Monthly Archives: June 2012

Lessons Learned from People Who’ve Overcome Life’s Adversities

I love biographies.  I’m not claiming myself as a self-proclaimed book reader.  Though I do love learning about people and their histories.  Everybody has a story to tell and it’s what makes them what they are.  Each person overcomes pain, adversity, and heartache and learns their own life lessons in hopes to pass along their knowledge to others. We are all unique and entwined through humanity.


Rocky Bleier

In the 1960s, Rocky was a football star through high school and college and was soon drafted as a running back with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  After his rookie season, Bleier was drafted into the U.S. Army, and he volunteered for duty in the Vietnam War.  While on patrol, Bleier was wounded in the left thigh by a rifle bullet when his platoon was ambushed in a rice paddy. While he was recovering in a hospital in Tokyo, doctors told him that he would not play football again. Soon after, he received a postcard from Steelers owner Art Rooney which just read “Rock – the team’s not doing well. We need you. Art Rooney”. Bleier later said “When you have somebody take the time and interest to send you a postcard, something that they didn’t have to do, you have a special place for those kind of people”.

One year after being wounded, Bleier reported to Steelers training camp. Upon his return, he couldn’t walk without being in pain, and weighed only 180 pounds. He spent two full years trying to regain a spot on the active roster, and was even waived on two occasions. But Bleier never gave up, and later was back to 212 pounds. From that point in time, he would be in the Steelers’ starting lineup. Bleier played in the first four Steeler Super Bowl victories and at the time of his retirement, he was the Steelers fourth all-time leading rusher.

Bleier said that he worked hard so that “some time in the future you didn’t have to ask yourself ‘what if?'”.


Rosa Parks 

On December 1, 1955, after a long day at work at the Montgomery Fair department store, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus for home. She took a seat in the first of several rows designated for “colored” passengers. Though the city’s bus ordinance did give drivers the authority to assign seats, it didn’t specifically give them the authority to demand a passenger to give up a seat to anyone (regardless of color). However, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the custom of requiring black passengers to give up their seats to white passengers, when no other seats were available. If the black passenger protested, the bus driver had the authority to refuse service and could call the police to have them removed.

As the bus Rosa was riding continued on its route, it began to fill with white passengers. Eventually, the bus was full and the driver noticed that several white passengers were standing in the aisle. He stopped the bus and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row and asked four black passengers to give up their seats. Three complied, but Rosa refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, “Why don’t you stand up?” to which Rosa replied, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” The driver called the police and had her arrested.

Later, she recalled that her refusal wasn’t because she was physically tired, but that she was tired of giving in.


Tennessee Williams 

Williams described his childhood in Mississippi as pleasant and happy. But life changed for him when his family moved to St. Louis, Missouri. His parent’s marriage, often strained, could be a tense place to live. The family situation, however, did offer fuel for the playwright’s art. His mother became the model for the foolish but strong Amanda Wingfield in “The Glass Menagerie,” while his father represented the aggressive, driving Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

In 1929 Williams enrolled at the University of Missouri to study journalism. But he was soon withdrawn from the school by his father, who became enraged when he learned that his son’s girlfriend was also attending the university.

Deeply despondent, Williams retreated home, and at his father’s urging took a job as a sales clerk with a shoe company. The future playwright hated the position, and again he turned to his writing. Eventually, however, the depression took its toll and Williams suffered a nervous breakdown.

After recuperating in Memphis, Williams returned to St. Louis and where he connected with several poets studying at Washington University. In 1937 returned to college, enrolling at the University of Iowa. He graduated the following year.

When he was 28, Williams moved to New Orleans, where he changed his name (he landed on Tennessee because his father hailed from there) and revamped his lifestyle, soaking up the city life that would inspire his work, most notably the later play, “A Streetcar Named Desire.”  The play also earned Williams a Drama Critics’ Award and his first Pulitzer Prize.

Williams said that “a vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.”


