Five Fitness Tips to Keep Introverts Moving

January 16, 2019 by  
Filed under Blogs, Health & Wellness

While about one-third of the U.S. population describe themselves as introverted, many of the most popular workout options (i.e., exercise classes, fitness groups, competitive sports, etc.) may appear to exclude those more stimulated by “alone time.” But since perception doesn’t always equal reality, the Aquatic Care Programs offers some advice for helping introverts achieve fitness goals on their own terms in the press release below.

Finding a workout routine that fits your personality is one of the key ways to achieve optimal results, says Humble physical therapist Ankit Bhatia. And, that holds particularly true for introverts— those who may be uneasy about joining a gym or a fitness class due to crowds of people, loud music, or the seemingly prying eyes of other members.

“If you have a more introverted personality, joining a gym, exercise class or workout group may not be your cup of tea, but that doesn’t have to hold you back from achieving fitness or weight-loss goals,” said Bhatia, physical therapist of Aquatic Care Programs in Humble. “Fitness opportunities are everywhere, and it’s important you commit to a path that’s comfortable and successful for you.”

It’s been estimated that one-third or more of the U.S. population falls at least partially into the category of “introverts.” This doesn’t necessarily equate to shyness, though, Bhatia says.

An introvert is more likely to find many social or group interactions draining. In contrast, they are generally more stimulated and energized by personal or alone time.

With this in mind, Bhatia offers the following advice to help introverts achieve their fitness goals:

Exercise Solo: If you’re more comfortable by yourself or just don’t feel like dealing with crowds of people at the gym, simply consider fitness options you can do on your own—options like running, swimming, cycling or going for a walk. As exercise itself is energizing, so too is alone time for an introvert’s spirit.

Use the Buddy System: A misconception about introverts is they always prefer being alone. The truth is, introverts enjoy spending quality time with close friends, and this can be beneficial when exploring various fitness options. Bringing a buddy to the gym or a fitness class can make the experience much more positive than going alone.

Seek Inner Focus: Introverts are known for “living in their heads,” so to speak, and often this breeds a level of creativity and personal reflection they find stimulating. So, consider types of exercises known for benefiting the body as well as the inner spirit—activities like yoga, Pilates, tai chi, stretching, deep breathing, etc.

Arm Yourself with Headphones: Sometimes, you just can’t beat access to the space and equipment a fitness club can provide. So, if you just can’t turn your back on the gym, make the experience easier with a good set of headphones. Not only can you choose your own audio motivators (i.e., music, podcasts, books, etc), but simply wearing headphones can help ward off unwanted conversation.

Stream at Home: Streaming at-home fitness apps have come a long way over the last couple of years. Services like Peloton, Aaptiv, ClassPass, etc., offer professional-level streaming workout programs (and equipment, in some cases) for at-home fitness. Bhatia, however, offers a bit of caution before starting one of these programs.

“While some at-home programs can be good, they can’t provide immediate feedback about incorrect form, movement deficiencies and weaknesses in strength and flexibility that, over time, can lead to discomfort, pain or injury,” Bhatia said. “So if you try one out, I highly recommend you first get assessed by a physical therapist to ensure any new workout regimen is going to be safe and lead you toward your actual fitness goals.” —Ankit Bhatia, PT, DPT, MS, ACSM-HFS

About Aquatic Care ProgramsWith two locations, in Humble and Houston, Aquatic Care Programs is dedicated to the advancement of Physical Therapy through innovative aquatic and land based rehabilitation. Our licensed Physical Therapists provide individualized, personal therapy programs specifically designed and monitored to meet each patients rehab needs.  For more information, visit

The Latest Cold + Flu Fighter

October 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Blogs, Health & Wellness

Although past studies have indicated that endurance sports (like that marathon training you’re pondering) put strain on the immune system, a new analysis in Frontiers in Immunology is flipping the script. We know that during intense exercise, infection-fighting immune cells increase 10 fold in the bloodstream, drop to low levels afterward and finally return to normal hours later—a finding that was previously interpreted as a sign of immune suppression. But now researchers speculate that this cell-turnover timeline is impossible, meaning that the “destroyed” cells (that were thought to have regenerated just hours later) can’t be replaced that quickly. Moreover, these “lost” cells actually end up in other more infection-prone parts of the body like the lungs. So it turns out that all exercise, and that includes the intense stuff, is good for immunity. One last thing, though: Make sure you’re balancing your marathon-training schedule with plenty of low impact, flexibility exercises like Pilates or yoga.

—Amanda Altman

Weight-Loss Tips Worth Making All Year Long!

March 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Features, Health & Wellness

by A.J. Henley

The weather’s getting warmer, and beach season feels like it’s just around the corner. It’s that time of year again…when you pledge to overhaul your diet for the sake of your waistline and your well-being. You’re a paragon of virtue to start, but just a few weeks (or even days) in, your motivation begins to flag. Feeling “hangry”—hungry and angry about all that deprivation—you scarf down two pieces of sheet cake at an office birthday party, and then scrap your evening salad for Mexican takeout and a heaping bowl of ice cream.


Before you blame a lack of willpower (or those cake-loving co-workers!) for your poor follow-through, look at your goals with a critical eye. Ask yourself if they can really be accomplished within the time frame you’ve allotted and what you’ll do specifically to support them on a daily basis. “Without an attainable, detailed action plan in place, you won’t make it to the finish line,” says nutritionist Lisa Jubilee, MS, CDN, a cofounder of Living Proof Nutrition Strength Pilates in New York. “It’s also important that the strategic steps be things that you’re willing and able to work into your schedule.” If you spend long hours on the job, for example, telling yourself you’ll cook every night will only set you up for failure. “It’s more effective to be consistent,” she says, opting for modest vows you can live with (say, two home-cooked meals a week) rather than lofty ones you can’t.

