Each of us has a potential to become a better version of ourselves. The focus of this blog is to provide information that can improve our lives in many areas, enlighten our attitudes and views concerning ourselves and the world around us, ultimately allowing us to become the best version of ourselves.
I’ve run across some VERY interesting studies recently on the relationship between coconut oil (or any type of coconut fat, includingcoconut milk and cream) and how it can affect your body fat…
The findings may surprise you!
A 2009 study published in the Journal Lipids consisted of testing the effects of either 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or 2 tablespoons of soybean on a group of 40 women over the span of 28 days.
Results showed that the group that ate the coconut oil had a decrease in abdominal fat, while the soybean oil group actually showed a slight increase in belly fat. Additionally, the group that ate the coconut oil showed increased HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels, while the soybean oil group had decreased HDL cholesterol and increased LDL ‘ bad’ cholesterol.
The Journal of Nutrition published a study where researchers investigated all studies relative to medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that are abundant in coconut fat and weight management. The studies showed that diets rich in fats such as those found in coconut oilprompted a boost in metabolism, increase in energy, decrease in food consumption, reduced body weight and lower body fat mass. The study authors highly recommend using oils that contain MCFAs, such ascoconut oil, as a tool to drop extra abdominal fat, manage a healthy weight, and even as a way to treat obesity.
Yet another study that assessed body weight and fat storage relative to three different types of diets including a low-fat diet, high-fat diet with long chain fatty acids (LCFAs) and a high fat diet with MCFAs. In order to bring about weight gain, caloric intakes were adjusted for the diets. At the end of the research period (which lasted 44 days), the low-fat diet group stored an average of 0.47 grams of fat per day, the LCFA group stored 0.48 grams of fat per day, and the MCFA group only stored a mere 0.19 grams per day (despite purposely increasing calories). Those in the MCFA group (coconut fat) had a 60 percent reduction in body fat stored compared to the other diets.
Another added bonus of consuming organic coconut oil (and coconutcream or milk) is that it tends to make us feel fuller for longer. Studies indicate that MCFAs help increase feelings of fullness and lead to a reduction in calorie intake when compared to the same amount of calories from other fats. When MCFAs are metabolized, ketone bodies are created in the liver – these have been shown to have a strong appetite reducing effect helping you to lose fat faster.
If you thought from reading about how using coconut oil daily for helping to reduce abdominal fat is pretty incredible, you’re going to be blown away by the powerful health benefits of coconut oil on the page below…
2. Buy 10 shares of AppleAPPLE INC.AAPL1.7866%
The Mac daddy has a dividend yield of 1.9% and a cheap price/earnings ratio of 14.1.
3. Buy 50 shares of FordFORD MOTOR CO.F1.9108%
The automaker has a P/E of 10.5, a 2.8% dividend yield, and a record (5%) market share in China.
4. Grab the last of the great TVs While they’re considered superior to LCDs—for having deeper blacks and any-angle viewing—plasma TVs haven’t been profitable enough for manufacturers, so most are curbing production. LG is one of the last in the game, and its 60-inch 60PB6900 smart TV (around $1,000) has apps to stream digital content and 3-D performance besting its peers. Get the extended warranty, since a service company would have to replace the TV if parts are no longer available.
5. Kick tension to the curb with yoga… Half of workers say they’re less productive due to stress, the American Psychological Association found; worse, research from the nonprofit Health Enhancement Research Organization found that health care expenses are 46% higher for stressed-out employees. Regularly practicing yoga can help modulate stress responses, according to a report from Harvard Medical School. Classes cost about $15 to $20 a pop, which means that $1,000 will keep you doing downward dog twice a week for about half a year.
6. …Or acupuncture A recent article in the Journal of Endocrinology found a connection between acupuncture and stress relief. Your insurer may cover treatment, but if not, sessions run $60 to $120 a piece. So you can treat yourself to around 10 to 15 with $1,000.
7. …Or biking Research suggests that 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So take a bike ride after work. The Giant Defy 2 ($1,075) is one of the best-value performance bikes out there, Ben Delaney of BikeRadar.com says.
8. Give your kids a jump on retirement Assuming your kids earn at least a grand this year from a summer job or other employment, you can teach them the importance of saving for retirement by depositing $1,000 (or, if they earn more and you’re able, up to $5,500) into Roth IRAs in their names. Do so when the child is 17, and it’ll grow to over $18,400 by the time he’s 67 with a hypothetical 6% annual return, says Eau Claire, Wis., financial planner Kevin McKinley.
9. Get over your midlife crisis Would getting behind the wheel of your dream vehicle make you feel a teensy bit better about reporting to a 30-year-old boss? Then sow your oats—for 24 hours. Both Hertz and Enterprise offer luxury rentals; you can find local outfits by searching for “exotic car rental” and your city. Gotham Dream Cars’ Boston-area location rents an Aston Martin Vantage Roadster for $895 a day.
10. Iron out your wrinkles For a safer and cheaper alternative to going under the knife, try an injectable dermal filler. Dr. Michael Edwards, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, recommends Juvéderm Voluma XC, which consists of natural hyaluronic acid that helps smooth out deep lines and adds volume to cheeks and the jaw area. It lasts up to two years and costs near $1,000 per injection.
11. Live out a dream Play in a fantasy world with these adult camps, which cost in the neighborhood of $1,000 with airfare: the four-day Adult Space Academy in Huntsville, Ala. ($650); the Culinary Institute of America’s two-day Wine Lovers Boot Camp in St. Helena, Calif. ($895); or the one-day World Poker Tournament camp in Vegas ($895).
