November 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm , by Amelia Harnish
As the Northeast hunkers down for another difficult storm today, we wanted to share some pictures we snapped this past week during Hurricane Sandy. LHJ staffers were pretty lucky. We’re all safe, back at work and most of us have power (keyword: most). New York City is crawling back toward normal, but we’re not there yet. So many of our neighbors are without electricity and heat. We’re still cleaning up and assessing the damage. Worst of all, lots of people lost their homes and some even lost their lives.
If you’d like to help, check out these great organizations working to restore New York, New Jersey and other places along the East Coast that are still suffering and make a donation if you can. Share your own experiences or ways to help in the comments.
• American Red Cross The Red Cross has 5,400 workers and 250 shelters spread from Virginia to Rhode Island. Donate online or text REDCROSS to 90999.
• Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund Tireless New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat established a relief fund of their own to restore the hardest-hit areas in New Jersey.
• United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund United Way has set up its own fund to help disaster areas with teams of volunteers and lots of supplies all along the Eastern Seaboard.
• The Mayor’s Fund for NYC Hurricane Relief You can donate directly to New York City’s recovery with an online donation or find in-person volunteer opportunities if you’re in the New York-area and want to help out.
Preparing for Hurricane Sandy
LHJ's health editor Julie Bain believes in being well prepared! Here she tests the batteries on her headlamp before the storm. She lost power at her place in Manhattan on Monday, October 29, and the lights came back on Friday night, November 1. The headlamp was great for walking up and down pitch-black stairwells, leaving her hands free. Read Julie's other lessons for storm preparedness here.
Categories: Do Good, Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: Do Good, Gov. Chris Christie, Hurricane Sandy, Mayor's Fund for New York City, New Jersey Relief Fund, Occupy Sandy, Red Cross, Sandy, United Way, volunteer | No Comments
November 1, 2012 at 10:58 am , by Julie Bain
Still no power in my neighborhood in Manhattan—including cell service. But I’m lucky I can walk to my office uptown, which does have power. I feel like I was very well prepared for Hurricane Sandy, but I still figured out a few things I could do better next time.
1. Take your batteries out of their packages before the storm. I had plenty of spare batteries, but when the power actually did go out, the big flashlight I had within reach became dim very quickly. I sorta panicked. I found the new D batteries, but they were in that hard plastic clamshell packaging that you need a chainsaw to open. I found some scissors and hacked away at in the near blackness, cursing loudly and nearly cutting my finger off in the process. (Reminder: make sure your first-aid kit is fully stocked!) I suggest putting all your spare batteries, sorted by size, in zipper bags in a kitchen drawer.
2. Keep an old-fashioned phone that plugs directly into the wall. The only reason I keep paying for my land line every month is for occasions like this: storms and power outages. My plug-in cordless phones don’t work without electricity, so I keep an old plug-in corded model in a kitchen drawer near the phone jack. As soon as the power went out I plugged that baby in and called my sister. Since the cell signal also went out in my area, it was my only link to the outside world and I was grateful to have it.
3. Buy a headlamp. A relative gave me one in my Christmas stocking last year, but I’d forgotten about it. I discovered it right before the storm and was so glad I did. It was comfortable and perfect for reading after dark. Also for getting down the pitch-black stairwell of my building, hands free.
4. Don’t panic about the toilet. I had filled numerous buckets for manual flushing, but I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough if the outage lasted long. My brother gave me a great tip: If your toilet no longer has water, you can line it with a small trash bag, use it and when necessary, tie it up and put it in the trash. For some reason, that gave me great comfort.
5. Wash your produce before the storm. I had gone to the farmer’s market on Saturday and bought a bunch of lovely fresh fruits and veggies. But I didn’t think to wash them and put them away ready to cook. My gas stove is still working but my bottled water supply is precious. I didn’t want to waste a bunch of expensive (and heavy to carry up nine flights of stairs) bottled water to wash my Brussels sprouts. I should have planned ahead.
