The Power of the Pumpkin: Health Benefits of Pumpkins

pumpkin_640Pumpkins are the most popular gourd during the month of October, but did you know that they are good for more than carving?  Pumpkins are a delicious source of nutrients that have many health benefits.  Today we’re exploring the power of the pumpkin and examining several of the health benefits of pumpkins.

Pumpkins are often mistaken for vegetables but they are technically fruits and more specifically berries.  They are in the Cucurbitaceae family and the Cucubita genus that also includes summer and winter squash.  Pumpkins are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene that is converted into Vitamin A in the body.  Additionally, pumpkins have a healthy dose of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, potassium, fiber and plant sterols.

Pumpkins and Antioxidants

Beta-carotene gives pumpkins their bright orange hue, much like carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, and has tremendous benefits for the entire body, including staving off illness and disease and supporting eye health.  Beta-carotene and other antioxidants found in pumpkins help improve immune strength by combating free radicals that threaten the integrity of bodily cells.  Free radicals enter the body through a variety of external factors and can lead to cellular mutagenic diseases such as cancer.  Pumpkins are particularly deft at fighting off prostate and colon cancer.  They also help with normal immune function to help protect and heal the body against common infections, colds and coughs that occur during the winter season.

Furthermore, powerful antioxidants like those found in pumpkins help keep cells functioning at their optimum capacity.  This supports anti-aging both internally and externally to slow the natural aging process that leads to disease and an aged look.  Due to their high concentration of Vitamin A, pumpkins are also great for eye health and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.

Pumpkins and Fiber

Pumpkins are often underestimated as an excellent source of low calorie fiber.  Pumpkins contain 3 grams of fiber and only 49 calories per cup, which is a much better ratio than most fiber-rich foods.  Fiber is an important aspect of our diet because it helps satiate the body for longer without needing extra food and therefore calories.  That makes pumpkin a great choice for weight loss and weigh management, and can help reduce symptoms of diabetes because it aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Pumpkins and Phytosterols

pumpkin seedsThe seeds of pumpkins contain heart healthy plant sterols that are known to reduce bad HDL cholesterol levels that lead to clogged arteries.  When plaque builds up in arteries, we have a higher risk of heart conditions including cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.   Additionally, Vitamin C and potassium in pumpkins help reduce blood pressure to prevent hypertension.

Pumpkin seeds also contain the amino acid tryptophan that is responsible for the release of the “feel good” neurotransmitter serotonin.  So eating pumpkins this fall can put you in a good mood too.

Pumpkins and Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral that is considered an electrolyte.  Our bodies lose electrolytes through sweat and other excretions so it is necessary to replace them through our diet and supplements.  Pumpkins are a terrific source of potassium and make a great post-workout snack, not only to replenish electrolytes, but also to give you a boost of energy.

With many sweet and savory possibilities, it’s easy to make pumpkin a healthy part of your fall diet!

Candida: Leaky Gut Syndrome

At one point or another many women will suffer from the occasional yeast or vaginal bacterial infection. At most they will suffer from the normal itching, burning, abnormal vaginal discharge, and painful urination which will usually only last up to a week after being properly treated. While these side effects are mainly short-lived there are many women who suffer from reoccurring signs soon after treatment. Although most believe it is a similar health issue, and are often times treated again for their previous circumstance, the underlying incident could be something completely different. Despite the fact that many individuals suffer from the medical condition called Candidiasis, or widely known as Candida or the Leady Gut Syndrome, it affects numerous people which go untreated or take the proper steps to healing their bodies, seriously affecting their health and well-being.


Leaky Gut Syndrome is a fungal infection that can affect your body is such areas as your skin, mouth, blood, throat, and genitals. Candidiasis is a type of yeast infection that is caused by the overgrowth of the yeast, Candida, which is already present in the body but in small amounts in the mouth and the intestines. Candida helps regulate your body’s digestion process and it helps with nutrient absorption, but if there is a disturbance the yeast can become overpopulated and produce more than usual, which can be harmful to your body.

When your body is producing too much Candida you can experience many side effects such as bloating, poor memory, fatigue, brain fog, acne, sugar cravings, itchy eyes, reoccurring yeast infections, irregular periods, and frequent cold symptoms including headaches and the chills. Many times these symptoms are confused as something else and not properly diagnosed, which can in fact make the situation worse, especially with certain medications.

