Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Getting lasered

I used to wear glasses. It was such a pain in ass because on hot days I would be sweaty and gross and the glasses would slide down my nose, on cold days they would fog up when I went inside a warm room, and everything was completely fuzzy without them. My sweety convinced my skeptical self to try getting Lasik done.

After chickening out once, I decided to try it a second time and actually went through with it. I was a little nervous because it was my eyes, you know? There was some pain when the machine cut the flap on my cornea. I know I was writhing around a bit because the doctor said to hold still and continue focusing on the little red light. The freakiest part was the laser zapping and the smell of burning flesh a few seconds later. That was me I was smelling. Ew.

But after all that, I was able to see perfectly without glasses the very next day. It was so cool. It's been about 6 years now. My vision isn't as great as it was back then (the clarity has reduced a bit over the years), and my night vision has definitely decreased after the surgery. But given the hassles of glasses and my abhorrance for contacts, I think it was worth it.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Jiffy, no longer a natural product

I'm always on the lookout for trans fats in the products I buy. It's seriously worse than using lard, so I avoid the stuff whenever possible. Jiffy used to be a brand of cornbread mix that I used to use. It's fairly cheap and tastes pretty good. However, for some reason they decided to change their recipe. The mix used to contain lard, but now they've decided to add "partially hydrogenated lard" to it.

I have never heard of such madness. The whole point of hydrogenating vegetable oils in the first place was to make it more like animal fat -- more pleasant mouth-feel and longer shelf life, but a fraction of the cost. Why put lard of all things through this awful process? I don't know, likely to increase the shelf life (at the cost of making it an unnatural product). All I know is that here's yet another product I have to avoid now. It's rather sad.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Learning about detoxifying your body

You may have heard of cleansing or detoxifying as a way of ridding your body of toxic buildup. This generally involves altering what you eat, using products or joining programs. For example, everyone knows (at least they should know) that you need to have adequate fiber in your diet for a healthy digestive tract, but do you know why? Bowel movements that lack enough fiber do not move nicely through your intestines. They might be too hard or too soft, resulting in toxic buildup.

There are other places toxins can build up, such as the kidneys and the blood. There are various techniques, some better than other, so it's best to read up on body detox information before deciding the best course of action for you. There can be side-effects you don't know about that could be misinterpreted as something else.

You may not even need to perform any specific form of detoxification. A simple change of diet, such as reducing your consumption of refined sugars, can help you immensely. A change of lifestyle, such as exercising more to help improve your colonic activity, might be the route you are looking for. The more information you find, the better decisions you can make when it comes to your health.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Why should you believe me?

I received a question from a reader interested in losing weight. She asked, since I've never had to battle with weight at all (thanks to my fast metabolism), why should anyone listen to what I have to say? (Don't worry, she was polite about it.)

First of all, I've never made any claims to be an expert. I am merely sharing knowledge that I have learned through the course of educating myself about various health topics that interest me. I'm fairly good at researching and finding information, that's where my strength lies.

Second, I've very rarely, if at all, posted about losing weight. I don't post weight loss tips because each human body is different. What works for one will not work for someone else, and may not be healthy for yet another person.

The bottom line is, as far as online information is concerned, always be skeptical. Don't believe the first thing you read, including my blog. Verify it by finding other sources of information that say the same thing. Websites that don't cite their sources for information are to be treated with suspicion. The worst of these are the emails that people send around containing "life-saving information". I delete those on sight. Anything that tells you to "send it to everyone you care about" is just another viral email trying to make its way around the world. Information is power, but it can also be harmful if inaccurate.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Coupons and more coupons

I buy a lot of stuff online. I don't always look for coupons when I check out though, and I really should because there are so many available! One such site that offers online coupons is at NCNatural.com. Their alphabetical list is pretty extensive. For example, there are plenty of Office Depot coupons you could use in conjunction with the special deals they often offer. 10% off any order? I could use that! $10 off a $50 purchase at PETsMART? I could use that too. Oh and Amazon.com... how I love that store. They have everything, I'm always there browsing for stuff. I was amazed at how many offers and discounts were listed here.

Anyway, buying healthy food is always more expensive than the regular stuff, so if I can save money elsewhere to compensate, then I'm a happy camper.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Exercises for drifting kneecaps

Just in case some of you were wondering what exercises I was doing to make my kneecaps drift back to where they're supposed to be, I'll share. I'm all about sharing.

The problem I had was my inner thigh muscle, the vastus medialis, was weaker than my outer thigh muscle, the vastus lateralis. This was pulling my kneecap out of alignment, so I needed to strengthen the weaker muscle to pull the kneecap back. I found this photo of a knee labled with its appropriate structures for reference.

The one I practice while standing alone in the elevator is easy, they're like half-squats. Stand with your feet at shoulder width. Point your toes out at a 45-degree angle. Now bend your knees and lower yourself about 6-12 inches, whatever feels comfortable for you. Now push yourself back up. Repeat this several times and you should feel the medialis muscle being worked.

The other exercise I do while watching TV is done sitting down. They're like leg lifts. Lift one leg up so that it is straight. Point your toes out at a 45 degree angle again. Now bend and straighten the leg with your foot at this angle. You can use weights to work them harder if you wish. Again you can feel that inner thigh muscle being worked after a while. Do the same thing with the other leg. You'll want to do the same number of reps so both legs will be even.

Exercises take time before you can start seeing the effects, but they will work. Just have patience and perseverence.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Self defense as exercise

I once took a karate class as a child, thinking it would be fun because I loooooved kung fu movies on TV. Ugh, it was boring. I did not have the patience to learn all the beginner steps and all the proper movements. But for those who do, this is excellent exercise. Martial arts has traditionally been great for your health not only because of the physical activity but also because of the propery breathing techniques they have you do. You'd be surprised how much breathing properly can affect you.

Practicing at home is how you become good at it. It helps to have martial arts equipment available for you to practice on. I think it was more fun for me to pretend to be a martial arts expert at home than to actually attend the class. I'd kick, punch and jump around, pretend to throw ninja stars and fight with swords. I'm sure I got even more exercise pretending than I ever did in class. Fun times.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Pain is a messenger

Nobody likes pain. Well, there are a few twisted individuals who do, but for most of us if we smack our shins against a table, we're not gonna enjoy it. Understandably, most of us want to live pain-free lives. Pills to kill various kinds of pain is a huge business.

There are certain situations where you shouldn't try to immediately drown the pain. Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. Awhile back I started having random moments of pain in my left knee. Some days were worse than others, but it never really went away. Someone suggested that using Icy Hot would help with the pain.

This is the wrong way to think when dealing with newly discovered pain. I shouldn't be worrying about what product I can use to make the pain go away, I should be worried about what was causing it in the first place. If you treat the source, the symptoms will go away. So I went to a doctor specializing in sports medicine because they see knee injuries all the time.

He took X-rays to confirm, but he was pretty much able to tell what was wrong just by looking. It seems my kneecaps had drifted slightly off to opposite sides because the outer thigh muscle was pulling harder than the other thigh muscle.They were no longer floating in the middle like it was supposed to. To correct this, he showed me leg exercises I could do to strengthen the weaker muscle and pull the kneecaps back into place. I did them whenever I was in an elevator by myself or at home watching TV. A few months later, the pain went away, permanently.

The moral of this story -- treat the cause, not the symptom. That pain is trying to tell you something, you should probably listen.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Supplement Reviews

It seems like they've got a supplement for everything these days. You want to lose weight, gain weight, be smarter, whatever it is, there's a claim somewhere that they can help you if you take their supplement. Who can you believe? Certainly not paid celebrities.

There's a review site that might be able to help. With so many supplements, some with esoteric names like Cissus RX or Xyience, it's hard to figure out what's right for you. I trust user reviews more than those written by anyone else because they're not in it for the money.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The effects of dieting and fasting

Curious about fasting and its effects, I did a little more online research. When I do such research, I avoid sites that are selling things. I always find testimonials to be dubious and subjective. I look for independent sites, and stories written by average people with the goal of sharing, not selling.

I found one such story here. It's a little long, but goes into great detail about the various diets this person tried and how each one made her feel. What I found particularly interesting was how some of them made her feel fantastic or joyous, but after getting off the diet the weight would all come back.

One of the alarming side-effects of fasting is malnutrition. She tells us about how her gums started to recede and her hair became brittle. It's a really interesting story that anyone interested in weight loss should read.

Mortgage stress is still damaging stress

Any of you who follow my personal blog know that I am in the process of selling my house. The stress of owning a house was never the problem, it was the stress of paying for it. As a first time home buyer, I was completely clueless about loans and financing and all that stuff. I relied heavily on letting the loan broker and realtor handle everything. I just cared about getting the house.

Well let me tell you, no matter how odious a task it may be, it pays to learn about this stuff before you get involved in it. I had no idea about all the fees and percentages and penalties... it was an ocean of numbers I didn't want to swim in. I should have at least learn to float in it.

What I should have done was learn enough about mortgages to at least know what I was agreeing to. You may like to think your broker has your best interest at heart, but that's just being naive. Mine was a family friend and I still found out later that there were some illegal fees charged to me. Don't be a sucker. Do your homework before making such a huge commitment.

