Recipe Corner: Orange Glazed Chicken Salad

February 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Make the last of orange season with this fresh salad! I had a few oranges that I needed to use up and I decided to try to make an orange vinaigrette for a salad. This recipe is very simple and healthy; it only took me about 20 minutes from start to finish and tasted delicious! Cooking the chicken breast in orange juice really made the meat flavorful and moist. The orange glazed chicken in this recipe could also be a meal on its own served with stir-fried vegetables and rice.

Orange Glazed Chicken Salad by Emilie Nadler

Serves 2

-2 chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/2 inch
-1 tsp of olive oil
-Juice of half a medium sized orange (any variety should work, but I used navel)
-Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp of each)

-Juice of half a medium sized orange
-1 tbl of olive oil
-2 tsp of balsamic vinegar
-2 tsp of low sodium soy sauce
-1/2 tsp of mustard
-1 medium clove of garlic finely chopped
– Sriracha or hot sauce to taste (optional)

-Lettuce (I used a Spring mix, but any greens will work)
-1 medium sized orange
-1/4 cup of slivered almonds
-1/2 tsp of sesame seeds
-Cilantro (If you don’t like cilantro, try replacing with basil)

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts and put them into the skillet. After you first flip over each piece of chicken, pour orange juice over the breasts. Allow the chicken to cook thoroughly as the orange juice begins to thicken (about 4 minutes on each side). Once chicken is done, put aside and let cool.Orange Glazed Chicken Salad Ingredients by Emilie Nadler

Roast the almonds and sesame seeds under the broiler for about 2 minutes or until they begin to brown. Watch carefully, this can happen quickly! Put aside to cool.

To assemble the dressing, combine olive oil, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and mustard. Whisk together ingredients and then add the garlic. Put aside.

For the garnish, segment the orange and finely chop the cilantro. Put aside.

Slice the chicken breasts. Then toss the lettuce with the toasted almonds and sesame seeds, orange segments, and most of the dressing, reserving some for the top. Put chicken on top of the salad, drizzle on the extra dressing and top with cilantro. Enjoy!

-Emilie Nadler

Photo Credit: Emilie Nadler
Photo Copyright (c) 2015 Emilie Nadler. All rights reserved.

Photos are not to be used without prior permission & license.


Keep Stress at Bay Every Day

March 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

“Stress is now considered the foremost contributor to our modern chronic maladies. Recent medical research by well-known clinicians has shown that stress is a major factor in causing heart disease, cancer, and a myriad of chronic and acute diseases of today’s world.”
-Nischala Joy Devi*

stuartpilbrow via photopin cc

Stress is a huge factor in our everyday lives – it doesn’t matter if you’re naturally a chronic worrier or if you are a yoga meditation master – stress is still there. The world is naturally stressful now – just the physical noise of modern-day life alone is enough to send your body into overdrive, but add on financial worries, career pressures, family life, terrorism & increasing societal violence in general, constantly changing technology, sedentary jobs – the list can go on and on. These factors all add to a stressful environment. And stress – both physical and mental – can lead to a whole host of problems.

While there are some things we can do to lower the stressors in our environment, unfortunately, many of these factors are now a part of everyday life and we just can’t avoid them. So what do we do? How do we avoid unavoidable stress from taking over our lives?

“Physical and mental stress accumulate. This can lead to fatigue, a drop in performance level, and a feeling of anxiety. If not checked, stress creates more serious problems and disease occurs. Mental and physical dis-ease OR well-being can be fundamentally improved by acquiring a few simple tension-lowering techniques…. While stressful events around us may not change, we can learn how to respond skillfully to life’s difficulties, maintaining our equilibrium and a sense of well-being.”*


1. Accept that there are many things in our lives that we can’t control.
Sometimes you have to just make yourself let go and let it be.

2. Make time to exercise.
Although this may seem like added pressure to your day, it is proven that exercise not only helps you to mentally feel better, but the more fit and strong your body is, the better it can fight stress. Activities like walking, hiking, bicycling, swimming, the gym, yoga, Zumba, etc. all help to instantly lower your stress level. Don’t feel like you have an hour or so for a “full workout”? Try to at least work in 20-30 minutes of one of these activities – you can still gain full stress-relief benefits even in a shorter amount of time.

3. Add in extra time whenever possible.
Give yourself extra time to do things. Perhaps leave a few minutes earlier or start that upcoming project a week in advance. When you are able to give yourself those few extra minutes, it takes away the stress of the impending deadline, or that unexpected traffic jam. Work is stressful enough – you don’t need to start the stress process just by trying to get there!

4. Avoid the “quick fixes.”
Things like alcohol, caffeine, smoking, and recreational drugs may seem like they help, but the effect is just a short-term mirage. They actually add to the stress level in your body and will exacerbate anxiety. Keep your use to an extreme minimum, or better yet, not at all!

