Sweet Potato with Apple Chutney and Pomegranate Garnish

Today we’d like to share a recipe for sweet potatoes with apple chutney and pomegranate garnish. It makes a great, peppy breakfast, and (provided you make your chutney ahead of time) is a quick, healthy meal choice.

Ingredients:

  • Sweet Potatoes (one for each person being served.)

For Apple Chutney: (Based on the original recipe from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/apple-chutney-recipe/index.html )

  • 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and half-inch diced
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons powdered ginger
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon whole dried mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate arils (optional)

I like to garnish this dish with pomegranate arils (the fruity sac surrounding the edible white seeds) but many people don’t enjoy the crunchy texture this adds. If you want to try pomegranate arils, we provide instructions for opening a pomegranate with minimal mess, or you can buy the arils already separated.

Tools:

  • A knife
  • An apple corer/peeler
  • a citrus juicer
  • a food processor
  • a microwave

Start by preparing the chutney:

Directions:

Core and peel the apples, then chop them into half inch chunks and set aside.

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Next, get your oranges ready to juice.

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Cut them in half and press them firmly into your citrus juicer. Two oranges will make roughly one cup.

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Now for the onion, take it and slice it into quarter chunks or smaller.

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Take those chunks and insert them into a food processor. You can chop them by hand, but that can really irritate your eyes

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Now that you’ve gotten the hard part out of the way, combine all ingredients except for the raisins and pomegranate arils into a large pot.

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Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring only occasionally. Reduce the heat to simmer and continue cooking, stirring now and again, for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Take off the heat and add the raisins.

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Now for the pomegranates. If you bought separated arils, or just aren’t wild about pomegranate, you can skip these steps.

To deseed a pomegranate, cut the very top top of the tufted side off to make the membrane separations visible.

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Score the pomegranate from the outside along the sections seperated by white membrane bands. Do not cut all the way through. There is very little fruit in a pomegranate and this technique allows you to preserve as much as possible.

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Gently pull these sections apart. Now you are ready for deseeding.

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Fill a large bowl with water, place a section of pomegranate in the water and gently pull the arils free.

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The fruity arils will sink to the bottom and most of the membrane should float to the top. You can scoop it off by hand.

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Pour off the water into a colander and separate out any membrane you missed.

Now for the potatoes. Take one medium sized potato and microwave it for 8-10 minutes. We use pre-wrapped potatoes, but you can use the unwrapped variety too, just make sure to puncture them with a fork a few times to keep the potato from rupturing. Larger potatoes may take longer to soften up an cook properly.

When the potato is finished, slit it lengthwise and scoop out two tablespoons of chutney on to it.

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Sprinkle pomegranate arils over the top if desired and enjoy. The chutney keeps for quite a while if refrigerated and covered, so you can reuse it for this or try it out on any other dish.

 

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How Sweet It Is

Sweet-Potato-940x626

Did you know that children who are blind from birth still smile when they are happy? That may hardly seem a revelation, but think about it for a second. Babies, who have never seen a smiling face, never learned to attribute that facial expression to happiness or really any emotion whatsoever, still replicate it themselves. We are each born with the same emotional template, the same paintbox that colors our worlds and our faces serve as the canvas on which we tell our story.

Any painter will tell you that an unblemished canvas is vitally important to creating your magnum opus. Hours are spent building the framework, then stretching the canvas so that it is free of puckering and wrinkles, followed by application of the primer to create a sleek texture on which the paint can reside. However, a canvas, being that it isn’t alive, and not subject to all the permutations created by the unique biology there in, is far more malleable than the human face. When that takes on puckering, wrinkles and blemishes the story it tells begins to change.

My face began to change when I was 11 years old due to acne. Since this coincided with the onset of my menses, my doctor declared the puss blossoms on my face to be a symptom of hormonal readjustment due to puberty. I was promised that with proper care, my breakouts  would subside over time. She even went so far as to offer a prognostication “Trust me, you won’t be dealing with this on your wedding day.”

It soon became clear that my issues exceeded the normal flux of adolescence.  I went to dermatologists, aestheticians, hoarded products advertised on late night television and sought out holistic healers. None were able to yield significant change. Through out the years I became quite adept at applying make-up to compensate for my battered canvas. I simply came to accept that I didn’t have the makings of a great beauty. C’est la vie.

My demolished skin simply became part of me. I was used to strangers stopping me in the street and offering homegrown remedies. It was humiliating, but they saw their intrusion as justified, after all they were only trying to help. Being that I was in and out of varying gradations of chubbiness, my diet was a constant source of curiosity to my nosy, would be saviors. While in recent years there have been size acceptance movements, I find it highly unlikely that those plagued by acne can anticipate the same.

We live in a culture that believes a televised make-over can rectify all. We don’t care about the underlying causes, just disguising all symptoms…they annoy us. Despite the fact that my bathroom counter-top was over run with various cleansers, acne in women is associated with being unclean. We are happy to believe that women with acne are toxic, and that toxicity flows forth from their pores and leaves it’s evidence on faces, backs, what have you. Holistic practitioners love the word toxic, and television talk shows love to interview them. Ergo, people who watch these programs suddenly believe that they have tapped into a rich source of information of which the rest of the world has been deprived, and they must share their bounty.

“Purge your body of toxins.” They say.

What in this world isn’t toxic? The experience of life itself is toxic. Even if you could definitively create a diet for yourself that was devoid of free radicals, refined sugars, saturated fats, toxins, whatever catch all is making rounds in the news at current, you can’t account for all aspects of your environment. Fluoridation in the water supply (U.S), smog in the air, UV rays from the sun, all these things take their toll.

“And that is why we must fast, to purge ourselves of impurity.” We hear.

The body is in a constant stage of purging and cleansing itself. Ever hear of the lymphatic system, the liver, kidneys? While it is true that constantly flooding our systems with unhealthy substances can overwhelm our natural filtration system, suddenly depriving our bodies of these only to go right back to our old tricks does absolutely nothing. The better plan is to be conscious about what we take into our bodies and what benefits or consequences come from doing so.

My doctor’s promise that I would not be dealing with acne on my wedding day became a bitter reminder of my persisting flaws the day I became engaged. At first, I made the mistake of buying every bridal magazine I could get my hands on. There in I read articles promising the secrets to flawless wedding skin, wedding checklists that advised getting a weekly facial until the big day, but there was nothing there I hadn’t tried, and nothing salient.

