Monday, December 31, 2018

Do you have social support for your healthy lifestyle efforts?

It is important to have people in your life who provide emotional support and encouragement as you work toward a healthier lifestyle. They can keep you accountable, remind you when you falter and cheer you on when you meet intermediate milestones. Often the encouragement of a friend or family member provides the energy you need to keep working toward your goals.

An additional bonus is that your supporters may be motivated to adopt your improved lifestyle habits along with you.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Are the calories you drink sabotaging your weight loss effort?

Every calorie counts when you are trying to lose weight, including those in liquids. Here are some tips for cutting the calories of what you are drinking.
  • If you drink soda or fruit juice, switch to water. If plain water tastes too bland, splash in a small amount of juice, or add a slice of citrus fruit or cucumber.
  • If you drink whole milk, switch to low-fat. Once you’re used to that, switch again to fat-free milk.
  • If you drink alcohol in any form, remember to use it as an occasional treat, not as a daily beverage.
These simple tips will help you trim down the calories you consume in liquid form.

Monday, December 24, 2018

What Happens When The Lights Go Out?

When you lose electricity in your home and have notified the electric company, the repair crews follow a set pattern to restore electric service. They trace the path the electricity must follow from its source to your neighborhood.

First they check the high-voltage transmission lines and towers for damage. This type of damage is rare, but potentially affects the largest number of customers.  Next they check the distribution substations. An outage could occur in the transmission lines to a particular substation, in the substation itself, or further down the line. Distribution lines to affected communities are next to be checked.

If community distribution lines are working properly, the repair crew then checks tap lines or supply lines. These are the wires that connect to transformers, which may be on poles or on pads for underground service.

By now the power is generally restored and the power all over your community as well as your lights are back on. However, if only your home is still without electricity, notify the electric company again. The problem may be in the service line between a transformer and your home.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

What Do Food Pantries Need?

Who's Hungry?!

As the school year comes to a close, food pantries are asking for donations to tide families over the summer months. These are particularly difficult for children who have relied on subsidized school breakfast and lunch programs for much of their daily nutrition.

What kinds of food should you donate to your local food pantry? Here is a list of commonly acceptable items:

  1. Peanut butter
  2. Canned or dried beans
  3. Canned fruit in juice, NOT in light or heavy syrup
  4. Canned vegetables, low- or no-sodium
  5. Low-sodium canned soups
  6. Canned tuna or chicken, in water
  7. Low-sodium chicken, beef, or vegetable broths
  8. Whole-grain, low-sugar prepared cereals
  9. Rolled oats
  10. Whole grain pasta
  11. Low-sodium pasta sauce
  12. Unsalted nuts or seeds
  13. Canola or olive oil
  14. Unsweetened apple sauce
  15. Dried fruits, no sugar added
Notice some restrictions? Even food pantries are trying to offer healthier food selections, with less sodium and sugar, and whole grains.

What else should you not donate? Anything in glass jars is a no-no. So is anything past the sell-by date.

Be sure to ask your local food pantry what they need. For instance, my local one said “Please don’t donate any more canned vegetables. What we really need are ready-to-eat items, like canned pastas in sauce, that children home alone can open and eat, with or without heating.” If you have a choice, choose pop-top lid cans instead of ones that need to be opened with a can opener.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

TIP- How to keep your refrigerator clean

It takes time to clean your refrigerator if you’ve not done it in a while. You can make this cleaning chore easier by following these simple tips

  • Clean up spills when they happen. Don’t allow sticky drips to harden on shelves.
  • Wipe them away with a damp cloth immediately.
  • Wipe down the handle of the refrigerator door on both inner and outer surface with a damp cloth daily.
  • Clean the outside of the refrigerator weekly with a damp cloth.
  • If you’ve stored leftovers, be sure they are used within 3-4 days. If they are older, throw them out.
  • Check expiration dates on items weekly. Throw away food that is past its expiry date.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

