Lose the Weight and Keep it Off

By cassandrwiley / On / In Self-Improvement

We are now almost in the middle of April, and you’re probably wondering if I ever lost those unwanted pounds.  Am I still working out and eating healthy?  Well, the answer to both of those questions is “Yes”!

My weight in December 2015: 146 lbs.

Current weight: 139 lbs.

In my last post, 10 Things I’ve Learned From 21 Days of Fasting, I mentioned that weight loss is a side effect of fasting.  However, the important factor is keeping the weight off.  I am still working out at 6:30am before going to work 2-3 times per week.  My mid-section still needs toning among other places.  My cholesterol levels are normal, and my blood pressure is under control.

Unfortunately, I am still pre-diabetic, which baffles me, after a 21-day fast. I made many dietary changes like cutting carbs and adding more protein. My doctor suggested losing 10 more pounds and cutting out sweets. I eat fruit, which has natural sugar; I am doing more research to find out which foods are the best for me. I don’t eat junk food, but something is elevating my blood sugar. Since I do have a family history of the disease, I want to take preventative measures now.  I will share more as I continue to do the research.

A co-worker told me that bitter melon works to lower blood sugar levels. I did some research and I found a supplement called GluControl from Vitamin Research Products.  I have been taking that for the past week…2 capsules twice daily. I will see if that improves my blood sugar levels.

 

What Your Food Packaging Says about Your Eating Habits

By cassandrwiley / On / In Healthy Eating

 

When it comes to shopping, there are a number of things we take into consideration for the foods that we buy, because we know what we like from our food. The more you know about a person,the more that you can tell about what sort of foods they like. What about the other way around? Have you ever considered that your choice of products off the shelves says something about the sort of person you or your eating habits are?

Well, it isn’t an exact science, but then again, social sciences never are. Though it certainly can make for an amusing topic of conversation.

There are a number of ways you could categorize eating habits, taking into account the sort of person, diet, lifestyle and budget that go into selecting the products.

The Student Diet

At some point or another, we’ve all experienced this particular selection of eating habits. You head towards the bigger, bulkier packaging with the simpler, cheaper designs. You don’t have a huge amount of money, and you’ve been saving it for Friday night drinking.  However, you’re hungry a lot more than you used to be when you didn’t have to attend lectures all afternoon. A lot of your food packaging shares similar characteristics.

  • Clear cooking instructions.  You checked before you bought it. We all did. There is no point in buying something you don’t know how to cook. And if it tells you that all you have to do is add boiling water or stick it in the microwave for a few minutes, then you throw five of them into the basket.
  • Resealable. It probably isn’t going to last long no matter what it is; the next time you have to pull an all-nighter to get through your big assignment, you’ll be digging just about anything out of the cupboards to keep you going. But you’ll be finding things that you forgot you had ever bought, and you’ll be thanking your lucky stars that they had resealable packaging, or you’d probably have rats! My guess is it’s that little bit of our parents we have in us that reaches for the resealable packaging after we’ve flown the nest.
  • Container-based packaging.  Your mum maybe used to buy noodles in a bag. Little, plastic, and useless once opened. That’s not what you as a student look for; when you buy noodles, you buy them in a pot. Yeah, it takes up more space in the cupboard, but you don’t need a plate, because you can eat them right out of the pot. Pie? In a pot or tin. Curry? In a little plastic tray. Fruit? In a tin. Beans? In a tin; you can eat them cold right out of that. Being a student means that you used up all your dishes weeks ago and haven’t gotten around to washing them yet, and you don’t need to because your food packaging is the same as a bowl.

 

The Single People Diet

You’ve grown out of the student diet. Your metabolism no longer quite handles all of the rubbish food you used to eat. You’ve started washing your dishes and you’re more aware of your spending; not because you don’t have money, but because you know that you worked hard for hours on end to get that money, and you’re saving it for something important. Regardless of specific circumstances, there are often shared characteristics.

