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The Peace that Comes from a Big Employer
Posted by Toni Church 8/2/13 9:14 AM
As a nurse, I get a lot of questions from friends about health care reform and my feelings on insurance in general. No matter who I am talking to, I start my schpeel the same way. "I can work and run with a tiny bit more peace." I usually then talk about how I feel comfort knowing that my kids will be helped if they were to get sick or get into an accident. This conversation came up once again after I got back to my family after a weekend walking in a marathon. My husband and I talked about grateful we are that health care reform does not seem to significantly impact the the benefits we get through our employers, our big employers. So for all the moms and dads out there wondering about health care reform, I put together a list of how my employer helps me throughout the year with health care. Next week, I will talk about what I personally look for in insurance plans. Employers Helping with Health Care Education - I'm a nurse and a partner of Real Health and insurance still can be confusing to me. Fortunately, my employer and insurance company offer a lot of opportunities to learn more. I recommend talking to your company's HR department about opportunities to get educated about the basics on insurance and financial planning. Long-term Planning - Since I am with a big company, I am fairly confident I will get offered similar plans every year. With that in mind, I can start to plan out what costs might be for taking care of me and my family. Health and Wellness Boosts - I love it that my employer offers opportunities to get involved in walks, runs, and health fairs. A lot of my friends do not know about the health and wellness activities offered by their employers. Your HR department should also know about these opportunities.= A Kid's Perspective While I was walking 26 miles in New York City, others with Real Health and Health. Join In. were filming kids talking about what they tought "exchanges" were and what health care means to them. I love these videos. Besides finding the kids adorbable, they made me realize how important it is to talk to my kids about being careful. No, I don't think my daughters need to know exactly what a health care exchange is, but I do think they need to know to be careful about crossing the street. The benefits offered by my employer give me peace of mind and I am trying to pass on that peace of mind to my kids. I hope this helps you think about what health insurance means to you. Along with the other contributors to Real Health, I am going to try to help people better understand health care reform. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about health care reform and what it means to you, check out How is Health Care Changing?
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What I Learned from the Tortoise and the Hare
Posted by Toni Church 7/25/13 9:19 AM
This past weekend I participated in my first marathon. The MoonWalk, a 26 mille power walk, started at 10:30 PM Saturday night and I finished at 7:45 AM Sunday morning. Nine hours and seventeen minutes of walking! This walk was most definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it was so worthwhile. Aterwards, I thought about the story of the tortoise beating the hare in the story we all heard as children and how his lessons can help us walk and run regularly without it becoming too much. Planning out your pace As a runner, who just ran the Brooklyn Half, I figured how hard could it be to walk a marathon. I mean it is just walking. Well, walking is much harder than I gave it credit for and by mile 17, I hit the proverbial wall. I eventually rebounded and got through to the finish, but I had to slow down my pace of walking. As I passed and got passed by other walkers, we all talked about testing our walking pace. I am going to get a better sense for how fast I walk and how long I can keep it up for. I will walk exactly one mile and time myself. That tortoise knew what he was doing. He knew he could finish the race if he paced himself. Passing on the encouragement I walked with my friend Crystal and we finished the race as we started - together. It was an amazing experience and accomplishment. I am so happy that I participated and we were able too bond over this experience. I certainly had moments where I thought I could not do it. However, Crystal reminded me about all of the accomplishments she has seen me through before. She gave me proof that I could do it. I, of course, praised my friend as well. All of the walkers were praising each other and supporting each other. The tortoise ran his race in a way that he could talk with other animals along the way. I'm going to make sure my fitness routines are primarily with groups. If I do something alone, I am going to share the results with someone else. Knowing your "awesomeness" This night taught me how strong I actually am. Through the night, I faced both physical and mental challenges. I was able to not only push myself to continue on, but I was also able to encourage Crystal to push through her challenges too! Similarly, I am sure the tortoise had a boost of confidence after his race against the hare. So go for a walk with friends and workout like the tortoise. What lessons have you learned about fitness from childhood stories? For more tips on how to use walking or running to improve your health, check out the following posts: Why Run if You're Not a Runner Running for Happiness
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Why I Am Going to Walk Around New York City in a Pink Bra
Posted by Toni Church 7/19/13 3:38 AM
