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Trash Your Crash Diet!

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Like most twenty-something females, when I look good--I feel good. Therefore, dieting and eating healthy have become part of my daily life. However, when I say "dieting", what I really mean is not having that extra handful of white cheddar pop corn, or the last slice of brie in my fridge. I don't like to diet, I never have and probably never will. Why deprive myself now only to binge later? Nope, not for me.

But lately, it seems like crash dieting has become the new "it" thing to do. I see it on facebook, pinterest and even among my close friends. Why people? I want to scream, "don't you know what you're doing to your body?" Crash dieting--although it may produce the results you desire at first, can be very harmful to your body and mental well being.

What is a crash diet?
According to livestrong.com, a crash diet is "a dietary regiment designed to produce rapid weight loss results." Crash diets do work short-term. They produce results fast, which explains their growing popularity. However, the negative effects on your body far outweigh those extra five or ten pounds you're hanging on to.

What are the negative side effects associated with crash dieting?
-Yo Yo Effect: Drastic weight loss followed by weight gain. This could include all or more of the weight previously lost. (Gross!)
-Lack of sodium and/or potassium which have key roles in our body's nerve and muscle function.
-Iron and calcium deficiencies could also take place. Note: lack of calcium in your diet can lead to osteoporosis and bone loss.
-Serious damage to your internal organs. Think: heart, kidneys, liver, etc. Without enough energy from food intake (remember: calories=energy), our organs are forced to get energy elsewhere-usually from burning muscle tissue. Often times, from the muscle tissue that surrounds the organ itself which can lead to organ failure. Scary!
-Slower metabolism. Crash dieting throws your body into starvation mode. Although you may lose weight initially, when you go back to eating regularly with your normal caloric intake, your metabolism will still be slower. Yikes! This means it will take fewer calories to gain weight back because your metabolism won't burn calories as quickly as it needs to.
-Dizziness/Fainting. Think about it. If you drastically cut the amount of calories you're consuming each day--you're likely to feel faint or dizzy due to lack of nutrient/caloric intake.
-Mood swings. Depression and irritability often occur when our blood sugar is low. The fact is, when you aren't eating enough, you're more prone to feelings of irritability and frustration.
-Negative attitudes toward food. Crash diets often involve severe dietary restrictions causing the dieter to obsess over food, finding unhealthy and/or extreme ways of reducing hunger. Think: chewing gum or eating ice. Crash diets limit the intake of foods your body needs to function properly and the more foods you avoid, the more food becomes your enemy.

Just because you think you look good on the outside, doesn't mean it's all good on the inside too. The longer you crash diet, the more fat your body is likely to hold onto and store. Findings published by the USDA show that women who perpetually diet are over 300% more likely to develop obesity later in life than those who do not. Scary! I'd rather be healthy and happy than "skinny" and at risk for all these problems. Wouldn't you? My opinion is and always will be--weight loss is a simple math equation: calories in vs. calories out. Just eat right, exercise, splurge once in awhile and DON'T starve yourself. Moderation, as in all things, is the key.

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I am a recovering addict. That's right, I used to be addicted to acrylic nails. I loved getting "fake nails" put on and I was a regular in my local salon every two weeks. Once I took a break and noticed how weak and thin my real nails had become, I decided it was time to kick my habit and take better care of my finger nails. Recently, I've been trying to get my nails back to their original, unmarred condition. I decided it would be beneficial to find out just what it takes to grow strong and healthy nails--the natural way.

I've always heard you can tell a woman's age by looking at her hands. But what about her nails? The fingernails' purpose is to protect our finger tips, but they are also an external sign of our health.

What do healthy nails look like?
When nails are healthy, they have a uniform color, smooth texture and are free of splits, ridges or discolored spots.

What do unhealthy nails look like?
When nails are unhealthy, they can have ridges, dents, splits, cracks, areas of unusual color and shape, areas of thinning and pain, swelling and/or redness.

Our nails are formed at the nail bed where the "U" shaped cuticle begins. Nails are composed of layers of laminated keratin. Keratin is a type of protein and is the key component in the structure of hair and nails.

It is important to keep your nail bed in tact in order to have strong and healthy nails. So, here are some tips on things you can do to ensure healthy nail growth and keep yourself looking young from your fingers to your toes!