As of the incarnation of this blog, I’ve had a renewed interest in what benefits foods can bring the body. My past experience with acne had familiarized me with retonic acid and Accutane. Retonic acid or Tretinoin I’ve dealt with in the form of Retin A, a gel applied topically to the skin. While it never rid my face of acne, it remains the only medication I’ve used that somewhat lessened the explosion (with exception to the week before my cycle.) Accutane I never used, as the possible side effects (Crohn’s disease, liver damage, severe depression, even miscarriage) seemed to outweigh the benefits. Both drugs however are really just refined forms of vitamin A. This got me thinking, why not just consume more vitamin A in my diet.

I’m not a big advocate of taking supplements or really anything in excess. I wanted to incorporate my vitamin A through naturally available food sources and in levels that wouldn’t lead to vitamin A poisoning (essentially the risk associated with Accutane.) Vitamin A is one of the fat-soluble vitamins (as are D,E and K) which means it can build up in your system over time. Increasing my vitamin A dosage was not something I could be flippant about.

I decided that the safest method for increasing my intake was to replace one meal a day with a sweet potato 19218IU (384% DV) of vitamin A per 100 gram serving http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/food-sources-of-vitamin-A.php#Fh71PzFsv4zREu9O.99 For the past three months I’ve being keeping to this regiment. I have seen a decrease in my acne, in fact this is the first time in my life that my skin has actually been manageable enough to where I can consider seeking treatment for my residual scars.

Admittedly, I didn’t take a true scientific approach to this experiment. There can be no control group as I am not a twin.  I cannot definitively rule out other variables as being the cause for acne reduction. I also began a strict walking regiment at around the same time, and therefor increased my water intake, which has been linked to reducing acne. However, I have done this in the past (in my mid twenties, I worked out no less than an hour a day and was drinking a gallon of water a  religiously, but still had persistent breakouts.) In a strict scientific study, I would be eating the same diet every day, which I do not, with the exception of having a sweet potato for breakfast. I can’t say that this is a miracle cure for all, but it has worked quite well for my uses.

For me, this diet is doable. I have adapted various recipes to keep my breakfast from becoming monotonous. For the most part, I microwave a sweet potato and dress it with a different garnish, sometimes salsa, or maybe chutney, occasionally a couple tablespoons of artichoke bruschetta (each of these are made in advance of course.) In an upcoming blog I will be sharing one of my recipes for sweet potato with apple & pomegranate chutney. While I don’t necessarily recommend you commit yourself to a sweet potato a day, it can’t hurt to work a dose of vitamin A in now and again.

As of yet, I have experienced no side effects that I can link inextricably to my diet change. I did experience an outbreak of thrush over the holidays, which can be brought on by too much vitamin C (100 grams of sweet potato have 33% of your dietary requirement for vitamin C.) Thrush of course can also be brought on by over indulging in yeasty treats such as wines, breads, pastries and other things that I gave myself the green light on during the holiday. That, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had thrush prior. Incorporating acidophilus tablets into my morning routine seems to have done the trick.

Sweet potatoes not your thing? Check out this article for alternatives.

I’m far from a magnum opus by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s nice to wake up to a clear face in the mornings. If I can get that by forfeiting frosted flakes for sweet potatoes, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

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Little White Lies

When I was in my early twenties I had a friend, who had many charms, beauty not being among them. She was a wonderful girl, with a quick wit and an salty, irreverent take on life that made it easy to ignore her peculiar appearance and laugh along with her. When I say peculiar, I don’t simply mean that she had an oddly shaped nose or was a bit on the chubby side, she was quite the spectacle. A goiter had swallowed up her neck, and her body was a display of tattooed rolls and valleys. She had noticeable hair loss in the front, which she jokingly referred to as her “Elizabethan hairline.” The hair that she retained was frequently dyed some preternatural shade of the rainbow. Looking back now, after having consumed one Discovery channel special too many, her facial features seemed to be indicative of acromegaly, a condition in which too much growth hormone is secreted and body tissues engorge and become disproportionate (however, I have no right to make a diagnosis.) She adorned her broad face with piercings and lavish swirls of eye liner.

I had always just assumed that she embraced her unusual appearance, having gone so far as to exaggerate it with such accouterments, and why not, more power to her. Why should everyone become enslaved by popular fashion? Maybe some people don’t want to live lives dictated by the runway and magazine set.

It wasn’t until one day at Denny’s, when we were discussing a young man with whom she had become infatuated that I ever considered the contrary.

“Do you think I’m hot enough to pull off the naughty librarian routine?” She asked me point blank.

“Which routine is that?” I inquired.

“You know, I just whip off my glasses like so” She said, tearing her spectacles off and tossing her fuchsia locks with decided flourish. “Lean across the desk and say, take me now!” She leaned forward, illustrating her intentions with a tumble of cleavage upon the table top.

“It can’t hurt to chat him up.” I replied non-commitally. “Maybe you two will hit it off!”

“Yeah.” She said unenthusiastically, pushing her glasses back atop the bridge of her nose. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to just walk up and talk to people. I have to keep reminding myself that what I see in the mirror isn’t what everyone else sees. You know…body dysmorphic disorder and all.”

I was familiar with the condition, a mental ailment versus a physical one. People afflicted with body dysmorphic disorder have a fixation with their appearance, constantly obsessing over a trait they perceive to be grossly disfiguring . In most cases the person exaggerates a minor flaw, a birth mark perhaps or slight asymmetry in the face to the point where it controls their life. In her case however, I was intrigued. With someone who is clearly atypical in appearance, could this disorder manifest in reverse? Could a person with what common society perceives as a flaw see themselves in the mirror as quite beautiful, and should that necessarily be considered a disorder?

“Well, what do you see in the mirror?” I asked, my interest piqued.

“You know, I just see myself as crazy ugly…” She stammered.  “I know I’m not but…just like a monster or something, that’s what I see.”

“That must be hard.” I pandered. She nodded ruefully.

I was taken aback. Far be it for me to sort the wheat from the chaff with respects to human attractiveness, but what she described was exactly what I had heard people whisper about her behind her back.

“Monster!”

“Beast!”

“Pure Negligence, that’s how people get to look like that!”

To the common eye, someone who had never taken the time to get to know her, this girl’s appearance was quite startling. She was far from a monster but I recalled that upon our first meeting I had myself inwardly cringed. I was ashamed of it now, though I realized such a response was very predictable human behavior it still seemed cruel.

That’s when I began to consider the possibility that her psychologist, wary of inflicting the same shallow wickedness that a girl of her proportions no doubt regularly endured, had given her this diagnosis as a sort of buffer. Perhaps her doctor, in his or her clinical wisdom had decided to tell her a little white lie.

“You aren’t ugly my dear, you merely believe yourself to be ugly, it’s all a delusion.”

I had thought before that certain conditions of hers, like the goiter, might be easily treatable but she had simply not cared pursue such options. Now, I was confronted with the possibility that maybe she never sought treatment because she had been convinced these things didn’t actually exist. That seemed a bit unfair to me, to deprive a person of the option of treatment for the sake of sparing their feelings.

