Have a Riot: The Anti-Diet

Written by Beth Herman

Winter will not give us a break! Noses that drip and stuffed up ears. Fevers that reach 102 degrees, and pink eye that requires two prescriptions and three weeks to relent. An impassable driveway. Temperatures below 40 degrees three weeks in a row. Snow, snow and more snow. But the most annoying thing about this endless winter?  The hash it’s made of my running schedule.

running

I’m an unimpressive runner.  Very slow, I stop to use the bathroom every 20 – 30 minutes, get lapped by runners younger and fitter, and passed by those larger and older. I’m not winning medals or breaking any records.But so what! Running makes me feel like a rock star; strong and lean, and I drop it into conversation every chance I get.

Quite simply, I am in love with running. Thrilled with my increased energy level, I adore the couple of uninterrupted hours it gives my husband and me to talk every other morning.  Most importantly, running has kept me fit without the stress of dieting, which is not easy at 51 years old.

What this involves is a shift of perspective. Instead of obsessing about what that brownie, cupcake or extra helping of mashed potatoes will add on the scale, think instead of how what you eat affects your workouts.  You don’t have to run marathons. Walking, Nia, or tennis will do. Thinking of yourself as an athlete, your food choices are filtered through that lens. I want those cookies but I am not supposed to have them, becomes, I need to eat some turkey to properly fuel myself for my workout in an hour.

 

Negativity and denial, dangerous issues when it comes to weight, are removed from the equation. Here are some ideas:

1)      Allow yourself to fall in love; cultivate an interest in walking, running, yoga, or nia.  Read everything you can on the activity, as if you were preparing to learn knitting, Spanish cooking or bird watching.

2)      It’s never too late to start. I didn’t begin running until my mid forties.

3)      Take ego, appearance and weight out of it. Thoughts like, “I have to do this because it will help me to lose weight,” are negative. Do your regular workout as a result of your commitment to the activity.

4)      Begin with baby steps: I started out running up and down my driveway, now I can go up to 90 minutes at a time.

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5)      Find a mentor. People enjoy helping others pursue a shared passion. My guru was a single woman 21 years my junior. An accomplished runner who had run every U.S. marathon at least twice, she came to my neighborhood once a week, keeping me laughing and distracted as we hauled up the hills of my development. She lives in Europe now with her husband and new baby.These days when we get together it’s over a meal and a glass of wine- and I don’t even count the calories!

 

In addition to being a runner, Beth Herman is an artist and essayist.

The Gift of Luck

Waldo, Sluggo & Me is a company that offers novelty gifts for all occasions including many dolls that promote positive messages of good wishes, like this “Good Luck Graduation Doll.” Their dolls celebrate weddings, new babies, graduations, birthdays, retirment, and more!  If you find yourself in need of a little extra luck on St. Patrick’s Day,check out our favorites:

The Lady Luck Good Voodoo Doll – The Ultimate “Player’s” Protectress

ladyluckGive “the system” a gentle poke in the right direction when you make your wishes stick with the Lady Luck Good Voodoo Doll, the ultimate “player’s” protectress. Use the doll’s playful prompts or stack the deck using the three blank tags to tack on your own winning messages. This leggy showgirl can’t guarantee a jackpot but she always delivers a pay out of lucky wishes and a chuckle. Each 7″ fiber-filled doll is hand made in the USA and comes packaged in a presentation-style box with a clear plastic display lid.

Her tags read: “Lucky Streak,” “Poker Face,” “Beat the House,” “Friendly Dealer,” “Winner Take All,” “Hot Machine,” “Trust Your Hunch,” and “Lucky & Smart.”

           
The Good Luck Happy Birthday Dollbirthday

Do you know anyone celebrating a birthday this weekend?  We do! (But we’d probably be in trouble if we shared names.) If you are in need of a gift that will stand out from the rest, try the Good Luck Happy Birthday Doll.  This party animal is handcrafted from repurposed material and comes dressed for the occasion, festooned with glitter and plenty o’ ribbons.
Her tags include, “Facebook Frenzy,” “Funny Cards,” and “All Good Surpises,” among many other well wishes. 