Candida, or Leaky Gut Syndrome, can occur for a number of reasons. The most common causes are antibiotics, stress, and consuming too much sugar in your diet. Candida feeds off sugar and refined foods. If you are eating foods high in sugar such as refined carbs, refined grains, alcohol, or other sugary snacks and experiencing fatigue and reoccurring bacterial infections it is almost safe to say you are most likely suffering from Leaky Gut. Stress is another factor that can alter your health and trigger an up rise in Candida growth. When your body is stressed it releases the Cortisol hormone, which raises your levels of blood sugar, and as stated before, Candida feeds on sugar. Another major cause is antibiotics because when you take antibiotics to get rid of an illness it usually kills all the bacteria in your gut, both good and bad. When this happens the Candida takes over and dominates the gut.

Stated above, we know Candida can be difficult to diagnose because of its like symptoms with many other health problems. Although Leaky Gut Syndrome symptoms may seem mild, they can become dangerous and in fact very harmful to the body. If Candida goes untreated it can weaken the immune system and get into the blood system which will then spread to other parts of the body and essentially damage the tissues and organs.


It’s important to know Leaky Gut Syndrome can be treated, but only with the proper tests. Ask your doctor specifically if Candida could be a possible attribute to your bad health. While there are lots of things you’ll need to change in your diet and daily routine to secure your immune health and gut flora, the healing processes isn’t difficult. You doctor will most likely tell you to cut out sugars for a while and take a daily probiotic. If you’re experiencing like symptoms of Candida contact your doctor right away.




Full Figure Bras: Bras so Sexy, They’re Scary

This Halloween and holiday season, your full figure bras should be so sexy, they’re scary.  At Leading Lady, we’re seeing black, white and red all over.  Whether you are sweet or saucy, our hottest full figure bra collection will feel angelic, but make you act devilish.  Trust us, you’ve never felt comfort like our bras and certainly not in these sexy styles.

Trick-or-Treat Lace Full Figure Bras

5044 blackNothing is more sultry than a hint of skin under a super sensual bra. That’s what you get with our bestselling Scalloped Lace Underwire Full Figure Bra.  With just the perfect amount of peek-a-boo cutaway while still maintaining full coverage, this bra features soft lace in a beautiful scalloped patter along the bust and band.  Like many of our bras, this sexy number offers padded straps for comfort along with slightly padded, molded cups to give you that sexy silhouette in every outfit.  Our Scalloped Lace Full Figure Bra is so light and comfortable, you can wear it all day for almost any purpose.  But it’s so sexy, you’ll want to save it for the most spLeading Lady's Lace Cup Underwire Full Figure Braecial occasions.

Speaking of lace, you’ve probably never seen a full figure bra as gorgeous as our Lace Cup Underwire Full Figure Bra.  The soft lace overlay will maintain your skin’s smooth and silky feminine texture without leaving redness or causing itchiness like many lace bras do.  The contrasting cotton lined cups on the black version gives it sexy appeal and the white-on-white version is sweet and flirty as well.  With a cotton/nylon/spandex blend, adjustable straps and multiple hook-and-eye closures in the back, this bra is as flexible as you need it to be.


5028 redWickedly Comfortable Full Figure Bras

If the thought of putting on your bra every morning has you terrified, you are not wearing the right bras.  One of our most popular traditional bras is our Molded Padded Seamless Full Figure Bra.  It is effortlessly simple to wear and, except for the amazing support, feels like you simply aren’t wearing a bra.  This staple t-shirt, everyday bra should be in every woman’s lingerie drawer.  The lightly padded cups give you a feminine shape and the wide straps help disperse the weight of your breasts between your shoulders and 5048pink_hooksacross your back.  Plus, this bra comes in some red hot hues as well as softer pinks, blues and neutrals.

Sleeping in sensual bras is a dream come true for every woman, and Leading Lady has the ideal sleep leisure bra for you.  With a stunning lace cup and versatile racer back design, our Crossover Front Closure Racer Back Leisure Bra is great for daytime or nighttime use.  The front closure makes dressing a cinch and prevents uncomfortable nights of sleeping on back closures.  Furthermore, the plunging neckline shows off your best assets, whether it’s Halloween time or not.


