Linger, even for one chapter in this massive book, and you will soon find yourself caught up in psychiatrist and National Book Award winner, Andrew Solomon’s comprehensive (albeit eloquent) and tender tribute to the myriad parents of “horizontal” offspring — that is, dwarfs, transgenders, schizophrenics, prodigies, those who commit criminal acts, and more.

Solomon’s all-embracing assertion (as a homosexual, and therefore, a horizontal child himself) is that the parents of such children, along with the children themselves, deserve voice and a raison d’etre. Even the ones certain to be defined as bad parents are given voice: Is it hard or easy to love a child that society has deemed imperfect? Does bearing a child with supreme challenges take us to the edge of an awful precipice? Or does it make us, as one mother says, “Deeper for it?”

Sue Klebold, mother of one of the two teens who committed the Columbine massacre, divested her soul to Solomon when the question was asked if it would have been better had her son never been born.

“I believe,” she said, “it would not have been better for me.”

Far From The Tree is the Camino Trail of epic reads. Take the journey anyway — if not for the privilege to walk in the shoes of some of the most diverse parents and children you will ever meet.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.

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If you need help getting your family started on a healthier path, try Eat! Move! Play! Simple, direct, and manageable for any family!

I haven’t always been on the healthy path. There have been many years where I loved fast food! The convenience alone was worth the price I was paying. Then, I became a mom. Still, the convenience of fast food was a big factor. Then, I got divorced and started raising my daughter on my own. Still no change, and the convenience became an even bigger excuse. After a long day of work, a long drive home, and homework to do (yep, working full time and going to school), who wants to cook dinner at 6:30 at night?

Then, something changed. Finally. I started seeing myself and my habits through my daughter’s eyes. I saw how much she would expect me to stop at the drive-thru or to go get ice cream. It was then, that I saw my bad habits were creeping into her life. It had to stop. I became a part of Elf for Health, a group on Facebook, that gave daily challenges for four weeks. It wasn’t all health-driven, some of the challenges were to write positive things about yourself, call a loved one, etc. But it was the healthy challenges that started planting the seed within me. I began to understand that I needed to set better examples for my daughter. And frankly, I want to be around a long time for her- so, it was finally time to step it up.

Eating healthy and exercising are two great ways to lead by example. But there are other ways too, things we can do on a daily basis. I read an article by Steven C. Reuben for Johns Hopkins that hit the nail on the head. He said, “One of the most common teachable moments happens every time you drive your car with your kids inside” (p. 1). So true!! I am always careful when a driver cuts me off or rides my tail. If my daughter says something about a driver who cuts me off my response is this, “well, we don’t know what that person is going through, maybe they are just having a bad day or they aren’t feeling good.” (trying to keep it simple, she’s 4.)

A couple of weeks ago we were leaving Target and I saw a $10 bill on the ground next to my car. For that split second I thought, “Sweet! $10!” Then, I decided the universe was giving me a chance to teach her something, so I took that teachable moment. As I was writing a note she asked what I was doing. I explained to her that I thought the car next to mine dropped the money so I was writing a note and leaving it on their windshield. She asked, “Why?” I explained that we never know how bad that person needs that money, “it could be their lunch money.” She smiled and said that it was a nice thing to do. Teaching moment success!

Remember to pay attention, you never know when your children are watching you.

Monika is no stranger to the healthy-living community online. You may recognize her from Everything Mommy or Fitness Mama blogs. She has a 4 year old daughter, Ava, and works and goes to school full-time in Las Vegas.

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Want to Reduce the Effects of Diabetes? Get Moving

rsz_img_7586A new Johns Hopkins study shows that regular aerobic exercise provides great fuel (and efficiency) for the pumping heart. This is encouraging news for people who have type 2 diabetes, who also frequently have a high risk of heart disease.

“Diabetic people have elevated glucose and fat in the blood, explains lead researcher Miguel Aon, Ph.D. “They can have twice as much as a healthy person.” Each of these factors contributes to heart disease.

Exercise breaks up stored fatty acids, giving the diabetic heart the extra fuel it needs to function normally. “To our surprise, the heart improved performance in the presence of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) when there was a high energy demand,” Aon says. “If a person is exercising, the heart needs more energy, and energy is provided by fat.”