PKU and dieting

Two posts ago we talked about phenylketonuria (PKU) and how those who have it cannot consume much protein. This means they need to avoid high-protein foods like meat, eggs, dairy, beans and peas. This restriction means that most of my advice about balancing your carbs goes out the window for those with PKU.

So what's the best way to diet if you have PKU and you need to drop a few pounds? Since you're limited to fruits, vegetables and grains, the trick is to make the right choices. I used to have a vegetarian friend who ate no meat, but ate lots of pre-packaged starchy frozen dinners. She was overweight because she made poor choices. The same advice goes to you as to any other dieter: stay away from fried foods and refined carbs as much as you can. Some whole grains contain more protein than others, so find out from your doctor which ones are best for your condition.

A reader pointed me to www.phifoundation.org, a really ugly website with a lot of interesting information about weight loss. Her (the reader's) main question was what I thought about fasting. Since I have not studied nutrition or medicine, I can't say with any authority that fasting is good or bad. There are some cultures that incorporate fasting as part of their traditions. Some believe that it's a good way to purge your body. What do I think?

I think, in moderation, it might have its merits. However, fasting over a long period of time will cause your body's metabolism to slow down to compensate for the lack of fuel. If your goal is to burn more calories, you don't want your body to slow down. The site mentions losing weight quick with enemas and fasting... that alarmed me a little because enemas aren't natural. You don't see animals pumping water into their backsides, why should we?

The rest of the information on the site makes a lot of valid points, but since I've done no scientific research myself, I can't say whether they're accurate or not. (The alternating font colors certainly don't help!) I'd be interested in finding out what some of you thought about the information presented there.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Getting more readers to your blog

Like any blog owner, I often think about how I can get more readers. It's an ego thing, you know? If I have more readers, people must like reading what I write! (I know I like reading what I write, but maybe that's just me being full of myself.) I like to think that, if only people knew that my site existed, maybe they would become a regular visitor.

But how? Search engine marketing is one way. As involved as I am in online activities, I've never really looked that much into search engine optimization. It does require a lot of effort to become good at it, which is why it's so much easier to just hire a professional. Apogee is a big player in this field, and actively involved in SEMPO, an organization created to educate and foster awareness of search engine marketing and its role in marketing as a whole.

If you don't put yourself out there, no one will know you're there.

What is phenylalanine and phenylketonurics?

I received a request from a reader (wow I have readers!) to post about phenylalanine and phenylketonurics. Big words that I knew very little about. Well I'm all about learning new things, so let's get started.

Phenylalanine is a naturally occuring amino acid found in complete proteins and aspartame. When you consume meat or drink a diet soda containing aspartame, your body breaks it down into its individual components. The proteins are broken down into separate amino acids and aspartame is broken down into phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol.

For a regular person, phenylalanine is just another building block for the body to use. People with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) are unable to process phenylalanine because they lack a particular enzyme. Too much phenylalanine built up in the body can lead to mental retardation, muscle aches and even seizures. You can read more about this condition here - it's written in easy to understand, non-medical terms.

The reason a lot of diet or sugar-free products contain warnings about phenylalanine is because they are artificially sweetened with aspartame. Phenylalanine isn't harmful by itself. It is only those with PKU who need to watch out for it.

I'd like to go into more detail about how those with PKU have to deal with diets differently from the rest of the population. This will be a separate post later because super-long posts scare people away.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Home improvement as exercise

Working on home improvement projects around the house are a great way to exercise and get some stuff done at the same time. I've done a few woodworking projects like little footstools, and let me tell you, by the time I'm finished I'm sweatin' and tired! This is especially true if you're using hand tools like saws and hammers. The finished product is never truly perfect since, to be honest, I don't exactly know what I'm doing. I'm just sawing wood into what I think are the right sizes and them putting it together with what I think will make the sturdiest product.

However there are some projects that, unless you know what you are doing, you don't want to tackle by yourself, no matter how much exercise you'll get from it. If you try to install new flooring without actually knowing what you are doing, you could bring down the value of your house because of the uneven job you did. You could even make your home into a dangerous place if you play around with the electrical wiring by using guesswork.

Your health is important, but your safety is even more important. For the big jobs, it's best to find local contractor services to do it right.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Quick vegetables when you just don't feel like cooking

In the evenings I don't always have the time or inclination (let's just say that sometimes I'm too lazy) to prepare fresh vegetables for dinner. I've found that an easy way to have some ready pretty quickly is to keep a big bag of frozen veggies in the freezer.

True, you can't beat fresh vegetables in terms of nutrition and flavor. Some of that is lost or degraded when you freeze things. However it's worse when you get it out of a can, and not nearly as bad as going without vegetables at all.

You don't even need to know how to stir-fry (which is really simple BTW). You just need to have a little steamer. If you don't have one, invest in one. The smaller ones don't take up much room -- it basically consists of a pot to hold water, a second, flatter pot with holes in the bottom, and a lid. The lid fits both parts, so you can use the water-holding part as a regular sauce pot.

On many occasions I've opened the freezer, grabbed the bag of frozen veggies, tossed a bunch into the steamer, and 15 minutes later it's done. You can do other things while it's steaming because you don't have to be there while it cooks. It's awesome.

I've heard some rice cookers have optional steaming pans you can put in to use it as a steamer. It's worth looking into because it saves a lot of time if you don't feel like cooking.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I don't need to clip these coupons

The other day I was shopping for a specific brand of protein/nutrition bar (I'll write more about it later). They aren't very big yet and are only available in select stores. I decided to see if I could find them online and, wow, Amazon really does sell everything.

However what I didn't think to look for was an Amazon coupon code to my my purchase even cheaper. I'll occasionally look for coupon codes for certain sites, but I usually end up on sites full of annoying popup ads and other irrelevant crap. Now that I've found this site for coupon codes it should be a lot easier. All the deals are presented up front and crap-free. I'm a lot less inclined to click [X] here compared to other coupon sites.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It's that time of the month, run!

PMS is something that most women are familiar with, and everyone likes to joke about. But when you're cramped up, bloated and snapping at people left and right, there's nothing funny about it. When your estrogen levels jump just before your menstrual cycle (guys, just nod and pretend like you understand) it's one of the causes of many of the unwanted side-effects associated with PMS.

Proper nutrition also plays a vital part in combating and eliminating PMS. One study found that women who took 1200 mg of calcium daily showed a 50% reduction in PMS symptoms after three months. B vitamins are another nutrient essential to fighting PMS. When there is a deficiency of B vitamins in the body, the liver's function is impaired and estrogen levels are elevated as a result.

I found this site that offers great information on foods you can eliminate to help alleviate PMS symptoms. I didn't know most of this stuff, so if you're a PMS sufferer, this is worth looking into.

Weddings and weirdos

I have a friend who once got enganged, sent out invitations and made reservations and everything, then cancelled the whole thing. Now she's doing it again... with the same guy! Can you believe that? She's weird. She better not be spending another fortune. Better to get cheap wedding favors than to spend a lot and regret it later. Shopping online for these things will probably yield much better prices than the old fashioned brick and mortar stores. And with places like The Knot Wedding Shop offering quick turnaround delivery, you don't have to worry about not getting it in time.

Regardless, she's going to go ahead and do whatever she wants to do. It's not like she listened to any of us the first time around. Why should the second be any different? Did I mention she was weird?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Disclosure Policy

This policy is valid from November 7, 2006

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. On occasion I accept paid insertions or other forms of compensation. Although I may get paid to post on certain topics, I will never post things I believe are untrue are believe to be harmful. I will never choose to post about offers that require me to only give positive reviews. To me that is deceitful and refuse to participate in programs with such requirements. You can count on that.

This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

When faced with a smorgasbord of cookies...

I just got back from a sort of conference/meeting where all the employees sat on uncomfortable chairs while the president of the company talked for an hour. The only thing to keep me awake were the cookies. Oh the gourmet cookies.

While the best choice might have been to abstain, we have to enjoy a few things now and then, right? It's all about choices. In front of me were 6 different kinds of cookies and brownies. The wisest choice is probably the oatmeal raisin cookies. You've got good-for-your-cholesterol oatmeal, antioxidant-rich raisins and protein-powered nuts. Yes you've got sugar and butter too, but we're trying to choose the lesser of the evils here. If you hate oatmeal cookies, then the next best choice would be whatever has nuts in them. They are a well-rounded source of nutrients in an otherwise nutrient-deficient snack food.

Bottom line is, if you can't say no, at least try to choose the most nutritious option.

Seen your doctor recently?

Do you like your doctor? Or maybe you hate your doctor and are currently searching for a new one. Whichever is the case, your opinion is worth 5 free music downloads. Vimois a site where you can compare various health-related things, such as doctors, hospitals and health insurance.

In order for the doctor comparisons to be effective, they need people to share their opinions. Whether you want to recommend a doctor or warn people about a bad experience, Vimo is the place to do it, and you can get five free MP3s out of it too!

It's apalling

I'm apalled at the number of people in my office that walk the hallways in the early morning with a bag of chips in their hands. Even worse are the ones with chips in one hand and a soda in the other. What are these people thinking? Obviously not about their health.