To inject momentum into your best intentions, Jubilee and other experts came up with 11 very doable goals. Adopt a few to start, adding more as the first ones stick. By staying flexible and being patient, these good-for-you behaviors will soon become second-nature, helping you make those weight-loss ambitions a reality.

1. Picture a slimmer, stronger you.
“Like any work project, you should have an idea of what the end result will be” before you begin, says Katherine Tallmadge, MS, RD, the author of Diet Simple: Lose Weight & Get Healthy Without Dieting (LifeLine Press, 2011). She suggests visualizing your life when you’re at your ideal weight at least once a day, be it walking into a party looking fabulous, or clad in workout wear, killing that spin class. The ritual will help boost your confidence, she says, which is a proven prerequisite for success.

2. Commit to three squares.
Consuming small, frequent meals might seem like a no-brainer for keeping hunger and energy dips at bay, but it’s not necessarily the best way to slim down. “It depends on your personality and schedule, but I find mini meals make people more obsessed with food,” Tallmadge says.

There’s a physiological downside to grazing as well: “When you continually eat throughout the day, your body has no reason to tap into fat reserves for fuel,” Jubilee explains. “For most people, consuming moderately sized, nutrient-rich meals less frequently will give the body a greater chance of reaching glycogen depletion and enable fat loss to occur.”

3. Eat more consciously. Multitasking—say, munching while watching TV, reading or texting—can be a recipe for overindulging. Instead, sit down to eat. Clear your desk of distractions and make your dinner table a tech-free zone so you can focus solely on your meal. “Chewing each bite of food until it’s almost liquefied forces you to slow down and allows the body to absorb more nutrients,” says Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of The End of Dieting: How to Live for Life (HarperOne, 2014). “It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive signals from digestive hormones that you’re full.”

4. Allow yourself a daily treat. Nothing not to like here! If chocolate, a bag of chips or a glass of wine is calling your name, go for it—within reason, of course. “Banning foods is not sustainable,” says Susan Moores, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant in St. Paul, MN. “A ‘forbidden fruit’ becomes a bigger draw and a point of focus.”

“A healthy diet is about balance, not extremes,” adds Jubilee. “That’s why I tell my clients to first feed their body what it needs, and save a little room for what it purely wants.” Many successful weight losers and maintainers follow the 80/20 rule, making sure 80 percent of their calories consumed are healthy and saving the remaining 20 percent for an indulgence. Others simply factor a portion-controlled 100- to 150-calorie snack into their daily calorie tally. But be sure to make that treat count; for a sweet or salty snack to truly satisfy, it should be something you’re craving, whether that’s a cup of fruit-flavored Greek yogurt or a few squares of dark chocolate. And if you’re tempted to go back for seconds? Keep in mind that you’ll have another chance to partake tomorrow—and every day after that.

5. Keep tabs. Writing down everything you put in your mouth may be annoying and feel like a lot of work, which is why many people don’t do it. But journaling can up your chances of following through with the changes you need to make, Tallmadge says. In addition to keeping you accountable, jotting down what you eat, as well as your motivation for losing weight and the feelings surrounding every meal and milestone, is a process that’s vital to staying confident and strong.

But don’t shy from documenting the little slips along the way as well. “Negative reinforcement is sometimes just as important as positive reinforcement,” she says. If you’re reading about the stomachache you had after a junk-food binge, you may think twice about polishing off a box of doughnuts or a big plate of fries.

6. Institute Fish Fridays. “Like the concept of Meatless Mondays, this is a clever way to include seafood on your menu,” says Moores. Ounce for ounce, fish contains fewer calories than beef and even poultry, and provides an important dose of omega-3 fatty acids—nutrients linked to a healthier heart and brain. “Still, it’s not a blanket pass,” she cautions. “It hinges on the way the fish is prepared, what it’s eaten with and many other elements.”

There’s one other catch, too: You can easily cancel out the benefits with seafood that’s contaminated with mercury, antibiotics or harmful chemicals like PCBs. To play it safe, look for sardines, mackerel, wild Alaskan salmon, pole-caught albacore tuna and Arctic char. For additional options, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Super Green” list at; you can find the best picks for your state or download its free app to your smartphone.

Houston Kids Triathalon


When: April 19, 2015
Where: University of Houston 4500 University Drive Houston, TX 77004

The Houston Texans and Texas Children’s Hospital, in partnership with the nonprofit organization Kids Triathlon, Inc., have partnered to bring you the 2015 Houston Texans Kids Triathlon presented by Texas Children’s Hospital. It is expected to be the largest USATriathlon sanctioned kids triathlon in the world for the second year in a row with 3,000 participants ages 6 to 15. Thousands of families will gather for the interactive triathlon expo and tons of racing fun. The Houston Texans are proud to support this PLAY 60 initiative, helping to build a generation of healthy, active and responsible kids.
Training Guide courtesy of Texas Children’s Hospital
The Houston Texans and Kids Triathlon, Inc. are proud to partner with Texas Children’s Hospital on the 2015 Houston Texans Kids Triathlon. To prepare yourself or your child for the race, Texas Children’s Hospital has put together a guide that offers nutrition advice, an endurance training plan and safety tips so all participants will train properly and perform their best on race day. This tool is FREE so make-sure to download and print today!

To download the guide, click here.

The race will take place on a closed course and water stations, race volunteers, and safety personnel will be positioned throughout the race.

