By Matthew Hall

Picture yourself on the top of a mountain. You look out at a vast landscape of nature and as you turn to leave, your feet slip. All of a sudden you are sliding down towards the edge of a cliff and at the last moment, you manage to grab on to a tree limb. You hang there with no one around to help you, so what do you do? Unfortunately, many people reading this wouldn’t possess the strength to pull themselves up (and in this story, you would die).

One pull up! If any of you, like me, have flashbacks to middle school gym class, then you know how frustrating it can be to realize that you cannot perform one repetition of this simple movement. Even people who regularly exercise, from tennis players to marathon runners, often do not posses the strength to perform a pullup.

I think that while performing bodyweight exercises can be extremely humbling, it is also a great measure of general strength and athletic ability. It is entirely possible to build a physique worthy of a magazine cover using only bodyweight movements, and they are a great, free resource that can be adjusted for any level of fitness.

Push ups are probably the easiest movement for most people to develop. Everyone has seen them done, so we know where to begin. For those looking to be able to do one push up properly, begin with your knees on the ground and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Control your descent down, keep your back straight, and try to keep your elbows pointed inward toward your body, not outward. This puts unnecessary stress on your shoulders and elbows, and will cause pain in the future, if not immediately. Do an initial test of how many you can do in one set. Write this down as your benchmark for future workouts. A good beginning to a program would be three to five sets of as many as possible. You can do this every other day until your strength improves and you can perform 3 sets of 10 reps on your knees. Then move on to doing them with your feet on the ground. Again, control your descent and keep your back straight (don’t stick your behind in the air). Start with 3 sets of as many as you can until you can do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Pull ups are harder to develop without a gym membership. There are a number of exercises and machines, such as pulldowns and assisted pull-up machines that are the easiest way for a beginner to develop upper body strength, especially upper back and shoulders. If you have access to these machines, perform 3 sets of 10 reps 2 or 3 times a week, each week trying to add weight to the exercise. If you do not have access to these machines, you can purchase resistance bands and attach them to a chin-up bar (or monkey bar set at a playground) and place the band under your feet. This should assist you when attempting pull ups. Follow the same progression as with pull ups, until you can do one pull up unassisted.

So if you want to survive our cliffhanger scenario, get started on working to develop these movements. Your body can be a free gym once you have the ability to perform basic chin ups and push ups, as there are numerous modified versions of them to challenge yourself with. The new year is coming, so set your goal now and get started early!

Matthew Hall is currently a Customer Service Specialist  for the Central Branch of Howard County Library System. He spends the majority of his free time with his wife and kids. He is a graduate of Liberty University, and his interests include religious studies, psychology, and fitness.

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2012 Calendar

Dec 31, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Midnight at 7.  See Howard County dazzle with a New Year’s Eve fireworks display! Celebrate with your family and friends. Walk through the animated light displays; enjoy food, music and other exciting activities as the Symphony of Lights comes to a close. Fireworks at 7:00 p.m.

January 2, 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. Just For Me. Classes at the Elkridge Branch for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. 30 min. No registration required.

January 2, 10:15 & 11:30 a.m. The World Around Me. Classes at the Central Branch exploring simple social studies concepts inspired by children’s literature. Multi-week series. Ages 3-5; 45 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15-30 minutes before class.

January 9, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Prenatal Class for Your Early Pregnancy. This free class for parents to be and parents in their first trimester will learn about the early stages of prgnancy including your body’s phsical changes, your baby’s growth and easy ways to support your pregnancy. HCGH Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia.

January 10, 7:00-9:00 p.mWhat is Pre-Diabetes? Has your doctor told you that you have pre-diabetes or risk factors for developing diabetes? This program will answer your questions. Our certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian will teach you how to make changes to prevent or delay an actual diabetes diagnosis. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes but would like more information on how to manage your diagnosis, or information from endocrinologists, podiatrists and dieticians about how to live with diabetes, contact our Diabetes Management Program at Howard County General Hospital at 443-718-3000.

January 17, 7:00-8:30 p.m. The Eyes of Children. Children’s learning is affected by their vision. Learn about eye health and safety, common complaints and what parents can do. presented by pediatric ophthalmaolgist Anya Trumler, M.D. Free.

January 18 or January 23. Living with Diabetes: Day or Evening Program. Living with Diabetes is a two-day, interactive, group course taught by an endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian, psychologist, podiatrist, and exercise specialist.   The class is held at The Bolduc Family Outpatient Center at Howard County General Hospital. Choose either a day program or a condensed evening program. Day classes will be held Friday and the following Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Evening classes are held Wednesday and Thursday from 6-9 p.m. Most insurance plans cover all or part of this program. For more information or to register, please call 443-718-3000.


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By Wendy Camassar

Recently, I attended a tea tasting workshop sponsored by the Republic of Tea, a brand that manufactures a wide variety of all natural tea, including an organic line (for those who like that extra certification). The event was held at Great Sage (owned by Root’s Market in Clarksville) who put together a series of free workshops called “Roots Cares.” It was like a wine tasting seminar, only for “teetotalers” like me! The Republic of Tea brought out samples of the different “colors” of tea, from white to red, as well as herbal varieties. All types of tea begin with the Camellia Sinensis plant, and have health benefits including flavonoids. These are plant pigments that are beneficial to health (i.e., antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties).

