Category Archives: health

Why I hate the “Real Women Have Curves” Movement

Standard

Author: Kara Adamo.

We have a problem, ladies…and it’s not the men.

There is an idea that has been leaching its way through computer screens, tablets and phone browsers that has gone unchecked for far too long.

Looking back, I suppose I can pin-point the first signs of it easily. It began in my parent’s generation: the 1970’s-1980’s period where “Thin was In” and people began going to insane extremes to get there.

We’re all familiar with it: the stories of women and men wasting away with any number or combination of eating disorders that left them emaciated and filled with a nearly incurable self-hatred that was then passed on to my own generation.

Even now, after all of the published personal stories and all of the attention aneorexia and its bretheren have gotten from the media, people are still starving themselves with this evasive idealist perfection in mind.

Celebrities probably get it the worst. They’re in the public eye and, as with every moment that lapses from the perfection we like to associate them with, that public eye zooms in and judges loftily from its self-imposed moral high-ground. We find our strength in numbers because these people lead lives that the “average Joe” could only ever dream of.

We’re really just jealous and resentful, but they’re the minority, so we can shrug it off and shoot them a “you asked for it” glare.

It makes us feel good about it for five seconds and is, in all honesty, a sign of our collective ethical degradation.

We all do it and they probably do, too.

Forever struggling with pressures from the media to maintain a perfectly composed, perfectly thin, perfectly groomed image, these celebrities starve themselves in the hopes that the negative publicity will cease.

And then, when we see them getting thinner, we copy them.

Men do this a bit, but it’s no secret that women are the worst. We like to point fingers at guys and scream to the high-heavens that it’s their judgmental pickiness that drives us to do it, but for the most part we’re full of it.

We do it.

We’ve always done it. There is a reason the movie “Mean Girls” did so well: it speaks to all of us because it’s based, on some level, in an unfortunate truth about our society.

Girls are, well, mean.

Now, my long-winded griping about anorexia and the “Thin is In” motif that pervasively plagues our culture has done nothing to warm me to the other equally evil notion, this piece’s title phrase: “Real Women Have Curves.”

You see, when I was in high school, I graduated at 149 pounds.

This seems fine, except that I am a tiny little pixie of a thing. At 27 years old, I measure a full 4-feet, 10-1/4 inches tall.

That’s it.

So, when you spread 149 pounds throughout that small of a frame, you can get a rough mental image of what I looked like: I wasn’t huge, but I was certainly “big boned.”

I did a lot of stupid things to lose the weight. I starved myself, resulting in the aggravation of a then-dormant condition called Diabetic Hypoglycemia which now affects me severely every single day.

I hated myself. Looking back on all of the pictures, I realize that, while the weight wasn’t healthy, I didn’t look anywhere near as bad as I thought I did. But you could have never told 17-year-old Kara that.

Then I started skim-boarding and I managed to lose twenty pounds in a four month period. I started eating again and then continued to lose weight until I was 21.

A number of issues that year resulted in my falling below 93 pounds. I couldn’t tell you what the final weight was because I stopped checking. It was too painful to find out. Nothing fit me and I was too ashamed of my financial situation to ask for help. I had bruises on the skin over my rib cage from sleeping on my stomach and my skin had very little color.

Because I wasn’t being honest about things, people thought that I was starving myself again—but this time successfully.

Six years later, I am at a healthy—albeit still unknown—weight. I run on a near-regular basis and I survive on fresh fish and veggies. I’m no longer nauseous after I eat and I finally feel good about my image.

I’m sharing this because I need people to realize that I have actually been on both sides of the track: I have been heavier and ridiculed for it and I’ve been called “anorexic” and a “skinny-mini,” too.

And I’m going to clear something up right here…right now: both suck.

I actually discussed this with a girlfriend of mine yesterday over coffee.

This girl is stunning. She has beautiful dark blonde hair, piercing catlike blue eyes, and long legs I would kill for. She’s that pretty, slender-but-athletic build that healthy-minded models would dream of and the wardrobe to match.

At any moment, this girl looks like she stepped out of a high-fashion magazine.