 The Good Luck Graduation Doll

Graduation is right around the corner, and many grads will be receiving books and cards filled with advice.  Instead of the ususal words of wisdom, stand out with a gift that reflects your well wishes. Handcrafted from repurposed graduation robes and found materials, the grad doll is available in most school colors and is proudly topped with graduation cap and tassel.
His tags include, “Generous Gifts,” “Fun Summer Job,” Cool New Friends,” and “Dream Boss.”

For more fun gift ideas, visit their website www.waldosluggoandme.com.

 

 

@bruceontheloose: Parenting

Way back in the old days (when you got up to change the channel on the television and asked for directions at the local gas station), I found out my wife at the time was expecting a child.  One of the first presents I ever remember her getting was the book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”  I’m pretty sure that book still exists and women still get it early in their pregnancy. 

While I never read it myself, I did skim it, then watched and learned.  As I observed, I saw there were all kinds of tips, ideas, concepts and everything you need to know about pregnancy and upcoming childbirth.  A section followed that shared information about what your child will do at three months, six months, a year old, etc.

What they never told you – probably because they knew you wouldn’t be ready for it – was that all kids are different.  The authors also never seemed to fess up and be honest about the stages of a growing child as they enter the teen years and their twenties.  It’s a conspiracy.

The tricks that worked so well on child number one or even on number two don’t seem to play out with the third one.  No matter how many books you read, you are never fully prepared for those specific personality traits that make a child so different from their siblings.  Ultimately, we love our children the best we can, do the best we can for them, throw our hands up, and then hope for the best.  Anyone who says they do much more is probably not being completely honest with you.

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Bruce, Maddy, and Tee

Recently, when thinking about how much I love my children, I reflected on the humorous and completely different exchanges that I frequently seem to have with them.  Then, like any humorous situation that happens to me, I told my friends.  When I realized they all laughed out loud (today, “LOL”), it hit me this might just be a thought to share with each of you. 

I tell my children I love them on a regular basis.  I want them to hear it, know it, and experience it.

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Bruce and Dan

What the books didn’t print and share with me was the lifecycle of responses from them.  To my 25 year old son, Dan, I say, “I love you” and he replies, “I love you too, Dad.”  When I tell my 17 year old daughter, Maddy, “I love you,” she answers, “Thanks, Dad.”  The best is when I tell my 12 year old son, Tee, that I love him.  I get a half smile and a grunt as a response.  Not a mean one, but a baseline acknowledgement one.

I smile—no matter what response I get, because I know it is all part of a cycle they are going through as their personalities grow and develop. 

Although I’m looking forward to their next stages, I’m enjoying being with them right where they are.

 

For this and other great stories, pick up the March issue of Bella Magazine!

Celebrating Women Everywhere!

Ladies, I would like to remind you that Saturday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day.

Without the progress that we have made in the last century, we would not be able to celebrate the achievements of many female entrepreneurs, politicians, doctors, celebrities, and activists. The way we view ourselves as members of a community would change entirely.  Our imaginations would be stifled, and our dreams would likely burn out long before we began to pursue them.  There are many famous women who deserve celebration, but I want to remind you that YOU deserve just as much recognition.

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Perhaps you are a single mom, juggling two jobs and the responsibility of raising your children.  Or, you are a student, waitressing your way through college.  Maybe you are a cancer survivor, learning to face each day with the ability to enjoy your moments of happiness—without constantly living in fear of the future.  The fact that we wake up and face each day with determination—even just a sliver of it—in a world where anything can happen, is worth celebrating.  We balance the things we need to do to survive and the things that mean the most in our life on a daily basis.  This may not always be graceful; it may not always be pretty, but the fact that we keep trying makes us strong women worth celebrating.