Some categories of tea have higher concentrations of flavonoids, while others have lower levels of caffeine. This gives tea consumers plenty of options and choices depending on what you want your tea to do for you. If you want a bit more caffeine in the morning to start the day, you can try breakfast blends that are primarily black tea. Black tea is rolled after the leaf has withered, causing oxidation to occur, which makes it darker in color. Also, it is aged longer and has fermented. Black tea has the highest amount of caffeine, but only contains half the amount compared to a cup of coffee. It is recommended to steep black tea bags for three to five minutes in boiled water for best results.

If you are trying to minimize your caffeine intake, other varieties like white or green tea may be a better option. White tea is the downy bud of the leaf, mostly harvested in the Fujian Province of China. It is hand plucked and carefully dried without rolling to prevent oxidation. White tea has the highest content of flavonoids and is the lightest in color. It contains very little caffeine and should steep for only thirty to sixty seconds (in almost boiling water) for best results. Green tea, on the other hand, is harvested after the bud has bloomed where the leaves are pan-fired or steamed to keep them from oxidizing. It has slightly more caffeine than white with a clean, subtle taste. The Republic of Tea recommends steeping green tea bags for one to three minutes in water (just short of boiling) for best results.

For those of you who don’t want any caffeine at all in your tea, herbal blends and Rooibos would be your best choice.  Rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) is a caffeine-free herb from South Africa with a sweet flavor, and dark red color.  Another caffeine-free tea is Hibiscus or the “Superflower” tea.  It is known to keep the body cool in hot weather, helps lower high blood pressure, and assists in weight loss (you may want to consult your doctor before trying this). And, if you want to learn even more about tea, you can always read up on the subject. With so many choices in tea, it may seem hard to know which one to try, but at least we know there’s a tea for everyone!

 

Wendy Camassar is an Instruction and Research Specialist at the Central Branch of the Howard County Library System.  Prior to joining HCLS, she worked as a freelance makeup artist for several years.  She enjoys hiking with her family, exercising, reading, and organic foods and skin care products.

 


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With the New Year approaching, some people are determining what their New Year’s resolutions will be. Year after year, two of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are staying fit and losing weight, according to USA.gov.

Will staying fit be one of your priorities this coming year? If so, great! If not, you should consider it. Physical activity provides many long-term benefits for everyone, including preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke, relieving stress, promoting strong bone development and more.

If you want to stay fit in 2013 and years to come, you must set goals that are specific, realistic, measurable, achievable and timely. Here are five ways to get started with setting realistic fitness goals:

  1. Determine your purpose: There are plenty of reasons why a person may want to lose weight or stay in shape. Is it so you can fit into that dress or suit that’s been hanging in your closet for years? Do you want to lose weight because of a health condition? Do you want to stay in shape because you want to live a long, healthy life? Whatever the case may be, figure out why you are doing this — and don’t forget! In fact, write it down.
  2. Take baby steps: One reason why some people tend to drop the ball on their New Year’s resolution to stay in shape, is because they set unrealistic goals for themselves. For instance, if you’re looking to lose 50 pounds in a month, you may be disappointed when week three comes by and you’re still the same size. Disappointment usually leads to a lack of motivation, and we don’t want that! Start small. Instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in the first month, perhaps aim to lose about five — hey, every bit counts!
  3. Document your success: If you want to know if your fitness plan is working, consider keeping a record of your progress in a journal.
  4. Give yourself a pat on the back: Staying fit is not always so easy, especially when you’re just starting out. Try rewarding yourself when needed. Not only will it help you stay motivated, but it’s also a good gesture to recognize yourself for making great accomplishments.
  5. Consider a workout partner or fitness club: You’re not in this alone. There are many people who share the same desire as you — to get in shape. Perhaps seek a workout partner or join a community fitness club. Having a workout partner or team will most likely keep you motivated!

Columbia Association (CA) is running its Biggest Winner Contest, starting on Jan. 5, 2013. The Biggest Winner Contest provides a fun, motivational and supportive way to lose weight and support a healthier lifestyle! Learn more about The Biggest Winner Contest here.

How do you plan on getting fit in 2013? Tell us in a comment below!

 


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2012 Calendar

December 22, 2:00 p.m. Math Circle. Are you good at math? Do you love numbers? Join the HCLS Math Circle at the East Columbia Branch to learn about patterns and intricacies in the world of mathematics. Use logic and problem solving skills to solve brain teasing problems. Ages 11-14. Register online or by calling 410.313.7700

December 24 & 25, Howard County Library System Closed.

