Wednesday, December 30, 2009
NEW YORK – Economic experts agree that small-business lending is crucial to the economy’s full economy, and Fox Business News released results of its investigation that asked the nation’s biggest banks how much they loaned to small businesses in 2009.
Among the respondents to Fox’s survey:
* Bank of America: Facilitated $12 billion in credit to small businesses, incurring $2.5 billion in loan losses. Since September the company has modified loans to 49,000 clients.
* JPMorgan Chase: Loaned $6 billion to companies with sales of less than $20 million with plans to increase lending in 2010 by 67 percent.
* PNC Financial Services: Originated nearly $10 billion in loans.
* Wells Fargo: Said it is on track to loan small businesses $13 billion in 2009. The company plans to increase its workforce of bankers on the small-business front by five percent in 2010.
Fox’s investigation came as a Senate committee passed two bills this month — the Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act of 2009 and the Small Business Export Enhancement and International Trade Act — that aim to increase loan limits and foster small businesses to grow exports.
“America ’s 29 million small businesses are really struggling with skyrocketing health insurance premiums and a tight credit market. Now that we have stabilized Wall Street, it is time to jump-start Main Street, and these bills will do just that," said Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chairwoman Mary Landrieu.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009
As always, if you have any questions that pertain to PR (public relations), SEO or other marketing tools feel free to contact me through my site at www.prdepotchicago.com, or simply send me a DM through one of my profiles such as Twitter ( @mamapr ) and Facebook at www.facebook.com/mamapr and I'd be more than happy to go over some options for you that will not only be within budget but also very effective.
It's been a long week, but I felt like jotting a few things down before Christmas arrives.
With the new year just around the corner, your attention as a business owner should be on marketing strategies in 2010.
The game of online marketing, whether small business marketing, kitchen table entrepreneur or a large corporation, has changed quite a bit and no one method will no longer do the job.
If you're not familiar with SEO (search engine optimization), public relations and social media - You'll need to start educating yourself on each, and learn them well, for each of these marketing methods holds a valuable benefit when utilized properly - and with the right leverage can take your business from making small profits to large profits.
SEO is the art of improving your search engine rankings, and is also applied to your actual website so big search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing can find your site easier and properly index it for future references when your site is optimized.
Optimizing your website with enough keywords and phrases will help improve where you are on search engines, but that's not all.
Links to your site also play an important role when it comes to search engine rankings. The more sites that link up to your website, the better!
With the popularity of Social Media it's no wonder more and more large corporations are using this medium to reach new customers as well as communicate with current ones.
Everything from new products, sales and company info is funneled through social media channels from #Twitter to #Facebook and many others.
The instant contact helps companies to stay in touch with it's communities and allows for a more personal approach to marketing.
The benefits of social media out-weigh traditional advertising, and is virtually free if cost. Something many business owners are just now discovering.
Looking for free publicity to help get your business out there to the masses, be seen as an industry expert and help add some credibility to your business? Start using PR!
PR Campaigns are not only more affordable than advertising, but also more effective in building your brand.
With a press release and some solid media distribution, your business can be introduced to thousands of journalists and used in featured stories without costing you a dime.
While advertising needs constant funding, your PR Campaign continues to give back and circulate through the very channels that cam help you get that wonderful free publicity.
Journalists are always searching for story ideas, and by having your press release on circulation you give yourself, and your business, the opportunity to be featured in a magazine, newspaper, television and radio.
So before you invest in any advertising for 2010, try using these methods to grow your company and start building your business.
SEO | Internet Marketing
Press Release Services
Public Relations Depot
The antidote to expensive advertising.
Friday, December 4, 2009
As the Christmas holiday season fastly approaches, there's always much activity and personal business to attend to that it is easy to forget to thank our valued customers and friends, like you, for their time, referrals and business.
So, before I forget, I would like to extend my gratitude and to thank you personally for your support, it is much appreciated.
May this holiday season bring to you and your family all of the joy and happiness that you deserve.