12. Hire someone to fight with your folks Is your parents’ home bursting at the seams with decades of clutter … er, memories? Save your breath—and sanity—by hiring a professional organizer (find one at napo.net) for them. Mom and Dad may listen more to an impartial party when it comes to deciding what to toss, says Austin organizer Yvette Clay. Focus on pile-up zones, like the basement, garage, and living room (together, $500 to $1,500).
13. Launch you.com A professional website will help you stand out to employers, says Jodi Glickman, author of Great on the Job. Buy the URL of your name for about $20 a year from HostGator and find a designer via Elance.com or Guru.com; $1,000 should get you a nice-looking site with a bio, blog, photos, and portfolio of your work.
14. Become a techie—or just learn to talk to one Technical knowledge isn’t just for IT folks anymore. “Digital literacy is becoming a required skill,” says Paul McDonald, a senior executive director of staffing agency Robert Half International. Get up to speed with one of these strategies. Understanding how websites, videogames, and apps are built is useful to almost any job dealing in big data or search algorithms, says McDonald. Take a course in programming for nonprogrammers at generalassemb.ly ($550), then get a year’s subscription to Lynda.com ($375) for more advanced online tutorials.
15. Get tweet smarts Take a class to give you expertise—and confidence— in using social media and analyzing metrics. MediaBistro’s social media boot camp includes five live webcast sessions for $511, and you can add four weeks of classroom workshops with pros for $449.
16. Buy the Silicon Valley gear Need a new laptop now that you’re a tech whiz? To best play the part, go with Apple’s MacBook Air ($999) or its big brother the MacBook Pro ($1,099). With a long battery life and powerful processors, the Air and Pro are the preferred picks for developers, coders, and designers, says PCmag.com’s Brian Westover.
17. Save your cellphone camera for selfies Your most important memories shouldn’t be grainy. Get a digital SLR camera featuring a through-the-lens optical viewfinder, “which is still essential for shooting action,” says Lori Grunin of CNET. Her pick, Nikon’s D5300 ($1,050). Its 18–140mm lens produces sharp images shot quickly enough for most personal photography.
18. Class up your castle Interior decorating can cost a fortune—insanely priced furnishings, plus a 30% commission. Homepolish.com, launched in 2012 and now in eight metro areas, upends the model. The site’s decorators charge hourly ($130 or less) and suggest affordable furnishings.
19-21. Hire a good manager With only 10 C-notes, your mutual fund choices are limited by minimum investment requirements. Besides simply letting you in the door, these actively managed funds have relatively low fees and beat more than half their peers over three, five, and 10 years: Oakmark Select large blend; 1.01% expenses Schwab Dividend Equity large value, 0.89% expenses Nicholas large growth, 0.73% expenses
22. Primp the powder room Get a new sink and vanity for a refresh of your guest bathroom without a reno. You can find a combined vanity and sink set for under $650; figure another $100 to $200 each for faucet and labor.
23. Replace light fixtures Subbing in new lighting in the dining room, the front hall, and possibly the kitchen can take 20 years off your house, suggests Pasadena realtor Curt Schultz. You’re likely to pay $100 to $400 per fixture, plus $50 to $100 for installation.
24. Swap out the front door It’s the first impression guests and buyers have of your home. Look for a factory-finished door—possibly fiberglass if it’s a sunny southern or western exposure without an overhang. You could pay $1,000 for the door and the installation.
25. Catch up on retirement. If you’re 50 or older, you can put in $1,000 more in an IRA (above the $5,500 normal limit) each year. Do so from 50 to 65, and you’ll have $27,000 more in retirement assuming you get a 6% annual return, per T. Rowe Price.
26. Fly solo to see the Northern Lights As more companies package deals to Iceland, prices are dropping, says Christie McConnell of Travelzoo.com. You could recently find four-night packages with airfare, hotel, and tours for $800 a person. Go in late fall to see the Northern Lights.
27. Hit the beach in Hawaii The islands are still working through the overbuilding of hotels that began before the recession, says Anne Banas of Smartertravel.com. Three-night packages for fall with hotel and airfare start around $500 a person from the West Coast.
28. Give your car a makeover You can’t get a new set of wheels for 1,000 smackers, but you can make your old car feel new(ish) again with this slew of maintenance fixes: A new set of tires ($600), a full car detail ($100), new wiper blades ($50), a wheel alignment ($150), and a synthetic oil change ($100). You’ve likely been putting these off until something breaks, but there’s good reason to do them all at once. Besides giving your car a smoother ride, “this preventative maintenance will help you nurse your car longer, while also saving some gas,” says Bill Visnic, senior editor at Edmunds.com. New car smell not included.
29. Make like (early) Gordon Gekko Wall Street buyout firms KKR and Carlyle are inviting Main Street investors into private equity funds for $10,000 and $50,000, respectively. Want to play the game with less scratch? Invest $1,000 in Blackstone GroupBLACKSTONE GROUP LP, THEBX-1.6129%. Shares of the private equity giant have a 5.1% yield and a cheap P/E of 8.5, plus Blackstone is a top-notch alternative-asset firm, says Morningstar’s Stephen Ellis.
