Top
Useful links
Why read on...

Follow our journey as we build Puristics, a new brand of anti-aging skin care without harsh chemicals. For us, the past 3 years have been filled with "aha" moments as we educate consumers about label literacy - knowing the ingredients in your beauty products, since harsh chemicals can end up on your skin. We welcome you to learn from our experiences both as businesswomen and busy moms, and please share your own stories, too!

Blogs we like...
Follow Puristics on...
Puristics Twitter Feed

Wednesday
Sep212011

God Bless Gilda Radner and My Mom

http://www.runningwithmascara.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/ovarian-cancer-ribbon-magnet.jpgSeptember is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.  I really wonder if ovarian cancer would ever have made it on the cause-of-the-month hit parade, if it weren’t for Gilda Radner.  Sadly, she lost her battle with the disease in 1989.  Back then it seemed ludicrous that the “silent killer” could take the life of such an ebullient woman.  While her somewhat nasal, sharp voice was lost that day, her legacy lives on with memories of riotous laughter, occasional references to Emily Litella and Roseanne Roseannadanna.  I owe Gilda Radner a personal debt of gratitude.  She helped to save my mother’s life.  Six years ago, through some miracle, my mother decided that the stomach pain she was feeling deserved a trip to the doctor.  I think both she and her doctor paid a bit more attention because of Gilda Radner. http://cdn102.iofferphoto.com/img/item/175/829/335/MxBjnB0pQXadg2T.jpg

Mom had always ignored aches and pains and tossed them off as minor annoyances.  If the pain got really bad, she would pull out a heating pad or pop a couple of Advil.  I think she assumed that whatever pain she had was a normal part of the human condition, and I’m certain that she thought that there was honor and grace in bearing it.  She often quotes the nuns of her childhood when things were tough.  “Offer it up” she’d say.  Something nagged her this time.  The pain was different.  It wasn’t in her stomach like an ulcer (from her Advil habit) might be.  It was lower, and she knew somehow that it needed to be checked.  Shortly after that check-up (about which my siblings and I knew nothing), she called to say that 1) my sister was in labor with her 2nd child, and 2) I wouldn’t be able to reach my parents at home the next day because she was going to have surgery.  In a fashion that is so typical of my mother, she slipped in the part about the surgery just after she told me that my niece Olivia was about to be born.  She might as well have told me that she was going to Stop & Shop to buy milk.  She went on to explain that the surgery had been planned for later that month, but the doctor’s office had called on Friday and told her to come in Monday morning.  “They had some scheduling issues, I guess”, she said.  “They’re having a gynecological oncologist do the surgery.  The regular surgeon must not be available.”  Yup, just scheduling issues. 

That was the beginning of my mom’s journey into and thankfully through the world of ovarian cancer.  After the surgery and chemotherapy, she was declared cancer free and has remained so for 5 years.  That day was also the moment, for me, when I went from being a child in her life to truly being a grown up.  I think she’d thought of me as a grown up for many years (I had 4 children after all), but I still thought of myself as her child.  When hit in the face with her mortality, I also had to face my own mortality.  Was there anything that allowed the cancer to take hold and grow in her body?  How could I learn what it was, help her and help to protect myself, my sisters and my daughters?  As much as my mother has always been stalwart in tough situations, she has accepted many things passively.  There was no way I was going to take a passive approach to my well-being.  From that moment on, my generally healthy lifestyle shifted into a higher gear.

As I think about my mother’s fight against ovarian cancer, there are some “unknowns” and some “knowns”. 

The Unknowns:

-       Were there “rogue” cells in my mom for years waiting to turn cancerous?

-       Did years of poor nutrition, overloaded with synthetic foods and diet products plant the seed?

-       Did 6 formula-fed children make her odds better or worse?

-       Was the ovarian cancer related to her sister’s “female problems” or the benign breast lump found years earlier?

-       Was this the beginning of a family trend?

The Knowns:

-       I tested negative for the BRCA1 gene

-       My pelvic ultrasounds have been negative each year

-       I eat a nutritious diet, low on inflammation causing foods and high on antioxidants

-       I’ve learned the signs of ovarian cancer:

  • Abdominal pressure or bloating.  Enlarged abdomen or waistline
  • Constantly feeling full or loss of appetite
  • Pelvic discomfort or pain
  • Indigestion, gas or nausea that sticks around
  • Constipation or other changes in bowel habits
  • Low back pain
  • Lack of energy

Whether you have some of these exact symptoms or others that concern you, see your doctor and ask if it might be ovarian cancer.  Without being excessively paranoid, think about sources of potential carcinogens and other potentially harmful chemicals in your life and make a plan to get rid of them.  And as always, pay attention to your body.  Like my mom, you'll know first when something isn't as it should be.  

