A friend asked if she could share a pic of our new daughter #AlyssandraClaire and our Olde English Sheepdog #TheJosephine cuddling together - 53,985 views in 24 hours… WOW!

A friend asked if she could share a pic of our new daughter #AlyssandraClaire and our Olde English Sheepdog #TheJosephine cuddling together - 53,985 views in 24 hours… WOW!


Scientifically better than any other workout. Do each one for 30 seconds at full intensity.


Scientifically better than any other workout. Do each one for 30 seconds at full intensity.

After a weekend of #coachella - improving your #immunity


1.      MMind the Fat
High-fat diets can make your immune system “less functional and more sluggish,” says Simin Nikbin Meydani, Ph.D., the associate director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, at Tufts University, in Boston. In fact, a Tufts study compared the effects on immune function of a typical Western diet (containing 38 percent fat) to those of a cholesterol-lowering diet (28 percent fat) and discovered that the lower-fat diet enhanced the functioning of T lymphocytes (or T cells), which help ward off infections. Aim to get 25 to 30 percent of your total daily calories from fat, with most of those coming from monounsaturated fats (found in olive oil, avocados, and peanut butter) and polyunsaturated fats (think sunflower and corn oils, salmon, and walnuts). Limit saturated fats (such as those in whole milk, butter, and high-fat meats) and trans fats (which are listed on labels as partially hydrogenated oils).

Eat Plenty of Protein
The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of the cells in your immune system, and they help create protective white blood cells and antibodies. “These cells then block invading pathogens,” says Meydani. Women should consume approximately 50 grams of protein a day (about 60 to 75 grams a day during pregnancy) or get at least 10 to 15 percent of their daily calories from protein. Choose lean protein, such as fish, skinless poultry, eggs, beans, low-fat cuts of beef, or soy products.


Stay in Motion

According to several studies, moderate exercise (walking briskly, cycling, or swimming for 45 minutes, five times a week) has been shown to enhance your body’s defenses and even cut down sick days by up to 50 percent. Aerobic exercise enhances blood flow, and “the circulatory system is the route of transport for those cells that fight off infection,” says David Katz, an internist and the director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, in Derby, Connecticut. But don’t assume that more exercise makes for superhuman bug resistance. Studies have revealed that prolonged, vigorous exercise (like running a marathon) can compromise immunity after the workout


Fit Into Your Skinny Jeans

In a study conducted at Tufts University, researchers put slightly overweight adults with elevated cholesterol levels on a low-fat diet. After 12 weeks, the subjects had lost weight and lowered their cholesterol. More surprising, their T-cell function had noticeably improved. “And we’re not talking about drastic weight loss,” says Meydani. “Losing even a few pounds can yield an improvement in how well your immune cells function.” To drop a pound a week, each day aim to trim 250 calories from your diet and burn 250 calories through exercise.


Belt It Out

Show Off Your Musical Talents

Research conducted at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, in Frankfurt, indicates that singing helps improve both a person’s mood and the levels of antibodies that protect from invading germs. Also, a study at Willamette University, in Salem, Oregon, found that when people played percussion instruments, like the drums, and sang along, they showed greater concentrations of these antibodies than did those who simply listened to music. This is an example of how something that is enjoyable is also good for you, says Carl Charnetski, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Wilkes University, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. 


Love Your Pets

Pet Something Fluffy

Strange but true: A study conducted at Wilkes University found that stroking a dog for 18 minutes led to a significant spike in secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA), which helps protect the body against germs trying to enter it. Again, chalk this up to the power of pleasure, says Charnetski, which triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that enhance immune function. That’s why it pays to pet your dog or cat (or your neighbor’s) as often as possible. If you’re not an animal lover, don’t worry. A study conducted at the University of Zurich revealed that touching a loved one in an affectionate way―rubbing each other’s shoulders or neck, say―has a similar effect. A simple act like that can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can hamper white blood cell function.


Consume Good-for-You Foods 

Get Three Colors in Every Meal
Fruits and vegetables in reds, oranges, yellows, and greens, are especially rich in carotenoids, which help immune cells surround and kill off a virus. They also contain antioxidants and vitamins A and C, which strengthen cells and help them defend against invading bacteria, says Charles Stephensen, Ph.D., a research scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center, at the University of California, Davis. Aim for five to nine servings of produce a day, which is easier to do than you may think: Have at least one serving at each meal and two as snacks and―bingo―you’ve already reached five.

