Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tips for a School (or Office) Vending Machine Makeover

Millions of schools and workplaces around the nation have a vending machine. Problem is, when that mid-afternoon craving for a snack hits, people have difficulty finding a healthy choice that won’t leave them feeling guilty or gaining weight after a few weeks or months. The good news is that there are healthy vending machines available that are completely stocked with guilt-free, healthy options, and many schools and businesses are opting for a vending machine makeover.
“Increasingly, people are becoming more health conscious, and they need snacks options that fit with those goals,” explains Jolly Backer, the chief executive officer of Fresh Healthy Vending (www.freshvending.com). “Having healthy snacks available is a win-win for the kids and schools, as well as offices and workers. Healthier snacks leave people feeling good and being more productive, and they will help keep everyone healthy.”

For those who would like their school or office to undergo a vending machine makeover, but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some tips for success:

  1. Get the facts. There are many good reasons to seek a vending machine makeover. Gather some facts about obesity, such as those provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stating that a third of all adults are now obese, and that 17 percent of all children are considered obese. There are good reasons for wanting to provide a healthy work and school environment, all the way down to the snacks in the vending machine.
  2. Find supporters. The more people there are in the office or school who would like a vending machine makeover, the better. Circulate a petition or organize a committee of people to work together toward achieving that goal.
  3. Offer alternatives. Be ready to suggest a constrictive alternative, such as Fresh Healthy Vending. They will be more apt to jump at the chance for the makeover if they realize how simple and cost-effective it can be.
  4. Be heard. The powers-that-be need to know that people want healthier options in the vending machines. This can be done by writing a letter or arranging a meeting on the topic.
  5. Follow through. Once the school or office has been informed that change is needed, it is important to follow through with the request. While avoiding badgering them is important, it is equally vital that the issue remain on their radar screen so that change can eventually take place.

“Unhealthy vending machines are largely still in many places simply because those who make the decisions don’t realize that people want a change,” adds Backer. “Once the call for change is there, with compelling reasons for supporting it, the vending machine makeover just makes sense.”

Fresh Healthy Vending is a company that is revolutionizing the industry by providing colorful dual-climate-controlled machines that are filled with all-healthy snack options. With machines located in over 800 locations throughout the country and Canada, they have been helping to provide vending machine makeovers in hospitals, schools, and corporate offices. Each vending machine is filled with such healthy food options as drinks, fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and granola bars, yogurt, and baked crackers and chips.

About Fresh Healthy Vending

Based in San Diego, Fresh Healthy Vending is a company that started in 2010 and is revolutionizing vending machines by filling them with healthy, natural food options. Dubbed the “future of vending,” they are leading the way in healthy food vending. Their machines offer 100-percent juices, fresh vegetables, fruits, smoothies, and yogurts. The Fresh Healthy Vending machines are franchised and are being placed in schools, offices and other locations throughout the country. To learn more about Fresh Healthy Vending, visit the website at www.freshvending.com.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Make those resolutions stick!

 The time to make New Year’s resolutions is fast approaching, and upping the fitness ante can be one of the hardest to keep. After months of being relatively sedentary, jumping into an ambitious workout program often results in muscle pains and strains that can squelch enthusiasm and quickly derail fitness goals.

Here are some tips for meeting fitness goals in 2012:

Pain doesn’t have to be an excuse to not exercise, according to Topical BioMedics, Inc., Rhinebeck, NY, makers of all natural Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream. “Professional athletes and triathletes use Topricin both before and after events to reduce the risk of injury and quickly heal the pain of hardworking muscles, joints, and ligaments,” says Lou Paradise, president and chief of research. “The eleven biomedicines naturally support and assist the body to reduce inflammation, detoxify and stimulate blood for that increases oxygenation of the skin to reduce pain and speed healing.”

Laurie Towers, former professional bodybuilder, top New York City celebrity trainer and CEO of Physical Advantage PC, the sports and performing arts massage center, and the Bridal Body shop fitness programs, offers the following suggestions for keeping health and fitness a top priority throughout the year.

-Walk or bike to work, or get off a stop or two early on a bus/subway trip to help jump start your metabolism and engage in a bit of functional fitness.

-Take the steps instead of the elevator. “Walking up and down the stairs burns many more calories than hitting the ‘up’ button,” says Ms. Towers. "Of course, this applies only if there are no specific limitations placed on your joints by your MD.”

-Rather than linger over brunch, lunch, or dinner, invite a friend to take a walk on the weekends instead.

-Bring your food to the office to ensure portion control and to know exactly what ingredients you are eating.

-Employ the buddy system for your workouts. You are far more likely to work out if you know someone else is relying on you.