  • Freezer friendly packaging. Most foods that are cost-effective are provided in family sized-portions. You’re just one person; you can’t eat all of it. The freezer is one of the most essential items in your home. Everything has to go in there because you are not going to finish eating it in one sitting. You look out for that ‘cook from frozen’ symbol, because let’s face it, we know we’ll never remember to get it out to defrost before we leave for work.
  • Tins.  You end up cooking too much food quite often, and you’ll also  end up only eating half of something as well, because you’re only one person. With leftovers, half a loaf of bread, opened boxes of freezer food, half consumed packs of meat, and ice cream for movie night all tucked up in the freezer, not many of us have room for much more.  Tinned foods, which can be stacked and stored easily for long periods of time, become particularly popular among single people. Jars are less popular, mostly because they can be difficult to open; you become wary of buying more. As a single woman, I can attest to this.  I have jars that are sitting in the cupboard almost two months after being purchased, waiting until I remember to ask someone stronger than myself to help me loosen the lid.
  • Simple.  Ever noticed that the supermarket brand stuff is incredibly simple? They didn’t even create extra cost by hiring a designer, and they don’t waste money marketing their products. It’s as cheap and simple as it gets, and for some single people it offers the most effective solution. Save money, but eat well. I don’t know if you’ve tried any of this,  but when I lived in my first flat, I practically lived on it; I couldn’t tell any real difference, other than the packaging, which is basically a ‘does the job’ method of packaging.

 

The Family Diet

Families vary a lot. Different ages, sizes, and incomes. There are a lot of variables to take into consideration. But their shopping tends to share a number of the characteristics of the single people and the students.

  • Big or Bulk Packaging.  If you’re a family, you have at least two mouths to feed, but generally 3-5. This means a lot of food, and often of incredibly varied types. Bulk packaging and bigger packaging options are popular for families, often labelled ‘family size’ to draw the attention of economical parents.
  • Colorful Packaging. Kids are drawn to colourful things and cuddly animals. Anyone who develops food products aimed towards children knows this.  So if you have kids, you’re going to find yourself drawn to, if not dragged toward, the most colorful, child-orientated  packaging on the shelves.
  • Nothing Artificial. In your younger years, you might have scoffed at packaging that displayed boldly and proudly that it had no added sugars, colors , or preservatives. Now that you’re a parent, you’ll be grasping at them with desperation. Kids are small and energetic, but the few months of being a parent taught you that they have sensitive stomachs.  Once they started moving and eating solid foods, it taught you just how big of an effect added sugars can have. Most parents start looking to limit additives by the time their first child is three.

 

The Health Conscious Diet

Maybe you’re a sporty sort of person; maybe you just like to take care of yourself. It is important that you have the right standard of health from your food and you take your time to select foods that are suitable for your health needs.

  • Fresh packaging.  Packaging that promotes or improves freshness tends to be a more popular selection among those who are particularly conscious of their health.  Of course, many fresh fruits and vegetables do not include packaging, but those that do usually provide ventilated plastic packaging. Simple packaging is important for fresh foods.
  • Nutritional Information. Those who are health conscious will of course be concerned about what is in the foods they are buying, which makes the nutritional information strip seen on most food packaging a particularly useful feature. However, rather than scrutinizing everything strictly and finding the best possible product from the options available to them, most health conscious types will select from those where the nutritional information is most clearly displayed.

 

Written by E. Clark

Staying Fit While Snowed In

By cassandrwiley / On / In Healthy Eating, Hobbies, Self-Improvement

My 2016 had a weird, but interesting start, but I am back on track with my fitness goals.  One of the reasons that I love my gym is that they give you “bucks” to spend just for being a member. I’ve used them for personal training sessions.  I think I will use the remaining bucks for a massage in the coming weeks.  My personal trainer recommended her massage therapist to me.

My workouts have been consistent, and I’m starting to see some changes in my weight.  I lost 2 pounds this past week. I had to revamp my eating habits since I wasn’t seeing a physical change. I’m eating smaller portions for each meal.

With more than 1 foot of snow hitting the DC Metro area, everything is pretty much shut down.  I will have to be creative with my at-home workouts.  Most likely, I will do crunches and some push ups. There was a time that I could barely do one push up.  My mid-section still needs toning.  If I can trim my waistline and burn away my “muffin top”, that will help my health tremendously.  I took a hour-long cycling class one morning a couple of weeks ago. I took one a few years ago; this one was a lot harder. Surprisingly, the next day, my muscles weren’t sore.