Tips on how to grow your nails:

-Eat foods rich in vitamins, antioxidants and silicon. (Healthy hint: think Vitamins C, A and B)
-File your nails regularly, keeping them at a comfortable length. This helps prevent breakage, chipping and splitting. Filing into a rounded shape as opposed to straight will help resist splitting and chipping. (Healthy hint: The Mayo Clinic says it is easiest to file nails right after a bath or shower.)
-Rub oil on your nails and cuticles. Olive, grape seed, almond or jojoba would all work. This keeps your fingers and nails moisturized and will improve the overall texture of your nails.
-Cover up! Wear rubber gloves while doing chores such as dishes or other house hold cleaning. This will protect your nails from being damaged by chemicals or detergents found in cleaners.
-Stop using your nails as tools! Opening, cutting or ripping things can easily lead to unexpected nail damage.
-Try not to bite your nails. Not only is this a bad habit, but it can damage the nail bed and/or lead to snagging. Plus, if you bite your nails and leave cuts behind, you are more likely to get infected with bacteria.
-Resist pulling your hang nails! You could rip off live tissue along with the hang nail. If you have one, do yourself a favor and use nail clippers!
-Keep nails clean and dry. This prevents bacteria, fungi and other organisms from growing under your finger nails. (Healthy hint: for toe nails: air out your work boots or athletic sneakers for the same reason.)
-Wear nail polish. Polish can protect your finger nails from damage as well as help strengthen them. Acetone-free polishes are best because they are less drying, but don't wear nail polish all the time because it's always important to let your nails breathe. You can easily find nail strengthening polishes as well as acetone-free at your local drug store. (Healthy hint: if nails tend to be soft, you can use a nail hardener.)

Using the tips mentioned above, you should be on your way to growing longer, stronger, more beautiful natural nails!

Try A Little Tea Tree

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teatree.jpgThere's no doubt tea tree oil has become increasingly popular in beauty products all over the world. Consumers can find it in shampoos, conditioners, ointments, cleansers and even moisturizers. So, what is it about this wonder ingredient that's making it the latest buzz word?

What is it?

Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, is a natural antibacterial disinfectant. For thousand of years, aboriginal tribes have used tea tree for healing skin cuts, burns and infections by crushing up the leaves and placing them on the affected area. Tea tree oil comes from Austrailia where over 300 species of tea trees naturally grow, although only one of these three hundred species actually produces the medicinal oil.

Tea tree oil is an essential oil extracted from a specific type of tea tree known as "Melaleuca Alternifolia." The oil is light yellow in color, has a scent similar to nutmeg and is made by steaming the tea tree leaves and then squeezing out -- or expressing -- the oil.

So, what makes it so good for you and why can it heal wounds?

Here's the deal: Tea tree oil contains constituents called terpenoids. Terpenoids have been found to have antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Tea tree oil is known to effectively fight a number of infections that are resistant to some antibiotics; making it an excellent natural remedy for hundreds of bacterial and fungal skin ailments such as :

-acne
-abscesses
-oily skin
-blisters
-sun burns
-athlete's foot
-dandruff
-warts
-insect bites
-rashes and other minor wounds/irritations.

In fact, a 1990 study by the Department of Dermatology, published in the Medical Journal of Australia found tea tree oil to be as effective in treating acne as benzoyl peroxide, but without the negative side effects of redness and peeling. Furthermore, the Australian Army includes tea tree oil in soldiers' first aid kits believing in its great healing power. It's important to note that as with many other essential oils, tea tree should be used diluted with a carrier oil such as almond, and, as with many other products, it's a good idea to check in with a professional to make sure that you're using this product correctly.

So, next time you're looking for a good, pure way to calm down irritated skin or even help out with your acne--look for products that contain tea tree oil and watch your skin heal itself naturally.

You may be getting sick of all my yummy cookie recipes by now, but these came out so good, I just couldn't help myself. If you like monkey ice cream or monkey chocolate bars, you are going to love these GUILT-FREE MONKEY COOKIES! Each cookie has only 47 calories and I kid you not, they taste just as good as all of their high calorie competition.

What you need: (you can go organic or gluten free for all ingredients depending on dietary needs.)
3 ripe bananas
2 cups oats
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 dash of cinnamon

What you need to do:
Almost nothing at all! Preheat your oven to 350. Mix all the ingredients together and spoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, let them cool and enjoy!

If you're anything like me, you want to know exactly what you're putting into - or onto - your body. And since what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bodies, I decided to read some of the labels on my skin care products. I noticed "hyaluronic acid" on one of the labels and instantly thought..."Whoa, acid? This can't be good." So, i decided to do my research.

What is hyaluronic acid anyway?

Hyaluronic acid is a complex sugar also known as glycosaminoglycan which is already naturally found throughout the body. It is particularly prevalent in our connective tissues. It also transports nutrients to cells, removes toxins, acts as a cushioning agent, helps lubricate joints, facilitates water retention in body tissue and even sustains the shape of our eyeballs. Wow! This is powerful stuff!

But, is it safe to use on my skin? The answer is a resounding YES!

