Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gratitude and marriage

What effect does gratitude have on marriage and relationships?

Researcher Dr John Gottman suggests a 5 positive-to-1 negative ratio for a happy successful marriage.  Dr Gottman has become famous for his predictions of whether a marriage will succeed and flourish.  “The formula is that for every negative expression (a complaint, frown-put-down, expression of anger) there needs to be about five positive ones (smiles, compliments or laughter.)”  More information can be found at Grateful-ology,

Researcher C. Gordon from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington asked the question:  how does gratitude affect marital satisfaction?  Fifty couples (both husband and wife) who had been married an average of approximately 20 years participated in daily diary posts.  The expected results were that the individual’s gratitude to his/her partner shows increased satisfaction in the marriage.  What surprised the researchers was this:  “outward expressions of gratitude were outranked by a spouse’s “felt”—or inward—sense of gratitude.”   Can I interpret this to mean that my non-verbal communication tells my spouse how grateful I am to share life with him?  

You can find more about this research at The Happiness Institute, How Gratitude Strengthens a Marriage,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gratitude and living longer lives

Can gratitude help us live longer?  We don’t know but researchers have shown that a positive attitude contributes years to a person’s life.  Researcher Dr. David Snowdon, well known for the Nun study, has followed a group of School Sisters of Notre Dame religious affiliation for many years.  One study involved positive attitudes:  180 of these Catholic sisters wrote handwritten autobiographies as young women (average age 22 years).  Those who wrote positive content were most likely to be alive six decades later.  

Researchers at Mayo Clinic looked at 839 patients over a 30 year period and found that optimists live longer.  People who were more pessimistic live a shorter life span.  Optimists vs. Pessimists:  Survival Rate among medical patients over 30 year period,

A gratitude quote for today:  "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."  William Arthur Ward at Gratitude Quotes,

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gratitude and heart disease

What about people dealing with heart disease?  What can gratitude offer them?  

Psychologist Dr Glen Affleck interviewed 287 people recovering from a heart attack at 7 weeks after the attack and at eight years after.  From this research they found that people who found a positive benefit from their heart attack (and did not blame others for the occurrence) fared better.  These people were less likely to suffer another heart attack within the next eight years.  The researchers concluded that people who looked for benefits from the heart attack (were grateful) faced a decreased risk of another attack.  

 A gratitude quote for today:  If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get." Quote by Frank A. Clark at Gratitude Quotes,
(Sorry I accidentally left off the source)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What is gratitude?

What is gratitude?  

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, gratitude is defined as being grateful or thankful.   According to UCDavis professor, Dr Robert Emmons, a person who practices gratitude considers life a gift and chooses to be grateful for good things he experiences. 

In his book, Thanks:  How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Dr Emmons defines gratitude in two stages:  “Gratitude is the acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life.  In gratitude, we say yes to life… Second, gratitude is recognizing that the source(s) of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self.” 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Researchers believe gratitude is a healthy attitude

Researchers believe gratitude is a healthy attitude.  Lab results from University of California Davis professor Robert Emmons:
People who keep gratitude journals report better health with fewer physical symptoms and a positive attitude which included more enthusiasm, alertness, attentiveness and energy toward life.  These people also found themselves exercising more.  

People who practiced gratitude “felt better about their lives as a whole and more optimistic about the coming week.”

Study participants found they had made more progress in their personal goals (whether academic, health-based or personal) during a two-month period when compared to non-gratitude participants

People dealing with neuromuscular disease (either congenital or adult-onset) participated in a 21-day gratitude activity.  Part of the study participants wrote a daily gratitude journal while the other group did not.  Those writing their blessings daily found they slept better (both quality and length of sleep).  These participants reported improved moods, they felt more optimistic and more connected to other people.   

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gratitude is a healthy attitude

In your hurry-and-scurry routine, have you stopped to count your blessings?  Do you have blessings to count?  Some say yes and others may not feel so many blessings this year. With hard economic times, many people feel the pinch of lost job or lost income.  In these times, what do you have to be thankful for?

A friend of mine was telling me of a class she’s attending.  She was supposed to be thankful for 30 things every day for a week.  30 things every day? ( I asked with my mouth hanging open)  Wow.  That’s a lot.  She said some things are small things and some are big.  Ok, let’s try it.

So I am thankful I have a yummy cup of coffee (with caramel macchiato flavoring) sitting on my desk.  I am thankful for a wonderful ‘early Christmas’ with family in Dallas this past weekend.  I am thankful for a safe trip home on a rainy, gloomy day.  I am thankful for family and friends ‘near and far’ who we love and who love us.  Last but most importantly, I’m thankful for a God who loves us and Baby Jesus who brought us salvation.  