To recap,  I’ll see my doctor in March, so I need to stay focused so he can see the positive changes. My blood pressure readings have been excellent. My reading today was 119/74.  For information purposes, a reading below 120/80 is optimal.  Always ask your doctor if you are unsure.  My cholesterol levels were normal on my last doctor visit in September.  The goal is for the pre-diabetes to reverse.  In the meantime, I will do my best to stay warm and catch up on my writing and sleep. Maybe even read a good book!

 

Time to Get Moving as We Move into 2016

By cassandrwiley / On / In Health and Illnesses, Healthy Eating, Self-Improvement

This will be my last post for the year as well as the 100th blog post.     I wanted to update you on my progress. I saw my dietician for my final appointment. My diet is fine; however, he suggested that I get a fitness band to track my activity. My struggle this month was getting in the recommended activity. After taking a trip to Los Cabos, Mexico, and with the holidays, there was an interruption  in my workout routine.  We enjoyed ourselves, celebrating my husband’s birthday, going horseback riding, and taking a camel ride for the first time. We also experienced the kingdom safari; letting birds eat food out of your hand was a very different experience.

We got some much needed rest over the holidays.  This week, I am back on track with my workouts and diet. In my appointment, we discussed that every person, regardless of your weight, needs to take 10,000 steps per day. So, I purchased a Garmin activity tracker.  For the past 2 days, I have reached my goal.  In addition to steps and other activities, it also tracks your sleep. It tracks the number of both deep and light sleep hours.

With 2016 just around the corner, I will continue to keep my same goals in mind. With writing, family, and my full-time job, our next vacation probably won’t be until the summer for my birthday.

 

Turn Fat into Lean Body Mass

By cassandrwiley / On / In Self-Improvement

I am happy to report that I didn’t overeat this Thanksgiving.  I had one plate, and I did not go back for seconds.

I met with my dietician again this past Monday.  My weight is still the same at 146 pounds, but my percent body fat has dropped from 33.1% to 32.0%.  My lean body mass has increased from 98.21 to 100.16.  My clothes fit differently.  This is very good; however, I need to increase my activity and add whey protein with carb meals to balance.  Breakfast is my only struggle since oatmeal is always my first choice, but I don’t have an equal balance of protein if I eat it by itself.  Starting this past week, I drank a protein shake with my oatmeal to balance.

My snacks are healthy overall, but sometimes I would skip snacking during the day if I’m busy with work. Since I work in the lab 90% of the time, it’s difficult to have a snack.  The vending machine doesn’t offer many healthy choices, so I bring my own snacks to work. When I take a bathroom break, I also take a snack break.

As far as increasing my activity, I will start working out 3 times per week. I meet  with my trainer twice weekly; on my third visit, I can do cardio. When I work with my trainer, the focus is primarily weights.  I am getting better at lunges, by the way.    I was also able to do 100 crunches!  That is definitely the most I’ve ever done in one workout. The more you practice, the better one becomes.  Of course, monitoring my eating is always important.  I will see if the pounds come off this time. I will still work to turn fat pounds into lean muscle.IMG_0082

 

6 Tips for Staying Healthy This Winter

By cassandrwiley / On / In Alternative Therapies, Health and Illnesses, Healthy Eating, Self-Improvement

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Winter can bring about a whole host of problems and obstacles when it comes to staying healthy. It is, of course, cold and flu season.

Winter also brings about a lot of holidays and holiday parties, which can throw a wrench into any healthy eating regimen. Add alcohol at those gatherings, the stress of being extremely busy, holiday shopping where you’ll come across many people with a cold, and it’s a recipe for a health disaster.

And there’s no cure for the common cold. So how exactly can you keep yourself from having all your energy zapped out of you while ending up flat on your back on the couch for days, despite that mile long to do list?

So, you’re surrounded by sick people, your stress levels are high, you’re really busy, and your eating isn’t as healthy as it would be under normal circumstances. It doesn’t sound good!