Gilda Radner helped to make us all more aware of ovarian cancer.  We owe it to her, my mom and all of the other women who have fought against this disease to learn the signs and symptoms.  This month, when you see a teal ribbon, let it remind you to check yourself for symptoms and tell a friend what signs she should check.  For more information on ovarian cancer awareness, visit www.ovarian.org.  For more about Gilda Radner and her fight with ovarian cancer, check out her book It's Always Something

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-J_wymeljpkI/Tl8ko2SIN_I/AAAAAAAAAKM/QxflfFXgSuo/s1600/ovarian-cancer-month.gif

Friday
Aug192011

With Climate Change, Think Globally; Protect your Family Locally

I sometimes worry that Global Climate Change has become such an enormous issue that it is too big for us to handle.  Because it is such a big and complicated mess, we must rely on lawmakers and regulators to take action on our behalf.  If we decide that governmental bodies and NGOs are the only ones who can make a change then we may decide that we no longer have any personal responsibility.  Separating recyclables, taking shorter showers or switching to biodiesel may seem like such trivial steps that we decide to just forget the whole thing.

I just became aware of a new tool from the NRDC that helps to personalize climate change.  I think this approach has the potential of re-energizing each of us, because the worries and solutions are local, and each of us will be able to feel that we're making an impact, at least on the health of our families.  I submit that there are very few of us who are able to think altruistically of the greater good for a long period of time if there's not a visible, palpable benefit for our own lives.  The NRDC Climate Change tool enables you to look at the specific risks where you live and what you should do to protect your health and safety.

I live in New Jersey.  When I used the Climate Change tool for my area, I was able to read about the impact of climate change in New Jersey, see that the counties where I live and work are affected by flooding (knew that) and that there's potential for exposure to dengue fever due to mosquito bites (didn't know that).  As an asthma sufferer, I was most interested in the air pollution information.  It's an interesting tool and will certainly make you more aware, in an empowering way, of climate change and it's impact on you.

A few months ago, I did a Pure Talk video blog on a similar web-based tool called Scorecard, The Pollution Information Site.  This is another useful tool for understanding the hazards near your home or workplace.  The Scorecard tool includes information on the prevalence of hazardous chemicals in your zip code.  Check out either or both sites just to know a bit more and to breathe a little easier, perhaps.

Feeling overwhelmed by the potential hazards awaiting you each time you step outside?  It certainly can be overwhelming if we allow ourselves to get pulled into all of the "might happen" scenarios.  I like these tools because they give me a general awareness of what is going on right around me, what I might do to be reasonably prepared/protected and what small steps I can take in my daily life to make sure that I'm part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.  They're meant to inform, not alarm - - no need to build an underground bunker just because you learned that your areas watershed flows are a bit low!

Generally, my focus is placed on the hazards most within my control - - what am I eating, drinking or putting on my skin.  Many of us have answered the "what am I eating and drinking" question well enough, but have we spent enough time pondering the "what am I putting on my skin" question?  You know I have, and you know what I recommend.  Instead of taking my word for it, click on one more link, check out the ingredients and make the choice that's best for you.  www.puristics.com.  What are you using?  What's working for you? What new or different products would you like?   If you've already made some changes in your personal care product regime, I'd love to know about them.  And keep the information coming. 

Thursday
Aug112011

What Do You Really Look Like?

http://www.wonderbranding.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/dove_wideweb__430x327.jpgMaybe the inspiration came from the Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty" (very smart campaign; not sure why/how Dove dropped the ball on that one).  I just discovered a website called My Body Gallery:  What Real Women Look Like.  The site offers a tool that’s so cool that I almost posted a photo. Relax.  I said I almost posted a photo.  You put in your height, weight and body shape and the site returns pictures of real women with approximately the same stats.

Like virtually every woman I know, when I look down at the scale, I don’t see digits.  I see letters: F-A-T.  Well, maybe that’s overly harsh. What I mean is that I always have this idea that the numbers on the scale are embarrassingly high, regardless of what size clothing I wear, how fit I am or how I look in a swim suit.  It seems impossible to ever see myself objectively (I think that’s an oxymoron anyhow).  And yet, I work really hard to make sure that my teenage girls have positive body images. I've known so many women with eating disorders, that I'm acutely aware of the dangers of negative body images, particular among teenagers. 