It doesn't take much to improve your diet. If you love chips and soda too much to give it up, fine, don't. But for the love of all that is good don't eat that crap as a meal replacement! If you're one of these guilty people, shame on you. How much harder is it to dump a pouch of instant oatmeal into a bowl and microwave it with some water? Even one of those breakfast bars would be better.

You have to think of your body as you would any machine. If you don't put the right kind of fuel into it, it's going to break down. But unlike that beat up little Ford you drive, you can't buy a new one.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I'm a lizard without humidity

Since I was little I've had severely dry skin. It's often itchy and sucks in lotion like the desert floor during the first rain of the season. It must be a genetic thing because my sister isn't this way. The dry air of Southern California doesn't help at all either, especially in winter. The cold, dry winter air also aggravates my slight asthma condition. It sucks.

When I visited Miami a a couple years ago, the heat was a bit oppressive, but the humidity felt really good. I wasn't a human lizard all the time and my asthma never kicked in. The moist air helped a lot. The only way to duplicate this at home without picking up and moving is to get a humidifier.

I don't know the first thing about humidifiers and the different kinds available. A complete guide to buying a house humidifier is a good place to start. Like air purifiers, there are many different humidifying technologies to choose from. This site does a nice job describing each, along with a description of desireable features. After figuring out which kinds are suitable for your situation, I would recommend reading a few user reviews to make sure certain models are reliable and effective.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I heard it through the grapevine

Some folks try giving out raisins instead of candy on Halloween. I applaud their efforts, though I'm afraid it's likely wasted on most kids. These little boogers angels want sugar. Little do they know, raisins actually consist of about 60% by weight of sugars -- about half fructose and half glucose.

But this does not automatically mean raisins are on the same level as candy. Raisins are actually high in antioxidants, with levels comparable to those of prunes and apricots. And just because they often stick to your teeth doesn't mean they'll rot them out like caramels will. Research indicates that the stickiness of a food is not an indicator of its effects on oral health. Raisins have been found to contain several chemical compounds that may assist in fighting oral bacteria. In a laboratory, extracts from raisins were found to slow the growth of Streptococcus mutans, the main bacteria behind tooth decay.

So parents, if you can, try to convince your little one that raisins are like candy. Only they won't make your teeth fall out. It's worth a try!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Crunch time

For those of you still making the effort to exercise at home (and I applaud those efforts!), sometimes a little extra equipment helps. I came upon this device called the Ab Lounge 2. I don't think I ever saw the first incarnation of it, but this one is making its rounds across the infomercial circuit. Since I don't watch infomercials, I can't say what I think of its demonsrations. However I can make a few observations about how it looks to me.

It looks like it would be more comfortable than doing your crunches and sit-ups on the floor, but I've sat in similar lounge chairs before and those tubes eventually dig into your legs. However since you're exercising and not lounging, this might not be an issue.

However I like that it folds up like a lounge chair for easy storage. Most exercise equipment is annoying in that it's always laying around in your way because it's too bulky or heavy to put away. The ab lounge is light and foldable, so you can stow it behind the couch when not in use. Let's just hope spend more time on it than your couch!

Monday, October 30, 2006

I joined a gym!

After a lifetime of thinking gym membership was a waste of money, I finally decided to give it a try. The whole "exercise at home" thing just never worked. When you're at home, you just want to relax. When you go to your living room and you're confronted with the TV, the treadmill and the Lazyboy, how many of us actually choose to watch TV while on the treadmill? I find it really hard to hear anything too when that thing is so noisy.

When I try exercising at home, I find I get bored really fast. There are so many more distractions there. I end up quitting after about 10 minutes. If I walk the dogs I can make it last 20 minutes. This is no way to get in shape. At the gym I found myself surrounded by people whose sole purpose was to get or stay fit. (I'm going to ignore the ones who are there to pick up chicks.) I was also surrounded by all these fascinating machines to exercise various parts of your body. Every time I've gone to the gym this week, I ended up staying at least an hour and a half! A far cry from 10-20 minutes, don't you think?

In the end, I think the environment you are in helps you to maintain focus. Many people have a hard time working from home because it's so easy not to work there. Sure it's convenient and you save gas money, but in the end most of us get more work done at the office. The same goes with the gym. I never believed it before, but after experiencing it myself, now I'm a believer. The gym, provided you find one you like, isn't so bad after all.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

When going to school just takes too much time

If you're trying to work a day job while dedicating time to eating healthy and exercising, trying to advance your education could be a challenge. There just isn't enough time in the day to balance everything. An degree online program could be the answer.

Capella University is one such organization to offer such programs. With various degress available in business, information technology, education, human services, and psychology, there's a little something for everyone's goals. About 16,000 students from around the world are currently enrolled. They're headquartered in Minneapolis, but you don't have to set foot there to enroll. Isn't the Internet wonderful?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Portal for comparing health plan benefits and prices

Anyone who has had to go to the hospital knows how important it is to have health insurance. Doctors are EXPENSIVE without it! (All those years of med school, they're looking to get their money back in spades.) If you're lucky, your employer provides health insurance for you. However if you're not one of the lucky ones, you may be at a loss as to which to choose for yourself.

That's where a site called Vimo comes in. Whether you're an individual or a small business, you can use this site to compare health plans and other health services, like hospital prices or medical procedures. It's an interesting portal if you're shopping for a doctor or seeking insurance coverage. With a tool like this, you can make more informed decisions that are right for you.

Daylight savings and jet lag

Daylight savings ends this month on October 29th. I personally wish they would just leave the time alone, but I am certainly looking forward to "falling back" an hour. I'm hating that it's dark now when I wake up in the morning. The sun is a natural alarm clock for your body. This is why one way to help with jet lag is to drag yourself out of bed in the morning and just sit outside for an hour. This helps to reset your body clock and tell your body that right now is supposed to be morning. It should be easier to get up the following morning.

I haven't tried this myself, but I've heard it works. Jet lag requires a person to travel, which I don't do much of, unfortunately. If anyone has tried this method, comment here and let me know how it works for you!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Unless you're on a balanced raw foods diet, vitamins are important

Ideally, our diets would be highly varied and consist of unprocessed foods and lots of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately for the majority of us, including myself, this just isn't the case. Time, willingness and money are all hinderances to getting the nutrition we need for optimal health.

This is why some supplements are important. If we can't get the nutrients we need from our diet, the next best thing is through vitamins and other supplements. Take omega-3 for example. Normally we would get it by eating fish and flax seeds. However the mercury levels in fish these days make it a little dangerous to eat large quantities of fish. And how many of us add flax seeds to our meals?

There are lots of specially formulated supplements, geared towards conditions like osteoporosis, menopause, pre-natal, and women's vitamins. Considering the volume and variety of supplements for women that are available, you should be aware of any possible overlap or conflict that some of these might have. For example, calcium will inhibit the absorption of iron. This doesn't mean you shouldn't take them. It just means it's best to consult with a doctor what supplements are most suitable for you.

My doctor recommends 1200mg of calcium daily. What does yours tell you?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

You are what you wear

Some people believe "you are what you wear". (If this were true I'd be quite the bum.) This includes jewelery. The bling you have dangling from your neck or hanging on your ears is a reflection of your personality and who you are. Whether you're considering gold chains, silver hoops or diamond rings, each person will prefer something a little different. Good jewelery salespeople will know this and try to gauge what kind of person you are and what you might be looking for. Good shoppers won't buy the first thing they see.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Trade in your Nutella for something better

Are you familiar with Nutella? It's a sweet chocolate and hazelnut spread that is quite tasty with bananas. You might have had them with French crepes on some occasion. Well I'm sorry to say that you need to cut your ties with Nutella. Last year Choice magazine published the top ten processed food items (out of 50 that were tested) with the highest levels of trans fats. In that top ten was Nutella.

I was bummed out when I first found out a few years ago. I had first gotten to liking the stuff when I was in Las Vegas and we were having breakfast in the Paris hotel. Banana and nutella crepes, mmmmm. After coming home I went to the store to get some, but read the back of the label first. Partially hydrogenated oils were in it. Damn. I was so bummed.

But then earlier this year I discovered a product that was extremely similar to Nutella. I found it in Big Lots of all places (you might have known this chain as Pick 'n Save). For only $1.99 I got a 14 oz jar of what was called "Mondial Cream". It's a product of Italy and tastes just like Nutella to me. It contains the following ingredients: Sugar, colza oil, low-fat cocoa powder, palm oil, hazelnuts, whey milk powder, lactose, skim milk powder, and sunflower lecithin.

I searched the web for more info on this product, but wow, I couldn't find a thing! Only one Italian online store mentions it, and no photos. How on earth did Big Lots get it? Anyway, I'm going to snap a photo myself so you know what to look out for.

Friday, October 13, 2006


According to something I read, the demand for silver has exceeded supply every year since 1990. I never thought about this before. I think of silver in terms of jewelery, but apparently some people buy it as coins or ingots for trading purposes. I just can't wrap my head around why this is important to anyone. Precious metals are harder to find than rocks, therefore they have much more value. But what good are they... they just symbolize some kind of value like paper money. I guess I'll just never understand. But it doesn't matter, because the trade of silver and other precious metals will go on.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


There are all sorts of weird rumors about Ted Murphy, founder of PayPerPost. But I know what the real truth is. How I know is not important. It's what I know you should be interested in.

