Saturday, June 29, 2013

Follow New Dares

Woooo SUMMER!  How is your summer going so far?  I am finally relaxing, de-stressing, and feeling great.

I've got some great dares coming up, and don't want you to miss out!

If you're interested in following new posts, you can subscribe in many different ways.  First, you can subscribe using the links on the left sidebar ("Join this site," "follow by email,") or by adding the URL <> to your personal reader.

If you used Google Reader in the past, remember that it is SHUTTING DOWN on July 1, 2013!  Yes, that's Monday.  So you may want to switch your favorite blogs and websites over to Feedly (I've been using and enjoying) or BlogLovin (I've heard good things). Both allow you to easily import your Google Reader subscriptions, so you can seamlessly transition from one to the other, without losing any of your favorite blogs!

Links to follow Dare You To via each of these readers have been added to the left sidebar, as well, so you have plenty of options to make sure that you receive each and every dare issued this summer and next year.

I know I've been busy and posting less often, but stick with me. I've got dozens of drafts just waiting to go--many bigger & better (and also smaller & simpler!) dares still to come.

Stay in touch! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Consider Social Media's Impact

The folks at Greatist bring the latest in scientifically-backed health information to the masses via their website, Twitter, Instagram, podcasts, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest... and MORE! (Believe it or not..)  It may seem like a lot, but I--and many others--also have just as many outlets for sharing information and ideas.

This month, they asked the Greatist Ambassadors:

How does social media influence your health and fitness?

Well... well.  A zillion thoughts raced through my mind when this came up.  I'll try to touch on all aspects, highlighting the ones I find most influential.

First: What social media?  The most popular outlets for all genres are those listed above.  These may be used by celebrities, bloggers, and also those without a large public persona, just as a way to connect with friends.  These include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and the slowly growing Google Plus (PS: You can find me on ALL of these! See my contact page).  These can largely be accessed via a web browser, but also on mobile devices like your smartphone or tablet.  It's the mobile access that can make these so addicting!

There are also assorted communities specifically targeting health and wellness, such as these workout and meal trackers: DailyMile, Lift, LoseIt, MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople, SoWorkout.  These, too, can go with you anywhere.  Go for a run?  Record your mileage and time.  Eat lunch? Enter in the ingredients to see your caloric and nutrition consumption for the day or week.  Do an impressive plank?  Make note of the time so you can increase it next time.  Some of these also allow for group challenges, discussed below.

Social Media's Impact
As I reflected on all the benefits of social media on users' health and fitness endeavors in general, I found that each "pro" was coupled with a "con," or at least a caveat.

The Good: Accountability.  If you're logging workouts or meals, you may feel more pressure to make the better choice.  You may want to run just a little further or a little faster.  Along these lines, many websites and blogs are popping up with all sorts of group challenges (plank a day! 30 min of bodyweight movement! yoga 3x per week! eat 5 vegetables daily! walk 10,000 steps! prepare one meal at home!).  If you commit and follow through, you're eligible not only for glory among your internet peers, but also to win prizes!  I've participated in a few, and it's definitely motivated me to move every day, prepare my own meals, and try new things.  The group support is also incredibly powerful; others with similar goals are very motivating and that can help keep people going strong.

The Flipside: Addiction/Too Many.  First, people may become overly careful with what they do because they're posting it every single time. Whatever purpose you use social media for, addiction is a possibility.  The problem is that it's always there, and it's always changing. Others are constantly posting things, so you've got to check and keep up to date, sharing and liking what others post. Further, you've got to keep posting your own so people don't forget about you!  If you look away for just a second, you might miss something!  Even as I write this post, I'm distracted by the constant flow of information from Twitter and the fun photos in my Instagram feed.

Second, there are simply too many.  My greatest struggle with social media is that there are simply too many outlets.  Some are beginning to allow synching between two media, but for the most part, there are too many separate pages to keep up with.  If I want to post a workout, I usually do so via DailyMile.  This does allow me to send the details straight to Twitter, which is nice, but when I participated in Greatist's DIY Health Challenge, I had to also check in on Social Workout.  It becomes quite tedious; I wish they'd work together more seamlessly. Someday...