I can’t confirm that such a thing ever happened, and I dearly hope it never did. However, that conversation started my mind moving in a different direction. I myself am not a person without fault, far from it. If we limit the critique to merely encompass the physical, I would say the main battle I fight is with my weight. I’ve been up and down my whole life, 135 lbs being my lowest adult weight, 250 lbs being my highest.  I’ve sought help from physical trainers, nutritionists, diet clinics, prescription medications, hypnosis and even an endocrinologist.

None of these had much lasting impact because each time I saw a specific weight as my end goal. So long as the scale read that number I was fine. I was absolutely fastidious about my health right up until that point, once back in my skinny clothes, I tended to ease up on my regiment.

“It’s only two blocks to the store, but I’ll drive, it’s just faster”

Or…

“I can have a slice of cake for breakfast just this once!”

I find just this once to be the most abhorrent phrase in the English language. I seldom took into account how many just this onces I worked into a day, or a week, even a month, so long as the scale read an acceptable number, I was golden. When that number started to climb, well I started to weigh myself less often.

“It’s just water weight, I’m bloated, that’s all”

“I still fit into my clothes, so I can’t have gained any weight”

“Well, maybe I have gained a little weight, but at least I’m not as fat as (insert the pudgy example of your choice.)”

In the modern era, we really don’t have an operational definition of health that does not include weight. At current I am 5’10” and 190lbs, down from 203 late last year. At my build, that places me at about a size 12, and in the U.S. I’m considered quite average. In fact, when I tell people I’m writing a on a blog called “Healthy Old Fatties” the first thing they say without fail is that ever patronizing;

“Aww, you’re not FAT!” 

Well, there are people fatter than me. The name of the blog no doubt suggests someone who is practically spherical mans the keyboard, but make no mistake I am overweight, and that my friends is what that nasty adjective “fat” describes.

“You’re not fat, you’re just tall. Tall people weigh more.”

I suppose such comments are meant in kindness but no, I am fat. I have a BMI of 27.3, which puts me in the overweight category for women my height, (below 2.5 is “normal”). In all honesty however, the BMI doesn’t take into account a lot of things, muscle mass being one of them. It would be easy to talk myself into believing that all my extra weight was muscle, or even water, but if I’m honest with myself, I know that’s not the truth.

“Seriously, you are sooo not fat!”

What people fail to understand that my concern isn’t with my size, but with my overall health. I’ve been unable to get out and do much of anything for nearly a year because, as I mentioned in my previous blog, I spent that time taking care of my dying grandmother. The only exercise I got was helping lift her for bathing and toilet duties, and I more or less obliterated my back in the process. Does someone with a surplus of muscle get winded going up just one flight of stairs, or have to sit down at the book store because walking up and down the isles is just too tiring? Doubtful to say the least.

I know my body isn’t functioning at peak capacity, and I want it to be. What weight or size that happens at is not my primary concern, so please, stop trying to make me feel better about being FAT! There are healthy, fat people, I’m just not one of them. We’ve had it so pounded into our heads that fat is equivalent to lazy, sloppy, ill…insert any negative adjective you like, I bet someone has tried to link it to weight.

“You’re big boned!”

“You’re voluptious!”

“You’re just curvy!”

Regardless of what I look like, I want the freedom of mobility, unencumbered by huffing and puffing or torrents of sweat pouring into my eyes. I want to know that I am giving my body what it needs to function, and maintain the standard of living I want. No euphemism you care to toss out with regards to my weight is going to have an impact on that.

One of my major struggles is that my  options are more limited now. Aerobic exercise and weight lifting seem to throw my back out, even when performed with the supervision of a trained professional. I’m sorely out of shape, and things that I once did with ease now make my muscles ache horribly.

I saw a chiropractor for my back, and so long as I have three appointments a week for readjustment I’m great. Unfortunately, I can’t afford that. My chiropractor kept promising me a print out of stretches and exercises I can do at home to build strength, and yet they always failed to materialize. In the end, Google was a better ally in that respect than my chiropractor ever was, but then I don’t pay Google per appointment.

“It’s all that extra weight you’re carrying!” 

My fellow gym members volunteer with a smarmy smile. 

“Drop that flab and you’ll be fine.”

No, it isn’t really the extra weight, it’s the fact that I have been living a more or less sedentary lifestyle for too long. Extra weight may be a symptom of that, but it isn’t the total cause.

“Come on, you’ve dropped 13lbs so far, that’s moving in the right direction!”

Sure, that’s great, but people seem a bit too fixated on the fact that I have lost weight. What’s more, people in my life, even fitness professionals, seem utterly disinterested in whether or not I’ve made any sort of advance in my fitness level. Shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t I be congratulated on running a full five minutes on the treadmill when before I could only keep that pace for a few seconds before getting winded? No, all congratulations are to be awarded at the scale.

Death March

Quality of life is everything, and we are each given a chance to impact our own, but it takes discipline and persistence. Watching my Grandmother suffer inside a body broken from her heedless lifestyle really reaffirmed this with me and I have set up my exercise routine as a kind of homage to her. Her eternal resting place is in Los Angeles, right beside her husband. I, living in San Diego, can’t visit her grave on a regular basis. I can however, walk to the home she passed away in. I call it “The Death March.” Morbid, maybe, but it’s a motivation. This walk forces me to keep my own mortality in the back of my mind, and the consequences that come from inactivity and poor diet. I have to wake up two hours early early to fit it in, but I want a body worth living in, not one that I feel trapped inside.

According to the WalkJogRun app on my iPhone, her former house is located 2.79 miles from my own, 5.58 miles round trip. For me, this is a leisurely, walkable distance, something I can tackle everyday without feeling exhausted, or throwing my back out. I don’t have anyone pushing me to go faster or work harder, I govern my own workout. That’s what I need, a fitness regiment that isn’t so insurmountable that I’m afraid to try it again the next day. Working out sporadically does little to increase one’s overall fitness level.

I’ve talked to people who insist I’m over doing it, offering words of home grown wisdom like;

“Five miles! You need to take it easier on yourself!”

“What are you, anorexic?”

 “The human body wasn’t meant to have that kind of strain put on it!”

“Oh my gawd, you are sooo not fat!”

The truth is, yes the human body was designed to have exactly that kind of strain put on it, and yes I am fat. Walking is something we have been perfectly engineered for, it is after all our primary form of locomotion. The body was not designed to sit behind a desk for 8 hours a day, then run into the gym and fiddle with equipment for a half hour only to return to a seated position in front of the television. I don’t mean to knock the gym, every piece of equipment there is designed around simulating tasks and motions that the human musculoskeletal system was designed to do, and when used correctly can be very beneficial. However, limiting activity to a quick burst, a chore to simply get out of the way is not enough. We have to become dedicated to adopting a more active lifestyle, and stop telling ourselves these little white lies to justify our inactivity.