If I listed everything separately, I could probably come up with 30 things right here.  And do you notice that these things aren’t about money?  I do recognize that we needed money for a trip to Dallas and Christmas presents.  However, some of the best things in life aren’t about money, like the sweet hugs given by 5 and 11 year old girls.  Or having my back rubbed by my husband of 32 years.   These blessings are priceless.  As we continue this holiday season, my wish for both you and I is that we recognize the priceless things in our lives and enjoy them.   

Did you know that gratitude is a healthy attitude?  More tomorrow.   

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pre-diabetes --do you have it?

Has your doctor said you are borderline diabetes (also called pre-diabetes)?  57 million adults age 20 and older are pre-diabetics.  (When you consider the numbers:  57 million Americans are pre-diabetics and 23 million have diabetes, that’s a lot of Americans dealing with this illness).  

What do you know about pre-diabetes?  It’s borderline high blood sugar.  It means your blood sugar level is high but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.  It means you are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its complications.  

Did you know that some lifestyle changes may help you avoid that diagnosis and the dangers of diabetes?  The experts at the National Diabetes Education Program use the word “prevent”.  They give three steps:  move more, choose healthy foods and begin a healthy lifestyle.  

  • Move more.  The recommended exercise is 30 minutes per day 5 days per week.  For those who haven’t been exercising, begin slowly and work with your doctor to incorporate exercise into your life style.
  • Healthy food means colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and protein sources.
  • Make changes in your lifestyle which contribute to a healthier you.  Make new healthy habits. Work with your doctor to improve your health. 
More from the National Diabetes Education Program at

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Symptoms of diabetes mellitus

What are the symptoms of diabetes?  The three classic symptoms are polydipsia (thirst), polyuria (having to urinate or pee more often than normal) and polyphagia (hunger).  When the blood sugar is high, the kidneys have to work harder to get rid of the excess sugar so the person urinates more often.  He becomes thirsty and can become dehydrated.  His body cannot utilize the sugar in the blood stream (inefficient or not enough insulin) and the body cells starve and the person becomes excessively hungry. If 5 million people do not know they have diabetes, obviously the symptoms are not always recognized. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

A1C blood test for diabetics

Yesterday I quoted the CDC National Diabetes Fact Sheet.  The experts believe that better control of your blood sugar will decrease complications.  How will your doctor know how you’ve been doing at controlling your blood sugar?  One test doctors use to monitor a person’s blood sugar on a regular basis is called the A1C (glycated hemoglobin) test.  This blood test tells what a person’s blood sugar has been for the past 12 weeks.  This test shows how much glucose or sugar attaches to the hemoglobin part of the red blood cells.  When the body makes hemoglobin, it has no sugar attached to it but as the hemoglobin circulates through the blood stream, the glucose attaches permanently and this reflects a person’s blood sugar level.  The ideal A1C blood test result is below 7%. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Good news about diabetes mellitus

In this serious illness of diabetes mellitus, there is some good news.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) handbook, National Diabetes Fact Sheet 2007, “Improved glycemic control benefits people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.  In general, every percentage point drop in A1C blood tests (e.g. from 8.% to 7.0% can reduce the risk of microvascular complications (eye, kidney and nerve diseases) by 40%.”  What are they saying?  When a person works to control his blood sugar, his risk of complications decreases substantially. 

How can a person control his blood sugar?  Once a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the treatment involves insulin replacement.  For a person with type 2 diabetes, the treatment may be oral medication, diet management, and/or insulin replacement.   

When a person is diagnosed with diabetes (either type), it’s important to learn about the illness and how to manage it.  Work with your doctor/healthcare provider to manage your blood sugar level.  Many people benefit from diabetic teaching.  Diabetic teaching can include a nurse and a dietitian who teach how to cope with diabetes and maximize your health.   

The American Diabetes Association provides much information at

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November is Diabetes month

Diabetes mellitus is the 7th leading cause of death in America.  Diabetes mellitus involves blood sugar regulation.  23.6 million Americans have diabetes and of that number, more than 5 million do not know they have it. 
There are two types of diabetes mellitus, Type 1 and Type 2:  Type 1 is also called insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM).  Type 1 occurs when the person’s pancreas cells (beta cells) which produce insulin no longer function.  In Type 1 diabetes, insulin must be given by injection or by insulin pump. 

Type 2 is also called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).  Type 2 diabetes begins as insulin resistance (body cells cannot use the insulin properly) and later the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin.