The Good: Inspiration. Motivation.  This goes hand in hand with the community aspect mentioned above.  It's inspiring to watch people achieve great things (whether it's Krysten overcoming her DNA to take on marathons and triathalons, Amber working toward her fiercely fit body, or Alan continuously shedding some serious weight, always with a smile), and watching them achieve their goals can motivate you to go further.

The Flipside: Misinformation.  For every positive, healthy message out there, there's also a false claim or too "perfect" body. "Just do this simple routine and you'll look like this instantly!" is not true.  Further, people may critique one another, and not always in a constructive way.  Just as with everything else on the internet, be careful.

The Good: So many streams of information. For those who want to make healthy changes, whether it's starting to work out for the first time, beginning to floss, or learning how to buy and cook vegetables, the internet is a great source of information.  It's no longer a great challenge to start something new; there are websites, blog posts, videos, and tweets that can help you learn how.  Further, you can contact experts directly.  Read a book and have a question?  Tweet at the author.  Post on his or her Facebook wall.  No big deal!  Worst that happens is that they don't respond, but so many wellness pros are actively engaging with fans online.  Whenever you're confused about something or how to implement their advice, go ahead and ask. Direct access to the experts is a big advantage to social media!

The Flipside: too much conflicting information.  Using the internet, as always, requires an extremely skeptical eye. It can be dangerous for a newbie in ANY field to simply do a search, read an article, and blindly accept it as truth. It's important to find the credentials for the author, look at the research for yourself, and scrutinize other articles for comparison.  This doesn't just mean for things that are blatantly questionable; even the experts in a field may be at odds with one another (for example, ideal nutrition is being hotly debated right now), so you must really dig in to the information and science for yourself to see what resonates as true with you.

(Sidenote: these last two points explain the reason I love Greatist so much.  The website is a wealth of information on SO many aspects of health and fitness; whatever you're looking for, they're on it.  Further, they generally do not take sides.  The writers are very skilled at condensing the research, making observations and sharing expert opinions, and letting you decide for yourself.  It's hard to find such unbiased sources, but Greatist has achieved this, and for that reason, I trust it.)

Phew!  Those are my general observations. 

What about me, as the question asks? 

At worst: It has made me more wired, always connected. I hadn't realized that starting a blog would result in all these networks and spaces for sharing. It's a constant source of procrastination, as the online health world is far from being my primary job. For something that began as a hobby, it has begun to take up far more time and attention than I could have predicted.  It's good, because I enjoy it, but it's bad because, well, I want to have a real life outside of my tweets.

At best: The pros far outweigh the cons...

  • I have made friends.  I have met some amazing people, both online and in person.  I have made friends and shared experiences.  I have gotten to know brands and experts better, and am thankful for all the opportunities that have been given to me as a result of connections made via social media. 
  • I have learned.  I've clicked from link to link, tweet to tweet, devouring research papers and expert opinion. I've learned from others' experiences and taken on dares from other bloggers.  I have changed the way I eat and move, and also the way I treat my body through other lifestyle factors, like sleep and stress.  I am far more knowledgeable about how to take care of myself.
  • I have dared.  
    • I've dared myself to go further.  This much falls under the accountability mentioned above: "If I run for four more minutes, I can log this as a full three miles." "If I speed it up just a drop, I can log it as under 10 minutes." "If I try out this new recipe, I can share it with everyone else, too." "If I survive this crazy new workout, I can blog about it!"  There's also the inspiration I've gained from following others on their own journeys.
    • I've dared others to try new things.  A tweet, an email, a blog comment telling me that someone tried something new, because I dared them to... nothing makes me happier!  It's wild that some of my friends, family, and--thanks to social media--strangers halfway across the country or globe have made positive changes to improve their health because of something I wrote.  THAT is why I started Dare You To, and that's what keeps me going.
    • I've been dared!  I've been dared by friends, when they know I can't say no. I've been dared by followers and fellow bloggers to try out some new workout, food, activity, etc., that they have fallen for.  I've also been dared by BRANDS to take on new challenges and live with fire.  Thanks to all those who have dared me right back, forcing me out of my comfort zone, too!  

SO! That's just my take. There are good sides and bad sides, but OVERALL, I believe that participating in social media has greatly improved my health and fitness.  Inspiration and information go a long way!