My goals are no longer centered around the scale. I’ve started a training regiment with fitness touchstones rather than dress sizes to mark my progress. When I first started walking this route in November of 2012, my average pace was 1 mile in 23:40 minutes. At current, my pace is 1 mile in 19:29 minutes. My next goal is to get my overall pace to 15:00.

“Well, if you really were walking 5 miles a day, you wouldn’t look like THAT!”

Well, maybe I won’t in a few months, maybe I will lose weight, but that isn’t what drives me on.

To be completely honest, yes, I would like to be thinner, but that’s my personal choice.  For one, I’m engaged to be married in October of this year and while I do believe that healthy is achievable at any size, I sincerely do not want to be a fat bride. Of course, intellectually I realize that I was even fatter when my fiance met me, and fat still when he proposed, so why should it really matter? Chances are that if I set my weight loss goal for my wedding, I’d still fall back into unhealthy habits after the big day and only continue the cycle I’m trying so hard to break. I can however make myself into a healthy bride, one who might wear a plus sized gown but can rock the dance floor till her heels give out from under her (I know I’m just leaving myself open for a fat joke there…)

Unfortunately, telling me I’m not fat, or even not THAT fat is completely non-productive. Honestly, what does it accomplish? Avoiding the word FAT only validates it as a negative term. The reality is, fat is an adjective, describing a physical build. It happens to apply to me, and pretending it doesn’t in no way changes my reality.

Trying to convince me I don’t need to work out, because I’m lovely just the way I am is equally dangerous, and quite honestly shallow. We need to stop associating exercise  with the quest for beauty. Exercise is necessity, fat, thin or in between, it’s just basic maintenance. When you change the oil in your car, are you doing so because you hope it might change the way your vehicle looks? If you drove up to Jiffy Lube and asked for an oil change only to have the technician respond with “Aww, I think your car is beautiful just the way it is!” you might seriously have to consider his or her mental health. Much like a car, your body is your transport through life. The major difference being that you can trade your car in for a new model when it breaks down, but you can’t do the same with your body (at least not yet anyway.)

Do I mean to suggest that everyone ought to walk 5 miles a day? No. While our bodies were designed to walk, life takes it’s toll on us and we all have different levels of mobility. Then there’s the time consideration. Not everyone can allot 2 hours to their training regiment. You have to be mindful of your personal schedule and listen to your own physiology. Find something that works into your own life. You can start small, waking up early and just marching in place for 5 minutes if your able, or stretching while you sit and watch television, even just getting up from behind your desk and moving around every 45 minutes at work is a great start. If you do find that you can clear a half hour or so for exercise, there are programs such as Super Slow, Silver Age Yoga, and Silver Sneakers which are all designed for people who have differing levels of mobility. If you’re reading this blog, take a look at some of our previous articles on these organizations or search the web for something that fits your life. The goal is to get active and stay active, whatever that might mean for you.

I think a dangerous amount of effort has been put into sugar coating truths, and making sure no one’s self esteem gets a nicked. While I don’t endorse being outwardly cruel or hateful to people (we all have the right to be comfortable in our own skin) I do encourage everyone to really evaluate your own lifestyle and health. The truth is, it’s your body, you’re the one living in it and you are the only person who can. If we allow ourselves to lose objectivity, falling back on comfortably turns of phrase, excuses and ugly little white lies we can expect all progress we might have made as a person to stifle and stagnate, and not just with respect to health.

As for my friend, I lost touch with her over time. I tend to believe that despite what her psychologist said, she knew what she saw in the mirror was not a complete fallacy, and she never wasted her time crying over her appearance. She pushed fearlessly through life and learned to use tools other than her looks to win people over. Though I only knew her a short while, I trust that if any of her conditions threatened her health she would have had the sense to get medical treatment for the root issue, and not try to mask them with convenient lies and euphemisms.

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Fatties Return

 

You might look at this blog and assume that we’ve abandoned it. After all, it’s been five long months since we’ve managed to write a post, and some time since we’ve done so with any regularity. The events of the last few years have made it difficult for us to plop down in front of the computer and hammer out articles, but rest assured, we are back at it again. In fact, our experiences have only solidified in our minds the reasons behind starting up this blog, and our dedication is newly stoked. Perhaps I should explain…

 

My mother, Sharon, and I have spent the majority of last year convalescing my grandmother (Sharon’s mother), who was diagnosed with final stage heart failure. Her ill health was no secret. At 40 years old, my grandmother suffered her first  heart attack. My mother was informed by the doctor that they would be attempting a then experimental angioplasty. Grandma made it out of the hospital but continued to smoke heavily, eat fatty foods and spend the majority of the day with her rump parked firmly on the couch, watching television westerns. 

 

She loved westerns. In her home, she’d turned the living room into an saloon, complete with carved wooden bar with stools. The shelves were lined with bottle upon bottle of exotic liquors and tinctures that when teased by the sun’s rays, transformed the room into a tippler’s cathedral. The crowning glory of this room however was the hand carved billiards table, adorned with emerald felt. For me, the scent of chalk dust, cigarette smoke and whisky are inextricably linked to Christmas, and the evenings that I spent shooting pool with my cousins. My grandma however, seldom rose from her chair.

 

With a cigarette smoldering between two immaculately polished talons she’d greet  every morning like a true cowpoke. Without fail, she’d belly up to the breakfast table with a plate of scrambled eggs marinated in butter, salt so thick on top they seemed to be carved from crystal. Then she’d add a side of bacon, sausage, two slices of toasted Wonder bread and a cup of coffee, black. Two heart attacks would follow.

 

When her husband of forty-three years passed away, my family convinced her to move from Los Angeles to San Diego, so that she could be nearer to us in case her health further declined. With some reluctance, she packed up her bar and billiards and moved into a one story house in Carlsbad, CA. I was twenty-one at the time, and delighted in spending evenings at Grandmas. We’d smoke, we’d drink, we’d order Chinese food and sit in front of the television watching Westerns. Grandma could eat like no one else, and her typical Chinese food bill was in the ballpark of $60, because she could never pick just one entree. Grandma seldom left the house at this point, instead choosing to dwindle in the hazy cloud of tobacco that enveloped her armchair. When I would go to pick up our take out orders I was invariably asked…

 

“Wow, are you guys throwing a party of some kind?”