Eat Good Bacteria
Studies on specific probiotic products have shown that their ‘good bacteria’ can help prevent or reduce the duration of some gastrointestinal, urogenital, and respiratory illnesses,” says Gregor Reid, Ph.D., a scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute, in London, Canada. Probiotic foods or supplements can be found in foods that are easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Look for probiotic yogurts (such as Dannon Activia and DanActive), tempeh, fortified cheeses, and kefir drinks. Be sure to choose probiotic foods or supplements that contain proven strains, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 or GG, L. casei Immunitas, and Bifidobacterium animalis DN 114 001; don’t rely just on the words PROBIOTIC or ACIDOPHILUS on the label.



Rest Up

Make Late Nights an Exception

Set aside ample time to get the restorative shut-eye that your body needs (most experts advise seven to nine hours a night). In a study conducted at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City, women who were well rested had more active killer cells (white blood cells that attack germs) than did women who felt tired. To make sure you nod off quickly, keep your room cool, quiet, and dark. Try to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and strenuous exercise at least three hours before bedtime.

Resolve to Really Relax
Carve out time for whatever helps you unwind―be it yoga, painting, or crossword puzzles―on a regular basis, and ideally every day. “That chronic, teeth-grinding kind of stress suppresses circulation of your immune cells, inhibits your body’s responses to invaders, and elevates levels of cortisol,” says Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., the director of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, at Rockefeller University, in New York City.


These movie theatre displays are getting more advanced by the second. 

Thanks, we enjoyed working on it!  


These movie theatre displays are getting more advanced by the second. 

Thanks, we enjoyed working on it!  

importance of back flexibility

I remember the first time I tried to do a back bend in a yoga class. The feeling was disorienting. I was hesitant and certain that if I continue to attempt it I was going to injure myself. In my Muay Thai program one of our main focuses is flexibility; and the feeling of first doing a proper forward bend was similar to that of a back bend - that routine is a forward and back bend.

On days I do not take a moment to go through the motions I can feel the muscles in my back almost begging for the release. I also find myself feeling tired, slow, groggy and less focused. It has been quite an experience since my first attempt at a forward and back bend; but everything experience has only led me to realize the importance of back flexibility.

I could sit here and preach to you on how such flexibility has exponentially increased my skill in Muay Thai. I could tell you that I hit harder, faster and more accurately. I could then proceed to tell you as to why this is so, but I won’t. Why, you may ask? Because I don’t want to make it seem like this is something you do purely for performance. Flexibility in your back translates to all aspects of your life whether athletic or not.

See, your back houses your spinal cord. The spine is a part of the central nervous system along with your brain. From your spin come the nerves that extend to every part of your body. These nerves are how you brain sends signals to your basically every part of the body. Your heart beats, lungs inhale and exhale, your food is digested literally thousands of functions are all orchestrated through this system.

Imagine your television set is hooked up to a cable for reception. Now imagine the cable which gives you reception runs past a door that when shut pinches the cable. At first the cables integrity holds but after repeatedly being pinched it wears out.

We all know the result of a warm cable, bad reception. The picture can turn unclear, the color may go out and the sound is muffled and difficult to distinguish. Now imagine your spine and all its nerves are the reception cables, tight muscles are the door, and body functions are the television.

If the muscles in your back are pinching down on your nerves then the signal will not be as strong and your body will perform at a significantly lower rate than if the signal was clear. The result is that the body ends up using more energy to perform simple tasks.

This can lead to restlessness, tiredness, fatigue and decreased motivation. Additionally obstructed signals can have and individual feeling significantly less focused and constricted in their body movements.

How many times has being tired left you feeling irritable, or in a bad mood; and how many times has that state resulted in miscommunication, drama, stress, or just flat out a bad day? Like your body all these things are connected. A clear signal for your nervous system keeps your body functioning at optimal levels and one way to insure those signals are firing correctly is a maintain a healthy and flexible back. It doesn’t stop there though the next benefit is in the circulatory system.

Just like our nerves; veins and arteries travel throughout our bodies supplying it with blood which carries all the necessary chemicals for our bodies to function correctly. Tight muscles not only obstruct nerves but also our veins and arteries. In fact tight muscles more dramatically affect blood pressure. An Obstructed circulatory system puts more pressure on the heart to perform its normal task of pumping blood.

It can also mean that your organs and muscles are not being supplied adequate nutrients because of decreased circulation. Decreased circulation can have also leave you feeling fatigued, restless, fatigued, unmotivated, and unfocused. It also makes your immune system vulnerable leaving you more exposed to sickness.

