13 February 2010

Go nuts for your heart

Dr. Dean Ornish, has contributed greatly to existing research on cardiovascular disease and he has always been a proponent of yoga. He studied with Swami Satchidanada for over 30 years.

An average, healthy heart beats about 100,000 times a day - that's 37 million beats per year! One of the top risk factors for heart disease is sitting still, so you need to move if you really want to love your heart! A heart is a pump about the size of a person's fist and is made of muscle tissue. Exercise can strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system, improve your circulation, and increase energy levels so you can do more without becoming tired or short of breath. Plus, exercise has also been shown to reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression.

A heart-healthy diet should be low in fat and sodium, include lean protein, and lots of fiber. Oatmeal with blueberries and a handful of walnuts or almonds is a great way to start the day. Using rice or soy milk with make it even healthier. Nothing beats nuts for a rewarding snack - they're easy to store and transport well.
Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, pistachios, chestnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts - almost every type of nut contains lots of nutrition and beneficial fats. Nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids and also contain fiber and vitamin E. As much as 80 percent of a nut is healthy fat, but it's still a lot of calories so eat nuts in moderation. According to the Food & Drug Administration, eating about a handful (1.5 ounces) a day of most nuts is enough.

Combining a healthy diet with regular aerobic exercise and yoga practice will not only make you feel  and look good, but may go a long way toward ensuring a longer, healthier life. Take an active role in your own health. You'll look better, feel better, and the people you love with thank you for it!

09 February 2010

R.I.P. BooBoo

Soon after my father died in 2001, a cat showed up on my mother's doorstep. He had long skinny legs, kind of yellow/gold eyes, and spent lots of time on the back patio waiting for her. Eventually (after feeding him shrimp I imagine), the cat decided it was ok to come inside and there he stayed until today. In addition to the long skinny legs and the golden eyes, he eerily mirrored my father - sat in his favorite chair, looked out the kitchen window frequently, spent long hours lolling on a bench overlooking the creek, was friendly but not toward everyone. Mom never formally named the cat; we sometimes referred to him as Mr. Zak, but she called him BooBoo.

We have no pictures of BooBoo. He was a tortoiseshell kitty and I found these photos from a site online - these are pretty unusual cats and the one on top looks just like our dearly departed. I felt the need to honor this cat - he brought so much love into our family home. My parents were married for nearly 50 years, mom had never lived alone in her life. The cat showed up and has kept her company without asking for much. She loved him and so did I.

Despite the fact that the ground in NJ is covered in snow, my mother decided she had to bury the cat today and began to dig a hole without much success. Our dear friend, Fred, showed up for his morning visit and kitty was given a proper burial on a hill, near his bench, overlooking the creek. In true New Jersey fashion, they went out for pizza later in the day.

We'll miss you kitty!!

02 February 2010

Bee House

Another bee has entered my life in the form of a teapot. Bee House ceramics are made in Japan by Zero and are lead free, microwaveable and dishwasher safe. Each teapot comes with a removable stainless steel infuser and lid so you can use regular teabags or brew loose tea. It's not only beautiful, but practical (a winning combination)!

Although I love freshly ground and brewed coffee, I noticed a jitteriness when I drank it every day so, about a year ago, I switched to tea as my main hot beverage. Since then, my tea knowledge has broadened thanks to locally-owned Carytown Teas. I look forward to my morning green and am currently hooked on their organic gunpowder osprey, and Patricia always has good recommendations.

This noticing that I experienced has much to do with my yoga practice. When we are mindful of the signals our body gives us, we're given an opportunity to make changes and see what fits better. This is how yoga works. We notice our emotions, physical sensations, our needs. We may find that cigarettes don't taste very good and we quit, we might discover that a doughnut for breakfast isn't as great as we once thought and we begin to lose weight. Over time and with practice, our tastes and our sensitivity to our own needs become refined and we are able to judge what is good for us at a particular time.

Don't get me wrong - I will still drink iced Vietnamese coffee on occasion and, if I'm on the Eastern Shore, I am definitely going to eat fried chicken at Tammy and Johnny's! It's all about balance and life is short - more of what nourishes me completely, less of what depletes me and I'm a happy girl with a new teapot and another bee in my life.