All the best,
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Chocolate Chip, Macadamia Nuts and Cherry Cookies
* 1 cup butter, softened
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 teaspoons hot water
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
* 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
* 3/4 cup dry cherries
Mix all dry ingredients together then work in the butter, eggs and water.
Toss in chips, nuts and cherries. Mix until all is blended but don't over mix.
I usually place in fridge for 15 minutes.
Grab a cookie sheet and lightly spray with butter Pam.
Remove from fridge, then grab a small ice cream scooper
to make even sized cookies.
350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
Let cool and serve!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This Thanksgiving holiday with its blessings so grand
Should serve to remind us of the joys at hand
The friendships we treasure, our families dear
The love we've been given and shared, year to year
The food at our tables, where many have none
The dawn of each morning beneath the bright sun
The dreams that we carry; the warmth in our hearts
That bring us together when we are apart.
The walks by the lakeshore as stars light the sky
The joys in the children who quickly pass by
The stillness of nature, the comforts of home
Each blessing the greatest that could ever be known
The warm, pleasured scents from the kitchen, delight
Arousing the senses near the firelight
The wondrous decor of the season to come
Good tidings, best wishes for everyone.
The freedom we hold, so to live peacefully
The soldiers who serve us, so diligently
The air that we breathe, the flowers we grow
The brightness of spring, the coldness of snow
Our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives
And the furry creatures who capture our lives –
All are blessings we’re given to cherish, always
Yet, especially so on Thanksgiving Day.
Celebrate this time for the beauty abound
Be thankful for all of the blessings you've found
For in the end, blessed you will truly be –
A soul filled with love, peace and harmony
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends; I am blessed, indeed
I am thankful for the love you have shared, selflessly
May each road that you travel be paved with a smile
Have a wonderful holiday....enjoyed in style!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This certainly raises a lot of questions for those who have built their sites over the years, and are now wondering how this will change the game.I posed this to my friends on Twitter (feel free to follow me/I follow back @MamaPR ) and they had some interesting responses - in the form of questions of course!
Google is looking to shake things up a bit with their plans of using your sites speed load as a factor of how it will be ranked. Oh Google, whatever will we do with you. The popular search engine currently uses your page load times as part of their AdWords quality score, so this is definitely a logical step for this to be included in the organic listings as well. It was bound to happen.
"What's going to happen to sites that are not as quick as others, but contains more information?""How will this affect my rankings?""My site loads up pretty fast...so does this mean my ranking will be in the top ten of my category?"
All very good questions, and the answer is.... (drum roll please!) - Update and fix your site. Sounds simple enough, but it is now highly recommended and no longer can be left on your "things to do when I get around to it" list. Left undone, and you'll surely fall back behind everyone else.For those of you have haven't updated your content and scaled down those LARGE photos on your website pages or even put in the effort to make it SEO friendly - Well, you will now have to do a serious overhaul. Think about how many times you lost a potential sale due to your slooooow site load.I'll bet next weeks paycheck that your competitors are already hiring people to do this for them, or learning everything they can (assuming they have the time as many entrepreneurs tend to juggle several balls in the air already!) to make sure that their website is loading up fast for visitors, potential customers and ready for Googles new indexing.Now of course there are other factors as to how they rank your site, but this is definitely a good place to start.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
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Here are some key steps to cleaning up your retail internet business to help boost revenue and return customers.
1. Remove all the clutter from all web pages that only take away from your own products. This could be from having too many links (and broken links), too many affiliate ads and banners and finally - remove the multitude of photos that have nothing to do with your site.
2.If you are running a business- look like one. Don't use backgrounds that are only really meant for social site profiles. The blinking stars background is not how you want to represent your business. Use a solid color background along with your business logo on top. Of course you'll want to make it look great - but lets keep the social site backgrounds where they belong - on social sites.
3.Make sure your price points are clearly visible and are reflected correctly through-out your entire site.