514whiteleoTake a Walk on the Wild Side

If you still need a sexy fix, check out our Wirefree Full Figure Sport Bra.  The pullover design featuring a wild black and white leopard print is terrific for low to mid impact exercise like cycling, rowing, walking, yoga and pilates.  As comfortable as a leopard is in its skin, this full figure active bra is made of stretchy, breathable fabric that reduces bounce and absorbs sweat.  Additionally the wide straps make exercising with large breasts more comfortable and supportive.

Stay sexy this Halloween in our fabulous full figure bras!

Become a Monday Person: How to Love your Mondays

happy-womanAfter a weekend of fun, many people find themselves dreading Mondays.  Weekends are a time to decompress and let loose, while Mondays are the return of carpools, strict schedules, meetings, conference calls and lots of stress.  But in this unpredictable world, don’t you want to seize every moment of every day, even on Mondays?  You can become a Monday person and love your Mondays with a few simple (ish) tips.

Enjoy your weekend, but don’t stray too far from normalcy.  Weekends should be fun and frivolous when you have the chance, but that doesn’t mean you have to go to the extremes.  Monday mornings tend to be less abrasive when you keep things somewhat on track over the weekend, including sleep schedules and diet.  Try to go to bed and wake up within 2 hours of your weekday schedule to prevent that agonizing Monday morning alarm clock groan.  Also, eat meals around the same times of day as on weekdays and only indulge once per day.  Otherwise, eat sensible meals that won’t have you regretting your weekend diet come Monday.

Prepare for Monday morning to ensure a smooth transition into your week.  Knowing that you will be weekend jet-lagged, make your Monday morning easier by doing a little prep work.  Check your emails, prioritize tasks for the week and make a “to do” list so you have a mission and can jump right in come Monday morning.  This preparation can begin as early as Friday afternoon by making notes and lists of where you left off and what you want to accomplish the following week.  Then spend 10-15 minutes on Sunday night organizing yourself for the week ahead.  It may not be the fun you had in mind for your weekend, but this short prep time goes a long way on groggy Mondays.  You can also lay out your clothes, pack bags and lunches and plan breakfast to get a head start.

Splurge on Monday morning.  Treat yourself to happiness and trick your body to love your Mondays by doing one thing on Monday morning you might typically reserve for weekends.  Maybe that’s a pumpkin spice latte that costs a little more than your usual cup of java, or perhaps you take a cab to work rather than riding the subway.  Whatever makes you feel good may be just the thing you needed to kick-start your Monday and get you in a productive spirit for the week.

Schedule something to look forward to later in the week.  On Thursdays, people are usually in a good mood because they are anticipating the weekend.  Use the same philosophy by scheduling a fun activity that you can look forward to on a Tuesday or Wednesday.  Maybe it’s lunch with a friend or an evening massage.  Having something small to focus on later in the week can pep up the early days of the week and keep you working towards the fun event.

Wear something that makes you feel good.  As women we sometimes sacrifice comfort for fashion, although never in your Leading Lady bras, of course!  Don’t get caught in this trap on Monday mornings, however.  The last thing you need to drag you down is a skirt that you have to keep adjusting or a blouse that is too tight after lunchtime.  Wear something comfortable that also makes you feel like a million bucks.  If you went shopping over the weekend, Monday morning is the perfect time to show off your new ensemble.

Set the tone for good habits.  If you want to have good habits for the week, start your Monday by staying on target with your goals.  Getting in a Monday morning workout, eating healthy and spending more quality time with family are all tasks that take effort.  Start your week off on the right note by making these activities a priority.  Soon they will become solid habits in your life.

Happy Monday!!

Melissa McCarthy Seven7: A Fashion Line for all Sizes

melissa-mccarthy-02-600x450All hail Melissa McCarthy!  This superstar actress and comedian is now a super fashion designer too.  Her long-awaited fashion line called Melissa McCarthy Seven7 is now available at Lane Bryant, Macy’s, HSN and her own website among other retailers.  The collection features clothes from size 4 to 28, ideal for trendy, modern women of all shapes and sizes.  And get this:  it’s affordable to boot!  The pieces range from $59 to $159.