Hyaluronic acid is used as an injectible filler-treatment for joints and can soften lines and wrinkles. Since it's already a naturally occurring molecule in our skin, we can inject it or apply it topically and our body won't see it as foreign.

In addition to being found in injectables, hyaluronic acid has been added to a wide variety of beauty products as well: lip sticks, eye shadows, moisturizers, gels and serums. Why you ask? This is because hyaluronic acid has the ability to draw moisture from the air and is said to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water.

Over time, as we age - think: tanning and/or pollutants in the air, etc. - the ability of our skin to produce hyaluronic acid declines. As a result, skin can become dehydrated. This is when skin loses its radiance and fine lines and wrinkles begin to form and show. This is when the use of a moisturizer with hylauronic acid as an ingredient can help! Hylauronic acid penetrates the skin and binds water molecules together to give skin a more hydrated and plump appearance. The skin will swell to fill in lines, crows feet and wrinkles. So, next time you're browsing for beauty products, check the ingredients, choose something with this amazing ingredient and give yourself a youthful glow!

Here at Living Well, we use Hylunia, which is an organic skin care line based on hyaluronic acid. Questions? Feel free to call or email!


Just yesterday, at Saratoga Beads I was asked, "How do you put your outfits together? Where do you shop? You always look great!" I smiled, feeling terrific, thanked her and thought about my ensemble for the day.

I realized that I was wearing only one new piece of clothing: a tunic I bought on vacation in California in a dusty red and realized that the rest of my outfit - in sagey greens -- were lasting pieces that had been gathered over years.

So, how did this seemingly strange combination of red and green come together and what makes it work?

Think nature. In nature, we marvel at all the colors thrown together in pleasing ways. So, it's not so much about the particular color. Sometimes it's the color intensity and/or shade. This combination works for several reasons: most of the outfit was a palette of sagey greens that were of the same intensity and the tunic blouse was a dusty red that warmed up the greens while giving the possibly blah sage some punch.

I built this outfit starting with a pair of Bora green amethyst earrings that I love and just purchased from The Red Wolf. In fact, I spent several days building outfits around these earrings.

Ultimately, dressing is all about being your own kind of beautiful and trusting in your choices.

Here are a dozen tips to help you maximize your own beautiful, unique style and build a working wardrobe in the process:

1. Buy what you love and only what you love. When in doubt, leave it out! This way, every time you catch sight of yourself, you'll feel good.

2. Lean towards classic, accent with trend. This helps build your wardrobe possibilities. If you have too much trend, you won't want to wear those pieces when the trend fades and you'll lose that from your wardrobe. And yet, don't be afraid to take risks or think outside the box and differ from your usual look. Have fun with dressing!

3. Solids tend to be easier to layer, and yet a print piece here or there can be fun tossed in. But be sure that you have other items that will work with the colors in the print.

4. Don't be afraid to buy the same piece in different colors if it looks great on you.

5. Maximize on a fashion that looks good on you. Do you look good in a pencil skirt; flowing, gathered skirt; narrow pants; wide pants? Buy those pieces. You'll feel great all day!

6. Save up to buy an expensive, well made, timeless piece rather than blowing money on more, poorly made, less expensive items. Over time, you'll spend more having to replace things that don't wear well and have to be tossed. If you purchase well, you'll have pieces that last tens of years. This way, you'll build a wardrobe of things you love that look good on you.

7. Consider each item you consider, be it a skirt, or blouse, a "piece." Measure its value in your closet. How will it work with other things you already have?

8. When dressing, start with something that calls to you that day whether it be a scarf, necklace, skirt, or shirt and build your outfit from there.

9. Build pallets of color. Concentrate on blocks: blues, greys, blacks, browns, beiges, whites. Then, when you are dressing, take the piece that you want to match and move it against all your pallets to find the color that rocks.

10. Avoid being too "matchy-matchy." Colors do not have to line up like soldiers. Try unusual combinations - sometimes build on contrast, sometimes, shades or even intensities. Sometimes throwing in a burst of color works.

11. Great accessories are a key component of pulling an outfit together and achieving a great look. Scarves, a necklace or necklaces, rings, or earrings. Again, buy things that you love.

12. Now, even though I have mentioned buying quality, sometimes, you'll find something that you love and its inexpensive. The point here is: don't buy based on price. Buy based on love. You might find something that's inexpensive and not a "quality" piece, but you love it. Buy it. You'll feel great wearing it.

So, what does this all achieve? You'll feel unique, beautiful in your own skin, put together, and fashionable.