You may ask so why do I need insulin?  Insulin is a hormone that enables body cells to take sugar (out of the blood stream) and use it.  When insulin is present, the body cells take in the sugar molecules (simple carbohydrates) and use them properly.   If insulin isn’t present, the blood sugar stays in the blood stream and cannot enter the individual cells.  The cells starve without the sugar while the large amount of sugar floating around the blood stream stresses the body.  Uncontrolled blood sugar levels cause heart and vascular disease, causing heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease.  Diabetes harms a person’s kidneys as the kidneys work too hard to filter the high sugar concentration in the blood. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults ages 20-74.  More tomorrow.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cooking safety to prevent fires

We almost set our house on fire making popcorn on the stovetop.  We stepped away from the kitchen for “just a minute”—when we heard the smoke alarm screaming, we knew it was the popcorn oil burning.  Wow, did it smell bad.  If our kitchen wasn’t open with 12 foot peaked ceiling over the stove, we would have had a house afire.  National Fire Protection Safety “cooking safety” fact sheet says it well.  “The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.  Most cooking fires in the home involve the stovetop.”  Bingo, that was us.  

  • The experts recommend we “cook with caution”:  stay in the kitchen and watch food that is frying, grilling and broiling.  If you must leave the kitchen, turn off your stove.  
  • Food that is simmering, baking, roasting or boiling, should be checked on frequently.  You can use a time to remind you to check on this food.  If you must leave your home, turn off the cooking stove/oven.
  • Move all flammable items away from your stovetop.  This includes oven mitts, towels, wooden utensils, food packaging.  
  • The NFPA recommends a 3 foot “kid-free zone” which means children should stay 3 feet away from areas, including the stove, where hot food and beverages are being cooked and carried. 

The National Fire Protection Association gives more information about cooking safety and how to fight a cooking fire at

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Use candles safely and prevent fires

Many Americans enjoy burning scented candles in their homes.  Did you know that candles cause fires and injuries to Americans each year?  These statistics come from the 5 year period of 2003-2007, “more that one-third (36%) of home candle fires started in bedrooms.  These fires caused 44% of the associated deaths and half (49%) of the associated injuries…Falling asleep was a factor in 12% of the home candle fires and 36% of the associated deaths…More than half (55%) of home candle fires occurred when some form of combustible material was left or came too close to the candle.  December is the peak time of year for home candle fires.  In December, 13% of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4% the rest of the year.” 

Candle safety tips from the NFPA include:  
  • Blow out candles; do not leave them unattended.  Do not use candles in bedrooms or other rooms where people will fall asleep and leave them burning.  Candles should never be placed closer than 12 inches away from burnable objects/decorations. 
  • Use sturdy candle holders that won’t tip over.  Place the candles on uncluttered, sturdy table surface.
  • Keep candles away from children and pets.  I repeat, Keep candles, matches and lighters safely away from children.
  • When lighting candles, you should keep your hair and clothing away from the flame.  When the candle burns low, it should be extinguished, let cool and discarded safely.
  • Never use candles if someone in the house uses oxygen for a medical condition. 
  • Use flashlights if the electricity goes out, never candles.  
More information about candle safety can be found at

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let's keep our holidays fire free

Let’s keep our holidays fire free.  What a tragedy!! A house fire happens at Christmastime and people lose their homes and maybe their lives.  This joyous time of the year turns sad when a fire happens.  How can we prevent a house fire?  The National Fire Protection Association wants us to know that “one-quarter of home decoration fires happen in December.”   They give the following tips to prevent fires:

  • When purchasing holiday decorations, you should buy flame resistant/flame retardant.
  •  Candles are an open flame and they cause more than ½ of December home decoration fires so keep lit candles safely away from children, pets and things that can burn. 
  • Use outside lights on the outside of your house; use inside lights inside only. Do not mix their locations.
  • Replace worn, broken strings of lights.  Inspect the cords and replace those with worn and broken cords.  Connect no more than 3 strands of mini lights.  Connect no more than 50 screw-in bulbs.   If using LED lights, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Do not use nails to hang lights; use clips so the electrical cord isn’t damaged. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fire safety during the holidays

I debated whether to bring up this topic.  On the one hand, it’s sad and depressing.  On the other hand, I learned from this information and maybe you will too.  So I share this information about fire safety so we can choose to be prepared and safe this holiday and winter season.  

It seems that every winter someone’s house burns and we hear about it on the news.  Sometimes people die in these fires.  As we enter the winter/holiday season, let’s be wise and protect our homes and our lives. Have you considered your smoke detector and its batteries lately?   Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) show that “In 2005-2009, smoke alarms sounded in half of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.  Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.”   