Remember: You can keep up with me on all these social media! Check out Twitter for sharing articles, research, and motivation; Instagram for daily photos of food, fitness, and fun; Pinterest for everything--information, inspiration; and YouTube for the occasional event recap!

Now, I want to know...
  • What social media do you use, and for what purposes?  
  • Do you ever find it takes up a bit too much time and energy?
  • How has it influenced YOUR health and fitness?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Overcome ED and Begin to Live

Guest Post!  Today, we're hearing from Stephanie, who just moved from her original running blog to a NEW Run for Fun, that launches this week with Stephanie sharing part of her story that has not yet been revealed.  Please read her post below and check out her blog for more on how she found her life worth living. 


Hi all, Meredith was nice enough to let me blog for you today.  I just converted my website from Blogger to WordPress – Run for Fun. While I have been blogging for a long time, I have not been completely truthful.  My path in blogging has been an amazing one, I have made lifelong friends, enjoyed sharing my running experiences with everyone and hearing about yours, and most of all I have loved  being a support to others whether it be to those pregnant, suffering from infertility, postpartum anxiety or training for a marathon.  I want to continue that; thus with the start of this new blog, I want to add more,  I want to come clean and in turn hope to help more people.  So, no more secrets.  It is time to be honest not only to help others but also because as I embark on amazing adventure to write a book on infertility and disorder eating,  I must begin to show you the true me.  I do not expect that this will now become the main focus of my blog, there will be running and baby talk.   Thus if this does not interest you, please feel free to stop here.  But if it does spark your interest, I hope you will take a moment and read my story and maybe it will help you too.  Please feel free to stop by my blog to hear more! Hope this helps.

Thanks for joining me....well us!

For a long time, I lived a secret life.  At least, I believed it was a secret life, to some extent.  Many people, even some of you, may already know my secret.   This is over 10 years of a secret life, it cannot be one blog post, but I will try to tell my story in manageable pieces overtime in hopes that you all gain something from it.  So here we go….no more secrets, truth time.
From the time I was 14 until the age of 25, I lived a life with an Eating Disorder.  For 11 years of my life I suffered from an extreme terrifying, overwhelming, and deadly Eating Disorder, Anorexia, or how we refer to him in the business, “ED.”  Some of those years were the most difficult, scary, and unmanageable years of my life.  I was not living, I was killing myself, I was overtaken by ED.  It was not until 2010 when I admitted myself into an intensive outpatient program for eating disorders did I truly begin to live.

Beginning to Live!

Today, I am a motivational speaker for Eating Disorder recovery, I am writing a book about Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and disorder eating, and I am about to start co-facilitating an eating disorder recovery group for teenagers.  Today, I am leading a life worth living. It is my mantra in life – to lead a life worth living. Thus, to tell you all my story, the only way I felt I could do so was to incorporate bits and pieces from my speech I give several times a year at “Hope and Inspiration” – a program where recovered people speak to those who may be struggling in some way to give them none other than “hope and inspiration.” Here we go...

Hope & Inspiration

Once upon a time, I was a very happy girl.  I was content with life.   Did I always love how my body looked?  No.  But on a day-to-day basis I was happy.  I looked at pictures and I saw life, experiences, relationships, and joy.  I did not see the size of my clothes or judge my appearance.
Going into my sophomore year of high school, I decided to lose weight. It was not about being the ideal body type, it was not for anyone else, it was not used as an unhealthy coping skill, at least at first.  Rather, it was about leading a “healthy” lifestyle.  Eating well-balanced meals and becoming more fit.  There were lots of different areas to change but restricting was not an option.  Some things were cut and some things were eaten more sparingly but all in all, it was done in a healthy manner and I lost weight, became more fit and felt healthy and alive.  Maybe because at that point, I was not losing weight uncontrollably, I was not starving myself.  I was developing, a healthy relationship with food and exercise, or so I thought.  Within a few months of my “dieting,” I had met my goal.  I did not need to go any further.   My body was getting what it needed, it and I was happy.

Happy picture time during a hard post...

