Category Archives: Surprises


Turns out the old adage that money can’t buy you happiness is not true.  Money CAN buy you happiness IF you know how and where to spend it.  In this Ted Talk , Michael Norton shares fascinating research on how money can, indeed buy happiness — when you don’t spend it on yourself. Listen for surprising data on the many ways pro-social spending makes a difference in your life and the lives of others.

Michael I. Norton,  is Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit and Marvin Bower Fellow at the Harvard Business School.

For more on creating happiness in your life, check out the book: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Life is what you make it.



Well in case you missed it, yesterday June 7 was National Donut Day.  But don’t worry there’s still time to do something sweet for a good cause and you could win free donuts for a year. In its continued support of The Salvation Army, from May 1st to June 15th Entenmann’s Bakery will donate $1 to the organization for every person who “likes” the Entemann’s Facebook page up to $30,000.

Entenmann’s will also be rewarding lucky winners with ‘Free Donuts for a Year’ and additional prizes through a sweepstakes link on their Facebook page. All entries must be received by 11:59: p.m. ET on June 30, 2013. Winners will be randomly selected from all submissions. Official Rules can be found at 

The first National Donut Day was celebrated by The Salvation Army in Chicago in 1938 to help raise needed funds during the Great Depression and commemorate the work of the “donut lassies” who helped make the donut what it is today by feeding the tasty confection to American soldiers during World War I. The donuts became synonymous with The Salvation Army, as well as the American soldiers who were returning home with the nickname, “doughboys.”

This significant occasion established the donut as a long-standing symbol of the services The Salvation Army continues to provide. The partnership between Entenmann’s and The Salvation Army reinforces Entenmann’s as a brand synonymous with National Donut Day.

While it’s fine to indulge that sweet tooth every once in a while, there are some down sides.  Sugar and fat in combination can create powerful cravings. Some experts even say that that combination is down right addictive.  Regardless, the scant nutrition means you’ll be hungry soon after chowing down on donuts.  That’s why you can eat a few of them in short amount of time but I double dog dare you to try to eat five bananas. Your body absorbs the nutrients from bananas but there isn’t much nutrition in a donut so nothing to really satisfy you biologically speaking. One Starbucks Old Fashioned glazed donut  has nearly 500 calories and so does five bananas.

How long does it take to burn off 500 calories? About an hour’s worth of moderate to high aerobics to burn off.  Just so you know.

Bon Appetit


Ah the 70s, a time when vinyl was king with top hits like Bridge Over Trouble Waters and Stayin’ Alive.  A time when there was no sunscreen and we baked in the sun using an odd combination of baby oil and iodine.  Fast forward to today when we have 100 SPFs and routine screenings for melanoma.  And finally new FDA regulations on sunscreen products. They have not been updated since 1978.

NEW LABELS ON SUNSCREENS FDA Sheds Light on Sunscreens - (JPG v2)

Gone will be the terms: “sun block”, “water proof”, “sweat proof” because those claims are bogus. Other changes include:

  • final regulations that establish standards for testing the effectiveness of sunscreen products and require labeling that accurately reflects test results
  • a proposed regulation that would limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labeling to “SPF 50+”
  • a data request for safety and effectiveness information for sunscreen products formulated in certain dosage forms (e.g., sprays)

Broad spectrum is an important and the FDA will require that products touting the term must protect against both UVA and UVB rays.  UVA rays are the longer deeper penetrating rays associated with skin damage and skin cancer.  UVBs are the ones that give us suntans and sunburns. Melanoma is complex disease and while sun damage is implicated as culprit is not the sole source.  Still protecting yourself when out in the sun for long periods of time is wise.

The Environmental Working Group has excellent guidelines on what to seek and what to avoid.  In short:

  • Don’t use sprays – not enough covers the skin
  • Do use sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide –they offer broad spectrum
  • Don’t use products over 50 SPF – they’re not any more effective

Avoid the hottest part of the day, wear hat, and wear lightweight long sleeves and pants – all will cut down on damaging rays and some now contain protection within the fibers.


It’s a confusing world when on the one hand we’re told stay out of the sun to avoid skin cancer, and yet we’re also told that population-wide we’re deficient in vitamin D (the primary source of which is the sun).  Experts say 10-15 minutes per day in the sun is enough to get the vitamin D you need.  You can also eat fish, drink fortified milks and take fish oil.


What’s SUP? Stand-Up Paddleboarding.

Stand-up paddleboarding that what’s up.  The sport is a combo of kayaking and surfing. You stand on a wide board and paddle your way through the water. Originally used by ancient Polynesian cultures, it’s been steadily making its way from Hawaii  as a great way to play on water and get a good workout too. Talk about balance and power, you’ll need that plus a sense of humor when you fall off. Read and see all about it here, at SUP magazine.

