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Best Bets for Flu Prevention

sick woman 2No one wants the flu. There are easier and more pleasant ways to get out of work/housework/spending time with the relatives, than to be flat on your back feeling like you’ve been hit by a Mack truck. So in order to save your sick days for those nice days when you’d rather be anywhere other than work, try these strategies. Some of them are “ye ole standbys” and some may be new to you. Even if you only incorporate the strategies to navigate the MEAN NURSE’S DIRTY FIVE, you’ll have a good shot at avoiding the flu. And anyway these practices are how I avoid getting that nasty flu bug and probably why I haven’t had it for nearly a decade.

1)    Wash your hands frequently AND thoroughly. Singing the Happy Birthday song is about the length of time you need to scrub. It’s not the type of soap that you use or even the temperature of the water, but the prolonged scrubbing action that gets rid of the germs. Why do you think hospitals require surgeons to scrub so long?

2)    Carry hand sanitizer in your purse or pocket. Every door or cupboard handle, spigot, pen that you borrow, keypad at the grocery store or ATM, and shopping cart, has the potential to make you sick. When you get in your car, use your hand sanitizer. Also disinfect your steering wheel, keys, and phone once in a while.

3)    Wipe down. Get your germ killer out and wipe down door handles, drawer handles, remotes, backs of dining chairs, oven handle, microwave, light switches, and fridge door handles.

4)    Heal your gut.

5)    Lower your alcohol and sugar consumption. It may be difficult during the holidays with all the festivities to do this, but both suppress your immune system by creating favorable conditions in your gut for candida (yeast) growth, which will make you very ill over time. The flu will be a cakewalk compared to candidiasis.

6)    Cut your stress. Again difficult to do at the holidays, but crucial to a healthy immune system.

7)    Get the proper sleep. For some people it’s a full 8; others, 7. Your body repairs itself while you sleep, so give it the time it needs. My sleep needs vary from day to day. Sometimes I wake up after a few hours with my body telling me “that’s all I need” so I get up, do a few things and take a nap later.

8)    Take a supplement. Consider Wellness Formula by Source Naturals. I’ve taken it for years and whenever I start to feel something coming on, I take extra doses every few hours. Result: sickness never takes hold.

9)    Exercise. I know. I know. Everyone says that, and it sucks! I exercise in some form every day and there are days I flippin’ hate yoga, but do it anyway. It’s non-negotiable. Even the Asian and European women who never step foot inside a gym walk A LOT every day. Exercise breaks throughout the day work as well. When you’re standing at the microwave, do squats. Your legs will begin to hurt before those 90 seconds are done. Put a pedal exerciser under your desk and pedal as you work. It’s cheaper than a treadmill desk, with less risk of injury. I see those people on TV that swear by them, but all I can think of is the swearing I’d do after I tripped and fell on the damn thing because I was watching some damn cat YouTube vid. Try my CHEAT: Walk every aisle in the damn grocery store. I rarely shop the aisles, but when I didn’t get a proper workout in, or if I’m starting the day at the store, I’ll walk every flippin’ aisle just to get the walk in. I do it fast, because I’m usually pissed at myself for not shopping the night before, but I got engrossed in West Wing on Netflix or something equally as time-sucking.

10) Fluids, fluids, fluids, and that doesn’t mean soda pop, or flavored waters that you buy that way. I’m talking water and tea, preferably green tea. If you say you don’t like the taste, revisit green tea, there are some nice variations. And you can always flavor water with an extract or fruit.

11) Kids. Send them straight to the bathroom to wash their hands after coming home from school.

12) Shoes. Off at the door. Use the nurses’ rule where shoes either don’t come in the house OR never make it two-feet past the door. This goes for putting them on as well. Keep the germs at the doorstep, not tracked throughout your house. This goes for guests too. Have a new pair of socks waiting for them, or tell them before they visit that they should bring a pair of slippers or socks to wear.

13) Change pillowcases EVERY DAY, if you do get sick and at least once a week when not ill.

14) Bookbags. Wash those germ-infested things at least once a month or spray them down with an antimicrobial.

15) Coats. Wash ‘em if possible. The wrist area is especially germy.