-Cut calories without losing sacrificing taste by substituting sugar with healthier sweeteners when you are cooking or in coffee and tea, such as honey, maple syrup, agave, or stevia.

-“Don’t let pain stop you from achieving your fitness goals,” says Ms. Towers, “And when it does strike, rub it away with Topricin. I use it in my practice on professional athletes, dancers, and other performers who place great demands on their bodies.”

-Set realistic goals that will let you become your own cheerleader and will continue all year long.

-Remember that it is perfectly natural to allow yourself a ’cheat’ day and indulge in the less-than-healthy foods you crave. The key is to use that day as a reward for a well-balanced nutritional investment you abide by the rest of the week.

Laurie Towers

Fitness expert Laurie Towers can be contacted at Physical Advantage Massage

Therapy Center P.C., 139 East 57th Street Penthouse, New York, NY, 212-460-1879, www.physical-knead.com. She also established The Bridal Body Shop personal and virtual fitness program, voted “One of the top businesses primed for success in 2011” by Business News Daily (www.thebridalbodyshop.com).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'll be home for Christmas.. No matter how clean it is

"How do I keep my house from becoming a total wreck during the holidays? I have very little time for cleaning, so I need quick housecleaning tips to help make the house look presentable!" This was the question posed to me recently when I offered to contribute to an article on dealing with holiday stress. The only thing that keeps me from falling out of my chair laughing is that the person who asked me to write on this topic has never been to my house, seen the inside of my car or laid foot in my office. To put it bluntly, housekeeping is not my strong suit.

My ready tips on dealing with holiday stress have more to do with maintaining a budget or a schedule that wouldn't cause children of all ages to have meltdowns. But since this was the question I was asked and I knew I lacked the personal expertise, I went to my MOPS girls for advice. I asked my fellow mommies on the MOPS International Facebook page what tips they had to offer in this area. Here is my summary of what my 30,000+ closest Facebook friends had to say:

Decorate accordingly: Minimizing clutter from the beginning will make maintaining it much easier in weeks to come. Resist the temptation to bring out every holiday clearance knick-knack you've ever purchased. Put some of your year-round decorations away. The empty holiday decoration boxes are excellent places to store things you'll bring back out in January.

Designate hiding spots: There's nothing wrong with sweeping a little dust under the rug or stuffing a few thousand toys in the hall closet. Cute baskets or bins for storing toys and homework allow you to quickly pick up entire piles and set them aside for later. Have a room you can designate the "dump room" where you can close the door when company comes over. What they don't see won't hurt them.

Involve your kids: As moms we want to make the holidays special for our kids. That doesn't mean we become their personal assistants, picking up after them as they go. Make it a contest against you or the clock to add some fun to the routine. Take advantage of Santa or the Elf on the Shelf watching. A little motivation never hurt anyone.

Clean as you go: Every time you walk from one room in the house to another, pick something up and carry it with you. Wipe down the sink or toilet when you're in the bathroom. Put the breakfast dishes directly in the dishwasher. At the end of the day or right before dinner, walk through the house with a laundry basket, simultaneously picking things up as you're putting them away. A little bit at a time goes a long way.

Prioritize: Determine which areas in the house guests will see or will make you feel most sane if they're clean. Kitchen and bathroom countertops make a big impression. Stack dishes in the sink, do a quick wipe down of counters to keep surfaces clean and de-cluttered.

Set a timer: You don't have much time to clean anyway, so diving in for an "hour of power" can motivate you and make what little time you have more efficient. Limit your cleaning time to a set amount like fifteen minutes or an hour. You will force yourself to walk away and be satisfied with what you accomplished.

Adjust expectations: Tis' the season to let the Martha Stewart standards go. The holidays are meant to be a time when memories are made with your loved ones, happy memories that is. Don't let the stress of how your home looks override the fun you are having with those who are in it with you.

I always find great, practical ideas when I go to other MOPS moms, whether in my local group or in my virtual world. What tips would you add to the list? Help this housekeeping-challenged mom out as I tackle my first holiday season as a mother of four.
Alexandra Kuykendall is Editor of Mom and Leader Content for MOPS International, and a regular contributor to MomSense magazine, Connections magazine, the blog at mom-ology.org and MOPS video curriculum. Alex shares her mom-expertise with audiences as large as 5,000 and also acknowledges that she is always learning something new as the mom of four children, ages 6 months to nine.