Finally thawing out of the cold, cruel and LONG winter this year, we Chicagoans are every ready to get out and play.  Enjoy the city skyline in a whole new way, by jumping on a board.  Yeah, Lake Michigan can be choppy, but hey there are rivers too and some days all our waters are as calm as glass.  This outfitter will help you get started with gear and lessons.

Up north, standup paddleboarding is exploding in popularity in Madison, Wisconsin.  This summer, industry leader SUP the Mag, is sponsoring the Midwest Standup Paddle Festival, a benefit for the UW Health Children’s Hospital and the Henry Vilas Zoo. It’s set for July 12 & 13, 2013 at Bishop’s Bay Country Club in Middleton, WI. The abundance of clean flatwater in the area plus the reputation Madison has for being such an active community led organizers to add Madison to its nationwide festival of events.  Madison is one of eight stops on their SUP America Tour.

Your core muscles are like the glue that holds everything together while your arms push and pull you through the water. Lots of ways to keep that core strong as you move your limbs, and Pilates is one of the best ways to get in shape and stay in shape for all you do.  Great for post rehab and even better, Pilates is a highly efficient muscle balancing full workout that helps you avoid injuries in the first place. Good instructors can customize the workout for your specific sport.

Now go out and play!

JoAnn Milivojevic
Certified Pilates Instructor


Eating healthfully is an evolutionary process – a gradual shift in your food choices and eating behaviors over time.  Naturally, the food you eat and enjoy changes as you grow from a child into an adult. However, young children can teach us a lot about how to eat sensibly as they are born with built-in appetite wisdom. Like the gas gauge on your car that tells you when it’s time to fuel up and when it’s time to stop, children intuitively know when they are hungry or full – they are masters of self-regulation with food.

It is very telling when a child only eats a little and loses interest in food – the child is full. That’s the end of the story regardless of how long you’ve slaved in the kitchen! Fast forward 20 years – that child (now an adult) most likely will keep eating that gourmet meal because it’s not only delicious, but it’s there. Studies have shown that grown-ups tend to eat what is put in front of them – even if it’s too much.  Most of us shut off our internal cues of hunger and fullness – because our natural appetite instincts are overridden by the allure of second helpings and tasty desserts. The danger in this is obvious – overeating and weight gain – not great for health!

So what are some strategies to successfully rewrite your eating script to live a healthier, happier life?  Take a look at the check list below for some sure-fire ways to rethink what you eat and drink forever.

  • Avoid meal skipping, especially breakfast.  While all meals are a chance to get valuable nutrients, breakfast truly is the mac-daddy of your daily meal triad!
  • Do daily food jotting by keeping a notebook or your phone with you to write down what you eat and drink 24/7.  You’ll be surprised where excess, empty calories are coming in!
  • Swap sliced chopped or diced vegetables for refined carbs snacks like white flour-based crackers, cookies and chips.
  • Banish the regular soda for mineral water or zero-calorie fruit infused water.
  • Aim for the better butters such nut butters like peanut or almond butter.
  • Go meatless at least one day a week (it’s better for you and the planet!).  Make meals with plant foods like as tofu, beans, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

Excerpted from The Essential Guide to Healthy and Healing Foods by

Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LDN with Jovanka JoAnn Milivojevic


Have you ever woken up with a headache or sore jaw?  If so, you could be among the millions suffering from “bruxism”, the clinical name for grinding your teeth during sleep. While certainly an issue for teeth, it’s actually considered a sleep disorder. About 80% of the people grind their teeth at some point in their lifetime.

Stress was thought to be the main culprit behind bruxism.  But new research shows that that may not always be the underlying cause.  A deeper look at the issue reveals that anything that affects the overall nervous system can trigger bruxism. For example, researchers have found that certain medications, such antidepressants, can activate grinding.


Medications can be changed or stopped but what remains as the most effective treatment is really not really a treatment at all.  It’s a mouth guard which reduces the damage grinding causes to the teeth. Normally when you chew, 25 pounds of force is exerted on the molars.  But grinding can exert up to 250 pounds of force per square inch. All that extra force cracks teeth and wears away enamel leading to sensitivity to temperature and pressure.

Bruxism can also lead to more severe problems such as temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ); earaches because the jaw joints involved are close to the ear canal; or even Tinnitus, an annoying and persistent ringing of the ear.


Because some people may grind and not be aware of it, the American Dental Association recommends regular dental check ups to catch the damage in the early stages.  A custom made night guard is the best defense against further damage to teeth. Since stress can bean underlying cause, the recommendation is to find ways to relax including yoga, biofeedback, and listening to soothing music.