30-32. Put your donations to work where they’ll do the most good Groups that focus on improving healthcare in the developing world have some of the best measurable outcomes of all charities, says Charlie Bresler, CEO of The Life You Can Save. Many of the supplies used to improve and save lives, like vaccines or mosquito nets, cost pennies to produce, he says, and surgeries that cost tens of thousands in the U.S. can be performed for a few hundred bucks overseas. Three great organizations working in those areas: SEVA Foundation, which works to prevent blindness; Deworm the World, which seeks to eradicate worms and other parasitic bacterial disease; Fistula foundation, which provides surgical services to women with childbirth injuries.
33. Defend the fort An alarm system can pare as much as 20% from a homeowner’s policy, and the latest ones have neat bells and whistles. Honeywell’s LYNX Touch 7000 (starting at $500, plus $25 to $60 a month) links to four cameras that stream live video. It randomly switches on lights to make an empty home look occupied—and can detect a flood and shut down water.
34. Enjoy a buffet of entertainment The average cable bill is expected to hit $123 a month in 2015—or $1476 a year—according to the NPD group. What if we told you you could cut the cord, redeploy $1,000 of that to getting two years worth of the following digital libraries, and still bank about 500 bucks? Yeah, we thought so. For old movies and TV shows…get Netflix ($7.99-$8.99/month). Analysts estimate the company’s library is much larger than that of Amazon Prime. For current TV shows…watch via Hulu ($7.99/month), which offers episodes from more than 600 shows that are currently on air. For music…stream with Spotify Premium ($9.99/month). The premium version lets you skip commercials and listen to millions of songs even offline. For books…read via Kindle Unlimited ($9.99/month). You can access the company’s library of more than 600,000 ebooks and audiobooks with one of its free reading apps, which work Apple, Android or Windows Phone devices.
35. Protect your heirs. For about $1,000 you can have a will, durable power of attorney, and health care directive written up. Find an estate planner at naepc.org.
Ever tried to cut back- or even eliminate- sugar? It’s not so easy.
Nature gave us a sweet tooth for a reason- and it wasn’t just to frustrate our diet efforts!
We humans – unlike other animals- don’t make our own vitamin C. Vitamin C is most abundant in fruits. So nature gave us taste buds that would make these relatively sweet tasting foods desirable.
Unfortunately the whole system has become deregulated since just about everything you buy now has sugar in it, and there’s a huge disconnect between the purpose of our original wiring- to make sure we got enough vitamin C- and the way that wiring is used today (to make sure we get enough Krispy Kreme donuts!)
Giving up- or cutting back- on sugar is no picnic. But the rewards are tremendous. Eliminating (or even reducing) sugar can benefit your health in more ways than you can imagine.
Here’s a list of my Top Ten Ways to Start Reducing Sugar……..
Don’t add it to foods. This is the easiest and most basic way to immediately reduce the amount of sugar you’re eating. Biggest targets: cereal, coffee and tea.
Don’t be fooled by “healthy sugar” disguises. Brown sugar, turbinado sugar, raw sugar … it’s all pretty much the same thing as far as your body is concerned.
Make a real effort to reduce or eliminate processed carbohydrates. Most processed carbs — breads, bagels, most pastas and snacks — are loaded with flour and other ingredients that convert to sugar in the body almost as fast as pure glucose. That sugar gets stored as triglycerides, which is a fancy way of saying fat.
Watch out for “fat-free” snacks. One of the biggest myths is that if a food is fat-free it doesn’t make you fat. Fat-free doesn’t mean calorie-free, and most fat-free snacks are loaded with sugar.
Shop for color. The more your grocery basket looks like a cornucopia of color, the better. It usually means you’re getting more fresh vegetables and low-glycemic fruits such as berries and cherries.
Become a food detective. This tip is from the wonderful author and nutritionist Anne Louise Gittleman, who adds, “To reduce sugar, you have to know where it is first.” Start reading labels.
Beware of artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, they can increase cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. They can also deplete the body’s stores of chromium, a nutrient crucial for blood-sugar metabolism.
Do the math. Look at the label where it says “total sugars” and divide the number of grams by four. That’s the number of teaspoons of sugar you are ingesting. This exercise alone should scare the pants off you.
Limit fruit. (Notice I didn’t say “eliminate.”) Fruit has sugar, but it also has fiber and good nutrients. Just don’t overdo it. For weight-loss purposes, keep it to two servings a day and try to make most of them low-glycemic (grapefruit, apples, berries)
Eliminate fruit juice. It’s a pure sugar hit with none of the fiber and less of the nutrients that are found in the fruit itself.
Christmas is just around the corner, which means that it is time to start thinking about what type of gifts to get for your friends and family. Here is a list of some of the top gifts to give for Christmas in 2014. From electronics to toys, this list will cover it all.
When it comes to choosing a tablet, the Fire HD from Amazon has a lot to offer. There is now a kid’s edition of this great tablet, which is perfect for those younger people on your list. The kid’s edition comes in a protective case, offers unlimited access to more than 5000 movies, books, and television programs, and built in parental controls. The price for a Kindle Fire HD tablet ranges from $100 to $400 depending on which version is chosen.
The Xbox 360 remains a popular choice for those looking for a video game console. The Kinect will sense your movement so that your body controls every aspect of the game. This is great for parents that want their kids active, while still allowing them to play the games that they enjoy. Even the youngest of kids will get the hang of acting out the motions quickly, making this fun for the whole family. The price for the Xbox 360 with Kinect ranges from $265 to $380.
