Saturday, July 28, 2007

Embracing the Future

Have you ever noticed that the more things change, the more they remain the same? How about when we are unhappily focused on the career that is stalled, the body we don’t have, or the state of health that we’re not in, that we are basically convincing ourselves that this is going to be our long-term physical state?

And then there is further negative reinforcement when we start an exercise plan and quit because we don’t see immediate results? Or we try another new diet and then give it up because it’s not working, or too difficult to adhere to? And because we have tried so many diets, joined so many gyms, taken so many classes and still have not found our happiest, healthiest, self, we certainly have reason to be convinced that nothing is going to change?

With the power of planning to make changes in our health, fitness and lifestyle, here are how things can be very different:

Accept where you are today. That’s right - surrender, give in and just say, "OK, I accept that this is where I am today." You are not giving up – you are giving in – to the truth. Stop fighting it and being negative about it, just be OK with it for now.

Be thankful for all that is good in your life. Find some things that you like about yourself and your life and focus intently on those. Generate a feeling of love and generosity toward yourself and those around you and the doors to change will open.

Know that things can change. If you don’t believe it now (and you probably don’t, given all that has happened in the past), you will, if you dedicate as much time, thought, and energy as you did to feeling negative, to thinking and then feeling positive. Fake it in the beginning, just keep saying (with a smile on your face and hope in your heart), "I can change things in my life, it’s my choice." You must reinforce over and over, convince yourself that you can change by reprogramming your mind. Don’t stop until you feel the love beginning in yourself and then receiving positive feedback from those around you.

Be open to a new you with new desires and feelings. Whatever you do, don’t fight it when the urge strikes you to start taking better care of yourself. That’s right; before you know it you’ll be eating less junk – or just eating less. You’ll also want to start looking for new ways to move your life forward as well as moving your body more.

Serving others. That’s right, my friends, it’s all about serving others in the best way possible. To make a significant impact on the people in our lives and then have them impact positively on others, is the best possible reward for our hard work and self-improvement efforts. After all, life is a full-contact sport full of bumps and bruises, opportunities and challenges. Do not give up. Tis the time, tis the season, for all of us to positively reclaim our excitement about life and all of its awesome possibilities. Peace and blessings y’all.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Places Every Woman Should Go (Traveling Light)

Author Stephanie Elizondo Griest hit the literary scene in 2004 with her critically acclaimed coming-of-age travel memoir, Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana. Her newest book, 100 Places Every Woman Should Go, is a fresh and insightful look at destinations for the female journey. When Ms. Griest was asked to share some travel recommendations, she recently cited eight of her favorite picks for women wanderers:
1. For inspiration and enlightenment: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Goddesses reign supreme in Hawaii, and the most venerated is Pele, who presides over the volcanoes. Legend has it she secretly envies Poliahu, goddess of the snow, and the two quarrel often — especially over menfolk. Poliahu usually wins, causing Pele to erupt in fury, and Poliahu gets stuck cleaning the mess with her ice afterward. (Indeed, traces of lava have been found seeping through glacial ice caps at various epochs in Hawaiian geological history.) Even when Pele triumphs, she soon tires of her lovers and sends them racing down the mountain, trailed by her hot, molten lava. To see her in action, head to the Big Island. Lounge upon the white-sand beaches at Kona Coast and the black-sand beaches at Puna district, then soak in thermal pools set in lava rock at Ahalanui Beach Park. Pele dwells in the Halema'uma'u Crater Overlook of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Devotees leave her offerings of flowers, gin, and ohelo berries. Then pay homage to Poliahu atop Mauna Kea, the world's tallest mountain (when measured base to peak). Linger til sunset to see why Hawaiians consider their homeland to be Earth's connecting point to the universe.

2. For indulgence: Lingerie shopping in Paris. Every woman should have at least one fabulous piece of lingerie tucked inside her drawers — even if there's no one around to show it to. Slipping on a chiffon babydoll and dimming the lights is, after all, the best way to turn a lonely TV dinner into a romantic dinner-for-one. To spice up your collection, fly to Paris, where they claim to have invented it. Herminie Cadolle went down in fashion history for "freeing" women by slicing the stifling corset in two in 1889, thus creating the world's first bra. Even today, her Parisian boutiques — currently run by her great-great-granddaughter — remain among the finest places to buy one. Cadolle specialties include Victorian corsets, bodices, and a broad collection of hand-sewn brassieres, but to truly indulge, make an appointment for a satiny, made-to-measure something at 255 rue Saint-Honoré (Metro: Concorde or Tuilleries). For her ready-to-wear collection, visit 4 rue Cambon.