4.Never use your home page as your entire "About Us" platform if you are a retailer. There should be another page dedicated for this. Simply inserting a paragraph about how you started the business and using the largest font possible on then placing that on your main page will only turn potential buyers away.
5.Use flash effects/animation sparingly - there is no need to use every flash animation you have come across and placing it all over your website. Its distracting - you want your potential customers to focus on your merchandise.
6.Organize your site and make it easy to navigate. Make it easy for visitors to find your contact information, shipping/returns and privacy policies, email newsletter sign-up and so forth.
Monday, November 16, 2009
1. Business Card
2. Merchandise Bags
5. Voice Mail Greeting
6. Purchase Receipts
7. Your Business Window
8. Print/Newspaper Ads
9. Product displays, for retail or trade
10. Trade show brochures
11. Company Or Personal Car
14. Local Business Websites and directories (If they are free willing to barter)
15. Local Community Portals
17. Press Release campaign
18. Yellow Page Listing (while it has lost some steam its still good to get on)
19. Entry forms, for contests or sweepstakes
20. Packaging inventory lists for mailing
21. Order confirmations
22. Thank-you cards
23. Boxes or other packaging
24. Employees Uniforms ( If they are representing the company they should be wearing the company logo)
25. Company Checks
26. Fax Cover Sheet
27. Flyers and Leaflets
28. Print or Email Newsletters
29. Free Booklets and Handouts
30. Voicemail Message
Saturday, November 14, 2009
As many of you know I'm on Twitter.com - but realized many of my friends have yet to join?
Don't know what Twitter is? Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, "What are you doing?" by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called "tweets", to your friends, or "followers."
It's FREE just like Myspace and Facebook, and within seconds you've added yourself with your own Twitter profile to communicate with family, friends and yes.. tell everyone on Twitter about your business or site!
Why Twitter.com is Useful?
Twitter has many uses: both for personal and business use. It's a great way to keep in touch with your friends and quickly broadcast information about where you are and what you're up to.
For business, Twitter can be used to broadcast your company's latest news, promotions, new products and blog posts or interact with your customers.
So come on what are you waiting for!
JOIN TWITTER TODAY!
If you are already on Twitter let me know!
Ps. when you do you can find/follow me (I'll return the favor!) at http://www.twitter.com/mamapr !
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Me and my family wanted to put together a healthier Thanksgiving dinner with less fat, salt and calories...and it had to be flavorful. Below is our holiday dinner menu we'll be making and serving in the coming weeks.
If you're going meatless... you may still like some of recipes.
The meal is a combination of recipes we found and just tweaked a bit to our tasting.
Lets make some turkey shall we!
If you're having turkey you can make it lower in fat by seasoning the bird with your favorite fresh herbs and spices ( I love thyme and rosemary...just don't over do it!) and skipping the butter and unhealthy oils on top. I will be using olive oil...again don't over do it. I will be preparing my turkey in a brine prior to the spicing stage.
So, before tossing any spices on your turkey it should be fully thawed (about 24 hours for an average size.. if you are buying a large turkey it may take a tad longer...read instructions!) - after thawing I'll be making Sunny Andersons (from the Foodnetwork!) brine to make sure its moist and tender.
Brine the thawed out turkey prior to cooking: This is for a 10 pound turkey (more or less)
In a large enough bowl or bag, whisk together 3-4 cups apple cider, salt, 5-6 sprigs of thyme and 4 sprigs of rosemary. Add turkey and enough water to cover the bird. Cover and let brine in the refrigerator 2-4 hours. I'll be pre-measuring my oil as to not use too much, I figure 1/2 - 1 cup of olive oil...remember, the brine will help keep it moist and the oil will give it a nice browning.
Work out the timing so the oven is preheated nicely at 325 degrees. Each turkey should come with cooking directions and times. If yours does not contain them, use this site HERE.
Remove turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Brush with olive oil and season. Place turkey in a roasting pan. Cook required time until done and skin begins to turn golden. After cooked, let the turkey rest at least 10 minutes. Eating the skin isn't exactly healthy, so take the skin off of the turkey after you roast it and stick to eating the lower fat white meat if you the will. Also, don't cover your turkey in high-fat gravy--you can make lower fat gravy with a small amount of turkey drippings, fat fee chicken broth and sautéed veggies.
Here's a good recipe I found for a lighter turkey gravy with all the flavor:
Once you've take out your turkey try to scoop out the juices that are not fatty and put them into a small sauce pan. Once the less fatty juices have been collected and placed into a sauce pan you can put the sauce pan on the stove and put the burner on high heat. For every cup of less fat turkey juice that you have been able to scoop up you need to mix up a cup of water with three tablespoons of corn starch.
Once the low fat turkey juice is boiling quickly pour in the mixture of corn starch and water. As you pour in the corn starch and water mixture make sure you mix the pan of turkey juice. Keep stirring until the mixture is the consistency of gravy and then take the mixture off the burner and turn the burner off. Once the mixture is cooked you can add spices like salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, white pepper or garlic powder. The choice of spices depends on what you like your gravy to taste like.
Pour the low fat gravy into a serving bowl and serve.
Stuffing. Stuffing does not have to be all about butter or sausage. Instead, use whole grain bread cubes and sautéed onions, celery and apples. To give it some extra flavor, add some fat free chicken broth instead of using water. Cut the butter in your stuffing recipe in half--you won't miss that extra butter at all!
More of a Cornbread Stuffing kinda lover?
Healthier Cornbread Stuffing
Make the cornbread first. Use a corn meal mix and follow the instructions for cooking the cornbread and substitute a few ingredients it calls for to make it heart healthy. Use egg whites instead of the whole egg. Use skim milk or 1% milk. Instead of using shortening or other oils, use canola or olive oil. Add a 1/4 cup of plain yogurt.
While the cornbread is cooking, dice half of a medium onion and 4 celery stalks and put them in a small sauce pan and heat on low heat with just enough water to cover them. Cook just until they begin to be soft. Set aside.
Toast 4 pieces of whole wheat bread. Once the toast and the cornbread have cooled to room temperature, start crumbling the breads into a large mixing bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of sage and mix into bread well. Next, add the onions and celery. Add a 1/2 tsp of salt and a pinch of pepper for flavoring and mix well. Add the chicken broth and mix well. The dressing will hold together and you spread it into a large casserole dish. You can either cover it to cook later or cook it immediately. Cook on 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Instead of using gravy with your turkey and dressing, substitute Lipton's cream of chicken "cup of soup".
Everyone loves mashed potatoes at the dinner table, but if you're not careful it can be heavy on the fat and calories.
Try this cauliflower and mashed "potato" recipe on your guest...they'll never know the difference!
Ingredients (serves about 4)
1 head cauliflower
1 clove garlic
1 leek, white only, split in 4 pieces
1 tablespoon soft-tub margarine, non-hydrogenated (or another healthy choice!)
Pepper to taste
Break cauliflower into small pieces. In a good-sized saucepan, steam cauliflower, garlic and leeks in water until completely tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. While cauliflower is hot, puree until the vegetables resemble mashed potatoes. (Use a food processor, of if you prefer a smoother texture, use a blender. Process only a small portion at a time, holding the blender lid on firmly with a tea towel.) Add a little hot water if vegetables seem dry. Stir in margarine and pepper to taste.
Make the vegetables the focus of your meal by grilling them and adding seasonings. Skip the fattening green bean casserole and instead make green beans with sautéed mushrooms and garlic.
Low-fat desserts. Instead of making a fattening pie crust for your apple pie, make an oatmeal crumble topping for apples. Spray a casserole dish with fat free cooking spray. Pour one can of apple pie filling into the dish. Mix 2 tablespoons butter, ½ cup quick cooking oatmeal, ¼ cup whole wheat flour, ½ cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts until crumbly. Sprinkle the mixture over apple pie filling. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes....a healthy apple cobbler!