THE MEAN NURSE’S DIRTY FIVE

  • Other people’s pens. Carry your own. If you must use someone else’s, I hope you have your winter gloves on. If not, sanitize your hands immediately afterwards.
  • Shopping carts. For cryin’ out loud use the wipes located at the front of most every store. Why do people breeze past the fucking FREE wipes?? I don’t get it! In the absence of wipes, push that cart while wearing your winter gloves. Otherwise, add whatever you take for headaches and tissues to your list, because in about a week, you’ll be DOWN! If you’re not going to wipe down the shopping carts, you might as well just lick them and get it over with.
  • ATM and stores keypads. Again, wear your gloves, use a pen or pencil to push the buttons, or use your knuckle. If you have to use that attached pen to sign your name and you don’t have gloves, what are you going to do boys and girls? That’s right, sanitize your hands immediately afterwards.
  • Door handles. Pull down your sleeve and grasp the handle with your covered hand. If someone is holding a door open for you, grasp it as high as you can, and if you MUST pull a door open and you don’t have long sleeves, grasp the handle as low as possible. Everyone grabs the middle or top.
  • Handshakes. The fist bump is the new handshake. Learn it. Use it.

So what are your suggestions for flu prevention? Add to the list!

What You Don’t Know About the Flu Vaccine May Hurt You

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I might get a lot of push back on this post, but I’m willing to stick my neck out for what I know. I don’t believe in getting the flu vaccine… unless…. maybe you are REALLY REALLY immunocompromised, and even then I’m going to tell you to improve your immune system, don’t get a flippin’ shot that harbors more toxins. Why am I so against this shot? Read on, you might be shocked….. I know I sure as hell was!

Six Reasons Not to Get the Flu Vaccine

One, I’m fairly certain that out of the four flu shots that I’ve actually gotten in the last 25 years, that my immune system, not the flippin’ shot, has done more to prevent me from getting the flu. Oh sure, I’ve had the flu twice as far as I know in those years, but I wasn’t down with it any longer than three or four days. That’s not worth toxing up my body with fucking chemicals that do more harm than good.

Two, because I have only had the flu twice in the past 25 years.

Three, because when I got the swine flu (which vaccine is now part and parcel of the annual influenza vaccine), I was down with it for 24 hours. Again, that’s not enough to motivate me to get a shot. At the height of swine flu a couple of years ago I remember Dr. Nancy Snyderman said, “go get your damn shot.” I say “go do your damn research, Nancy.” You want me to tox up my body for what? A day of inconvenience to me or my employer? Sick days are given for a reason.

Three, the journal, Clinical Infectious Disease, published a study showing the flu vaccine to be more effective in people that hadn’t received the vaccine in the prior year (62%) and the vaccine was effective in only 45% of the patients that had receive the vaccine. So you have less than a 50-50 chance of the shot even preventing the flu. Great.

Four, the vaccine seems to put people at a higher risk for developing swine flu, while those not receiving the vaccine are less likely.  Sixty-six percent of people who had received the H1N1 vaccine, developed swine flu. Given the fact that when I had the swine flu I couldn’t raise my head up off the pillow without feeling dizzy and completely exhausted, I’d rather not get it again. Yes, it was short-lived, but once is enough.

Five, doctors are beginning to question the efficacy of getting the flu vaccine and opting out themselves. Look for health care workers wearing masks during the cold and flu season. It’s not because they are sick themselves, they have chosen not to receive the flu vaccine and are mandated to wear the mask by the hospital or clinic.

Six, the ingredients in the flu shot make it dangerous for many people:

Anyone with a sulfa or mold allergy should not receive the flu vaccine because it contains penicillin (the mold allergen) or sulfa drugs. AND a LOT of people are allergic to sulfa and penicillin! I happen to be allergic to both, so there is no way that I should EVER get this vaccine.

The rest of the ingredients are:

egg protein (lots of people are allergic to eggs)

sucrose (stabilizer)

gelatin (stabilizer)

polysorbate 80 (stabilizer)

(Sheesh, how fragile is the composition of this vaccine, if it needs three flippin’ stabilizers?)

aluminum salts (you mean that stuff thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s? Oh goody.)

– formaldehyde (TOXIC!)

thimerosal/mercury (Seriously? The shit where if you spill it in the lab, the lab must be evacuated and a guy in a hazmat suit must clean it up….even if it’s just a drop.)

So why the big push to get the flu shot? The argument we hear is that the vaccine saves lives. Maybe. But if you’re not in the population at high risk for dying from influenza, why should you have to get a shot that may or may not work? By the time the influenza virus gets around to the United States, it mutates to a new virus. Sometimes so dramatically as it did last year, that it renders the vaccine damn near useless. And we cannot change the vaccine in response to the virus because it takes MONTHS to grow the vaccine. So why the big push? Money. The flu vaccine is BIG business.