Click here to view race maps.

Free parking will be available to all participants, spectators, and volunteers on the campus of the University of Houston. The large surface lot at the intersection of Texas Spur 5 and University Drive provides the best access to the event. There are other surface lots in this same area that are also open and only a short walk to the race course. Exit 44C or Exit 44B off of I-45 are the best ways to reach this area of the University of Houston campus.

Click here for the parking map.

Hotels & Travel
We welcome race participants that are traveling from all over the region to be a part of the  Houston Texans Kids Triathlon. William P. Hobby Airport is less than 10 minutes from the University of Houston, and is home to hundreds of flights each day.

If you would like to stay at a hotel close to the race site, there are a number of options:

The Crown Plaza Hotel located at 1700 Smith Street in downtown Houston is offering a special race-weekend rate of $79 per room for registered participants. Contact the Crown Plaza at:

Crown Plaza Hotel – Downtown Houston
1700 Smith Street
Houston, TX   77002
(713) 739 – 8800
Promo Code:  Kids Tri

Stress Less

October 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness


Cold or Flu?

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Now that Flu season is just around the corner let’s get down to the bare bones of  Cold vs Flu.  Knowing the difference will help you get a step ahead of the illness to treat the symptoms and feel better faster! It  will also help you make the decision to wait or make that appointment with your doctor.

cold or flu

Vitamin Cheat Sheet

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness, Parents' Place


How To Be More Consistent With Your Goals

September 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness


Change Your Breathing, Change Your Life

September 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness


Chili with a Healthy Twist

Growing up in Texas we ate a lot of chili, it’s just a staple, and we ate it year round….because it was EASY. Chili has a bad rap for being un-healthy but it doesn’t have to be! By swapping canned for homemade, and ground beef for turkey (you won’t taste the difference-calm down) you can still enjoy a favorite Texas food and keep your Summer waistline in check, year round. This is a great mid week meal, it freezes well, and the left overs are AHHHH-mazing.

Girl Gone Healthy’s Turkey Chili:

1 container lean ground white turkeyGGHTurkeyChili

1 medium onion chopped

1 of each red, yellow, green pepper sliced/chopped

1 medium-sized can of diced tomato {don’t drain}

1 can of green chilies {don’t drain}

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 small can tomato paste

1 medium can of chickpeas drained, rinsed well

1 heaping tablespoon Mrs. Dash southwest/chipotle/chili seasoning whichever you can find at your market

sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions for garnish


In a large skillet/pan brown coated with cooking spray brown turkey until done, use the minced garlic during this step. While turkey is cooking saute onion and peppers in a small pan until tender, add veggies to turkey once done. Next stir diced tomato, chickpeas, tomato paste, green chilies into turkey pepper pan continually turning mixture over so that it well combined. Lastly stir in Mrs. Dash seasoning and add water if thinning is needed or until desired texture is met. Allow chili to simmer for 15 minutes or so, this will soften the chickpeas a bit and merry all of those flavors together! Ladle 1 cup servings into bowls and top with small dollop of sour cream, little sprinkle of shredded cheese and fresh-cut green onion. Eat Right Away.

Healthy Wishes, Tera

You can find more Food and a whole lot of Fitness and Attitude on

10 Tips for Better Sleep

July 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness


We want it all. Have fun, relax, BETTER SLEEPtime to get our work done, work out, and sleep. Even though sleep is last in that order, it should be at the top of your list. Without a healthy amount of sleep you are likely to lack or show up with out the right energy to the rest of your  activities.  If you can’t get to sleep on time, here are some tips to help make the time you do sleep, better.

If you are a coffee drinker, do your best to stay away from it after lunch. Caffeine wakes up your body and not your brain so by taking it you will only make yourself restless later on.

Netflix is the downfall of many a procrastinators motivation. With the automatic queue you can finish a whole season in a day. But when it’s time to go to bed, get rid of anything that produces a lot of light as well as calls your attention. This will help bring the z’s.

Lay off on drinks and food before bed.  No one likes to get up in
the middle of the night to use the restroom.

The last tip is tricky. Use your internal alarm clock. When you have your routine its simple. Sleep when your body is telling you to. When you sleep better, waking up is easier.

If you want your dreams to come true, get better rest so you can have the energy to make those dreams a reality.

Acetaminophen: The Most Common Drug in America

July 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness


Each week, more than 50 million Americans use a medicine that contains acetaminophen—a drug ingredient found in more than 600 different over-the-counter and prescription
medicines including pain relievers, fever reducers, sleep
aids and numerous cough, cold and flu medicines. This report and educational resource from the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition reviews the dosing behaviors that can lead to unintentional acetaminophen overdose and explores
the successful impact of ongoing education campaigns to drive safe use and prevent overdose-related liver damage

Nourishing Herbal Infusions

July 20, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness

 We all know what tea is and we certainly know what a multivitamin is. What about tea as a multivitamin? 

Well, that’s exactly what a nourishing herbal infusion is!


iPhoto Library

There are a few specific plants that, when dried and left to steep in very hot water  (for an upwards of 4-8 hours) transform the water into a mineral and vitamin rich powerhouse.

The science behind it is simple: when the plant is dried the cell wall cracks, allowing the mineral and vitamin rich constituents  to be available.  The next step to get those benefits to us is to put the dried plant matter into a jar with boiling water for a long time. During that time  all the benefits from the plant become infused in the hot water and bio-available to you. (Bio-available is the ability of what you are consuming to be be available to your body after ingesting it as opposed to passing through your body and being excreted without any of the nutrients/vitamins/minerals being used by your body)

When this tea infusion is consumed on a regular basis it provides the daily vitamin and mineral needs for our bodies.