3. For purification and beautification: The banyas of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Russian banya is a Slavic Eden: a steamy, womb-like place that will tack years onto your life. According to folklore, these baths are haunted by mischievous spirits that bewitch clothing worn inside, so strip down all the way. (Most of the baths are gender-segregated.) Rinse off in the shower and enter the steam room, where scores of women will be massaging salt into each other's pores, swapping beauty secrets, and gossiping. Grab a branch of birch leaves and slap it against your body. Roast. When the heat becomes unbearable, proceed to the pool room and jump in immediately. (Some are kept as frigid as 42 degrees; stick a toe in first and you'll lose your nerve.) Get out before hypothermia kicks in and return to the steam room. Repeat as many times as possible: your skin will glow afterward! In Moscow, visit Krasnopresnensky on Stolyarny Pereulok 7, near the Ulitsa 1905 Goda Metro. In St. Petersburg, try Mitninskaya Banya at Ulitsa Mitninskaya 17/19 near the Metro Ploshad' Vosstaniya.

4. To celebrate powerful women and their places in history: Frida Kahlo's Mexico. Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is one of history's grand divas. A tequila-slamming, dirty joke-telling smoker, she hobbled about her bohemian barrio in lavish indigenous dress and threw dinner parties for the likes of Leon Trotsky, poet Pablo Neruda, Nelson Rockefeller, and her on-again, off-again husband, muralist Diego Rivera. Half a century after her death, her work fetches more money than any other female artist's (Madonna is said to be an avid collector), and she was the first Latina ever featured on a U. S. postage stamp. Visiting her cobalt blue home in Coyoacan is like stepping inside one of her fantastical paintings. The walls are awash with color and mosaics; a Day of the Dead altar yields pastries, flowers, candles, and papier mâché skeletons; the courtyard blooms with tropical flowers and cactus. Her personal effects are displayed throughout the house, including her pre-Hispanic jewelry, sketchbook diaries, love letters, artwork, and corset-like body cast. (Stricken with polio as a child, she shattered her spine in a bus accident at age eighteen.) Frida t-shirts, computer mousepads, and coffee cups are sold in the gift shop, and you can sip a café con leche in the tranquil café. La Casa Azul is located on Londres 247 and accessible by the Coyoacan Viveros Metro Station in Mexico City.

5. To celebrate struggle and renewal: Arts and voodoo festivals in Benin. Traveling in West Africa is empowering for women — precisely because it is challenging. You must utilize every available resource to make it through the day, and when you finally find that market or village you are seeking, it is like unearthing rubies. The warmth and hospitality of its people make Benin especially welcoming. Upon arrival to any town, visit the mayor's office and ask for the local women's group. A guide will likely take you to the local crafts cooperative, where you can buy directly from the artisans. Also explore the world of voodoo, a belief that natural forces like rain and wind have spiritual forces behind them. Practitioners build shrines out of small mounds of earth and offer their gods alcohol, flowers, food, and the blood of animals sacrificed in their honor. On National Voodoo Day — January 10 — partake in dancing fueled by copious amounts of sodabe (a local palm liquor) at the vibrant festivals in Ouidah. Look out for the Mami Wata worshippers, who dress in all white. Mostly women, they are considered very powerful and are often feared.

6. For womanly affirmation: Belly dancing in San Francisco, New York, or Austin. Belly dancing dates back to pre-Biblical times, when it was performed as a fertility-cult ritual. In ancient Arab tribes, midwives assisted women in labor by dancing around them, rolling their stomachs to imitate the contraction of the uterus. It was also performed as entertainment throughout the Orient by and for women who stayed home while their husbands were out. Not only a great physical workout, modern belly dancing will get you in touch with your earthy self. Communities can be found in every corner of the United States. San Francisco is home to Fat Chance Belly Dance, a renowned tribal dance troupe. Take a class at their studio at 670 South Van Ness Avenue. In New York City, look up legendary teacher Morocco of the Casbah Dance Experience, or Sarah Johansson Locke of Alchemy Performance. Austin, Texas is the place to be on full moons, when Lucila Dance Productions hosts Haflas, gatherings of dancers and drummers who snack on grape leaves as they dance barefoot beneath the stars. Down some wine if you feel inhibited: it's the best hip lubricant around!