6. Clean out the freezer. I removed most of my perishables and threw them away yesterday before they started getting stinky. But I didn’t think to remove the frozen spinach. And let me warn you, frozen spinach leaks giant puddles of green water. I sopped up pools of it this morning. Even if perishables feel cool, it’s best to throw them away. Bacteria can grow at relatively low temps, so don’t take a chance with dangerous pathogens.
7. Buy your favorite comfort foods. I heard from so many friends on Facebook about the foods they were cooking before and during the storm and how much comfort they brought. Believe me, no one was craving steamed broccoli. It was all about pasta, cheese, bread, cookies, cupcakes. I was glad I’d bought my favorite spicy organic ginger cookies. They soothed my nervous tummy. I had plenty of wine on hand, too. A crisis is not the time to go on a diet; you can do that after the power is restored.
October 31, 2012 at 11:49 am , by jbrown
How can you avoid over-treating yourself when sugary, chocolate-y temptation is everywhere? Before you reach for the candy bowl, try talking yourself out of the splurge. Ask yourself the questions below and you may find those treats are easier to resist than you think.
Do I absolutely have to have this? If the candy isn’t one your favorites it’s not really worth eating, is it? Take a minute to look at the big picture. You’re going to have so many more opportunities to eat treats during the upcoming holiday food fest: homemade stuffing, your mom’s pumpkin pie, and so on. Wouldn’t you rather eat healthy now and spend the extra calories and fat on special indulgences like those? You can buy candy all year round—there’s no “need” to eat it now.
Can I limit myself to just a few pieces? Some people can eat a mini candy bar or two and feel content. For others, one or two quickly becomes five or ten. If you fall into the latter category, don’t tempt fate—it’s simply too easy to binge on the fun-size stuff. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people consume more high-calorie treats when they’re in small packages than larger ones. The reason? They seem like “innocent pleasures.”
How much will I enjoy eating this candy? That seems like a stupid question—hello, candy is delicious! But keep in mind that it’s delicious for a matter of moments. The first few bites of any food taste the best; after that, the pleasure quotient gradually decreases. More isn’t better—for your waist or your taste buds.
Image via Shutterstock
October 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm , by Amelia Harnish
An army of soldiers, wearing everything from pink wigs and tutus to T-shirts with photos of loved ones, invaded New York City last weekend. They were there for the 10th annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and the Journal team was there to capture it. We wanted to meet some of the women (and guys) who raised money to walk up to 26 miles around the island of Manhattan on Saturday, camp out on Randall’s Island and then finish with another 13-mile hike on Sunday. With that kind of commitment, we knew we were bound to find good stories.
We met a woman who signed up in honor of her grandmother and then got diagnosed herself before she finished fundraising. We met a woman with a pink ribbon tattoo on her ankle in memory of her mom, who lost her battle six years ago. We met a group of young men doing the walk for their girlfriends, sisters and mothers. (You’ll get to meet them all, too, in an upcoming issue.)
Sheri McCoy, Avon’s new CEO, joined the charge. She spoke at the opening ceremony and spent the day walking and talking with participants. I got to sit down and chat with McCoy, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, after she crossed the finish line on day one (that’s her, above). “We had a woman tell her story on stage with me today who was diagnosed when she was only 27 years old. And the woman who spoke after me, her mother died just a few months ago. It was incredible that she was able to tell that story. I couldn’t have done it,” says McCoy, tearing up a little.
She clearly cares about this cause, as well as the more than 6 million Avon representatives she oversees, many of them women, across the United States and in countries all over the world. “As a manager, I want the people who work for Avon to be successful the same way I want my kids to be successful,” she says. “In motherhood and in business, you want to create an environment where people can achieve.” Her husband, who was the oldest of 13 kids growing up, did a lot of the childcare for their three boys, now 24, 22 and 20. “I’ve been fortunate to have the support—and to have worked for companies that are family friendly,” she says. “But I also had to learn to recognize what’s important, to prioritize and say no to things. It took maturity to say I can’t be perfect.”