Not digging the cobbler?
How's a healthier version of good ol' pumpkin pie with a twist. Whole wheat crust!
For the full recipe with step by step instructions...and pictures. Click HERE!
Nicci's holiday tips: Don't just sit around filling up on heavy appetizers and fattening drinks before dinner is even served. Instead try serving up some wine spritzers and a vegetable platter with low-fat onion or spinach dip.
To make the onion dip, mix one 16-ounce container of fat free sour cream with a packet of onion soup mix (you can use ranch dressing mix if you prefer). I'd have a little bowl out of individually wrapped mints for this...lol. Serve with a spread of broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and sliced cucumbers.
For the low fat spinach dip (which I found on about.com) makes a terrific appetizer. Serve with a platter of fresh vegetables or with some baked chips or breadsticks. Use frozen chopped spinach if you prefer. You can spice it up a little by adding a dash of hot sauce.
* 10 ounces fresh baby spinach, steamed until wilted
* 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt, drained of excess water
* 4 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
I also like Silk soy nog (with a little cinnamon stick)as opposed to the fattening version...tastes amazing and a lot healthier!
Hope you enjoyed this post...and if you like my writings and helpful information subscribe to my blog and never be left out of the loop!
Friday, October 30, 2009
If you are a minority woman looking to open your own business, you’re in luck. There are many organizations including government out there that are ready to help you out. As everyone knows, getting the capital needed to start a business is the first and foremost. Without capital, there is no business. Most women get start up capital by getting a loan from banks or borrowing money from friends and family. While this is not a bad idea, the problem is you still have to repay the loans eventually. So you’d have to be certain your business is profitable if you plan on repaying loans.
One way to get your business or even fund your established business is to get business grants for minority women. These grants are specifically for businesswomen usually given by the government and other organizations. Minority women may include Asian, African American, and Hispanic women. The business grants for minority women are great because there is no expectation for it to be repaid and plus there is no credit check like loans.
Before you apply for business grants for minority women, you might want to work out a business plan. A detailed business plan not only gets you off on the right foot in your business, but you also need to show this to your grantors who have the final decision as to whether or not you get a grant. If you can’t provide a good reason for them to give you money, then they most likely won’t be giving any money. You can find sample business plans online to get you started. You can also hire a business consultant to help you plan.
Start off your search for small business grants for women by going to the government grants database. This is a government website which has list of hundreds of small business grants for minority women. Search for the grants that suit you. In this case it would be grants for minority women business owners.
Next stop contact non-profit and other charitable organizations and find out if they give minority business grants for women. You can also contact businesses that may also give grants. Find out this information from your chamber of commerce.
Your state or county government may also have separate small business grants for minority women from that of the federal government. Give them a call and see what they have to offer.
When you are applying for grants for minority women starting a business, you’ll face a lot of rejections since there are many other women applying as well. Just keep on applying and write convincing business plans so that you get a higher chance of getting the money.
Are you a small business seeking marketing and SEO help with low investment?
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I hope so, and its about time.
I myself am a huge dog lover, have 3 of my own. Read on to learn more about the 'HAPPT Act'.
A bill making the rounds on Capitol Hill marries two feel-good propositions -- tax cuts and pet ownership -- to generate a novel idea: A tax break of up to $3,500 per person for pet care expenses. How's that for a nice break.
The bill is cleverly called the 'HAPPY Act', for Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years.
Representative Thaddeus McCotter, a fourth-term Republican from Livonia MI, has introduced the HAPPY Act; HR 3501, and it was originally introduced on July 31.
The HAPPY Act would allow taxpayers to deduct up to $3,500-a-year in pet care expenses, including vet care.
"We think this is as much a health care bill as any," said Nancy Perry, vice president of government affairs at the Humane Society of the United States. "It's a human health issue to ensure that pets are provided with better care because of the role they play in our families."
Read the bill here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.3501
I have used Intuit for years, and have recommended their products to friends and family.