I am lucky, because I have had so many strong female role models over the years.  However, there is one that I will not be able to thank in person tomorrow.  My aunt, Joyce Young, was one of the strongest women I have ever known.

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Joyce Young

One of eleven children, she made it her personal responsibility to make sure our large family stayed connected after my great-grandmother passed away.  At times she worked two jobs, kept up her house, and still found time for her husband, son and extended family.  She would have given her last dime to anyone in need—no matter how hard she worked for it.  Although she will never be famous, she influenced the way I work and interact with other people.  There are days when her memory and the desire to make her proud inspire me to push forward.

Make the most of this opportunity to thank the inspirational women that you know.  Pick up the phone and call your mom, sister, aunt, grandmother, or friend and thank her for all the sacrifices she has made in her life.  Remind her that she is an amazing person, and congratulate her on her accomplishments.  Also, please know that I am celebrating YOU, and that I appreciate every contribution you have made to our area and our world.

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Feel free to share your stories about the influential women in your life in the comments below.

 

Opera Roanoke Presents Handel’s Julius Caesar

March is Women’s History Month—a time when we celebrate the accomplishments of amazing women who have inspired us to do great things.  Locally, you will be able to see talented women come together at Opera Roanoke for a fantastic performance of Handel’s Julius Caesar.  Amy Cofield Williamson, Teresa Buchholz, Carla Dirlikov, and Toby Newman will be joined by a female cast to tell the story of Caesar’s campaign in Egypt.  It features dramatic scenes for each of the principal characters performed by artists who are not only gifted, but also passionate about our community.

Buchholz will play the role of Julius Caesar—something that many men would likely find challenging.  “There is really no room for anything remotely feminine in his character,” she explains. “That has to be conveyed both physically and through my singing.”  It is a challenge that she looks forward to undertaking, but she realizes her masculine portrayal will require strength and creativity.  “Acting comes from within.  It’s not something you should layer on externally.  It comes out of the music,” she says, “[Great] singers act with their voices, not just their bodies.”

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Teresa Buchholz

Much like her colleagues, she is dedicated to giving her best to this production.  Their admiration for Handel and each other, as artists, will likely be evident in their performance.  For some of them it will be the first time they have crossed paths.  Others have been with Opera Roanoke for many years.  Regardless, they have spent months preparing for their roles and learning about their characters.  They do not make light of their responsibility to tell a story to the audience.

Newman also believes that her voice will be one of her strongest assets.  She describes it as a viable connection to those watching, and adds, “You have to sing and convey emotions that [they] can feel.  Your voice is an actor.”  The production will give the cast ample opportunity to make those connections.

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Toby Newman

Playing the role of Cleopatra, Williamson is excited to share Handel’s work with the Roanoke audience because she feels as though she has already connected with her character.  “I have so enjoyed preparing for this role,” she says, “mostly because of the beautiful music [he] wrote.  Of course, who wouldn’t love having the opportunity to perform the role of Cleopatra?  I can’t wait for Opera Roanoke to bring this beautiful music and history to life!”  Her respect for the production is contagious, and every cast member is committed to making the experience both enjoyable and educational.

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Amy Cofield Williamson

Phenomenal talent and passion for the stage is not all that makes these women unique.  Each one took a different path that led them to Opera Roanoke, and all of them display inspiring strength.  They stress the importance of having a mentor that brings out the best in you.  Many of them found mentors when they were very young, and almost all of them were inspired by strong women.  Dirlikov’s was her teacher and a famous African American opera singer, Shirley Verrett.  “She insisted that I strive for excellence,” she recalls. “She faced so much adversity in her career and never gave up.  I was fortunate to have her guidance.”