A few important ones are:  Stinging Nettle, Oatstraw, and Burdock Root.  These are nutritive powerhouses!

  • Stinging nettle is amazingly rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, especially the critical trace minerals: anti-cancer selenium, immune-enhancing sulphur, memory-enhancing zinc, diabetes-chasing chromium, and bone-building boron. A quart of nettle infusion contains more than 2000 milligrams of calcium, 15,000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins! There is no denser nutrition found in any other plant. Regular consumption of stinging nettle (2-3 quarts a week) will increase energy, strengthen hair, nails, teeth and bones and will clear and firm skin.
    It will restore elasticity to blood vessels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, strengthens kidneys and
    bladder, improves digestion, reduces cancer risks, strengthens lungs, balances blood sugar and adrenals.
  • Oatstraw is the herb of longevity. It restores the nervous system, as well as nourishing the heart and moderating cholesterol.  Oatstraw provides lots of protein, 300 milligrams of calcium, all macro and trace-minerals in high amounts, and very high amounts of all B vitamins (except B12). This infusion is a libido enhancer, a mood mellower, an overall good plant to consume when feeling anxious or overly stressed.
    Restless legs? Zapped endocrine system? Needing a pick me up? Make oatstraw infusion a regular part of your    week.
  • Burdock root will help provide optimum nutrition to the glandular and immune systems, liver, kidneys, blood, lungs, and nerves.  Burdock is very high in chromium, iron, magnesium, silicon, thiamine, inulin, cobalt, phosphorus, potassium (766-1680), sodium, tin, zinc, carotenes, vitamin A (7500 IU), aluminum, calcium, manganese, selenium and lappin, a glucoside. This plant cools down “hot” conditions, such as aggression, fever, excess energy, infections, skin conditions,  dry cough and sore throat. It helps with kidney, liver, blood and immunity strength.  Personally, I drink these on a weekly basis and when I do “fall off the wagon” and skip out on my infusions, I certainly notice a difference in energy, mood, and mental clarity.

Stinging nettle has a very deep earthy taste, so to most it’s easier to drink with added honey, or natural sweetener of your choice.  Burdock root and Oat Straw are slightly sweet on their own (in my opinion), however, I tend to have an unusual palate.  So sweeten, add a pinch of  sea salt, or just leave it “au natural,” it’s all good.

The best way to get prepared for your infusion is by purchasing a bulk, fresh supply of dried herb. I suggest starting out with a pound of whichever you choose and drink it 3x’s a week. Within a months time you’ll notice some healthy changes in your hair, skin, nails and energy.

My favorite place to buy bulk herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs. They have fresh, organic, quality products and they ship out fast too.

Life will be much easier in the infusing world if you have a few essentials:

  • A French Press (makes draining out the tea so much easier)  A french press can be found at Starbucks and most tea shops. Amazon is always a good option as well.
  • A quart mason jar with a lid.

So how does one infuse you ask?  Here we go!

  1. In a pot, bring a quart of water to a slow boil.
  2. Meanwhile put a measured amount of 1 cup of dried herb into a quart mason jar.
  3. After the water is heated pour it on top of the herb and make sure you push down any dry plant that moves to the surface and then lid it for 4-8 hours. I usually jar mine up at bed time and drink it in the morning.
  4. When it’s time to drink, pour it into the French Press and press down all the plant bits.
  5. Pour back into your rinsed mason jar and sweeten if needed. You can add ice as well and bottoms up!If you can’t get it all down, you can put the lid back on and it will stay good in the fridge up to 24 hours.

Cheers to good health!

For more information, go to

A fantastic book to further your knowledge of these plants (and a few more) is- Healing Wise -By, Susun Weed

Also, as a side note, please use common sense in any medicinal and supplemental use. It’s rare, but always possible to be allergic to one of these plants. Please use good judgment and listen to your body.

The Surprising Health Benefits of Ginger

July 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness

If you’ve ever taken ginger ale for an upset tummy, you understand the health benefits of ginger. Going back more than 2,000 years in China, the herb has been used to treat nausea, upset stomach and help with digestion and diarrhea.

Ginger is used in Asian cooking and stir frys.  It may be yellow, white or red, depending on the variety, and is covered with a thin or thick brownish skin, depending on whether the plant was harvested mature or young.

Fresh Ginger RootWhat’s ginger good for?

As it turns out, plenty!

“Therapeutically, it’s also used for poor circulation and lower back pain. On an emotional level, it can act as a catalyst if you are procrastinating and lack the drive to take action,” says Laurie Steelsmith, a licensed naturopathic doctor and author of “Natural Choices for Women’s Health.”

Studies have shown it can also eliminate inflammation, ease muscle pain, help with painful menstruation and migraines, and may even slow or kill ovarian and colon cancer cells. Here are some other health benefits of ginger:

Arthritis: A placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study published in the journal Osteoarthritis Cartilage found patients with painful arthritis in the knee who were given ginger vs. a placebo experienced significantly less pain and loss of movement compared to those taking the placebo.

Nausea and motion sickness: Ginger is well known for its ability to ease nausea, and it’s helpful for motion and sea sickness. Women suffering from morning sickness were given beverages with ginger during the first trimester of pregnancy, and when compared with women given a placebo, ginger alleviated the nausea in a large majority of the cases.