Just imagine, keeping your back flexible and limber can reduce the chances of heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, depression; and increase your energy, focus, motivation, and even your relationships! No chemicals, no drugs, no treatments, and no invasive procedures; just simple back flexibility. It’s not about exercise per say, not really about fitness or performance; but general health. So remember stay flexible and don’t forget to stretch!

“It’s up to us, it’s up to our generation, to just not ask for permission. I think that not asking for permission to be human is a really big part of being a fully actualized human.”

The Millions interview the wise and wonderful Cheryl Strayed, a.k.a. Dear Sugar. Her Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar is an absolute treasure. (via explore-blog)

(Source: , via explore-blog)

Want to eat more, pig out on this…

The new trend among the weight conscious? Eating more. Don’t focus on consuming less of the “bad” foods - aim to incorporate more of the good foods into your diet. Not only will you feel less deprived, but you’ll also end up being too full to crave the junk. Try these five nutritional superstars for a result that’s even greater than the sum of its wholesome parts. 

1. Spinach 
For $1.50, the price of a large bag of spinach at most grocery stores, you can reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis, lower your cholesterol, and raise your I.Q. Spinach is an excellent bone-builder, containing vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium. It’s also high in flavonoids, plant molecules that act as antioxidants, which have been shown to prevent breast, stomach, skin, and ovarian cancer. Spinach is a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C, which not only keep you from getting sick in the winter, but also de-clog your arteries andreduce heart disease

Spinach contains antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the brain, thereby preventing the effects of aging on mental activity. Scientific studies have demonstrated that both animals and people who eat a few servings of spinach per day improve their learning capacities and motor skills. 

Serving ideas: Sauté spinach with olive oil, pine nuts, and raisins - the olive oil will help you to better absorb its nutrients. Don’t love the flavor so much? Try these spinach brownies from Jessica Seinfeld’sDeceptively Delicious cookbook - you won’t taste a thing. 

2. Eggs
In the Snackwell-crazed ’90s, dieters feared eggs because of their fat and cholesterol content and suffered through millions of tasteless egg-white omelets. But research has shown little, if any, connection between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol, and the humble egg is finally being recognized for the remarkably complete set of nutrients it provides. It makes sense: Something that contains the ingredients for an entire life can give you the fuel you need to get through the morning. 

Eggs are a great source of protein, containing all eight amino acids (if you eat the whole thing). As any healthy dieter knows, protein is essential for staying full and having energy. 

Serving ideas: For breakfast on the go, roll up a veggie omelet in a whole-wheat wrap. Or, update the classic egg salad by chopping yours up with Italian tuna, black olives, and some olive oil and vinegar. 

3. Blueberries 
A Tufts University study found blueberries were the number one source of antioxidants among 60 fruits and vegetables analyzed. Blueberries contain antioxidants that can (get ready): prevent ulcers, cataracts, and glaucoma; decrease risks of heart disease and various types of cancer; and lower cholesterol. They can also reduce aging of the brain, keeping your memory sharp and diminishing the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Serving ideas: Throw some frozen ones in the blender with honey or agave syrup for a granita-like treat. Or, serve in a salad with spinach, sliced almonds, and balsamic vinaigrette for a light and gourmet lunch. 

4. Apples
Eating an apple a day can keep all kinds of doctors away, from physicians to dentists. Apples contain both insoluble and soluble fiber, which not only make them filling, but also work double time to reduce cholesterol. Some doctors even recommend drinking apple juice after eating a fatty meal to reduce the food’s negative effects on your body. 

Apples have been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. And if that’s not enough to make you bite into a Fuji or McIntosh, consider this: Chewing apples stimulates saliva, which scrubs stains off your teeth and freshens breath instantly. 

Serving ideas: Spread peanut butter on sliced apples for a yummy taste of childhood. Or, dice them up in your oatmeal before cooking and sprinkle with cinnamon for an apple pie-flavored breakfast. 

5. Winter Squash 
One cup of winter squash provides 170 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A, a nutrient necessary for night vision that’s hard to find in other foods. Squash’s bright orange color comes from a high dose of carotenoids, antioxidants that prevent eye degeneration due to aging and filter out carcinogenic light rays. Makes you think of jack-o’-lanterns in a new “light,” doesn’t it? 

Roast the seeds alongside the flesh and you’ll reap a host of other benefits. Winter squash seeds contain a significant amount of L-tryptophan, which can help to prevent depression. They’re also a rich source of magnesium, a mineral Americans don’t consume nearly enough that’s vital to almost every bodily function. Eating your daily dose of magnesium will lower your risks for heart disease, abdominal obesity, and diabetes. 