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Carla Dirlikov

We, as a community and an audience, will be the fortunate ones to see these ladies in action on stage.  Bella encourages everyone to celebrate Women’s History month by supporting the women you know who are doing great things in our community. Don’t forget to visit the Jefferson Center on March 21st or March 23rd to support this talented cast in their performance of Handel’s Julius Caesar.  For more information, go to Opera Roanoke’s website, www.operaroanoke.org.

Cooking for Beginners

Written by Kacee Eddinger

Success in the kitchen is not always guaranteed.  If this is your first time cooking, or if you avoid it as much as possible because of past failures, here are some tips to improve your experience:

Eliminate Distractions
An ever important thing to remember while cooking is that it requires your attention. I’m not saying you can’t jam out to Pandora while you cook, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the food so that it doesn’t over cook or make a mess. If you have kids, spouses or friends who want to talk while you’re cooking, just ask them to help you keep an eye on the food.  If a recipe does tell you to let something simmer, or that you can leave a meal alone for a while, remember to check back periodically.

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Timers
When I was first cooking for myself, I realized the absolute necessity of timing my food. The more you cook, the less you need a timer, but if you live in a distracting environment and need to step away from the food (it needs to cook unattended for a few minutes, something else needs your immediate attention but will only take a minute, etc) just set a timer so that you remember to come back and check on the food.

Read a recipe twice (and then follow along as you go)
This is a trick my mom taught me when I was first learning how to cook, and it’s something I tell all of my friends. When first learning a new recipe, reading it multiple times gives you the general order of how to add ingredients, and what to do next. I find it also relaxes me, because since I have a better idea of what to do, less will go wrong. Make sure to have a copy of the recipe readily available to check occasionally.

Cooking is an art, baking is a science
As you begin to grow more confident with your abilities around the stove and oven, you might want to try new things with old recipes. Just remember: cooking is an art, baking is a science. You can vary recipes, but things that you bake, especially with sweets, are often best left less varied. When you put something into the oven to bake, you often don’t know how it’s going to turn out until it has finished, because you can’t see what it’s doing. Whereas, when you cook something on your stovetop, it becomes much easier to notice when the food is cooked. You can even do a taste check to see if a recipe needs something else.cooking

Have Fun and Practice
It may be a touch cliché, but here’s the fact of the matter: you probably aren’t going to burn down your kitchen. Even if you’re a nervous cook, you will probably come out of a cooking experience with something edible and notes for next time. Don’t stress over cooking. Grab a friend, your spouse, or even your kids and have a fun experience together. Also, the more you cook, the better you’ll get. You’ll learn from the recipe books, but also from experience. So keep trying, and you’ll do great.

To get started, try these simple recipes:

salmon

Salmon Patties
I’ve been making Salmon patties since I was kid. They’re also one of my favorite foods, and since I’ve started living on my own, I’ve made them a lot. I don’t have a particular reference for this, except for my mom. Thanks, mom.

 Ingredients:
Oil or Crisco for frying
1 can of pink Alaskan salmon
2 eggs
1-1 ½ cup bread crumbs

Optional:
Lemon powder or zest
Pepper
Chopped Onion
Garlic
Rosemary
Mustard
Cheddar cheese

Directions:
I. Heat skillet on the stove at medium heat. Add oil or Crisco to pan while it is still cool. You need at least enough to cover the bottom of the pan, but you can go up to an inch high of oil or Crisco (the oil is better for you than Crisco, but the Crisco gives the patties an nicer golden brown finish).
II. Open and drain canned salmon. You can either dump it into the bowl how it is, or clean out the bones and skin. Mom always said the bones and the skin were good for me, and you really cannot tell the difference. The bones are also soft enough to mash up, or chew through.
III. Once salmon is in the bowl, add eggs and mix together with a wooden spoon or your clean hands. If you have kids they might enjoy squishing the egg together with the salmon.