For younger children who want to play video games, you should consider the Smart Cycle offered by Fisher Price. This is a great game for keeping kids moving while they enjoy playing a video game like they may see an older sibling doing. During play, the kids are actually pedaling a bicycle all while they are learning their numbers, letters, and working on their matching and creativity skills. The Smart Cycle sells for around $220.
The Leapfrog Leap Band is an activity tracker made just for kids. There are over 50 preloaded active challenges to get children moving. The parental controls allow parents to set up play times, different challenges, and more. The Leap Band encourages healthy choices and active play and is perfect for those aged four to seven years old. It comes in several colors including pink and green.
Another great choice for tablets is the Leapfrog leap pad. This is an action packed Wi-Fi tablet allows kids to play and learn in an age appropriate manner. It offers more than 1000 educator approved apps, games, videos, and eBooks. There are also videos that are available for the Leap Pad that are sold separately as well. It comes with 10 apps, has a light touch capacitive screen, video recorders, and 2 cameras. The Leapfrog Leap Pad sells for around $130.
The Apple iPad Air is the latest offering from the company and is the best tablet on the market. It is more portable than the other generations of the iPad. It only weighs a pound and is 0.29 inches thick. This tablet has some great features including a 12 hour battery life, a 2048 by 1536 pixel screen, and a 64 bit processor. For those that are looking for a higher end tablet, this is a perfect choice. The starting price for the Apple iPad Air is around $500.
Another top seller once again is the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. These headphones are popular for a reason as they provide users with a great listening device. Any music lover is going to appreciate a set of these headphones as a gift. They come in all different colors so you can choose your favorite. The starting price for the studio version is around $299. The studio wireless Beats are another great choice and they start out at around $380.
Another great choice for the music lover in your life is a set of V-MODA XS. These headphones are great sounding and extremely stylish. They have a sleek design that is foldable, which will turn heads as they are walking down the street. The balanced, full audio is sure to be pleasing to their ears. If the person that you are giving it to really wants to stand out from the crowd, the side plates of these great headphones can be customized to fit their own personal style. The price for this great set of headphones is around $200.
If there is a budding photographer in your life, the Nikon D3300 is one of the bestselling cameras for a reason. At a price of under $600, this great camera will deliver clear, sharp images that have accurate colors. It can also be used to take stunning videos. It offers a retracting lens that makes for a compact design, which means that it can easily be taken wherever you decide to go. This is a great choice for those who are interested in photography and want a step above the average smart phone camera or a regular point and shoot camera.
If you are looking for a great laptop at a great price, the Dell Inspiron 15R sells for around $230 and has a lot to offer. It is a best seller on Amazon for a reason. This great computer offers an Intel Celeron N2830 processor, a 4 GB DDR3, 15.6 inch screen with Intel HD graphics, and a 500 GB hard drive. This laptop was designed with travel in mind; it is only about an inch thick so it can easily be put into a travel bag when you are on the go. The textured lid combined with a palm rest will help you carry it quite easily.
From about six months on, most babies are on the go. They can sit up and love exploring the world around them. The Deluxe Box of Lego Duplo’s provides children with hours of entertainment. These blocks are a great introduction to building fun. The larger size makes them easier for little hands to handle. It comes in bright colors that the children will enjoy. A set can be purchased for anywhere from $20 to $50.
This wonderful monkey will keep your baby entertained and on the move for many hours. When you press the lights on the monkey’s hat, you will hear the names of colors. Babies can practice their motor skills by picking up the balls and putting them inside the monkey’s hat. Pressing the nose will make the balls drop down into the barrel and they will spin all around. This is a wonderful, interactive toy that any baby boy would love. The price is around $40.
This great toy does not require any batteries, gears, or pedals, which make it the perfect choice for a young toddler boy who is on the go. Simply turning the wheel will make the car go. In no time at all your little one will be cruising around the house and having a blast. This car is recommended for ages 3 and up and can hold up to 220 pounds, so even parents can get in on the fun. It comes in several colors and sells for around $50.
This play set stands over 3 feet tall and offers your little racer the chance to send a vehicle down the ramp from the very top, watching it wind its way down to come out in one of three spots. It comes out of a different spot each time, which is fascinating to the young toddler. This toy offers hours of action for your little one. There is even a crane for your little one to crank. For a price of around $30, this is one of the top toys for your little boy this Christmas.
What little boy does not want to dress up as his favorite superhero? This great trio set of costumes provides little boys with the chance to be Superman, Batman, or Robin. The Batman and Robin costumes come with masks and each of the outfits have attached capes. For the price of around $18, you get three costumes that allow your boy to be able to dress up as their favorite comic book hero and save the world.
Transformer toys have been around for 30 years and they are still as popular as ever. These great toys offer hours of play time as they transform from a robot to a vehicle and back again. Every little boy has seen the movies and wants to play with these fun toys. The Jetfire figure will convert into jet mode and then back again. He has turbo thrusters, a removable battle helmet, photon missile launchers, and arm mounted cannons. At a price of around $40, this great action figure is the perfect choice for any little boy.
Disney Infinity is a popular game for the Wii, Xbox, and other gaming platforms. The latest offering for the game is the Marvel Superhero pack. These figures are used to play the game and will help to save the universe. The starter pack is a great gift for the video gamer in your life. The price for the Marvel Hero starter pack will range from $70 to $80 depending on the platform that you are purchasing it for. The starter pack will come with everything that is needed in order to get started playing this fun and entertaining game.