TIP - How to clean your refrigerator

As with all cleaning, it’s important to work from the top down. Do one shelf at a time.
  • Take all items off the top shelf and store them on the counter.
  • Remove the top shelf. Wash it in the sink with dishwashing liquid and warm water.
  • Rinse it thoroughly and dry it completely before replacing the clean shelf in the refrigerator.
  • Wipe jars and bottles with a dampened microfiber cloth and dry them before putting them back on the clean shelf.
HINT: This is a great time to check expiration dates and discard food which is no longer healthy.
  • Repeat this process until all shelves and their contents have been wiped clean.
  • Repeat the cleaning process with the deli bin and veggie crisper drawers. Be sure to clean the floor of the refrigerator with warm water and dish soap while the crisper drawers are being cleaned in the sink.
  • Remove items from the door of the refrigerator.
  • Dampen a microfiber cloth with soapy water—wring it out to discourage drips. Clean the small shelves in the door that you can’t detach. (If you can slide shelves out, wash them in the sink.)
  • Dry the shelves with a clean cloth.
  • Wipe items stored in the door shelves with a dampened microfiber cloth and dry them before putting them back.
  • Use the damp soapy microfiber cloth to clean the gaskets that line the refrigerator door.
  • Close your clean refrigerator. Using a fresh microfiber cloth dampened in warm soapy water to wipe down the exterior of the refrigerator. Concentrate your cleaning on all surfaces of the door handles. Wipe exterior surfaces dry.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

How Often Do I Need to Wash My Clothes?

In addition to dirt and stains, your clothes collect dead skin cells, shed hair, sweat and other body fluids, and your own personal stock of microorganisms. Your outer layer of clothing (shirts, pants, jeans, dresses, blouses, skirts, etc.) can often be worn a few times between washings. If they are not stained or extra sweaty, holding off on washing them after every wearing saves wear on the fabric as well as costing less to operate the washing machine.

Pajamas can also be worn a few times before washing, less often than twice a week if you shower before wearing them. Items that are worn next to your skin (T-shirts, camisoles, bathing suits) usually need to be washed after each wearing. Probably you will want to wash your exercise clothing after each use. And definitely wash your underwear, tights, and socks after each wearing.

Consult the care labels on your garments to learn the specifics of proper washing and care for each item.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

TIP - The Power Outage Pantry

If you live in a part of the country where winter power outages can disrupt cooking plans, stock a portion of your pantry with ready-to-eat or easy-to-prepare foods such as:
  • Canned soup
  • Canned vegetables and beans
  • Canned fruits
  • Canned meat products and tuna
  • Dried meats (jerky)
  • Dried fruits
  • Ready-to-eat cereals
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
Don’t forget to include disposable serving items such as paper plates, plastic cups and cutlery, paper napkins, and garbage bags in your Power Outage Pantry.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Avoid Overuse Injuries

Weekend warriors and professional athletes alike, anyone who is physically active is prone to overuse injury. These types of injuries are caused by repeated stress on tendons, bones, and joints. They are often named for their location on the body or by the activity that causes them.  Some examples include:
  • Plantar fasciitis – pain under the heel
  • Achilles tendinitis – ankle pain from running or jumping
  • Shin splints – leg pain from running
  • Stress fracture – pain in the foot or lower leg that worsens with weight bearing
  • Runner’s knee – pain around or under the kneecap from running or jumping
  • Swimmer’s shoulder – pain with overhead arm extension
  • Tennis or golfer’s elbow – pain on outside (tennis) or inside (golfer’s) of elbow
Overuse injuries are usually caused by what is known as the “terrible too’s.” That means trying to do too much physical activity, too hard or too soon after previous activity or injury. Poor technique, inadequate equipment, and even lack of proper rest can also lead to overuse injuries. Don’t ignore pain. Sudden pain (a twisted ankle or torn ligament) is obvious and demands immediate attention. The slow development of overuse injury pain is an important message as well, if less insistent. It’s often a signal that you are moving toward an injury.

Here are some steps to take to avoid overuse injuries:
  • Learn the correct techniques for using new equipment or taking on a new sport from a trainer or coach.
  • Get the right equipment and shoes for your chosen sport. Be sure to use a heel cushion or orthotic insert in running shoes. Replace athletic shoes when they become worn.
  • Warm up by exercising at low intensity for 5 minutes at the start of your activity. Then do slow stretches, holding each stretch for 30 seconds. When you finish your activity, cool down for 5 minutes at low intensity, then do some final stretches.
  • Use the ten percent rule to gradually increase your workouts. Increase the time or distance of your workout by no more than 10 percent each week.
  • Work your muscles evenly, strengthening on both sides to avoid imbalance.
  • Rest when fatigued, because your body needs time to recover and heal from strenuous activity. Include slow and rest days in your exercise schedule.
  • Cross-train with a variety of activities, alternating aerobic exercise and strength training. Varying activities give your muscles and joints time to rest.
Paying attention to these simple strategies will help you avoid overuse injuries. After all, it’s better to take a day off and rest once in a while than to be sidelined for weeks with tendinitis or other painful condition.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

