Saturday, March 31, 2007

Preserving The Natural

Your skin care products, natural or not, contain water. This H2O is a verifiable magnet and breeding ground for not only mold, but bacteria as well. Why is this you ask? Well, bacteria enjoy the nourishment of plant extracts just as we do. Bacteria absolutely love the natural sugars found in these extracts and look to gobble them up in any way they can find.

Before you go on a “Stop The Bacteria” crusade, there is something that holds these little gobblers at bay. That “something” is in fact preservatives. When added to natural products in very small amounts, preservatives help to boost the antibacterial benefits of natural ingredients.

Now I’m sure you may be asking, “But what about natural bacteria fighters like Tea Tree Oil, Rosemary or Vitamin E"? Of course they can be used (and are used) in natural products. However, for multiple reasons, semi synthetic preservatives are necessary. Just what are those reasons? Two right off the top of my head are 1) Some of these natural fighters are only effective against certain types of bacteria and 2) Certain natural fighters are effective when used in very high concentrations. However, these high concentrations can not only cause skin irritation but can also break down the effectiveness and stability of the product they’re supposed to be helping.

Semi synthetic preservatives also extend the shelf life of the products they’re in. Products that contain these preservatives have a shelf life of 12 months or more depending on what that product is. This is obviously more than the normal shelf life of 3-6 months of a totally natural product (no semi synthetic preservatives). Also take into account the storing conditions of your totally natural product: Have you stored it in a cool, dry place? Is it being refrigerated? Has it come in contact with any non-sterile product? Storing conditions, believe it or not, play a vital role in your totally natural product’s life.

We all know very well the healing and nourishing benefits of natural products. Aren’t those just a couple reasons why we use them? We should be mindful that these are the very same attractions that draw bacteria. Shouldn’t we give our natural products a fighting chance? Of course! Adding very small amounts of semi synthetic preservatives such as Methylparaben or Propylparaben isn’t a bad thing. It’s an important element needed to extend the life of our natural products and protect them, as they protect us.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Goodie Mob Said It Best...

"People don't dance no mo'...all they do is this..." Yep, Goodie Mob took the words right out of my mouth. This Hip Hop Generation is just not active enough. Now I'm willing to bet that some of the blame can be placed on the music that we're putting out now. See, I'm a product of the time when Hip Hop/Rap songs were enjoyed while getting a nice high cardio workout. Remember "Breakdancing", the "Kid N Play", "Running Man", "The Wop", "MC Hammer" and for a nice cool down we had "The Snake" and "The Electric Slide". As I remember many of our songs back then called for the dance you should be doing at the time. It was get up and get active. Now (and this makes me feel so old although I can "Walk It Out" with the best) everything is all about standing in place. Think about it, "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It", "Snap Yo Fingers" and "Rock Yo Hips". Really how much energy does it take to do that? Is there any wonder why America is such an obese nation and approximately 30% of our children are obese?

In my Power Pops post, I said that I would start the "Power Pops Diet" and chart my progress for the next 6 weeks. Part of that diet is getting exercise and becoming more active. As big a sports fan as I am, one would think that I wouldn't have fallen off after high school (I played soccer, basketball, track & field and was on the dance & drill teams). But you know what? I'm not going to beat myself up over it. Let me just go ahead, break out my b-boy stance and get my dance on! Awwww out now!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Adopting A Kid Friendly Naturally Healthy Lifestyle

(Part of OHSucker's "Naturally Healthy Kids" Series)

As a parent, I know that we always want what's best for our children. Many things that we've experienced in our own childhood just don't make the cut when it comes to rearing our own "Mini Me"s. Parenting is truly one of the greatest gifts ever! Of course, it's also one of the most stressful life changes you'll ever experience.

Side Note: Let's face matter what anyone says, 18 does not signal the end of the parenting years. Just wanted to throw that out there in case you forgot.

It's only natural (no pun intended) that when we make positive life changes, we look for ways that these same life changes can accommodate our children. In doing so, we have to be mindful that while our little ones are in fact extensions of ourselves, they have different needs especially when it comes to nutrition and exercise. We can't just change their diets without considering what they're losing, or how we're going to replace that loss. For instance, if you are deciding that your child will be a vegan or vegetarian (like you've become), how will you replace the protein and calcium your child desperately needs to become (and stay) a healthy child? What's the use of implementing this new diet, which is supposed to be healthier, if your little one now has a mouthful of cavities, weak bones or stunted growth?