Diabetes complications: Studies show ginger may reduce urine protein levels, decrease water intake and urine output, and reverse proteinuria, which is kidney damage caused by too much protein in the urine. Ginger may also protect nerves in diabetics and lower blood fat levels. “Ginger can help increase circulation, thin blood, and lower both blood pressure and cholesterol,” says author Steelsmith.

Cold and flu: Chinese medicine practitioners commonly prescribe ginger to treat symptoms of colds and flu. The root acts as an antihistamine and decongestant, two cold-easing effects that can help with symptoms.

A dose of ginger
Ginger is susceptible to heat and oxygen, so handle carefully when using this herb and store in a cool, dry place or the crisper bin of the refrigerator for two to three weeks.

To make a tea, shave the skin from a piece of fresh ginger, cut off a 2-inch chunk and slice it into 2 cups of water to simmer covered for 20 minutes. Remove the slices and pour into a mug and add honey and a squeeze of lemon. Eat the slices after drinking the tea. Drink up to three cups of tea per day, before meals.

Ginger capsules or powder are also available. Take at least 2,000 milligrams three times or more per day with or without food.

Do not take ginger with blood thinners without first consulting your health care provider. Ginger may also lower blood sugar and interact with blood pressure altering medications, so speak with your physician prior to using ginger if you take any medications.


10 Best Plants to Grow Indoors for Air Purification

July 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Plants offer many amazing benefits; grown indoors, they’ll easily allow you to experience better health, create lush living quarters, and be content in a healthier atmosphere. Studies have also proven that bringing lush greenery indoors can help reduce stress levels,  relieve tension, and even help one heal faster. Luckily there are several types of plants you can grow with ease!

Evergreen houseplant pothos isolated on white background

1. Aloe Plant
Not only is the aloe plant readily available to soothe sunburns, stings, or cuts, it can also detoxify the body and is great for purifying the air. Aloe can help clear the air of pollutants found in chemical cleaning products. An intriguing aspect, when the amount of harmful chemicals in the air become excessive, the plant’s leaves will display brown spots.
2. English Ivy
According to NASA, English Ivy is the number one houseplant to grow indoors due to its incredible air filtering abilities. It is the most effective plant when it comes to absorbing formaldehyde, and is even easy to grow. An adaptable plant, it can be hung and perched on the floor and prefers moderate temperatures and medium sunlight.

3. Rubber Tree
If your green thumb is less developed, the rubber tree may be for you. It easily grows in dim lighting and cooler climates. Plus, the low-maintenance plant is a powerful toxin eliminator and air purifier.
4. Snake Plant
A wonderful corner plant, the snake plant can thrive without much light or water. It’s also efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the night (while most plants do during the day), therefore one in the bedroom may help you in experience better sleep.
5. Peace Lily
This beautiful flower is a wonderful low-maintenance plant to keep in the home. Peace lilies do well in shade and cooler temperatures, and they can reduce the levels of a number of toxins in the air.
6. Philodendron
The heart-shaped philodendron is a popular plant choice for indoor areas, as they’re easy to care for and can grow decorative vines. Similar to the English Ivy, they are particularly good at absorbing formaldehyde.
If properly cared for, they can last for many years and grow with your family. The philodendron prefers moderate water and some sunlight.
7. Bamboo Palm
An attractive and soothing plant, the bamboo palm also made NASA’s list of top-ten clean air plants with a purifying score of 8.4. The palm is also quite effective at clearing out benzene and trichloroethylene. Well watered and placed in shade or indirect sunlight, they’ll flourish and intensify the peace in your home.
8. Spider Plant
Spider plants are easy to grow and are a popular house plant for many. Not only are they decorative, but they’re also on NASA’s list of the best air-purifying plants. Effective at fighting off pollutants (including benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene), they’re a beautiful addition to any home seeking cleaner air.
9. Golden Pothos
The pothos is a simple -yet beautiful – plant which also made NASA’s list. It grows best in cool temperatures and in low levels of sunlight. Able to clear formaldehyde from the air, it’s a beneficial plant to have in your living room or as a hanging plant, as the leaves will grow down in cascading vines.
10. Red-Edged Dracaena
This vibrant plant can grow to be ceiling height (15 foot dracaenas are common), making it a great plant for decorating and filling up space. It’s beneficial for removing toxins, such as xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from the air. It flourishes in sunlight and will be a welcome addition in your home.



Get Beautiful Glowing Skin with Dry Brushing

June 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Beauty & Fashion, Health & Wellness

I find it kind of funny how it seems like in many ways society is moving backwards in time. In many aspects of our lives we are opting for simpler solutions that were more common in the past in regards to our health, eating habits, and personal care.

Nowadays, a lot people are adapting to and using the ways of the past. Like hanging their clothes on a clothes line outside to dry, growing their own food, canning and preserving fruits and vegetables, utilizing homemade cleaning and personal care products and much more. This is awesome to see because it means that we are taking control of our own lives and taking matters into our own hands, putting less reliance on the system for support. This is also excellent news for Mother Nature, as a lot of these older practices that we have been reverting back to are helping the environment directly.