Aron Lee Ralston

Ralston became famous after having suffered a horrible accident.  An experienced mountain climber, he was hiking in Utah when a boulder crushed his right hand, and pinned it against the canyon’s wall. He remained there for 5 days, trying to free himself and recording what he thought to be his last days on Earth, before amputating his arm with a knife that was not made for such an operation. He then managed to climb back and was found by rescuers in time to save his life. His experience inspired the movie 127 hours, which received great feedback. Ralston is still a passionate climber and his disability or the unfortunate accident did not stop him from doing what he likes best.

Aron said, “At this point, I’ve got the confidence to know that I’ll get through anything in my life given I have the motivation to do it, … If it’s an act of survival, we’ve all got a reason to keep living. It may not be pretty, but surviving is grit and determination in its highest form. I learned that I’ve got the capacity to do a hell of a lot more than I thought I could if I have the proper motivation.”

There are so many, many more to add and have started a list.  Who inspires you?


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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Health and Science


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Tools To emPOWER You – Part III – Wear It Well

Marahon shoes

Marahon shoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wear It Well

Experts think that what you wear can boost your confidence and as a result, improve your performance. According to a Northwestern University study, when people wore doctors’ coats before a visual task, they paid more attention than those wearing painters’ coats.  “Clothes hold a strange power over the wearers,” say the researchers.  In other words: Dressing like you’re already successful can be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Workout clothes are important elements that make a huge difference in your workout, helping us to exercise better and longer.  Imagine yourself exercising wearing a pair of jeans.  Not only do they limit your range of motion, but after a few minutes of exercising you will be sweaty and lacking the energy to exercise further. Therefore, it is very important that before you start any exercise program you have some decent workout clothes to help you exercise efficiently.

What To Look For

Look for athletic wear that is designed for the specific sport you intend to do.  If you play tennis, choose tennis wear and if you are a runner, opt for sports apparel designed for running.  Although you can sometimes wear the same type of clothing for different sports, it is best to choose sport-specific wear because different sports require distinct body movements and performance.  Pay attention to the correct fit and size.  When it comes to fabric, choose high-performance fabrics that wick away sweat to increase comfort and lessen chafing.  The best sports clothing is designed for comfort, protection, flexibility, durability and optimum performance.  Oh, and don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen when outdoors.

Ideal Fabric for Workout

Usually what happens is when we go shopping for some good gym workout clothes, these clothes turn out to be very expensive, especially the ones which are designer made or those with special designs and fabrics. When you look for workout clothes, check the tag for the fabric makeup.  Ideally the fabric will let your body breath and fit you well.

The two most commonly used fabrics in exercising clothes are cotton or synthetic material like polyester. Though cotton made workout clothes are excellent, especially in summers, the only disadvantage is that they collect moisture and don’t allow the skin to breathe as effectively as clothes made of other synthetic materials. This means that you will be soaked during the entire workout wearing cotton made workout clothes and since cotton shrinks these clothes are not very useful for long, regular and strenuous workouts.

A better fabric option is polyester which is light in weight and breathable. It is soft, quick drying and resists shrinking and stretching.  Nylon and spandex, used alone or blended together, are good when it comes to exercise clothes. They are also light in weight, strong, quick drying and affordable too.


Proper-fitting sports shoes can enhance performance and prevent injuries. Follow these specially-designed fitting facts when purchasing a new pair of athletic shoes.