Serving ideas: Mix canned or pureed squash with cinnamon and the sweetener of your choice for a decadent and surprisingly low-cal treat reminiscent of Thanksgiving candied yams. One-half cup of pureed pumpkin has 40 calories, in contrast with yam’s 180 (and that’s if you don’t add butter or marshmallows). Or, roll the seeds in cinnamon and sugar, crunchy sea salt, or curry powder, then roast them in the oven. And don’t limit yourself to pumpkin - delicata and kabocha squash seeds are equally nutritious, with their own unique, nutty flavors. 

Enjoy getting your grub on, eat for your health!  

Source: Yahoo Health News

Proof: Exercise Actually Changes Your DNA… read this

Scientists discover that physical activity leads to beneficial changes in gene activity, even after a single workout.

Exercise does a lot of good things — it burns calories, helps keep your weight in check and lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Now add one more thing to the list: physical activity can change your DNA.

Unlike the aberrations and genetic mutations caused by carcinogens and toxins, exercise-induced alterations to DNA are more like tune-ups, helping muscles to work better and more efficiently. What’s more, these changes occur even after a single 20-minute workout.

Juleen Zierath, a professor of physiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, reports with her colleagues in the journal Cell Metabolism about these very early changes that muscle cells undergo the first time you get off the couch and into the gym. The researchers worked with a group of 14 young men and women who were relatively sedentary, and asked them to work out on an exercise bike that measured their maximum activity levels. The participants also volunteered to give up a little bit of muscle, from their quadriceps, in a relatively painless biopsy procedure performed under local anesthesia. The researchers took the biopsy of muscle cells once before the participants exercised, and again within 20 minutes afterward.

Using the biopsied samples, researchers compared the activity in a series of muscle-related genes before and after exercise. More genes were turned on in the cells taken after the exercise and the participants’ DNA showed less methylation, a molecular process in which chemicals called methyl groups settle on the DNA and limit the cell’s ability to access, or switch on, certain genes. By controlling how much methylation goes on in certain cells at specific times, the body regulates which genes in the DNA are activated — that’s what differentiates the development of an an eye cell, for example, from that of a liver cell.

Methylation also helps to prime muscle cells for a bout of exercise, getting them to pump out the right enzymes and nutrients the muscle needs to get energy and burn calories while you’re pounding the pavement during that mile-long jog. “We are trying to get at the early messages that the muscle is [receiving in order] to say, ‘Something is happening here, we need to coordinate so we can get more enzymes and more machinery on board so we can cope with the demands of this exercise,’” says Zierath.

The more intense the exercise, she says, the more the methyl groups are on the move. She and her team were able to see this firsthand by comparing gene activity in participants who also agreed to exercise at two different intensities over a period of a week. On one visit, they were asked to cycle until they reached 40% of their maximum capacity; on another occasion, they biked until they reached 80% of their maximum. The muscle biopsies following the 80% sessions showed a lower concentration of methyl groups — and therefore more RNA, which is the first byproduct of gene activity — than samples taken after the 40% sessions.

To confirm the role of exercise on gene expression in muscle, the scientists then studied how calcium affected the entire system. When muscle cells start to gear up for intense activity like exercise, they release calcium, which fuels the contraction process. When the scientists blocked calcium production, the effect disappeared, and the muscles didn’t contract as much.

That’s when Zierath threw in some coffee — or more specifically, caffeine. Caffeine triggers the release of calcium, and can enhance the way methyl groups move aside to turn on the genes that help muscles contract. When she added caffeine to a lab dish containing cells from the leg muscles of rats, the muscle cells showed lower concentrations of methyl groups and more mRNA — a similar effect as seen after exercise — as she expected.

But, says Zierath, that doesn’t mean you can skip the workout for a cup of coffee instead. “Most of the physiological effect of the caffeine we drink is on the central nervous system, and not dispersed to all the muscles,” she says. “In order to get the same kind of effect we saw in the cells, you would have to drink 50 cups of coffee a day, which is close to the lethal dose. In my mind, half an hour of moderately high intensity exercise is sufficient to do the same thing.”

Ideas To Go: 10 Rules for Brainstorming Success


by Susan Robertson, Facilitator and VP Business Development

A recent New York Times article suggested that group brainstorming isn’t effective at generating creative solutions. That assertion is erroneous, for a variety of reasons. Groups can—and do—successfully brainstorm creative and…