VinothChandar via photopin cc5. Take a break.
Hitting a freak out level? Stop yourself and walk away. Even just a 5-10 minute break will help (Heck, even 2 minutes can help!). Take a walk. Go someplace quiet and do some deep breathing – anything to just slow you down for a moment.

6. Watch your breath.
It is amazing how much the breath affects both the body and mind. Most people today naturally take shallow, fast breaths from their chests.

“When you breathe mostly from your chest, the part of your nervous system that increases your arousal and heart rate gets stimulated. Plus, you use mostly your chest muscles to do the work. Your chest muscles are not really designed for breathing the way that certain abdominal muscles are. In instances of extreme chest breathing, people will even feel sensations of tightness or pain in the chest as these muscles get tired. On the other hand, taking deep breaths from your belly stimulates the branch of your nervous system linked to slowing the body down, resting, and relaxing.”**

 sierragoddess via photopin ccMany times our inhalation is longer than the exhalation. However, long exhalations give our heart time to relax, since the heart only rests in between beats. A long, slow exhalation will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and allow you that much-needed feeling of relaxation. Not sure how to breathe with your diaphragm instead of your chest? Try this trick –

Lie flat on your back on the floor. Place a book on your stomach just under your rib cage. Take a deep breath and send all the air down to your stomach. Your stomach should expand and naturally lift the book up in the air. Slowly breathe out, allowing the book to go back down. Once you get the hang of breathing into your stomach, concentrate on slow breaths – four counts in, four counts out.

Anytime you feel your anxiety level rising, turn your attention to your breath. Is it all in your chest? Take a minute to pull a few slow breaths down into your diaphragm and you will feel an instant calming effect and a clearer mind. Try to use at least a few minutes each day to sit and just focus on breathing.

7. Eat healthy.
Regular wholesome foods allow your body to work smoothly, without the added stress of trying to process junk. Like exercise, it also allows your body to be in strong physical condition to more easily fight off the effects of stress.

8. Use imagery.

“Imagery, our inner guidance, allows us to create and experience. It is the language of the mind…. We practice positive imagery as a means to allow the mind and body to mobilize all available resources that assist in the healing process. This creates an intention that brings about positive physiological and psychological responses, such as lowering of blood pressure, boosting of immune function, clarity of mind, calming of brain waves, decreased heart rate, production of a feeling of well-being. Through positive mental imagery, signals are sent to the body to help it repair and sustain energy.”*

There are many forms of imagery, but if you use even a basic method, imagery can help calm and focus the system and make your stressors more manageable. Here’s an easy method of imagery:

Picture yourself relaxed, feeling good, full of energy. Everything is done that needs to be. Picture your body strong, healthy, healed. If you are worried about a particular task – picture it completed in your mind. “See” it done the way you want it to be – in its “perfect” state.

susivinh via photopin cc9. Sleep.
Our bodies heal themselves when we sleep, as do our minds. Sleep allows us to process the events of the day and the worries stuck in our heads. It allows the brain to “clean” itself and let go of everything we don’t need. Sleep heals the mind just as much as the body. Force yourself to go to bed at a decent hour every night to allow the body to recharge so you can approach the day from a calm, “clean” slate, and be stronger and ready to fight off the rest of the stressors of the day as they come.

10. Attitude adjustment.
“Fake it till you make it.” That phrase can be so annoying sometimes, but is so true. Try to keep a positive attitude. Instead of saying things like, “Nothing ever works right for me,” say, “I’m doing my best.” “This will work right.” Instead of, “I feel so tired and crappy all the time,” tell yourself, “I feel great. I am strong. I am capable. I can do this.”

It takes work to remove stress, or at least the effects of stress from our lives. There are many methods out there – some more complicated and time-consuming than others – but these few tips are ones that you can easily work into your everyday life to get started.

Deep breath in. Slow breath out.


*From The Healing Path of Yoga: Time-Honored Wisdom and Scientifically Proven Methods that Alleviate Stress, Open Your Heart, and Enrich Your Life, by Nischala Joy Devi

**From Women Who Worry Too Much by Holly Hazlett-Stevens, Ph.D.

Photo credit: stuartpilbrow via photopin cc
Photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc
Photo credit: sierragoddess via photopin cc
Photo credit: susivinh via photopin cc

Are Your Employees in a Toxic Work Environment?

March 7, 2014 § 2 Comments

How is your work environment? Are your employees happy?
Healthy? Motivated? Productive?

Do you spend more time worrying about the regulations at your workplace than actually doing the important work at hand?
How’s your turnover rate?