IV. Gradually add bread crumbs. Every batch of salmon patties is different, so you’ll always need a different amount. Start with about a half cup and add gradually from there, mixing well each time.
V. After about a cup of bread crumbs stop and make patty. If you’ve never made one, scoop up some salmon mix with your hands, and roll it into a ball. Then press it between your hands—the patty should be about the size of your palm. If a lot of the mix sticks to your hands, then it’s still too wet, but if there are a lot of cracks around the edge of the patty or it doesn’t hold its shape, then it’s too dry. Add a little mayo to break it up. A patty that will hold its shape, doesn’t have too many cracks or isn’t too sticky will be just right for frying.
VI. At this time, you can add any extras that you like. I typically put in a little mustard, lemon powder, pepper and garlic just to give the patty a little extra flavor. You can put a little slice of cheese in the middle of patty, and it will melt as it fries. But they’re your patties so use whatever you want! Just remember not to add salt to the patties—the packaged fish is salted to keep it fresh, and you’ll want to throw a little salt on it after it’s done frying to help drain off the oil.
VII. Test oil with a small bit of salmon to see if it fries. If the oil is hot enough, slide the patties on to the pan. You can usually cook two to three at a time without much trouble. Fry until brown on one side and then flip. If it’s not brown enough, you can always flip them over again. When both sides are brown, lay patties out on a double layer of paper towels. Salt lightly, or you can use powered parmesan cheese in place of the salt.

cookies

Cookie Dough
                I’ve made so many batches of chocolate chip cookies in my life, I’ve lost count. This dough is based on a recipe you’ll find on the back of every bag of Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips, but I’ve made adjustments over the years for a perfect dough.

You Need:
1 cup / 2 sticks of butter, soft but not melted
1 cup of brown sugar
½ cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
2 eggs
2 ½ cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Add ins:
Chocolate Chips
Nuts
Dried fruit
Oatmeal
M&Ms
Other goodies

Directions:
I. In a medium to large bowl, mix together softened butter, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla. Make sure the butter is soft, but not runny or melty. If the butter is runny your cookies will be too.
II. Add in one egg and beat until incorporated. Add second egg and beat until incorporated.

III. In a separate bowl, add together flour, salt and baking soda. You may sift if you like, but it’s not a big deal if you don’t.

IV. Slowly add flower mixture to the butter mixture. The dough should start to thicken.

V. When flour mix is fully incorporated with the butter mix, you should have your dough! Add in chocolate chips, nuts, fruit or anything else you would like. Almost anything tastes great with this dough.

VI. From here you can bake them at 375°F for 8-12 minutes, until the cookies are brown, chill for a day to make the dough easier to work with, or freeze to bake another time. Dough will last 6-12 months in the freezer.

 

Winter Blues

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room—the one that only you can see. If you are experiencing any type of mood disorder, you may feel as though you have very few options to pursue. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Many people live with seasonal depression, borderline personality disorder, postpartum depression, anxiety disorders, and more.
You may be surprised at the number of successful women who live with these problems. For years, we have been taught to hide our illness like dirty laundry. This is despite the fact that medical science has proven them to be the result of a chemical imbalance in our brains. Like many of you, I live with an anxiety disorder. It is made worse by the thought that I have to hide it from everyone that I meet. Over the years, I have learned a few tricks to control it.

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Surround yourself with positive reinforcement. It sounds cliché, but you will see yourself handling stress much better. Search for websites like Go Woman Go to find other women experiencing similar problems. You may discover that their empowering stories, like that of founder Lashinda Demus, will inspire you to keep going. Chances are, they will also remind you to be optimistic, instead of anticipating the worst possible outcome of every situation.
Try a sun lamp. It benefits those experiencing seasonal and nonseasonal depression, among other disorders. Eliminating harmful ultraviolet radiation, it brings the short wavelengths of sun light indoors. Consult your physician to make sure the treatment is right for you, especially if you are taking any medications. I have recently purchased one, and I am already noticing an improvement. My energy levels have increased, and I am almost as energetic as any other twenty-something. Additionally, I find myself waking up earlier without an alarm.  You can find one on Amazon.