How to Stick With Your Healthy Living Goals During the Holidays

It’s too easy to let your healthy exercise and diet plans slide during the winter holidays.  There are all the parties and special holiday foods, the weather’s too nasty to get to the gym or walk outside, you’re spending more time with family and friends who don’t understand your healthy lifestyle needs…

OK, there’s always excuses.  And even those of us who are most committed to healthy lifestyle changes will falter now and then.

What can you do to get back on the right track?  Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Forgive yourself for mistakes.  Remember that they happen to everyone but that they don’t mean you should give up your new healthy habits.  Pick up where you left off and move toward your goals once again.
  2. Perhaps you fell off track because it felt like you didn’t have the time to work out.  Put your exercise session (or whatever lifestyle change you’re making) into your schedule or planner.  Make it mandatory.  You’ll feel good when you check off “Mission accomplished” each day, and you are less likely to “forget” to work toward your goals.
  3. Keep an achievement diary.  Make daily notes of what you accomplished, the individual steps toward your overall goal.  Although some wearable devices will keep track of your steps, weight, etc., there’s something about writing it down where you can review it each week that helps keep you motivated and continuing to make progress toward your overall goal of a healthy life.
  4. If you’re starting a new routine or starting over, remember to begin with small steps.  Be realistic about what you think you can do each day for a week, and set out to accomplish that.  Then gradually increase your plan after you’ve done the simplest level for a week or two.  It takes time to establish new healthy habits.
  5. Having trouble staying on track? Take some time to recall exactly why you’ve set the healthy lifestyle goal.  Visualize yourself meeting the goal, and what a difference it will make in your life.  Whether you are eating less meat and more veggies and fruits to lower your cholesterol, or you’re exercising to lessen your pain and stiffness, keep the end results in your mind.  In fact, find a picture that represents your goal.  It could be a photo of your younger slimmer self, or a clipping from a magazine advert showing a woman riding a bike or a man playing ball with grandkids.  Whatever your goal, post an image of it where you will see it frequently as a reminder of your initial motivation for making a healthy lifestyle change.
  6. One way to hold yourself accountable is to penalize skipping.  Miss your daily exercise? Eat a fast food burger and fries for lunch instead of a small salad? Pay a dollar to an “Oops Jar.” Hope that it doesn’t happen too often, but if it does, then you’ll have a small amount to donate to your favorite charity.  (NOTE: The penalty cash should never be used as a reward for achieving a goal you’ve set for yourself.)
  7. Find someone who shares your goal and work together to achieve it.  Teamwork keeps each team member motivated.  You hold each other accountable.  Consistent action over a longer time span will help you achieve your goal faster.  And it’s just a lot more fun to exercise with a pal.
  8. Celebrate every success.  When you’ve met your daily goal, whatever it is, take a moment to congratulate yourself on sticking with your healthy lifestyle plan.  Give yourself a BIG smile! You earned it.  Achieved a milestone? You lost 10 pounds or are smoking less than a pack a day or exercised every day for a month? Then it’s time for a big celebration.  Just make sure it’s one that won’t break your success.  No splurging on a bust-your-gut buffet to celebrate weight loss.  Choose something like renting a movie you’ve been thinking of watching (and don’t let your popcorn addiction lead you astray while viewing it).

Use these small strategies to keep on track toward your healthy lifestyle goals during the winter holiday season.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Cochrane Library - Staying Informed On Healthcare

How can the Cochrane Library help you make more informed healthcare decisions?

We all have to make decisions about healthcare at times. Should I try this treatment or that one? Is this drug better for my condition, or does it cause unpleasant side effects? What is the evidence that this is the best treatment choice for me? It’s important to review research results, but first you have to find them. Then you have to wade through all the technical language these peer reviewed papers are written in. And of course there are usually several published papers from different researchers on any topic, and they don’t always agree. You will need help to interpret all this information.