During the week McCoy is up by 6 a.m. and often is in meetings or traveling until 9 p.m.. But the weekends are all hers. In addition to spending time with her boys, she’s a Zumba fanatic and bookworm. “Most of the time I have to read business journals and work-related things, so I love to pick up a James Patterson mystery. I can finish it in a few hours,” she says, smiling.
McCoy started her career at Johnson & Johnson as a scientist. She stayed with the company for 20 years, eventually leading the pharmaceutical division before coming to Avon in April. This was her first breast-cancer walk. “Avon has always been about empowering women,” she says. “Breast cancer is such a tough disease that touches so many people, so I wanted to be here. I’m inspired by the women participating, and I’m impressed that the foundation isn’t just working on awareness but getting the money to research and care.”
The New York City walkers raised an impressive $8.3 million this year. The majority goes to the Avon Foundation Breast Health Outreach Program, which focuses on screening and education. The rest goes to a variety of programs, including a grant to fund research on inflammatory breast cancer, a less common but very aggressive type of the disease, and support for women undergoing treatment.
Another pink October may be coming to a close, but McCoy is already looking ahead. “I walked with some women from California, and now I can’t wait to do the Santa Barbara walk next year,” she says.
October 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm , by Julie Bain
My name is Julie and I am a chocoholic. I’m also a health editor, so when I learned that dark chocolate with high cocoa content is the healthiest, I focused on that. I got used to that deep, complex flavor and firmer texture that’s usually not as creamy as milk chocolate. Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that are good for your cardiovascular system. Yes, there’s fat in there, too, but it’s mostly the good kind. Health food, right? Well, yes, in moderation—except for the added sugar.
Americans eat an average of 21 teaspoons of added sugar a day, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association—way more than the six teaspoons the American Heart Association recommends as the max for women. That added sugar is being implicated in everything from obesity to diabetes to heart disease, so I wanted to cut back. But most of the sugar-free chocolate I tried was, well, nasty. And it contained chemicals and artificial sweeteners, which I’d like to avoid. Then I discovered chocolate bars made with stevia, which many experts say is a safe, natural no-cal sweetener. Jackpot!
My colleagues and I tasted several brands that are widely available and came up with two favorites: Dante (top in photo) and Lily’s (bottom).
• The Dante bar, at 98 percent cocoa, is a study in purity with just three ingredients: chocolate liquor, stevia and vanilla. Surprisingly not crumbly, it melts in the mouth with deep, rich, classic dark chocolate flavors, subtle sweetness and a touch of tannic bitterness in the aftertaste like a fine red wine. For the true dark-chocolate aficionado. The 1.6-ounce bar has 10 thick squares; each has only 26 calories. The bars, which come in plain paper wrapping, are made in small quantities to order on amazon.com; eight bars for $29.95.
• Lily’s original 55 percent cocoa dark chocolate has a few more ingredients that give it a more melty mouthfeel and better approximates the flavor of familiar sugar-sweetened chocolate. The 3-ounce bar has 30 little squares to savor; each has only about 11 calories. It comes in other flavors, too (see photo; I love the coconut). These are available at Whole Foods and on amazon.com; 12 bars for $58. A portion of the profits support childhood cancer.
These bars aren’t drugstore cheap, but they are worth the investment, both for the taste and for your health. Once you try them, you may never reach into your kids’ plastic pumpkin again!
October 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm , by Amelia Harnish
In a survey of Internet users, one in four adults said they’ve bought drugs online, yet close to 30 percent said they had no idea how to identify a fake pharmacy from a real one. Those are scary stats because only 3 percent of online pharmacies comply with U.S. laws, according to a study by the National Boards of Pharmacy.
Margaret Hamburg, M.D., commissioner of the FDA, wants to make people more aware of this problem. Health director Julie Bain and I (right, with Dr. Hamburg in the middle) had a chance to sit down with her in New York last week to discuss it.