McCarthy claims that her fashion venture is really one of a selfish nature.  She was looking to better her own wardrobe and struggled for years to find plus size selections that matched her desire for comfort and style.  The Seven7 collection has several signatures including fun prints, pockets, bold sleeves and long asymmetrical hemlines.  Each of these represents McCarthy’s individual style and accentuates every woman’s best features, especially her curves.

So what does McCarthy’s line look like?  Here’s a little taste:

2994324_fpxMcCarthy vowed never to wear jeans again after not being able to find stylish jeans in her size that were decently comfortable.  Now she not only wears jeans, she makes them.  And she makes skinny jeans too, because all women, regardless of their size, should get to enjoy the latest trends.  Her jeans and stretch pants are tailored for women of all sizes, not just a formulaic increase in fabric based on the number on the tag.  They hug curves in all the right spots without adding bulk and bulge that many full figure women find unflattering and uncomfortable.  She also doesn’t limit her collection to traditional blue jeans.  She offers jeans in grays, blacks, whites and different shades of blue, and her stretch pants come in plaid and the slimmingly popular racer stripe down the outer leg-line.  If you live in pants for work or play, you gotta check out Seven7’s selection.

2978496_fpxOn the topside, McCarthy’s style is all about classy draping that couldn’t be more on point for fall.  Her classic blouses are silky and soft, outlining the breasts and letting the rest drape effortlessly.  Many of her tops feature a twist, including bold sleeves and interesting hem lines in the back, which are both uber flattering on a variety of shapes.  She uses purposeful fringe, ruffles, color blocking and pleats for her longer sweaters, vests and blouses, adding flare to simple pieces.  These long cardigans and kimono-style sweaters will keep you cozy all fall and winter, while her tank tops and short sleeve shirts work as stand alone tops or layering pieces.

2978493_fpxLike all great fashion lines, Seven7 features some signature prints too.  Hearts are a theme for McCarthy and she uses them to create tops with a flirty, feminine twist on the girlish shape.  The line also has interesting takes on traditional floral prints and plaids.  The floral prints are bold and spaced uniquely, making them more artistic.  McCarthy strategically uses a painter’s plaid that elongates the body on tops and pants.  And she’s also a fan of animal prints, like the wild black and white leopard, as well as grey blends.



Next time you are as frustrated as Melissa McCarthy was about wardrobe choices for full figure women, take a look at the Seven7 collection.  Maybe McCarthy’s designs will help you stay classy and trendy, while accentuating the best parts of your figure.  We love this collection and we bet you will too!


Little Black Dress: DIY Halloween Costumes

Halloween is right around the corner and you may or may not have a costume for the annual get together. If you’re like the most of us you don’t want to spend $100 on an outfit you’re only going to wear once. This is where the “do it yourself” comes in. DIY is perfect for such occasions because you most likely have something in your closet that can be transformed into the perfect “last minute” Halloween Costume that’s half the price! Today we are sharing a twenty-five Halloween Costume Ideas you can use with that little black dress of yours!