 

Of course we never were. I was Grandma’s primary visitor. So entwined were we that I’d even bring my friends over to her house, and we’d all sit there and smoking and laughing the night away. Until Grandma had her first stroke.

 

You might presume that this would have served as a wake up call to her, but you’d be wrong. Instead, the family was shaken into action, doing their best to forcibly try and implement a more healthful regiment for Grandma. My mother removed every cigarette stashed in Grandma’s home, and my then boyfriend sold the trash bags full of indigent cartons off at the gas station where he worked. In my own private act of rebellion, I’d slip grandma one of my smokes from time to time, like a wise guy in a prison epic. My thoughts being that at her age, what did it matter? Let the old broad have her cigs! What can I say? I was young.

 

For a period of time, Grandma tolerated the physical therapist sent over by the hospital. That period of time didn’t stretch beyond more than a few weeks, and Grandma, in true cavalier style, threw a fit that sent her therapist running for the hills. One thing that could be said for my Grandmother is that she always had her way. She could tolerate the damage sustained to her body from the stroke, not being able to write, or draw her eyebrows on properly with her right hand, but there was no way in Hell she’d tolerate someone telling her to turn off the television and do her exercises.

 

Grandma could still walk at this point, but beyond a trip to the kitchen to rifle through drawers in search of her pilfered smokes, she seldom did. She’d go grocery shopping with my mother and myself, enabled by her walker, but she was slow, awkward and all too aware of the pitying eyes upon her. Eventually, she stopped leaving the house even to do groceries, and would instead dictate a list. My mother took over the duty, making the weekly jaunt to the market for her. Plastic bags filled with a veritable menagerie of fatty delicacies were ushered in and tucked away in cupboards and crisper drawers all while my Grandma watched the Westrens. Looking back, this just enabled my Grandma to settle into her decline.

 

It was impossible to ignore my Grandmother’s mental deterioration  during this period of self-imposed hermitage. Her conversation became erratic, peppered with barrages of vehement anger which tapered into regret or nostalgia. She’d invent stories about family members and relay them to us with unshakable adamance. Grandma, having lived vicariously through television for some time at this point, was forgiven for her tenuous relationship with reality. She could be persuaded, with a heroic amount of effort to leave the house for  doctor’s appointments, but beyond this she preferred the more familiar world of her beloved cowboys and indians.

 

At the families insistence, she wore a Life Alert necklace. Grandma and I laughed at the gawky looking pendant together, mocking their then infamous commercial

 

 “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!!!” 

 

It became less funny when Grandma had to be taken to her doctor’s appointments in a wheelchair, unable to walk more than a few steps without exhaustion. 

 

Another stroke followed, a broken leg from falling out of bed on now brittle bones, and eventually a bleeding ulcer landed her in the hospital. Things weren’t remotely funny anymore, in reality, they hadn’t been for some time, but Grandma had great skill in making the abhorrent seem blasé. During her stay, she was diagnosed with dementia and final stage heart failure. I still feel a strange pang of guilt over these diagnoses. While doing my undergraduate work in psychology I read more than one article which suggested that nicotine, which she had been getting a hearty does of daily until my family’s interference, might be beneficial in delaying dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. Had we brought on her mental enfeeblement? Conversely, the cigarettes she was smoking likely aided in compromising the cardiovascular and pulmonary health, bringing on the stroke, perhaps we should have stepped in sooner. This, when compounded by the spoonfuls of transfats we’d enabled her to shovel into her mouth had essentially caused her body to crumble into decrepitude.

 

I decided to surrender my Camels once and for all and make a concerted effort to curb my cravings for take out.

 

  Ironically, she was the most active she’d been in years while in that hospital bed. She bit one nurse and punched another, successfully terrifying the hospital staff. She even hatched an ill fated escape plan, tearing off the tangle wires and tubes that ensnared her and throwing herself out of bed, catheter still inserted, demanding she be set free. Eventually she got her wish and was sent home from the hospital with the conditions that she regularly meet with a cardiologist, under go physical therapy and never be left unattended.

 

My mother and I moved in with her shortly there after. She would watch over my Grandmother during the days from 10am to 10pm, and I took the night shift, 10pm to 10am. Grandma didn’t make it easy. Her bed now took the place of her easy chair, and she’d lay there, watching her cowboys. They were the same tired old epics she’d watched time and time again. Episodes of Lawman played back to back from 11am to noon, when an episode of Wagon Train broke the monotony, followed by and hour and a half of Gunsmoke, a smattering of Bonanza, and then three gunslinging movies which would be repeated after their first complete cycle. 

 

We’d bring her meals, trying at first to keep with a more heart healthy menu. Grandma responded with a hunger-strike. 

 

It soon became obvious that she would not be compelled into doing her physical therapy. She’d kick her legs for a few minutes and insist it was enough, then launch into hysterics. The bed soon became her permanent domain, leaving it only to use the toilet, a chore which required more assistance than is dignified to divulge. 

 

She didn’t leave that bed until Hospice became involved, and she was moved to a hospital style lounger set up in her own room. She was delighted when the hospice nurse told her that she was allowed to eat whatever she liked, failing to understand the reasons behind this. She was dying. Her treks to the bathroom became too exhausting, and she required oxygen just to move the few feet required. Soon she had so little mobility that she had to be changed in her bed on a regular basis, all to the tune of strumming guitars and stampeding hooves.

 

Though it was a labour of love, the care my Grandma required became too all encompassing for my mother and me to handle as a tag team. This became especially pertinent with the birth of my nephew and niece. Both my mother and I wanted desperately to be involved in these lives, which were just newly blossoming. At the same time, we couldn’t deprive my Grandma of the dignity and love that a person in their dwindling days deserves. With much debate, we finally arrived at the solution of bringing in a paid caregiver on the weekends. Though it was a big expense, it enabled us to maintain more order over our own personal relationships, finances and all the obligations which we had been forced to set on the back burner. 

 

She lived long enough to hold two of her new grandchildren, Henry, 7 months old and Sienna, who was just barely a month old on their first and last meeting. After the visit, she asked for a glass of champagne, which she was too weak to drink and said 

 

“I’ve seen my grand-babies, I can go now.”

senior and grand daughter

Sienna relaxes with her great-grandma

 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. My grandmother did not die an easy death. She suffered excruciating pain in her legs from peripheral artery disease. She battled her body for each and every breath. Only morphine softened her agony. 

Senior woman grand son

Henry is curious about his great-grandma

 

My grandmother passed away at the age of 81 on November 30th, 2012 at 4:57pm. She was the youngest of her siblings, survived by two sisters in their 90’s. As I write these words I question what more we could have done. We brought her to all her medical appointments, but did we fail her in that we didn’t push harder for her to take care of herself. We could have refused to do her shopping for her and demanded she come along, if only for the exercise. We might have only brought in the groceries we deemed healthy enough for her consumption. Maybe I should have unplugged the television, or smashed it and demanded she get up and do something.