In the study, researchers gave double the normal fatty acids to type 2 diabetic mice and then used an adrenaline-like substance to stimulate their hearts to beat faster, mimicking stress or physical activity. They found the diabetic mice’s hearts improved their function to the same level as normal mice and also counteracted the negative effects of too much glucose.

This doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want if you have diabetes, but it does mean regular biking, swimming, running or walking will improve your cardio-vascular function and reduce your risk of heart failure.

Reprinted from Johns Hopkins Health.  For more valuable health insights, subscribe to this free quarterly print magazine.

 

For more information on managing your pre-diabetes or diabetes check out Howard County General Hospital’s classes including:

  • Living with Diabetes: If you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes–or even if you have been living with diabetes for some time and would like to make a commitment to improve your health–this course will teach you how to change your habits and will give you practical, attainable solutions for staying healthy. Our diabetes specialists will not tell you what to do–instead they will empower you with information and design a diabetes management plan to fit your lifestyle. Living with Diabetes is a two-day, interactive, group course taught by an endocrinologist, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian, psychologist, podiatrist, and exercise specialist.
  • What 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.

 

Click on the title for more information, visit www.hcgh.org/events or call 443-718-3000.

 


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Many people assume that people with disabilities cannot be athletic. They probably never heard of the Paralympics, an international athletic competition for people with disabilities. The competitions follow the summer and winter Olympic Games in the same venues just a couple weeks after.

The current U.S. Winter Paralympics Team features 80 athletes competing in sports like: alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, sled hockey, snowboarding, and wheelchair curling. The team includes 32 returning Paralympians who have previously won an impressive total of 50 medals. Eighteen athletes are U.S. military veterans and active service members.

When I get frustrated with my exercises and feel like I’m getting nowhere, it helps to note the achievements of these disabled athletes. While I struggle with my rheumatoid arthritis and physical limitations, it helps to know others with disabilities have worked hard to succeed in their sport to proudly represent their country.

My earliest exposure to the Paralympics was a documentary film, called Murderball, about the U.S. wheelchair rugby team that competed in the 2004 games. The film told stories about the players’ experiences with disability and the importance of athletics to their well-being. I found the film personally inspiring as it dug into the athletes’ stories of disability and coping with their physical challenges. What resonated with me strongly were people with disabilities working to live their lives and pursue their dreams without yielding to exclusion or low expectations of the society around them.

While exercise has always been important for maintaining my health and mobility, I gained a newfound appreciation for athletics when I saw the film and learned more about the Paralympics. It helped me to understand that while I may live with a disability, I can still be an athletic person like able-bodied people. My exercise may look a little different or be adapted for my abilities, but it can be just as challenging (sometimes more so because I’m coping with joint damage and weakened muscles).

What the Paralympics tells me is that anyone can be an athlete, if they desire it. Adjustments can be made to account for physical challenges and needs, with tools to emphasize and accentuate our abilities.

If you have the chance check out some of the Paralympics games—they will be shown on television and also online—it is well worth it. I look forward to seeing some of the competition and daydreaming about new sports and adventures to try.

In the meantime, I’ll stick to my customized exercise routine, while also periodically challenging myself to try new things like the athletes I so admire.

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

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Whether you’re interested in autism already, know nothing about autism and want to understand it more fully, or just like reading about how a real family deals with life issues, you will enjoy Keiko Tobe’s series With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child. Volume one begins with a young woman, Sachiko Azuma, who feels very lucky: her adoring husband Masato has an excellent job, they live in a nice condo, and she just had her first child, Hikaru. Life seems perfect until Hikaru starts acting strangely. He hates being held, he cries all the time for no clear reason, and he won’t return affection. Sachiko’s husband is overworked and exhausted, and her mother-in-law blames Hikaru’s misbehavior on Sachiko for taking shortcuts in her parenting and failing to discipline. On the verge of resorting to abuse, Sachiko takes her child to a doctor who diagnoses Hikaru as autistic. She originally finds it hard to believe that her beautiful son has an incurable condition, but when Hikaru’s behavior disrupts a family funeral – it’s the last straw for Sachiko. She finally takes him to a Social Welfare Center that can offer her help, direction, and understanding.