7. For all-around wonder: Mongolia.The word might conjure desolation, but this "last frontier" is actually steeped in ritual and tradition and surrounded by stark, natural beauty. Come to race a pony (or yak or camel) across a grassland speckled with wildflowers, to meditate in hidden Tibetan Lamaist temples, to bask in the legacy of Mandhai-Setsen, the Wise Queen who re-unified her turbulent nation by leading her troops into battle in the fifteenth century. In the countryside, hospitable families will welcome you to their ger (wood-framed tent) with a small bowl of vodka (if you're lucky) or a potent brew of fermented mare's milk called airag (if you're not). Drink every drop and hold the bowl upside down over your head to prove it. Then explore the surrounding area on horseback, which could mean Sherwood-like forests, Ghobi desert, or tundra. The best month to visit Mongolia is July — not just for the sunny weather, but for Naadam, a three-day, Olympic-style festival celebrated throughout the nation. The wrestling division features 300-pound wrestlers clad only in boots, briefs, and sleeves who clutch each other for hours (and hours) until their strength wears out and they knock each other over. Like sumo, but sexier.

8. Just for the fun of it: The Bahamian island of Eleuthera. Nearly every sea culture has tales of lovely maidens who propel through the ocean with fish-like tails. A few believe mermaids help steer ships from harm's way, but most claim they are seductresses who, like the Sirens of myth, lure sailors into the water with their songs and then sink their ships. One place where mermaids are thought to be alive and well is the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Locals say that if you rise early enough, you can sometimes catch them washing their golden locks on the rocks of Whale Point, an old swimming hole. Bahamian children believe that their parents have seen this, and they will too someday. If your own sunrise outing is in vain, become one yourself: there is little to do here but splash in the water. Eleuthera's beaches (in particular, Harbour Island) have crystalline waters filled with colorful reefs, eagle rays, octopus, and dolphins. Whales migrate through annually. Then pass the night at Elbina's in Gregory Town, where locals gather to sing along to live Southern Caribbean music. Ask the old-timers about their own mermaid encounters; you'll hear some great stories.
9. And my personal recommendation; Belize's very own Caves Branch Jungle Lodge. If you haven’t experienced Belize's Caves Branch..... you haven’t experienced ADVENTURE ... You haven’t experienced BELIZE ! Click on the link to read more....
© Traveling Light. The Art of Independent Travel, Rolf Potts

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Belizegial Health Topic - Caffeine: How Much is Too Much

Hi Friends,

It's been a hectic week on this end. One mostly fueled by sheer determination and several necessary cups of coffee *lol* Which brings to mind. Caffeine: How much is too much? Michelle, if you're visiting today, here is what has to say about this topic.

In less than an hour you start to feel caffeine's effects. You're more alert, energetic and productive. Your mood lifts and that foggy, tired feeling is gone. If you rely on daily doses of caffeine to chase away fatigue and perk up your disposition, you aren't alone. Nine out of 10 Americans consume some type of caffeine regularly, making it the most popular behavior-altering drug.

For most people, moderate doses of caffeine — 200 to 300 milligrams (mg), or about two to three cups of brewed coffee a day — aren't harmful. But some circumstances, such as caffeine sensitivity or use of certain medications, may warrant limiting or even ending your caffeine routine. Find out if you need to decaffeinate your diet and, if so, how you can do it with minimal distress.

When to cut caffeine use - Certain circumstances call for reducing the amount of caffeine you consume. Evaluate your habits. If any of these situations apply, you may need to cut back. You consume unhealthy amounts. Though moderate caffeine intake isn't likely to cause harm, too much can noticeably affect your health. Heavy daily caffeine use — more than 500 to 600 mg a day, or about four to seven cups of coffee — can cause:

Muscle tremors
Nausea, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems
Abnormal heart rhythms
You have caffeine sensitivity if you're susceptible to the caffeine's effects. Just small amounts — even one cup of coffee or tea — may prompt unwanted results, such as anxiety, restlessness and irritability. The more sensitive you are to caffeine, the less you need to consume before feeling its influence.Your sensitivity depends on many factors, including:

Body mass. People with smaller body masses feel the effects of caffeine sooner than those with larger body masses.

History of caffeine use. People who don't regularly consume caffeine tend to be more susceptible to its negative effects than are people who do.

Stress. All types of stress — for example, psychological stress or heat stress — can increase a person's sensitivity to caffeine.