December 27, 2:00 p.m. Junior Architects. Come to the East Columbia Branch to design and build a room or building from recycled materials. You have two days to work on your project. Ages 8 & up; 60 min. Register online or by calling 410.313.7730

Dec 27, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Living with Breast Cancer. This ongoing support group for patients with a stage IV breast cancer diagnosis meets at the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center monthly on the fourth Thursday.  The group is free, but registration is required. Call 410 740-5858 for more information.

Dec 31, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Midnight at 7.  See Howard County dazzle with a New Year’s Eve fireworks display! Celebrate with your family and friends. Walk through the animated light displays; enjoy food, music and other exciting activities as the Symphony of Lights comes to a close. Fireworks at 7:00 p.m.

January 9, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Prenatal Class for Your Early Pregnancy. This free class for parents to be and parents in their first trimester will learn about the early stages of prgnancy including your body’s phsical changes, your baby’s growth and easy ways to support your pregnancy. HCGH Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia.

January 10, 7:00-9:00 p.mWhat is Pre-Diabetes? Has your doctor told you that you have pre-diabetes or risk factors for developing diabetes? This program will answer your questions. Our certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian will teach you how to make changes to prevent or delay an actual diabetes diagnosis. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes but would like more information on how to manage your diagnosis, or information from endocrinologists, podiatrists and dieticians about how to live with diabetes, contact our Diabetes Management Program at Howard County General Hospital at 443-718-3000.

January 17, 7:00-8:30 p.m. The Eyes of Children. Children’s learning is affected by their vision. Learn about eye health and safety, common complaints and what parents can do. presented by pediatric ophthalmaolgist Anya Trumler, M.D. Free.

January 18 or January 23. Living with Diabetes: Day or Evening Program. Living with Diabetes is a two-day, interactive, group course taught by an endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian, psychologist, podiatrist, and exercise specialist.   The class is held at The Bolduc Family Outpatient Center at Howard County General Hospital. Choose either a day program or a condensed evening program. Day classes will be held Friday and the following Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Evening classes are held Wednesday and Thursday from 6-9 p.m. Most insurance plans cover all or part of this program. For more information or to register, please call 443-718-3000.


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By Jean Pfefferkorn

If you feel your mood slipping towards the blue end of the spectrum at this time of year, you are in good company. Many of us feel blue during times of holiday stress, when expectations are high, money perhaps scarce, and too much activity is on everyone’s plates.

If your blue mood continues into the new year, or if it began in November, you may be one of millions who is dealing with SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder–a recurrent depression which coincides with the lack of sunlight in the winter months (tomorrow is the shortest day of the year). Usually mild to moderate, the SAD-ness can affect people of any age, from children to elders.

Symptoms include the “bearish” behavior that many feel to a lesser extent: increased appetite–with attendant weight gain, increased need for sleep, lack of energy, and social withdrawal. Additionally, more alarming symptoms may include hopelessness, unhappiness and irritability, lack of interest in normal activities, and suicidal thoughts.

Researchers believe that the cause for SAD is a neurochemical imbalance in the brain. It has been postulated that an overproduction of melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain during hours of darkness, is to blame.

Managing the symptoms at home may involve simple strategies, such as exercising, eating healthily, spending time with family and friends, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule. Monitor yourself for early signs that the depression may be getting worse, and if it does, contact your primary care doctor.

Primary care doctors are able to treat SAD with light therapy using a 10,000 lux (light intensity) light box, which may be purchased without a prescription. Its use should be monitored by a medical professional to watch for side effects. Treatment is often an early morning light bath for thirty minutes. Other treatments may involve anti-depressant medications or a combination of light and medication.

If you know others who may be living with seasonal affective disorder, encouraging them to look for guidance can help them to enjoy the beautiful winter.

Sources: Pub Med, Mayo Clinic, and National Alliance for Mental Illness

Jean has been working at Howard County Library System’s Central Branch for nearly nine years.

She walks in the Benjamin Banneker Park whenever she gets a chance.


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By Kate Schulz

Mandy A. of Baltimore City suffers from chronic COPD and mental health issues. On Thursdays, her son usually travels from Washington D.C. to take care of her and bring her groceries. However, a couple weeks ago, he was unable to go due to impending Hurricane Sandy.

Mandy was almost out of food for the week, unable to travel herself, and wasn’t sure what to do.

Kate, one of 2-1-1 Maryland at United Way of Central Maryland’s Information and Referral Specialists, assists a caller by assessing their needs and providing useful referrals and resources.

Fortunately, 2-1-1 Maryland was there for her. Mandy’s goddaughter called 2-1-1 on her behalf and was able to get the information and referrals she needed. A city worker brought Mandy enough food to last her for several days and she didn’t have to go hungry during the storm.

My name is Kate Schulz and this is just one story of how I help as an information and referral specialist at 2-1-1 Maryland at United Way of Central Maryland.

2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember phone number that links people to the health and human services they need.

This confidential information and referral service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in 150 languages. Call specialists like me assess callers’ needs and get them to the right solutions using a comprehensive database of more than 4,600 federal, state and local services — both government and nonprofit.

Think about an unexpected situation that could happen to any of us – maybe a house fire or job loss. Would you know what to do next and where to turn?

