Saturday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Ask A Master Gardener. Discuss gardening questions and concerns at the Glenwood Branch. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardeners. Also offered at the Miller Branch Saturday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and Aug. 18 7 – 8:30 p.m. No registration required.

Saturday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. Compost Demonstrations. Master Gardeners discuss and demonstrate composting on a drop-in basis at the Miller Branch. Free bins provided for Howard County residents. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardeners. No registration required.

Saturday, Aug. 16, 11 a.m. Crop Swap. Do you have an abundance of vegetables from your garden? Let’s crop swap! Bring homegrown produce to trade for something new and delicious at the Miller Branch. Share growing tips and favorite varieties. Families welcome. Leftovers donated to the Howard County Food Bank. Set up from 11 – 11:30 a.m., swap from 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Saturday, Aug. 16, 3 p.m. Kindergarten, Here We Come. The Central Branch will have stories and activities to help mark that all important first day, including boarding a real school bus. For children entering Kindergarten this fall; 45- 60 min. Cosponsored by Friends of Howard County Library and Howard County Public School System. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.7880. Another is offered on Aug. 19 at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch and again at 7 p.m., and also at 2 p.m. at the East Columbia Branch. Offered again on Aug. 20 at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch and at the East Columbia Branch at 7 p.m. And offered Aug. 21 at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch.

Monday, Aug. 18,  Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch – a Well & Wise Event. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Also offered, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 1 - 3 p.m. 

Monday, Aug. 18, 2 p.m. Infectious Diseases. Learn about infectious diseases, how they are spread, and how disease detectives work to find and stop their spread using medical technology and nanotechnology at the Savage Branch. Participate in mock disease outbreaks around the globe to learn to identify and handle some of the most dangerous diseases, select the right medical or nanotechnology methods, and develop a communication pack to let others know. Being an Infectious Disease Detective has never been more fun! Ages 11-18. HiTech is funded in part by a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from The Institute of Museum and Library Services. Visit Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760. Offered again on Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. , Aug. 20 at 2 p.m., Aug. 21 at 2 p.m., and Aug. 22 at 2 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m. I’m Going to be a Big Brother or Sister. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. A Well & Wise class. Come to the Central Branch to prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Tuesday, Aug. 26, 5 – 6:30 p.m. Weight Loss Through Bariatric Surgery in the Howard County General Wellness Center. Learn about weight loss surgery from Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery. Register online or call 410-550-5669.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, Sept. 16 to Nov. 6, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Healthy Weight Connection. Kick-start individual lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, to help you reach a healthier weight. Receive personalized guidance from a certified dietitian. Various nutrition topics and gentle yoga. Class held in the Howard County General Wellness Center. Cost is $195. Register online or call 410-740-7601.

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calendar_2014smMonday, Aug. 4, 6:30 p.m. Move with Games at Elkridge Branch – a Well & Wise Class. Exercise while competing with friends on the Wii or XBox Kinect. Healthy snack provided. Ages 11 – 17. No registration required.

Monday, Aug. 4 & 18, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch – a Well & Wise Event. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Also offered, Tuesday, August 12, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Elkridge Branch. No registration required.

Tuesday, Aug. 26, 5 – 6:30 p.m. Weight Loss Through Bariatric Surgery Learn about weight loss sugery from Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery. Call 410-550-5669.



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penguinAs one of the editors here on Well & Wise, I get to read some of the neatest stories online and in books. One of our writers, Anna, shared a great blog post with me earlier this week which speaks to the unspoken etiquette of greeting fellow runners during their runs. It’s clear, through my own novice triathlete experience, that the recognition, encouragement, and community surrounding running is as welcoming as it is unique. If you are afraid of running, don’t like running, or just don’t know anything about running, I highly recommend you check out The Courage to Start and Born to Run. These books just might change your mind about the sport altogether. Below, Anna shares her encounter with runners at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington, DC.

Around mile five, we had to cross a bridge over the Potomac River into Arlington, Virginia. As we were crossing over, the runners coming back were encouraging us with high-fives and words of encouragement. The runners were doing high-fives all the way across the bridge! It was such a tremendous feeling to know that we weren’t alone in our quest to finish! I wished that I could have taken a picture, because it was one of the most tremendous experiences I’ve ever had as a runner. -Anna L. Downing

Have you ever had an experience like that while running? Let me tell you, it’s hard not to feel good about being out there and staying active when you’ve got runners giving you high-fives, friendly waves, smiles, or compliments like, “Looking good!”

John Bingham, “The Penguin,” is a runner who has pretty much capitalized on his own couch-potato turned multiple-marathoner story. He’s a beloved columnist/writer/athlete/awesome-guy-in-general – and his anecdotes will make you laugh, smile, and sometimes cringe. Plus, he’s pretty much the poster boy of inspiration for those of us (myself included) who wouldn’t necessarily be picked out of a crowd and called a “runner.” This book is packed with practical advice for beginner runners and is an awesome story of a normal guy who figured out what it means to run with a smile.

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.


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Photo by Pascal (pasukaru76) on Flickr

Last year, when I spent some time in physical therapy rehab, I not only learned exercises for strengthening my legs, but also learned a lot about strengthening my arms. Previously, I felt the benefits of yoga exercises and stretches for my arms, but during a long recovery for a knee replacement I couldn’t continue my regular yoga practice.

The first step was an assessment with an occupational therapist looking at my strength and range of motion in my arms. Because I have had rheumatoid arthritis for many years I have limited motion and stiffness in my joints. Additionally, my arms needed some strengthening because I can’t exercise them well with my arthritis.

Stretching and exercising arthritic joints is very important for maintaining strength and mobility. Even sitting in a chair, I can do simple exercises like rolling my shoulders, circle motions and stretching one arm with the other.