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First it was Atkins, then came Weight Watchers, and now there is juicing! With millions of Americans looking for a quick-fix, juicing has become another trendy way to lose weight fast. What I'd like to know is: Is juicing actually even good for you? Is it safe? Or is it just another hyped up way for us to feel better about skipping the gym and eating the right foods?

Lets be honest. Most of us don't eat nearly enough fruits and veggies these days (and certainly not enough to reap their bennefits). The National Cancer Institute recommends 5 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables per day. Am I supposed to eat an apple or a handful of carrots along with every meal? Do I have time for this? Well, even though the answer might be yes, I'm not sure that I want to do that.This is where juicing comes in.

What is juicing?

The type of 'juicing' I'm referring to is a diet plan in order to lose weight, eating only the juice from fruits and vegetables and nothing else for a period of time, such as 3-5 days. Juicing is a way of extracting the juice from a whole fruit or vegetable while leaving the fiberous skin behind. This is where the great debate begins. Some experts say that leaving the skin behind is a bad idea because this is where all the nutrients are. This is the idea that nothing beats eating the whole food. On the other hand, proponents of juicing say that the average American eats only 1.5 servings of veggies and no fruit per day so jucing is an easy and healthy way to introduce them into your diet. Also, many nutrients are trapped in the fiber of fruits and vegetables so jucing removes the fiber, therefore letting our bodies absorb them.

Lets break it down. For example, if you eat a whole carrot, you would only absorb about 1% of the beta carotene. However, if you juice a carrot, your body is able to absorb nearly 100% of the beta carotene. Another reason juicing can be benneficial to your diet is water. Water is essential for good health and most of us don't drink enough water every day either. The Institute of Medicine states that an adequate intake of water is about 13 cups for men and about 9 cups for women. If you're like me, you don't necessarily meet those requirements on a daily basis. Fruits and vegetables are full of fresh clean water. By jucing them, you are making them that much easier for your body to absorb and digest that water.

By now, you might be thinking, "so what's the down side?" Exactly. Just like everything else in life, juicing isn't perfect. First of all, you are depleting your bodies calorie intake, at times taking in fewer than 1,000 calories a day. As a general rule, one pint (16 oz.) is the minimum amount of juice you need to ingest in order to provide any perceptible results. And on top of that, any juice squeezed should be consumed within 30 minutes. If you're like me and have the urge to clean up right away, you can forget about that! And don't plan on making juice ahead of time and saving it for later either. Drink your juice right away and dont save it for more than one day. Fresh squeezed juice is breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Yuck!

So, is juicing good for you? In my opinion, juicing is a great way to introduce fruits and veggies into your diet. Also, with juicing, you are more likely to try new fruits and veggies since you'll eventually get bored of using the same recipe over and over. So far, so good. Now come the side effects. Wah, wah.

If you do in fact decide to juice, here are some things you'll want to be aware of:

1. Decrease in Energy Level: You may notice a drop in energy levels the first day or so. This is because you're not consuming all the carbs and protein your body is used to.

2. Headaches: You may also experience headaches. If you are used to having caffeine and sugar on a regular basis, this type of headache is a result of your body simply craving the stuff it's used to.

3. Nausea and Vomiting: Another possible issue is nausea and vomiting. Ingesting higher doses of nutrients than you're normally used to without the accompanying fiber and protein, might cause you to feel queasy. A good tip for beginners is to dilute your juice with water to prevent this overdose.

4. Bad Breath: is also an another unpleasant side effect of changing your diet to include juicing. This is due to your body flushing out waste and toxins through your skin and exhalation. And last but not least, we have

5. Constipation and/or Diarrhea: which is attributed to the lack of fiber. You aren't eating many solid foods and your digestive track is being cleansed.

After reading all this, you may want to run for the hills--as I did. But, remember, all those side effects are just temporary. It's up to you to decide whether or not jucing is for you. I leave you with these parting thoughts. There is no sound scientific evidence that shows juice from juicing is any healthier for you than the juice you get from eating the whole food itself. Juicing removes the pulp and fiber from all fruits and vegetables which--if you have an appetite like me, will leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied. You could always add the pulp back in, but then why not just stick to eating the whole darn apple?

Sometimes what looks like a curse, is actually a blessing.

There can be a great difference between making purchases online and at a brick and mortar store. 

De-cluttering your makeup will give you more time and make selections easier!

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Reisa Mehlman

As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...


Dr. Sarah Lobisco

Whether the goal is to lessen pain, find an alternative to pharmaceuticals, or improve your quality of life, Dr. LoBisco's Naturopathic Medicine lets you get the best of both worlds conventional medicine, combined with safe and proven complementary therapies.

Dr. Sarah LoBisco has been involved in wellness for over 8 years. Her experience includes mentoring with holistic practices throughout New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. Read more...