2-1-1 is always there to help.

Jared, who lives in Anne Arundel County with his wife and two kids, lost his job last year.

Jared called 2-1-1 to seek assistance paying his bills, as his unemployment benefits had recently run out. He and his family were struggling financially and during the call, Jared was able to get even more help than he came looking for.

The 2-1-1 call specialist not only helped him with finding assistance to pay his bills, but also discussed other resources to address his most basic needs, like rental assistance, food stamps and job training to help him with finding a new job.

On an average day last fall, we received between 260 and 350 calls from people in our community who need help – often urgently. The calls that my colleagues and I handle can be both heartbreaking and heartwarming. What helps us stay strong are the stories of hope that emerge.

I am proud to work for United Way of Central Maryland. UWCM’s mission is to mobilize the community to improve people’s lives, especially the most vulnerable members of our community – primarily families and individuals living at or below the poverty level. Every day, we help ensure that basic human services are available to people who need them in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.

Do you need help? Call 2-1-1 or dial 1.800.492.0618. A trusted and caring call specialist is there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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Barbara Cornell

The other night I had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.  I had promised to bring some goodies to a concert reception on Sunday and a staff holiday party on Monday.  What to bring? What to bring?

If I think well of the people who are going to eat these treats I should be making something healthy, right?  …Right?  Well, in my experience desserts and sweets are usually made with things like sugar and butter and chocolate and cream and are inherently unhealthy.  What to do?  What to do?

Well, things might not be as bad as they first seem.  Sugar can be used in moderation (unless you have a tendency toward diabetes) and many recipes allow for the substitution of Splenda or other ingredients for half the sugar. (Full disclosure—I have not tried substitutions for my sugar, so I can’t give my take on what works well.)  As for the butter, studies have shown that the transfats and polyunsaturated fats in margarine and “shortening” are more culpable than saturated fats in heart disease.  This news makes me a little more relaxed about my dessert choices, but it is clear that portion control is necessary!

I tried to find some books at the library that would help me make my choices and I found some “gems,” that is, perfect little things that will satisfy!  One could try Little Cakes by Susan Waggoner.  She offers recipes for tea cakes and cupcakes as well as a wide variety of old-fashioned cakes—just smaller and just right for a small family or a couple.  This isn’t quite what I’m looking for to feed a crowd on a healthy scale, and I do miss photographs.

How about Petite Sweets, Bite-Size Desserts to Satisfy Every Sweet Tooth by Beatrice Ojakangas?  Her beautifully photographed and creative recipes surely tempt both the eye and the appetite, but they seem more appropriate to an intimate dinner party than a buffet table.

It seems like cupcakes might fit the bill.  There is a little book called, simply, Cupcakes by Joanna Farrow.  Wonderful basic recipes but with creative twists to make them fun fill the 64 pages of this pretty little book. And Two-Bite Cupcakes by Viola Goren, offers beautiful presentation, wildly creative ideas, and in a size that lets you try more than one kind.

The Artful Cupcake by Marcianne Miller, 2004, is another gem.  It is subtitled “Baking and Decorating Delicious Indulgences,” and it includes some truly gorgeous ideas.  You will find crystallized flowers (with egg white and superfine sugar), a beautiful lacy chocolate dome (using a balloon), and, wait, I’m supposed to be finding something I can replicate on a grand scale.  I got carried away!

Just for fun I checked out some books with endearing titles like Hello, Cupcake, and What’s New, Cupcake? both by Karen Tack; Hey there, Cupcake, by Clare Crespo; and Who You Callin’ Cupcake? 75 in-your-face Recipes that Reinvent the Cupcake by Michelle Garcia, 1010.  The last will introduce you to “the infamous spinach and apple” cupcake and a “candied white bean with grapefruit” cupcake.

I was headed for serious sugar overload just from reading when I happened upon Carrots ‘N’ Cake: Healthy Living One Carrot and Cupcake at a Time by Tina Haupert.  The difference between this book and the previous titles is that this is in the “Health” section of the library, not the “Cooking” section.  I’m so happy to be introduced to Haupert’s blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.  She engagingly relates stories of her life as she tries to get a handle on her own exercise goals and healthy eating habits.

Oh, about my search for a recipe for goodies to share.  I think Cookie Swap! by Lauren Chattman will help me find something.  After all, it’s a holiday get-together and no one expects things to be healthy!  Just practice portion control.

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.

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2012 CalendarDec 15, 5:30-8:00 p.m. Holiday Pizza & a Movie at the Gary J Arthur Community Center. Join us to watch the holiday favorite “Elf” (rated PG). The movie begins at 5:30 pm. and is shown in our comfy movie lounge. Your movie ticket includes pizza and a soda. Pre-registration is required. $2 for members and $4 for non-members.

Dec 15, 10:00 a.m. Care Giver’s Support Group. This free support group for care givers meets the third Saturday of every month at the Howard County General Hospital Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center on Charter Drive.  Call 410 740-5858 for more information and to register.

Dec 17. 3:30 p.m. Look Good Feel Better at the Howard County General Hospital Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center. This American Cancer Society program provides a free workshop by a licensed cosmetologist. Women undergoing cancer treatment learn to manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment and receive a complimentary bay of cosmetics. To register for this free class, call 1 800 227-2345

December 18, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Teens Together. Ongoing support group for teens who have a loved one with cancer meets the third Tuesday of each month at the Howard County General Hospital Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center. The group is free by registration is required.  Call 410 740-5858 for more information

Dec 19, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Breast Cancer Support Group. This free support group for breast cancer survivors meets thethird Wednesday of each month. Registration is required. Call 410 740-5858 more information.

Dec 27, 7:00-8:30 p.m. Living with Breast Cancer. This ongoing support group for patients with a stage IV breast cancer diagnosis meets at the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center monthly on the fourth Thursday.  The group is free, but registration is required. Call 410 740-5858 for more information.

Dec 31, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Midnight at 7.  See Howard County dazzle with a New Year’s Eve fireworks display! Celebrate with your family and friends. Walk through the animated light displays; enjoy food, music and other exciting activities as the Symphony of Lights comes to a close. Fireworks at 7:00 p.m.

 


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by Wendy Camassar

As a vegan, I am constantly looking for recipes for my family that are high in fiber and protein.  The problem is, not everyone in my house enjoys beans, in spite of the health perks they offer. I’ve learned that beans have several health benefits. For example they are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Eating beans regularly may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, colorectal cancer, and helps with weight management. Beans are hearty, helping you feel full so you will tend to eat less.

I’m constantly worrying that my kids aren’t getting enough protein from the food they eat. So my dilemma is, how can I get my kids to eat more beans? The solution? Sneak the beans in the recipe! I am amazed at how easily they can be transformed. By pureeing them, you can create sauces, dips, dressings, or deserts.  The possibilities are endless!

Recently, I came across a blog post that caught my eye called “Cookie Dough Dip” on the site Chocolate-Covered Katie. Doesn’t that sound delicious? I decided to give the dip a try, and I’m happy to say it was an enormous hit with my family. Believe it or not, the main ingredient is Garbanzo Beans! I have to admit, I was a bit wary to attempt to make it for fear of rejection from my family, but I’m so glad I did. My picky eaters scarfed this dip down without realizing they were eating Garbanzos beans! If you have a minute, check out this web site for dozens of healthy, plant-based recipes. You don’t have to be vegan to try these recipes, but if you’re looking to get more beans into your diet, the ideas on this site are creative and delicious!

 

Wendy Camassar is an Instruction and Research Specialist at the Central Branch of the Howard County Library System.  Prior to joining HCLS, she worked as a freelance makeup artist for several years.  She enjoys hiking with her family, exercising, reading, and organic foods and skin care products.

 


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Death Defying Cells

 

“You can watch an individual cell shrivel up, look like it has no chance, and then come back to life,” says biological chemistry professor Denise Montell (center), with siblings Holly and Hogan Tang.

No one knows for sure what happens after death, but most of us can be relatively sure that once we’re dying, there’s no turning back.

A new Hopkins study suggests that it may be possible to do a 180 from dying — at least cells may be able to. When scientists exposed batches of cells to deadly poisons, the majority were still able to bounce back completely after those toxins were removed.

A better understanding of this death-defying process may offer some practical insight on how to save dying tissues after heart attacks or strokes, as well as prevent cancer in cells transiently exposed to toxins.

This new insight into death—or the lack thereof—got its start when Ho Lam “Hogan” Tang, a researcher in the lab of Hopkins professor Denise Montell, began his first year as a doctoral student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His main project was studying aspects of apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death.

While trying to figure out how the cell’s cytoskeleton, a network of fibers that helps it retain its shape, remolds during apoptosis, Hogan and his sister Holly Tang, a fellow researcher, became curious about whether the cells they exposed to toxins were really on an irreversible track to death.

In preliminary experiments, they waited until the cells appeared to be dying, then replaced the deadly brew with a nutritious broth normally used to grow cells. Within hours, most cells behaved as if they’d never faced mortality.

Montell, a professor in Hopkins’ Department of Biological Chemistry, was intrigued when she heard of this work. “There’s clearly some point when something is truly dead and can’t come back,” she says, “but there’s been a controversy about what constitutes the point of no return for cells.”

Hogan Tang headed for Montell’s lab in 2009 to continue his Ph.D., soon joined by Holly, who took a job as a lab coordinator. Together, the team, along with additional colleagues at Johns Hopkins, replicated the experiments performed in Hong Kong by exposing healthy cells from mice or rats that were growing in petri dishes to ethanol, a potent toxin. Within hours, the cells displayed the typical hallmarks of apoptosis. However, when the scientists washed the ethanol away, many of the cells regained aspects of their normal appearance. 

Their research showed that about 90 percent of the cells exposed to ethanol managed to survive. The team published their findings online in April in the scientific journal Molecular Biology of the Cell.