There are ways to ensure that your work environment stays productive with satisfied employees and it can start with just a few simple steps…


medium_2473053902Very few people start a company with the intent of creating a toxic work environment for their employees, but many people don’t realize how their actions as an administration can very quickly create this effect.

A friend was telling me about some recent changes in her workplace, and sadly, this is a story that could be from many workplaces around the country –

Her administration changed. The new team came in and made a LOT of changes before they even learned about what was really happening at the company. They fired all of the managers – including ones that would have been extremely helpful to them. They hired new people that were not really qualified or experienced enough for their new roles. They changed almost every office procedure. They “re-organized” the departments. New rules and regulations began popping up daily. They started watching computers, blocking access to many sites, monitoring emails, phone calls, etc. Micromanaging was an understated term. Laughing or anything that even remotely resembled socializing quickly became taboo. Communication was basically nonexistent. The employees had to learn about the changes either by word of mouth or when they were handed one of the written discipline slips that were suddenly becoming a regular occurrence.

Some companies do indeed need big changes. This particular one did not need many of the changes that were implemented. In fact, the changes have caused much higher inefficiency. Clients are not being properly served and client satisfaction is going down. Employee morale and motivation is at an unprecedented low. Innovation has stopped. A place that once had a building full of pleasant, smiling, productive employees who enjoyed their jobs is now a quiet and stress-filled mausoleum. Use of sick days have gone up and several employees have unfortunately seen the inside of the emergency room in the last couple of years since this change went into effect. You can feel the tension the moment you walk in the door. Everyone thought it would get better as the new administration settled in, but it just keeps getting worse…


Every workplace has its stressors, and change of any kind – even good change – can be very stressful. As an employer, sometimes you have no control over the inevitable stress in your workplace. However, you should always be aware of how things are affecting your employees.

This particular example is an extreme case (and I’ve only listed a few of the things going on there), but it is a perfect demonstration of how these things can affect your environment. You have a team of adults – over-regulating, monitoring, and stifling natural human behaviors is NOT going to go over well. Not communicating with them and only handing out confusing discipline notices without ever acknowledging the good work they do is going to only serve as motivation to NOT do their jobs. If they’re afraid that anything they do is going to get them in trouble, then they’ll just stop doing anything.

So how do you keep your workplace non-toxic?

Clear communication is key. And lighten up whenever you can! Google is consistently listed as one of Fortune’s top places to work and it is because they do NOT have a lot of crazy regulations on their employees. Their buildings look like adult playgrounds and their employees are allowed to come and go whenever they please. In addition to their everyday stress relief benefits (like nap pods, game rooms, dogs at work, free food, free massages, slides from floor to floor, bowling, etc.) they also offer many wellness and continuing ed benefits. Some are work related, but some are not. And guess what? Google is also one of the highest ranked, innovative, and productive companies around.

Granted, most workplaces can not even come close to the extent that Google goes to for their employees, and that’s ok. At the very least, take advantage of all the research Google has already completed about creating a productive work atmosphere. Every one of their employee “benefits” are based on data that they first researched, and it has all paid off.

Be sure your work environment isn’t toxic. Show your employees that you care. Even if you can’t control anything else, at the very least you can begin some form of a workplace wellness program. Give your employees the tools they need to release stress, increase their health, and boost energy and mood. Show appreciation and respect any way you can. Allow them to be adults, and you will see motivation and productivity rise, while sick days and turnover will drop.

Check in with your work environment as much as possible to keep it fresh and “clean.” The world is toxic enough, work shouldn’t be too!

“Imagine a world where most organizations were the best place to work. Imagine what we could be getting done on the planet if it were true.”
-Karen May, VP of people development, Google

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Chin Up

October 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

leavesSee The Blue Beyond The Trees

We’ve all heard them before – “Stop & smell the roses.” “Slow and steady win the race.” “Chin up,” etc. But what about, “See the blue beyond the trees?”

I went for a mini hike with my family this past weekend. Things have been mighty crazy lately, so the quiet time in the woods was very much needed. At one point, I stopped to look up at the multitude of colors on the trees in a particularly beautiful spot, and I was struck by two things: 1.) How tight my chin and front of my neck felt, and 2.) How amazing the crystal blue sky looked just beyond the tops of the trees.

I realized that we now live in a society where we no longer ever really look up. We’re constantly typing on our computers, or using our smart phones or tablets. We never have enough time, so when we are going somewhere, our head is down, our bodies on a mission, our thoughts 6 paces ahead. Think about it – when is the last time you really looked up?

I like to think I’m the type of person that can appreciate the little things in life. I often pause to admire a sunny day or a pretty flower. Time stops when my child laughs and nothing else matters. However, based on the tight pulling sensation under my chin, even I apparently have not been looking up enough lately. And the thing is, it was just so refreshing! Besides being a nice little stretch for my neck, it was a moment of pure beauty. It was even a moment of hope.

Seeing that blue way up beyond those beautiful leaves reminded me that there is always a blue sky somewhere beyond the trees. Some days, it may seem really far away, but it’s guaranteed to be there. If you’re constantly looking down, weighted down by the stresses of your day, all you see is the dead leaves and broken sticks on the ground. But if you raise your chin, lift your eyes, stop and take a breath for just a moment, you will see the spectacular color, light, clear skies, sunshine, inspiration, freedom that await beyond those branches. That is so much more, so much bigger than what’s laying at your feet or weighing down your soul.

So remember – Smile, and “Chin up!” – There’s always a blue sky waiting for you!

Photo Credit: Silverpen Productions, LLC.  Photos should not be used without prior permission & license from Silverpen Productions, LLC.

Dreaded RSV

March 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Sick baby

It was one of every parents’ nightmares – my little girl was in the hospital, looking so tiny and helpless in that huge bed, hooked up to an IV and oxygen. How did we go from my crazy, nonstop kid to this in just a matter of days??

After a week of being sick, 2 doctor visits, and a day sitting in the ER, we finally learned that she had RSV – Respiratory Syncytial (sin-SISH-ul) Virus. And not only was it going around, this year, it was going around with a vengeance. Basically, RSV is an infection of the lungs and breathing passages. Everyone gets it. Most people will get it at least once a year. In healthy adults, it just presents as a bad cold – stuffy nose, cough, mild fever. But for young children (as well as the elderly), RSV can turn into a major respiratory illness.

The most frequent cause of lung infection in infants and young children, RSV usually lasts 5-15 days. The child’s airways will become inflamed and swell, the muscles around them will tighten and they will often fill with mucus, dead tissue, and fluid. RSV occurs in epidemics and peak season is typically November – April in the US. Virtually all children will have been infected by RSV at least once by the time they are 3 years old. Most children can be treated at home, but higher risk babies and those who have it morph into a severe lower respiratory infection may need additional support.

RSV is spread easily through aerosols and droplets, which means that any time a person coughs or sneezes, those around them can catch it just by being in close contact. You can breathe in the virus or get it by touching an infected surface, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Your child may be a higher risk baby if s/he:

  • Is less than 6 months old
  • Is premature or a small baby
  • Has another condition such as cystic fibrosis, neurological diseases, lung, or heart problems
  • Is around cigarette smoke or other tobacco smokes
  • Has a weak immune system due to immune system disorders, HIV, or transplants

It’s hard to tell at first if your child has RSV, as it presents similar to many other things. It initially starts out like a cold with a runny or stuffy nose, cough, fever, trouble sleeping and/or eating. If the illness becomes more severe, you may notice:

  • The fever not going away even with medication
  • Wheezing
  • Faster breathing
  • A “chestier” cough
  • Constantly sleepy
  • Lethargic
  • Fussy
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting with the cough
  • Dehydration

It’s time to high-tail it to the doctor if these symptoms worsen and/or you also notice:

  • Grunting or noisy breathing
  • Very fast breathing
  • Refusal to eat/drink
  • Pauses in breath
  • The nostrils becoming wider when breathing in
  • Pale or blue color of the skin – especially around the lips or nails
  • Pulling in of the skin around the ribs and neck with each breath
  • Dry mouth/cracked lips
  • No tears when crying
  • Low or no urine output
  • Sunken soft spot (if under 1)

These are signs that the illness has progressed to the lower respiratory track and is likely turning into bronchiolitis or pneumonia. They are also signs that your child is becoming dehydrated, not getting in enough oxygen, and needs additional support measures at the hospital, since both of these conditions can rapidly turn into much more serious problems in young children.

As parents, we want to protect our children as much as possible, but unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot we can do for this one. They have not yet been able to develop a safe and effective vaccine. High risk infants can get a series of the RSV immunoglobulin to help with some protection. However, this medicine is not right for all children so be sure to discuss the options with your pediatrician if you think your child may be high risk. The most important thing we can do to try to prevent infection is to wash hands with soap and water frequently (for at least 20-30 seconds) – especially before eating. Even though many of these things are hard to do in everyday life, also try to:

  • Keep hands away from mouth, nose, and eyes as much as possible
  • Keep your child away from large crowds during peak season
  • Avoid other sick people as much as possible
  • Breastfeed your infant since the mother’s antibodies will carry over through the milk
  • Clean toys and other objects that are shared with other people regularly with soap and water or another disinfectant
  • Do not expose your child to smoke – cigarette, other tobacco sources, or even a wood burning stove
  • Keep them away from any chemical fumes or dust
  • Cover faces when coughing or sneezing
  • Be sure that used tissues are immediately discarded in a lined trash can
  • If a school aged sibling comes down with a cold, try to keep them away from the infant or toddler as much as possible