The Razor Kick Scooter is the perfect choice for any young boy in your life. This great toy is made out of sturdy aluminum and has 98 mm inline style wheels, with ABEC 5 bearings. It has a rear fender brake so quick stops can be made and it only weighs six pounds. It comes in several color options and there is a six month warranty available. The price for the Razor Scooter is around $20 and it is worth every penny as it will provide hours of entertainment.
There is nothing quite like having a radio controlled vehicle if you are a young boy. The Rock Crawler is powerful enough to get over the toughest of obstacles. It has a 4×4 drive train, over-sized tires with a coil spring suspension. The tires provide maximum traction so it really can get over anything that you put in its way. It has articulated front and back axles so that the tires are always in contact with the rougher terrain. There is also a tri-channel feature that will allow 3 people to race simultaneously. At a price of around $30 you really cannot go wrong.
If you are looking for an educational toy for your tween, this big bag of science is the perfect choice. For around $35 you will receive over 70 fascinating activities to enjoy. This is one of the top parent choices year after year as it is great for science fair projects. The kit will teach about super absorbents and polymers and includes beads that are sensitive to ultraviolet rays, which can be used to test different sunscreens.
This fun elephant is the perfect gift for any young child. It is filled with music, lights, and other fun sounds and is a “grow with me” toy that will get your baby moving. It can be used with a young baby for bouncing up and down, and then later on can be used for a walker. Finally, it can be a ride on pal for when they are more steady on their feet. Your baby’s actions are rewarded with great lights and sounds. The soft, big ears will move as the baby does and the light up buttons adds even more excitement. Priced at around $40, this toy is sure to be a big hit!
Your young one is going to love interacting with these fun balls as they climb up the tree, roll around the tops, and bounce into a hippo’s mouth. This climber made by bright starts will amaze both you and your baby. Press the button to watch the balls make their climb and then roll down the ramp. When the balls hit the platform they jump into the waiting hippo’s mouth. To add to the show there are fun animal sounds and silly songs. This is easy for your baby to play with as she can put the ball anywhere on the tree top to watch it roll. It sells for around $30.
Frozen is one of the biggest children’s movies of all time and all little girls have fallen in love with Elsa. What little girl would not want their very own singing Elsa doll? Simply touch her magical necklace and watch her snow power. Her dress lights up and she will talk to her friends as well. If you raise her arm, her necklace will light up while she sings the hit from the show, “let it go.” Your little girl will be singing along as they watch Elsa create a winter wonderland. This Elsa singing doll sells for around $35.
This great chair from Fisher Price will grow with your child. When they sit and stand they will hear the chair say up and down. Pressing the buttons will play songs or phrases such as 1,2,3,4. Once they get a bit older the chair will introduce your child to opposites, actions, numbers, and will encourage them to play along. They can flip through a book and be asked questions about it such as do you see where the carrots are? Older babies will be able to explore more imaginative play with the chair with commands such as hop like a frog, and playing peek-a-boo. For only around $30, this is a wonderful interactive toy that will grow with your child.
Everyone knows the story of Cinderella and what little girl wouldn’t love to have Cinderella’s puppy as all her own. This great palace pet from Disney offers a magic wand that will activate talking, dancing, and singing. The puppy says 9 phrases, will wiggle her tail and even perform a cute little curtsy. She will twirl and dance to 2 of the songs as well. The price of this cute and adorable puppy is around $60 and she is really worth every penny.
Every little girl dreams of being a fairy princess at some point in time and the one thing that she needs to complete this dream is her very own fairy castle. This life sized fairy castle from Neat-Oh is the perfect choice. It is fully printed and can be configured in several ways for customizable play. It is expandable if you want to put more than one together and integrates with an even larger product line for encouraging creative play. Priced at around $35 this fairy castle is sure to make every little girls dream come true.
This set includes everything that you could need in order to make ten headbands. The headbands are comfy and will stay on your little girl’s head without pinching her ears. This is a great collection for little girls that want to show off their own unique personalities. There are easy to follow instructions included so that she can make her headbands without much help. A variety of ribbons, feathers, rhinestones, and floss are included. This is a truly creative gift that comes in at under $20.
The Ultimate Easy Bake Oven is the new version of the old favorite. It comes with pans and yummy mixes that allow you to cook up some great treats and the best part is that no light bulb is needed. Even the first time baker will be able to create cookies, cakes, and other treats by using the different mixes that are available. Simply put your batter into the oven and follow the directions for great results every time. At a price of about $57, there is nothing better than giving your girl her own Easy Bake Oven.
The Spirograph has been around since 1965 and there is a reason that it has remained popular through today. This fun art toy allows budding artists the chance to create intricate designs. Using art and mathematics, the Spirograph has been inspirational throughout the years. There are 19 gears available to create numerous patterns and a design image will provide you with some inspiration to get started. At around $20, this is the perfect creative gift for your tween girl.
If you want to encourage a love of science, a crystal growing kit is a great choice. This great kit will allow her to learn about the geometry of crystals as she can use a number of fun plaster shapes and dyes to grow a rainbow of colored gems. The cost of this kit is just over $32 and it is well worth the price to instill a love of science into a little girl.
These are some of the best toys for girls and boys currently available for Christmas 2014. With the holidays just around the corner it is a great time to start purchasing some of these classic games and electronics for your loved ones.
People might consume artificial sweeteners because they think it will help them curb real-sugar consumption and prevent weight gain, but the chemicals may actually have an opposite effect. A new study has found that zero-calorie sweeteners may alter metabolism and increase blood-sugar levels, at least in mice and some people.