The "Naturally Healthy Kids" Series offers tips and other kid friendly, kid focused information on how to successfully integrate natural health into our lifestyles without sacrificing the health of our children. I'm committed to dedicating at least one post a week to our babies with this series because yes children are the future, but only if we care for them today.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

7 Ways Music Enhances Your Health

Ahhh...the wonderful sound of music. I've always been a lover of music. There's just something about the rhythm and beat that touches me deeply. Whenever I feel down or need a bit of motivation, I immediately hit the tunes. Miraculously, I feel better or inspired before the first 16 bars are over. While the idea of musical healing dates back to the writings of Aristotle and Plato, the actual discipline began around World War II (American Music Therapy Association). Today, Music Therapists are in great demand as practitioners of alternative medicine. Who would have guessed that by turning to music, I've been treating myself with a form of music therapy all these years?

Just what can music do for you? Here are 7 Ways Music Enhances Your Health:

Exercise Motivation: Remember the Nike+ iPod post and being able to set a "power song"? There's something to it after all. Music gets you moving, particularly if you're listening to something fast paced and heavy on the drums. Just think about cardio music. Makes you want to get up and get active doesn't it? And 1, and 2, and 3, and 4...

Stress Relief: Music can be a vital component in stress relief. How? The rhythm of the music you choose acts as a facilitator for the activities you engage in to unwind and de-stress.

Pain Alleviation: Pain is often translated by the tightening of the muscles in your body. The pulses in music break this muscle tension, allowing you to relax and have a feeling of calm wash over you.

Lifts Depression: A song has the ability to put you in a good mood. Not only does it have the ability to incite happy memories, it can also get you moving which is said to release endorphins (the body's natural "happy pill").

Rest/Relaxation: Soft flowing music, sounds of the ocean and other calm inciting rhythms does wonders for rest and relaxation. Music releases tension and gets you loose. So get comfortable, press play and be transported...

Enhanced Camaraderie: As a great communicator, music has a way of bringing people together. How many times have you felt closer to someone because you share a love of music, or have the same favorite song?

Increased Brain Activity: Playing music has long been one of the therapies used in treating comatose and Alzheimer's patients. The Mozart Effect (a music based theory) is said to increase intelligence. Even music lessons are said to increase one's spatial reasoning ability.

Overall, the effects of music are felt in many areas of our lives. Just about every life experience can be put to music and have "its feelings" conveyed. Music is an essential part of who we are. I'd dare to say that our being itself is music, right down to the beating of our hearts.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Running To The Beat

I first learned about the Nike+ iPod shoe (which retails for around $200-250 total if you need to buy everything brand new) last summer from my brother who always seems to know the low down on anything having to do with sports and entertainment. I swear he's like Rain Man in that sense. When he first told me about it, I have to admit that I was less than enthused with the whole idea. Especially because the only benefit I could see was just that the runner didn't have to buy an iPod nano along with a pedometer and try to keep their focus on both while engaging in their workout.

Since then, I've read up on it (off and on) and really began to see the genius behind this little piece of modern technology. I mean not only can you track your miles and see your running time, but you can also set a power song (you know the song that really gets you amped) and set running goals. Sync this bad boy to your PC and compare previous workouts, challenge other runners, even see the calories you've burned a month ago! How cool is that? I'm excited and I'm not even a runner!

When it was first released, the buyer basically had to buy the Nike+ running shoe right along with the Nike iPod Sport Kit (way to corner the market Nike). However, I'm banking on Nike not realizing the creativity of the buyer. Why do I say that? A Nike running shoe isn't for everyone (especially me and my wide Flintstone-esque feet). It seemed that early on, Nike made no provision for this non-Nike wearing demographic. Why would they, right? This practically forced those that loved their brand and the idea of the iPod shoe to come up with some kind of compromise. An early ingenious idea included a simple but effective velcro hookup. Now you can actually buy sensor pouches or pretty much make your own.

I definitely feel like this is a great exercise motivator, especially since it'll keep all your stats for you, allowing you ease in tracking your progress. Also making it even easier to say to yourself, "You've come a long way baby! Whooooohoooo!"