For treatment at home:

  • Give your child a non aspirin fever medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Tylenol or Advil) to help control the fever
  • Use a cool mist vaporizer to help keep the air moist and to thin mucous (be sure to clean it daily)
  • If the nose is really blocked, use a nasal aspirator or bulb syringe to remove some of the fluids
  • Make sure your child drinks more than usual
  • Allow your child to rest with plenty of time at home to fully recover before going back out to daycare or normal activities

Unfortunately, this is a nasty virus that kids can (and probably will) get again and again. But if we as parents are aware of what to look for and what we can do to help, hopefully we can protect our littlest ones as much as possible.

At least Spring is almost here and this terrible bug season is winding down. Hopefully next year won’t be as nasty!

Other places for info:
American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Boulevard
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1098

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333

Micromedex Solutions

A Personal Rant:
Superbugs, Superstorms, SuperFrustrated

Photo Creditkourtlynlott via photopin cc

This article was originally published at The IF Factor and has been used with permission. 

Think Your Kid is Drinking Milk? Think Again….

February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Got MilkA friend of mine shared a link to this article on Facebook this morning, and I was instantly appalled. (Although, sadly, not surprised.) Aspartame in milk? Seriously?!?

Why is it that our country is making it harder and harder to eat wholesome, natural foods? Is it any wonder that there has been a huge spike in food-related disorders, cancers, and other unexplained health problems? Yes, please, let’s just keep adding chemicals and other nasties to our food, that will help…

Aspartame in milk and 17 other dairy products…. The best part is this petition is not only asking to do this, but asking to do this without having to put it on the label! They’re trying to say that the aspartame would provide for a lower calorie product and would “promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity.” What?! Last I heard, aspartame actually contributed to obesity and diabetes and puts us at risk for certain cancers and other fun disorders. Not to mention, many people’s systems can not tolerate it very well. So what’s the real story here? That’s what I call conflicting information!

I’m outraged that the FDA is even considering this. I’ve been frustrated with all the horrible things I’ve been reading about our food lately anyway, and this just set me off. Why is it so hard to be able to affordably provide our families with healthy, natural foods?

I do not want my kid drinking any milk with aspartame in it, not to mention myself. If this ridiculous proposal does go through, I certainly hope they will be required to put it on the label. It should be illegal not to given all the health problems associated with aspartame and other artificial sweeteners.

I’m not sure if there is much we can do about this, but the FDA has opened public comments until May 21, 2013. I’ve already submitted my outrage. Let’s spread the word and try to send the government a message –


Submit your comments, supporting data, and any other information regarding this issue on the FDA’s site at:!submitComment;D=FDA-2009-P-0147-0012

Then spread the word!!

The Whole Proposal

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Warming Up to Workplace Wellness

February 12, 2013 § 1 Comment

small__normal yoga stretch


At least 68% of adults and 17% of children in the US are obese or overweight.* Physical inactivity and poor diet cause more than 400,000 deaths each year.** Health care costs are reaching peak numbers in US history, and employers are the ones shouldering the burden.

Are poor diet and not enough gym time causing these high numbers? They both certainly play a big factor, but studies are showing that a large part of this country’s weight gain may in fact have more to do with our jobs. We went from a nation of farmers and manufacturers – people who worked with their hands – to a nation that is often found sitting behind a computer for the majority of the day. Even desk jobs have become more sedentary with the increased use of internet, email, and online chat tools. You never really need to leave your desk at all anymore.

Besides the obesity issue, sitting alone can harm your body and well-being in several different ways. “Sitting is the worst thing you can do for your body,” says Nuhar Jaleel, owner of The Pilates Principle in Latham, NY. “Our bodies are not made to sit. They are made to move.” And sitting hunched up in front of a computer, on the phone, or at the steering wheel can cause aches, pains, and chronic disorders you might not even think about.

This puts even more added pressure on businesses. Employers are realizing that it’s time to pay more attention to the health of their workers and step up their efforts for health initiatives among their employees. Ross C. Brownson, an epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis says that as a society, “We need to think about physical activity as a more robust concept than just recreational physical activity. In many ways we’ve engineered physical activity out of our lives, so we’ve got to find ways to put it back into our lives, like taking walks during breaks or having opportunities for activity that are more routine to our daily lives, not just going to the health club.”

Employers are slowly starting to listen and are looking for ways to cut their employee health care costs. One study from the Omaha, NE-based Wellness Council of America reported that a company that contributed about $100-$150 per employee on wellness initiatives can actually generate about $300-$450 in return in reduced medical care costs. In other words, it’s worth it.