When I put my stats into the Body Gallery tool, it returned pictures of women who were basically shaped like me.  I know . . . duh.  The real surprise is that I didn't think they looked that bad.  Somehow, I was able to see them as they actually are, something I'm not able to do when I look in the mirror.   I was fully expecting to see much heavier looking women because of my warped view that the numbers on my scale were embarrassingly high.  I think this is a better outcome than if the search engine had returned pictures of heavy women or stick thin super models.  It reminded me that I feel better about virtually everything in my life when I'm dealing with clear facts viewed through an objective lens. 

Body issues seem to be a never-ending competition among women even if we don’t speak about them.  We might go on a secret diet because we’re afraid that our efforts will trigger the competitive instinct in our friends or we might fall off the wagon and be judged harshly.  I never tell my (overly thin) mother when I'm making an extra effort to shed a few pounds because I fear either a knowing nod or subtle sabotage.  Nuts, right?  Why do we do this to each other?  As an athletic teen with a pretty good metabolism, I didn’t think much about dieting.  But metabolisms change and 4 children change things even more. I'm so focused on my healthy lifestyle that I feel that the perfect shape should just be an added benefit.  It seems hypocritical to think of vanity rather than or above health.  But sometimes I do. 

So, I continue to focus on good health and "compressing morbidity" (thanks Dr. Weil).  And the “My Body Gallery” site will help me to keep my focus on health.  Sure, I’d like to lose 10 lbs (who wouldn’t), but I can now see that there are others out there with my height and weight proportions who not only look like me, they look pretty good.

Please click here if you are not redirected within a few seconds.

It’s interesting that I stumbled across this tool the same week the world was passing judgment on the physiques of fit women like Cameron Diaz and Serena Williams.  http://external.ak.fbcdn.net/safe_image.php?d=AQAl9fPeLI9m0LSA&w=90&h=90&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcdn02.cdnwp.celebuzz.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2011%2F08%2F01%2FCameron-Diaz-in-a-Teeny-Yellow-Bikini-in-South-Beach-1-150x150.jpg Maybe it’s time to take a step back and acknowledge that each and every one of us is a real woman.  We need to support each other so that we can, someday, live comfortably in our bodies, whatever their shape.  With type 2 diabetes rates soaring, we need http://ll-media.tmz.com/2011/07/18/0718-serena-williams-pcn-credit.jpgto support each other to be healthy and strong and to focus on what “normal” looks like. How do your clothes fit? Do you eat “clean”? Do you feel strong and healthy?  If you use these as your guides, I can promise that you’ll be a great, real woman.  In the meantime, I may just put my proportions minus 10 pounds into the Body Gallery tool . . . just to see.
Monday
Jul182011

There’s No Time Like the Present . . . 

. . . unless you’re younger than 50.  I was intrigued and somewhat relieved to come across a blog post from Blisstree.com called “Not Healthy Now? Don’t Worry, You Will Be in Your 50s”.   I’ve been beating myself up lately because my work-out routine has taken a back seat to my travel schedule.  I’ve been on the road for at least a day or more virtually every week over the past month of two.  On the days when I’m home, I’m more focused on catching up on the laundry, grocery shopping or just having a quiet meal with the kids than on hitting the treadmill or swinging the kettlebells.  Now, I can confidently stare down my upcoming birthday with the Blisstree article in hand!  I have time, years even, to get my act together. 

This by no means gives me a pass for a decadent or slothful past, but it does provide hope and alleviate guilt for those of us who have become trapped in day-to-day demands of trying to balance so much. However, the Blisstree article does speak to the somewhat ridiculous expectations we place for ourselves in this age of instant gratification. From crash diets to killer workouts, staying healthy has become something of an overnight expectation rather than a steady approach to life.  We’re all about the 10-minute work out and eating on the run.  I love to ride my bike, but regular, 30-mile scenic bike rides just aren’t in the cards at the moment (I did squeeze a 20-miler in last weekend, though).  The healthy living routine can’t be a one-size fits all.  It has to dovetail well into all our other commitments, but it also must be a priority. 