Intuit actually launched the Intuit Partner Platform, its platform for applications built by outside developers, last year, and it says it has already signed up 90,000 developers. But this is the first version of QuickBooks to include the App Center — users can click on a button in QuickBooks and are taken to a website where they can purchase apps that plug into the software and use the financial data entered there. The apps are broken up into four categories — running your business (employee management and expense tracking), managing your productivity, managing your customers, and reducing costs. The last category even includes apps that make your business more environmentally friendly.
Even though QuickBooks 2010 is desktop software (Intuit offers a separate online version), the company has added some other web-enabled features. Users can scan and upload all of their documents, and they’re stored online as a backup. Users can also scan their checks and send the image to the bank, where the money is deposited. QuickBooks 2010 also includes a Marketing Center, where business owners can launch email marketing campaigns — it’s a bit of a stretch from QuickBooks bookkeeping purpose, but the connection has its advantages, since businesses can use the customer and sales data in QuickBooks to plan their campaign, and later to judge its success.
Other new features include:
* Faster installation, with the number of set-up screens cut from 15 to 6
* The ability to enter multiple lists of data at once, and to copy that data directly from Microsoft Excel
* An easier interface for customizing forms
* An improved dashboard providing a summary of the company’s finances
QuickBooks Pro and Premier are available at Intuit’s website today,
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Getting postage is just a click away at Stamps.com!
I mail several items a week, and a few letters a month. To help me save I use Stamps.com, where you can buy and print USPS-approved postage online that works like regular postage stamps for letters, packages & Priority Mail. It just doesn't get any easier than that!
Now that the Holiday season is among us... you can rest assure that all your postage needs will be taken care of at Stamps.com - fast, easy and for less!
Save even more with their instant coupon!
... now if I can only find my box with all my holiday cards!
Monday, October 12, 2009
Often the difference between a successful (wo)man and a failure is not one's better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk-and to act.
- Maxwell Maltz
To succeed in life you need to be three main things - original, innovative and creative.
- John Mamo
My days of whining and complaining about others have come to an end. Nothing is easier than fault finding. All it will do is discolor my personality so that none will want to associate with me. That was my old life. No more.
- Og Mandino
Listening is a form of accepting.
- Stella Terill Mann
Women are repeatedly accused of taking things personally. I cannot see any other honest way of taking things.- Marya Mannes
Trust that still, small voice that says, "This might work and I'll try it."
- Diane Mariechild
Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. - Joshua J. Marine
Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen.- Peter Marshall
One can go back toward safety or forward toward growth.- Abraham Maslow
Few are they who have never had the chance to achieve happiness - and fewer those who have never taken that chance. - André Maurois
One of the finest virtues is generosity - a quality characteristic of the person who thinks more highly of others than he does of himself.- D. Malcolm Maxwell
The tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.- Benjamin Mays
You wouldn't worry so much about what someone else is thinking about you if you knew how seldom they do.- Dr. Phil McGraw's Father
Yes, risk-taking is inherently failure-prone. Otherwise it would be called sure-thing-taking.- Tim McMahon
One common mistake is to think that one reality is THE reality. You must always be prepared to leave one reality for a greater one.- Mother Meera
You must govern the clock, not be governed by it.- Golda Meir
If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secrete of getting along -- whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.- Bernard Meltzer
We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity. Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.- Thomas Merton
Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I accomplish.- Michelangelo
God always provides what we need, but we must be ready to open our eyes and see it.
- The Midrash
It is not what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.
Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.- Alfred A. Montapert
Friday, October 9, 2009
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is different for everyone, but I'll share what worked for me. I was also diagnosed with ADHD... lucky me!
I had it all, from pain in my legs and joints to sleepless nights. Headaches that made me want to cry..and sometimes I did. To depression, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks and that's just the half of it. While I'm not 100% free of all symptoms I have been able to alleviate most of them, and rid myself of the others.