But don’t worry. All is not lost! There are ways to stay healthy this winter!

  1. Get Your Sleep

No matter how busy you are or what you have to get done, getting enough sleep is absolutely crucial to a healthy body and mind! You can not skimp on sleep!

Your body needs time to rest and recover, even more so when stress levels are higher, which is definitely the case around the end of year holiday season.

You may also want to cut back on your workouts during the winter to make sure your body has time to recover. When your body is overworked and you aren’t getting enough sleep, it promotes an acidic environment, and this is a breeding ground for viruses and other nasty germs to have their way with you.

Get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Yes, even on weekends. And do your best to get up about the same time every day, seven days a week.

  1. Relax, Chill Out, Kick Back

Whatever you want to call it, you need to find time to take the proverbial chill pill. A 2012 study that was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that people who had to deal with a very stressful occurrence were twice as likely to end up with the common cold.

So find some down time, whether it’s yoga, meditation, or just sitting quietly listening to mellow music. Even fifteen minutes a day can work wonders.

  1. Get Spicy

Take some turmeric. It contains curcumin which is an immune system booster, exactly what you need during cold and flu system. You can get whole turmeric powder in tablets or capsules.

  1. Bad For Your Breath But Good For Your Health

Another great immune booster is garlic. A study published in Advances in Therapy showed that garlic can decrease the frequency of the common cold by as much as 64 percent!

But cooking can ruin the active ingredients, so be sure to mash it or chop it and put some in a salad or something.

  1. Drink Your Green Tea

Green tea has high levels of powerful anti-oxidants to help keep you healthy. It also has high levels of catechin, which can fight and maybe even prevent damage to your cells.

And here’s something to go with “Chill Out” to get rid of that stress! Green tea is high in theanine, which has been shown to have a calming effect and can help you to unwind and relax.

  1. Try Some Echinacea

This one is still up for debate, and there are many in the medical community on both sides of the argument.

However, a study done in 2010 in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that while taking echinacea won’t help prevent a cold, it could possibly shorten the time in which you have the cold. It can’t hurt, so if you feel a cold coming on, you might want to try some.

Nothing you do will guarantee you don’t succumb to a cold this winter, but if you follow these simple tips to stay healthy, you’ll give yourself a great chance of doing so.

Even if you succumb to a cold, chances are you could be healthier, have more energy and feel less stressed throughout the winter.

Author : Aria Meyer is a freelance writer and an active blogger. She writes mainly about fashion and technology, but she also writes about other topics too. She is currently working with several e-commerce websites to help them with content. Aria received her Bachelor’s Degree from Cal State Long Beach and is currently living in Walnut, CA. Right now, she is working closely with EMed Items to help them grow the marketing department.

5 Reasons Why I Blog

By cassandrwiley / On / In Hobbies, Parenting, Self-Improvement

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There are many types of blogs out there. Some discuss Kim Kardashian’s backside or Pitbull’s latest video. Others talk about sports or give financial advice. I’ve been blogging for about a year and half now. Here are my reasons:

  1. My family. At the end of 2012, my contract position ended. At that time, I was a Scientist at a large medical devices company. Also, when my son turned 2, he began to have behavioral issues; he would have “meltdowns” if his routine changed. He had been receiving occupational and physical therapy since he was 6 months old.   His pediatrician recommended it since he was a preemie. I decided to return to being a stay-at-home mom until my son’s issues were resolved. Last summer, doctors diagnosed my son with autism spectrum disorder. I wasn’t familiar with it, and quite frankly, it was hard for me to accept. In between my son’s at-home therapy sessions and visits to specialists, I needed something else to relax my mind. I enjoyed writing, and I’d heard about blogging, so I decided to research it further. It was easy to set up a website on WordPress, and friends were always asking me for advice; I decided to launch Have Faith and Live Well.
  2. To inform. I  discuss various health topics in my blog. Since my son’s diagnosis, I began researching the types of foods that he should eat and those to avoid. Fortunately, my son is a very picky eater. As a family, we don’t eat fast food or drink soda among other things. It costs more to eat healthy, but it’s worth it. I know that at least one person is reading my blog daily. I hope that they are taking the initiative to do their own research and make the necessary changes. I believe that by helping one person, that person can help others and so forth.
  3. For exposure. It takes time to build a strong following. (Of course, there are those exceptional bloggers that have millions of followers). It will be that one blog post, one connection, or that one application that will make all the difference. Guest blogging is also helpful for exposure. I’ve posted on other blogs as well as having guest bloggers on my own blog.
  4. To network with other bloggers. There are many blogs that I follow. Some of them I read for entertainment, and others give great blogging tips. I learn a wealth of information from other bloggers. It’s an ongoing process. People come into our lives for different reasons. I don’t believe in coincidences.
  5. For income. The goal is to generate income from my blog, which is a work in progress.