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Most importantly, please remember that having a personality or mood disorder is not something of which you should be ashamed. There is no reason you should be unsuccessful as a result. It may take some time, and more than one visit with your doctor, but you will find a course of treatment that makes you feel better. Until that time, seek out those facing similar issues. Build your support system. There is nothing more comforting than someone who understands that although your illness is invisible, it is very real.

The Plus Size Problem: Revisited

Written By Kacee Eddinger

February is Body Awareness Month. To celebrate, I want to build off of one of our previous articles, “The Plus Size Problem.” Both the plus size problem and the Body Positivity Movement both go back further in time than you may realize.

The Body Positive Movement began fifty years ago, alongside second wave feminism, as the Fat Acceptance Movement. It started as an effort to combat social and legal inequalities surrounding those who do not conform to a slimmer body type. This movement led to the promotion of healthy ideals regarding different body types.  Societies like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) and Health at Every Size(HAES) were formed.

healthy

Since then, designers have created fashion lines dedicated to plus size clothing.  Despite setbacks due to the diet and exercise culture of the 1980s, the Fat Acceptance movement did not disappear. In fact, a new group, The Body Positive, was created.

Seeking to teach everyone to cherish their bodies regardless of size, the group has added the term, “Body Positivity” to our vocabulary. Although “Fat Acceptance” is still an important movement, this group encourages everyone, including skinny individuals, to value their appearance.  It advocates against the pursuit of an ideal that cannot be achieved instead of asking the general public to attempt to conform to it.bpm3

Still, there is a misunderstanding in our culture regarding body acceptance.  In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, Jennifer Lawrence said, “I just think it should be illegal to call someone fat on TV. I mean if we’re regulating things like sex and cigarettes and cuss words, because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?”

Much was said about Lawrence’s quote, from news stations, to blog posts, and many lauded the movie star for speaking out against fat shaming.

I didn’t hear about Jennifer Lawrence’s talk with Barbara Walters until the media storm around it had died down.  However, in a discussion with my friend regarding body positivity, I realized that Lawrence’s statement just missed the mark. My friend told me she thought my body was beautiful. “And it’s so nice to cuddle with people who have an extra layer to them!” she added. She was paying me a compliment, which I took, but I could hear dancing around something with her word choice.

“You know,” I said. “You can call me fat. It’s just an adjective. For me, it’s the same as saying I’m tall, I have brown hair and blue eyes. I am fat.”

For a long time, this was not so. From a young age, I was called fat as an insult. Fat people on TV and in movies were invisible or made out to be jokes. Nobody outright said it, but diet infomercials told me being fat was wrong. Everyone in them said they were so much happier now that they were skinny. My mother never called me fat, but has encouraged me to diet since I was nine.

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Being fat has never been easy. Since discovering body positivity, I have learned to love myself for who I am AND for how I look. I have found encouragement from those who told me I was both beautiful and fat– the two did not have to be separate ideas. Now, being fat is very much a part of my identity. That’s where Ms. Lawrence’s words fell a little short for me.
While Lawrence was trying to speak out on bullying and name-calling, she still implies in her quote that being fat is shameful and equates it with cancer-causing cigarettes. The truth is that identifying someone as “fat” should not be illegal, but fat shaming should be. Fat people should not be ridiculed for being fat, no more than a person with blonde hair should be ridiculed for being blonde. However, too often people are humiliated by others because of their appearance.  Instead, they should be encouraged to love their bodies; regardless of race, size, hair

color, etc.  It is important to emphasize this to young women—so they spend their lifetime loving themselves, rather than trying to conform to a standard that no one can achieve. It is up to each individual to stand up for body positivity and end “fat shaming.” Our responsibility, as women, is to support one another for who we are– not for who society tells us we should be.

 

 

 

 

 

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