  1. Vampire: To pull off a casual or sexy vampire look all you need if your dress, a red or black cap, heels, fangs, and fake blood!
  2. Wicked Witch of the West: This Halloween idea is almost too easy! Put on your dress, paint your face green, style up your hair and put on your black witch hat, and then grab a pair of cute heels to go along with your outfit! If you want to be a little more creative you can jazz up your dress with some green paint or fabric.
  3. Skeleton: All you need is some white fabric, your little black dress, and scissors for this Halloween costume. Cut out the bones from the white fabric and paste onto your dress. You can even paint your face to make the outfit complete.
  4. Maleficent: Angelina Jolie has a gorgeous style in Maleficent, and we want to copy it! If you don’t want to make your own horns checkout amazon or your local Halloween store for one to buy, but they are fairly easy to make out of paper Mache. Perfect your little dress with a black blazer and an awesome makeup job!
  5. Morticia Adams: Fairly simple, all you need is a long black wig and red lipstick.
  6. Sexy Zorro Lady: This is a great idea to bring back! Grab your dress, a black ribbon with eye holes to tie around your eyes, and a hat and you’ll be Lady Zorro in a whip!
  7. Day of the Dead: This one seems fun! If you have a short little black dress buy some fringe to go around the bottom, or if you have a black tutu that will work too. Find an awesome face painting tutorial on YouTube and paint yourself up to be a day of the dead character.
  8. French Maid: For a sexier option, we have the French maid costume. If you have a white apron lying around your costume is complete.
  9. Ninja: Changing your casual little black dress into a sexy, sword fighting ninja can be a lot of fun! All you need is a pair of black tights, or if your dress is short a pair of leather leggings will do just fine, black scarf to tie around your mouth, red ribbon for pop details around your waist, arms, and legs, and then two fake swords!
  10. V for Vendetta: If you want to be like Natalie Portman try this amazing idea! Grab yourself a black jacket, a pair of over the knee boots, a black hat, and a fake sword and you’ll be just as awesome as Evey this Halloween!
  11. Snooki: Snooki has made a name for herself on the hit series, “Jersey Shore.” If you want to replicate this meatball’s style put on your little black dress, bump up your hair, and grab those stilettos!
  12. Black Swan: Another Natalie Portman ensemble! This may be one of the more complex ideas depending on how you want to do your makeup, but the getup is pretty simple. All you need is your dress, a black tutu, black tights, black flats, and feathers for detail.
  13. Bat Girl:Bat Girl can transform your dress into two different elements: sexy or casual. If you’re looking for something a little sexier grab a pair of heels, an eye mask, and a strapless little black dress. If you want something cute, but more on the conservative side, grab a leather jacket to cover up your shoulders. Also, to make your bat signal, use yellow duct tape and tape the design on the front of your dress.
  14. Lady Gaga: If you’re ready to break the rules this Halloween try this idea! Load yourself up with glitter, a fun and crazy hair do, and maybe slap a piece of meat on to your dress and you’ll be imitating Lady Gaga in no time!
  15. Edward Scissor Hands: Edward Scissor Hands is definitely a costume many try to duplicate during the Halloween season. If you’re in a hurry pull together an ensemble of boots, black tights, your little black dress, and some fake scissor hands you can make out of cardboard.
  16. Pirate: All you need is an eye patch, a pirate hat, leggings or tights you won’t mind tearing up a bit, and a white button up to wear on top of your dress.
  17. Zombie: Zombie costumes have been a hit for some time now. Dress up like the living dead by getting yourself a pair of fake contact lenses, a bottle of fake blood, and a ripped t-shirt to throw over your dress.
  18. Egyptian Princess: You can find Egyptian Princess accessories at any Halloween store, or even by searching the web. Find a pair of gladiator sandals and this look will be complete.
  19. Photo credit: notmargaret / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

    Photo credit: notmargaret / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

    Flapper: Dress up your little black dress with some decorative fridge, black tights, black heals, and a fancy head band and you’ll be a stylish 20’s flapper in no time! Add some gloves and a short hair style wig to make it complete!

  20. Cat: All you need is cat ears and a tail!
  21. Warrior Princess: Find yourself a fake sword, a pair of gladiator sandals or boots, and smother on some warrior face paint!
  22. Babydoll from Sucker Punch: This is one of our sexier costume ideas! Babydoll from the hit movie, “Sucker Punch” wears her hair in pigtails and shows a little bit of skin. All you need is a black head band, a scarf to tie around your neck, a fake sword, and some rocking combat boots!
  23. Audrey Hepburn: Such a classy look! Fancy up your little black dress with a pearl necklace, heels, a tiara, and cute sunglasses!
  24. Posh Spice: Who doesn’t want to be a Spice Girl? Posh is one of our favorites, and her style is easy to follow when you’re looking for a quick costume! Spice up your dress with a pair of cute heels, lip gloss, and a silver arm bracelet.
  25. Masquerade: Glue on some decorative feathers, make yourself an awesome paper Mache mask, and buy yourself a colorful tutu for this simple Halloween idea!

How to Avoid Health Problems with Large Breasts

At Leading Lady, we celebrate women of all shapes and sizes and in all walks of life.  Breast size and shape are as unique as our fingerprints and each woman’s feminine shape is beautiful.  While we embrace our figures, women with large breasts are sometimes faced with additional complications due to added weight and pressure placed on certain areas of the body.  As we are honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October and discussing breast health, today we are exploring how to avoid health problems with large breasts.

