Goodnight, Sleep Tight, Make Sure Your Spine is Lined-Up Right!

Posted: 1969 days ago in Health

lineduprightI know. I know. It’s really comfy to sleep on your tummy. But do you know how bad it is for you?

Do me a favor, take a break from reading for about 30 seconds and turn your head all the way to one side. Then hang out there.

(I really mean it. Do it, now….)

Now imagine you held that position for, oh, I don’t know, say like eight hours. How do you think your neck will feel? Like crap? Exactly!

There are few people who do not experience neck or back pain at some point in their lives. If you are a stomach-sleeper, I can almost guarantee that you will not be one of those people.

In addition to forcing your neck to one side, stomach-sleeping causes your belly to sag into the mattress, messing with the natural, healthy, front-to-back curvatures of your spine. In short, stomach-sleeping is the worst way to spend your nights.

So what’s the best?  Sleeping on your back or side, with pillows to support your spine in a neutral position, is optimum. (see picture for reference)

sleeppositionsWant to know what your spine should look like while you sleep? Stand up nice and tall. Take a peek in a mirror, and see how your trunk is aligned. This is exactly the goal when you sleep.

If you are on your back, tuck your pillow under your neck, not your head, to support the very important C-curve of your upper spine. Consider using a contour pillow designed specifically for this purpose. If you prefer the fetal position, like I do, make sure your pillow doesn’t allow your neck to angle down or up, but be perfectly in-line with the rest of your spine. On a good night, I tuck a pillow between my knees to help keep my hips nice and level, too.

Sleep should build us up, not tear us down. Now that you know the dos-and-don’ts of sleeping postures, try your best to correct any bad habits.

Wishing all of my readers a good, healthy night of sleep!

Eat Life Up And Spit It Out

Posted: 1973 days ago in Lifestyle

eatlifeupandspititoutI’m an 80/20 girl.

And no, that’s not my vision. That’s my philosophy on living a balanced life.

About 80% of the time I follow my own advice, and about 20% of the time, you’ll find me breaking all of my own rules. Life is short, no?

Some days I’m the poster child for clean living. That’s a “100% day” where my eating habits are spot-on. I exercise and stretch afterwards. I’ve gotten great sleep, spent QT with the family, and slathered on non-chemical beauty products.

Other  days I’m a train wreck. I start the day with a white-flour bagel and end it around 3 a.m. after a few shots of Patron. Exercise? Nah! Unless rolling over on the beach counts.

It’s tough to be perfect, and if perfection is your barometer, you are sure to fail (and some of us fail rather hard). Set reasonable expectations for yourself in all matters that are under your control. There is no trophy for passing up a great dessert. But a great dessert every day? Not so much. A couple of times of week? Go for it!

Set yourself up for success instead of failure and life will be so much more pleasant.

I promise!

I Want to Break-Up with My iPhone!

Posted: 1982 days ago in Lifestyle

breakupwithiphoneI finally got an iPhone.  

I know, I know, welcome to 2007, right? I was perfectly happy with my little flip-phone, and was so proud to have mastered my qwerty keyboard after a few years of sending cryptic messages due to thumb malfunctions.

After much pressure from my family and friends ( …and why did they care so much, really? ) — I caved. 

So, now I’ve got this phone that totally intimidates me. When I pick it up to make a call, all these apps and programs are just clamoring for attention: “YOU’VE GOT 7 EMAIL MESSAGES!!!!” – “NO! PICK ME! THERE ARE 10 TEXTS WAITING FOR YOU!!!!” – “UH, HELLO, THIS IS YOUR VOICEMAIL, PLEASE LISTEN TO ME.” – “3 FACEBOOK NOTIFICATIONS!” – “18 APPS NEED UPDATING, HURRY!!!!”

STOP IT!!!!!!!!!

(Yes, in my head they are screaming, and it freaks me out.)

Why do we have to be so available, and in so many ways? Despite reassurances that I will grow to love my iPhone and wonder how I ever lived without it, I’m still not sure that I’ve made a good decision. Not to mention, if you’ve read my article called off the grid mentality’, then you know how this goes against my moral fabric.

Are you loving your smartphone, or thinking about breaking up with it, too?

The Relationship Tripod

Posted: 1986 days ago in Sex & Relationships

friendshipsI don’t envy people too often because it’s not good for the whole “balance of the universe” thing. But speaking of balance, I want to introduce you all to a philosophy of mine; ‘the relationship tripod’.