One of these practices from the past is called dry brushing, and this is what this article is about. Dry Brushing is an ancient practice that has been used for centuries primarily by Scandinavians and Russians, and many ancient texts refer to a method of using sticks, sand and rocks to massage the skin; this is essentially what dry brushing is. It is a method that involves brushing the skin with a brush made with natural fibres to remove the outer layer of skin
that is re-generated every 24 hours. Here are some of the potential benefits that dry brushing can provide for you if done on a regular, daily basis

Benefits Of Dry Brushing
Removal of dead skin- dry brushing will help shed dead skin cells, which will improve skin texture and cell renewal as a new layer of skin is formed every 24 hours.
Dry brushing can also help removes cellulite. Cellulite is actually caused by subcutaneous fat material and fibrous tissue that are not able to be eliminated through the skin, they then cause this dimpling effect on the overlaying skin. Cellulite is most commonly found on the thighs, hips and bums of women, but some men have cellulite as well. Good news is, dry brushing can replace expensive and mostly toxic creams, liposuction and other laser treatments or plastic surgery. You’ll have to try it and see for yourself!
Dry brushing can actually strengthen the immune system. It does so by stimulating lymph vessels to drain toxic mucoid matter into organs of detoxification we can detoxify and purify the entire system.
Dry brushing will tighten your skin. By increasing the blood flow, toxins are moved and eliminated through the skin. Underneath that old layer of skin lies a new layer with a healthy glow.
Tone your muscles. Dry brushing tones muscles by stimulating the nerve endings, which causes the individual muscle fibres to move and activate. Also, it can mobilize fat and help to even out the distribution of fat deposits.
Did you know that your skin is one of five main elimination channels of the body? Some refer to the skin as the third kidney because of its ability to rid the body of toxic waste material. The skin eliminates about 2 pounds of toxic material each day in the form of perspiration; this is one reason saunas can also be very beneficial to our health. Because of the regular use of oils, creams, soaps, sunscreens make-up etc. the pores of the skin can become very clogged with toxic chemicals, and hinder the process of elimination of even more toxins. It is important to keep the skin healthy and fresh, and this is exactly where dry brushing comes in. Here is a step-by-step guide to dry brushing your skin.

The Method:

Butter is Better

June 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Remember when butter was good?  Then it was bad and margarine stepped in.  For almost the past 100 years there has been a debate on which is actually better for you: Butter or Margarine?

Fresh butter with knife on a chopping board

World War II brought upon us the great butter shortage which is when margarine stepped in as the “healthier” alternative and picked up the slack.  Around 1957 most of America was consuming just as much margarine as they did butter which was being marketed as the cheaper and healthier choice of the two.  After that, with the right marketing, the amount of margarine consumed in the 1970’s was almost three times that of butter!

Oh, the times they are a changin’!  Butter is back! New research has recently been presented on the subject showing what your grandparents always knew: butter is better.  The New York Times posted a blog recently that challenge what we have always been told about the link between butter’s saturated fat and heart disease.  Real butter is rich in fat-soluble vitamins. It turns out that what is best for your health is the most natural and delicious choice.

Here are just a few reasons butter is good for you:

  • Real butter is rich in fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Real butter contains healthy saturated fats and fatty acids your body needs.
  • Butter is rich in important trace minerals, including manganese, chromium, zinc, copper and selenium (a powerful antioxidant).
  • Real butter (especially from grass fed cows) is rich in conjugated linoleic acid (which helps the body build muscle rather than store fat.
  • Real butter is associated with a lower risk of obesity.

Not all butter is created equal though. When you go grocery shopping always read your nutrition labels and look at your ingredients.  The ingredients should be simple: cream/milk and salt.

Brands such as Falfurrias Butter and Kerrygold are two brands that sport just these ingredients.

This leads to the next logical question: How much butter should I eat?  That depends on your diet, fat intake,  and lifestyle.  When in doubt, just do what Grandma did and add a little pad of butter!

Waking Up The Importance Of Sleep

June 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness

By Heidi Dvorak

Not getting adequate sleep won’t just leave you craving a Starbucks fix, it can have a serious negative impact on your health—and may prevent you from losing weight.

Cathryn, a 38-year-old mother of preteen twins, works full-time at an insurance office, eats healthfully and does Pilates twice a week. But when bedtime comes, she tosses and turns, then frequently awakens at 4 a.m., overwhelmed by worries and unable to get back to sleep.

Her boss had warned her she was in danger of losing her job due to careless errors, but it wasn’t until she had a near-miss car accident after she nodded off at the wheel that she realized she had a major problem.

“Even though I was dead-tired all the time, it never occurred to me that missing a few hours of sleep was a big deal,” she says. “I figured I could make up the lost hours on the weekend.”

Underestimating the importance of sleep is a common miscalculation. More than 70 million Americans suffer from insufficient sleep, the Centers for Disease Control reports. National Sleep Foundation statistics reveal that only two-thirds of women get a good night’s rest only a few nights per week and that 29 percent regularly take sleeping aids.
“Lack of adequate sleep is a major problem, with an average night’s sleep decreasing from nine hours a night 130 years ago to six and three-quarters hours a night,” says sleep expert Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, a nationwide group of clinics.

“Many people don’t prioritize sleep in their lives,” says David Kuhlmann, MD, medical director of Sleep Medicine at Bothwell Regional Health Center in Sedalia, MO. “You have to give yourself enough time to get an adequate amount. People think that the goal of sleep is to sleep. It is not. The goal is to wake up feeling refreshed.”

You can temporarily disguise the effects of sleep loss with concealer or by drinking gallons of coffee to rev you up. But in time, it can have serious medical consequences such as weight gain, diminished heart health, diabetes, certain cancers, diminished memory and depression. Here, some of the ways your lack of pillow time may be affecting your health:


“Insufficient sleep is associated with a 30 percent increased risk of obesity,” says Dr. Teitelbaum.

“Sleep affects metabolism,” explains William Kohler, MD, medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute in Springhill. “When you lose sleep, chemicals in the brain are altered and there are elevated changes in the key appetite hormones, leptin and ghrelin. So lack of sleep can potentially make you eat more, because you won’t have that feeling of being satiated.”