Putting money in big pharma’s pocket is not a draw for me, and I won’t be getting this vaccine or recommending it to anyone I know.

Click here for best strategies for preventing the flu.

Getting Started with Yoga

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yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

I was recently asked by a fellow writer about my recommendations for getting started with yoga. This is a PERFECT question for the impending new year. Come January, many people will start out strong with a new exercise and diet routine. Who hasn’t made these resolutions? You know the best time to start reforming your lifestyle and getting healthy would be now, right? You know, BEFORE you set yourself back even farther with all the temptations of holiday goodies and lavish spreads in the workplace AND relatives’ homes. Yeah, you heard me, BEFORE. So that means now. Starting where you stand. Come on, given the plethora of food we are surrounded by this time of year, it’s easy to pack an additional 1000 calories into your day just by nibbling. Do you really want to do that? IS THIS YEAR’S SERVING OF AUNT JUNE’S GOLDEN CARAMEL CHEESECAKE worth the five hours it will take you to burn it off? (And that’s a conservative estimate — I wish I were kidding.)

Yoga Fact:  Yoga isn’t just stretching. It can be quite aerobic and challenging.

So, yes, this is a perfect time to get started with yoga. If nothing else, it can alleviate a lot of holiday stress! First off, you’ll need a yoga mat, which you can pick up at Walmart, TJ Maxx (I really like their selection), or even the Goodwill (just make certain you disinfect the heck out of it) for $10-20. (If you’re tall, get a 72″ one. I’m 5’10” and my feet still want to slide off the ends. The mat is about all you’ll need. If you want a DVD, go for one of the beginner ones from Gaiam. You can either buy them on their website at Gaiam.com or on Amazon. Stay away from DVDs by fitness gurus, such as Jillian Michaels. They are far too challenging for beginners. I like anything that Sean Corne puts out as well. I just love her energy and her voice isn’t distracting. I find Rodney Yee, although an amazing teacher, talks too much through his videos and that’s just annoying to me – or maybe it’s just because I’d rather look at him than follow what he’s doing. If you don’t want to invest in a DVD immediately — I RARELY work out with one and my daughter who has been a devotee of yoga for nearly a year has done a yoga video exactly ONCE — go to the YouTube channel of Tara Stiles. You may recognize her from the runway. She’s a former model turned yoga guru, and the girl quite possibly has the longest arms of anyone I’ve ever seen. Yes, she’s skinny, leggy and pretty, but she’s always completely kooky and doesn’t make yoga about judgment. I love watching her videos that just catch up her fans with what she’s been doing. You can follow her on Facebook as well. I LOVE her book Yoga Cures, which gives yoga poses for health and lifestyle challenges… like “Office Brain” where you’ve got too many things to do in too little time and don’t know where to begin!

What you should not do when beginning yoga is sign up for a class immediately and buy blocks, straps, mat sprays, gloves, bolsters, etc. When you do yoga correctly (and I’m not talking about your form), you’ll know when you need anything extra, like blocks. I didn’t buy those until I was into yoga for a couple of months. I made my own strap by going to the fabric store, buying two yards of belt webbing and tying knots in both ends! Waaaaay cheaper than the stuff sold. I also made my own bolster, but I sew. Go to Walmart and find a sturdy neck pillow – instant bolster. Yoga is not about how well-equipped you are to get each posture perfect. It’s about what is perfect for you. In yoga, you need to let go of your ego because ego tells you that you must be perfect. And ego will stand in your way of gaining the full benefits of yoga.

One thing you should know about yoga as a beginner is that no two days will be the same. One day you’ll float right into a pose, and the next day you won’t be coordinated enough to bend or stretch or balance that way. Why? Because your muscles are changing. They are getting stronger. The muscle fibers will develop their strength unevenly, and one side of your body may be coordinated one day and the next day it’s a sloppy mess. When this happens, and it soooo will, calm your frustration. Let it go. Remember that this is a process and the next day or the day after, will be different. Your body wants to do what you want it to do, and it’s trying, but there are some internal changes taking place that you don’t know about just yet. Trust your body to do what it needs to do. It’s “workin’ on it!”

Congratulations on choosing to give yoga a try. It’s easy, and then it’s difficult too. It all depends on which poses you choose to make part of your routine. My favorite pose? Dancer. Because of its grace. Do I ever fall out of it? Yep. Because even after 20 years, I’m still not perfect and some days my mind wanders and ego gets in the way.