But yet there was something inside of me that made it so I could not stop losing.  “It” beamed with pride when people told me how great I looked and told me not to stop dieting!  “It” was ED – and I listened.  After all, ED told me that I could be thin, beautiful, and popular.  ED also told me he could solve my problems.  He could help me feel in control of something, anything.  When school became difficult, I turned to ED.  When my mom, who had been sick for a long time, grew sicker, I turned to ED.  When I had to take on adult responsibility at a young age, I turned to ED.  He was there for me. He could help me, or so I believed.  He made me feel in control of the things I could not control. He provided me a means of coping, albeit an unhealthy one. He made things better or so I thought.  ED also told me that if I did what he said, all the boys would notice me and they did, well, they noticed my body anyway.   So I listened to ED.  ED told me what I could eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I was only allowed certain foods, certain amounts, and certain times.  As the days stretched into months, this list of what I could eat and how much kept decreasing while the list of no-nos and scary foods increased at an alarming pace.
ED made me believe things were going well, while in reality things only grew worse as ED staked out his claim on me and overtook my life.  My health and well-being were rapidly deteriorating.   From rules about food, ED turned to rules about exercise.  ED yelled at me to listen to him and told me what to do.  He obsessed over numbers and his rules grew more intense and stricter.  The once healthy relationship that I believed I had with food was gone.  Instead, ED helped me develop an unhealthy relationship with food, exercise,  and my body.  I was miserable.

Here is where you usually see "the perfect body;"
here is where you realize there is no such thing

ED was with me throughout high school – he came to Prom and enforced severe rules around meals.  He was there when I was President of my Jewish Youth Group telling me the boys would only notice me if I looked a certain way and he was there when I went off to college requiring me to bring my trusty scale and “safe” foods.  In college, ED remained slightly on the back burner for a while.  I had found myself a wonderful man who loved me for me and while I still followed some of EDs rules, I was maintaining a healthier diet and had regained my health.  That man, my future husband, helped me to relinquish control. He made me happy.  He showed me that life was something to enjoy and cherish in the here and now.  Being away from home and the demands of having adult responsibilities at a young age alleviated my need for ED.  ED provided me with an unhealthy way to cope with those “not so fun” emotions.  But I did not need him when I was free from life’s struggles and enjoying the moment.
It was not until I began planning my wedding during law school that ED came knocking, and I answered.  You want to lose weight for your wedding? You are stressed about law school? Your mother-in-law has cancer? You are injured and can’t run – don’t worry I will help you said ED.  Just like last time, I did not have the healthy coping skills in place to fight back when life hands you lemons. It was not my fault.  I had never learned how to cope in a healthy manner and because I did not have these necessary skills, I turned to ED.  He seemed to always know what to do.  ED set up new rules – more severe than last time – after all this was serious – I was dealing with many stressful situations and had a lot of needs and did not know how to deal with them.  ED went to work.  He knew what to do, he knew how to solve my problems and did so through a variety of unhealthy behaviors. Once again, ED told me what I could eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and made sure to explain the consequences to my body and life if I disobeyed him.  He also helped me reconnect with the trustee old scale and adjusted my food intake and workouts to obtain and stay at the “magic number.”

Love of my Life

My family was scared, I was scared, my husband was scared.  ED had clearly taken over and it showed physically and mentally.  Everyone noticed, everyone made comments.  To make matters worse, I was not consuming enough fuel and therefore had no energy and was moody all the time. I remember catching a cold one day that my husband had the week before.  My husband was sick for a day.  I was sick for a week, my father thought I had a severe case of the flu I was so sick.  I didn’t, I had ED.
ED and I continued our relationship for my entire three years of law school.  I missed my wedding, trips to Florida, my honeymoon, dinners out with friends, lunch dates with my husband all because of ED.  Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely present at my wedding and these other events.  But so was ED.  I could not truly live through the experience as he clouded my head. My life day in and day out was a constant struggle.  I existed in a fog, always occupied by ED thoughts.  It was impossible to concentrate.  It was impossible to accomplish anything, unless ED was telling me to do or not do something.  Either I was too tired or faint from lack of fuel or too consumed by ED’s demands to focus on anything else.  In short, I was not living.