Denver-based MOPS International is a non-profit ministry that creates communities to help "Better Moms Make A Better World." Since 1973, MOPS International has served millions of mothers and families in thousands of local MOPS groups across the U.S. and in 38 countries internationally. MOPS ministries include Classic MOPS, Teen MOPS, Military MOPS, International MOPS and MOMSnext. MOPS is the best in the world at creating authentic communities of growth that invite women into a spiritual relationship.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Hell...p

For the divorced, holidays can be hell: splitting the kids up during vacation,
no money to buy presents, loneliness, rejection, anger, depression, and much
more. One woman told me she wished she could just take a pill and wake up in
January. Do you feel that way about the upcoming season? I’ve been there and I
can help. It’s not a little pink pill, but here’s my prescription for helping
you survive the holiday blues:

Remember this is not the last Christmas

If you recently got divorced, then stop thinking of this year as the last
Christmas. This one will be tough and it will bitterly disappoint—no doubt
about it. So stack it up in your mind against all the wonderful past Christmases
and the beautiful ones to come. The only thing you really have to do this year
is thank God for real reason for the season. The rest is not that important.

Give yourself permission to step back

My mother never divorced, but she had nine children all year long and knew how
to enjoy the holidays on a tight budget and let go of things that were not
absolutely necessary. Take a tip from her: You do not have to send cards this
year; you do not have to bake a fruitcake, hand-sew the kids’ Christmas play
costumes, or invite the neighbors over for the cookie party you hold every year.
Don’t have money for gifts? Try writing short letters of love to those who
matter. Don’t even have energy for that? Then tell your family and friends
you’re taking a break this year and to look for you again next year when things
are better. If they love you, they’ll understand.

Avoid holiday parties if you want

If going to the family or friends get-together will help you feel better, then
go! Put on something nice and enjoy the event. But if celebrating makes you sick
to your stomach or anxious in any way, stay home. Forget what others might
think. Don’t tap-dance to everyone else’s tune—it will only wear you out. This
post-divorce period is time to take care of you. Be gentle with yourself.

Get the kids involved

If your ex-spouse is no longer there to bake cookies or put up the tree—and you
feel you must have those this year—then recruit the kids. Let them make a mess
and let them help clean up. Working together on fun projects is what really
makes the memory—not just the results.

Get some rest

Life is stressful. The holidays double the stress. Add divorce to the mix and
you have a nuclear cocktail. Your emotions will drain you physically so get
plenty of rest. If you just don’t have the energy or will to put effort into the
holiday, ask for help. Maybe your Dad can take the kids ice-skating, or your
neighbor can take them to the new Tintin or Chipmunk movies, while you take a
long winter’s nap. A rested parent is a happier parent. Divorce or not!

Help someone else

Lots of advice to the divorced or otherwise grieving is to get out of your own
misery and help someone less fortunate. You’ll get out of your own pity-party
and feel better. But . . . I think there’s more to it than that. What if you
know that’s a good idea, but you just can’t? What if you try and try and try to
get some clothes, toys or food to the poor this year but all you can do is stay
home and cry? Then thank God for the desire in your heart to help others and
make a resolution that when you do have the energy, you will. Even the pressure
of having to perform good works can become another unnecessary energy drain.

Create something beautiful

Divorce and the misery it brings are dark and ugly. Beautifying your
surroundings can help to relieve the pain. Ask the kids or friends to help you
get the house clean and fresh, even for just the weekend or the day. Open the
drapes if you like light; close the drapes if you prefer to cocoon a bit (not
too much; it will feed depression). Light some candles. Pick some greenery or
winter leaves and stick them in a vase; ask the children to draw you something
to put on the fridge. Put on your favorite music (not anything that reminds you
of your ex-spouse). Pick up your clothes and make your bed.

Cook something yummy or go out

In divorce our appetites for love, family and security are starved; we crave
affection and are hungry for affirmation. You can see that food and emotions are
closely related. So if it’s your favorite grilled cheese sandwich, a steak and
cold beer, or a dinner at your favorite Chinese restaurant, do it. And don’t
just do it for the kids or with the kids or where the kids want to go. That’s
good, too, but not as a steady diet. You pick what you like and scrap the false

Escape when you can

The assault on emotions after a divorce—and especially during the holidays—can
be brutal. Escape to a place (or activity) that gives you respite. Take a walk,
read a book, putter in the garage, clean out the junk drawer. Every personality
will find distraction and satisfaction in something different. Don’t escape to
excessive TV or the computer. Don’t wallow in pornography. Don’t resort to
addictive shopping, gambling, or the like. Any such self-centered focus doesn’t
free you from pain but will enslave you in the long run.


Even if you are wondering where God has been in this divorce, don’t give up on
Him. The act of crying out is cleansing and releases pent up pain. Medical
studies have proven that patients who pray see increased health benefits and
even cures of serious illnesses. Don’t let divorce rob you of mental, emotional
and spiritual health.