Other factors can contribute to variations in caffeine sensitivity as well, including age, smoking habits, drug or hormone use, and other health conditions, such as anxiety disorders.
Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. But caffeine can interfere with this much-needed sleep. Chronically losing sleep — whether it's from work, travel, stress or too much caffeine — results in sleep deprivation. Sleep loss is cumulative, and even small nightly decreases can add up and disturb your daytime function.

Using caffeine to mask sleep deprivation creates an unwelcome cycle. For example, you drink caffeinated beverages because you have trouble staying awake during the day. But the caffeine keeps you from falling asleep at night, shortening the length of time you sleep. Caffeine can also increase the number of times you wake up during the night and can interfere with deep sleep, which makes your night less restful. With less sleep and poor-quality sleep, you're more tired the next day. To battle the fatigue and to feel more energetic, you reach for your morning jolt of Java.

The best way to break this cycle is to limit your caffeine and to add more hours of quality sleep to your day. Also, avoid caffeinated beverages eight hours before your desired bedtime. Your body doesn't store caffeine, but it does take many hours for it to eliminate the stimulant and its effects.

Certain medications and herbal supplements negatively interact with caffeine. The following are some examples - some antibiotics.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and norfloxacin (Noroxin) — types of antibacterial medications — can interfere with the breakdown of caffeine. This may increase the length of time caffeine remains in your body and amplify its unwanted effects.

Theophylline (Theo-24, Uniphyl, others). This medication — which opens up bronchial airways by relaxing the surrounding muscles (a bronchodilator) — tends to have some caffeine-like effects. Taking this drug along with caffeinated foods and beverages may increase the concentration of theophylline in your blood. This can cause ill effects, such as nausea, vomiting and heart palpitations. If you take theophylline, your doctor may advise that you avoid caffeine.

Ephedra (ma-huang). This herbal dietary supplement increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, seizures and death. Combined with caffeine, it becomes especially risky. The Food and Drug Administration has banned ephedra in the marketplace because of health concerns. This ban applies to dietary supplements but not herbal teas, which may still contain the herb. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether caffeine might affect your prescription. He or she can best direct you on whether you need to reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet.

Caffeine can be habit-forming, so any attempts to stop or lessen the amount you normally consume can be challenging. An abrupt decrease in caffeine can cause withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, irritability and nervousness. These symptoms usually resolve after several days.

To adopt new caffeine habits, try these tips:
Know how much caffeine is in the foods and beverages you consume. You may be consuming more than you think.
Gradually reduce the amount of caffeine you consume. For example, drink one less can of soda or drink a smaller cup of coffee each day. This will help your body get used to the lower levels of caffeine and thereby lessen the withdrawal effects.

Replace caffeinated coffee, tea and soda with their decaffeinated counterparts. Most decaffeinated beverages look and taste the same.
When preparing tea, brew for less time. This cuts down on its caffeine content. Or choose herbal teas, which don't contain this stimulant.

Check the caffeine content in over-the-counter medications that you take. Pain relief or headache medications, such as Excedrin or Anacin, can contain from 65 mg to 130 mg of caffeine in one dose. Switch to caffeine-free versions, if possible.

If you're like most adults, caffeine is a part of your daily routine. And most often it doesn't pose a health problem. But be mindful of those situations in which you need to curtail your caffeine consumption.

© 1998-2006 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," ""

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Seven Lucky Wedding Gifts

Today Saturday July 7th 2007, tens of thousands of superstitious couples will be tying the knot in what may go down as the most popular wedding date in history: 7-7-07. Apparently these starry-eyed couples figure that even if they are lucky in love, why pass up the chance for some extra insurance? After all, the number seven carries a lot of significance: In Las Vegas, 7-7-7 is the highest slot-machine jackpot, and triple 7's add up to Black Jack. There's seven days in a week, seven musical notes on the scale, the Seven Wonders of the World, and the Seven Deadly Sins.
On any given Saturday in July (the most popular month for weddings), there are typically 12,000 weddings taking place. But on 7-7-07, that number has more than tripled to approximately 38,000. That could possibly make today the most popular wedding day ever. It's been a windfall for wedding planners; others are bracing themselves.

Whether you'll be attending a wedding today, or just want to give the happy couple something that might bring a little extra luck, here are seven gifts which are recommended by Deborah Hopewell (Yahoo's Shopping Editor) that just might make the difference between a future in Seventh Heaven, or that other, not-so-lucky seven: the Seven-Year Itch.