LHJ: We didn’t realize so many people shop online for drugs. What are the main reasons for doing it? Is it really as easy as putting something in your shopping cart and pressing enter?
MH: People do it for both convenience and cost. For some, it may be that their insurance company suggests they buy through the internet, and the insurance company recommends a certain site. That’s a safe way to go. But the danger is that when people get used to ordering online, they may start shopping around for cheaper prices on other sites. In these difficult economic times, it’s understandable that people want to look for the best price. But when it comes to medication, if it’s really cheap, then it probably isn’t the real thing.
And if it is as easy as just putting it in your cart, that is a major warning signal. You could never go to your brick and mortar pharmacy and get a prescription drug without a written prescription. So it’s a red flag online.
LHJ: What should women look out for if they do buy drugs online?
MH: There is real reason for concern that the product may be counterfeit or substandard, meaning it may not have the appropriate amount of the active pharmaceutical ingredients. It might have too little, too much, or it might have other ingredients or additives. Sometimes it can even be toxic, and your heath is too important to take a risk like that.
Safe and licensed online pharmacies exist, but your antenna has to go up every time. There are four key points to look for:
- Does the site require a prescription? (Your doctor’s office may need to send it electronically to the site, or sometimes you can scan a paper prescription.)
- Does it have a pharmacist available to answer your questions?
- Does it list a U.S. address and telephone number?
- Is it licensed?
If the answer is no to any of these questions (especially number 1), it may not be a reputable site. How do you determine if it’s licensed? On the BeSafeRx FDA site, click on your state, then scroll down to where you can enter the name of the pharmacy.
October 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm , by Amelia Harnish
During one of her recent volunteer shifts at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, AnneMarie Ciccarella (right) visited a woman who was recovering from a mastectomy. “It was the same bed in the same room I woke up in six years ago to the day,” she says. “Stuff like that really gets to me: When are we going to figure this out? How can we end this?”
Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in their lifetime. This year, more than 220,000 American women will be diagnosed with it and 40,000 will die. When we met Ciccarella for our October issue story on breast cancer survivors, she said she’s so tired of hearing these numbers. We’ve got to find a way to stop breast cancer.
That’s where the Health of Women (HOW) study comes in, says Ciccarella, who serves as the New York volunteer team coordinator with the Love/Avon Army of Women. Launched by the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, the Army of Women has been enrolling women in different research projects since 2008. Now the foundation is launching its own study to follow a huge group of women over time to learn why the disease develops. The key to all this? Your participation.
Why It’s Important
Many breast cancer patients have no known risk factors. So, does where you work or how much you sleep affect whether you will get breast cancer? Can anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen reduce breast cancer risk? These are the types of thing we want to understand better, and the larger the group of women we study, the more we can learn, says Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., professor and director of cancer etiology at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope in Los Angeles, a partner in the study.
How It Works
After you answer a questionnaire about your health history, the HOW study will send you e-mails every three to four months when a new module becomes available. The questionnaires are co-created by epidemiologists, statisticians and breast cancer advocates, and participants will have the opportunity to submit questions they want answered, says Naz Sykes, executive director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.
The researchers want to follow women for 20 years or more. It’s a commitment, but the modules only take a few minutes to answer. All of your data will be stored in your account and in a database available to researchers—without your name attached.
Where To Sign Up
Go to HealthofWomenStudy.org and create an account. Then get your friends involved. The researchers want healthy women from every ethnicity, plus breast cancer survivors, women with other health issues and even men who’ve had breast cancer. I’ve already enrolled and I hope you will, too. Head to the study’s helpful FAQs page for more info.
Photo by Avery Powell
Categories: Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: AnneMarie Ciccarella, Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, City of Hope, Dr. Susan Love, Dr. Susan Love Foundation, Leslie Bernstein Ph.D, Love/Avon Army of Women, Prevention | 66 Comments