Honeymoon in Vegas! I could show you the full picture here and then you could compare.
But truth is that does not help

On a basic day, life would revolve around ED and my awful state of starvation.  If we wanted to do something or go somewhere, I had to know exactly what foods were available and when we would be eating.  If it was not the right foods at the right times, I would not go or I would go feeling anxious and upset the entire time.  My husband, who was often with me, would also be uncomfortable and not know what to do.  Others would ask  questions.  My husband would feel like he had failed me.  He had not, he never did, it was impossible for him to help, ED had me in his grasps.
Every day ED took up all my time and energy.  It was frustrating, exhausting, agonizing and upsetting.  I would send my husband about 100 emails a day discussing each meal and what I could and could not eat.  I could not concentrate on my schoolwork and was distracted all the time.  To make matters worse, I was grumpy and irritable.  I would snap at my husband, father, and friends – then feel “guilty” and come crawling back for mercy.
My relationships deteriorated.  My husband and friends tried to help. One night in particular we went out for dinner.  ED was letting me eat a little but only a little. My friend and husband pushed me to eat more.  The waitress came, she asked if I was done.  I said yes.  My husband and friend said no and pushed me to just take a few more bites.  I have seen people plead, bargain, and bribe me to provide my body with the nutrients it needs, wants and deserves.  Nothing worked.  I was hurting myself and those around me and I hated every minute it of it.  But there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I knew what needed to be done, I knew I just needed to walk over to the kitchen and get some food but there was something stopping me.  I was hungry, I was STARVING, but something made me stop, again that something was ED.
After law school, I studied for the bar exam.  After the bar exam, my therapist approached me.  Throughout my struggles I did have a wonderful outpatient team.  They stood by me, helping me as much as they could.  But I needed more. They only saw me once a week at best and I was with ED 24/7.  After the bar exam, my therapist sat me down and handed me pamphlets for a program. I sat there stoically as she talked – I felt sick to my stomach.  ED told me I could not go to this place that all my biggest fears would come true if I went there. I would not go to this place I thought as my therapist talked, what did she know? I could take care of this problem on my own, who needs her right?
This woman saved my life.  That day I went home to talk to my husband.  I cried. I told him I did not want to go. That I had too much to do – after all I had a marathon to train for (even though there would always be another one) and law to practice (even though I did not have a job or school).  We agreed, I would try myself and then talk to my therapist in two weeks. I tried.  But I needed more.  It was not my fault, it is not your fault or your family’s fault.  ED is very VERY strong.

You can be stronger, happier, healthier

We went back to the therapist.  She talked to us about the program and we decided to call and set up a consultation.  The weekend before the consultation I was sick with the idea of going to get help.  ED kept telling me it would all be over once I was there and that I needed to have one last hurrah – we went to the Cape.  I gave into every order ED told me to do.  It was the most self-destructive I had ever been but I was so scared, nervous, and sick to my stomach.  I was scared to lose ED and his rules.  ED was my life, my comfort.  I could not image the world without him.  How would I cope?  I needed ED to maintain control.  I could not go on without him I thought.  So I did everything I could to avoid the inevitable even calling and postponing the appointment due to illness. But after all that, I went to the consultation.
On my first day in program, they told me I could no longer listen to ED’s demands and have my ED behaviors – exercise and restrictive behaviors were no longer an option. I was killing myself and this needed to change.  They told me no exercise. I told them I could go a day without exercise – I went 7 weeks and only returned when I was ready to do so in a healthy manner.  They told me I would have to eat, I told them Go to hell.  Today I eat 3 full meals a day and 3 snacks.  They told me I could recover, I told them I had nothing to recover from. Today, I am recovered.  Today I live without ED.  Today I live a life worth living.

A Life Worth Living

This is not the end of the story.  This is background.  The story starts here, when I truly began to live.  I hope to share this portion of the story with you next.  To show you life got better, much, much better now that I live without ED.  But I want to hear from you?  Shall I go on?  Do you want the rest of the story?  How much does this interest you?  Can this help you?


Thank you for sharing, Steph! I'm sure your story can help touch and inspire a lot of people. 
Read more from Stephanie over at Run For Fun.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Features

HAPPY FRIDAY! Here are some fascinating articles and blog posts of late: 


There was a very interesting, thoughful post last week that got me thinking, 
and the title should reel you in on its own: 

Remember when I said I want to learn more about GMO (ab)use and labelling? has the lowdown on GMOs for you and for me.