The following health problems are common among women with large breasts:

Upper Body Pain

Large breasts put additional strain and pressure on the neck, back and shoulders, which often results in a lot of pain.  The weight of large breasts on the chest causes the usually strong upper spine muscles to become sore easily and quickly.  As a woman’s body compensates for the strain of large breasts, a chain reaction can occur where posture slowly worsens and deteriorates, which further exacerbates these upper back, shoulder and neck problems.  Large breasts can lead to chronic pain and permanent nerve damage.

Skin Irritation

Women with large breasts tend to experience more skin irritation around and under their breasts and on their shoulders and backs.  The folds underneath breasts can naturally cause these problems, especially as sweat accumulates in this area.  Also, many women are not wearing bras that fit properly, leaving skin indentations, chaffing and rashes around the breasts, under the shoulder straps and across the back.  Uncomfortable bra fabrics can worsen these skin irritations as well.

Respiratory Problems

Large breasts puts pressure on the chest cavity and can make breathing difficult for some women.  This may result in shortness of breath, especially during physical activity or while lying down.  Poor oxygenation leads to a host of other health problems as well.

Difficulty Exercising

Exercising and physical activity can be challenging for women with large breasts.  Discomfort and chaffing from bouncing breasts are big limitations for many full figured women.  Any type of exercise that requires a wide range of movement – from running and walking, to playing tennis or even golfing – makes working out and regular exercise more difficult.

Solutions for Health Problems with Large Breasts

Despite these challenges, large breasts aren’t all bad.  Here are some ways to avoid health problems with large breasts:

  • 5042-wirefree-leading-lady-braWear properly fitting bras.  Your bra should encapsulate your breast completely and offer light compression to reduce bounce.  Your bra should never dig into your skin beneath your breasts, on your shoulders or across your back.  Additionally, your full figure bra should support your breasts to prevent sagging and disperse weight evenly and comfortably across your back and shoulders.
  • Look for comfort features in your bras.  Many of our Leading Lady full figure bras feature padded straps, molded cups and 4 hook-and-eye closures for flexibility.  Also, wear bras made of breathable fabrics that stretch and move with your body.
  • Wear full figure sports bras for physical activity.  Sports bras are designed for movement and offer more compression than regular bras.  It is essential to wear the right bra for your level of exercise.
  • Exercise to strengthen your body.  While certain types of exercise may be uncomfortable, it is essential that women with large breasts get regular exercise, especially to strengthen the muscles of the upper back and shoulders.  Weight lifting, swimming and rowing are good, low-impact options.
  • Medication may help on a temporary basis. Over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatories can reduce pain to get through your day or exercise routine. If you experience chronic pain, talk to your doctor about stronger pain medication.
  • Physical therapy is a good place to start.  If your pain is so severe that you’re not sure where to begin your exercise regimen, go to a physical therapist for recommendations.  These professionals can tailor a workout to your level of fitness and help you overcome the challenges of large breasts.
  • Always sleep in a bra.  It is vital for full figure women to wear sleep bras at night.  This will ensure your breasts are supported while you sleep and don’t uncomfortably fall to the sides.  Sleep bras feature front closures that won’t dig into your back at night.  Also, side-sleeping is often a better choice for women with large breasts.

Large Breasts and Breast Cancer

Here’s some good news:  Extensive research has been done on various risk factors for breast cancer.  Nearly every study indicates that breast size is not correlated to breast cancer.  The only possible increased risk factor is for post menopausal women who have small bodies with larger breasts, as evidenced in one study.  Body weight may, however, effect breast cancer incidence.  Women who are overweight and carry weight in their stomach tend to have a higher rate of breast cancer than those who are not overweight at all or who carry weight on their lower bodies.

Positive Thinking

When faced with challenges it’s easy to think about all the negative possibilities we are up against, and feeling sorry for ourselves about a specific predicament seems to be unavoidable at times. What many don’t realize is we have the power to step away from the victim role and instead of feeling sorry or cheated, we can think more positive and leave the situation with an open mind and a better way to find an outcome. Positive thoughts can be more than a mood changer; they can also be extremely beneficial to your health. Today we are sharing 5 ways positive thinking can be valuable to your health!