  • Don’t go just by size.  Have your feet measured.
  • Try on athletic shoes after a workout or run and at the end of the day. Your feet will be at their largest.
  • If you have bunions or hammertoes, find a shoe with a wide toe box.  You should be able to fully extend your toes when you’re standing and shoes should be comfortable from the moment you put them on. They will not stretch out.  Women who have big or wide feet should consider buying men’s or boys’ shoes which are cut wider for the same length.
  • Wear the sock you normally wear when working out.
  • Fit the shoe to the largest foot.
  • Make sure the shoe provides at least one thumb’s breadth of space from the longest toe to the end of the toe box.
  • When the shoe is on your foot, you should be able to freely wiggle all of your toes.
  • The shoes should be comfortable as soon as you try them on.  There is no break-in period.
  • Walk or run a few steps in your shoes.  They should be comfortable.
  • Always relace the shoes you are trying on.  You should begin at the farthest eyelets and apply even pressure as you a crisscross lacing pattern to the top of the shoe.
  • There should be a firm grip of the shoe to your heel.  Your heel should not slip as you walk or run.
  • If you participate in a sport three or more times a week, you need a sports specific shoe.
  • It can be hard to choose from the many different types of athletic shoes available.  There are differences in design and variations in material and weight.  These differences have been developed to protect the areas of the feet that encounter the most stress in a particular athletic activity.

Running Shoes

Joggers should wear a shoe with more cushioning impact.  Running shoes are designed to provide maximum overall shock absorption for the foot.  Such a shoe should also have good heel control.  Although not a cure-all, these qualities in a running/sports shoe help to prevent shin splints, tendinitis, heel pain, stress fractures and other overuse syndromes.

 Walking Shoes

If walking is your sport or your doctor’s recommendation for cardiovascular conditioning, wear a lightweight shoe. Look for extra shock absorption in the heel of the shoe and especially under the ball of the foot (the metatarsal area).  This will help reduce heel pain (plantar fasciitis and pump bumps) as well as burning and tenderness in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia).  A shoe with a slightly rounded sole or “rocker bottom” also helps to smoothly shift weight from the heel to the toes while decreasing the forces across the foot.  Walking shoes have more rigidity in the front so you can roll off your toes rather than bend through them as you do with running shoes.

Aerobic Shoes

Shoes for aerobic conditioning should be lightweight to prevent foot fatigue and have extra shock absorption in the sole beneath the ball of the foot (metatarsal area) where the most stress occurs. If possible, work out on a carpet.

Cross Trainers

Cross-training shoes combine several of the above features so that you can participate in more than one sport. A good cross trainer should have the flexibility in the forefoot you need for running combined with the lateral control necessary for aerobics or tennis.

Taking Care of The Girls

Believe it or not, just any old sports bra won’t supply the support you need to prevent sagging, stretching or pain related to exercise.  One size certainly doesn’t fit all.

Studies have shown that between 70% and 80% of women are wearing the wrong size sports bra, and therefore, they may not be getting the benefits of support and comfort from their fitness wardrobe.  Measuring can save you lots of time and aggravation when choosing the right bra.

Below are the steps to take your own measurements.

  • Use a tailor’s tape or cloth measuring tape when taking your measurements.
  • Stand up straight, preferably in front of a mirror.
  • Wear a normal (non-padded) bra, not a sports bra, when taking your measurements.
  • Find your bust measurement. Measure the fullest part of your chest by loosely wrapping the tape measure around your chest, making sure the tape is straight in the back and front. Once you get a number, round to the nearest whole number to get your bust measurement. (For example, if your bust measured 38.5 inches, round that up to 39 inches.)
  • Find your band measurement. Measure your ribcage just under your breasts, making sure the tape is snug (not tight) and not lower in the back than in the front. To get obtain your band measurement, take the actual number of your ribcage measurement and add 3 inches. If this number is odd, you need to add 1 inch to make it an even number. (For example, if your band measured 32 inches, you’d add 3 to get 35 inches; because it’s an odd number, you’d add a 1 to get 36 inches.)
  • Find your cup size. Subtract your band measurement (step 5) from your bust measurement (step 4). Use the chart below to determine which letter is your cup size. (Using the same example above, you’d subtract 39-36 to get 3 inches, which is a C cup, according to the chart.)

Bust – Band difference

Cup Size












DD or E





  • Put your band size with your cup size and you have your bra size. (In this example, the bra size is 36C.)

