 years, Asian philosophers and many others have been following something called the Tao, pronounced “dow,” which means path. Tao is a set of techniques that Chinese believe helps them become in sync with the world and their surroundings in order to ease stress and promote harmony and happiness. Researchers believe they are right. Here are a few simple tricks to make you feel


 Listen to your gut. Taoism teaches the principle of wu wei, which means effortless effort. Do what feels right and natural.

 Go with the flow. “When water meets an obstacle, it doesn’t give up or stop. It flows around, seeps underneath or runs over to get to the other side.”  Remember that tomorrow is another day. Taoists don’t beat themselves up over mistakes; life is a steady movement.

 Play more. Taoism encourages yu, or free and easy wandering. Play with your pet.

Do something fun. Take a walk. Call a friend.

 Smell the roses and coffee. A Taoist motto goes: Talking about a path is not walking it. Focus on your senses. Be in the moment.

 Connect with nature. There’s a reason Asian homes are built around a garden.

Being near nature calms us, increases optimism, aids problem solving and even eases pain. In the Chinese Garden, the solidity of stone (yang) is balanced by the softness of water (yin). When opposites, yin and yang, are in balance, there is rejuvenating energy.

**** Write a letter to a soldier. Log on to OperationMilitarySupport.com for the name of a soldier who doesn’t receive regular mail. Even a short note of thanks for serving our country or holiday-themed card will add cheer to his or her day. In Kenneth Pelletier’s book, Sound Mind, Sound Body, he stresses how altruistic work is closely related to the ability to overcome lifethreatening crisis and disease. Caring about others gives us a positive orientation and sense of belonging in our world.

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When our hands are busy, making small improvements to our surroundings, we find joy in where we are. There are so many good things besides food—laughs, hugs, blue skies, great friends and an affectionate family. Sometimes we come up with ways to improve our surroundings. Little projects are fun and keep us from eating. Janice painted her bedroom here at home this summer. Wanting her walls more colorful than college dorm blah-beige, she chose saltwater taffy colors—pink, green, and yellow. She spent the first day drawing lines and masking-taping. Painting took several more days, and she was so engrossed and constantly moving that she lost four pounds that week.

**** Want to tone down your appetite? Studies confirm that the color blue is a natural appetite suppressant because our human brains are programmed to subconsciously associate the color blue with spoiled food. Serve food on plates of any hue of blue. If you are trying to cut back portions, install a blue light in your fridge to make between-meal raids less appealing. Come to think of it, blueberries are really purple.

**** Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Our portions will look more bountiful. Dinner plates are 50% bigger than salad plates. The bigger the plate, the more we pile on. Yet studies reveal that as long as our plate looks full, we feel satisfied. Switching from a 12-inch to an 8-inch plate is effortless, and you will feel content eating less.

**** Maybe it’s the fact we have so many pets that drove me to window box gardening. Dogs, cats, and nibbling bunnies can’t get at the plants. Geraniums and ivy are favorites for semi-shade window boxes.

Or, try an herb garden. Be sure to include parsley. Its menthol oils affect our body’s internal temperature gauge, cooling us down from the inside. According to researcher Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, age-proofing parsley packs one of the most nutritious punches around. More than a pretty garnish, it is loaded with flavonoids that protect against cell damage and even neutralize carcinogens such as smoke from cigarettes and a charcoal grill. It’s filled with vitamin C, beta carotene and even folic acid, and it boosts blood circulation. Parley is one of the best breath fresheners around; pop a spring in your mouth. Oregano is a great choice also; half a teaspoon has as many antioxidants as three cups of spinach.

**** If the weather’s warm where you are, it might be butterfly season. For an emotional lift, invite butterflies to your backyard, balcony, or patio. You can attract these beautiful creatures to your garden with the right flowers. Just a few nectar-producing plants, such as lavender, daisies, asters, or hyssop, will do the trick. Whether you plant them yourself or pick up potted versions at the garden center, place them in an open area that provides some shelter. A hedge or fence will do to protect the butterflies from rain and wind. I set out a shallow dish of water with some pebbles in it so butterflies can rest and take a drink.

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