The simple measure of setting up the structure of the office differently is one easy way to encourage some movement:

  • Move printers and copiers as far away from people’s desks as possible
  • Make the designated smoking areas not so convenient by placing them a ways away from the building
  • Keep the food area separate so employees have to walk a little to get their lunch
  • Offer healthier choices in vending machines

These are simple tools to add a few extra steps and some healthy messages, but still are not enough for today’s sedentary lifestyles.

Many workplaces are adopting full wellness programs, offering incentives for their employees to participate and add some extra health back into their lives. Some companies offer competitions, no smoking incentives, and health screens. Others offer fitness programs right at the office, nutrition coaches, stress relief programs, ergonomic training, and instructional workshops on many topics.

The key to finding a lasting and successful program for your work is to not fall in the trap of modeling a program after another company. Each business, and each employee population is different. Employers need to consider the set up of their building and the health needs of their employees, before deciding what kind of program will work for them. It’s also important to show that management is behind this, supporting them, and willing to participate themselves. Initially, it may seem like a lot of work to set up a program, but in the long run, a successful program has proven to lower health care costs and make for happier, less stressed, and more productive employees.

The New York State Public Employees Federation is one local business that decided to run a trial to see how implementing a wellness program in their office might work. They started with an after work exercise class right in the office building. The response was tremendous and they even had to start a waiting list due to space issues. “We were pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed by the number of people interested in this first session,” says Nancy Holford, one of the coordinators. “It was an exciting beginning to the program.” The participants were also excited by this new opportunity and are hoping that management will agree to continue the program. They were amazed not only at how much better they felt even after just the first class, but also by the great night’s sleep each participant had that night, and by those that were pain-free from chronic conditions for the first time in years.

Most of us cannot change what we do for jobs, or what we need our employees to do, but with a few simple life or organizational changes, we can change how these jobs affect us. A workplace wellness program is one simple measure that can benefit everyone involved!

*According to one Department of Health and Human Services Study
**Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistic

-“Getting Well: Addressing worker health with wellness programs”, Thomas J. Bukowski, National Safety Council Safety + Health, April 2012
“Less Active at Work, Americans Have Packed on Pounds”, Tara Parker-Pope

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Zumba Survival Tips

June 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

There is no denying it – Zumba is a great workout.  Burning 700-1000 calories an hour, while making you feel like you’re in a dance club instead of the gym, the reason for the popularity is obvious.  But if you’ve never tried it before, making it through that first Zumba class can be a little daunting.  You look at the commercial and it looks so fast.  Everyone looks spectacular… and sweaty.  But once you get the full Zumba Experience, you realize it’s not about perfect moves, graceful coordination, or breath control.  It’s about having fun, doing something good for your body, and just letting loose.  Go ahead and pant as much as you want!

No matter what your attitude is, sometimes that first Zumba class is a little overwhelming. So here are my top 10 tips for surviving your first Zumba experience:

1. Good Shoes & Comfy Clothes
Start with the right workout gear.  Fancy designer clothes are not required, but the right shoes are.  Your feet will take a lot of impact, so make sure your shoes have good support, fit properly, and have a smooth sole.  If you have too much traction and no lateral movement, you’ll likely tear up your knee or worse.  Look for sneakers that are labeled for dance fitness to be sure you have something with the proper traction.

2. Stay Out of the Back Row
Your first inclination may be to go in the back.  If you’re like me, you want to stay out of the way and make sure no one is watching you. But many of the songs rotate, and if you start in the back, you’ll soon find yourself in the front.  Yikes!  Not to mention, if it’s a big class, you’ll have a very hard time seeing the instructor.  If the front of the pack is too daunting for you, go in the middle.  At least that way you have people all around you.  It will be easy to hide, and when the moves turn you around, you’ll still have someone in front of you to follow when you can’t see the instructor.

3. Keep Space Around Yourself
Don’t park yourself too close to someone else.  Zumba moves go in all directions and sometimes require your arms to go out to the sides, etc.  You don’t want to accidentally punch someone out or infringe on their personal dance space.  Being too close is a recipe for injuries, so keep a little distance around you on all sides.

4. Water & Sweat Go Hand in Hand
You will sweat.  A lot.  No doubt about it.  So be sure to bring plenty of water.  It is very important to keep yourself hydrated to prevent injuries or other issues.  It will also help to flush out all those toxins you just stirred up.

5. No One Is Watching You!!
Stop worrying about what everyone thinks.  Trust me, no one is paying any attention to your moves (or coordination challenges – whichever the situation may be).  Everyone is completely caught up in their own worlds trying to keep up and picturing themselves as the latest, greatest, sexiest dance star.  So don’t be afraid to go for it 100% – no one will laugh (except maybe you!).