  1. Positive Thinking Gives your Body a Fighting Chance against Illness: Studies have shown when you have a positive attitude you are more likely to have a stronger immune system than someone who is more pessimistic. When you enjoy life and aren’t afraid of having fun and indulging in a little humor every now and then you can actually have greater cell function, which in return puts you at reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other illnesses.
  2. You’re More Goal Oriented: Positive thinkers are physically and psychologically healthier than those who are negative thinkers. The happier you are the more likely you are to start practicing a healthier lifestyle and begin working out and eating properly. You’re also more likely to do better at work because you won’t put yourself down about little mistakes, but instead look at them as learning experiences.
  3. You’ll Live Longer: It goes to show positive thinking can take you a long way. If you’re more goals oriented and take care of your health, your life span will increase. It’s also been proven that negative or pessimistic people can have a deteriorating health which quickens with age.
  4. Stress is a Thing of the Past: With a good attitude nothing will stand in your way. As you become better with managing your negative thoughts, you’ll begin to notice it’s a lot easier coping with stressful situations. When you eliminate the stress you are guaranteed to think differently about life in general.
  5. You’ll Surround Yourself with Good People: It’s true when they say it’s important to surround yourself with good people in order to live positive and healthy lives. When you begin to think more positive you’ll realize you don’t necessarily want to hang around negative people, and when you border yourself with good friends, a healthy and happy lifestyle, you’ll live a much better life.

The Very Best Things to do Every Morning

Tricks-to-Waking-Up-in-the-Morning-01-pg-fullWhether you fancy yourself as a morning person or not, there are some habits that are the very best things to do every morning for a fresh start to a bright and productive new day.  These simple and effective steps may make the difference between being prepared, rejuvenated and energized, versus feeling flustered, tired and unmotivated.

We challenge you to try these tips for a week to see how it improves your days.  So, here you have them, the best things to do every morning:

Visualize a Happy Day:  Successful people know that sometimes life is “mind over matter” and that planning goes a long way.  As you muster the strength to get out of bed in the morning, mentally walk yourself through your day with the most positive outlook in mind.  If you have a tough meeting on the agenda, picture it going smoothly.  If you’re dreading traffic, think about what you can do to distract yourself from frustration.  If you’re not sure what to serve for dinner, think about the foods that make your family smile.  When you see yourself in the happiest light, you are more likely to live a more enjoyable and satisfying day.  Also, don’t let things that happened the day before drag you down.  Start each day afresh

Exercise & Stretch:  Exercise doesn’t always require an hour at the gym.  Spend 10 to 20 minutes doing calisthenics and simple strength-building moves to get your blood flowing and your body ready for the day.  At the very least, take time to stretch to loosen your muscles and joints.  Take deep breaths and enjoy the release of tension before your day gets going.  Hopefully that moment will stick with you throughout the day.

Meditate & Reflect on Gratitude:  The happiest people in the world tend to be most grateful and they take time to allow their mind to stray from daily tasks into more peaceful meditation.  Many people practice meditation and thoughts of gratitude by sitting still in silence, but you can do it in a variety of ways.  Try it in the shower, which may be the only few minutes of peace you have in the morning.  Or let your mind escape as you eat breakfast or drive to work.  Remembering how fortunate you are will help you keep your day in perspective and your eye on the big picture.

Eat Breakfast & Drink Water:  Planning your day and practicing meditation fills you mentally and emotionally, so be sure to do the same for yourself physically.  Eat a well-balanced breakfast with protein, complex carbohydrates (preferably with a lot of fiber) and drink lots of water.  Your body goes into a state of dehydration overnight so your systems and organs, especially your brain, need to rehydrate in the morning.  Don’t ever skip breakfast!  Your body needs the fuel to operate at its best.  Plus, breakfast is linked with more productively, less fatigue and a better ability to maintain an ideal weight.

Take Vitamins:  Along with a healthy breakfast, daily multi-vitamins help ensure you have a proper balance of essential nutrients for your day.  Vitamins offer energy so it’s a good idea to take them in the morning.  If you’re not into traditional vitamins, try an all-natural multi-purpose supplement or grab a cup of nutrient-rich herbal tea instead.

Don’t Rush:  This is a tough one because we all want to get as much sleep as possible.  But do be sure to wake up with enough time to do what needs to get done without feeling flustered.  Beginning your day in a panicked rush can really throw you off and make your entire day frazzled.  This may require some preparation the night before, and keep your morning routine simple so you aren’t trying to cram in too much.