It's all for scientology. See, he talks to Tom Cruise all the time, hashing out ideas on how to glorify the cause and make more money in order to reach out to their outer space friends. The whole putting ads on blogs is just the first step. Eventually there will be requests trickling in to post about scientology and aliens. Just you wait.

Sweet potato for type 2

There was this interesting article I found in Prevention magazine that was talking about a sweet potato, of all things, that could help diabetes type 2. I was surprised because potatoes are, well, starchy, right? This obviously isn't an ordinary potato. Here's the text of that article:

In the mountainous Kagawa region of Japan, home to olive trees and cuckoo birds, a white sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) eaten raw has long been a traditional treatment for anemia, hypertension, and diabetes.

Now marketed in Japan as a food additive for diabetes prevention and treatment, the tuber extract, called Caiapo, has attracted the attention of European researchers.

So far, this sweet-potato extract shows promise. In a joint Austrian and Italian study of 61 people with type 2 diabetes, those who took 4g of Caiapo daily for 3 months saw blood sugar drop 15 points -- a modest fall that could allow diabetics to reduce or even quit their blood sugar-lowering meds. Cholesterol and triglycerides also fell slightly.

It will be awhile before we're able to see it in the U.S., but it's nice to know there are natural remedies out there.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lap-Band surgery, have you heard of it?

I actually hadn't until now. It's supposed to be a surgical solution to obesity, similar to gastric bypass. The way Lap-Band Surgery is described, a prosthesis known as a "lap-band" is placed around the upper stomach to create a smaller stomach pouch that in turn limits the amount of food an individual can fit into their stomach.

Sounds a lot like stomach stapling to me. Although I think having some kind of band is preferable to staples. I mean, it just sounds better, if you think about it. It's less invasive and you aren't puncturing or physically altering your stomach. Just sort of restricting it a little.

As always, these types of surgery should be a last resort. If diet and exercise has failed you for one reason or another, then this is definitely one option to consider.

Expeller Pressed vs. Cold Pressed

Vegetable oils are likely called vegetable oil because of the thought that "vegetables are good for you". It's all about packaging the product in the most marketable way possible. More accurately, these oils should be called seed oils. Canola, sunflower, corn and safflower oils are all made from seeds. You don't see broccoli oil or spinach oil because vegetables contain barely any oil content at all. But "vegetable oil" sounds more healthy and appealing than "seed oil", doesn't it?

The method by which these oils are extracted from the seeds determines how much nutrition (or harmful elements) is in the oil. As discussed in an earlier post, chemical extraction is the most common and the most harmful way. You want to look for "cold pressed" or "expeller pressed".

There actually is a difference between cold- and expeller-pressed oils. According to this article I found by Spectrum Organics, "All cold pressed oils are expeller pressed. But all expeller pressed oils are not necessarily cold pressed. It all has to do with temperature." You should read the article yourself for more details.

The interesting thing is that the term "cold pressed", while strictly regulated in Europe, is very loosely used in the U.S., often erroneously and in a misleading manner. It's hard to go by what the label tells us sometimes. The phrase that we want to look for then is "unrefined". Refining is the process where they treat the oil in all sorts of horrendous ways (mentioned in the previous post about oils), so a bottle marked "unrefined" would be the way to go.

Manufacturers are always trying to trick us for a profit by finding labeling loopholes. It's up to us to be smart and know what to look for.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Put your creative blogging skills to the test

Are you a creative blogger AND know real estate? You'd have an edge over me then, because myhomething is looking for people with excellent writing skills. I think I write reasonably well, but real estate just isn't my thing. It's hard to be creative an interesting when you're writing about something that doesn't interest you. But if you think you'd do a decent job writing about this site's lead generation program, then maybe you should check it out.

Why you want cold- or expeller-pressed oils

You might have seen in some grocery stores that some cooking oils say "cold pressed", others say "expeller pressed", but most say nothing at all. The vast majority of cooking oils sold commercially, like Wesson, Mazola and practically all store brands, are extracted in a way that makes you think twice about buying them.

According to MissVickie.com,

The oil is separated from its food source with hexane or other petroleum solvents and then boiled to drive off the toxic solvents. The oil is next refined, bleached, and deodorized, which involves heating it to over 400°F. The oil extracted this way still contains some undesirable solvent residues, while the amounts of many key nutrients (especially vitamin E) are significantly reduced. Antioxidants or preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are then frequently added. The resulting product lacks flavor, aroma, pigments, and nutrients.

Typically oils that looks very light and clear in color have been processed in this way, called chemical or solvent extraction. The process strips out anything good in the oils and replaces it with chemicals. It's no wonder cancer is so widespread with "unknown" causes.

It's really hard to avoid these types of oils because they are so cheap and they are also used in practically all pre-packaged foods that contain oil. I've only seen snack foods from health food companies that specify they use expeller-pressed oils. I don't remember which they are now, but next time I see them, I'll post about it.

I'll go more in depth about cold-pressed and expeller-pressed oils in the future, but for now I'll summarize by saying these are more natural methods for extracting oils from the seeds. You retain the nutrients without introducing any foreign chemicals. Doesn't that sound so much better for you?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Evil? I don't think so.

Once in a while you'll see posts in here that are not health-related at all. Am I just going bonkers? Maybe so, but it's just a little effort on my part to squeeze a little extra change where I can in order to make ends meet. There are companies who will pay for bloggers to post about certain things, so on occasion I will participate. Some people despise this practice and think it's devious and evil.

Evil? That seems a little extreme to me. Annoying? Possibly. But if people are reading my stuff, it's because they find me interesting at some level. So does it really matter what I write about? I choose what I want to write about, and whatever I choose, I always try to make it an interesting read. So what if it happens to be about gift baskets or online degrees? I still put myself into my writing, so there's always some value in it. It's not like I'm ever promoting harmful things like cigarettes or pedophilia, that would be evil. But to talk about random products as blog advertising to get a little bit of pocket change out of it, that's not evil at all. That's just a small help to my frazzled bank account, and it harms no one.

A second look at Snapea Crisps

My initial reaction to these were, "Wow these are yummy, and they're vegetables!" Yes they are, but they're processed. "But they're baked!" Yes they are, but they're likely processed first.

I was sharing these with my sweety and remarking how odd and un-vegetable-like the consistency of these things were. She said they likely ground up the green peas and then shaped them. For some reason I never thought of that. It makes perfect sense. You grind up the vegetable, mix it with rice and oil, then mold them to look like green beans. That would explain why they're all the same size. Duh, I didn't notice that either.

The oil is likely mixed into the product, not brushed on top. This makes for a lighter, crispier product. They use corn oil, which is definitely better than trans fats, but since it isn't expeller pressed, it's been processed too. Vegetable oils that are not expeller pressed (also known as cold pressed) are treated with high heat. The molecules of vegetable oils are not as stable as animal fats, and therefore do not stand up to heat so well. The molecules get altered. (I'll write up a separate post on this later.)

Bottom line is, treat Snapea Crisps as another form of junk food. It's still better than chips and other fried foods, but it's best to eat these in moderation.

Give me a little credit

So there's this company that does blog advertising by paying bloggers to post about stuff. Apparently this is some big controversial thing, but not so controversial that they couldn't manage to get $3 million in venture capital. I guess somebody thought it was a good idea.

The main thing people are complaining about is that bloggers are not required to disclose that their post is a paid advertisement. I don' t think they give readers enough credit. I mean, can't you tell the different between someone writing about a product they use and someone writing some fluff? I would think the difference is pretty clear, wouldn't you?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Snapea Crisps - What yum!

I frequent Trader Joe's quite a lot and love the variety of foods they have that are reasonably priced while being, for the most part, healthier than your average snack aisle. I love trying new things, so when I see something different that sounds good, I'll usually buy a bag to try it.

Last week I bought a bag of "Snapea Crisps". It was an interesting concept I'd never heard of before. They're supposed to be snap peas that have been salted and baked. Hey I'm all for alternative ways to get veggies into my diet. I know I don't eat enough as it is.

I finally opened the bag today. Wow these things are GOOD! It was completely unexpected. I was thinking it would be stiffly crunchy like some baked vegetable chips. But the consistency was unlike any vegetable I have ever seen. It was more like a Funyun than a pea pod. I tell you, it was bizarre. I only see this type of thing when things are deep fried, yet on the bag they claim that it's baked. Baked? Well that's good, but there was still a lot of oil on it. I peeked inside the bag and the sides were coated with oil. My fingers were oily after eating a few pieces. My guess is they soaked the pods in oil for a long time before actually baking them.

Still, these are quite yummy, and a much better alternative to conventional potato, corn and tortilla chips. They have 5g of protein per serving and only 14g of carbs. It's a great balanced snack you can eat without worrying about your blood sugar spiking, and the ingredients are minimal with no chemicals. Bear in mind however that the fat content is something to consider. It's 8g of fat and 150 calories per serving.

