What’s on Your Happiness List?

D. Sharon Pruitt

What is happiness? That answer can be as different as a fingerprint – unique and personal for every single one of us. I went to a screening, with my friend Terri, the other night to see Project Happiness, which is right up my ally. I joke that I’m a happiness seeker in my Twitter profile – but it’s true – I try to find the best in all situations and the silver lining in anything. I can’t help it – my mother is like that and it rubbed off on me.

The film sought out to answer the huge question “what is happiness?” and although I felt it fell short – it got me thinking and inspired me to think about my own experiences with happiness. (Side note: I liked the book The Happiness Project much better.) I think the problem with the film is that they were looking for one big “aha moment” as Oprah would say. But the thing is – that isn’t going to happen. I’ve always said it’s the little things that make should people happy: Read more

6 Ways to Get Better Customer Service

89studio : FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sometimes New Yorkers do live up to the “they are so rude” stereotype and usually I can let it roll off my back. But sometimes it’s really irritating — especially when I’m paying for a service or asking for help in a store. Well guess what — there are ways to ensure that you won’t have to deal with such “service” again — in this town or any other! My guest blogger today is my best friend Danielle Freni who has started a Customer Service Revolution. Of which I gladly ride on the coattails of so I can get free drinks, better service and more bang for my buck! Now you can too. Read more

Oprah Here I Come!

Visit to The Oprah Winfrey ShowLast April I started this blog right before my trip to one of the last tapings of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember and watching Oprah solidified my decision to become a journalist.  I was determined, last April, to meet Oprah when I was at Harpo Studios — but alas, it didn’t happen.  I had done my homework and made my list of questions just in case I got to speak with her — but it wasn’t to be that time. My reporter’s notebook and pencil were confiscated by security! (It wasn’t that dramatic — they basically don’t let you take anything in the studio with you. But I have a flair for the dramatic sometimes — as I’m sure you’ve noticed!) Read more

Checklist for Finding A Personal Trainer

Checklist for Finding a Personal Trainer

by Laura DeAngelis, NASM CPT, AFAA Group Exercise Instructor

If you’ve joined a gym and haven’t been to one in awhile – or ever – I highly recommend spending some time with Personal Trainers who can help you get familiarized with the equipment and start a safe routine. Many gyms offer one or more free sessions to welcome you to the facility. If that’s the case, take advantage of the opportunity to get some guidance. Alternatively, you might want to check out an online personal trainer such as Nathan Fitness as they can help you reach your fitness goals through custom training schedules at an affordable price.

In order to create a safe and effective exercise program, a good trainer will conduct a fitness assessment and collect the following information before your first stretch, step on a stair machine or set of squats.

Readiness for Exercise: Be prepared to answer questions about whether you experience things like chest pain, dizziness or balance problems and if you’re on certain medications. These questions are part of the PAR-Q, which stands for The Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire. It helps trainers identify people who are clear for activity and those who may need medical attention. However, DON’T expect a trainer to make a medical diagnosis or prescribe treatment for a condition you haven’t discussed with your health care provider.

Medical History: Whether you’ve suffered from bad ankle sprains or had back surgery, injuries and surgical procedures can alter how the body moves and cause muscle imbalances. When these imbalances aren’t addressed, your body makes compensations through altered joint motion which can ultimately lead to injury.

Occupation: Wear heels to work everyday? There’s a good chance your calves are tight. Spend long hours sitting at a computer? Your hip flexors are probably screaming (as mine do) to be stretched. Perform repetitive movements all day like painting or construction work? Your lats may need a little TLC.

Hobbies: Do you spend your days off chasing a tennis ball and/or the kids or vegging out on the couch? Having information about all your daily activities will help your trainer develop a better customized exercise program.

Measurable Data: Your personal trainer should also collect objective information through movement assessments, one of the most important being the overhead squat assessment. As I learned through my NASM instruction, this dynamic postural assessment is key when creating a safe and effective exercise program. Observing a person’s feet, knees, lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and shoulder complex while he or she performs an overhead squat shows which overactive muscles need to be stretched and which under-active muscles need to be strengthened.

Additional Objective Information: Along with the postural and movement assessments, your trainer can collect other data including body-composition measurements and physiologic assessments such as heart rate.

It’s also important to find someone who you listens to you and helps you understand the strategy toward reaching your goals. Finding the right personal trainer is one tool that can help you get a jump start on the path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Laura DeAngelis is an independent personal trainer in New York City who received her certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She’s also a certified Group Exercise Instructor through the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and a Licensed Zumba® Instructor. When she’s not training, Laura currently works as the Director of Production at West Glen Communications, Inc. where she also hosts “Health & Home Report.” For more of Laura’s health and fitness tips, check out her blog at LauraLovesFitness.com

Must-Have Baking Tool List

My mother has always been the cook in the family. I’m not just saying this because she’s my mom — but she really is a fabulous cook. So for most of my life I had the “why bother” mentality when it came to cooking. My mom had it covered…so I didn’t need to.

With the help of Food Network, my husband and I have slowly become foodies! Now we love trying to make new dishes — even if they don’t always turn out right. But baking is something that my mother doesn’t do and still I haven’t jumped into that arena quite yet. Baking is a skill that even the best cooks can’t master a lot of the time, but can be a fantastic hobby to get into.  But it’s on my “to-learn” list so I’ve reached out to pastry chef Marnely Rodriguez for some help on what tools I might need before I start.

Must-Have Baking Tool List

by Marnely Rodriguez

Tools of the trade are thousands, but the following list is of the top 5 baking tools every person that bakes or wants to start baking should have. They are great tools that, when used correctly, will have you baking cakes and cookies on a weekly basis!

1. Digital Scale

Nothing is more important to a baker than their scale. Baking is a science and differentiates from cooking because you can’t really throw in random, unmeasured ingredients in a pan and magically have a chocolate cake.

A scale will let you precisely weigh your ingredients and develop a sense of awareness when baking. Just be sure to never convert volume measures (cups) to metric measures (ounces/grams). Stick to the metric system and you’ll be a step ahead of the crowd. Read more