Next comes style. There are three basic sports bra construction styles:

Compression Sports Bras (the one piece style that you pull on over your head) are by far the most popular sports bra construction.  This bra compresses both breasts against your chest allowing for minimal or no-bounce movement.  This style is most suited for women with small to medium sized breasts (A-B cups).

Encapsulated or Natural-Shaping Sports Bras are best suited for larger breasted women, usually a C-cup or larger.  These bras look more like a normal bra with fasteners in the front or back, and may come with or without the underwire.  This style encapsulates each breast in an individual cup instead of compressing both breasts together as in the previous example.  The encapsulated sports bra is the best choice for larger-breasted women (C-cup and up) or plus sized women.

Compression/Encapsulation Sports Bras are a combination of the previous two bras.  They encapsulate each breast and compress the breast tissue against the chest.  They can be pulled over the head or closed with fasteners.  This style is ideal for women with medium to large breasts, usually C through DD cups.



Ginger May Reduce Exercise-Induced Muscle Pain

The University of Georgia has found that daily ginger consumption reduces muscle pain caused by exercise.

While ginger had been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects in rodents, its effect on experimentally-induced human muscle pain was largely unexplored, said Patrick O’Connor, a professor in the College of Education‘s department of kinesiology. It was also believed that heating ginger, as occurs with cooking, might increase its pain-relieving effects.

O’Connor directed two studies examining the effects of 11 days of raw and heat-treated ginger supplementation on muscle pain.  Participants in the studies, 34 and 40 volunteers, respectively, consumed capsules containing two grams (about one teaspoon) of either raw or heat-treated ginger or a placebo for 8 consecutive days prior to exercising and 3 days afterward.  On the eighth day they performed 18 extensions of the elbow flexors with a heavy weight to induce moderate muscle injury to the arm.  For the three days prior to and after exercise, arm function, inflammation, pain and a biochemical involved in pain were assessed.

The studies showed that daily ginger supplementation reduced the exercise-induced pain by 23-25%, and the effect was not enhanced by heat-treating the ginger.

“The economic and personal costs of pain are extremely high,” said O’Connor. “Muscle pain generally is one of the most common types of pain and eccentric exercise-induced muscle pain specifically is a common type of injury related to sports and/or recreation (e.g., gardening). Anything that can truly relieve this type of pain will be greatly welcomed by the many people who are experiencing it.”


Collaborators included Chris Black, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, UGA doctoral student Matt Herring and David Hurley, an associate professor of population health in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The study is published in the September issue of The Journal of Pain.  It was funded by the McCormick Science Institute.

Christopher D. Black, PhD, assistant professor, department of kinesiology, Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville, and leader of a study published in The Journal of Pain.

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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Health and Science


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BK Bacon Sundae – Eat At Your Own Risk

I have to admit the inquisitively ‘I’ll-try-anything-once’ side of me is curious about Burger Kings new bacon sundae.  By quickly and strategically placing the tip of my tongue upon all of the fixings at once so I never have to again, I can at least say I’ve tried it.  Although, after further investigation, I find myself more curious about what ingredients make up such an ostentatious dessert.  Their website does not divulge this information and only provides the nutritional value.  Hmmm..I wonder what actually goes into making the bacon sundae?

  • 510 calories
  • 61 grams of sugar (that’s 15 teaspoons)
  • 10 grams of saturated fat (half the recommended daily max)
  • 670 mg of sodium (30% of the recommended daily max)
  • It’s also got 15 grams of protein (20-25% of the daily requirement for most people)



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Food Scientists Create The Perfect Meal

Food researchers at Britain’s Leatherhead Food Research have created the perfect meal.  Starting with over 4,000 foods, they scientifically eliminated the junk claimed to be healthy and ended up with approximately 200.  From there they created the most nutritious supper which includes a progression of foods containing the perfect nutrients.