Ingredients: Green peas, Corn oil, Rice, Salt, Calcium carbonate, Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

Hmm... rice is in it, my guess is that's what helps to give the product its light and airy texture. The crispness and the flavor are quite addictive. I think I'll continue buying these.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Seattle is one of those places I've always wanted to visit. It's rainy, touristy and close to a lot of state park greenery. I want to see it at least once. I don't know if I'd want to live there though. I hear their traffic problems might be worse than LA. I could be wrong though. We've entertained the thought of moving there once or twice.

Considering all the problems I've had with house ownership, I wonder how much better it would be with a condo? It would be cheaper, for one. They're more plentiful as well. There's even a site dedicated to selling Seattle condos. It allows realtors, owners and developers to post their listings. According to them, buyers can "bypass the middlemen". Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't realtors the middlemen?

They also have some program called "Building Specialists" where real estate agents specialize in luxury condos. Right, like I'll be needing that service anytime soon. Right now my idea of luxury is faux-fur rug on the floor.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Choose your candy wisely

As we get closer to flipping the calendar to October, we start seeing a whole lot of orange popping up around stores. Candy is everywhere. They entice you with sales and huge bins full of sweet, sugary goodness. I know I eat a lot more candy around this time of year, it's hard not to. But that doesn't stop me from checking the ingredient labels first.

A coworker brought some candy to the office today and everyone gleefully dove into them like vultures. I waited until after the rush of bodies, then wandered over to read the labels before grabbing my share. As I suspected, some of them were evil. Whoppers has partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in it. Crap, trans fats. I used to loooove Whoppers. But here on the package it was listed as the second ingredient, right after sugar. Dammit. I can love Whoppers no more.

Enjoy the candy folks, the season calls for it. But choose wisely.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thinking about advanced degrees

When I graduated from college, I was so happy. Not because of any sense of accomplishment -- there was never any doubt in my mind that I would finish -- but more from relief. It was more of a "thank god that's over with" kind of feeling. I was just so sick of school. I'd been studying since I was 5!

At my last job, as things were starting to go stale and I was starting to sniff around for another job, I started thinking about getting a more advanced degree. I didn't really want to, but I wondered if it would make me more valuable. Or maybe there was a different career path I could take. It was a period of questioning, but I knew I didn't want to go back to school. Just having to go to the campus all the time would be a pain in the ass. This got me thinking about "distance learning". Maybe I could get an MBA online. There are some places that specialize in that, like Capella University, which offers 76 graduate and undergraduate specializations. Maybe if I got a master's degree in something I could get a better job, and I wouldn't have to go anywhere near a campus!

Lucky for me, after 6 months of interviewing, I finally landed my current job. I really wasn't looking forward to going back to studying. It was bad enough when I only worked part time! I can't imagine having to give up all my free time. No way. I treasure it too much.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Chocolate was meant to be enjoyed

Chocolate makes the world go 'round, wouldn't you say? Well at least it feels that way sometimes. You might have heard about some studies that claim chocolate has health benefits. Well it's true. Cocoa contains certain compounds, such as flavanoids, that help reduce blood clots and improve your cardiovascular health. Chocolate has also been demonstrated to act as an anti-depressant by stimulating endorphin production and providing seratonin.

But wait, before you run off to Costco to buy a barrel of Hershey's, read on. The health benefits you receive depend greatly upon the kind of chocolate you buy. The antioxidants and other helpful compounds are found in cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate studies. Most of the cheap chocolate you find in stores contain very little actual cocoa. For example, look at the ingredient list for a Hershey bar. Sugar is first, followed by cocoa butter and other stuff. Make no mistake, cocoa butter is fat. It's what gives chocolate that smooth creamy texture.

The ingredient you want to see listed higher in the list is either "chocolate liquor" or "cocoa mass" (the imported chocolates tend to use the phrase "cocoa mass"). This is where the good stuff is. Dark chocolate has higher cocoa content than milk chocolate. Milk chocolate contains more sugar than its dark counterpart. This is why dark chocolate is more bitter. Healthy stuff comes in bitter packages I guess.

My recommendation is to buy dark chocolate with nuts in it. That way you'll be getting more good stuff, plus you'll get some protein to help balance out the sugar you'll be consuming with the chocolate. And put the guilt away. Chocolate was meant to be enjoyed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The latest Google development

I love Google, but not because I'm a bandwagon joiner. On the contrary, I actually resisted using it when I first heard of it. I was comfortable with what I was using and didn't jump onto the Google wagon when a fellow sysadmin at the time introduced it to me.

Silly me. When I finally gave it a try, I was amazed at how much more relavant the search results were. After a few uses, I was hooked. Imagine that, a search engine that actually gives you the results you are looking for! Not only that, they are constantly working to improve themselves. They don't follow trends, they set them.

Take their latest development. It's still in beta, but they now have something called "Accessible Search". At first I was like "yeah whatever, I can see just fine." I was imagining the search results being in huge letters. Not so. It turns out the search results are different here. Sites with cleaner code get ranked higher. No more sloppy websites. A lot of garbage will get cleaned out of the results. I can well imagine a lot of sites scrambling for search engine optimization in order to fix their rankings. The field of search engines is ever changing and morphing into different creatures. I just hope it's for the better.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Weddings are annoying

Weddings annoy me. I hate 'em. I don't care who's wedding it is, they are all annoying. If it's anything more than a civil ceremony in front of a judge, it's too much. Any event that has you blow thousands of dollars on one day is a waste. Yes it's a happy occasion, but with so much going on, there's just so much that can go wrong. Kids going nuts, bad weather, flowers wilting, caterers charging you different from the agreed-upon amount, guests getting lost, the list goes on and on. It's ridiculous. How can you be happy on your happy occasion when you're too busy stressing out?

Then there's all the crap with the gifts. Guests have to give the bride and groom gifts, then there's the bridesmaid gifts, and probably several others I don't even know about. Obligatory gifts suck. Gifts should be from the heart, not because you have to. But in the end, if the food is good and the ceremony short, I'm usually able to sit through the whole thing.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Saying No to Donuts

This morning a coworker brought in piles of fresh, warm donuts of all kinds. OMG the smell of bakery freshness wafting from these boxes was almost intoxicating. I used to love donuts. I peered in the boxes and inadvertantly inhaled more of the heady scent. Oh yes, I remember the taste and the mouth-feel of fresh, warm donuts well. I was tempted. I really was.

This was a true test of my willpower. One thought was enough to keep my hands off these evil bakery treats: Donuts are nothing but refined white flour, soaked in trans-fats and covered in sugar. There is absolutely nothing beneficial to your body in there. Not only is it empty calories, it will spike your blood sugar like crazy (unless you scarf some proteins to balance it) and the trans-fats are worse than lard. I might as well snack on rat poison. My desire to live a long and healthy life is much too strong to be willing to subject my body to that kind of internal abuse. So I said no to donuts. I have been successfully donut-free for two years now.

Eating right is nothing but a string of little battles. Each time you come upon a choice, you know in your heart what the right choice is. You have the strength to make the right choice. Winning each of these little battles is how you start winning the war.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Battling gluttony with willpower

I watched an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and they were helping out this couple who gained 40 pounds since their wedding... which wasn't too long ago from what I understand. The husband said he could easily eat an entire tub of ice cream in a day. Not a pint, a tub. Okay that's just sick. And the wife said she eats her cereal with half and half. WTF? Isn't whole milk rich enough, she has to eat it with half and half?? And they're baffled why they've gained so much weight in such a short period of time? What's wrong with them??

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I adore ice cream, perhaps more than others (but obviously not more than that guy). However I know of this thing called moderation. Some people don't. It surprises me sometimes how little common sense some people have when it comes to food choices. They make weird little rationalizations in their minds to justify these unwise choices. "I walked around the block today, so I can eat a giant bowl of ice cream as a reward."

The thing is, they most likely know that it's an unwise choice, but they do it anyway and figure they'll make up for it later. Operating on such a mindset usually means that "later" never comes. Willpower isn't just the strength to say no to these unwise choices. It's the strength to make the day to day commitment to health. It's knowledge that every day's choices has consequences. It's believing the fact that today's choices affect your health later. If you don't make the right choices now, your health won't improve later.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I'm just too cheap

Because I'm a big ol' cheapskate, I mostly likely won't be spending $13 on a stainless steel water bottle. Instead I went to Trader Joe's and wandered through their beverage aisle until I found one whose container was made of glass, had a recloseable top, and was narrow enough to fit in my cupholder. I think that's the biggest trick to finding a glass bottle that will work for you. Most of them are too wide. But if you're just going to use it around the house, then any old bottle will do. The Snapple ones are good.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Plastic water bottles - yet another source of carcinogens (sigh)

Over the weekend, a friend was telling me how regular water bottles can leach chemicals into your water, especially when in a hot environment like your car. Being the stingy tightwad I am, all the bottles I use are of the cheaply available kind that I get for free whenever water is given away at events, like Aquafina or Costco branded water. Naturally I was alarmed to hear this news. He recommended polycarbonate bottles instead, which is a stiffer plastic than that of standard water bottles.

Being the skeptic I often am, I rarely take someone's word for fact until I research it myself, so I did some reading. Apparently your standard plastic water bottle does indeed leach stuff called PBA (which is short for something, but I don't remember what. You probably don't care anyway.) which is a carcinogen and linked to breast cancer, among other things. Yikes!