Sleep Well!


Power Naps: revitalize with a quick shut eye

If you find yourself running out of mental and physical energy toward the end of the workday, forgo that extra jolt of caffeine or sugar and go for a power nap instead.  Napping can improve your mood, make you more alert and enhance your physical performance too. If you think naps are for lazy losers, think again. Nap advocates include seven time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong, former president Bill Clinton, and scientists Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison.  Hardly the sort of people you’d put into slouch category.

Another brainiac to add to that bunch is Dr. Sara C Mednick of the Salk Institute at the University of California in San Diego.  Today, she is among the foremost authorities on napping.  But it wasn’t always so. As a graduate student at Harvard, shots of espresso and splashes of cool water on her face kept her going through her rigorous academic schedule.  One day, she flopped down on a ratty old couch in the psych department. That nap changed her life and her life’s work.  Her book, Take a Nap, Change Your Life, Workman Publishing, details napping tips and some surprising benefits of the midday snooze like improving skin and tissue regeneration, and contributing to weight loss.

According to studies cited by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), inadequate sleep — less than seven or eight hours of sleep each night –- creates long-lasting changes to one’s ability to think and function well during the day. Getting enough sleep on regular basis is the best way to stay alert and feel your best. But when fatigue sets in, a quick nap can do wonders for your mental and physical stamina.

The National Sleep Foundation offers these guidelines for maximizing nap time:

  • Power Nap: 20-30 minutes. This type of nap improves alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. Set an alarm (most cell phones have them) to avoid stressing out about waking up.
  • Sleep in Peace:  Obviously you want to snuggle into as comfortable place as possible  Wherever you are, try to keep noise and light to a minimum. While some studies have shown that just relaxing time in bed can be beneficial, it is better to try to catch some zzzs while there.
  • Don’t Force it:  Listen to what your body needs. If you take a nap too late in the day, it might affect your nighttime sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep at your regular bedtime. If you try to take it too early in the day, your body may not be ready for more sleep.

When Foods and Medicines Mix

Do you take it with food?  Without?  Is milk a no-no?  What about grapefruit juice?  Knowing how to take your meds is crucial.  Some foods can interact badly and dangerously raise or lower drug levels in your body.  So the short advice, is read the label and talk to your pharmacist.

Here are a few tips to help you mind your meds:

  • Avoid dairy when taking antibiotics. The calcium can bind to the drug and reduce how much of it enters your bloodstream
  • St John’s wort reduces the effectiveness of many drugs including those for erectile dysfunction.
  • Alcohol can increase or decrease effectiveness of certain drugs and because it can slow down your metabolism – it enables medications to stay in your system longer.
  • Avoid taking meds with acidic soft drinks. They can cause the medication to dissolve in the stomach instead of the intestines, destroy the medicines altogether or force time-released meds to dissolve immediately.
  • Caffeine.  Could increase effect of stimulant drugs or decrease the effect of sedatives.


Everything we eat, drink, or swallow is combined and transformed in our bodies through complex chemical processes. As soon as something passes through your lips, eager enzymes in your saliva start to break it apart. That conversion process continues all the way down the pipeline until nutrients (or medicines) are broken into smaller elements that eventually make their way into the bloodstream. For the most part, nutrients (e.g. vitamins, minerals, proteins) are useful as they provide energy, repair cells and provide defense against disease and infections. But sometimes, these very same healthful agents can thwart the action of medicines and vice versa.


Learn about supplements, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines including interactions, side effects, dietary precautions, and more by searching on key word drug information at Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health.

Have Your Chips and Eat Them Too!

Want to satisfy that craving for salty crunchy snacking without eating oil laden, high fat, calorie-rich potato chips?  Well, if you tried rice cakes and felt like you were eating puffed air,  have I got a tip for you:

shop for snacks in the diabetic aisle

Don’t have diabetes you say?  Doesn’t mean you can’t gain the benefits of specially formulated snacks that are designed to be low calorie and nutrient dense (meaning you get high nutrition for relatively low calories).

Extend Crisps for example are:

  • high in fiber – so they break down more slowly in your body and help control hunger
  • high in protein – 7 grams in most single packs,  giving you more sustained energy
  • no cholesterol, no transfats, little to no sugar and gluten-free
  • low in glycemic index and load – again helping to stabilize blood sugar and keep your energy even keel
  • low calorie – about 130 per bag
  • great taste – REALLY chose from BBQ honey, white cheddar and zesty ranch

I stumbled upon these at the local Walgreens for $1.59.  I was surprised at how good they tasted.  The protein comes from mainly from soy.  And I’ve got to say, they really did satisfy my snack attack and my hunger.  Give ‘um a try and let me know what you think!

Snack Happy!