The Cochrane Library comes to the rescue! They are an international network of independent volunteers who collect and summarize research evidence, producing reliable evidence-based information related to a specific question. These comprehensive reviews are written in plain language, and published online at the Cochrane Library. (LINK:

Interested in evidence-based answers to questions such as the following?
  • What are the effects of personalized care planning for adults with long-term health conditions?
  • How does virtual reality compare with conventional therapy during stroke rehabilitation?
  • What are the effects of antioxidant multivitamin and mineral supplements in people with age-related macular degeneration?
  • What are the effects of gabapentin in adults with chronic neuropathic pain?
  • In people with fibromyalgia, how do psychological therapies affect outcomes?
Cochrane asks and answers hundreds of questions like the above. Browse their list of Clinical Answers on topics ranging from Allergy & Intolerance to Wound Care and learn more about content that will aid you in making important decisions about your medical care. (LINK:

Monday, November 5, 2018

Four Tips for Healthy Eyes

  1. Get an annual eye exam. An eye doctor can detect problems before you notice them, when they may be easier to treat.
  2. Protect you eyes from sunlight. Wear sunglasses that cover your eyes fully and wrap around the sides of your head to provide side protection. Check that the lenses protect against UV-A and UV-B radiation, that can increase your risk of developing cataracts.
  3. Eating more green vegetables and fruits will keep your eyes and the rest of your body healthier.
  4. Stop smoking, or don’t start. Smoking increases your risk of several eye problems, including cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, Dry Eye Syndrome, and age-related macular degeneration.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Tip - Caring for Smart Chip Cards

New credit and debit cards have a small metallic microchip embedded on the front, which can be read by special card readers when inserted properly.  This allows for more secure transactions than the older cards.  But the smart chip can be damaged and will then malfunction in the reader.

Be sure to protect the microchip on your credit or debit card from physical damage by scrapes from items with sharp edges, such as coins and keys.  Don’t spill liquids on it.  Protect the card in your wallet or a card holder.  If your card is rejected by one card reader but does not seem to appear damaged, the fault could be in the machine, not the card.  Try it out in another machine before contacting the card-issuing company for a replacement.  The customer service phone number to get a replacement card sent is on the back of your card.  If you manage your card account online, look on the company website for a link to “replace lost or damaged card.”

When you get your new card in the mail, be sure to compare its information (e.g., expiration date) with the old one.  You may need to update stored payment information or automated bill payment settings.  While you are waiting for a replacement for a damaged smart chip credit or debit card, you can still use the card for online purchases.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Bicycle Safety

Biking is fun and it is good exercise.  It is also a safety challenge.  Meet the challenge by following these four suggestions.
  1. Dress properly for bike riding.

    Always wear a bike helmet.  This is the most important measure for keeping yourself safe when riding a bicycle.  Most head injuries suffered by bike riders are preventable if they had used the proper gear.
    • You should always use a helmet that is safe and reliable. Here’s what to look for when purchasing a bike helmet:
      • A label showing that the American Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation has certified the helmet as safe.
      • Outer shell is colored bright yellow, white, orange, or red (to maximize your visibility to drivers).
      • Outer layer is constructed of hard plastic or polycarbonate, with a waterproof finish.
      • Lining is stiff polystyrene.
      • Strap and fastener are securely attached to the helmet.
      • If your helmet becomes damaged, replace it.
    • Think about the possibility of road rash if you crash.  Wear closed-toe sturdy shoes.  You might want to consider a long sleeve shirt and long pants.  Consider wearing lightweight gloves to protect your hands in the event of an accident.

  2. Choose the right bike and maintain it.
    • When seated properly on the bike, you should be able to put one foot on the ground without leaning the bike to one side or the other. Adjust the seat height if necessary.
    • Your bike should have red reflectors on the sides, rear, and pedals that are visible for 500 feet.  It should also have a headlight.
    • Examine the bike tires before each trip.  Inflate the tires to the recommended pressure.  Look for worn spots and punctures.  Fix or replace tires or tubes before setting out.
    • Check your brakes.  If they are in proper working order, you will be able to stop within 15 feet when riding at 10 miles per hour.
    • Rearview mirrors are optional, but many bicyclists find them helpful.

  3. Adopt good bike-riding habits.
    You must obey all traffic laws as if you were driving a car. If you are not familiar with the traffic laws in your state, consult the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a printed copy.  Here are some traffic laws that generally apply:
    • Ride with the traffic, not against it.
    • Stay to the right of the lane if there is not a designated bike lane.
    • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
    • Keep a safe following distance between you and the vehicle (or bicycle) ahead of you.
    • Look behind you and use hand signals before turning or changing lanes.
    • Don’t ride your bike through intersections without traffic signals. Walk it, especially if there is heavy traffic.