I then found out that polycarbonate bottles aren't immune to this either, but they are at least resistant to it. They leach these chemicals into your water when they're new, then the levels decrease. Cleaning it with strong detergents releases even more of these chemicals from the plastic. So I guess polycarbonate bottles aren't the answer either.

The sites I read recommended either glass or stainless steel bottles instead, as these materials won't leak anything into your water. One that was mentioned was called Klean Kanteen. I hate it when they decide to replace C's with K's just to be cute, but that's beside the point. I'm going to have to shell out about $13 to get one, but I think that's much better considering the alternative. Hmm, $13 or cancer, gee I wonder which is worse?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Avoid the rush

One of the most important things you can do to help control your weight is to keep your blood sugar from spiking. In other words, avoid the sugar rush. A sudden increase in blood sugar means an increase in insulin production. Pretty soon you have an insulin spike. From what I've read, insulin is one of the triggers for fat production. See now why you want to avoid that spike?

Eating things like white bread or candy result in sugar spikes. But this doesn't mean you have to cut them from your diet (though that would be the recommended path, we all know how unrealistic it is to go cold turkey like that). There are two things you can consume with your sugar-laden food to help reduce the resulting spike -- protein and fiber.

Protein helps to balance out your sugar levels, sort of like diluting the sugar's level of concentration. Peanutbutter, milk, nuts, cheese, beef jerky... these are great sources of protein that you can eat immediately before or after your sugary item. I keep nuts with me at work all the time. Sometimes we have cake in the office for birthdays and such, so just before (or just after) having a slice, I'll eat several almonds or peanuts. This will help level out the sugar that will no doubt be coursing through my veins.

Fiber also helps to "dilute" the sugar levels by slowing down digestion. White breads break down much more quickly than whole wheat. So if you have a choice, get the whole grains over the refined carbs.

It's a matter of wise food choices. Avoid that donut if you can, but if you really need to have one, try to balance it with some protein. Have a glass of milk with it. By avoiding the sugar rush, you'll also be avoiding the inevitable sugar crash later.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Water's Role in Cultural Stress

The final part of our "Cultural Stress" series relates to water and its role in stress's wear and tear on your body. After reading this, you'll finally understand why you often get sick or feel run down when you're stressed out.

Working with over 1,200 patients, Dr. Murad has discovered that water is the key to many of the health concerns that stem from "Cultural Stress". Calling this discovery the "Water Principle®", Dr. Murad notes that when "Cultural Stress" hits, cell walls are damaged, causing the water that keeps them functioning to escape. This water loss has a myriad effect. It causes cells and connective tissue to break down, which prevents the heart, lungs, brain and other organs from functioning at optimal levels. To encourage more water into the cells, and strengthen the cell walls to keep the water inside, there are three main components that need to be addressed:

  • Protect the barrier function of skin topically by using plant based lipids to protect the skin's barrier.
  • Put the right nutrients in the body in the form of food and supplements including; Lecithin, which is found in soy, eggs, and spinach and is a major component of cell membranes.
  • Emotional self-care with physical activity, personal touch and in person contact to reduce stress & isolation.

Dr. Murad goes on to say that "Cultural Stress" is a part of living, but doesn't have to overtake life. Dr. Murad challenges patients to take responsibility for the amount of stress in their lives and find ways to reduce it with the "Water Principle" in mind.

This article was borrowed from a press release, so it wouldn't be right for me leave out the credits for the man behind the article...

Howard Murad, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist, pharmacist, researcher and Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at UCLA. Dr. Murad oversees the Murad Inclusive Health® Center, the Murad Medical Spa, Murad Medical Group, and the Murad Research Laboratory, all based in Southern California. He is an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology, The American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, The American Medical Association, The Pacific Dermatology Society and The Noah Worcester Society.

Dr. Murad was instrumental in changing the fields of skincare and dermatology. He currently holds 17 patents with several more pending. As a successful author, Dr. Murad has written two books and published nearly one hundred articles on topical, internal and emotional health, and their relationship to the skin. At the core of his research his Water Principle® science that identifies cellular water loss as the final common pathway to all aging and disease.

For more information please call 1-800-33MURAD or visit www.murad.com

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Cultural Stress - Part 2

To continue the article I was talking about in the last post, various things contribute to the manifestation of stress...

Dr. Murad says "Cultural Stress" presents itself in three facets:

  • Externally -- With extreme skin dehydration, that results in inflammation, hyper pigmentation, dullness and adult acne.
  • Internally -- Americans eat quickly and often times badly, with 46% of food expenditures on unhealthy fast foods. Poor diet and lack of sleep results in a decrease in efficient brain function and a rapid decline in creativity. Deficiency in foods rich with Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA-3) leads to various ailments including stress; lack of Omega 3's in food may aid in depression. "The saying you are what you eat is true and extends to your thoughts -- which are directly connected to what you eat," says Dr. Murad.
  • Emotionally -- Blackberrys, cell phones and ipods are all communication tools to stay more connected. However Dr. Murad's notes patients come in, complaining of feeling alone and isolated, while hooked up to them. "Keeping up with the fast pace of life means people aren't talking, aren't touching, and aren't communicating with the all important personal touch. This has a direct effect on our emotional health".

And studies echo Dr. Murad's findings. A recent Los Angeles Times article reports Americans have fewer close friends than they did almost two decades ago. "Longer work hours, lengthier commutes and the substitution of Internet connections for live ones ... contributed to the breakdown of social networks."

"Cultural Stress", says Dr. Murad starts young. "It's a vicious and escalating cycle. New parents are anxious about getting their child into the best preschool, placing said unborn child on a waiting list. Once in school, pressure increases, with scheduled play dates and extra-curricular activities. This cycle, to constantly keep up and do better, inducts children early into a culture of stress. Coupled with school, work and increasing affluence, children grow into adults facing the far-reaching effects of 'Cultural Stress'. Trying to keep up with more activities requires more money, resulting in longer hours spent at work." According to a U.S. government report, Americans now put in more hours on the job, than workers in any other nation.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cultural Stress - Part 1

Stress is something that wears on your health, slowly but surely. You may not feel its immediate effects, but long-term it can really damage your well-being.

I found this great article by a well known dermatologist. It's about something he calls "cultural stress". I'll break it up into pieces since long posts scare off readers.
There is a new form of stress permeating daily life, affecting the entire body, and creating serious health problems inside and out. Coined by Howard Murad, M.D., dermatologist, researcher, and Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at UCLA, "Cultural Stress(TM)" is distinguishable in that it is all pervasive and cumulative. Mentally and emotionally disruptive, "Cultural Stress" plays havoc on physical well-being. According to Dr. Murad, it is a societal crisis; some researchers believe responsible for 90% of health problems experienced, including heart disease, cancer and lung ailments.

We don't pay enough attention to the amount of damage each daily instance of stress has on the body. Each stressor alone is relatively insignificant, but when these individual stressors become frequent patterns, our health deteriorates. I call this 'Cultural Stress'," explains Dr. Murad. Whether work deadlines, supermarket lines, traffic, computer isolation or financial concerns, he notes they all contribute to the stability of an individual's well-being.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Buddy on Demand

I've been reading about this idea. I'm not sure if it's in production or not, but it's kinda funny. By flipping a switch a driver can have an instant passenger. Women can make it appear they have a male companion in the car to deter attackers. The way I see it, more people will likely abuse it for carpool lane use. I wonder if the insurance company that thought of this thought of that?

It's an outfit called Sheila's Wheels and apparently they provide quotes for all 50 states. I've personally never heard of them, but I guess you can get an auto insurance quote either on their website or through their call center.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Join the modern world already

When I'm standing in a grocery store line, I am forever annoyed at the people who are still fumbling with their checkbooks. In this electronic day and age, why are these people still using pen and paper? Have these people not heard of credit cards? Even if they don't have a credit card, debit cards are just as handy these days and work just as well as credit cards.

I personally hate to carry around more than $20 in cash. I usually have less. I can use cards practically anywhere, and it's so much more convenient than counting out the change. Besides, when used responsibly, credit cards actually help your credit history. They help when you're in a jam and don't have enough cash to get that car repair done. They're easy to cancel when they get stolen, unlike cash. Some places you can't even get service if you don't have a card! Why would you not have one?

So people, please quit annoying me by getting ahead of me in the grocery line and dragging out that damn checkbook. Join the modern world and use a card already.

Monday, July 10, 2006


I was reading about legends behind the Hope diamond (a huge, rare, blue diamond). Apparently it was stolen from the statue of a Hindu goddess and it's been bad luck for all who have tried to benefit from it. The original thief was supposedly torn to pieces by wild dogs right after selling it. Eww. Creepy, if it's true.

I don't understand the whole hype about diamonds. Why are they worth so much? Because they're hard to find? Good restaurants are hard to find but I don't see people making such a big deal about it.

But I suppose if you need to get one, for whatever reason, you shouldn't pay full retail price. I'd pick a diamond jewelry store with discounted prices. And whatever you do, don't try to buy the Hope diamond from the museum it was donated to. I don't think you want that curse.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Common trans-fatty foods

If you've read my post about trans fats, you know that I do my best to avoid foods that contain them. When you're better off putting lard in your system than this stuff, shouldn't you do your best to avoid them too?