Relationships in life are like a tripod. You have your partner, kids, and friends. If you don’t have those other legs of the stool, friendships are even more important. It’s the reason I envied my husband for a long time; because he has maintained truly intimate relationships with people he’s known since kindergarten.

I myself, have moved around a lot, and don’t really have an inner circle of women who I’ve had a long history with. I’m sure many of you would agree that having that is important. Long-time friends are the ones that have a girl’s back no matter what – because they know you for who you are.

I’m talking about the “back door” friends who show up for coffee. Tight-knit friendships are like chosen family. With these relationships comes the ease of not having to put on your “best face.” So much in life is not easy; it’s just nice to know that if you need a proverbial “cup of sugar” that you never have to feel bad for asking.

I was so happy when I had my kids; I really bonded with a few moms. Those early days of parenthood are truly unifying. We were confidants. We traveled together. It was fun, and I was really enjoying the relationships. Unfortunately, those friendships suffered irreparably during my divorce. For a while, I mourned the loss of those women in my life more than I did my marriage. I missed my “daily peeps.”

I’ve reached a new balance point, and it started with a different outlook due to some advice I had received. That advice was that you need to intentionally make more effort to create a great friendship. So if you’re like me, trying to grow your circle of friends; put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid of rejection. The outcome is well worth the risk. I realized that friendships come and go, but this shouldn’t disdain someone from having friends. I am thankful to have a lot of wonderful women in my life again, but it took time to get here.

For the record: I in no way want to minimize the importance of those people who have truly, always been there for me. I am so thankful for those few, but they’re not always “geographically accessible.”

So, invest in your relationships, lean on them, and they will last a lifetime. I want to share a text I received from a good friend of mine after she came for a visit recently. “I love that we are so easy, thank you so much for feeding my soul exactly what it needed this weekend.”

I wish that for all of my dear readers – easy, soul fulfilling friendships.

Travel Like a Local

Posted: 1993 days ago in Lifestyle

tlal3I get homesick when I stay in hotels. There’s something about that climate-controlled air and generic décor that freaks me out – and makes me long for the comforts of home. Whether I’m staying at the Ritz or a Hampton Inn, they look the same in Hawaii as they do in Holland.

Traveling is not fun when you are homesick, so what’s the point, right?

Years ago, I discovered that renting condos or houses when traveling is a great choice. You instantly double or quadruple your space (often for the same price), and get a much more authentic experience.

We took the girls to Spain for two weeks when they were pretty young. Instead of tripping over each other in a hotel room and eating a generic breakfast, we had a three-bedroom apartment in Barcelona within walking distance of many local cafes where the shopkeepers served the girls “churros con chocolate” every morning. Yeah, you have to forgo the daily maid and room service, but somehow having a laundry room and kitchen makes up for that (not that you need to cook or clean on vacation, but those things come in very handy!).

I wouldn’t trade feeling like a local for any hotel amenity. You won’t even feel the absence of the on-site spa or gym because you can find the best massage therapists or yoga studios online in minutes.

Since the Spain trip, we’ve rented homes in every conceivable area: big cities, small towns, on islands and in the country, and we’ve not once been disappointed. Here’s one of my favorite sites: Vacation Rentals by Owner. Check it out. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Bon Voyage!

Dirty, Sexy, Money.

Posted: 1996 days ago in Lifestyle

DIRTYSEXYMONEYA lot of us have a stigma about money.

On the one hand, we need it, since cash pays the rent, buys food, provides transportation, and generally lets us have a little fun. On the other hand, media has led us to believe we need more than we have – creating a ‘love’ or ‘worship’ of money, which is, in my opinion, the root of all evil.

At the same time, somewhere along the way many of us got all caught up in a state of lack where we never seem to have enough of the stuff.

What the hell is “enough,” anyway?

I’ve got friends from all socioeconomic groups, and guess what? None of them have “enough.” Not even the ones who are telling me that, “they don’t have enough,” from the deck of their oceanfront homes, or the front seat of their Jaguar. The key to being peaceful about your financial state is to want what you already have, instead of coveting what you don’t. The high we get when we buy something new starts to fade very quickly, and then it’s on to the next ‘want’.

I get it, truly I do. Flip through the pages of your favorite magazine and there are soooo many pretty things to buy. I would imagine wearing Louboutins and Chanel makes you feel very sexy, and I know that shopping at JCPenney pales in comparison. But those shoes that you just had to have, and paid for on credit because you didn’t have the cash? When was the last time you wore them? And that bag that you bought instead of paying off that credit card? Does the pleasure of carrying it outweigh the stress of accruing 18% interest on that account? I didn’t think so.