And yet, this girl has body image issues…just like the rest of us.

She doesn’t have big breasts or a curvy bottom: she’s taller than she wants to be and she sometimes wishes her complexion was clearer.

She’s confident, but she’s a woman: and that means that, no matter what, she will manage to find fault with herself.

Now to be clear on this: men love her.

And they love me—we’ve actually dated the same guy before (at different times, of course)—and we look completely opposite of one another.

This is important: the issue, overall, isn’t men. My weight fluctuates just as much as the next girl and I can always manage to find a date or someone to flirt with. I’ve dated when thin and when heavier and I was called beautiful regardless.

The issue is women.

This friend—we’ll call her Lucy—made an amazing point that I think needs to be addressed on a larger social scale: real women don’t have to have curves.

Lucy is a real woman. I was a real woman when I was scrawny.

Real women have vaginas. That’s what they have.

Some have curves…some have thin waists. Some are short and some are tall.

The issue is not that we are opening the door to social acceptance when it comes to curvier and even heavier women. I’m all for that.

The issue is that we are shutting that door on other women—thinner women—who have feelings and who are just as beautiful. And the reason we’re doing it is the same reason we ridicule celebrities: many of us are jealous and many of us have this misplaced misconception that thinner women have it easier.

To be honest, after having been thin and big and everything in between, I would venture to say that it was harder to be underweight and the reason behind that claim actually has virtually nothing to do with physical size.

It has to do with the emotional support I had from women.

When I was larger, I was told by my friends that I was pretty. I was encouraged to feel good about myself and I was told that my inner beauty was what mattered, anyway.

But when I was thin, that went away. I was scolded for having eating disorders I actually didn’t have and I was called “gaunt” and “thin” with a derogatory tone.

And that, pardon my French, is bullshit.

Lucy said it best at coffee: “All women are real women…women need love from women!”

And she’s 100% right.

We need to lift one another up. And we’re not doing it. We’re failing miserably.

It speaks poorly of our self-image (both internal and external) when the most popular weight-based slogan involves lifting up one group at the expense of another.

We don’t need to imply an exclusion to a group that has historically been complimented in photography and in the media. We just need to include everyone else.

Real women have skin. They have tears and they have humor and they generally have people in their lives that wouldn’t change them for the world…thin or heavy…short or tall.

This idea that we have to cut one another down to lift ourselves up is just as lethal as the notion that you have to starve yourself to be pretty. Some girls won’t ever put on weight. They’ll have to buy breasts if they ever want to fill an A cup and they’ll never have “dat base” everyone keeps singing at (to the peril of my eardrums.)

They’re just as “real” as the girl who fills a larger pant size and who can’t seem to drop the pounds. And we need to love both of them.

It’s a hate campaign disguised as a message of love and acceptance…and that’s what I can’t stand about it. Words mean things and they affect everyone.

So, the next time that you blurt out, “Real Women Have Curves,” think about the sweet girl off to your left that feels awkward about her thin frame and feels like she’s treated like a little kid by people who should be building her up. Think about how you feel whenever someone makes you feel bad about yourself.

And then shut-up.

Turn the phrase around in your head, and change it. Because what you really mean is that curvier girls and heavier girls are pretty too.

So just say that. It includes us all and it builds us up. We need each other, ladies. If we were nicer to one another, maybe we would all stop hurting ourselves to fulfill this unobtainable image of perfection we seem to perpetuate.

And, for the love of god, eat a cupcake. No matter what weight you are, cupcakes rule.

Bio-Curious, Part 1: What is it?

Standard

ImageAuthor: Kara Mae Adamo. 

  I’ve been going through my approach on this one for months now, and I think I have finally resigned myself to a solution to my problem. This is mainly because, if I don’t get on with it, this article will never be written and I, conversely, will be forever plagued by its incompleteness.

I do not need more unwritten projects clogging the shelves of my brain.