I beat myself up, questioning whether one of the cigarettes I snuck her all those years ago was the one that brought on the stroke. Intellectually I realize that just one wouldn’t have been the culprit, but rather a life lead without concern for her own well-being.  

 

The truth is she was an adult woman, capable of making those choices for herself. You might argue that she was ignorant of the harm her behavior brought on, that people of her generation didn’t receive the same education we do now on such things. However, after numerous doctor’s visits she was well warned of the perils that lay down  the path she’d chosen. In the end, it all comes down to choice.

senior with grand children

Grandma got a chance to meet her great-grand children before she passed away.

 

Exercise and eating well are things that have to become habit for us, not something we pick up now and again when we want to drop a few pounds or fit into a dress. Your body has to be your first priority, not for reasons of vanity, but because it is the vehicle with which you move through your life. Healthy doesn’t have a finite weight, it isn’t something necessarily defined by a scale, it’s a way of living each and every day that enables you to make the most of the flesh you were given. 

 

We live in a society that believes health is immediately visible, and that’s a dangerous fallacy. Not everyone who works out regularly or eats healthfully winds up looking like the spandex-clad gym bunny we are taught to associate with fitness. There are too many variables in each person’s unique make-up to guarantee one body type will be attainable. Likewise, not everyone who is thin is some masochistic anorexic who lives an impossible lifestyle. Anorexia is a pattern of behaviors that no medical professional would ever diagnose by weight alone. Make no mistake, there are absolutely fat anorexics out there, not all of whom will survive to become slim. 

 

Somehow we’ve been taught you are either fit or fat. Fitness is seen as a beauty enhancement, and marketing targets the young, active and hip. The truth is that no matter what your age, weight, mobility level or perceived hipness quotient you need to care for your body. This blog is back on track, its a new year and we are newly committed  to seeking out alternative exercise plans for the mobility challenged, physical fitness programs that don’t require special equipment or a gym membership, and healthful recipes that don’t  require a private chef to pull off.

 

I don’t wish to imply that the last year was joylessly spent watching my grandmother’s decline, there were some very positive developments as well. My sister, Jessica, became a doctor of kinesiology, and we fully intend to exploit her expertise for this blog. I became engaged, and will be writing about my struggles with dress fittings, menu planing and my pre-wedding fitness regime. We’ve grown a lot in our time away from the blogosphere, (and no, not meaning our waistlines.)  We’re looking forward to telling you all about it! 

Expect a new article posted every Wednesday!

 
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Silver Age Yoga Joshua Tree Retreat 2012

A while back Healthy Old Fatties wrote an article on Silver Age Yoga, a yoga based fitness regiment that is specifically geared for the needs of the senior population. Yoga is an excellent way to maintain flexibility and reduce stress at any age. We cannot overstate how important it is for people of all ages, sizes and walks of life to stay active, and we love learning about programs that help bring wellness to people outside the target health club demographic!

We recently learned about Silver Age Yoga’s annual retreat in Joshua Tree, CA. coming up September 14th-16th 2012. We wanted to let our readers know all about this upcoming event, so we conducted an interview with Maria Mazzi of Silver Age Yoga to uncover all the juicy details.

Q) For those unfamiliar with Silver Age Yoga, tell us a little about what it is and how it came about.

A) Nationally acclaimed yoga instructors, Frank and Serpil Iszak, have been teaching since 1998. Their passion is to bring the health and benefits of yoga to under served seniors. In 2003, they founded Silver Age Yoga Community Outreach (SAYCO), a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide free weekly yoga classes. These classes are specifically designed to meet seniors’ health concerns. Classes are taught by certified Silver Age Yoga teachers.

Q) What benefits does Yoga offer to seniors or mobility challenged individuals?

A) Yoga is well-known for its beneficial effects on stress, but there are many other benefits seniors can gain by doing yoga. One of the most important benefits is improved balance. As we age, our ability to stay balanced diminishes, and can result in serious injury, including hip fractures. By doing yoga, our students are improving their balance – and reducing the chances of a slip and fall type injury.

Other benefits cited by students, and sometimes by their physicians, include:

Reduction in prescription medicine Increased bone density Reduction of Parkinson’s disease symptoms Reduction in blood pressure Weight loss

Q) How does Silver Age Yoga differ from a more standard Yoga program?

A) Silver Age Yoga is a unique gerontology-based style of yoga which empowers seniors to take charge of their own health. While some students may use a traditional yoga mat, many

students practice yoga from their chairs. There are several classes at centers for the blind. The teachers are all certified Silver Age Yoga instructors and have learned about basic physiological changes that occur as we age. They understand how to modify traditional Hatha Yoga poses so that the elderly can practice yoga without fear of injury.

Q) What physical changes can seniors expect to see when beginning the Silver Age Yoga regiment.

 A) Improved balance More flexibility More energy – vitality Sleep better More interest in life

Q) Silver Age Yoga will be holding a retreat in Joshua tree September 14th-16th this year (2012). What are some of the things people can look forward to on this retreat?

A) This will be our third Joshua Tree retreat; participants include teachers, students, and Silver Age Yoga senior students. In addition to the CEU classes for teachers, we will have both gentle and all-level yoga classes taught by Silver Age Yoga instructors.

Joshua Tree is the oldest and largest retreat center in the Western United States. It is a unique architectural landmark; most buildings were designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, Lloyd. Built on a sacred land, it is located about two hours from San Diego or Los Angeles. The site, though desert, rests upon an aquifer, a running river, producing an intriguing magnetic effect. It has open spaces, sacred meditation locations and serene vistas filled with native plants. There are many hiking trails, meditation paths, a labyrinth, a medicine wheel and Tai Chi circles.

Q) Give us an idea of what a basic day on this retreat would consist of, from living quarters to classes offered.

A) We will be staying in the large and private Ridge Cottages and studios/apartments. Each cottage has two twin beds and a private bath. The spacious one bedroom apartments have a separate main living space and bath.

All classes will be held in Sanctuary or Lotus Hall. Both are welcoming spaces for yoga and meditation. Meals will be in the Water Terrace Hall, a well appointed dining room with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking a serene pond and panoramic desert vistas.