By and large, my generation was raised on speed and technology.  Fast food, TV dinners, microwaves, liquid meal replacements and energy bars all made it easier to fill our stomachs as we dashed from appointment to appointment.  The car became an acceptable replacement for the kitchen table.  For the most part, the virtues of organic food and sustainable living were unknown to us.  While this has turned out to be a disadvantage for us, we have begun to turn this into a great gift for the generation we’re raising. When my son and daughter (18 and 15) grocery shop on their own, I’m shocked by the paradox sitting on the kitchen counter when I come home.  I prepare myself for stacks of Hot Pockets, Nutella, Gushers and other snacks that I never buy for them.  Shock hits when I see the other items in the bags. They’ve bought salad, celery, strawberries, bananas, non-fat Greek yogurt and grass-fed beef.  The lettuce, strawberries and celery are organic; the bananas are not (hooray, they consulted the “Dirty Dozen” list I e-mailed to them!).  Our kitchen counter tells the story of their generation, a generation which will be more apt to maintain healthy lifestyles in more sustainable ways.  Even with the sugar and salt cravings of teenagers, they desire healthy and wholesome food, even when I’m not hovering over them.  And their friends display similar, unteenlike behavior.  As a teenager I would never have asked for the recycling bin, but it has become an expectation for this generation.  I’m not saying that they won’t, and don’t, take advantage of their metabolism by eating late night fast-food or ice cream as the article details, but there is a quiet change happening that will hopefully be carried into adulthood.

While I struggle to fit healthy habits into my jam-packed lifestyle, I’m sure that when my kids reach their thirties and forties, it will be so embedded into their routines that they won’t have to look ahead to finally getting fit when they’re in their 50s.  Living healthy won’t be a lofty idea but a basic necessity.  It won’t require extra thought or motivation because it will have become so routinized. There will not simply be a decade of life when one is healthiest but rather an entire lifetime of low- maintenance healthy living.

At least, that’s my dream for the future and for my kids.  In the meantime, I’d better wake up and get back to the treadmill, kettlebells and flax seed!  There’s no time like the present.

Below are some habits I’m trying to adopt to manage my health while traveling.  Maybe some of them will help you too.

1.     Bring your reusable water bottle . . . everywhere.  Yes, you have to empty it before you go through airport security, but then you’ll be able to keep it filled throughout your travels.  You can stay hydrated without buying multiple $3 plastic water bottles.

2.     Pack resistance cords with handles.  When I’m stuck in a room when the gym is closed or don’t have time to get a proper workout in, I can use these cords to get a bit of movement in my hotel room.

3.     Download one of the many yoga podcasts or videos onto your technology of choice.  I’m fond of “Yoga for Runners” because it helps my crazy-tight hamstrings from triggering hip and lower back pain.

4.     Always put your workout clothes in the bag.  My workout stuff often returns from a trip largely unused.  However, I’d feel far worse if I ended up with the time, desire and need to exercise but I didn’t have the means to do so.

5.     Bring your own food for the plane.  Even before airlines resorted to the boxed snacks for purchase onboard, airplane food was a low quality choice.  I often bring a bag of almonds, some blueberries and an apple.  These help to tide me over while I’m flying and often are a good snack when mealtime doesn’t line up that well with my meetings.

6.     Invest in those silly eyeshades.  You might look like Mortitia Adams or Eva Gabor (in her Green Acres days), but they can help you squeeze in some needed shut eye on an airplane or in an unfamiliar hotel room.

7.     Check out Five Fingers from Vibram (similar available under different brand names from other manufacturers).  If you can get over the looks from other gym rats, you’ll like the way these pack so much more easily than bulky running shoes.  Build your miles up slowly, though, if you want to avoid straining your calves.



Thursday
Jul072011

Great Skin from the Inside Out

The website, Organic Authority just posted a list of nutrients that will help to turn back the clock on your skin along with some broad scientific evidence of their effectiveness.  I generally get many of these nutrients with my regular eating habits so I take the support for the effectiveness on faith.  At this point, turning back the clock with natural, healthy means for even an hour or two is something I’m game to try. 

I thought you’d find it easier to take action on their recommendations if I provided you with a few recipes which incorporate the ingredients.  Without this added prompt, I often find it too easy to toss the information into the junk drawer of my brain and forget about it.

Their list of “must consume” nutrients for healthier, younger looking skin are:  

Oranges:

 

Polyphenols and flavonoids in oranges have great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.  They also provide extra sun protection and enable skin cells to achieve greater longevity. Like a few of the other heroes on our anti-aging list, you can eat them or use them to make a hydrating (and delicious) mask.  For the mask, combine orange juice, lemon juice and plain full fat yogurt.  Slather it on your face and eat up whatever drips off 

Cucumbers:

Filled with vitamin-C, an important antioxidant, cucumbers also contain silica which improves the elasticity of connective tissues and helps to plump up the skin.