The negative effects of artificial sweeteners on metabolism seen in the study may have to do with how the sweeteners interact with the bacteria living the gut, the researchers said.
The results don’t mean that eating sugar is healthier than consuming artificial sweeteners, study co-author Dr. Eran Elinav, a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, said at a news conference Tuesday (Sept. 16). However, the study does suggest that artificial sweeteners may be harmful, at least in some people, Elinav said.
Sugar has been around for a loooong time, but it wasn’t until the Europeans brought it to the New World that it became commonplace, and eventually fueled our growing society.
In experiments, the scientists added an artificial sweetener — either saccharin, sucralose or aspartame — to mice’s drinking water, and found the animals ended up having higher blood-sugar levels than the mice that drank sugar water, or just water. Saccharin is sold under the brand name Sweet’n Low, sucralose has the brand name Splenda and aspartame is found in NutraSweet, Equal and Spoonful brands.
The researchers also found that artificial sweeteners seemed to change the function of the gut bacteria in the rodents. When the researchers used antibiotics to suppress the bacteria, the differences in blood-sugar levels between groups of mice on different diets disappeared, according to the study, published today (Sept. 17) in the journal Nature.
Next, the researchers studied about 400 people, and found that the gut bacteria in people who consumed an artificial sweetener were different from the gut bacteria in the people who ate sugar. Participants who used artificial sweeteners also had higher blood-sugar levels than participants who used sugar. [5 Ways Gut Bacteria Affect Your Health]
“Artificial sweeteners were extensively introduced into our diets with the intention of reducing caloric intake and normalizing blood glucose levels without compromising the human ‘sweet tooth,'” the researchers wrote in their study. “Our findings suggest that [artificial sweeteners] may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight.”
There are trillions of bacteria living in human guts. Collectively called the microbiome, these bacteria are crucial for the normal functioning of the intestines, and their composition could potentially influence diverse functions of the body. For example, previous studies have tied the balance of bacterial species in the gut to people’s risk of conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
But people can have different compositions of bacterial species, and that could potentially contribute to how they respond to different foods, the researchers said.
In the study, the researchers also carried out another experiment. They added saccharin to diets of seven people who didn’t normally consume sweeteners. After only four days, four of these participants showed increased levels of sugar in their blood and changes in the composition of their gut bacteria.
The gut bacteria composition of these participants differed from that of the other three participants, even before they consumed saccharin, the researchers found. This finding suggests that people may respond differently to artificial sweeteners depending on their gut-bacteria compositions, the researchers said.
“What was super striking and interesting to us was the fact that [people’s] susceptibility to [the effects] of sweeteners could be predicted ahead of time, even before the individuals consumed the sweeteners,” said study co-author Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
It’s not clear how, exactly, changes in the bacterial species in the gut could contribute to increased blood-sugar levels, but scientists have some ideas. For example, it could be that the consumption of artificial sweeteners causes people to have more bacterial species that extract fat from the diet, which would contribute to obesity, said Taylor Feehley and Cathryn Nagler, researchers at the University of Chicago who wrote about the new study in the same journal.
Should you ditch the diet soda?
Previous studies have looked at whether people who replace sugar with artificial sweeteners have a lower risk of developing the health problems linked with consuming too much sugar, such as obesity and diabetes.
But although some studies found artificial sweeteners to be beneficial, others yielded mixed results, the researchers said. Some studies even found links between consuming sweeteners and a higher risk of obesity and high blood sugar, but those studies were observational (and didn’t have randomized control groups), and it remains unclear whether artificial sweeteners may cause metabolism changes, or if people who are obese to begin with consume more of the sweeteners, Elinav said.
The new study is not conclusive, either. The results need to be confirmed in future research before recommendations about consuming artificial sweeteners can be made, the researchers said. Still, the findings should provoke discussion among the scientific, medical and public communities.
“By no means do we believe that based on the result of this study are we prepared to make recommendations as to the use and dosage of artificial sweeteners,” Segal said. “We simply point to the immense body of experiments that we carried out both in humans and in mice. In none of these experiments have we seen any beneficial effects for the use of sweeteners.”
WARNING: Please consult your doctor before any drastic changes to your diet or exercise plan. Also, let your doctor manage any weight gaining problems (hypothyroidism, weight-gaining medications [steroids, antidepressants, etc.], etc.) BEFORE you start this plan.
It appears that a lot of people want to lose weight, but don’t care much for exercise. Although I recommend strength training and cardio as a part of any weight loss plan, you can lose fat without exercise. The key is great self-control in what you eat. I have done this several times and it always works.
Here is what you should AVOID:
1. Basically any white carbohydrate: pasta, potatoes, milk, rice, batter (fried foods), etc.
3. No fast food or eating out as much as possible (not only does it make you gain weight, a lot of chemicals and artificial ingredients are used to cut costs and increase profits). Also, even when you do go out YOU decide what you eat. For example, some people avoid buffets because of all the unhealthy food. No one forces you to eat all of it. Every buffet has a salad bar and healthy selections. I have gone to buffets plenty of times and have eaten as healthy as I can.
2. Vegetables, mostly green – broccoli, spinach, carrots, peas
Fruits – if you need sugar, lower sugar fruits are good options (raspberries, blackberries, etc.). Of course, you will get results much faster if you avoid the sugar.
3. Plenty of water; tea (especially green tea as it increases metabolism), coffee is ok with no added sugar and some milk. If you really need a different taste, I recommend squeezing some lemon juice into your water.