Tomorrow night I will be walking through Randall’s Island in New York City, sporting a pink bra for 26 miles. No, I am not just randomly running around in a bra. I am going to take part in the first annual New York MoonWalk, an overnight power walk event to raise money to make sure every person affected by breast cancer gets support and care. This will be my first marathon ever and I want you to know what my expectations are for this event. I’m confident you can get something out of a marathon, whether you decide to run or walk one. Making a marathon a personal mission I had a personal breast cancer scare about two years ago. Thankfully it was just a scare, but walking this marathon is my way of making a difference and making sure that my friends and family take preventive measures to stave off breast cancer. If you can make a marathon about more than just running, you should feel quite motivated and fulfilled by the training and the experience of participating in the event. I always thought my first marathon would be the New York City Marathon. However, I got injured last year and had to defer my participation in that race. Enter the opportunity to power walk 26 miles overnight in New York City. I could not let this unique opportunity pass me by to participate in a marathon while I still fully recover from last year’s injury. Walking Together Helps Friendships For me running is more of a solo event. However, power walking on the other hand is group oriented and can be done by runners and non-runners alike. I will be walking with fellow Real Health contributors Phyllis Goldberg and Rosemary Lichtman. They are participating in a marathon after the age of 70. How amazing is that? I also have other friends participating who I have not seen in months. The MoonWalk is bringing my friends together and we get to spend the entire night together. I have a couple of other specific goals for the MooWalk: Completing my first marathon ever. Forging a motivation to compete in the 2015 New York City Marathon. Having a great time with my walking friends. Next week I will recap the MoonWalk and let you know how I met my goals. What do you want to get out of a long walk? For more tips on how to train for a maratrhon, check out the following posts: Cross-training Tips for Marathoners 4 Aspects of a Healthy Running Form
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5 Fun Baby Foods
Posted by Kath Younger 7/18/13 9:42 AM
Some parenting tasks that seemed to be the most daunting at first have turned out to be the most fun. Cloth diaper laundry, for example, is one of my favorite chores. And making baby food has been an unexpectedly pleasant way to experiment in the kitchen. When we first started solids with our boy Mazen, we went the puree route for a number of reasons. He seemed to prefer spoons and purees to using his fingers, so I spent the first few months of solid foods making him purees. I found it was much easier to make a bunch of food in advance and freeze it than to worry about preparing something when Mazen was already hungry or I was worrying about cooking the adult dinner. Here are a few of my favorite recipes for babies exploring new flavors and tastes of real food. You can use breast milk, formula or water to thin and blend them. We used water because my pump and I are not on the best of terms, and I figured the extra hydration from water is a bonus. Plus my baby was extra large and not at risk of his food being too diluted with water. You should check with your pediatrician about which of these foods would be best for your baby or babies. The single ingredient puree When we were first starting out I made mostly single ingredient purees to ensure Mazen tolerated them well. To prepare this meal, you should select apples, peas, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and more and steam in a basket or metal colander over simmering water with a lid on until tender. Allow the food to cool and peel if necessary. Add as much water as it takes to be able to use your blender or food processor and puree until there are no chunks. Oatmeal with applesauce To create a smooth texture, blend old fashioned oats in a food processor or blender until they become a fine texture. Alternativel,y you can use a commercial baby oatmeal, blend the oats after cooking with a stick blender or leave whole for an older baby who can chew. To prepare this meal, cook oats on the stove-top with water until thick. Stir in applesauce and a pinch of cinnamon. Pour it all into an ice cube tray, allow to freeze and then store in zip top bag. Add a little water to thin the meal. The green veggie blend The options for this blend are endless, but I like to use broccoli, spinach, peas, peeled potato and a few herbs. The potato gives the mix a creaminess, and the herbs introduce new flavors. Try some fresh parsley or basil. I steam veggies together on the stove top over simmering water starting with potato, which will take the longest, and ending with the spinach. When veggies are tender, puree together with just enough water to make blender work. Spoon into ice cube tray, allow to freeze and then store in a zip top bag. Spinach, banana and berry smoothie Smoothies can be served with a spoon for a younger baby, sipped with a straw for an older one, or poured into a reusable pouch and sucked out. Since fluid milk is not recommended for babies under one, this recipe uses whole milk yogurt for creaminess. Make extra and have some yourself! This smoothie is a great way to get some greens into both baby and busy mom. Blend one cup frozen berries, a banana, one cup baby spinach and half a cup of whole milk yogurt with enough water to make it a true blend. Then, pour into an ice cube tray or reusable pouch and freezer. Lentils and carrots Lentils are easy to cook, blend well and provide iron for little bodies. Mix with carrots or any veggie you like. Cook the lentils according to the package. Add carrots in the last five minutes and cook until tender. Drain, if necessary. Puree with blender and spoon into an ice cube tray, freeze and store in zip top bag. Mazen is going to have a fun summer with these meals. What are your baby's favorite meals?
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Getting the Most Out of a Walk
Posted by Rosemary and Phyllis 7/17/13 4:19 AM
This weekend we are going to show that marathons are for people of all ages. We're both over 70 and we are going to participate in the MoonWalk marathon in New York City. We will be walking a half marathon or approximately 13 miles. We have been training for the past month and feel ready to go. In the video above, we go through our training experience. After a couple weeks of training, we realized we have to listen to our bodies. If we start to feel our legs tighten up, we immediately slow down the pace or shorten the length of our walks. We also have been getting creative about where we walk. When we go on vacations, we bring hiking shoes to ensure we are prepared to thoroughly walk at local attractions. What are you doing to make walking a regular part of your day? *** Editor's Note: Rosemary Lichtman, a life coach, and Phyllis Goldberg, a family therapist , are active seniors, good friends and blog at Her Mentor Center. Phylllis and Rosemary post at Real Health on the topics of health and wellness for seniors, the importance of relationships to health and communicating effectively to parents and children.
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