Monday, March 26, 2007

To Have, To Hold, To Snip

Recently, I've been thinking about just how truthful it is when they (the Holistic Health community) say that hair has energy and memory. It's ironic that something so often taken for granted has such a profound impact on our lives. I mean think about it, unplanned baldness can pretty much break a person...or at the very least hurt their feelings so much that the "joke makers" end up in top spots on "I'll Get Revenge" lists. Even I have to admit to occasionally joining in the chorus of the childhood bald song "Baldy Scaldy I declare...somebody stole all (insert bald kid's name) hair...". This song was often followed by raucous laughter by the teasers, but baleful sobs for the follicle challenged child. Wow, what a poignant picture that just painted for me. Did you feel it too?

Your hair does everything with you and goes through everything that you go through. As a result, negative energy (pain, loss, sorrow, grief, etc) that you experience can really get trapped in hair no matter its texture. Not only does it get trapped, but hair will hold onto it like the twining roots of a gnarled oak tree. Ever wonder why right after a bad breakup or other significant negative life event the hair is almost always the first to go (either voluntarily or involuntarily)? Once the hair loss is accepted, the words "I have a new lease on life" seem to also be the phrase of affirmation. I just had a friend of mine cut her locs completely off and while she's now down to about 1-1.5 inches of hair, she said she's never felt more free. Perusing blogs, I came across a post where the author talks about the freedom she herself has experienced now that she's hair free, she's even taken to cutting cute designs (like flowers) in her hair. How creative is that?! I guess you really can say "Hair free is Care free". Now everyone wanting to get rid of those negative feelings, run out and get a hair cut. See how much better it'll make you feel....just make sure it's a GOOD hair cut (or we could be right back at the starting point).

Sunday, March 25, 2007

By The Power Of Grayskull

Where'd that come from? The weight loss candy, Power Pops, triggered this little bit of nostalgia. I'm telling you, cartoons when I was a kid were off the chain! I don't know what I'd do without Boomerang now. Ahhh, yesterday...all my troubles seemed so far away (I promise you The Beatles would have been proud of my rendition).

So just what does He-Man and the Masters of the Universe have to do with today's post? Nothing really. It's just something that popped into my mind when I thought of the lollipop that boldly states "Eat Candy...Lose Weight". This lollipop also says that it'll suppress your appetite and give you a burst of energy too. That's a mighty tall order for such a small thing. Of course being the adventurous person that I am (and a sucker for all things health), I just had to try them out.

I was intrigued by the list of natural ingredients which include Hoodia, Citrimax, B6 & B12 and Guarana. Right then, I knew these pops would pretty much do what they claimed. Hoodia is a known appetite suppressant, while Guarana coupled with the B duo reduces fatigue and increases mental alertness (too bad I've been so much of an insomniac for so many years...I'd have really seen that as a benefit back in my college days). The flavors were also tempting and included two of my absolute favorites in any candy: Green Apple and Pink Lemonade. So yeah, the pops arrived and I immediately grab one and a bottle of water (water is supposed to activate the ingredients). I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The lollipops were delicious. The texture was a little different but not unpleasant. Even the Butter Pecan ones were good. Now that was really surprising to me. I'd purchased them just to try them out (although there is a site that offers a free sample) but now I'm thinking of doing the "Power Pops Diet". Let's see how much weight I'll lose in the next six weeks. Hmmm, now I can really say "I HAVE THE POWER!" At least in the form of a lollipop and Boomerang.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A New Way To Live

I'm sitting here at approximately 230a EST thinking about health and why we're so obsessed with it all of a sudden. Well not really all of a sudden but it's attention grabbing enough to be noticed. Right? Right! Anyway, I found that as I read an article (ok, ok a blog post) regarding the longer lives of Black folk (uggh I don't particularly care for the term African American referring to African descendants in America but that's another topic altogether), I couldn't help but think that much of this newfound life longevity is due to this "health craze". Don't get me wrong, I'm a recovered junk food/fast food junkie won't catch me near two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun (mmmmmm Big Mac....let me go dig out those Boca Burgers). Look at that...mention food and I get all off track. Maybe continuing this discussion on another line will help me regain focus.

Ahhh....perfect. So yes, between little changes like the "New Vegetarianism Movement", "Spiritual Clarity", getting rid of the "Creamy Crack Addiction" and a little "Herbal Healing" this health thing is proving to have a decidedly profound effect on our lives (and not just Black folk not having as high a rate of "sugar" aka "Diabetes" to the Ebonically challenged). I can honestly say it's no longer a trend or a fad. It's become a way of life....