Posted by: suzannern | June 15, 2011

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Working 60 hours/week can make it challenging to (1) eat well and (2) cook homemade food. I still struggle with the fact that, for now, I can only squeeze in 2-3 workouts per week.

1-2 cardio sessions and a bikram class is a good week.

That being said, my diet is of utmost importance now more than ever. I try to plan my week in advance and bring meals and snacks to work with me. It saves both calories and money–especially in NYC.

I tend to follow recipes and not create or improvise much when I cook. Pretty boring. These stuffed peppers are a rarity for me because I actually came up with the idea all by myself. Since this does not happen very often, I figured it is something worth blogging about.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Servings:2

Two Bell Peppers
1 t. olive oil (feel free to add up to a T.)
0.5 t. garlic (minced)
1 Medium Tomato
0.5 cup eggplant
0.125 cup onion
0.75 cup lentils (ready to eat- I used “Melissa’s”)
0.25 cup goat cheese
salt and pepper (to taste)

Preheat Oven 375 degrees

Slice top of peppers and remove seeds. Place on baking sheet.

Chop tomato, onion and eggplant (I chopped them to be about, oh maybe, 0.5 inch in size).

In a skillet, brown onion and garlic in olive oil. Add tomato and eggplant. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add lentils. Add salt and pepper to taste as you add ingredients. Cook for about 5 more minutes.

Remove from heat. Empty cooked ingredients into a bowl. Add goat cheese and mix throughout. Stuff peppers with mixture.

Place peppers on baking sheet, cover each with aluminum foil. Bake for 30-35 minutes.


<3

I enjoyed my stuffed pepper with an apple and a pineapple chobani for lunch.

Greetings bloggies.

Hope your summer is off to a great start!

Suzi Q is still pretty sleep deprived… but dealing with it as best I can.

Along with my gym membership, I joined the local Bikram yoga studio.

Man…let me tell you… it is therapy in a hot box.

Seriously. Addicting.

I aim for 3 classes a week…

Thus far, I have noticed the following benefits:

sleeping better (even during the day)
slimming/toning in my abdominals and legs
calming of the mind

Any bikram yogis out there? What is your favorite pose? The pose you find most challenging?

I love locust. I’m proud to say that my legs kick some serious booty when I rock this one…

(not me but an accurate replica of what I were to look like if there was a photo shoot during my practice…source)

I find that each class is different and what was once an easy pose can quickly turn into a challenge and vice versa.

My current workout regimen alternates between Bikram classes and running/spinning. So far, so good.

As far as nutrition goes…I have been trying very hard to eat as clean as possible. I know from past experience that even though my sleepy zombie-mind tells me to eat crap, my body is really aching for good, fresh, naked food. Food-gasms abound.

For the past month I have been planning a weekly menu and then journaling my intake every week. I love grocery shopping and trying new recipes… special shout-outs to the following chica-dees for some pretty stellar recipes that help me in my endeavor… (Gena, Gina, Angela, Caitlin, and Jenna).

As far as the journaling goes, I use the healthy living/social networking website sparkpeople (SP). SP is super motivating and my sparkfriends keep me honest. Any of you out there spark?

Eating as clean as possible gives me a bit more energy. I’m still pretty exhausted (with my schedule, I think that is impossible to avoid) but since my last post, I feel “lighter” and less sluggish as a whole.

Next post…on one of my favorite things.. laughter.

Namaste.

~S

Posted by: suzannern | May 4, 2010

Waging War Against Sleep Deprivation, Part I

“It’s remarkable how little we actually know about sleep and its relation to the body, but we’re learning; It’s a complex area to investigate, but the opportunities to dig deeper into how sleep relates to health and physical activity are excellent.”
~William G. Herbert, Ph.D.

Things have been a bit hectic around here so I haven’t had much time to post. But in light of my life and my motivation to remain as healthy as possible, I decided to do my next post about my biggest hindrance to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Working the night shift for the past three years has been hard on both my body and mind. In fact, I have not “gotten used” to working nights at all. It has had a cumulative effect and I find it much more challenging to eat healthy and maintain a workout routine now versus three years ago.

The risks of sleep deprivation and ways to cope with the fatigue, excessive hunger and other unhealthy consequences from this lifestyle are something I am always striving to overcome. So this post is not only for me, but for all of you out there who work nights or are sleep deprived in some other way.

In short, research has shown that sleep deprivation can:

- lower a woman’s glucose tolerance, increase her blood pressure, interfere with her ability to concentrate and contribute to excess drinking (source).

-lead to an increased risk of hypertension in women (source).

-alter the regulation of the body’s processes, including appetite and metabolism. Lack of sleep can throw these processes off balance, and may lead to overeating, and in turn, gradual weight gain over time (source).

- increase the risk of colon and breast cancer (source).

-worsen symptoms of depression (source).

Personally, I notice that when I have worked 2-3 night shifts in a row, and have had little sleep in-between, I am fatigued, short-tempered, have an intense craving for sugar and carbs. I tend to forget things very easily. I have even had “black-outs” in which I forget entire conversations I have with people. It’s amazing I have not gotten into a car accident driving to evening classes over the past three years.

Thankfully, starting this June, I will be working more day shifts. I will still be working some nights however and I hope to utilize whatever resources I have to fight the side effects of the graveyard shift.

While they are very simple, these are the top three suggestions I have found…(and trust me, they can be a challenge):
(Source).
(Source).

Packing healthy snack alternatives.


Picture Source.

Keeping hydrated with water and tea.

(Picture Source)

Exercise before going into work (as exercise tends to give you an energy boost too).

Picture Source.

Funny… I could work on all three of these suggestions!!

~I usually exercise when I leave work in the morning and plan on incorporating some exercise before heading into the night shift to see if this changes my energy level.

~When I first began working the night shift, I always brought a snack and breakfast with me. For some reason I stopped that habit and tend to munch on food on the unit. Time to stop mooching and bring fruit, veggies, yogurt and tea.

Suggestions?
Encouraging stories?

Please share your experiences!

… to be continued…

xo,
S

Posted by: suzannern | March 2, 2010

Winner for the Double Giveaway…

Using a random generator.. the winner is

#3: Melissa who says:
“Since I was such a comment posting delinquent, I’m posting now. I definitely would be interested! I could add her book to my summer “reading for pleasure” list!”

Congrats woman! You’ll be getting a shipment of goodies soon!!

Posted by: suzannern | February 13, 2010

A Double Giveaway

Hey bloggies!!!

First off… the winner of the previous giveaway is MIA so this giveaway will include both the skin care package and the new giveaway, a signed copy of the book “Why Him? Why Her?: How to Find and Keep Lasting Love” by Helen Fisher, Ph.D.

For those of you who don’t know who Helen Fisher is… here is a brief synopsis…

She is a biological anthropologist who has done a vast amount of research on love, romance and attachment. She is the leading consultant and the creator of the personality questionnaire for the dating website, chemistry.com. She has written multiple books with the most recent being “Why Him? Why Her?” which describes her research and the personality types used on chemistry.com.

I have had the pleasure of seeing her speak twice over the past year and am always enraptured by her charisma and knowledge. Her writing does not disappoint… her personality shines through with each turn of the page. Like her presentations, her books are both intellectually stimulating and entertaining.

Dr. Fisher has donated a signed copy of her latest book for one HHN reader…

If you are interested in learning about the evolution of human love, romance, lust and attachment then leave a comment below on the topic. FYI– email me your contact info at srchabot(at)hotmail(dot)com so I can send you the goodies if you win!

The winner will be announced March 1st, 2010.
Good luck!

Posted by: suzannern | January 15, 2010

First Giveaway Winner

OrganoDerm Giveaway Winner:

True Random Number Generator
Min:1
Max:4
Result:
2

Deeleb!

She writes:
Some interesting reading! I forwarded this to a friend who’s into organic things, maybe she’ll blog about it. I hate getting sick, so when I travel, I compulsively wash my hands. Usually it works. Last time it didn’t.
I’d say I’m most interested in the lip protector. My lips tend to become chapped very easily.

Congrats!

Send me your mailing info and we’ll get the skin-care package to you asap!

Coming Soon:
Next giveaway: Biological Anthropologist, Helen Fisher, has donated an autographed version of her latest book, “Why Him? Why Her?”

Posted by: suzannern | January 8, 2010

Simple Skin Care and OrganoDerm Giveaway!

Our Skin.

Our Largest Organ and Our First Line of Defense.

During the winter season this vital part of our body is likely to be compromised by the cold, windy weather. This is often compounded by taking scorching showers to stay warm.
‘Tis the season! So I have decided to dedicate this post to our skin– by bringing it back to the basics…

1. Soap and Water
In the healthcare world it is repeatedly driven into our heads…. the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others from harmful micro-organisms is to WASH YOUR HANDS.

A little narrative to help you understand my point…

Right around the time I was born, “universal precautions” was just beginning to emerge and glove use was not a common thing in hospitals. My mother worked in a maternity unit as a nurse during this time. One night a woman with active genital herpes gave birth vaginally (FYI– if you are pregnant and have active genital herpes you should make this known to your physician because the virus can be passed to the fetus, which can lead to a fatal systemic infection), spreading the virus to her infant. The infant was handled by multiple staff members but because of their consistent and proper hand washing routine, the virus was only spread to one health-care worker ( a nurse who handled the newborn as soon as it was born).
Remember, you never know who you will come in contact with. If not for yourself, wash your hands so you don’t spread whatever your nose-picking finger has to an immune deficient child or somebody battling cancer.
Washing your hands saves lives.

Steps to Wash Hands:
-Wet your hands with running water.
-Apply soap.
-Thoroughly lather hands.
-Rub hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails. An easy way to know 20 seconds has passed is to sing the ABCs or Happy Birthday to yourself.
-Rinse well.
-Dry your hands.
When in a public bathroom, use your towel to turn off the faucet.

2. Moisturize:
Frequently washing your hands or just simply being exposed to the elements in the winter can lead to dry, cracked skin. Any break in your skin is a gateway for micro-organisms to make their way into your body.
Once again, keep it simple… wear gloves outside and keep those hands soft with lotion!

3. Beware of Mis- and Over- Using Anti-Bacterial Skin Products!

I am all about good hygiene and proper hand-washing but I would like to make it very clear that I am not a big fan of anti-bacterial skin care products. Yes, anti-bacterial gels like Purell are handy in situations where you don’t have time to wash your hands. But over-using Purell (and anti-bacterial soaps and lotions) breed anti-bacterial resistant bacteria. Not a good thing. Strains of these bacteria, like MRSA and VRE, which used to be isolated within hospitals, are increasing in occurrence within the general population.

It is much healthier to trust your immune system and use plain soap and water the majority of the time. Only use anti-bacterial products when absolutely necessary. Educate yourself!

Another semi-related FYI–
The common cold and the flu are VIRUSES… a virus is not bacteria… therefore you DO NOT need an antibiotic for these illnesses. Keep that in mind before you allow your doctor to prescribe you anti-biotics without verification of a bacterial infection. Please don’t pop anti-biotics like candy, because one day you may really need an anti-biotic and you want the medication to work, right? Good.

Now it’s time for the giveaway!!!

The fabulous people over at ORGANODERM are donating their skincare travel kit to a lucky holistic health nut reader. Natural, gentle, organic and free of anti-bacterial crapola, their products are perfect for any skin type and climate.

For a chance to win please
comment below, adding a personal story or some information relating to the topic of skin care and/or what product from Organoderm that interests you the most.

Contest closes Wednesday, January 13. Open to US residents only please.

Good luck!!

xo
~S

Posted by: suzannern | January 4, 2010

“Diet” versus Lifestyle Change…

A reader’s question answered that many people could benefit from…

Marie, a team leader from SparkPeople asks,

“One of the greatest misconceptions in almost any health site is the word DIET. What troubles me is that the word DIET seems to mean eating celery soup every day and sipping water.

How can I get through to them that planning a good balanced diet based on nourishing food, instead of using one after another ‘diet’ that promise fast weight loss and then cause them to go on a grand binge when they have lost enough weight to make them think they will remain eternally thin, after the diet.

Just rambling here, but maybe you have some hints as to how I can feed them some knowledge and make them interested in paying attention to what I try to encourage them with??”

Thank you for your efforts to help us in holistic health issues.”

Thank you Marie!

I think the first thing we should all do is to totally eliminate the word “diet” from our vocabulary. The word “diet” screams temporary, extreme, and restrictive. All of those adjectives are things that we should avoid.

In order to reach and maintain a healthy weight AND body, one must change their eating habits and/or their physical fitness routine long-term.

Instead of thinking of oneself on “a diet”, think of it as a lifestyle change. I think one of the biggest reasons “diets” don’t work are because there is a lack of long-term compliance. This is most likely due to the fact that many “diets” restrict people from nutrients that the body needs (e.g. healthy carbohydrates, fats etc.) which results in binging as the body over compensates for this deprivation.

So instead of being on a temporary, extreme and restrictive “diet” one must concentrate on a long-term, flexible, and wholesome way to nurture and energize your body. In a nutshell you should be eating REAL, unprocessed food and working your whole body (via both cardio and weight training).

Lifestyle changes are hard but within reach. A few ways to get yourself on a healthy pathway are:
-Educate Yourself
Here’s some info and suggested reading to get you started:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
The China Study by T. Colin Campbell

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/

-Surround yourself with support
(in both the real world and the virtual world…)

Here are a few ideas off of the top of my head…

In the real world:
— educate those open-minded people in your life who are interested in bettering their health.
–join a gym
–take classes (e.g. yoga, kickboxing, anything physical!)
–join your area’s road runner’s club (they often have beginner’s running groups)
–take a health supportive cooking class with a friend or loved one

In the virtual world:
–Success stories abound, especially in the blog-o-sphere. For motivation, please refer to two of my favorite healthy living blogs:
Fitnessista and Oh She Glows. Both Gina and Angela are two beautiful human beings who are not only excellent examples of successful lifestyle changes, but who are also fabulous fitness role models for women in general.
–Join a healthful living site, like this one. SparkPeople has endless support, recipes, fitness ideas and motivating success stories!

Generally, all it takes is a consistent exercise routine and a healthy eating pattern. Physical problems such as hypothyroidism or other metabolic illnesses can make weight loss difficult. If you are having difficulty losing weight and are following an adequate fitness routine and eating healthfully, have your physician check you out for any underlying physical problems that may be influencing you metabolism.

Although brief, I hope this post has helped you. Remember, eat to live, not live to eat.

xo!
~S
I’m taking questions! Anything health related! Email me yours at srchabot@hotmail.com

Disclaimer: Suzanne is a Registered Nurse and Marital Family Therapist. Information in her posts are based on personal experience and research, however, the ideas presented here are not meant to substitute doctors’ recommendations.

Posted by: suzannern | December 22, 2009

Sugar And Acne… A Personal Quest for my Old Skin

This is a post that I originally put up on my sparkpeople page a few months ago.

It is a challenge that I am currently implementing (for the second time) and I’d like to hear your experience with the topic!

Acne and Stress:

So unlike many adolescents, I had beautiful skin throughout my teenage years. It wasn’t until I started college that my skin really started to breakout.

I attributed this to a few things, #1- I was away at school and the water was “hard” so it was drying my skin out, #2, I had just started birth control (BCP) that summer so I thought it could be from the change in hormones as well.

My theory started to change as time went on however. I started to realize that whenever I wasn’t as stressed ( I was on vacation or was getting more sleep), I would breakout less. So, I began to think it was most likely directly related to stress levels (which is actually still related to a hormonal imbalance, just not from the BCP).