4. Beans – black, red, pinto
5. Nuts – walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans
You should follow this diet Monday-Friday and Sunday. Take a break on Saturday and eat what you want within reason, but still try to avoid refined, processed, or artificial ingredients.
Remember, you can’t chose your genetics, but YOU can choose what goes in your mouth!
Now, go lose some fat without exercise.
Comments? Anything else you do to lose weight?
Post your results below if you try this. You can see results as quickly as 1-2 weeks.
Although having a million bucks isn’t as impressive as it once was, it’s still nothing to sneeze at.
In fact, Reuters reports that in 2009 there are 7.8 million millionaires in the United States. That’s a lot of people and the odds are one or two of them are living near you.
Heck, one of them might even be your neighbor. In fact, the odds are very good that it is your neighbor.
But, Len, you don’t know my neighbor. That guy doesn’t look anything like a millionaire.
Well, guess what? A millionaire who is truly financially savvy won’t be easily recognizable.
1. He always spends less than he earns. In fact his mantra is, over the long run, you’re better off if you strive to be anonymously rich rather than deceptively poor.
2. He knows that patience is a virtue. The odds are you won’t become a millionaire overnight. If you’re like him, your wealth will be accumulated gradually by diligently saving your money over multiple decades.
3. When you go to his modest three-bed two-bath house, you’re going to be drinking Folgers instead of Starbucks. And if you need a lift, well, you’re going to get a ride in his ten-year-old economy sedan. And if you think that makes him cheap, ask him if he cares. (He doesn’t.)
4. He pays off his credit cards in full every month. He’s smart enough to understand that if he can’t afford to pay cash for something, then he can’t afford it.
5. He realized early on that money does not buy happiness. If you’re looking for nirvana, you need to focus on attaining financial freedom.
6. He never forgets that financial freedom is a state of mind that comes from being debt free. Best of all, it can be attained regardless of your income level.
7. He knows that getting a second job not only increases the size of your bank account quicker but it also keeps you busy – and being busy makes it difficult to spend what you already have.
8. He understands that money is like a toddler; it is incapable of managing itself. After all, you can’t expect your money to grow and mature as it should without some form of credible money management.
9. He’s a big believer in paying yourself first. Paying yourself first is an essential tenet of personal finance and a great way to build your savings and instill financial discipline.
10. Although it’s possible to get rich if you spend your life making a living doing something you don’t enjoy, he wonders why you do. Life is too short.
11. He knows that failing to plan is the same as planning to fail. He also knows that the few millionaires that reached that milestone without a plan got there only because of dumb luck. It’s not enough to simply declare that you want to be financially free.
12. When it came time to set his savings goals, he wasn’t afraid to think big. Financial success demands that you have a vision that is significantly larger than you can currently deliver upon.
13. Over time, he found out that hard work can often help make up for a lot of financial mistakes – and you will make financial mistakes.
14. He realizes that stuff happens, that’s why you’re a fool if you don’t insure yourself against risk. Remember that the potential for bankruptcy is always just around the corner and can be triggered from multiple sources: the death of the family’s key bread winner, divorce, or disability that leads to a loss of work.
15. He understands that time is an ally of the young. He was fortunate enough to begin saving in his twenties so he could take maximum advantage of the power of compounding interest on his nest egg.
16. He knows that you can’t spend what you don’t see. You should use automatic paycheck deductions to build up your retirement and other savings accounts. As your salary increases you can painlessly increase the size of those deductions.
17. Even though he has a job that he loves, he doesn’t have to work anymore because everything he owns is paid for – and has been for years.
18. He’s not impressed that you drive an over-priced luxury car and live in a McMansion that’s two sizes too big for your family of four.
19. After six months of asking, he finally quit waiting for you to return his pruning shears. He broke down and bought himself a new pair last month. There’s no hard feelings though; he can afford it.
So that’s it. Now you know what your millionaire neighbor won’t tell you.
You can never really see all of the Islands of Tahiti from Bora Bora to Moorea to the Tuamotu Islands to the Marquesas and more. So many of them are romantic in their own way. But for that classic romantic getaway to Tahiti, you have to stay in an overwater bungalow on the lagoon overlooking Mount Otemanu. Everybody loves that. And our gallery of the best overwater bungalows in Bora Bora and Moorea is one of the most popular galleries. Couples remember this ultimate romantic trip forever.
No. 2 Most Romantic Islands:
A haven out in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives aren’t just one gorgeous sandy island with a perfect lagoon. This destination consists of hundreds of such islands. And while Bora Bora gets so much attention — at least over here in the Western Hemisphere — for all of its overwater bungalows, the Maldives are dripping in such romantic getaway resorts. See the underater hotel above to get you in that romantic mood.
No. 3 Most Romantic Islands:
We’ve been to Fiji many times over the years, staying at private islands and other resorts that capture the romantic feeling of being in the South Pacific. What’s romantic about Fiji? quiet beauty, exotic flavors, luxury villas, and the feeling that you have all the time in the world together.
No. 4 Most Romantic Islands:
For decades, writers and photographers have been visiting the Seychelles, raving about the natural beauty, the fascinating wildlife and the world-class resorts that seem woven into these islands.
No. 5 Most Romantic Islands:
Those Pitons that rise above the Caribbean in St. Lucia have been the backdrop for many a romantic getaway, ideal wedding and memorable honeymoon. This scene has become synonymous with Caribbean romance. And the resorts of St. Lucia make the most of the Pitons, like Ladera (pictured above), which doesn’t even put a wall between you and the view as you gaze out from your cliff-top sanctuary. It feels like the island was made just for the two of you.