I would like to thank all of you that take the time to read my blog posts. You are the reason that I continue to write.


Your Hair, Your State of Mind: Emotional Effects of Hair Loss in Women

By cassandrwiley / On / In Health and Illnesses, Self-Improvement

Standing in front of your bathroom mirror every morning, you notice more and more strands of hair left on your hair brush. At first, the loss may not be noticeable. You may frown and wonder why, but with a busy day ahead, your mind soon shifts to other more pressing issues.

Over time, you’re still able to cover up the thinning area, possibly styling your hair differently or even buying a volumizing spray. However, at a certain point, you notice your scalp becoming visible. The hairs become further and further apart. You have a busy life, and doctors’ visits aren’t normally something you have time or money for.

This change in appearance is affecting your self-esteem. Even if your hair was never one of your favorite features, you now realize it really was your crowning glory. You may find yourself turning down the chance to hang out with friends or even avoiding going out in public. Hats may start to become part of your daily wardrobe.

It practically goes without saying that any sort of hair loss (or alopecia as it is known in the medical community) is cause for alarm; it is a good reason to go straight to your doctor and determine the cause.

If you get nothing else from the time spent reading this, it should be this: the sooner you are able to determine the “root” cause of your hair loss, the sooner you can begin to form a plan of action and cope with its effects.

So what are the emotional effects of hair loss in women?

  • Concerns about aging. We unconsciously relate our loss of hair with a loss of youth and therefore inevitable aging.
  • Dissatisfaction with appearance and poor body image. A change in hair or altered hairline can really change a person’s appearance. Perception of this change as negative can have a profound effect on a person’s overall self-worth.
  • Decreased self-esteem. A sense of physical attractiveness is an essential element of self-esteem. When hair loss occurs, it can rapidly lead to a negative opinion of one’s overall pride.
  • Loss of confidence. Along with embarrassment and shyness, hair loss can easily result in loss of confidence in women. Where we were once able to approach social situations, we may now feel inadequate.
  • Jealousy and envy. Coveting other women’s healthy locks is a common reaction to hair loss in women. This feeling of inadequacy can often fuel other emotional effects as well.
  • Introversion and depression. If left untreated, the emotional effects of hair loss can result in a woman isolating herself and suffering from clinical depression.

Each of the above repercussions is completely normal. Losing your hair is traumatic at any age no matter the cause; however, there is hope!

Medication, such as Minoxidil, have created new hope for women experiencing alopecia. You can also take heart in the fact that hair loss due to hormonal changes is often temporary. Even complete hair loss due to chemotherapy treatment is considered a temporary condition.

In the mean time you can boost your confidence by:

  • Shopping for a wig. It may sound superficial, but the minute that you slip on a wig you may quickly feel up to leaving the house again. Wigs have come a long way, and now even many acrylic wigs look very realistic. You can shop for a wig that closely matches your natural hair or go for a new look.
  • Finding a hairpiece. You can mask localized hair loss with the use of a clever hairpiece such as a topper for the crown of your head.
  • Experimenting with colorful scarves and hats. These can be worn alone or as a combination. You can search Google celeb looks and you’ll find that they are actually very much in fashion.
  • Focusing on your health. The only sure-fire way to give yourself the best chances of coping with your hair loss is to prioritize a healthy diet and get the right amount of exercise. Consider taking up yoga, which integrates elements of both mental and physical wellness.