7:00 – 8:00am Sun salutations, meditation or walk 8:00 – 9:00am Breakfast 9:00 – 11:00am Teacher CEU class 11:15 – 12:30pm Gentle OR Levels I-II yoga 12:30 – 1:30pm Lunch 2:00 – 4:00pm Teacher CEU class 4:15 – 5:30pm Gentle OR Levels I-II yoga 6:00 – 7:00pm Dinner

What the schedule doesn’t tell you is how much fun the retreat is. We typically have about 50 people at the retreat, so it is fairly intimate. Most of the participants have a connection to Silver Age Yoga or Frank and Serpil, so it has the feel of being with family. We enjoy a wine reception on our first night with delicious appetizers from our favorite Chef Patti. The retreat is a great way to relax and unwind since it is about as low-pressure as it gets!

Q) Do you regularly have events and retreats that interested parties could become involved with?

A) Silver Age Yoga has held retreats in Joshua Tree for the past two years, and we plan to continue this event. We hold several workshops and special events each year, such as our “Yoga In the Dark” experience where participants did yoga with blind folds on. We always welcome new faces to our events.

Q) For people who want to become more acquainted with Silver Age Yoga, where can they find centers to participate in their area?

A) To learn more about Silver Age Yoga and class schedules, please visit our website at http://www.silverageyoga.org . There is a lot of information on the website, including

a link at the top right hand corner to show you exactly when and where the classes are being held.

Q) What is the overall message you want people to take away regarding Silver Age Yoga and the retreats you offer?

A) Yoga and it’s benefits are for everyone – no matter what your age or ability. What is unique about our retreats is that they are a mix of teachers, senior students, and other students. We welcome advanced practitioners as well as those with physical limitations to our retreat. We find that this blended group provides great experiences for everyone.

Q) Where can people learn more about this retreat and your programs?

A) For information about the retreat, please visit http://www.silverageyogaretreat.com . This site has the entire schedule, photos of the rooms and the retreat, as well as registration information.

To learn more about Silver Age Yoga, please visit our website at http:// www.silverageyoga.org

 

   The early bird registration deadline ends July 31, 2012. 

    If you go to Silver Age Yoga’s website and click on register page after July 31 you can get a page with the prices that are $100 more.

    For our readers, Silver Age Yoga can extend the early bird price to August 5.  To get the early bird price just follow this link:  http://www.silverageyogaretreat.com/register-now.php

We hope you’ll all take advantage of this generous offer and seek out every opportunity to live a healthy, active life!

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SilverSneakers

We at Healthy Old Fatties believe that health should be a life long pursuit. Anyone with a body should do what they can through diet and exercise to maintain the best quality of life possible.  Unfortunately, so many fitness programs are targeted towards the young that older people seeking ways to maintain fitness often feel excluded. Enter SilverSneakers® a program designed exclusively for older adults, allowing them easy access to resources nationwide. We interviewed David Goodspeed, Mgr., Public Relations of SilverSneakers® to learn more about it!

Q. Explain to our readers what Healthways’ SilverSneakers® Fitness Program is.
Healthways’ SilverSneakers® Fitness program is the nation’s leading exercise program designed exclusively for older adults. The program is available in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, throughout a network more than 10,000 participating fitness and wellness centers, YMCAs and Curves® locations. The program offers physical activity, health education, and social events for Medicare-eligible and Group Retiree members, usually those ages 65 or older, but, in some cases, those of any age deemed disabled and receiving Medicare.  With the SilverSneakers premier network, eligible members have access to a variety of participating locations throughout the country. Many sites offer amenities such as fitness equipment, treadmills and free weights, and the signature SilverSneakers Fitness Program classes, designed specifically for older adults and taught by certified instructors. Some locations include pools, saunas and even whirlpools. Fitness equipment and amenities vary by location, and SilverSneakers members receive everything included in a basic membership at a participating location. There are no limits to the days or times you can visit, and eligible members can participate at any of our nationwide locations when they travel.
Q. How did this program begin?
The SilverSneakers Fitness Program was started in the state of Arizona in 1992 by a woman named Mary Swanson and her company, HealthCare Dimensions. Mary founded SilverSneakers on the premise that for health care to be viable in the long run, cost-effective preventive benefits needed to be incorporated into the care continuum. With her unique business model of an accountable, population-based exercise program, she quickly carved a niche between managed care and insurance companies throughout the United States and realized her vision of improving the health and well-being of everyone the program touches. Mary’s inspiration was drawn from her own father who, after surviving a heart attack at age 51, pledged to improve his quality of life with regular physical activity. His commitment, coupled with her determination to see him succeed, laid the foundation for the exercise program that would become the nation’s leading exercise program for older adults.
SilverSneakers is a unique exercise, physical activity, and social oriented program designed to encourage Medicare-eligible members – often burdened by multiple chronic conditions – to increase their levels of physical activity and motivate them to continue to be active. The concept was – and is – quite simple: Healthier older adults who were members of these health plans would ultimately cost less, because they would take fewer medications and make fewer physician and hospital visits. In December 2006, SilverSneakers was acquired by industry leader Healthways (www.healthways.com), which now includes the award-winning program in its suite of wellness offerings.
Q. How does one become a member of SilverSneakers?
It’s very easy to become a member. If your health plan offers the SilverSneakers benefit, all you need to do is find a participating location (gym, YMCA, etc.) and walk through the door with your health plan ID card! Health plan members and/or potential members can visit www.silversneakers.com to see what health plans offer the SilverSneakers benefit and what participating locations are in their area. Once members are enrolled at a participating location, they can choose to take the signature SilverSneakers classes that are offered, utilize other amenities of the participating location or both!
Q. As a member, what benefits does one receive upon membership?
After a person decides which location to join, all he or she needs to do is walk into the location, show his or her health plan ID and complete simple enrollment forms to become a member.  In a class setting, members work on exercises that improve muscle strength and range of movement.  Some locations also offer yoga classes, cardio classes and even aquatic exercise classes (see class descriptions below).