In order to tackle this, I am going to publish it in three parts. The first one will cover what biodynamic vinification is and what is involved in the process. The second will cover its environmental implications and the controversy surrounding animal-rights. The third and finally article will cover whether or not it works and how it is being received from both the wine and farming communities on a vinification and scientific level.

By combing pages upon pages of editorials and actual studies, however, I have finally compiled enough research to give at least a rudimentary understanding of biodynamic vinification.

Dani, this one is for you. Sorry it’s so late.

Here it goes:

In an age of ever-increasing environmental-awareness and health-consciousness, people are turning more and more towards organic foods. Tired of foods and beverages laden with unpronounceable ingredients injected and sprayed with carcinogen-forming toxins meant to preserve the life-expectancy of our produce, they are choosing to pay that dollar-more for healthier options for their families.

Biodynamics has taken standard organic farming (an already complicated and involved process) to a whole other level. While the benefits of its ecological principles and special attention to detail cannot be denied, however, the process remains somewhat controversial among skeptics, scientists and traditionalist-winemakers.

One problem regarding biodynamics lies in the lack of support it gets from the scientific community. Indeed, even the most staunchly adamant of organics-enthusiasts will admit that the concept is immediately preposterous: modern-day witch-doctor tomfoolery and any hemp-wearing hippy’s wet-dream.

All the same, the process is being utilized more and more throughout the vinification community and has the support of such wineries as  Frog’s Leap in the Napa Valley,Domaine Leroy in Burgundy, Château de la Roche-aux-Moines in the Loire, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alcase and Maison Chapoutier in the Rhone Valley.[1] It also has a growing among South African winemakers.

Part 1: So what is it?

According to a 2003 etymology given by Demeter International (the certifying organization that monitors the practice), the word biodynamics derives from the Greek words bios, meaning ‘life,’ and dunamis, meaning ‘force.’ The idea is that, through farming, winemakers are harvesting a ‘life-force.’[2]

 Biodynamics involves a deeper, personal relationship with the land. It is supposed to heighten a winemaker’s ability to anticipate and avoid problems within a vineyard while encouraging conditions that promote higher quality wine. The idea is that everything works together in a cycle—in its own little ecological universe. While this may not be wholly original in concept, it was first developed as an organized practice by a guy named Rudolph Steiner in 1924.[3]

A huge part of Biodynamics involves the use of what are referred to as preparations. These are homeopathic methods used with the intention of improving the inherent health of the vines themselves by strengthening their natural immune systems. There are nine preparations in all and they include a series of homeopathic teas and sprays.

At its core, this is not the place where biodynamics loses its scientific credibility. It does make logical sense. The preparations are meant to promote microbiologic activity and biodiversity of the soil.[4] In a sense, it’s like giving your soil a multivitamin. The healthier and more biologically diverse your soil is, the more character exists in your wine. (Since European wines are often known for their “earthy” characteristics, it should come as no surprise that these affects are considered favorable throughout that end of the wine-world.)

Here is where it gets a little spacey for some of the old-schoolers: preparations can only be used according to the solar, seasonal and lunar calendar.[5] Very Luna Lovegood if you think about it. This idea comes, officially (though certainly not originally,) from Steiner’s belief that, because the moon effects the tides, it must affect the growing phases of planting and harvesting.[6] Some winemakers harvest their plants by hand early in the morning because that is when the plants’ energy levels are the most intense.

Stay with me, though. It gets a little crazier.

First off, there is the horn manure. Known more technically as a “terroir maximizer,” the manure is gathered exclusively from cows that live on-property whose diets exclusively consist of food from that property. During the fall equinox, Biodynamic farmers (of any kind, but for these purposes we are referring to winemakers) gather the cow-dung and stuff it into cow horns (I kid you not). They then bury these poop-horns underground (when the zodiac is right, of course) and age it during the winter until it cures into something called humus.[7] When mother nature says so, they dig up the horns and make the humus into a sort of tea that ends up being sprayed onto the earth.[8] This process is known throughout the biodynamics community as dynamization and the idea is that it “creates a vortex that cosmic energy can be funneled into.”[9]

The humus tea heals the soil. It’s also supposed to help with root growth.