You know what’s funny about that? If you can get to the point where you spend less than you make, and have short and long-term savings established – you’d be surprised at how you don’t seem to want as much.

I relate it to a child’s longing for candy; they feel like they have to sneak it, then on their birthday their parents let them have whatever they want, and suddenly the candy doesn’t have the same appeal as it did when it was off limits.

Read my article called, “Take it to the Bank, Sister,” and you’ll see what I mean about saving.

So if you can’t afford to pay cash for something (with the exception of a house or a car), then don’t buy it. I mean it. Or at the very least, try my 3 day rule: if you realllllly are jones-ing for something, step away from it for a few days, and if you still can’t bear the thought of life without it, then go for it; thoughtfully and responsibly.

After all, there is nothing sexy about being broke and in debt.

Balls Are A Girl’s Best Friend

Posted: 2000 days ago in Lifestyle Wellness

ballsareagirlsbestfriendExercise. Balls.

That’s right ladies, the one thing I recommend that no woman go without is a trusty exercise ball. If you want perfect posture, stronger abdominals, a hotter sex life, better balance and flexibility; then grab your balls!

If you’ve read my post, ‘Sitting is the New Sugar’ then you know it’s not a good idea to sit all day. Whether it’s in a car, at work, or on the couch in front of the TV – sitting for a prolonged period of time is poison. The people who partake in these habitual postures are wreaking havoc on their bodies; compressing their spines into oblivion, constricting blood flow to other parts of their bodies, and experiencing debilitating back pain, or pain in other areas of their bodies.

It’s a slow, painful death, that sitting.

So sit on your balls! Replace your normal seat with an exercise ball, and presto! Your weight is evenly displaced on your entire perineum (that’s the area where your groin and posterior meet) and your abdominals are instantly engaged. Instead of your chair doing the work to hold up your increasing ‘goo-i-fying‘ body – you are doing the work to keep your body upright.

And ladies, the benefits continue on into the bedroom. Kegel exercises can be time consuming, so sitting on a ball is a great substitute. The groin is forced to engage itself while ball sitting, so your vagina will naturally tighten, prolonging your reproductive health and well-being. So say ‘hello’ to an instantly better sex life.

Now, what’s that last one? Oh yeah, it’s the “exercise” in exercise ball.

Ball exercises go without substitute, especially when you consider their ability to improve balance and flexibility. Just ask local yogini, Kathleen Schuman, owner of Prana Studio in Annapolis, Md. Kathleen believes that a, “stability ball is a great way to get extra support for moves that require endurance and flexibility and it also adds a balance challenge to some [yoga] poses.” Her studio hosts a weekly class called ‘yoga on the ball’ where the focus is on using a ball to intensify yoga poses. The result is an all-around more toned, and balanced body.

So yeah, whats a few bucks for some balls when you consider all the benefits gained? If you want more information about Kathleen or her studio, please visit www.pranastudio.com or call 410-266-3401.

Namaste!

I Fell Off the Wagon So Hard I Left Skid Marks

Posted: 2001 days ago in Wellness

falloffthewagon copy

Holy sh*t. Why is it that the weather starts to turn even the slightest bit cold, and I reach for the white flour? I mean, if I eat one more bagel I’m going to start speaking Yiddish, for real.

“Everything in moderation” is a great mantra to live by, and my 80/20 rule of eating clean or splurging is one better than that. But I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up. 

White flour is the ultimate nemesis. For me, it’s the difference between being bloated and sluggish and lean and energetic. I can get away with an occasional bowl of pasta or a bagel, but I quickly reach the point of no return. 

Are you like me, in that you find yourself justifying bad behaviors? Well, I’ve justified my way right into a carb-addiction that will clearly require a serious detox to get out of. In fact, that’s the perfect answer to get me back in fighting shape.

My detox of choice?

I’ve decided to gift my readers with ‘detox words of wisdom‘, from the ever-incredible, Lisa Consiglio Ryan. Lisa is Certified Health and Nutrition Coach and creator of www.WholeHealthDesigns.com. She has personally coached thousands of women all over the country on how to get back on the wagon.

Lisa is an amazing woman that I’m very fortunate to call a friend….and friends share, right?

Coming this October 7th, Whole Health Designs is launching their ‘Fall Renewal 10 Day Detox‘ 2013. Over the 10-day period, Lisa will guide participants with a step-by-step whole food cleanse, no guesswork needed. And the benefits?