Hair loss in women is actually much more common than you might think. If you or someone you know is suffering from it, the first step is to determine the cause. After a visit with your doctor, you can begin to cope with the emotional effects.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to friends and family about your condition, take the time to join an online forum or discussion group. Sometimes it can be surprisingly easy to type your feelings out anonymously. You’ll be amazed by how much support is actually available.

You can also consider seeking professional therapy to help you process your emotions related to hair loss. In the meantime, keep in mind that your feelings about the condition are perfectly normal. Breathe in, develop a plan of action and this too, shall pass.

 

Written by Nyima Bieber

Natural Cures: Secrets “They” Don’t Want You to Know About – A Book Review

By cassandrwiley / On / In Alternative Therapies, Health and Illnesses, Healthy Eating, Self-Improvement

I am an avid reader, especially if it can positively impact your life. Kevin Trudeau is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About that he self-published in 2004. I read the updated 2014 version. It was very informative; I was very impressed with his personal story. Some concepts were new to me, and others I have put into practice as it relates to food.

The book includes natural cures for over 50 diseases and ailments. If you decide to read the book, don’t just read that chapter. Trudeau gives plenty of background information to help you having an understanding of the “real” truth. For instance, he discusses healthcare in America, the reasons people get sick, weight loss, and the reasons that people are overweight.

Whatever the case, you have to take charge of your own health. About 3 or 4 years ago, I started researching the quality of food and healthcare.  There are a lot of great resources in this book, but you’re not expected to follow everything. Eliminating one bad habit and replacing it with a smart one can make a big difference in your health.  The things that seem so simple and make sense are the most difficult to do. (I talk to people about eating green vegetables and they look at me strangely). I don’t get offended. I do it for MY HEALTH.   If you want to lose weight, feel better, and be healthy, your lifestyle needs to change.

You Told Me That I Had Cancer

By cassandrwiley / On / In Health and Illnesses

Since 2009, I’ve had thyroid nodules. Before that, doctors always thought that there were problems with my thyroid function because of my big eyes and skinny frame at that particular time. My thyroid function is normal. Thyroid nodules typically are not cancerous, but you are closely monitored. They can affect your breathing and your ability to talk and swallow. I didn’t have symptoms, but I can look at my neck and see the changes in size. Surgery would be too drastic unless there was a real need.

I’m sharing my story to encourage those that may be going through a similar situation with their health. Each year, I either have a biopsy or a thyroid ultrasound as a way to check for any changes. Last month, I scheduled a thyroid ultrasound and my routine mammogram on the same day. There weren’t any issues with that. I was only there for an hour or so.  The next morning, 6:30 am to be exact, I get a call from my doctor’s office saying that the doctor wants to see me that day or the next day.

At 10:00 am, I’m at my doctor’s office. I knew that he was either going to tell me about the ultrasound or the mammogram. This is my primary care doctor. When he walks in, he tells me that he has bad news and that it’s CANCER. I’m speechless to say the least. He tells me that there’s nothing to worry about and that this type of cancer is curable; I would need to have surgery. He also said that it might not be cancer, but the radiologist  was pretty confident that it was since the left nodule doubled in size. Before I left the office, I took a copy of my results with me.

I had an appointment with my Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist that Friday. When he saw the report, he said that it might not be cancer; I had to be positive. He referred me to a very reputable cytopathologist for a biopsy. She was able to see me that following Monday afternoon. She performed another ultrasound before doing the biopsy. Since 2009, I’ve had three of them, so I knew what to expect with the procedure.

Yesterday, I followed up with my ENT. Because of my strong faith, I was not worried about my results. My biopsy was benign, which means that I DO NOT HAVE CANCER! Of course, they will continue to monitor me, but I’m fine. By the way, my mammogram results were normal. I have family members that have been diagnosed with breast cancer, so I take that test very seriously.  I do my best to take care of my body, physically and mentally. We live in a time where we need to be mindful of everything going on around us. Doctors aren’t always right.  I never took life for granted; I will get the most out of life that I can.