“Sleep loss will trigger fatigue, which causes sugar cravings,” adds Dr. Teitelbaum.
The Nurses Health Study at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland tracked the sleeping patterns of 68,183 women for 16 years. Those logging in five hours or less gained about 2 1⁄2 pounds more than did those sleeping seven hours.

Even if you’re dieting, evidence suggests that you’ll lose fewer pounds if you’re not getting enough rest. A National Institutes of Health study showed that after two weeks of calorie restriction, the group that got 8 1⁄2 hours of sleep lost about 3 pounds, while the group that got 5 1⁄2 hours lost only about 1 1⁄2 pounds.

“Also, over time, sleep loss can cause a significant weight gain resulting from decreased energy levels, thus decreased exercise,” Dr. Kohler adds. “You might have the same calorie intake but you’re not as active.”


Although many physicians believe that lack of sleep may adversely affect your ticker, most are unwilling to go on the record until clinical studies are 100 percent conclusive. Until then, experts like Dr. Teitelbaum couch it this way: “Poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome,” which is the name given to a group of factors that increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, certain cancers and type-2 diabetes among other conditions. “Metabolic syndrome is a major risk factor for heart disease in the U.S.,” Dr. Teitelbaum says. “Because of this, insomnia is a predictor of cardiac mortality.”

Studies back up the link. A large 2007 study at the University of Warwick Medical School found that when participants reduced their sleeping hours from seven to five hours or fewer per night, they doubled their risk of death from cardiovascular problems. Seven hours of shut-eye nightly was perceived as an optimal goal.


When your body gets injured, irritated or infected, inflammation is how it responds. Inflammation has been shown to trigger cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, type-2 diabetes and other conditions. A 2010 Emory University study found that people who did not get enough sleep (i.e. got less than six hours a night)—or got poor-quality slumber, had higher levels of three inflammatory markers. One in particular, called C-reactive protein (CRP), increased by 25 percent. Chronic elevations of CRP are present in those with heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes.

“Sleep deprivation is a good way to immune-suppress an animal—including people,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. “An optimized immune system is associated with less cancer and infections.


“Sleep loss results in a decrease in short-term memory,” says Donna Arand, PhD, clinical director of the Kettering Sleep Disorders Center in Dayton, OH. “The greater the loss, the greater the impact on memory. The brain area for memory is smaller in patients who sleep less. My research demonstrates that sleep deprivation impacts memory, fine-motor coordination, mood and cognitive processes.”

Not being well rested also affects the ability to learn new things, process new information and access it after it’s stored. Processing information (called consolidation) takes place during sleep when neural connections are strengthened and memories are formed.


Though short-term sleep deprivation “has a remarkably positive effect on depression,” according to Jerome Siegel, PhD, chief of neurobiology research at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and a professor of psychiatry at UCLA, “chronic sleep deprivation may precipitate depression.”

Dr. Kohler views the relationship between poor sleep and depression as complex. “The chemicals in the brain that are involved in sleep are also involved in the emotional state. There’s an overlap in transmitters. Most of us feel down the next day with a lack of sleep. Poor sleep can cause difficulty with interpersonal relationships and a decrease of ambition.”

Dr. Teitelbaum sees insomnia and depression as one another’s enablers. “Eighty percent of those with depression have insomnia, and it is suspected that insomnia may increase the risk of depression. In addition, those with insomnia have disrupted patterns with more dreaming and less deep sleep.”

The Do’s and Dont’s of Good Sleep

Here, some tips for improving your sleep.

Do Get Enough Sleep For Your Body

Although most experts concur that getting around seven hours of sleep a night is optimal, Dr. Kuhlmann offers this advice: “However long your body requires to awaken feeling rested is how much sleep that you need.”

Don’t Drink Caffeine After Lunch

Even if your bedtime is hours later, the effects of caffeine may take 8 to 14 hours to completely wear off, so that 2 p.m. espresso may keep you up.

Do Exercise

Dr. Kohler recommends exercise, but says that timing is key. “Exercise performed four to five hours before bedtime will increase the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you exercise too close to bedtime, epinephrine increases and can keep you awake.”

Pilates can help improve sleep quality. A study at Appalachian State University in North Carolina revealed that after participants took a Pilates class for a semester, sleep quality and mood improved.

Don’t Take Naps or Try to Catch Up On Sleep On The Weekend

“There are a number of restorative physiological processes that take place during consolidated sleep,” Dr. Kuhlmann says. “Those body functions may not operate at peak efficiency when sleep occurs in multiple blocks.”

Dr. Teitelbaum agrees: “The body needs periods of extended sleep to go into the deep stages and through the repeats of the sleep cycle.”

Do Go To Bed At The Same Time Every Night

“The brain likes consistency,” says Dr. Kohler. “Get up and go to bed at the same time.”

Do Turn Out The Lights

A 2010 University of Haifa study of 1,679 women showed that light at night in the surrounding environment is associated with a risk of breast cancer. “The comparison was done between women sleeping in a completely dark room and those sleeping in an illuminated room,” says study head Abraham Haim, PhD. “In the latter, there was a 40 percent increase of cancer incidence. He suggests either sleeping with all lights off, or, for safety’s sake, using a low-intensity, low-wave light.

Do Turn Off The Computer And TVs

“Too much bright light in the evening is going to inhibit sleep, even a bright TV or computer monitor,” says Dr. Kohler. “If you look at it late in the evening, potentially that could interfere with your sleep that night. Eyeshades are important, especially if your partner is reading at night or watching TV. You might want earplugs too.”