During the summer, the horns are used again. This time, the farmers place quartz crystals (silica) into the horns. These crystals, like the cow manure, are aged underground and then stirred into a new tea. This silica tea is used as a natural preserver, safely increasing the shelf-life of these biodynamic wines. Silica also enhances photosynthesis by creating more infrared light. Photosynthesis is widely acknowledged throughout the wine-world as being a huge component in the intensity of the grape flavors and aromas.

Yarrow is added to the compost pile because it helps naturally break everything down. This keeps the whole system on-schedule zodiac-wise. Then there is chamomile, which stabilizes the nitrogen levels in the compost and helps to stimulate growth.

Nettle is used to stimulate soil health and helps to strengthen a grapevine’s resilience to drought and excessive sun-exposure (which can seriously screw up the wine if your varietal is not overly sun-happy). Oak bark is added because it is rich in calcium. This protects the vines against fungus. Dandelion is used to regulate healthy plant growth. Like Silica, it is also helpful during photosynthesis.

Basically, biodynamic farmers and winemakers see the farm as one whole living organism.[10] When problems occur, they are considered the symptoms of more pressing diseases as in the case of the human body. They are attacked as such with the overall health of the organism being considered. The principles and tactics are meant to bring harmony to the land and to create a certain oneness between it and the cosmos

…which is where it gets such a reputation for witch-doctor craziness…

 But while the ethical and tactical issues surrounding biodynamics may frequently be understandably questioned, one thing is certain: the trend is growing.

[1] Jean K. Reilly, “Moonshine, Part 1: Why are top winemakers burying cow horns filled with manure on the equinox? Because it seems to help make great wine”, Fortune,August 9, 2004. Reprint. Accessed 2012-07-11
[2] http://www.capewineacademy.co.za/dissertations/CWM_H_Rosenthal.pdf
[3] http://aboutbiodynamicwine.com/
[4] http://www.bdgrowing.com/
[5] http://www.saffronrouge.com/learn/organic/organic-vs-biodynamic
[6] http://www.saffronrouge.com/learn/organic/organic-vs-biodynamic
[7] http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/biodynamics-the-next-trend
[8] http://www.tributewine.com/index.cfm?method=pages.showPage&pageid=e24d4fa8-bb1c-4397-91ed-e7c3552fa919
[9] http://www.mnn.com/food/beverages/questions/what-in-the-world-is-biodynamic-wine
[10] http://palatepress.com/2010/03/wine/biodynamic-vineyards-cosmic-bridge-or-the-turf-of-witch-doctors/

Staying Fit During My Quarter-Life Crisis

Standard

Author: Kara Mae Adamo. 

I’ve spent a great deal of time at the bar over the last couple of months–and eating au gratin potatoes at work (I’m a vegetarian working in a fine dining steak house…they feed us…but most of it previously had a face…you see how my options are a bit limited)

I have, however, been maintaining an active lifestyle. I’ve been switching it up a bit: I have gone rock climbing recently (my friends go a lot, so I really have no excuse outside of my insane schedule not to go), and I’ve started hitting the gym more, too.

I also bought myself some roller blades. I can’t decide if this last one has anything to do with my sudden mid-twenties freak-out, but I have also been looking into buying a ninja 250. It suffices to say that I may or may not be experiencing a quarter-life crisis…but either way I bought the blades. I also went skateboarding for the first time in my life. Granted, I was drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette at 4 o’clock in the morning when I was on said skateboard, but it actually didn’t go too bad…aside from when I ended up on someone’s driveway while on my friend Alex’s long-board. As it turns out, going down-hill is completely different than going straight or up-hill. The board shot out from under me and I fell right on my tailbone.

It was still fun.

And, honestly, why shouldn’t I go skateboarding or rollerblading? Why? Because I’m a grown woman? Meh. I’m the size of a ten year old, and I feel that somehow earns me the right to play like one. I’m not hurting anyone but myself most of the time, anyway.

Perhaps it will keep me young. I’ve sworn off plastic surgery and face-lifts. Perhaps if I keep that youthful glow that comes from climbing trees and making mud-pies, I will never have to consider these things. (Just kidding on the mud-pies…sort of).
I actually am developing a school of thought surrounding this. So what if I want to do all of these things? I didn’t do them that much as a teenager and, well, I’m a grown-ass adult. I pay my bills and work 60+ hours a week. I do my own taxes, clean my own house and own my own car. So if I want to get grass stains all over my jeans by falling down because I haven’t figured out how to stop on my new roller blades then who’s to stop me?!

No one; that’s who.

I’ve also taken to buying more food from the grocery store. I feel as though this is key. I tend to eat healthier when I’m, well, not at the bar. Tonight, for instance, I sauteed some asparagus with some carrots and a touch of soy sauce. I also let a vegan grilled “chicken breast” simmer in some ginger dressing and a little claret. I topped both of these with a bit of caprino cheese and had a small side salad of mixed greens, radishes (an excellent blood purifier, btw) and ginger dressing. In lieu of a beer, I had a glass of juice (a combo of two of my favorite V8 fruit blends).

Honestly, I feel better already.

I’m trying to get myself in shape so that, when I take off over seas a year and a half from now, I’ll be in tip-top condition for the training regimen.

This has helped get my mind off of a few upsetting things and, honestly, it’s how I usually live. I’ve been in a rut for a while and I feel like I’m finally climbing out of it. This makes for a happy Kara–and it also gives me an excuse to shop for cute clothes this spring 🙂

Yogi Munchkin

Standard

Author: Kara Mae Adamo.

So I decided to do some yoga today.

I used to do a little yoga every day for about half an hour (actually, exactly half an hour. I follow a Jillian Michaels dvd when I do it) but ever since I moved to this apartment I’ve managed to put it off. It’s actually not a lazy thing…at least not entirely. Kira and I were actually really good about going to the gym for a while there.

Over the last month and a half I’ve perfected the sloth position.

It’s great–you should try it–you just veg out until you can’t take it anymore.

Alas, that does nothing for my flexibility, waistline, or muscle tone, though. So today I decided to revisit Jillian Michaels.

This woman is a beast. She’s in great shape and a little scary, but you can tell she knows her stuff. She combines classic yoga poses with a bit of cardio and you’re sweating within fifteen minutes.

I actually really enjoy the routine. It pumps your metabolism and calms you down all at the same time. I also love that you’re relying on your own body during the workout. It’s just you out there–you and everything you’ve got. And when you start to stabilize and you start getting more flexible, that’s all you, too. There’s really something to be said for that. When I’m doing the routine, I actually imagine what it was like thousands of years ago, when people really didn’t “workout”…they just existed and moved and bent and lived and managed to be healthy and toned and had energy without the use of a 24-hour fitness center. I can’t help but feel like that is probably how we’re supposed to be. Ever-active, with energy flowing in and out of us in a natural, vaguely cosmic sort of way.

Yoga rocks.

You even kind of get into the cheesy way they talk during the routines. “Seal it in mountain pose…melt your heart to the sky…” that sort of thing. You actually do feel waves of energy shooting up and down your body and it feels amazing.

I’m not gonna lie, today I was not the yoga guru I have been in the past. I was on the beginner’s video (I’m always on the beginner’s video), and I was shaking like a mo-fo about ten minutes in. But you know what? My muscle memory is pretty decent. I know that if I managed to squeeze in a routine before I head to work tomorrow, I’m going to be a lot more confident and stable throughout the workout…and that alone is enough to keep me going.

I’d also like to point out that I did this in the comfort and, most importantly, PRIVACY of my own home. There is no way in hell that I am jumping back into yoga in the not-so-spiffy shape that I’m in right now in front of people. If you want to do it and you feel you need the support-group, by all means, go for it. I’ve thought about joining a class after I get a little more secure and a little less chunky-monkey-ish. I’m betting it would be a lot of fun. But right now I think I’ll stick to the DVD until I’m confident enough to go for the advanced workout…then we’ll talk peer pressure and socializing.

I’m also all healthy-feeling now, so I’m downing water left and right and even eating a healthy meal for lunch. Yoga kinda does that to you: brings about that feeling of positive energy, cleansing and change.

It really couldn’t have come at a better time, either. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to go ahead and do it. Stop with the “I’m not flexible” bullshit, too, because the beginners stuff is less about flexibility and more about stability. The flexible stuff comes later. You work your way up…and it comes about faster than you’d think.

Well, that’s all for now. Happy holidays, everyone 🙂

Nameste
🙂

Jiggly Puff

Standard

So I finally peeled my lazy ass out from underneath all of the Reeses and Kit Kat wrappers, put down the milk shake, and walked the whole twenty feet to my apartment’s gym.

I felt accomplished the moment I laced up my Reeboks…which I then had to fight because the last three times I did that, I figured it was enough to put the shoes on and sat down to watch another episode of Secret Circle.

This can’t be good.

There was a time when I out ran the boys and pushed 200 lbs on leg presses—I did yoga—I did P90x, damnit!! I even ate vegan cheese!   I now think about my inhaler when I go up the stairs…and I’m not sure, but I think my ass might qualify for a separate zip code.

My 21 year old self would hang her head in shame.

And so, it appears that I have a decision to make…as Patton Oswalt says, I have two options: I can either do something about it or I have to start becoming fascinated by what is happening to me physically.   Since I’m supposed to be in my prime, I have decided to do go with the first one.

I’m a vegetarian, so while I’m slender, I’m soft and squishy and I have a looming fear that those are not new dimples on my upper thighs (you’re welcome for the visual). I am aging, and I am not happy about it. When did I authorize this? I don’t recall signing any contracts saying that I’m allowed to sprout gray…we’ll call it “tinsel” in the name of the holiday season (look, mom, I’m festive.)…from my head or that I am to start getting all worried about gravity!! I swear, I’ll sue.

My idle legal threats aside, I’ve decided that, since lately I’ve been so terrible about sticking to my blogs, I’m going to force myself to keep a workout journal online. I figure, why not—at least this way if I allow myself to indulge in my much-needed chocolate martini’s the rest of you can kick my ass about it later when I don’t post something.

That’s right. The pressure is now on you—see how I did that?

The truth is, I’ve been in kind of a funk lately and I need the endorphins and the confidence boost. If not, I’ll wallow in my own self pity in a dark and secluded corner surrounded by popcorn and whatever the hell that minty chocolatey frozen wonderment is that Kira’s mom left in the freezer for us when she visited this weekend. And, trust me, we don’t want that.  It’s not a pretty sight.

So back to the basics, then. No more Ramen noodles because I’m too lazy to make something else…no more desserts without cardio to burn it off. It’s time to get back into shape so I can emotionally shop instead of emotionally eat. Shoes have been convenient because they always fit—but being frumpy with awesome shoes is never in style.

Today I didn’t do anything crazy—no cardio—just some free weight routines and worked on my legs and abs a little. I know, I know—you’re supposed to exercise in muscle groups—but I don’t pretend to care about that…I just want to be toned and doing it my way does always seem to work for me.

I do already feel a little better, which is always good.  Working out has always been a good way to temper my innate craziness, and with a 24-hour gym right outside my door I really don’t have an excuse.   So, yeah, working out again…perhaps I’ll do some yoga tomorrow :).

**Just as an update…not five minutes after I originally posted this, Kira the Enabler served me a cup full of said minty chocolatey frozen wonderment. All of my efforts are in vain.**

The Hazards of Tanning

Standard

Remember Magda from There's Something About Mary? Spooky.

Author: Kara Mae Adamo.

 As the rosy glow of dawn creeps over the horizon, casting golden rays of sunlight across the sky, many of us rise to meet the coming day with smiles on our faces. We dress in light clothes and step out into the morning air—painted a warm flaxen yellow—with a feeling of calm happiness. We soak in the sunshine, pleased with the way the summer sun gives us glowing, tanned, healthy-looking skin.

It is easy, while appreciating every glimmering ray, to forget that we are in danger of over-exposing ourselves. Most sun burns are over quickly and can be soothed with lotions and aloe, so we shrug them off. For people like me—people who have darker skin and have lived along coastal beaches our whole lives—it is particularly easy to forget about it. It is a rare thing for me to burn, and so despite my parents’ ever-present reminders, I have often stretched out under the blazing Florida sun without so much as a drop of sunscreen.

As I get older, however, something really freaky seems to be happening: I’m finding out that my parents are right. About a lot of things. Especially sunscreen.

In honesty, I don’t know why I never listened before. I think it was a combination of my incessant laziness (yes. I was too lazy to put sunscreen on.) along with a very unhealthy attitude towards tanning. Not only am I a native beach-going-Floridian, but I am Sicilian. My ability to out-tan people was a source of pride growing up. All of my friends would freckle and burn and peel and there I’d be, golden brown as dark caramel, relishing in the delightful way my skin would change painlessly.

In our society, sporting a tan is considered an attractive quality. It is for that reason that this country is peppered with tanning salons and tanning oils: to feed the fervent desire to look tan year-around. Sunscreen puts a bit of a halt on the tanning process, and so we young’uns like to avoid it.

This is a bad idea. Say it with me, ladies, “sunscreen is my friend.”

This could be you.

I’ll start my argument off with the thing that will speak to us the loudest: the sun ages you. Think about any time you’ve been to the beach—especially in the south. Florida’s coastline, a retirees haven, is covered with people that have overexposed themselves. You know who I’m talking about. These are the people who eerily resemble The Dancing Raisinetts (yes, I realize I’m dating myself here).Leather-skinned and wrinkly, most of these individuals are nowhere near as old as they look. The sun will dry your skin. It will give you wrinkles, blemishes, melasma and brown spots all over the place. So unless you want to look like a prune permanently, lather on the sunscreen.

Now, that is a purely superficial situation. Eventually, if all goes according to plan, we will all become raisins…just some earlier than others. The real issue here is a bit more serious.

Skin cancer is the most diagnosed of all cancers. Of the many types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most serious and is common in people between 20-39 years old. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 120,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed every year. Last year, nearly 70,000 of these were invasive cases.

So how does this happen?

Basically, it works like this:

There are three types of ultraviolet rays. You should be wary of two of these (UVA and UVB rays). UVA rays are the most harmful, as they are longer and penetrate the skin, basically cooking it from underneath and prematurely aging it. Over time, these are the rays that can cause skin cancer—which can be fatal.

So what do I do?

Now, I don’t live in a cave. I know that there is no way in this universe anyone is going to walk around in a bee suit or hibernate like a bear until Labor Day is over. In fact, the latter wouldn’t do you much good anyway, since you’re still in danger during the winter seasons.

So here are a few tips for those sensational fun-in-the-sun days we all look forward to:

1.)    Wear sunscreen with a minimum of 15 SPF. Depending on your skin type, you may need a higher SPF. The number is based on how much exposure your skin can take before it begins to burn. 8 SPF isn’t going to help you—even if you’re almost un-burn-able. Just because you’re not pink and you’re not in pain (symptoms of UVB ray exposure) doesn’t mean the UVA rays aren’t causing damage. Also: reapply your sunscreen—even if it’s waterproof. You’re sweating it off whether you realize it or not and yes, you do sweat in the water, too.

2.)    Wear a hat. This does go for the ladies—but it especially goes for the fella’s. Gentlemen: if you are balding, please, wear a hat. Nothing is worse than a scalp burn (I got cornrows on a cruise in the Bahamas once and had strips of red along my head…dear Lord, the sunburn/headache combo is the worst.) If you hate hats, then I recommend investing in sunscreen designed specifically for your scalp. The wonders of science have, as it turns out, come up with such a thing. Cool, huh?

3.)    Wear lip balm. Nothing is more unkissable than lips that are chapped and scorched from the summer heat. Regular sunscreen doesn’t really help here…and it tastes funky.

4.)    Wear sunglasses. This one should be a no-brainer. Sunglasses are not only fashionable, but they help when you’re walking and driving around town because they keep the glare out of your eyes. Another thing they do is protect the sensitive skin around your eyes and your eyelids (regular sunscreen will all but blind you and will screw up your sun-day-fun-day). Also: sunglasses help prevent cataracts. If you are in the market for a new pair, I recommend polarized lenses with UV protection. If you can’t spring for the polarized pair, then at least go for UV protection, as without it the glasses will be nothing more than a spiffy accessory. (Hintedy-hint-hint: sunglasses help with glare from the snow in the winter, too.)

5.)    Check the UVI (the UV-Index). The UVI can be found in your local newspaper right near the weather section. It tells you how intense the rays are going to be. Everything is fine at UVI 0-2. If the rays are at UVI 6+, however, stay inside. You can lounge at the pool some other day. It’s just best not to risk it.

Aside from that, enjoy yourself. If you’re particularly prone to acne, I recommend going for sunscreen that is oil-free and noncomedogenic. If you burn with exceptional ease, try going for a sunscreen that has something called “physical blockers” in it like titanium dioixide and micron zed zinc oxide.

Avoid tanning beds. I know they make you look pretty, but they’re dangerous and addictive. Again, do you really want to look tanned and fabulous for the next five years in exchange for a lifetime of prunage? I thought not.

Keep hydrated and try to stay out of direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm. That is when the sun’s rays are at their height and when it is the most dangerous to be basking in the heat. Remember that sand and concrete and water all reflect the light, too, so you’re actually getting far more exposure than you may realize.

Other than that, enjoy the weather. Nothing feels better than relaxing outside on a warm summer day with a cold drink and a book or some music. Just be wary of the dangers and stay on the safe side and you will be able to look forward to many more enjoyable summer days :).

Find your local UVI here:

http://www.who.int/uv/intersunprogramme/activities/uv_index/en/index4.html

Endive: A Nutritional Powerhouse

Standard

 

This is a blog I did for work several months ago. The blog was for California Endive, an Endive distributor based out of California. I figured it would go well in my “Apple a Day…” section. 

 

Crisp and unique with a slightly bitter taste, endive (pronounced “on-deev“) has been cultivated for medicinal purposes since the ancients documented its use 5000 years ago. A member of the chicory family, it is referenced in the infamous Ebers Papyrus (1550, BCE), and praised in the writings of Horace, Ovid, Virgil, Galenus and Pliny. It was rediscovered in the mid-to-late nineteenth century in Belgium, and has since traveled to France (where it is referred to fondly as “White Gold”,) and North America.

Bursting with important minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, folate, zinc, magnesium and fiber, endive can be used in all-natural cleansers for your liver and gall bladder. Among typical salad greenery, it is the richest source of vitamin A. As a result, endive is an excellent source of beta-carotene (an important antioxidant that boosts your immune system). In fact, by eating endive or drinking endive juice (especially when mixed with carrots, parsley and spinach), you can improve and sometimes even reverse degenerating eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma.

Endive is also an excellent source of vitamins C and B. Regular consumption of endive can lower your risk of heart disease and cancers of the rectum, bladder and melanoma. Because of the complex fibers cellulose and hemicellulose, endive can help regulate your digestive tract and prevent the absorption of cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels. Endive is also low in fat and sodium and has no cholesterol. One head of endive delivers over 50% of the potassium found in a banana.

Naturally crisp and slightly bitter, endive can be boiled, braised, put in coffee or served fresh in salads. By pairing endive with other juices, you can actually prevent and even reverse many illnesses and other, less serious malodies, such as acne. By mixing endive juice with celery and carrots, asthmatics can significantly reduce their susceptibility for asthma attacks. Anemia can be tempered by mixing endive with celery and parsley. It’s helpful in weight loss. Endive provides a whimsical, curly flair to any salad. Its delightfully crisp texture and slightly bitter taste pair well with other mixed greens and vegetables,

Visit http://endive.com/healthy-eating for nutritional facts about California Endive. For delicious recipes, visit: http://endive.com/recipes.