If you’re just giving yoga a try, let me know. I’d also be happy to answer any questions you have.

Or if you just want to tell me about your journey to yoga, what your favorite pose is, or how you’ve handled difficult poses, feel free. I love hearing funny, interesting and even frustrating stories!

Stop Eating Crap *#($^ Damnit!

Vegetables

I am part of an online discussion group for a pharmaceutical company that makes insulin and other drugs for diabetics. Every month, health care professionals discuss new products for diabetics, the challenges diabetic patients have and new research in the field of diabetes.

As a part of this unique community, the participants also share personal anecdotes, which sometimes includes recipes that are diabetic friendly and nutritious. This morning my head damn near exploded. Someone shared a recipe currently making the rounds on the Internet (I’ve seen it on Facebook) for Easy Sugar Free Pumpkin Dip, which includes Cool Whip and vanilla pudding mix. Nutritious? Hardly. Sugar free? Sure, because natural sugar, which our bodies are ABLE to process, has been replaced with CHEMICALS, which our bodies were not made to process. And fat? Hydrogenated anything is not only fat, but BAD fat.

As I scrolled through the comments on the recipe, not one person objected to the ingredients (pretty sure they didn’t check), or the fact that this recipe was certainly NOT nutritious. Delicious? Oh yes, they all agreed that it was, or at least sounded, yummy. Hell, it sounds yummy to my taste buds as well, but not so much to my body or my body’s chemistry. I imagine headaches, intestinal issues, lethargy, and clogged arteries.

Stop putting ingredients together that are already fattening or unhealthy themselves.

You know it doesn’t cut the calories in half or make them more nutritious, right?

Unfortunately, many people will simply see “sugar free” and think “healthy.” Rarely do the two go together unless we’re talking about vegetables.

I know that we all need treats…. some little sweet reward for eating well, or to take the edge off our stress, but if you’re eating a food where the ingredient list reads more like a chemical experiment, you shouldn’t be putting it in your mouth! And that’s it! Fucking don’t eat the shit, because that’s what your body thinks you’re doing – eating shit. And it’s going to take those weird chemicals that it doesn’t know how to process, identify them as foreign, encase them in fat as a self-protective measure, and put them on your hips, thighs, backs of your arms, or wherever. Is that what you want for a few measly minutes of “OH MY GOD THIS IS THE BEST THING I’VE EVER TASTED?”

For me, that answer is “no.” But then again, I’ve tasted mille foglie. I could be good for the rest of my life, if I never taste another sweet thing.

Below are the ingredient lists for the two main ingredients of that pumpkin recipe. Note, that you can make your own pudding mix with cornstarch, sugar and vanilla extract. That’s it…. that is all you need. No oils, salt or “sodium stearoyl lactylate.” And you know that you can make your own “whipped cream” using fresh cream, right? I’m not saying that’s completely healthy either, but if you get the organic stuff, at least you won’t also get the corn syrup, aspartame and all the other crap.

The holidays are coming up and the recipes for everything delicious that’s also BAD for you will be hitting the newsstands, the Internet, and the holiday buffet tables. THINK about what you’re eating. No, really. Don’t just eat something because “it’s the holidays, and you have to be nice and try whatever Aunt Sally made….” Blah blah blah. Aunt Sally can get the fuck over it. She’d probably rather have you around a few more years than to be attending your funeral because you had one too many pieces of her “ooey gooey chocolate death cake.”

Once you put it in your mouth, it becomes PART OF YOU. You can’t put it back. Nothing tastes as good as good health feels. Food is supposed to keep us alive and healthy; not alive and unhealthy. Choose wisely.

________________

Jello Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding Mix

Ingredients (17):

Water, Xylitol, Food Starch Modified, Milk Protein Concentrate, Contains less than 1.51.5% of Vegetable(s) Oil Hydrogenated (Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel Oil) , Salt, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate For Smoothness, Sodium Alginate, Calcium Phosphate, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Color(s) Artificial, Yellow 5, Yellow 6

Sugar Free Cool Whip

Ingredients (16):

Water, Corn Syrup, Vegetable(s) Oil Hydrogenated (Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel Oil) , Sodium Caseinate from milk, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Corn Starch Modified, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Monostearate, Sodium Polyphosphate, Acesulfame Potassium and, Aspartame Sweetener, Beta Carotene Added for Color

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