Repeat experiments showed that the ability to defy death could be universal for all or at least many kinds of cells in the body, Montell says. The experiments also showed that a small percentage of the surviving cells exposed to toxins developed some hallmarks of cancerous growth.

That finding could have implications for explaining and treating cancer, as well as other diseases, Montell says. For example, though researchers know that alcoholics have a propensity toward developing liver cancer, the reasons have been unclear. Based on this discovery, it’s possible that problem drinkers might continually bring their liver cells toward the brink of death and that some surviving cells continue on with genetic defects that lead to malignancy.

The results might also explain why cancer cells often develop resistance to chemotherapy. During chemotherapy, cells are transiently exposed to toxic drugs that induce apoptosis, and then the patient is allowed to recover. So while most of the cancer cells die, those that survive may develop genetic defects, some of which could contribute to their ability to resist death on the next round.

Montell, the Tang siblings and their colleagues plan to continue to investigate the mechanisms behind this ability to bounce back, which they’ve named anastasis. Apoptosis comes from Greek roots meaning “falling to death,” while anastasis means “rising to life.” Knowing more about anastasis could eventually lead to ways to enhance it, Montell says, which could be a boon for conditions in which apoptosis occurs to excess. On the other hand, identifying ways to reduce or prevent anastasis could help avert resistance to chemotherapy or other conditions where cell survival is harmful.

—Christen Brownlee

Reprinted with permission from the November issue of the Johns Hopkins Medicine Dome


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By Cristina J. Lozare

“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”

-Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

It was like falling in love all over again. Just as they said it would be. Lola, what Filipino grandmothers are called, is a title I am claiming for the first time in 60 years. I am struck with Isabela’s [ a.k.a. Izzy] pristine innocence and freshness. I come away from each visit amazed at how this little being changed our lives. It is like being in Indian summer in the midst of winter. I know that parenthood can at times feel like being lost in the vastness of wilderness. On the other hand, being a grandparent is like walking a straight line through the woods and skipping happily at that. I am bowled over by the purity of unconditional love that pours out of me when I think of Izzy.

Anne Lamott just became a grandmother too and published Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son. It is a heart-warming memoir full of anxiety, doubt and love about her 19-year-old son, Sam, and his desire to provide for his family while still a student in college. Lamott discovered that she found her third great love, “along with Sam and Jesus,” in baby Jax. Sam Lamott writes about his love for his newborn son and his dreams of keeping his family together. His childhood was narrated by his mother in Operating Instructions: A Journal of my Son’s First Year in 1993. Both books can help you understand the impact that parenthood and grand parenthood can have on a person, not that anyone can ever truly be prepared for either.

When I take care of Izzy, vignettes of my children when they were babies run through my mind. I can feel a tangible, nostalgic link with my parents and of all the generations past. There is an intensity of emotion that I feel when I hold Izzy in my arms. I hope that I will be granted the gift of time, enough to dance at her wedding someday.

 

Cristina Lozare has worked in the Howard County Library System for 18 years. She and her family consider Columbia their home. They are looking forward to bringing Izzy to HCLS’s many children’s classes.

 

 


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2012 CalendarNow- January 6. 6:00- 10:00 p.m. Symphony of Lights Drive Through. Cars, vans and busses can take a 20-30 minute drive-through a display of more than 70 larger-than-life, light creations illuminated by a fantasy of color, design, and animation. This holiday tradition is delightful for all ages.

Dec 9, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Second Sunday Market. Fresh produce, baked breads and cheeses and much more at the Courtyards at Tonge Row in Historic Ellicott City.

Dec 11, 4:30-5:45 p.m. Tail Lights. Back by popular demand! Treat yourself and your dog to a walk through the 1.4 mile Symphony of Lights displays.  It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the holiday season and to make this dog-friendly walk your family’s new holiday tradition.

Dec 13, 9:30 p.m.- 2:00 a.m. Geminid Meteor Showers with Dr. Alex Storrs, Towson University & Dr. Joel Goodman. Watch the skies with Stardoc Dr Joel Goodman and Towson University Astrophysicist Alex Storrs. Considered by many to be the best meteor shower in the heavens, Geminids are known for producing up to 60 multicolored meteors per hour at their peak! This year the new moon will guarantee perfect “dark” conditions to view meteors and other wonders in the skies. Wear WARM clothing. Bring beach chairs and blankets, thermal cups. We’ll have the hot chocolate! If raining or snowing, the program is cancelled. FREE. The Howard County Conservancy, 10520 Old Frederick Road, Woodstock.

Dec 15, 5:30-8:00 p.m. Holiday Pizza & a Movie at the Gary J Arthur Community Center. Join us to watch the holiday favorite “Elf” (rated PG). The movie begins at 5:30 pm. and is shown in our comfy movie lounge. Your movie ticket includes pizza and a soda. Pre-registration is required. $2 for members and $4 for non-members.

December 17, 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. Holiday Twist And Shout. Learn the moves and dance to some holiday tunes at the Elkridge Branch. Ages 2-5 with adult; 30 min. No registration required.