For festive occasions, consider giving the happy couple a set of European-designed shot glasses with a die on two sides, both of which add up to seven, of course. And for connoisseurs of the vine, don't forget the dice wine charms.Make it Crystal Clear: Swarovski "Good Luck" magnets come in a set of four: a peridot crystal clover, a clear crystal horseshoe, a clear crystal heart and a red crystal ladybug.

A thriving Dracaena ("lucky bamboo") symbolizes good fortune in many Asian countries. A "Lucky 7 Bamboo" arrangement comes with two spiraling stalks - could they be entwined lovers? - and five straight stalks in a red-glazed container, tied together with a lucky gold band.

They say four-leaf clovers ensure wealth and good health for the lucky couple. Red Envelope has taken a real four-leaf clover, set it in clear resin and placed that in a brushed, polished nickel standing frame.

The newlyweds will be awash in good luck with a set of triple-milled soaps available in four-leaf clovers or horseshoes. You can also help them cook up memories of the special day for years to come when you give a cooking apron that proclaims "We Hit the Jackpot 777 On Our Wedding Day." Personalize it by adding the bride and groom's name.
Or you can light the way for the lucky couple with a set of 12 "Wishful Thinking" candles from Red Envelope. A dozen colored tins each hold a lightly scented ivory candle that contains a tiny treasure that reveals itself as it burns. The corresponding wishes include love, luck, wealth, health, wealth and success.

The best gifts, of course, are those that come straight from your heart. Hence, I would like to add my personal big up and best wishes to a very special couple, Philippa and Trimaine, who are tying the knot today in Los Angeles, California. May you two have the most wonderful wedding day ever and an even more splendiferous honeymoon in Hawaii. Peace and blessings always from your belizegial cuz :-)

Monday, July 02, 2007

With love from Belize

A little humour to get you off on the right foot
Four Worms and a lesson
A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon. Four worms were placed into four separate jars. The first worm was put into a container of alcohol. The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke. The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup. The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil. At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:
The first worm in alcohol - Dead.
The second worm in cigarette smoke - Dead
Third worm in chocolate syrup - Dead
Fourth worm in good clean soil - Alive.
So the Minister asked the congregation -What can you learn from this demonstration? Maxine, who was sitting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said, "As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!"
That pretty much ended the service .
Women Without Wine
I was walking down the street when I was accosted by a particularly dirty and shabby-looking homeless woman who asked me for a couple of dollars for dinner. I took out my wallet, got out ten dollars and asked, "If I give you this money, will you buy some wine with it instead of dinner?" "No, I had to stop drinking years ago", the homeless woman said.
"Will you use it to go shopping instead of buying food?" I asked. No, I don't waste time shopping," the homeless woman said. "I need to spend all my time trying to stay alive."
"Will you spend this on a beauty salon instead of food?" I asked. "Are you NUTS!" replied the homeless woman. "I haven't had my hair done in 20 years!"
"Well," I said, "I'm not going to give you the money. Instead, I'm going to take you out for dinner with my husband and me tonight." The homeless Woman was shocked. "Won't your husband be furious with you for doing that? I know I'm dirty, and I probably smell pretty disgusting."
I said, "That's okay. It's important for him to see what a woman looks like after she has given up shopping, hair appointments and wine."
The Atheist & The Shark
There is this atheist swimming in the ocean. All of a sudden he sees this shark in the water, so he starts swimming towards his boat. As he looks back he sees the shark turn and head towards him. His boat is a ways off and he starts swimming like crazy. He's scared to death, and as he turns to see the jaws ofthe great white beast open revealing its teeth in a horrific splendor, the atheist screams, "Oh God! Save me!"
In an instant time is frozen and a bright light shines down from above. The man is motionless in the water when he hears the voice of God say, "You are an atheist. Why do you call upon me when you do not believe in me?" Aghast with confusion and knowing he can't lie, the man replies, "Well, that's true I don't believe in YOU, but how about the shark? Can you make the shark believe in you?"
The Lord replies, "As you wish," and the light is retracted back into the heavens and the man could feel the water begin to move once again. As the atheist looks back he can see the jaws of the shark start to close down on him, when all of sudden the shark stops and pulls back. Shocked, the man looks at the shark as the huge beast closes its eyes, bows its head and says,"Thank you, Lord, for this food which I am about to receive..."