Plan for next Christmas

I know I suggested you let it go this year but I can’t help It—the sales after
Christmas are huge and a perfect time to pick up cards, gifts, and decorations
for next year at more than half-off. Next year will come and it will be better,
I promise. It might takes a few years for you to get back on your feet but
something will happen when you least expect it. You’ll be sipping hot cider (or
something stronger!) and humming to carols in your car or in front of a
crackling fire. You may be with the kids or not, with a new love, or not, but it
won’t really matter. Your heart will have come a long way and you’ll find
yourself feeling happy again. That’s my present to you this year . . . the
promise that holiday hell will eventually be replaced with holiday heaven.

Catholic Author & Speaker
37 Indian Rock Road San Anselmo CA 94960
Phone 760.831.6238

Website: www.RoseSweet.com

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You Can't Resist the Season..

So why try to fight it anymore? Get your festivities on and see Santa as well as Sophie Rose, featured in Westlake Magazine, perform at the Courtyard at the Commons!

Saturday, December 10th ~ Noon to 5pm

The Courtyard At The Commons (across from The Commons)

Visit & Photos with SANTA ~ Complimentary Holiday Goodies

Holiday Tattoos ~ Special Coupon Savings
* * Holiday Entertainment * *
Nick Rail Music All-Stars Jazz Band

11 y.o. singing sensation Sophie Rose
Camerata Choir from El Camino Real Charter High School

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Diet . . . or Something Different?

In this post, Rose Sweet, author and creator of The Cathoilic Divorce Survival Guide DVD series, shares an alternative to the usual "get in shape" New Year's resolution.

The holidays are fast approaching and soon it will be time to write out 2012

Eating healthier and getting more exercise will no doubt be somewhere on your
list. But is your body really the most important area that needs improvement? Or
is there something more challenging that you may be avoiding . . . like
strengthening your marriage?

And, if you’re divorced, what resolution will you make to finally seek help?
Face it—whether you left the marriage or got dumped, we all suffer the
equivalent of a nuclear bomb in our personal and family lives, yet we attempt to
move on as if nothing happened.

From my experience working with divorce recovery groups across the
country, I see fewer than a third of divorcees ever get the help they and their
family need. It just seems too hard, or maybe it will all go away if we ignore
it. But unhealed emotions still produce pain.

And to numb the pain, we rush into new relationships or retreat into the daily
and time-consuming distractions of parenting or work, without taking the time or
spending the money to see a therapist or get involved with a divorce recovery

As a result, most of us never fully understand the underlying issues that
contributed to our divorce in the first place and we set ourselves up for making
the same kinds of mistakes in the future. Did you know that divorce rates are
much higher the next time around?

Failing to address the lingering anger or grief from divorce – regardless of
when it took place – also makes us more likely to be depressed and,
consequently, to overeat, to drink to excess or to engage in other unhealthy
behaviors – some of which may coincidentally be on your list of behaviors to
better control in 2012!

The good news is there are numerous resources to get you started on the road to
recovery. Website resources include
www.FamilyLifeCenter.net, www.Family.com as
well as

Henri J.M. Nouwen has written several books that can help with depression,
including Turn my Mourning into Dancing, The Inner Voice – A Journey through
Anguish to Freedom and The Wounded Healer.

The kids are affected by divorce, too, in ways you may not even know. Need ideas
to improve your parenting, or to deal with being a single parent? Take a look at
Dr. Ray Guarendi’s book, You’re a Better Parent Than You Think as well as any
book by James Dobson, including Love Must Be Tough, Raising up Boys, Raising up
Girls and The Strong Willed Child. Suze Orman has also written several books
that can help you get finances back in order.

The bigger challenge, of course, is confronting the deeper, underlying issues
that most people are afraid to face. For that, you may need to first admit you
could use some help, come out of your comfort zone and join a divorce recovery
group. It’s a good place to start.

Growing numbers of churches offer divorce recovery workshops and support groups
that are comprised of people of all ages who have been through divorce and are
willing to share their experiences as well as their strategies for healing and
recovery. By attending a divorce recovery workshop or support group, you may
also discover some of the topics you need to focus on if you find you could
benefit from the help of a therapist.

Maybe just this year you can let yourself skip the diet when it comes to your
list of New Year’s Resolutions and focus on something much more valuable—the
head and heart issues that still need healing. For many of us, that means
confronting the unresolved pain of divorce—or the panic about finding someone
new—and taking the necessary steps toward a more meaningful recovery. By next
year it could mean a healthier and brighter future for yourself and your family.