6. Don’t Stress About the Footwork
Zumba moves fast and there is usually very little to no instruction on the choreography ahead of time.  That’s because exact, technically perfect dance moves are not the point.  Keeping your body moving, is.  If your feet are not quite right at first, don’t give up.  Keep moving.  That’s what really counts.  You’ll get it eventually!

7. Use Your Arms
Sometimes arm movements feel goofy.  Or just too much to concentrate on when you’re still trying to get your feet in the right place.  But try to keep moving your arms as much as you can, since the added movement is what really torches the calories and tones your whole body (no weights required!).

8. Wiggle Your Hips & Just Keep Moving
Not sure what the heck the instructor is doing?  Just keep moving.  And wiggle your hips as much as possible.  Many of the moves are Latin based, so hips are key! Every wiggle also requires you to use your core so you’re giving yourself a constant ab workout, while continuously burning calories.

9. Breathe & Be Smart
Sometimes it seems easier to just hold your breath, close your eyes, and pray you make it through.  However, you want to make sure you breathe through each song.  The more oxygen you get, the better your body can perform.  And be smart!  Only go to your own current physical level.  Yes, you always want to push yourself if you’re ever going to see any results.  But don’t push yourself beyond what your body can currently do.  You don’t have to completely match your instructor, or the girl next to you.  If it’s too much, take a step back.  After you do it for a while, you’ll get to that level.  You just don’t want to hurt yourself in the meantime!

10. Feel the Z-Love
There is something about the Zumba community that is very empowering.  I’m not sure what it is, but there’s a natural support system, therapy session, stress relief – everything good you can think of all rolled into a 1 hour class.  Feel the music, the support, and confidence in the room just wash over you.  Have fun.  Laugh.  Let your true and wonderful self shine.  Enjoy doing something great for yourself.  Your body will thank you!

Don’t know what the heck I’m talking about?  Check out:
What Is This Zumba Thing??

Find Your Zumba

For more info about Zumba or to find a class near you:

What Is This Zumba Thing??

April 24, 2012 § 3 Comments

Have you heard about this Zumba thing yet?  If you haven’t, you might want to check to see if you’ve been living under a rock lately, because Zumba seems to be EVERYWHERE these days!

This Latin-inspired dance fitness program actually was created over 10 years ago, but it wasn’t until the last couple of years that it’s become an international phenomenon and is now the world’s most successful dance fitness program.  Hearing that it burns about 700-1000 calories in one 1-hour class, needless to say, my curiosity was piqued.  I needed to find out more than just what I was seeing on the infomercials.  And knowing that I was going to soon need to lose the “after baby” weight, I was looking for something that could help me get back in shape without the torture of “standard” workouts.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always hated “normal” exercise.  I love how I feel when I workout, but the repetitive and boring task of walking on a treadmill, lifting weights, aerobics – BLECH!  I guess that’s part of the reason why I had gravitated toward ballroom dancing.  It’s a fabulous workout that’s fun and never actually feels like a “workout.”  Plus, it has the added benefit of learning to dance, enriching my mind (dance is a great tool in fighting Alzheimer’s, among other things) and being out in a social atmosphere.  But ballroom has 1 big problem – you need a partner.  And once my regular partner moved away, I was not out dancing as much as I used to.  So for the first time in several years, I needed to implement a fitness program for myself that would compliment my dancing and keep me in shape, despite not dancing as much as I used to.

Zumba looked like the answer.  Combining aspects of many of the dances that I already loved and/or wanted to try (like various Latin styles, Tango, Swing, Bollywood, African, Belly Dance, HipHop) with cardio moves and exercise technique set to blood-pumping music, Zumba provides a full body workout that sheds pounds, tones muscles, strengthens the heart, releases stress, and lifts the soul.  And the cool part? No partner, no experience, no grace required!  I was in.

I went to my first class taught by local instructor, Carla Schlist, at the Ballroom on Sunset in Latham.  I walked into the gorgeous ballroom and was greeted by about 80 other people (the class now easily goes over 100!) all lined up and ready to go.  There were people of all ages and all fitness levels there.  Despite the reputation for being such a high-energy workout, this Zumba really did seem to have universal appeal.  But not really knowing what to expect, I snuck in the back row so I could be as unobtrusive as possible.

Then the music started.  And the energy in the room instantly rose to an electrifying height that I had never felt in anything that even remotely resembled an exercise class before. I was hooked and I hadn’t even stumbled through the first song yet.  I quickly realized that the back was not the best place to be.  There was no one in front of me to watch when the choreography required us to turn around.  Not to mention, it was hard to see the instructor.  So by class 2, I quickly moved up to the front of the pack and parked myself a couple of rows back.  Much better.