Want to become a morning person?  Greatist tells you HOW.

Pretty Little Liars may be a favorite guilty pleasure among young adults, too, 
but what kind of messages about food is it sending to its target audience: teenage girls?  
This "Food Horror" video raises serious questions.

As part of my natural skincare quest, I was excited to see that
Nicole at Making Good Choices explains why and how to
avoid parabens in skincare products.

Diane Sanfillippo reminds us that it's not food, 
but there may be special circumstances where it's useful. 

Karen Maidment's guest post on The Paleo Mom explains
what doctor's don't tell you about IBS, specifically that it
CAN be alleviated through dietary and lifestyle choices, like many other maladies.

Now that summer is essentially here, you may find your skin burning from a little too much time 
in the sun.  Lucky for us, Huffington Post shares at-home remedies to relieve sunburn pain!


What have you been reading? Anything interesting and/or informative? Do share!

In other news, I'm more than halfway through Gone Girl (in about 2 days),
and I can't put it down. 
Back to the book. 
See ya! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Next Level NYC

I had such a fun meetup yesterday last week (Can you tell I'm behind on life??) that I have to tell you about.

Rebekah Borucki of BexLife and Danny J. of The Sweaty Betties came to NYC to host a gathering of fit-minded folks for a "Happy Hour" in Madison Square Park.

It was easy to spot the group when I arrived, partially because I could easily see Bex and Danny, but also because many came in workout-ready clothes, since we were going to do a 4-minute mini workout.

In the beginning, people were just talking, meeting, reuniting, mingling, etc. It was nice reconnecting with friends and finally meeting some faces I've known online (HEY MARI!).

Selfie shot by Amber

So good to spend time with Amber again! :D
We got to "meet & greet" with two of our favorites:

Danny J and Amber

Me & Rebekah

Then Bex and Danny J brought us together into a circle, where they introduced themselves, told how they met, and then we went around the group introducing ourselves, sharing fun facts and applauding one another.

 Rebekah's husband Justin was there, helping out and taking photos of the event.  It was nice meeting him, too!

Bex chillin in the center, while we shake all around.
That's me in the blue t-shirt, center left.
For fear of getting kicked out of the park, we didn't do the mini-workout, but we did have a little plank contest.  It started either on our hands (Bex: "They can do yoga planks") or on our forearms (Danny J: "Don't be a b!tch.").  I opted for forearms, but after we all proved stronger than they thought, they instructed us to perform different variations on the plank.

If you're on forearms, switch to hands.
Side plank left.
Side plank right.
Raise one foot.
Raise the other.

Sure, I was feeling it, but dared myself to keep going.  In fact, I found the variations made it easier, instead of staying still and thinking about how my abs are shaking.

And so it went, until six remained, and they called it.  Amber (next to me) and I both stuck it out and we were rewarded with super cute "Blissed In" tanks from BexLife (shown with goodies below).  It's so soft; I can't wait to get my zen on in it.

As we cooled down and caught our breath, Rebekah and Danny J described a little bit about what brought them together and introduced us to their Social Academy, where they work closely with a small group of bloggers to help train them by sharing the wisdom and experience that Rebekah and Danny have accumulated and used to create their successful brands.  A few former "students" were in attendance, and vouched for the invaluable information, lessons, advice, and feedback obtained during the intensive four-week course.  Definitely sounds worth looking in to.

The first Social Academy class

Then, there was more mingling and talking, some photo-taking, and goodie bag distribution!


Our goodie bag was filled with treats.  Thank you to the brands below! 

What a treat! It all came in a Shobha bag, which will be great for carrying groceries, as well as a coupon for "NYC's Best Brow & Bikini Wax."  Inside, there was a gym bag from Premier Protein, along with a sample of one of their bars.  I was ecstatic to find two Quest Bars inside; I love these low-carb, high-protein, gluten-free protein bars!  Plus, the ingredients are "SANE" according to Jonathan Bailor; I trust his recommendation, they don't hurt my stomach, and they taste delicious (how could "cookie dough" flavor not??).  It's the only kind I buy nowadays.