No. 6 Most Romantic Islands
Granted, “Hawaii” covers a lot. We’re thinking of the most visited islands — Big Island, Oahu, Kauai, Maui — each of which have romantic hideaways scattered throughout some of the most beautiful island scenery anywhere. It’s very hard not to be romantic in Hawaii.
No. 7 Most Romantic Islands:
Islands of Italy
Mainland Italy is one of the most popular and romantic vacation destinations in the world, but the islands are just as nice. And we love those just as much: Sicily, Sardinia, Capri, and Venice. Yes, Venice does count in our book. The islands of Italy are made for romance.
No. 8 Most Romantic Island:
“Where should we go on our honeymoon?” often people suggest St. Barts. Yes, it’s the playground of the rich and famous, which gives the island a high-end vibe, like that gourmet restaurant you only go to on your anniversary. You can find stunning villas across the island. Or stay at the Eden Rock Hotel, where you can spring for the Rockstar Ultra Luxe villa if you really are celebrating something big.
No. 9 Romantic Island:
Whether or not Australia itself is an island is a subject of endless debate. But the islands of Australia off the northeastern coast of Queensland have that special feel. They’re a world all to yourself, often with luxury amenities that make for the most relaxing romantic getaway you could hope for. Qualia resort on Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays is one such place where you and your significant other can lounge the day or days away. And then there are surprises like tiny Wilson Island, a speck of beach that has gourmet dining. Australia is full of romantic surprises.
No. 10 Romantic Island:
Yes, Jamaica is known for its family-friendly all-inclusives, but there are so many intimate resorts across the island, many of them ideal for that perfect romantic getaway. Stay at the resort or venture into the rich culture of Jamaica — or do a little of both.
Did You Know that the avocado has been called the world’s most perfect food and has many health benefits? It has achieved this distinction because many nutritionists claim it not only contains everything a person needs to survive — but it has also been found to contribute to the prevention and control of Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other health conditions.
The avocado (Persea gratissima or P. americana) originated in Puebla, Mexico and its earliest use dates back to 10,000 years B.C. Since AD 900, the avocado tree has been cultivated and grown in Central and South America. In the 19th century, the avocado made its entry into California, and has since become a very successful commercial crop. Ninety-five percent (95%) of U.S. avocados are gown in Southern California.
The avocado, also called the alligator pear, is a high-fiber, sodium- and cholesterol-free food that provides nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, is rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids), vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate) — as well as potassium.
Foods naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as avocados, are widely acknowledged as the secret to a healthy heart, a brilliant brain and eagle eyes.
Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a clinical neuroscientist, psychiatrist, brain-imaging expert and author of the New York Times bestseller Change Your Brain, Change Your Life counts avocados as one of the top brain-healthy foods that can help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
That’s not only because of the avocado’s health benefits omega-3 fatty acid content but also its…
Vitamin E content — An international journal called Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders, reported its findings from years of clinical trials — high doses of Vitamin E can neutralize free radicals and the buildup of proteins to reverse the memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients; reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s in the early stages and retard the progression of the disease;
Folate content — helps to prevent the formation of tangled nerve fibers associated with Alzheimer’s.
The virtues and benefits of the avocado are too numerous to mention.
But Here Are Just a Few More Avocado Health Benefits That Its Nutritional Profile Provides:
•Monounsaturated Fats — These types of fats help control triglycerides in the bloodstream, lower blood cholesterol and control diabetes.
•Folate — This water-soluble B vitamin promotes healthy cell and tissue development. According to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, “This is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. Folate is also essential for metabolism of homocysteine and helps maintain normal levels of this amino acid.”
•Lutein — This is a carotenoid (a natural pigment) that protects against cataracts and certain types of cancer, and reduces the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in adults 65 years of age and older. Avocados contain 3 or more times as much lutein as found in other common vegetables and fruits.
•Oleic acid and Potassium — Both of these nutrients also help in lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of high blood pressure.
You can add these avocado benefits to your diet in many ways:
1) The easiest way is to cut the avocado in half and sprinkle it with herbal seasoning or maple syrup.
2) Chop the avocado and add it to a salad, or use it as a topping or side garnish for soup.
3) Mash an avocado and spread it on bread or a bagel (in place of butter or cream cheese).
4) Cut an avocado in half and fill the little hollow (left after you remove the pit) with your favorite healthy topping such as herbed rice or couscous.
5) Make an avocado dressing or the crowd-pleasing guacamole dip to add flavor to raw or steamed vegetables. You can easily find many avocado recipes online.
Blended with fruit, avocados make a rich and delicious snack, side dish or dessert — and produces highly-nutritious baby food which delivers “good fat” for baby’s brain and physical development.
Before you indulge in avocados to your heart’s content, however, remember that they have lots of calories because of their fat content. According to WebMD, “A medium-sized avocado contains 30 grams of fat, as much as a quarter-pound burger”.
That’s why diet experts have long urged Americans to go easy on avocados in favor of less fatty fruits and vegetables. But now nutritionists are taking another look.
They’re finding that most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated — the “good” kind that actually lowers cholesterol levels. Thanks to this new understanding, the U.S. government recently revised its official nutrition guidelines to urge Americans to eat more avocados.
No time to eat avocados? Get all the nutirion here: