Tag Archives: healthy living

Go Pro, Young Man!


Like many of you, I spend a lot of time supporting my children and their sports endeavors.  I do this happily, as I believe strongly in the value of kids playing team sports.  I believe in learning the importance of teamwork, working at a skill to develop proficiency, and enduring challenging situations.  I also believe in getting plenty of time running around outside.

I’m a soccer mom.  I never would have predicted how much I enjoy watching my boys play soccer.  I never thought I’d open our home to a young man from Brazil and a young woman from England in support of my kids’ interest in soccer.  I certainly never thought I’d spend so much time in the car, driving hither and yon to practices and games, all in the name of sport.

But I do.  And I do it willingly.  I do it without thought to any payback.  I don’t say that in an attempt to be a mama martyr; rather, I say it because I want my kids to know that sometimes you do things because they are fun.  And sometimes you do things because they support people you love.  You should never believe that you’re going to get anything other than the joy of playing or watching the game.

There was a recent NPR story about the likelihood of a child becoming a pro athlete and how many parents have a skewed belief that there is some payoff in their child’s future.  Maybe if we just practice a little more, invest in better coaching, or devote more time and attention, that scholarship is just around the corner.  Or, even better, you’ll turn pro and the big league bonus will make you set for life.


But probably not.

And by narrowing the focus of sport on the infinitesimal chance that there may be money in it, we adults do a whole lot of damage.  Not only do we suck the fun out of sports, but we put way too much pressure on our children to take every moment seriously.  While I certainly advocate developing a strong work ethic and honoring the commitment to the team by doing their best, it is our responsibility (and privilege) to allow these children to develop a sense of satisfaction just from playing the game.

Sure, I’d love for one of my kids to earn an athletic scholarship.  But I would hope that by the time that opportunity presents itself, my son is still in love with the game.  By allowing him to play at a competitive level but keeping a recreational focus, I hope that I’m fostering this passion without putting pressure on him to make it pay off.

And if I’m ruining my boys’ futures by not putting them on the athletic fast track, I’m okay with that, too.  For now, I have children who love to play the game, and I love to watch them.  That’s a balance we all appreciate.

Good health and great happiness to you.


Full Moon, Broken Sleep


From an increase in emergency room visits to an uptick in babies being born, the human body and human behavior is affected by the full moon.  For years, this phenomenon was the realm of superstition.  But new studies support what ER nurses and physicians have always known: strange stuff happens with the full moon.

A ten-year-old study that has recently been revisited indicates that the full moon may be the root cause of sleep disruption.   Study participants had 30% less deep sleep during the full moon than on nights on either side of the full moon.  That’s a pretty significant shift!

Regular readers of OnBalance know I’m a stickler for sleep.  I believe it is the missing link for most people in their search for a more balanced, healthier lifestyle.

One of the best ways to encourage better sleep is to prepare your body and your mind for sleep.  While staying away from blue light screens (laptops, e-readers, and even televisions) for two hours before bedtime is ideal, that’s not a realistic adaptation for most people.  You can still create a wind-down ritual that will serve your sleep goals well.

The easiest habit to implement is relaxing breathwork.  The yogic practice of pranyama can be quite simple.  Try inhaling for a count of 4, then exhaling for a count of 4.  On the next breath, inhale for 5 and exhale for 5.  Keep adding one count to each breath until you get to 8.  Maintain that deep breath pattern, visualizing the breath filling and then leaving your body.

While the more popular sun salutation sequence is used to invigorate the body, the moon salutation chandra namaskar is a series of asana that can calm, focus, and bring the body to rest.  If done during the full moon, one might find it brings on more sound sleep.  The postures are simple enough even for a beginner to do.  Yoga Journal has an outstanding explanation of the history and process of chandra namaskar.

The full moon is tomorrow night– give these tips a try and see how you sleep.

Good health and great happiness to you!

GUEST POST: My Great Cycle Challenge

Today OnBalance readers have a real treat: my friend and fellow women’s wellness advocate Darline Turner has written a guest blog post.  Just read the story, and you’ll know why I asked her to share.  She’s a real go(al)-getter!


So what would cause me, a nearly 50 year old woman and mom of two busy kids, to cycle 1000 miles in four months?

I got divorced on December 21, 2012, “The end of the world” according to the Mayan calendar, and I have been trying to figure out what to do with myself ever since.

I have a Master’s Degree in physician assistant studies, but I really had no desire to return to the clinic after 12 years. So I decided to grow the small business I had started, Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond.

Growing a business is about as easy as getting divorced! My focus is community outreach in Maternal and Infant health and I have spent the better part of the last three years getting entrenched in the Austin medical and public health communities. In April of this year, after a particularly frustrating day, I uttered this off-hand prayer:

“God, I feel like such a failure! I need a win!”

I felt like I could do nothing right, and every door I knocked upon remained unopened, or was quickly slammed shut after opening.

A few days to weeks later, I saw an ad for “The Great Cycle Challenge”. Cyclists were preparing to ride and raise money for children with cancer. I had just asked family and friends for money for other campaigns, so I didn’t want to ask for more cash. But I decided to do the ride anyway.

I had been out of the exercise loop and this was just the inspiration and accountability that I needed to get going. The challenge was for the month of June, and I set a goal to ride 150 miles in 30 days.

June 1st rolled around and I set out. I rode 8 miles that first day. Those first 8 miles were tough as it had already begun getting hot in Austin. But I got through the ride and lo and behold, felt great the next day! So I kept riding, gradually increasing my mileage every few days. Midway through the month, I was riding 15-20 miles at a shot and realized I was very close to my 150 mile goal.

So I increased my goal to 200 miles; my total mileage for June was 207 miles.

Funny thing about exercise: it’s kind of addicting! My body literally began craving my rides! I noticed that my mood improved, I lost weight and I was happier than I had been in a long time. So I decided to continue. In another very off-handed comment I told my Facebook friends, “I think I’ll see if I can ride 1000 miles by October 1st.” I have never ridden that much in such a short amount of time, and coupling that with the hottest days of summer in Texas was really going to be a challenge!

Like all good challenges, this one had its ups and downs. I got a flat tire one day while riding at the Veloway and had to walk home about four miles. I got a nasty cold/allergy attack and rode the last 6-8 weeks often congested. But by then I was committed and nothing was going to stop me!

On September 27 I completed 1013.9 miles with a 25.08 mile ride. On September 30th I rode 15 miles and completed the challenge with 1029.15 total miles cycled

I learned so much about myself during this challenge.

  • I can set a goal and achieve it.
  • It is never too late to start an exercise program.
  • Exercise really is medicine. My cycling boosted my spirits and lifted me out of my depressed state. The added benefits of weight loss, muscle tone, improved sleep and lots of support and encouragement from my Facebook family and friends were icing on the cake!
  • Sometimes, you have to create your own “win”.
  • No matter what, I now know that I am “good enough”.


This challenge was so much more than a bicycle ride. It was a HUGE self esteem boost, a huge physical health boost and a huge connector to my friends and family! I had been moaning and lamenting the fact that I am so far from friends and family (I a from New England) and yet, each day, with each ride, family and friends were right there to cheer me on! In today’s cyber world, we can remain connected.

I invite any of you who are feeling down, shy, unsure or even really great to challenge yourself to do something different, something “abnormal”, something totally out of your comfort zone! You will learn amazing insights about yourself and experience a tremendous boost of confidence as you attack and achieve your goal.

Whatever it is, I wish you good luck.

Feel inspired by Darline’s awesome example?  Her next challenge is raising $2500 to start a chapter of The Birthing Project in Austin. The Birthing Project is a non-profit organization that supports Black women through pregnancy and childbirth to have term pregnancies and healthy babies. Black women in Austin have 2-3 times the risk of delivering a premature, low birth weight infant and those infants have twice the risk of dying before their first birthdays. Please consider a donation towards this challenge and thanks so much for your support.



Product Review: Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender



A few weeks ago, I posted about my love for green smoothies.  Because I had come to rely on the nutrition and energy boost in my morning smoothie, I wasn’t looking forward to going on vacation and leaving my daily breakfast behind.  Of course, I also wasn’t necessarily interested in spending a lot of money on a new blender just for smoothies for a month.

I did some research, and if you’ve ever done research about blenders you’ll know that this is a product people take very seriously.  I did my due diligence on Amazon.com, and I wound up purchasing a Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender.  I’ve been using it almost daily for three weeks now, so it’s time for a review.

All in all, this is a great product.  I like that I can make my smoothie in the same cup I drink it in.  Easy cleanup is always a plus!  I’m impressed with the strength of the motor– my smoothies include spinach, frozen berries, greek yogurt, and bananas.  This little blender is able to tackle the frozen berries and very full cup with no problems.  I also like that this cup has a 16oz (plus) capacity, because I tend to fill my smoothies to the tip top every time. 

I haven’t experienced the smoking smell that some of the Amazon reviewers noted.  To avoid this, I’ve been careful to pulse the blender rather than run it continuously.  The motor shows no signs of losing power, and in fact it blends the smoothie in about 15-20 seconds– much faster than I would have anticipated.

My only complaint is that the base of the blades inside the cup seems to stain easily.  Of course, I’m using berries and spinach, so staining should be expected.  I just like to know that the cups are clean, and it’s hard to tell by eyeballing it.

If you travel often, I recommend this blender.  It’s been a great way for me to start my day with 4 servings of fruit/veg and 10 grams of protein, all for about 200 calories.  And it’s mighty tasty, too!