The bag also contained samples from Delta Labs, specifically supplements to promote health of hair, skin, and nails.

I jumped for joy when I found the Primal Life Organics "Dirty Mouth" Primal Toothpowder inside.  I switched to this from my regular toothpaste some time ago when I first started experimenting with natural personal care, and my current tin is almost empty.  Perfect timing!  Plus, now I get to try a different flavor, so that when I refill again next time, I'll be familiar with my options.

There were also tea samples (above) and some R.A.W. chips (below), which Amber and I devoured.  "R.A.W." stands for "real and wonderful," and I can tell you that they are.

These little pepper-flavored crackers are like our kind of "chips," and they were a delicious appetizer to our dinner... 

A dozen of us stuck together for dinner at Dos Caminos, which never disappoints.

I've gotten fajitas and quesadillas in the past, but was pleased to find some paleo-friendly options, like these lettuce-wrapped tuna tacos (I didn't even ask for the lettuce; this is how it came!) and vegetables (to supplement chips) to be served with the outstanding guacamole.

It's also nice being out with healthy living bloggers and professionals who either share or respect these food interests!

The night wore on and soon it was time to say goodbye to these friends, both new and old.  It was a fun time, and I hope to see these ladies again soon! 

With ErikaTheodora, MargoJen, Franny, Cris, Amber, Mari, DebbieBex, Danny, and more!

 Thank you, Bex and Danny J. for bringing us together!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Practice Proper Posture

Good morning!  Today, is helping us start our workweek off right by daring us to practice proper posture! 

First, congratulations to Jessica, winner of the Bestowed Giveaway!  Email dareyoutoblog (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize.
But for ALL readers: don't forget you can still use the coupon code [ 5OFFBESTOWED01 ] to get $5 off your box order here!

Now, turning it over to Valerie Johnston and her advice on posture:


Proper Posture and the Osteos

As you begin reading this article, stop!  Evaluate your posture; don’t move a muscle and review what position you hold right now, whether you stand, sit, or lie prone, just as if you were a dancer or a gymnast, trying to evaluate the position of your head and each extremity and how those extremities relate to the body’s core.  Now ask yourself, “Is this good posture, or am I a slouch, a couch potato or a pretzel?”

What you just did is a simplified assessment of a more complicated evaluation called osteopathy, which is a study of the related functions of the body’s structure:  bones, muscles, and ligaments.  These work in concert to allow the body’s full range of motion and position.

What sounds like a rock ‘n roll band from the fifties is really an essential review of how efficiently our bodies will endure over the long haul of a lifetime.  The body’s assumed variety of postures, all made possible because we are remarkably flexible, will absolutely have its affect on managing the “osteos;” osteoarthritis (a malady of bone joints) and osteoporosis (a weakening of the bones). A lifetime of poor posture is directly related to the declining conditions of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

Proper Posture

Directly stated, good posture implies that you stand straight, sit straight and lay straight, but what is “straight?”  Is it as if you are a grunt soldier and your Marine drill sergeant is in your face, close enough to whisper?  But he is yelling at the top of his lungs, “Stand up, worm!”  But you are standing, you mumble to yourself.  However, the assessment described above would say that your feet are splayed, your knees are bent, your gut is a blob hanging from your spine, your shoulders droop and your head is mounted and wobbling like a jack-in-the-box.  While good posture does not necessarily imply that you should stand ram-rod steel straight, your posture should be disciplined to avoid the osteos later in life. 

If we do not have a pre-existing condition that renders good posture difficult to achieve, we cannot blame anything but laziness.  When standing, our feet should be flat on the ground, legs straight, not locked at the knees, but not obviously bent, either.  The body is aligned directly over the legs, back as straight as its natural curves at the neck and base of the spine will allow, arms comfortably straight, shoulders spread, and neck and head upright and in alignment with the body. 

Sitting straight might sometimes be compromised by furniture design.  If so, find another chair.  The upper body ought to have the same alignment as when standing.  The legs should bend naturally at the knees and feet should rest flat on the floor.

Laying prone, on back or stomach, should adopt much the same posture as standing other than the feet.  If on one side, slight curvature of the spine and gently tucked knees and elbows will suffice.