Some of you already read ingredient labels. That's awesome. That will be your best defense. But some of you maybe are too lazy to do it, or get intimidated searching through all that tiny print. I'd like to make a quick list of common foods that you may or may not be aware are on "the bad list" by containing partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Margarine - You already know this one, right? I hope so! This is the worst item on the list.
  • Cool Whip - About as bad as margarine. You're much better off with real whipped cream.
  • Peanutbutter - Some brands don't have trans fats, such as Laura Scudder and the brands sold in Trader Joe's. But the common ones like Skippy and Jiff are best avoided.
  • Non-dairy Coffee Creamer (like Mocha Mix) - If it's trying to be fake dairy, it's likely made of trans fats. This includes the powder stuff.
  • Nearly all common cookies and crackers in the snack aisle - Trans fats increase shelf life, therefore they're used in things that need to sit awhile, like pre-packaged foods. Even stuff marked as "healthy" may contain them.
  • Cereal - I was hit hard by this one. I love cereal. But the vast majority of cereals in that aisle are tainted with trans fats. Look for cereals made by smaller brands instead of General Mills and Kellogg.
  • Cake Mixes - Most boxed cake and muffin mixes contain trans fats for longer shelf life.
  • Commercially deep fried foods, especially fast food - Trans fats take high heat very well (they were created by high heat to begin with) so most commercial places that do a lot of deep frying use large vats of partially hydrogenated oils to do the frying. I try to avoid fast food altogether.
  • Croissants from cheap sources - Croissants are flaky and yummy, supposedly with buttery goodness. However butter is 3-4 times as expensive as margarine, so places that mass produce croissants (like Costco or any store brand) probably use margarine.

You wouldn't put dirty fuel into your car, would you? That's why you need to be choosy about what you eat. Avoiding the foods on this list is a step in the right direction. But if you can help it at all, read those ingredient labels!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

TMI about BMI

Maggie asked a good question about body mass index, also known as BMI. What is it and how is it measured? It's basically a measure of a person's body fat by calculating one's weight relative to their height. You can calculate this yourself by taking your weight in kg and dividing it by your height in meters, squared.

But if you're a mathaphobe like me and don't want to deal with the metric system or equations of any kind, it will be so much easier to just use an online BMI calculator like the one found here. The resulting number you get is supposed to tell you if you have a healthy amount of fat on your body.

Under 18.5 = Underweight
18.5 - 25 = Healthy Weight
25 - 30 = Overweight
30 - 40 = Obese
Over 40 = Severely obese

This measurement can be a little flawed, however. It can't determine whether your weight is from fat or muscle. Muscles mass is naturally heavier than fat, therefore your BMI will be inaccurate if you work out a lot. The BMI calculations were designed more for measuring sedentary folks like me and most bloggers.

My personal opinion (and I have no training whatsoever, so please remember this is just my opinion) is that these types of generic measuring systems are too broad for people to take much stock into their results. They don't take into consideration any special circumstances. My bones are very dense, which I'm sure translates into more weight for me. Chances are you already know if you're overweight or not. You don't need a forumula to tell you.

For more detailed information about Body Mass Index, check out this page.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Resisting the call of junk food

One of the most difficult things about eating healthy is resisting the junk food. They're everywhere and so easy to get a hold of. How do we say no? Here are a few things that have worked for me...

Find alternatives to junk
We often snack out of boredom. Our mouths just want something to do, so give it something to do. I find that keeping a bag of munchable veggies is handy for this. Baby carrots and sugar snap peas are great for this. They're crunchy, slightly sweet and can satisfy your mouth's boredom. Any of you who know me know that I looooove me some ice cream. I've found that sometimes I can stave off that craving by eating yogurt instead. It's also sweet and creamy, and after finishing the cup I find I don't need the ice cream anymore.

Drink some water
A lot of times when we crave snacks, we're actually thirsty. For some reason our bodies aren't that great at informing us of thirst. Most people go through their day to day in a mild state of dehydration. I've read different articles on how much water you're supposed to drink a day. My take on it is it varies from person to person -- not just what size you are, but how active you are as well. Here's a good article about how much water will work best for you. Next time you in a snacking mood, have a nice, long drink of water instead.

Think about all the crap
I know what nasty things trans fats can do to you, so I avoid foods that contain them whenever I can. The vast majority of junk foods have it. When I think about that crap hanging around in my body, it turns me off and I no longer want what I was craving.

Resisting temptations is a mind game you play with yourself. It's the angel and the demon sitting on your shoulders. Which one are you going to listen to?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Giving in to temptation

Over the weekend my sweetheart had a craving for some Kentucky Fried Chicken. She's actually been wanting it for about a month and I've been a big bitch by talking her out of it every time. That stuff is so not good for you. The chicken itself might be fine, but what everyone needs to remember is that fast food restaurants use trans fats for frying purposes. It sustains high heat and repeated uses very well, plus it's much cheaper than normal oils. (Why do you think margarine is a fraction of the cost of butter?) But it is evil and not really food at all.

Anyway, her pouting always gets to me, I have little willpower against it, so finally I said yes. We went and picked up a bucket-o-chicken. We had ourselves a nice little dinner. However an interesting thing happened. After we sat back, our appetites sated, she turns to me and says, "You know, it wasn't as good as I remembered it."

It had been many many months, maybe even a year or more, since we've had KFC or any kind of fast food fried chicken. Maybe we lost the taste for it, which is a really good thing. Some studies have shown fast food to be addictive. Maybe our memories became amplified over time. Whatever happened, it's highly unlikely we'll ever buy KFC again. This seems to be one case of giving in to temptation that actually worked in our favor.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Monitors again: LCD, CRT, WTH?

One thing about monitors that I only learned recently is the difference in eye strain between LCD and CRT monitors. (LCDs are the cool flat-panel monitors while CRTs are the traditional heavy monitors with the gigantic ass.)

All my life I've used CRTs because they are cheaper. I'd used LCD monitors, and they were neat, but I never used them enough to notice any difference in terms of how my eyes were reacting to them. On some days when I took fewer breaks from computing, I would develop headaches. Closing my eyes would make me immediately feel better, but I had to keep working.

One day they hired a new web developer at the office. We got to talking about monitors and he was saying that he only uses LCDs, and since he started working here he's been going home with headaches because they only have CRTs here. I wasn't sure if he was exaggerating or not, but it might explain my own headaches.

Soon after that we were sent to a training facility to learn some new software they were going to have us use. That whole week we worked on LCD monitors. We stared at those screens all day that whole week and I never once developed a headache. This confirmed for me that what my coworker was telling me was true.

I learned that the biggest difference between the two types of monitors (besides the obvious size difference) is that CRTs flicker while LCDs don't. You can set the refresh rate on CRT monitors to improve things, but even if the flickering is imperceptible to you consciously, your eye still perceives it. LCDs don't have this problem, which allows you to stare at it for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued.

This doesn't mean you don't need to take breaks. You really should, every half an hour if you can. But LCD monitors will really help reduce any eye strain you might be experiencing. They cost more, but I think they're worth it if you spend lots of time in front of it. And who couldn't use the extra desk space?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Monitor the height of your monitor

The positioning of your mouse and keyboard aren't the only things important in combatting repetitive stress injuries. Your monitor plays a role too. I used to work at the front desk of a hotel and the computer monitors there were embedded into the front desks's counter. It was horrible. I had to bend my head to look down at it all day, straining my neck muscles in the process. And because I spent so much time on the computer at home, the problem only worsened. My neck and shoulders were constantly tense.

Ideally, when you are in a comfortable sitting position, your eyes need to be level with the upper third of your monitor. You can accomplish this by either adjusting the height of your chair or adjusting the height of the monitor. Office supply stores carry various fancy monitor stands, but plenty of low-budget solutions will work too. For years I had the city phone book and a full Staples catalog stacked under my monitor. There are also surge protectors designed to double as monitor stands.

Neck strain will lead to headaches due to the constant tenseness. Taking a few easy steps to put your monitor at the correct height is an easy way to avoid this. Sometimes a simple change is all you need.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Need answers?

I try to offer good information here, most of it stuff I've just learned myself. But what if you have questions that I don't have answers to? First of all, I'll try to answer them if I can. I love learning new knowledge. I mean, how else would I have spit out three posts about beans after someone idly asked me how to use them?

But there will be cases where the question just isn't appropriate for this space. Where do you go then? Well I'll tell you. You visit my renter. Let me tell ya, if Useless Advice from Useless Men can't answer it for you, no one can!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Exercise with a twist

One of my coworkers was sharing with me a bit of advice that a personal trainer friend of his was saying. It seems to make sense, so I'm going to share with you all. He was saying that the folks who have nicely defined abs and obliques spend such huge quantities of time exercising, that it really isn't practical for the rest of the human race. Each muscle group needs to be worked individually, so you'd have to perform many different exercises for sustained periods of time. There's just not enough time in a day for most of us to keep up.

According to this guy, the solution to keeping your midsection fit in the least amount of time is to work a twist into your running or walking. When we run or walk, we usually keep our bodies fairly straight as we propel ourselves forward. Try twisting your upper body with each step you take.