After moving to the city in 2007, I finally decided to go see a dermatologist for the first time. She put me on two topical medications, retin A and finacea.

They worked pretty well but dry out my skin, especially in the winter. They are also pretty toxic medications that are teratogenic so using them during a pregnancy is a major no-no. I’d rather not have to rely on them for a clear complexion.

So…I am currently trying to minimize my use of these Rx medications and am on a quest to find other ways to deal with my acne situation. Lately, I have come to some additional beliefs that I think contribute to my “adult acne.”

First one is a bit gross so bear with me. I breakout the most on the right side of my chin. Now, I tend to drool when I sleep. I also sleep with my right ear to the pillow. So I’m thinking the sleeping and drooling on that particular side of my face leads to an increase in bacteria and therefore more breakouts.

Second, I still maintain the belief that my stress levels are directly related to my breakouts. The more stress I am under, the more I breakout. Stress increases certain hormonal levels. One such hormone, cortisol, can lead to elevated glucose levels. Keeping this in mind, I believe that having a diet that is high in sugar would only exacerbate any abnormally high blood sugar level I may already have. This would consequently increase my breakouts.

Following so far?

In short, since cortisol is directly related to glucose levels in the body, I think that my sugar intake only makes matters worse. Acne is basically bacteria. And what does bacteria thrive on??? SUGAR!!

Oh.. and when I am super stressed… guess what I eat? Carbs and sweets! HELLO!

So that’s my theory. And here is what I am going to do to test it out…

My life is stressful. I’m sleep deprived, work full-time nights, take evening classes and intern 20+ hours/weekdays. That isn’t going to change until I graduate in May so other than exercise, especially yoga and social support, there isn’t much else I can do about that.

I’m not quite sure how I can prevent myself from sleeping in a certain position…(suggestions welcome)…

So the plan for now is to decrease the sugar consumption/white carb consumption. An experiment that I am starting right this very second.

What do you think?
What are your skin stories?

Other than my knowledge from past nursing classes, here is a source to refer to…

Posted by: suzannern | November 10, 2009

“The planet isn’t going anywhere…”

Why do I feel like I am going to be attacked when defending vaccinations? What has caused such a negative stir about something that has drastically changed our lives?

Seriously folks, vaccines are in the top two (the other being clean water) community health interventions that have vastly increased our life span and quality of life.

What is interesting is the total ignorance of this fact. People are quick to blame vaccines for autism and toxicity but have they ever lived in a pre-vaccine world? Do they realize there is no reliable, empirically valid study to back-up this claim?

Because of vaccines, we have bettered our lives and increased our life spans. However, we are now an over-populated race. A planet full of people who take their lives (“I’m speaking for developed countries here) for granted.

With that type of attitude, our cozy lives won’t last.

Am I “pro-vaccines?” Yes. Did I receive the H1N1 vaccine? Yes. This is the first flu vaccine I have received in about 3 years but I made the decision based on the simple fact that I was not around for the last swine flu outbreak and therefor do not have immunity to it. This is why many healthy, young adults are dying from this strain of the flu. No previous exposure.

The same idea follows for children born in countries (like the Us of A) that have virtually zero cases of all of the diseases we were vaccinated against as infants and children (polio, mumps, meningitis).

No exposure.
No Vaccine.
No immunity.

These diseases have not gone extinct. They can come back.

So, if the majority of people decide to not get vaccinated or not have their children vaccinated because they think their child’s IQ may be less than 140, (why yes, that was a hint of sarcasm) there will no longer be “herd immunity” (google it– educate yourself!)) and more epidemics will occur. In fact, that could be a good thing– overpopulation will be kept in check.

I’m sorry if I am coming off as harsh. But in the wake of H1N1 I have noticed many people spewing out anti-vaccination mumbo jumbo with no scientific evidence to back them up. They are unaware of the history of disease and medicine and have not done their research.

Feel free to have whatever opinion you want. I simply ask you this. Don’t be ignorant.

I leave you with one of my favorite George Carlin “bits” that I find relevant to my viewpoint…

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