Almonds:

 

High in vitamins D and E, almonds are a great source of protein, “good fat” and antioxidants when eaten, and the oil helps rejuvenate cells and restore the natural pH of skin. Consume them whole or apply almond oil to your skin in a mask of almond oil and oatmeal.

Blueberries:

These antioxidant packed dynamos help skin fight environmental toxins and the effects of aging while they provide great cognitive and cardiovascular effects.  For skin health, eat blueberries or apply topically as a mask made of crushed berries, olive oil and honey.  Watch those stains on white bath towels!

Marine Peptides:

Immune-enhancing, antibacterial amino acids help repair sun damage and age-related skin damage.

Vitamin E:

Fat soluble antioxidants that improve skin membrane protection

 

Try these recipes to work more of these powerhouses into your routine.  As they say, can’t hurt and it might help . . . and in the meantime, you won’t have to put as much thought into answering the “what’s for dinner” question.

All At Once Saladhttp://www.mwpisd.esc18.net/mhs/Faculty%20Pages/gaule/10_11/recipe_2_11/Marissa%27s%20Recipes/blueberry.jpg

3 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 cup slivered almonds

1 medium cucumber, sliced very thinly

1 tbs fresh orange juice, add more to taste

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs white wine vinegar

2 tbs mild honey from local bees

1/4 tsp ground cumin

½  tsp salt & a liberal grinding of black pepper

Spread almonds out on baking sheet and toast lightly in 350F oven for 15 minutes or until light brown.  Stir occasionally to avoid burning.  Let cool.  Combine orange sections, blueberries, 2/3 cup of almonds and ¾ of cucumber slices in large bowl.  In smaller, non-metal bowl, combine orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, honey, cumin, salt and pepper and whisk to blend.  Drizzle dressing over orange/blueberry mixture being careful to avoid over-moistening.  Toss salad and sprinkle remaining almonds and cucumbers on the top.  May be served with a sprinkling of feta cheese on top, if desired.

Chilled Cucumber Soup with Smoked Salmon and Dillhttp://www.epicurious.com/images/recipesmenus/2003/2003_august/108433.jpg

1 ½ tbs butter

1 cup chopped onions

4 cucumbers, peeled, halved, cut crosswise into ½ inch thick slice (about 5 cups)

1, 8 oz organic russet potato, peeled, cut into ½” dice

3 ½ cups low salt, organic chicken broth

3 large fresh dill sprigs plus 6 tbs minced fresh dill

1 tsp salt (more to taste if needed)

1 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

3 oz smoked salmon, cut into ½ inch pieces

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add cucumbers and potato; stir 1 minute. Add broth, dill sprigs, and 1 tsp salt. Increase heat and bring to simmer.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until cucumbers and potato are tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in processor until smooth. Return to pot. Cool 15 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 cup crème fraîche and 4 tablespoons minced dill. Cover and chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.) Taste soup, adding more salt if desired. Ladle soup into 6 bowls. Place dollop of crème fraîche in center of each bowl; sprinkle with smoked salmon and remaining 2 tablespoons minced dill. 

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Crust:http://i-cdn.apartmenttherapy.com/uimages/kitchen/2009_07_14-blueberry-bar.jpg

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar

½  tsp salt

¼  tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½ -inch cubes

½  cup sliced almonds

Filling:

3 cups fresh blueberries (about 15 ounces) or one 12-ounce package frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

1 cup blueberry preserves (10 to 11 ounces)

1 tbs all purpose flour

1 tsp finely grated lemon peel

For crust: Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease or spray bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Whisk flour, oats, sugar, salt and cinnamon in large bowl. Add 1cup butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture sticks together in small clumps. Transfer 2 cups to medium bowl; mix in almonds and reserve for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until golden and just firm to touch, about 22 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. 

For filling:
Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Spread evenly over crust in pan, then sprinkle reserved topping over.  Bake bars until filling bubbles thickly at edges and topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes; cool in pan on rack. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each strip into 6 pieces, forming 24 bars

Sorry, no recipes for marine peptides L  I won’t publish any recipe that calls for eating fish skin.  You can add marine peptides to your routine with a powder, though I think a healthy diet overall probably gets enough goodies from elsewhere.