I gave it a try and found it wasn't difficult to incorporate a little twist into my walk. The hardest part was remembering to do it. I would often get to thinking and revert to my normal walk. After walking my usual distance, I found myself breathing slightly harder than when I walked without twisting. More muscles being worked means more oxygen is required. This is great, because it took no extra time than if I were to walk normally. You should give it a try.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Vegetarianism can be tricky

Being a vegetarian, whatever your reasons are, isn't easy. Protein is an incredibly important nutrient you get from meat, and when you cut out the meat, you have to actively seek out vegetable sources of protein to replace that.

I once knew a girl who was not only vegetarian, she was vegan. She was vegan and overweight. I watched the food choices she made... lots of potatoes, rice, french fries, and peanutbutter sandwiches. The peanutbutter was probably the best thing she ever ate. The rest was so loaded with carbs and trans fats, it was no wonder she was overweight.

Carbs aren't evil, but eaten in great quantities without enough protein to balance it out, it makes your pancreas pump out the insulin in spikes, causing your body to store more of the glucose into fat than it normally would.

The biggest challenge any vegetarian has is to get enough protein into their diet. Beans are an excellent source. So are nuts and soy products (like tofu). If you're including dairy, milk and yogurt are great sources as well. Whole grains are also good choices to make. The vegan I told you about tended to eat a lot of processed foods, so most of the nutrition had been processed right out of it. You'll find more protein in whole grain bread than white bread.

The other important thing to do when restricting your diet is to vary the foods you eat. Each food item has different nutritional properties to it. Eating the same thing every day is a sure way to become deficient in something, so change it up as often as you can. This is true for everyone, not just vegetarians. A varied diet is healthier than any fad diet where you eat nothing but grapefruits in the morning or nothing but cabbage for dinner. There are a lot of weird ones out there. You don't want to get bored with what you eat either, right?

So, bottom line, include some source of protein in your diet to balance out your carbs. Choose unprocessed foods whenever possible. Vary the foods you eat to maintain balanced nutrition and interest. Eating healthy doesn't have to be a chore.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I sometimes wonder if I would be better off on a vegetarian diet. I might be able to swing it if I could still eat eggs. But I don't think I could handle being a vegan. There's a lot of restrictions and discipline involved. Anything that comes from an animal, you can't eat. But some people do it. If you're interested or even mildly curious, perhaps you should check out my renter, The Vegan Diet. Chock full of recipes and useful information!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sometimes a change of equipment is all you need

Have you found that the shoulder of the arm you mouse with is often tight, painful or sore? A few years ago I starting noticing this. The muscles in my right shoulder blade would be constantly tight and sore. One night it got to the point where I woke up with an extremely sharp pain in my upper back. It seriously felt like someone had stuck a knife in my back. Certain movements would cause the pain to shoot up one side of my back, all the way to my neck. I could scarely move. I couldn't turn my head in one direction. It was really bad.

So I started mousing with my left hand. I'm not exactly ambidextrous, but mousing is pretty easy. Pretty soon my left shoulder started to hurt too, so I started switching hands periodically over the course of a day. This would prolong the time I had before the pain started again, but inevitably it would come back.

The problem lay in the fact that I had to lift my arm up to use the mouse. Lowering the height of the mousing surface did help since I didn't have to lift my arm as much, but that didn't help a much as changing the equipment I was using. I found an ergonomic keyboard that also had a touchpad in the center. This eliminated the need for lifting my arm up to use the mouse. I just need to shift my hand a little and I could move the cursor around no problem.

The keyboard I use at work is by Adesso. It's sloped like Microsoft's ergonomic keyboard and has a sensitive touchpad that's easy to use. Since switching to using this my shoulder blade pains have eased quite a bit. I still get stiff muscles a lot, but it's not as bad as it used to be. I still have a mouse for when I need to do intricate mousing, like with images and stuff, but the majority of my mousing is done with the touchpad. The keyboard is a lot more expensive than your standard one, but it's totally worth it. Pain will eventually lead to injury, and you want to avoid that whenever possible.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

furniture article

I was reading this article about how furniture mimics the cultural advances through the decades. I think this is partially true. Recliners came about from our need to lounge for hours at a time in front of the TV. However I'm sure if they had recliner technology in the Bronze age they would have welcomed it completely. As much lounging as some of those fat Romans did? Heck yeah, they'd love to have a roomful of recliners to spread their lazy asses upon.

I think furniture follows the technology of the time. I mean, everything else does, right? Those vibrating massage chairs would've come in handy for farmers 6000 years ago after a hard day's work, but the technology just wasn't there yet. It's obvious, isn't it? Yeah, this was a silly article. What the heck are banquet chairs? I don't know, chairs used in a banquet? Wouldn't you just rent those instead of buying them? Oh well, this is a silly post anyway.

No wonder car insurance keeps going up

I read today that California has six of the top 10 cities with the highest rates of auto theft. I'm sure I live in one of them. Yippee. This same article goes on with a list of things you can do to prevent your car from being stolen. Like locking your car. No, really? I was wondering what those weird little buttons in each door were for. Don't leave your keys in your car. WTF? Are that many people so stupid that they need to produce an article like this?

It's not until halfway down the list that we get to something interesting, called the "bump-n-rob". Some car thieves will rear-end you lightly, then carjack you when you pull over to check for damage. Sneaky assholes. It also recommends not leaving your car registration or title in the car. Okay, title I understand. But hello, cops always ask for license and registration! Why would I not leave the damn thing in the car? The thief is gonna take the car regardless of whether or not it has registration with it. Like they're gonna care.

No wonder insurance in California is so expensive. I'm always looking for a cheap car insurance quote to top the one I have. It's annoying. *sigh*

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Get it straight

The primary purpose of wrist rests on keyboards and mousepads is to straighten your wrists while you're working. If you're using one of these things and you're feeling pain anyway, it's possible you're not using them right. While in mousing or typing position, look at the position of your hand relative to your arm. Are they angled to the left or right? Are they slightly bent up or down? If so, then they aren't straight. (They're gay! HAHAHAA! Okay, I couldn't resist the lame joke.) Prolonged activity with gay bent wrists will lead to inflamation, soreness and pain. You don't want that.

In my last post I mentioned wearing wrist supports to sleep. I thought I'd share which ones I use. They're called SmartGloves. I like them because the material is soft, stretchy, washable, and best of all, flexible. These aren't designed to prevent you from bending your wrists, they're more of a guide. It's uncomfortable to bend your wrists with these on, so you'll notice when you're doing it. But they aren't so restrictive as to be annoying. Sometimes I've woken up to find a hand has fallen asleep because of the position I put it in. But for the most part they are fairly comfortable, and they never chafe.

I've found that angling the keyboad helps me type with straight wrists. Most keyboards, for some insane reason, come with optional lifts to angle the keyboard toward you. This is backwards ergonomics. You need the keyboard angled away from you in order to achieve natural positioning for your hands. Experiment a little by putting a rolled up towel under one side and see what works best for you. We're all built a little differently.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Blogging shouldn't be painful

As a web developer by day and a blog addict in my spare time, I spend vast quantities of time in front of a computer. Non-addicts look at me and wonder, "Don't you get tired of it?" Hell no! I love this stuff!

However our bodies were not designed to spend so many hours typing, mousing and staring at a monitor. With the computer age came repetitive stress injuries, also known as RSI. Anyone who doesn't take the proper precautions will eventually succumb to some form of injury.

One of the most common RSIs involves the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome is just one of the things you can get. There's also trigger finger, nerve spasms, and in extreme cases, permanent nerve damage. When your hands perform the same action over and over, such as typing for hours, the tendons involved start to get inflamed. Your wrist is basically a collection of small bones that protect your finger's tendons and nerves. This soft tissue passes through a tunnel in this collection of bones. Repetitive tasks irritate the soft tissue and they start to swell. This compresses the nerves that also share the space, and they start to become irritated as well.

This nerve compression and irritation would account for any numbness, tingling, or shooting pain you might be feeling in your hands and forearms. Continued abuse can result in tissue damage. Pushing yourself this hard weakens your hands' strength and mobility. In essence you'll be disabling yourself.

I myself am skating dangerously close to several RSIs. My wrists are often sore if I don't remember to take care of them. There are several things you can do.
  • Take frequent breaks - every 20 minutes, pause for a bit and stretch.
  • Do wrist stretches. Some good ones that I do can be found here.
  • Keep your wrists straight - this is key. Bent wrists reduces the size of the tunnel in your wrists and compresses everything inside.

That last item is one of the most important things in preventing RSI in your wrists. This means trying to keep your wrists straight no matter what task you are doing -- typing, chopping onions, sleeping. Yes, even sleeping. Perhaps especially sleeping.

I bought a pair of wrist supports and wore them at work. It was a little cumbersome and not that comfortable either. However I found that if I wore them to sleep I didn't need to wear them at work. The soreness went away. When you're asleep you have no idea what odd position your wrists might be in. You could be compressing your nerves all night long and not know it. By wearing wrist supports to keep your wrists straight when you sleep, you not only avoid the hours of compression, you give the inflamed tissue hours of true healing rest. It might be the simplest solution to your wrist problems.