December 17, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital at the Glenwood Branch. No registration required.

December 17, 6:30 p.m. Holiday Singalong. Come to the Central Branch and spend time with your loved ones and community. Sing songs to celebrate the holidays and lift your spirits. All ages; 30 min. No registration required.

December 18, 10:30 a.m. Mini Milestones. Prepare your toddler as you learn about some mini-milestones at the Glenwood Branch. Ages 18-36 months with adult. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

December 18, 10:30 a.m. Just For Me. A class at the Glenwood Branch for children ages 3-5 who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. 30 min. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579.

December 20, 6:00 p.m. Erin & Friends. Come to the Glenwood Branch to soothe the savage breast brought on by the holiday stress. Listen to holiday chamber music in the cafe on Thursday evenings in December. Part of the “live on stage” series. No registration required.

Dec 31, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Midnight at 7.  See Howard County dazzle with a New Year’s Eve fireworks display! Celebrate with your family and friends. Walk through the animated light displays; enjoy food, music and other exciting activities as the Symphony of Lights comes to a close. Fireworks at 7:00 p.m.


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Black Friday is over and, thankfully, all of you survived to fight another year. The remaining shopping days until the wintertime-gift-giving day of your choice (we prefer Boxing Day) will never reach the world-ending chaos of Black Friday, but they can still be a stressful and terrifying time, especially as the deadline nears and the best gifts begin to disappear.

So, assuming you didn’t accomplish all your shopping already, how can you best prepare for the days ahead? Well, that’s one of the many reasons you have a library.

Get organized
Make sure you have lists of the items you want to get everyone, and where to find those items. Have back-up options ready in case of sell outs or price changes. You don’t want to have to go back out for something you forgot at the last minute.

Compare Prices
Do your research to spot the best deals, and create a budget so you don’t get too far off track. It’s easy to go overboard in buying things for the people you love. Brush up on your math, and make sure you can afford your purchases!

Eat Right
This operation will take all of your skills and a lot of mental energy. Make sure you eat properly and also consume the necessary amount of caffeine.

Train
You’re going to need to be in good shape to handle those crowds. Do some stretches and cardio, so you can get through buildings quickly. Add some strength training so you can carry all the things. And honestly, in this day and age, a little parkour wouldn’t hurt.

Be Polite
Okay, we’ve trained you to tackle the crowds, but there’s no reason to actually tackle anyone. It’s a season of love and happiness, even for that guy who just took the last sale item. Maintain your manners with the overworked staff and with the people in the same predicament as you.

Meditate
This is a stressful season, and all that being polite takes effort! Whether you’re hunting in a crowd, standing in an endless line, or stuck in traffic or looking for a parking spot, you don’t want that stress to take over. Get a relaxing CD for the car, and practice breathing exercises for when you’re on your feet.

Endgame
Don’t let your awesome gifts be ruined by inferior wrapping. Pick up some new paper and ribbon, or learn some crafty ways to put your gifts together.

Look at how easy it is now that you have a game plan! Now you just have to figure out what on earth to get your brother-in-law this year.


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Lisa Jacobs has helped expand Howard County General Hospital’s Breast Center so that patients in the community can have comprehensive breast services close to home.

When the Johns Hopkins Department of Surgery was seeking the best place to extend the reach of its breast cancer surgery services, it looked at several hospitals in the region. The answer, it discovered, was in the Health System’s own back yard.

This past spring, Hopkins sent breast cancer surgery specialist Lisa Jacobs to expand services at the existing breast center located at Howard County General Hospital. The move has given patients one-stop care and treatments supported by the latest evidenced-based medicine.

Just as importantly, the enhanced breast center offers the opportunity for Hopkins to better collaborate with the community physicians who are the backbone of medical services delivered at the county’s only community hospital.

“Howard County General had also approached the Hopkins surgery department about a breast cancer specialist coming out there,” Jacobs explains. “In evaluating the hospital, I quickly knew that its goals fit our academic goals. Of course, it helped that the hospital was already a part of the Hopkins system.”

Located on the first floor of the Health Care and Surgery Center, the new center offers screening mammography as well as imaging, biopsy and diagnosis.

Diagnosed cases receive a thorough evaluation by the Tumor Board, a group that includes community and academic specialists who determine the best course of treatment for each patient. Among the participants are a private-practice medical oncology group, the academic radiation oncology group, private-practice surgeons, plastic surgeons who are mix of private practice only and private practice with faculty appointments, and pathologists.

The Tumor Board also serves as one avenue by which Jacobs is bringing the latest research into decision-making.

“In many ways, we’re limiting and actually reducing the amount of treatment traditionally carried out in the past,” Jacobs notes. “For example, based on some recent research studies, we’re doing fewer axillary surgeries, such as node resections, thus saving the lymph nodes and armpits and reducing permanent swelling of the arm. By doing less, over time, we’ve been able to reduce the cosmetic issues related to breast cancer care and also the time commitment for patients.”