How about…. an average weight loss of 4-10 pounds; decreased belly fat and bloating; feeling lighter and noticing clothes loosening up; tons of energy so you can accomplish a lot in your day. You won’t need to resort to the vending machine or the local Starbucks for the mid-afternoon pick-me-up; sugar cravings disappear; the best sleep ever; sound sleep (no getting up to use the bathroom or insomnia!); glowing, clear, dewy skin (my favorite side effect); and bright, sparkly eyes (I love this one too!).

The best part? The detox normally costs $129, but Dr. Tania readers are VIP. So, Lisa has so graciously offered a VIP offer of $79 for the 10-day fall detox. Just enter the code: DETOX4FALL 

Now that’s a big savings, and you all know how I love a good deal! For more on Lisa, visit her website: www.wholehealthdesigns.com

I hope you join Lisa and me in saying, “Buh-Bye” to the slump, and hellllllo to good health and energy!

No Sweat.

Posted: 2003 days ago in Health

nosweatI can’t imagine not getting a good sweat on almost every day. 

In fact, I get a little ‘wiggy’ if I miss more than a day without one because something about sweating is extremely satisfying. And though no one, including me, wants their pits to stink, it pays to let nature take its course occasionally. 

Consider using a natural deodorant (which helps minimize odor) instead of an antiperspirant (which prevents sweating all together). 

Here’s my take on it

In addition to helping regulate body temperature, sweat is a great detoxifier. The area of our bodies that is most rich in sweat glands (our armpits), is also an area really rich in lymph nodes.  Coincidentally, the area most vulnerable to breast cancers is the upper, outer quadrant of our breasts… which is the real estate that flows right into our pits.

Are you with me here? If sweat helps to release toxins, and we are stopping our body’s ability to release those toxins under our armpits, does it not make sense that maybe, just maybe, those toxins are building up in that area? And perhaps the ingredients in antiperspirants may also be having an adverse affect on our bodies?

Since the medical studies on this subject have conflicting results, the bottom line is this: no one can be certain that using antiperspirants is NOT a causative factor in breast cancer. With breast cancer affecting 1 in 8 of us, don’t you want to make sure that you are doing all you can to tip the odds in your favor?

For more scientific detail on this, visit the National Cancer Institute’s website, here: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/AP-Deo

For those that are modest about their pit sweat, here is what I have to say: I am Italian. I sweat a lot. And my work as a chiropractor puts my armpits in close proximity to my patient’s noses. On days when I see patients, I do use an antiperspirant so as not to be offensive to anyone! However, I loofah my armpits when I shower to get any residue out of my pores. Most days, good hygiene paired with a deodorant like Tom’s of Maine, Burt’s Bees or Liquid Rock keep me fresh as a daisy all day long.

Breakfast of Champions

Posted: 2004 days ago in Wellness

breakfastofchampionsAre you as hungry as I am in the morning?  

I am vehemently against the thought of going without breakfast.  I do believe that it is the most important meal of the day, but if you are one of those people who literally can’t stomach the idea of eating so early, here are some tips to rev up your appetite and metabolism so that you don’t need to ‘push through’ or wait until lunchtime to eat.

Let me just take a moment to debunk a common myth. For those of you who think that skipping breakfast (or any meal for that matter) will help you lose weight, that is just plain wrong. Truth of the matter is, there is no better way to SLOW your metabolism than by skipping a meal. That’s because your body is really efficient most of the time, but If you starve it during your waking hours, it will ramp down its caloric usage for survival. Meaning? You will end up burning fewer calories, and quite likely GAIN weight.

Not quite the outcome you were hoping for, huh? 

If time constraints or lack of appetite are what’s keeping you from eating, consider this:

  • Perhaps breakfast foods are not your thing. Would you be more inclined to eat last night’s leftovers, a smoothie, or some cheese and crackers? Then go for it! We are as likely to eat dinner for breakfast than not in our house. The current brekky-du-jour for my kids? Chicken Tamales! Go figure!
  • Eating on the run. This is not my best recommendation, but if it’s that or nothing, then set yourself up for success by prepping some portable breakfast food each evening. Things like cheese sticks, nuts, yogurts, fruit, nut butters, and protein bars bars all come in individual serving sizes. In fact, I keep “emergency nuts” pretty much everywhere, since I get really bitchy when my blood sugar crashes and I need food more than air.  My friend Lisa calls this “hangry”.
  • Drink some lemon water (hot or cold) to get the ol’ juices flowing. This will often stimulate your appetite and your morning constitutional.

A good breakfast sets the barometer for a day of healthy eating, truly it does! My breakfast of champions today? Greek yogurt with fruit and granola. Yum!

What did you have for breakfast today?