Listen to Music:  Music is known to be uplifting, healing and restorative.  As you are getting yourself and your family ready in the mornings, put on some background music that will make you feel good.  If the mood strikes you to dance, do that too.  Your entire family can benefit from listening to music in the morning.

Enjoy Fresh Air:  You may not have time for a walk in the park, but do try to take a moment for fresh air as you start your day.  The effortless act of breathing in natural air and filling your body with oxygen can be invigorating.  Plus, nature itself is very therapeutic.  Even if it is just lingering for a few minutes when you step outside to grab the morning paper or cracking your window on your morning commute, fresh air does a body good.

Let us know how it goes when you try these very best things to do every morning!

An Apple a Day: Best Apple Recipes

appleFall is the season of delicious, crisp, juicy apples.  Not only are apples scrumptious and ripe this fall, they are excellent for your health.  Apples are full of antioxidants and fiber that have a range of health benefits including lowering your risk of diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and degenerative brain conditions, as well as regulating your digestive system, supporting healthier eyes and teeth, and helping you loose or maintain a healthy weight.

Apples are an excellent choice for your diet and can be eaten in a variety of ways.  Whole raw apples are an easy on-the-go snack; 100% pure apple juice is refreshing and hydrating; or you can cook, bake or prepare foods using apples.  In honor of the fruit of fall, we’re sharing our best apple recipes that we’re sure you will find amazingly scrumptious!

Soup:  Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

Steam 1 lb. of apples, 1 lb. of butternut squash and half of a medium onion until tender.  Place soft apples, squash and onion in a blender with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 cups of chicken broth, ½ cup apple cider and 1 teaspoon of curry powder, garlic powder, salt and ginger each.  Puree until smooth.  Poor contents of blender into a stove pot and bring to a simmer.   Serve warm with chopped walnuts or mint toppings.

Salad:  Apple, Celery, Broccoli Slaw

In a large bowl mix small-bite chunks of apples and celery.  Add pre-packaged broccoli shreds.  Toss and set aside.  In a small bowl make the slaw dressing by combining ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons of low fat mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon sugar and salt & pepper to taste.  Toss the apple and veggie mixture with the dressing.  Serve cold.

Appetizer:  Brie and Apple Quesadilla

Combine 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard and 2 tablespoons of apple cider in a small bowl.  (If desired, add salt and pepper to taste.)  Place tortilla in a skillet and spread a thin layer of the mustard sauce.  Melt thinly sliced brie cheese onto of sauce, then add thin slices of granny smith apples on one side.  Fold the non-apple side over and continue to cook until cheese is fully melted and apples are slightly cooked.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream or salsa.

Main Dish:  Pork Chop with Apple Chutney

Broil, bake, sauté or grill pork with a pinch of salt, pepper, coriander, garlic powder and onion powder.  In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Then mix in 5 cups of chunked peeled apples, ½ cup of dried cranberries and raisins, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, a pinch of salt, a pinch of allspice and ¼ teaspoon ground mustard.  Mix well and serve warm over pork chop.

Condiment:  Apple Butter

Combine 1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup honey, ¼ cup apple side, 2 tablespoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoons ground cloves or nutmeg and 2 lbs of peeled chunked apples into a slow cooker.  Cook overnight for approximately 10 hours.  Strain mixture through a sieve and cook for 1 to 2 hours more until mixture is your desired consistency.  Enjoy over any type of sliced bread, muffin or biscuit.

Dessert:  Baked Apples

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  De-core 8 baking apples (gala, braeburn or empire apples are best) and set aside.  In a bowl, mix ½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans work nicely), 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, and 4 tablespoons of softened butter.  Fill the apples with the nut mixture and bake for 30 minutes until apples are tender.  Serve warm with vanilla yogurt or ice cream.

Beverage:  Warm Apple Cider

Place 8 to 10 peeled sweet apples into a slow cooker with 1 sliced orange (remove seeds), 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg and ½ teaspoon cloves.  Add honey, agave or maple syrup as desired.  Cook for 8 to 10 hours.  Strain and serve hot.

Recipes adapted from Cooking Light, Real Simple and Wellness Mama.

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