Members who do not take the signature SilverSneakers classes can still enjoy all the amenities of the fitness or wellness center, including cardio equipment, weights, etc.
Q. Many senior citizens are uncomfortable with the equipment or regiments of standard gyms and exercise classes. What measures has the SilverSneakers program taken to help acclimate seniors to gym and health club environments?
Healthways’ SilverSneakers Fitness Program prides itself on “breaking down the barriers” of walking into a fitness center or gym for the first time. For more than half its members, SilverSneakers is their first experience in this setting. Participating locations in the SilverSneakers network have a staff member at their location designated to show members around and assist them along the way. This person is called the SilverSneakers “Program Advisor.” An interested member can always bring a friend along too.
Q. Is this program customizable to all fitness levels (ex. could people with limited mobility or other health conditions still participate)?
SilverSneakers instructors are certified and trained to properly teach older adults at all levels of physical ability. They will not push participants to perform any exercises or moves they are not comfortable doing.
Q. Could you tell us a little about the SilverSneakers Steps program?
SilverSneakers® Steps is a personalized fitness program that fits the lifestyle of members who may not have easy access to a SilverSneakers® participating location. Members can register as a Steps participant on the SilverSneakers website ( www.silversneakers.com) and after registering, the member will receive a Steps kit that includes a pedometer for counting daily steps, resistance bands, an easy-to-follow exercise DVD and materials that help the member make the most of the program.
Q. SilverSneakers offers different classes at various locations. How are these classes customized to fit the needs of the senior population?
SilverSneakers® – Muscular Strength & Range of Movement (MSROM) is the most popular – and basic – SilverSneakers class. Participants have fun and move to the music through a variety of exercises designed to increase muscular strength, range of movement, and activity for daily living skills. Hand-held weights, elastic tubing with handles, and a ball are offered for resistance, and a chair is used for seated and/or standing support.
SilverSneakers® – Cardio Circuit class combines fun and fitness to increase the participant’s cardiovascular and muscular endurance power with a standing circuit workout. Upper-body strength work using hand-held weights, elastic tubing with handles, and a ball is alternated with non-impact aerobic choreography. A chair is offered for support, head to toe stretching, and complete relaxation in a comfortable position.
SilverSneakers® CardioFit
Members can “Get Up & Go” with an aerobics class that is safe, heart-healthy and gentle on the joints. The workout includes easy-to-follow low-impact movement, and upper-body strength, abdominal conditioning, stretching and relaxation exercises designed to energize their active lifestyle.
SilverSneakers® YogaStretch moves a participant’s whole body through a complete series of seated and standing yoga poses. Chair support is offered to safely perform a variety of postures designed to increase flexibility, balance and range of movement. Restorative breathing exercises and a final relaxation will promote stress reduction and mental clarity.
SilverSplash® offers lots of fun and shallow water moves to improve agility, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance. No swimming ability is required, and a special SilverSneakers kickboard is used to develop strength, balance and coordination.
Members should check with their participating locations to see which SilverSneakers classes are offered.
Q. The SilverSneakers website appears to have a wealth of information for seniors looking to better their health. What are some things the website offers to get seniors on the right track?
As noted earlier, the SilverSneakers website (www.silversneakers.com) is the one-stop shop where a member (or potential member) can find out information about health plans that offer the unique benefit, and find a participating location closest to the individual’s home.  The website is the perfect place for an interested individual to find out more about the program, whether their health plan offers the great benefit and how they can go about getting started with the program. SilverSneakers members can also participate in a secure online community where they can develop action plans and track their activities; request advice from experts in fitness, nutrition and managing stress; participate in discussion groups; find informative health articles and recipes; and much more.
Q. What are some of the major benefits maintaining an active lifestyle offers seniors?
The SilverSneakers class focuses on balance, flexibility, muscle strength, stamina, cardiovascular health and posture. The classes can even help with a member’s mental health and confidence.
Additionally, published studies have found individuals who participate in SilverSneakers have lower health claims costs and require fewer admissions to the hospital. Research has demonstrated SilverSneakers improves the health and well-being of participants through its unique combination of exercise and social support. A 2008 study sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found SilverSneakers provided tangible health benefits for high-risk members. Members with diabetes who were active in SilverSneakers were admitted to the hospital less often, had lower inpatient care costs and had significant reduction in overall health care costs after only a year of participation.
Q. Any success stories you’d like to share with our readers?
SilverSneakers success stories are what keep the program so popular and so effective. Many SilverSneakers members have been featured in newspaper articles, local television news reports and health plan member newsletters … all sharing their wonderful stories about how the program made an impact in their lives.
We’ve had stories of Louisiana SilverSneakers members who were forced to move after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, only to have SilverSneakers classes in other states help them recover, make new friends and lift them from the depression of that horrific event. We’ve had stories of widowers who have met at SilverSneakers classes, only to fall in love and get married!  We’ve had members of all ages (some past 100 years of age!) tell us how they’ve stopped taking certain medications, or have thrown away their cane or wheelchair, because of their participation in the program. Here’s just a sampling of actual SilverSneakers testimonials.
“I don’t know what I would have done without SilverSneakers. At 81, I want to keep doing and going as much as possible, and these classes are really helping.”
“The program has made a significant change in my well-being. It’s been just what the doctor ordered.”
“In the time I have been in the program, I have been allowed to stop taking cholesterol medicine and have cut my blood pressure meds in half.”
“SilverSneakers gave me added strength to advance to additional weight training and yoga classes, which gives me GREAT overall toning and flexibility. I am inspired to continue the SilverSneakers Fitness Program as my springboard to even better health and more fun with friends. All these exciting perks are now paid for by my insurance plan!”
“Several months ago, (my mother) was invited by her health insurance group to join a SilverSneakers exercise program at a nearby gym. She now attends class (three days a week) after she walks her three miles! I am extremely proud of Mom and aspire to be like her when I get to be 85 years old!”
“My exercise routine has definitely helped me to control my weight and my stress. And I’ve made so many friends here!”
“I never would have thought that 26 years after my initial stroke, I would be back in therapy. I had given up and thought the doctors had too. Words cannot express the gratitude and loyalty I feel toward SilverSneakers for all they have been able to help me achieve.”

Bill Casselman
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Fiesta Cups

You know those fancy little lettuce cups you get as h’ordeuvres in chic restaurants? They’re basically just leaves of romaine lettuce, skirting a saucer with some kind of stir fry or meat dish. The idea is that you use these leaves as cups, scooping up whatever filling is offered, and voila! It’s so simple, but at the same time, so elegant. We decided we had to try to make these on our own. We bring you Fiesta Cups!

For This Dish You Will Need:

  • Two chicken breasts
  • 3 tbsp of canola oil
  • Two cups Spanish rice
  • 14 ounces of salsa
  • 7 ounces of diced green chile
  • one 15oz can of pinto beans with chile sauce
  • 3-4 cut romaine leaves
  • 8 ounces frozen corn
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 2 roma tomatoes sliced
  • garnish with shredded cheese, black olives, sour cream,lime wedges, salt and pepper to taste

Cut the chicken breast into bite sized chunks.

Sauté in three table spoons of canola oil with salt and pepper to taste until meat is no longer pink.

Add salsa, green chile, pinto beans, and frozen corn.

Simmer for 15 minutes, until beans and corn are warm and tender.

Place a romaine leaf on serving plate. Scoop Spanish rice into the center of the leaf, then dress the plate with tomato, avocado slices and lime wedges.

Ladle the chicken mélange over the rice and garnish with shredded cheese, olives, and sour cream.

…and there you have it. A quick and easy meal that’s every bit as elegant as the plates you’ve ordered in your favorite restaurant.

Posted in Fatties in the Kitchen | 1 Comment