  4. Other “common sense” rules of the road:
    • Choose your route so you are riding on the safest roads possible to get to your destination.
    • Ride on well-maintained roads with smooth pavement, but look out for potholes, rough surface patches and debris in the road.
    • Drive defensively. Keep your eye on motorists, pedestrians, other bikers, parked cars. Look out for children or animals entering your path.
    • Always pay attention to your surroundings. If you are listening to a radio or tape player, your full attention is not on the drive.
    • Never bike while intoxicated, either from alcohol or drugs. It is just as dangerous as driving while under the influence, and just as illegal.
These four safety strategies will keep you protected as you ride your bicycle for fun or as basic transportation.

Making Bananas Last

If you buy bananas that are “just ripe” to eat and don’t get to them within a few days, they will over ripen. You can only make so much banana bread!

Instead, buy bananas that are not quite ripe, a little on the green side.  Take them out of the plastic bag and let them sit at room temperature.  If you want some to ripen faster, put a few bananas close to other ripe fruit (apples work well). When they are ripe enough, separate each banana from the bunch. Wrap each individual stem with plastic wrap to prolong their ripening process.

Exercise and Sleep

A regular exercise program, especially cardio exercise, has been shown to help people fall asleep more easily and have a more restful, better quality of sleep.  But for many people, exercising right before bedtime does not achieve these outcomes.  Try different times of day to exercise and see what works best for your quality of sleep.  In general, you probably don’t want to work out closer then 3 hours before bedtime.

Images from Pixabay.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Getting ready for cold weather

It’s time to prepare your home for cold winter weather. Consider the following steps.
  • Have your heating system inspected by a qualified contractor. This should be done annually to ensure your safety.
  • Change batteries in both carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. (Get some and put them up if you don’t have them already!)
  • Look for spaces inside and outside where cold air can enter. Check around windows, doors, electrical outlets, and wall penetrations for cables and phone lines. Caulk holes or replace worn weather stripping.
  • Add storm windows or attach plastic film on the inside to keep out cold air if windows are drafty.
  • If possible, replace old models of electric space heaters with newer ones which have automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing heating elements.
  • Be sure space heaters are at least 3 feet away from flammable fabrics such as upholstered furniture or curtains.
  • Check fire extinguishers to be sure they are charged. Make sure all family members know the proper way to use a fire extinguisher.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Upcoming! IDRAC 2018

Virtual Ability, Inc.® will present the 7th annual International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference (IDRAC), on October 5-6, 2018. This is an annual professional conference held online, that is free and open to the public. The conference will take place in Second Life® at The Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability island.
This year's theme is "Taking Care of Us" This theme is broad and open to interpretation by the presenters we invited to this year's event. If past conferences are any indication, we look forward to lively discussions and information sharing among presenters and our very interested and interactive audience.
Below is an at-a-glance schedule of the presenters who will share their observations of the progress, benefits and challenges in disability rights in different parts of the world as applied to the current theme. We will provide more information about the speakers and their presentations as it becomes available. Note: All times are listed in US Pacific Daylight Time.

Friday October 5
Lusha Huang, a graduate student at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, will present "Enhancing Visually Impaired People’s Traveling Experience through Mobile Applications"
Coomara Pyaneandee, the Vice-Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will talk about the CRPD
Debbie Engelen-Eigles, who teaches Sociology and Gender Studies at Century College, will discuss "Learning from Korean Women with Disabilities: Lessons from the Field"
Emmy winner Jason DaSilva will discuss "Documenting Disability & Looking Towards the Future"
Lauren Bruno (Post-doctoral researcher, University of Iowa) and Cassandra Willis (Graduate student, Virginia Commonwealth University), will present "A Survey of Alternative and Traditional Special Education Teachers’ Perception of Preparedness"

Saturday October 6
Patrick McKearney, University of Cambridge, presents "Care and Visibility: Modes of Agency in L’Arche"
An Interview with Peter Catapano
Rev. Olutayo Shodipo, a Baptist minister from Nigeria, will discuss "Spirituality, Disability and Coping Strategy – Its Implication for Faith Communities"
Amra Mohammed, from the University of Jeddah, will talk about creating policies to support twice-exceptional students in Saudi Arabia

More session confirmations expected shortly. Please stay tuned!