Do Establish A Relaxing Bedtime Routine

When Cathryn told Elizabeth Larkam, a Balanced Body master instructor in San Francisco, about her insomnia, Larkam prescribed a before-bedtime routine of slow, deep breathing through her nose. Larkam also suggested that just before bed, Cathryn turn off the lights and lie on her back on her mat hugging her knees to her chest while practicing her breathing and rocking slowly from side to side for two to five minutes. After that, she advised Cathryn to get into bed and continue her breathing for another two minutes on her back and then move into her normal sleeping position.

“The sleep regulatory centers in the brain stem process information from joints, organs, muscle receptors and other areas of the brain,” says Larkam. “Lower levels of stimulation induce sleep and rocking may facilitate the brain to transition to balance, harmony and synchrony. A calm mind and relaxed body are prerequisites for restorative sleep.”

The rocking and breathing helped calm Cathryn’s mind, which typically raced incessantly as soon as she turned off the lights. She now looks forward to preparing for bed since the mat rocking relaxes her and makes it easier to fall asleep.

Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring or waking up gasping for air (or if a partner has commented that you struggle to breathe while sleeping). Sleep apnea can cause you to stop breathing for a few seconds to a minute or two up to 30 times per hour. “In sleep apnea the muscles that normally help to keep the upper airway open collapse together, which may temporarily stop breathing,” Dr. Kuhlmann explains. “The two parts of your body most sensitive to oxygen deprivation are your heart and your brain, which is why sleep apnea has such a strong association with heart problems and strokes.” If you suspect you have this common condition, see your doctor.

Rose Ribbon

September 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Blogs, Girl Gone Healthy

(Upper Kirby District)

Black and White and Red all Over

Story Laurette M. Veres; photography Herb Hochman

The most beautiful women in Houston donned black, white and roses in support of the Rose Ribbon Foundation.  International author Jo Barrett entertained the crowd pointing out that women are natural storytellers.  This afternoon’s story was of survivors.  The Rose Ribbon Foundation is a 501c(3) that provides post cancer reconstruction to uninsured cancer patients.

When  September 4, 2008


Carolyn Farb, Mary Ann McKeithan, Robin Reimer, Mauney Mafrige, Betty Tutor, Astrid Van Dyke, Dr. Lucho Rossman, Dr. Larry Hollier, Jessica Meyer Tena Faust and Cindy Garza.









Modern Day Bride

Courtney Keith, Houston’s newest Billboard Bride

And the winner is …

The Bridal Extravaganza Show’s Billboard Bride contest attracted hundreds of wonderful applicants for the opportunity to be featured on billboards, posters and other promotional materials for this season’s Bridal Extravaganza Show. Judges spent weeks examining photos and reading interviews as they narrowed down the field.

Judges met the 10 finalists during a preliminary photo shoot at Ventura’s Bridal. Attitude, look, walk and personality all counted, because the winner would be someone who looks great, represents BES well and revels in her accomplishment.

When Courtney Keith walked in the room, the contest was all but over; she had everything judges were looking for. There was something special about her; everything from her warm personality to her modern look set her apart from the rest. But she sealed the deal reacting to judges’ requests to let her hair down. “She laughed, unclipped her hair and smiled the whole time,” recalls Laurette Veres, owner of BES. “She didn’t balk at the idea; she just ran with it. We also knew she’d be great on TV if that opportunity comes along.”

Keith received the big news that she was the winner as she was driving around town with her mother. They both screamed and laughed like kids on Christmas morning. A couple of weeks later, Keith and her mother, Eilleene Keith, arrived at Ventura’s Bridal to pick out wedding gowns. With help from BES staff, they found several that complimented her stunning looks, charm and kind-hearted spirit — dresses that seem to be made for her.

During the course of the photo shoot Keith never complained or stopped smiling. She was a little jittery until her mother whispered, “She looks like Cinderella.” She did indeed. The long detailed wedding dress hugged her curves and showcased her hourglass figure.

As hundreds of pictures were taken of her, she told how her fiancé proposed. “God bless him,” she said. “He struggled for awhile trying to decide on the most perfect, romantic, unexpected way to propose.” To ensure it was unexpected, he waited until she was in the bathtub on a random Friday night to run out for a bottle of champagne. To ensure that it was perfect and romantic, he proposed when she was in the most comfortable, safe environment — when he returned she was snuggled on her sofa in her pajamas, hair in a ponytail, wearing no makeup. He dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him. “It was my dream proposal from my dream man,” she says.

After eight grueling hours, four different wedding dresses and two hair and makeup changes, Keith flashed her bright smile one last time and the photo shoot was over.

Dealing with tragedy
The excitement of winning the Billboard Bride competition and performing in the photo shoot helps mask recent tragedy. Courtney’s fiancé, Colin Matheny, lost his mother and two of her friends in a terrible automobile accident. “[Courtney] and her fiancé have endured so much the last couple of months; I really feel this is just what they needed before Courtney walks down the aisle,” Eilleene says.

Tragedy can impact relationships in different ways. For this couple, it brought them closer and made them stronger. Though it has been hard, they don’t focus on the negative. They know Colin’s mother is with them in spirit and will be with them on their wedding day.

Strong and caring
Keith is the perfect person to represent the Bridal Extravaganza Show because her reasons for wanting to be the Billboard Bride revolve around others. She wants to share her happiness, have future brides feel her joy and make her fiancé proud. “I am a strong woman,” she says. “I hope other women can relate to me because I am personable, proud and confident. This is an experience of a lifetime, one that I will never forget,” she says. She is sharing it with everyone she can reach, even if only through her mile-high smile on Houston billboards.

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