Traditionally, about 150 breast cancer procedures have been performed annually at Howard County General, all by general surgeons. But until the new breast center opened, many patients seeking comprehensive care in one location were leaving the county to receive breast cancer-related services at other hospitals.

Jacobs is convinced that the private-practice physicians and Johns Hopkins share the same goals of giving breast cancer patients the most advanced care possible and eliminating the need for them to travel to different locations. “Emphasizing that together we’re improving the level of care,” she says, “has resonated well with local physicians and their patients.”

—Patrick Gilbert

To make an appointment with the Breast Center, please call Colleen at 410-884-4744.

reprinted with permission from the Johns Hopkins Medicine November 2012 issue of the Dome.


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Low-impact Workouts

Aging is inevitable

As our bodies age, our bones and joints tend to weaken. As a result, working out may be the last thing on our mind. However, having an active lifestyle is very important for mature adult health because it can prevent common complications such as heart disease and diabetes, and can reduce pain from arthritis.

Thankfully, there are options such as low-impact exercise that will allow mature adults to get the exercise they need, while not being overwhelmed. Low-impact exercise is defined as an activity that does not require you to place one of your limbs in contact with a hard surface. There are plenty of different low-impact exercises that provide aerobic fitness that mature adults can include as part of a regular exercise program, including walking, step exercises and aquatic exercises.

The latter option is the most beneficial. “Water’s natural buoyancy, resistance, cooling effect and decreased joint impact make it an ideal exercise medium for seniors,” says Crystal Welch, a writer for Livestrong.com.

Columbia residents can benefit from aquatic fitness opportunities close to home. Columbia Association’s (CA)Aquatics Department offers aqua fitness programs that are ideal for people with arthritis. There are two programs: Aqua Arthritis and Aqua Arthritis Plus.

The Aqua Arthritis class incorporates gentle exercises to help decrease pain and stiffness. The Aqua Arthritis Plus class offers the same thing with an emphasis on endurance. Both classes are offered at CA’s Columbia Athletic Club and Columbia Gym.

In addition to the Aqua Arthritis classes, the Athletic Club provides a warm water therapy pool. “Participating in fitness classes in the warm water therapy pool at the Athletic Club has proven benefits for our members,” says Aqua Fitness Team Leader Kim Zanski. “The exercises improve flexibility, muscle strength and endurance. Besides the fitness component, the social aspect of these classes has helped members form new and lasting friendships. Many attend class four to five times each week and feel it is an important part of each day. It’s a great opportunity to move, stretch and smile.”

Although we can’t change the fact that our bodies age, we can certainly change our lifestyle. In any case, being physically active is important — no matter your age.

For more information about CA’s aquatics classes, please visit ColumbiaPools.org.

 

Keithan Samuels works in the Communications and Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA).

 


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by Cherise Tasker

A study released in November 2012 by Johns Hopkins found that weight loss in those who are overweight or obese led to improved quality of sleep. Investigators found that decreasing belly fat, through diet or a combination of diet and exercise, led to a decrease in complaints such as daytime fatigue, insomnia, restless sleep and dream disorders. The study participants were 36 to 65 years of age and were prediabetic or currently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The study concluded that a reduction in abdominal subcutaneous fat was the factor most strongly associated with participants reporting improved sleep.

To understand weight lose in the abdominal area, it is important to know that there is fat below the skin (subcutaneous) and around vital internal organs (visceral). In working to decrease belly fat, one wants to decrease both subcutaneous and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat one can “see,” the so-called “pear-shaped” weight accumulation. Visceral fat is that which accumulates around the heart, lungs, digestive tract organs and pelvic organs, the “apple-shaped” areas of weight gain. Visceral fat is significant because increased amounts are associated with higher levels of total and LDL cholesterol, which contribute to cardiovascular disease. Visceral fat accumulations are also linked to increases in insulin resistance. When the body becomes more resistant to insulin, glucose cannot be handled properly and the risk for diabetes rises.

So what are some proven ways to lower the amount of belly fat? Both aerobic and strength-training exercise help decrease excess subcutaneous and visceral fat. Aerobic activities including walking, jogging, cycling and dance are especially effective in lowering body-fat percentage. Abdominal exercises such as situps and crunches are effective both in improving physical appearance and in increasing muscle mass. Multiple studies have shown that increasing the fiber in one’s diet corresponds to a decrease in visceral fat. Good high-fiber food choices include apples, raspberries, avocados, artichokes, broccoli, peas, beans, lentils, bran cereal and almonds. Limiting fat intake and increasing the amount of plant-based food in the diet is recommended.

The Howard County Library System has an outstanding collection of health, fitness, nutrition and weight loss books, audio books and DVDs. Our cookbook collection has numerous titles specifically aimed at eating well by eating healthy meals. Please check out our Health Education Center at the Central Branch with titles including The Lean Belly Prescription: The Fast and Foolproof Diet & Weight-Loss Plan From America’s Top Urgent-Care Doctor; The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat Well, Enjoy Life, Lose Weight and The New Abs Diet: The 6-Week Plan to Flatten Your Stomach and Keep You Lean for Life.

 

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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