Rose Sweet has written several books on the topic of divorce, including A
Woman’s Guide to Healing the Heartbreak of Divorce and she is a frequent guest
on national radio and television shows. Her DVD series, the Catholic’s Divorce
Survival Guide, is being used by divorce recovery groups across the country.
Email her at rose@rosesweet.com.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bid for SAG Awards Seats!

Film and television fans, rejoice! You could be a part of all the juicy red carpet, award season action if you head over to the SAG Awards Auction and bid on Red Carpet Fan Bleacher Seat Packages! Today is the LAST day to bid, so what are you waiting for?

Another little boost to get you bidding? All the money goes to the SAG Foundation's Children's Literacy and Emergency Relief Programs.

From these seats along the red carpet, you'll be able to take pictures and request autographs of your favorite stars. New to this year's Bleacher Seat Auction is the combination of hotel stays, dinners, makeovers, SAG Award Backstage Tours and more!

Now, can't you just see yourself here?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Save Your Eyes While You Buy

Thanks to VSP Optometrist Dr. Nathan Bonilla Warford, you won't be crying by the time you reach the end of your online shopping list this holiday season. Utilize Dr. Warford's tips to keep your peepers peppy while you browse digital shops or WM online!
Easy Tips to Avoid Digital Device Eye Strain

  • Blink Often: When looking at a computer or hand-held digital device, it’s common for you to blink two to three times less than you normally would. This can lead to “dry eye.” Blinking bathes your eyes in tears, and tears are naturally therapeutic for the eyes.
  • The 20/20/20 Rule: When spending long periods in front of a digital device, every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away to allow your eyes to rest.
  • Ensure Proper Lighting: Poor lighting often causes eye strain. To help ease the strain on your eyes, keep bright lighting overhead to a minimum and position your desk lamp to shine on your desk, and not at you.
  • Use computer vision glasses. Even if you have near perfect vision, computer vision glasses can ease eye strain from prolonged use of a digital device.
  • Get your eyes checked! An annual eye exam is a must! Talk to your doctor about your digital usage and if you are experiencing symptoms that include headaches, backaches, dry eyes, etc.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Holiday Issue!

Hiya, readers! As you may have noticed, WM's annual Holiday Issue is fresh off the presses, featuring a cover graced by bohemian beauty Rosanna Arquette, shot by our own Kevin Foley. Not to be outdone by her feminine charm, the back cover puts into your hands a brooding Mark Ballas, decked out in dark duds from Malibu's John Varvatos, shot by Stephen Morales.

Whether you're wondering what to get each person on your shopping list, want to catch up with the drummer of Chicago, ogle the gorgeous new model for Guess, or learn to make some tasty and festive cocktails for friends this season, our Holiday Issue has got you covered.. (And has so much more to offer!)

Now I've got some exciting news for iPad users: the WM app is now available for free on iTunes! So download the app, and keep issues at your fingertips at all times. Browse through your favorite articles and photo spreads with the swipe of a finger. Also find extra content that we couldn't squeeze into the magazine's pages on the new iPad version.

I can't complete this post without wishing a very happy birthday to our lovely Creative Director/Layout Designer, Krysten Johnson! I won't tell you how old she is, but I will say it is a milestone.. and that she got to spend her birthnight with all of us at a WM editorial meeting at Boccaccio's.. Seriously, what could be better?
Krysten, the rockstar.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Belated Halloween!

Hi, readers! I'm excited to be starting Westlake Magazine's first daily blog in all of our 19 years of existence! This will be a place that you can come and read about what goes on behind the scenes at the magazine, what's new and next up for us, what's going on in your community and many other fun and interesting tidbits from a Westlake local's perspective. Please stop by frequently, as I will update all the time!

First thing I gotta mention is Halloween. Now, I know Halloween was a few days ago and we are most certainly in a new month. But I just can't help but give this blog a spooktacular theme of orange and black.. (at least for now, until the next holiday creeps up and I am enticed to decorate the layout with turkeys, cranberries, cornucopias, pilgrim hats..) I adore this time of year! We're just starting to get a break from the melodramatic summer heat (sort of), there's a crisp wind blowing through the air (and forcefully, I might add. It already took out a tree at one of my friends' house. Watch out for your cars), and we're starting to see boots on every girl about town! Time to start stocking up on sweaters and long dresses, hats and great scarves--all of which you can get inspiration for in the upcoming Holiday Issue of WM!

But, backing up, what were you guys for Halloween? Was anyone anything very original this year? I thought I was being pretty creative with my friend, what do you think? Let me know, and post your own Halloween pics to share with other readers!

My friend & I as troll dolls, Sat. night at the Sunset Room Monster Mash!