Relax.  No position taken should impose stress, which will have its way with the osteos and their effect on the body.

Posture usually implies a position held while being still.  Is there such a thing a proper posture while in motion?  Ask a dancer or a gymnast.  Their activities during practice and competition are judged not only by their maneuvers, but by how well they position their bodies to a regulated standard of scoring.  Our non-competitive posture should do likewise.

If these postures are maintained throughout life, we will limit the effects of the osteos, just like some music should remain in the past.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.


Thank you for that useful information on posture while sitting, standing, lying down, and moving!  This is definitely something I need to work on, and now I know how!

Dare you to practice proper posture this week, and make it habit! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Look Closely at Canned Foods

First: Don't forget to enter the Bestowed Giveaway - ends Friday.

Now: Guest Post! 

Today, Everyday Health dares us both to take a closer look at canned food.  I, myself, don't use canned foods a ton, but I do regularly use canned tomato paste, tomatos, coconut milk, fish, and, occasionally, other vegetables like mushrooms and hearts of palm.  Hm, actually, maybe it's more often than I realized!

I've often avoided the issue of what's lurking in those cans, and what from the cans is leeching into my food.  But now, we've got some answers...


A Closer Look at Canned Food
By: Hillary Monroe, MS RD LDN, Registered Dietitian and writer for Everyday Health Calorie Counter.

In any given grocery store or corner bodega we find canned goods aplenty. It seems like anything and everything can be canned, from the typical soup, green beans, or tuna fish to whole chickens and even cheese. It’s hard to believe but the canning process dates back to the late 18th century in France. Napoleon needed a way to feed soldiers on the front without the food would spoiling quickly, and canning fit the bill. Since then, the basic principles of canning have not changed much: food is sealed in a jar to keep out the microorganisms that can cause it to spoil, and when ready to eat, just heat up. Sometimes these canned foods can get a bad reputation but with so many uses and benefits, it’s worth taking a trip down the canned foods aisle:

Convenience and shelf life. The very nature of the canning process, using high temperatures and sterile containers to destroy organisms that would cause spoilage, extends the shelf life of food. Canned foods remain safe as long as the container remains intact, so you can keep them handy in your pantry for when you need them.

A great addition to any weeknight meal – try adding beans or canned veggies to any soup or casserole or try cracking open a can of fruit packed in juice for a healthy and tasty snack. Or, try this guilty pleasure (but crowd pleaser) buffalo chicken dip: mix canned chicken, light cream cheese, red hot sauce and blue cheese dressing. Top with crumbled blue cheese and bake until bubbly.

Avoid cans that are dented, particularly at the top or bottom and look out for cans that are bulging or bloated. This could mean the presence of organism, likely Clostridium botulinum, which causes a serious foodborne illness.

Better Nutrition. Canned foods are as nutritious as fresh ones, and some foods become more nutritious when canned and heated. For example, lycopene, a carotenoid that acts as an antioxidant, is more available to your body from cooked tomatoes. Try it: use canned tomatoes to make your own pasta sauce – tasty and good for you!

Safe or unsafe? Canned foods have come under fire for a few reasons, and worth mentioning:

First, the safety of canned fish, particularly tuna, is raised due to mercury levels. There are two kinds of canned tuna: chunk light and chunk white. The chunk white comes from albacore, a larger species of tuna, and samples show that mercury levels can be almost three times higher than those of the smaller tuna, skipjack, used in most canned light tuna. If you're concerned, try salmon, lower on the food chain so less risk of toxins.

Secondly, some studies have linked the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), which has been used for years in clear plastic bottles and food-can liners, to causing health problems. Because the FDA has not yet declared a safe exposure level to BPA, some prefer to avoid it altogether. You can choose BPA free cans or glass jars or vacuum sealed packages.

Overall, benefits of being inexpensive and convenient make canned foods a great addition to any kitchen. I say don’t be shy and pick up some canned or jarred goods for dinner this week!


Thanks, Hillary!  I'm definitely a fan of the convenience and shelf life, myself, but will be sure to opt for BPA-free from here on out. 

Do you use a lot of canned foods?  Got any brands you know to be on the safer side?