As a dancer, my first inclination was to try to get each step perfect.  And as a ballroom dancer that is usually in a frame hold and doesn’t normally have to do a whole lot with her arms, I suddenly felt very uncoordinated and a little overwhelmed with the concept of all the arm movements in conjunction with the feet.  But I quickly realized that it wasn’t about knowing the choreography perfectly.  It was about the movement (shake those hips, baby!).  It was about letting your body move to its fullest potential without restriction.  It’s about letting go and in the process becoming a leaner, stronger, more confident, less stressed, better version of you that carries through long outside of the class.

Zumba is not just a fitness program.  It has become a community.  Internationally, it’s a group of over 12 million people that are connected through the pulsating rhythms across over 125 countries.  Locally, it’s a supportive group that encourages, uplifts, and cheers each other on not only in class, but in life, during the work day, on Facebook, through our kids, and at the many local fundraisers that Zumba helps support through “Zumbathons.” Schlist explains it very well.  “Zumba is the world’s most successful dance fitness program because it changes lives far beyond losing weight.  The universal appeal of music and dance, combined with the party atmosphere nurtures a social aspect that empowers its participants and creates a bond that is constantly striving to do good for their respective communities.  It’s electrifying, addicting, contagious, and rewarding.”

Zumba Fitness is constantly expanding, adding to its popularity.  Besides exploding on the video game and DVD market (good for getting you through on a day you can’t go to class, but doesn’t even come close to a live class experience), Zumba also offers Zumba Gold (great for beginners, those with physical limitations that would require modification, and active seniors), Zumbatomic (for the kids), Zumba Toning (uses toning sticks for extra strength training), Aqua Zumba (in the pool), Zumba in the Circuit (at Curves locations as part of a strength training circuit), and recently Zumba Sentao (coming soon – an intense sculpting class using chairs).

For more info on Zumba or to find a class near you :
For info about Carla Schlist and her classes in the Capital District:

I’m addicted, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about Zumba from me.
Check out my tips on Surviving Your First Zumba Class.

Related article: Find Your Zumba

Arsenic In Apple Juice??

August 9, 2011 § 5 Comments

China Really Is Trying to Poison Us!

We’ve all heard the news stories about our products from China.  How could we not when there seems to be something new every other week? I thought the lead poisoned children’s toys were bad, but now I find out there are high levels of ARSENIC in apple juice!

Mott’s Apple Juice, to be exact, had tested as having 55 parts per billion. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s limit of arsenic in public drinking water is 10 parts per billion. That’s a pretty big difference!! Now, since Mott’s is such a big brand name here in the United States, especially in homes with children, you would expect them to be a fully US product.  Nope – they get their apples from… you guessed it – CHINA. It seems that over 70% of the apple juice in the US actually comes from China – a place that regularly uses arsenic based pesticides. China’s food exports to the US have tripled over the past 10 years. And only less than 2% of imported food is inspected by the FDA. Does that number scare you? Because it sure scares the hell out of me!

Why are we allowing this to happen??

It’s pathetic enough that the government is not only allowing so much of our business to go overseas, but it’s not even regulating or inspecting what is coming into our country. And WHY are we getting apples from China?? Last I heard, New York and Washington State are two of the best places for apples. I do believe those two states are both from right here in the good ole USA. If our government isn’t going to protect us, then we need to start standing up and protecting ourselves! I don’t know about you, but I’m going to research which organic brand of apple juice gets their apples exclusively from the US.

But that’s only a start. Diane Sawyer recently did a special report and removed all items from an average middle class family’s home that were not USA made. They literally ended up taking just about everything except for the kitchen sink!

Is there any need for us to prove the stereotype of “Dumb Americans” as right? Let’s open our eyes and pay a little more attention. There’s no need for everything we buy and eat to be from somewhere else – especially a place like China that proves again and again how dangerous it is for us to do business with them. Time for us to start paying attention to labels!

Here’s a few numbers to think about –

  • If 200 million Americans each refuse to buy just $20 of Chinese goods, that would be a billion dollar trade imbalance resolved in our favor.
  • If every American spent just $64 more than normal on US products, it would create about 200,000 new jobs for AMERICANS right here in our own country, which in these hard economic times, we so desperately need.
  • If we were to refrain from buying Chinese products for even just 1 month, it will hit the Chinese for 8% of their American exports.

I received an email this week about a movement to get as many people as possible to not buy any Chinese products from August 1st-Sept 1st – food, toys, appliances, anything. The more people that try it out, the more of an impact it will have on the Chinese economy (and hopefully in sending a message to our own ignorant government). We should all try this out. Enough is enough! There is no reason for China to keep poisoning us.

And in the meantime, better check your apples….

For more info on the Mott’s Apple Juice Test –

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