Hors d’oeuvre:  The menu starts with a fresh and smoked salmon terrine, which contains Omega 3 and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which is good for the arteries, heart and brain, accompanied by a mixed leaf salad with an extra virgin olive oil dressing, helpful for maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels.

Main Course:  A chicken casserole with lentils and mixed vegetables, a main dish that could make about 80 health claims, among them that it contains protein to grow muscle mass and lentils to reduce tiredness and improve mental performance.

Dessert:  The researchers recommend a blancmange, or pudding, made with yogurt with active cultures, topped with walnuts and a sugarless caramel-flavored sauce. Walnuts are known to improve elasticity of blood vessels, guar gum in the pudding would help to maintain normal blood cholesterol, and the yogurt is good for digestion.

Other recommendations from the food scientists at Leatherhead Food Research: A mixed berry shake that can serve as a meal replacement for dieters; a hot chocolate drink containing melatonin to aid in restful sleep; and charcoal tables to reduce gassiness.


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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Health and Science


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Pre-Workout Watercress Repairs DNA Damage

English: Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is...


The health benefits of exercise are well known, but did you know that when you work out, your body produces free radicals, which can stress your body and potentially damage your DNA?

But don’t worry — there’s no need to cancel your gym membership! A new study investigates what might be the perfect, free radical-fighting pre-workout snack, and you can find it right in your produce department.

The amazing snack? Watercress! There are already a lot of reasons to eat this pretty veggie. A 2010 study found that watercress might reduce your risk of breast cancer, thanks to a compound that inhibits a protein related to tumor growth, and it’s also packed with vitamins A, C and K (in fact, one cup of watercress provides your RDA of vitamin K!). But what does that have to do with your exercise routine?

To find out, researchers from Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Ulster tracked 10 healthy young men over 16 weeks. For eight weeks, the men ate about a bowl of watercress before intensive treadmill sessions; for another eight weeks, they did the same exercise without eating their greens. The researchers took blood samples before the men ate their watercress, before they exercised and then after they hit the treadmill.

The results, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, revealed that exercise does indeed increase DNA damage, but eating watercress seems to diminish the damage caused by exercised-induced free radicals by increasing the availability of antioxidants in the blood.

Angela Ginn, registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explains that free radicals are the byproduct of your cells burning oxygen. “Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to tissues and cells,” she explains. Exercise creates a build-up of free radicals, but so do a variety of other factors, like smoking and exposure to UV rays and air pollution, Ginn says.

“Keep in mind that this was a small study, using a small sample size,” she says of the watercress research. Nevertheless, antioxidants do fight against those free radicals, and watercress and other dark leafy greens such as collards, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and spinach are rich in antioxidants, she says.

It’s always a good idea to eat a wide variety of dark, leafy greens to maintain your optimal health, says Ginn, whether you exercise every day or not. “Once or twice a day, make sure you have at least a quarter if not a half of your plate filled with dark leafy greens,” says Ginn. “You can fight against those free radicals in your body!”



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Nicotine In Vegetables

We were intrigued when Reddit user hellhound60 posted this interesting tidbit: 20lbs of Eggplant contains as much nicotine as a cigarette.

A little sleuthing revealed that the user derived the information from a 1993 study titled “The Nicotine Content of Common Vegetables” by a trio of doctors with the University of Michigan.

Indeed, the researchers found both through their own work and previous studies that nicotine is present in many human foods. While things like green peppers, black tea and tap water from the city Ann Arbor in Michigan came up negative for any amounts of nicotine, other things like potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant — all plants in the family Solanaceae — were revealed to contain measurable amounts.

According to a previous study detailed in the 1993 project, 10 grams of eggplant contains 1 µg (microgram) of nicotine — roughly the same amount one gets from three hours of exposure to second hand smoke. Cigarettes usually contain 1 mg (milligram) of nicotine, which means that a person would have to eat 10 kilograms, or 22.05 pounds, to reach that amount.



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