However, I learned a great addition to my exercise regime was to use light weights. My therapist had me start low with just one pound to get comfortable. We used ankle or wrist weights that fasten with Velcro because I have trouble gripping anything heavy with my hands.

It didn’t take long for me to work up to exercising with a couple pounds. Right now I can do my exercises with 3.5 pound weights, but my goal is to reach five pounds. When the exercises feel too easy and not as challenging, I add a half pound, but then, decrease the repetitions of the exercises. I then work my way up to the previous repetitions with daily practice of the exercises.

One important lesson is to take a break or cut back on the exercises when I’m having an arthritic flare up or joint pain. Too much exercise can aggravate the joints further. On days when my shoulders or arms are feeling more pain and stiffness, I may exercise with less or no weight. On very bad days, I don’t exercise and may instead do something soothing for my joints like applying heat or getting extra rest.

After I began using weights for my arm exercises I noticed a gradual increase in strength and less stiffness in the joints. If I get out of the habit for awhile, I do feel more arthritic pain and less mobility in my arms. It also takes me time to work back up and feel better. For these reasons I definitely advise sticking with a regimen and not skimping on the daily practice!

Before adding weights to your exercises, consult with a physical or occupational therapist to make sure it is a good match for your physical condition. Take it slow and listen to your body when exercising. The goal is to strike a balance between challenging your body, but not harming yourself. If you feel too much pain or discomfort that is a warning sign to dial it back. On the other side, if you don’t feel your muscles tire or a little soreness then you may need to increase intensity.

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.


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PamPeeke_BrownLeather_webIn her publications – The Hunger Fix, Body for Life, Fit to Live, and Fight Fat After Forty - Dr. Pamela Peeke takes a holistic and integrative approach to mental, emotional, and physical fitness. From a perspective of full body health, she describes how to stay (or get) fit, healthy, and happy without endangering any aspect of your well being – a much needed and appreciated approach in our diet-obsessed culture.

The formula for weight loss is simple, right? Burn more calories than you eat – easy as that. However, becoming or staying truly fit takes more than eating the proper foods and getting enough exercise; it involves reducing stress and eschewing self-destructive habits. But how do you do that? Each aspect taken on it’s own seems easy enough, but taken as a whole it’s a hefty list: reduce stress, eat nutritious foods, decrease or eliminate self-destructive habits, and practice enough safe and satisfying exercise. Whew! I can’t even get to the end of that sentence without getting tired.

Luckily for all of us, Dr. Peeke has outlined a couple scientifically backed plans to improve health and wellness for people of any age or gender. Following Dr. Peeke’s three stage detox and recovery plan as outlined in The Hunger Fix or the five point plan she lays out in Fit to Live will ensure that all variables in the health and fitness formula are addressed. In The Hunger Fix, Dr. Peeke describes how dopamine rushes can be connected to unhealthy foods in the brain, and she lays out a plan to replace “false fix” foods with healthy fixes like meditating, writing, walking, or even laughing. In Fit to Live, she reframes healthiness with a simple question, “Are you fit to live?” Meaning, are you really mentally, emotionally, and physically fit enough to survive in the modern world with all it’s stressors and possibilities? With a lifestyle and health assessment, Dr. Peeke provides long term prognoses of different levels of fitness and a plan to improve by cutting out toxic lifestyle elements.

As you’ve no doubt seen previously on Well & Wise, Dr. Pam Peeke, internationally renowned expert on nutrition, stress, fitness, and public health, will be speaking tonight, Monday June 9th, at the Howard County Library System Miller Branch at 7:00pm. Registration is available online or by calling 410-313-1950. Come by to ask Dr. Peeke your nutrition, stress, and fitness questions directly!

Jessica Seipel is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She has worked for the Howard County Library System, in various positions, for a decade.



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“It’s about change, about committing to a new way of living–one that will ensure a lifetime of self-esteem and confidence.” Cindy Crawford, model

Ready for mind and body fitness? Open Body-for-LIFE for Women and be amazed by the attention-grabbing cover lining. Like the personal stories inside, the before and after photos attest to the success that so many different women have found following this book’s advice. Dr. Pamela Peeke, a physician specializing in nutrition and metabolism, introduces MMM – the Mind-Mouth-Muscle Formula for physical and mental fitness. Relying on the gender-specific studies of women’s biology and physiology, Dr. Peeke presents a health plan tailored around hormonal milestones. Taking into account biological, behavioral, social, and psychological factors, MMM confronts the challenges of motivation, healthy eating, and fitness. The book even includes detailed weight training and stretching instructions with helpful photos guiding the reader in proper form.

PamPeeke_BrownLeather_webSome highlights of this inspirational book include the “Cut Calories without Counting Them” page and the “Smart Foods Table” for constructing healthy meals. There is an informative nutritional table comparing energy bars. (The healthy fast food, energy bars are not all created equally so it can be tough to know which one to choose). Dr. Peeke’s fitness guidelines are especially encouraging in their emphasis on intensity rather duration. The goals are based on the science of metabolism and never feel overwhelming or unrealistic. There is also an abundance of insightful stress management tips such as the Rule of Reverse Expectations, “Anticipate that there will be obstacles in your path….Remember that in the midst of difficulty lies opportunity.” Dr. Peeke writes about creating “motivational targets” to overcome tough times and invigorate healthy choices.

Whether you are most interested in improving your emotional, nutritional, or physical fitness, check out Body-for-LIFE for Women. Next, register at to meet the author on Monday, June 9, 2014 at 7 pm at the  Miller branch. Dr. Peeke will be speaking about her books and taking questions. See you there!

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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