The NFPA recommends properly installed hardwired smoke alarms with a battery-powered back up.  If you do not have hardwired smoke alarms, contact an electrician for installation.  The NFPA recommends that smoke alarms be located in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.  If these alarms are interconnected, all alarms will sound when any individual alarm sounds.  

A public education program held in Chicago, IL a couple weekends ago called attention to “Change your clock, change your smoke detector batteries.”  This program reminded people to change their clocks back (off daylight saving time) while changing batteries in their smoke detectors.  The NFPA recommends batteries be changed yearly.   
Our alarms began chirping this past week so David bought new batteries and changed them.  We’re ready for this next year.  Have you changed the batteries in your smoke detectors recently?  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Holiday priorities

As we enter this holiday season, I must say I love the holidays.  Thanksgiving reminds me to be grateful for all the blessings I’ve received.  Christmas brings the story of the Christ child, our Hope for salvation.  I also love the trimmings of the holidays, with the turkey and the Christmas parties, and so on. 
However, I recognize the holidays bring stress to many people.  We expend extra time and money trying to think of the perfect gift for our loved ones.  I’m coping ok so far this year, but as always, our lives will get hectic. 

As we enter the season, take a big breath and prioritize.  What are the most important things you really want to accomplish?  This year I must say a priority is spending time with loved ones.  What things do not matter?  Whether I get cookies baked.  Since David may not agree, my compromise is to order ready-to-bake cookie dough from my co-worker’s daughter.  (It’s a win-win situation, David will get his favorite oatmeal-raisin cookies, I will spend less time in the kitchen, and my co-worker’s daughter gets college fund money.) 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Exercise for arthritis and health.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends exercise for people dealing with arthritis.  Yesterday I discussed the first two letters of the FITT chart which gives their recommendations for exercise goals.  Today I finish with the final two T's. 

  • Time.  Any time is better than none, especially as you are beginning an exercise program.  The Arthritis Foundation recommends one of these goals:  150 minutes moderate exercise per week OR 75 minutes vigorous exercise OR a combination of both vigorous and moderate exercise.

  • Type of exercise refers to the 3 basic types:   1.  aerobic exercise uses your whole body in activities like walking, swimming, gardening, and a variety of low-impact aerobic exercise classes   2.  Muscle-strengthening exercises use weights, resistance bands or your own body by doing calisthentics.  3.  Exercises which help our balance and flexibility includes yoga and tai chi.   
I encourage you (as I encourage myself) to stay active this winter season.  It's a healthy thing we can do.  The Arthritis Today e-newsletter can be found at:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Arthritis Foundation e-newsletter says "exercise is good for arthritis"

I was finished talking about exercise until I saw Thursday's Arthritis Today e-newsletter,   They ask the question:  What about people with arthritis?  Should they be getting exercise? 
“Exercise is good for arthritis.”  They use the F.I.T.T. Chart (frequency, intensity, time and type) to answer questions such as ‘how much exercise’ and ‘what kind’? 
  •  Frequency refers to how often a person should exercise.  Their answer:  “Daily exercise is best, but its benefits are cumulative.”  If you can fit three 10 minute walks into your schedule but not one 30 minute walk, you still gain benefits from the multiple, short time frames.     

  • Intensity means how hard you work out.  The Arthritis Foundation recommends the talk test.  While you are exercising, if you can talk but not sing, consider your exercise moderate.  If you cannot talk without losing your breath, you are doing vigorous exercise.  As you begin to exercise, start slow and increase gradually.  

Tomorrow I will discuss Time and Type of the exercise the Arthritis Foundation recommends. The e-newsletter can be found at

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day

Thank you to all our present military people, and past veterans.  You've served your country and us.  I honor you today (and everyday) with a sincere thank you.

I hope you all have a safe and wonderful Veteran's Day.  

(I took this picture this summer when we toured a downtown St Louis courthouse.  I loved the flag display.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Final thoughts on winter exercise

If you haven’t been active and exercising, talk with your doctor/health care provider before beginning an exercise routine.  Here’s a few final suggestions for adding exercise to your winter routine: 

  • Recognize that small time frames of exercise (even 10 minutes three times a day) can add movement to your day. 
  • Instead of sitting for your 30 minute lunch break, use 10 minutes of it for a walk around work.  
  • If you park at the back of the parking lot and walk to work (or stores while shopping), you are adding exercise to your day.   
  • Find a support group/friend who will encourage and cheer you in your exercise efforts.
Remember to keep yourself hydrated while you are exercising.  If you are a person who is on fluid restrictions due to heart or kidney problems, follow your doctor’s recommendations.  Most people will benefit from drinking more water to replace what we lose when we exercise.  If readers have suggestions on how to add exercise to your winter days, please share them with us.