The eight volumes of With the Light are large for a manga series, with each volume exceeding 500 pages, but they fly past. As the series continues, Hikaru ages through adolescence and Sachiko develops methods for Hikaru to control his behavior and learn along with the rest of his classmates. They face many trials – from daily prejudice to a teacher that doesn’t agree with the allowances necessary for Hikaru to stay in normal classes. It’s very realistic in its depiction of an often misunderstood neurodevelopmental disorder, even though it is a work of fiction and some liberties are taken to keep the story entertaining.

According to A Beginner’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders by Paul Taylor, autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed through impairments in three areas of behavior: social interaction, communication, and activity/interests. Hikaru shows all these impairments as his story continues, from keeping to himself and missing non-verbal cues (social interaction) to barely speaking (communication), to repetitive behavior and obsession with order (activity/interests). As educational as it is enjoyable, Hikaru’s path through school illustrates some of the ways in which autistic students can learn alongside developmentally normal students with only small changes to the classroom. Taylor’s text covers many of the principles used in With the Light to help Hikaru learn and communicate, including the creation of structure and predictability, anticipating transitions, creating self-help options like a place for Hikaru to go when he’s feeling too stressed and needs to recover, and ensuring that all those involved in the classroom understand the disorder and what can be done to help.

It’s especially interesting to see how a non-American culture deals with the complexity of autism. Tobe includes many resources and even some essays on autism and raising autistic children, many from a distinctly Japanese point of view. Among other resources, the library can offer the aforementioned Beginner’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders as an introduction, while the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is made up of essays from “autistics, parents, and professionals” that provide a more personal touch. Temple Grandin, a doctor, professor, engineer, and autism activist has written numerous books on autism, including 2013’s The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum and her autobiography Thinking in Pictures, which was the subject of the movie Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes.

If you’re looking for more answers to your questions concerning autism or need support, the Howard County Autism Society is a good place to start. This organization has been serving our community for over twenty years and is a wellspring of information and resources for individuals and families living with autism spectrum disorders. 

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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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Your diet is an important tool in maintaining good health as well as a necessary element in promoting peak performance. Proper nutrition and hydration for runners can make or break a workout or race. The food you eat greatly affects how you feel, work, and think. A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these essentials: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Be sure you communicate your health goals and consult your primary care physician or a licensed nutritionist or dietitian when making changes to your diet.

Here are some basic guidelines for a nutritious, healthy balance:

Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for athletes. They provide quick and long-lasting energy. Our bodies work more efficiently with carbs than they do with proteins or fats. Whole grain pasta, steamed or boiled rice, potatoes, fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grain breads are good carb sources.

Protein
Protein is used for some energy and to repair tissue damaged during training. Protein keeps you feeling full longer. Try to concentrate on protein sources that are low in fat and cholesterol such as lean meats, fish, dairy products (lower fat), poultry, whole grains, and beans.

Fat
A high fat diet can quickly pack on the pounds, so try to make sure that you stick to foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Foods such as nuts, oils, and cold-water fish provide essential fats called omega-3s, which are vital for good health.

Vitamins
Runners don’t get energy from vitamins, but they are still an important part of their diet. Getting vitamins from whole foods is preferable to supplementation.

Minerals

  • Calcium: A calcium-rich diet is essential for runners to prevent osteoporosis and stress fractures. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, calcium-fortified juices, dark leafy vegetables, beans, and eggs.
  • Iron: You need this nutrient to deliver oxygen to your cells. If you have an iron-poor diet, you’ll feel weak and fatigued, especially when you run. Good natural sources of iron include lean meats, leafy green vegetables, nuts, shrimp, and scallops.
  • Sodium and other electrolytes: Small amounts of sodium and other electrolytes are lost through sweat during exercise. Usually, electrolytes are replaced if you follow a balanced diet. But if you find yourself craving salty foods, it may be your body’s way of telling you to get more sodium. Try drinking a sports drink or eating some pretzels after exercise.

Here are some excellent resources which provide a comprehensive guidelines to nutrition for athletes:

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Happy trails until we meet again!

Anna Louise Downing is a Customer Service Specialist at the Miller Branch. She is an avid reading and enjoys Disney, music and her passion of running. She has been a race ambassador for several local races, is a Sweat Pink Ambassador for promoting women’s health. Follow her journey towards being physically fit with running and healthy lifestyle here on Well & Wise.

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