My journey started several years ago, overweight and highly depressed. I wanted a change, and it had to begin with a commitment to myself.
Losing weight was my first priority (some of you may not be overweight...but keep reading as I discuss the other challenges I faced), and boy did I have a lot of pounds to lose. Over 145 pounds, which took 2 years to lose.
My obesity kicked my hormones out of whack, and everything from my mood to how I felt physically was affected by it.
I began with books. Seems simple enough, but the best avenue to seeking out solutions to your problems is your nearest bookstore, library and yes. The web.
Losing weight was only one part of the problem, but as the pounds came off it was like a light bulb had went off in me. I began to see me for the first time. While my weight contributed to a lot, I had other symptoms that I needed to fix.
Below is what I changed/added in my life to help deal with CFS. I hope you can take away from this, and benefit as well.
Everything from my obesity, mood swings and headaches:
Foods - Removed unhealthy junk foods that made my hormones go nuts. I started eating whole grains, soy, wheat germ (this really helped with my energy), fruits and nuts. Including foods rich in calcium, fiber and Omega 3 oils. I did start taking vitamins such as B Complex which has several benefits including helping with energy. I knew that if my body was healthy and given the right nutrients that I would start to feel better.
Watch out for food products with high fructose syrup, corn syrup and so forth. Processed foods, foods high in fat and sodium. I know, you're probably shaking your head thinking .."then what can I eat?". Believe me, once you get the knowledge picking the right foods will become second nature. I happen to eat organic foods, and despite what people think about Wholefoods, its not impossible to shop there and find deals. Wholefoods sells its own store brand organic foods called 365, and are quite affordable.
My typical day of meals/snacks: Use Sparkpeople.com for weight loss/meal ideas.
Breakfast - 1 cup Irish steel cut oatmeal with 2-4 tbs wheat germ, 1 tbs natural honey, 1 cup soy or almond milk. Topped with 1/2 cup blueberries and/or 1tbs chopped nuts.
Snack - low carb yogurt, 4 oz of a homemade fruit/vegetable smoothie, low fat string cheese, or 1/4 cup nuts.
Lunch - Fish/Chicken (size of your palm, cup of green beans, 1/4 cup wild rice. Or Boca burgers with a whole wheat bun and baked sweet potato fries.
Snack - low carb yogurt, 4 oz of a homemade fruit/vegetable smoothie, low fat string cheese, or 1/4 cup nuts.
Dinner - Salad with grilled chicken, hearty low sodium/fat soup, or hummus and pita chips
Again, you can see more ideas at sparkpeople.com
I started learning yoga to help with the aches and pains. This also helped with my focus.
Listening to relaxing instrumental music like the sounds of waves, rain, etc. Meditating daily. Putting myself in a relaxed state so my mind and body was given a chance to relax helped with anxiety and depression. Depression was further helped with regular exercise, or walks outdoors. Keeping a journal helped track when the depression would come on, and what I was doing at the time.
When feeling a panic or anxiety attack is about to come on I would sit down in a quiet place (if no place to go I'd listen to my nature tapes in my desk) and concentrate on my breathing. I would place my hands down by my side and simply focus on my breathing. Sometimes counting to 100.
For headaches I started doing this: Take Clove Oil - I use Now Foods CLOVE OIL (make sure you are not allergic!). I take a medium bowl of very warm water, not scolding hot, and add 3-4 drops of the clove oil. I take a clean bathroom towel rag and submerge in the bowl for 1 minute. I ring it out and place on the back of my neck for a few minutes, then repeat the bowl process..ring and place on my temples.
Sleep was a huge challenge, but preparing for a good nights sleep really helps. I also made sure that I didn't eat right before I went to bed. I went out and purchased a new pillow, eye-mask and even one of those machines that play soft music or sounds. It's important to be as relaxed as you can to help with the process, so having these things helped. Meditating, doing 15 minutes of yoga or simply laying in bed with your eyes closed and visualizing yourself sleeping and focus in your breathing becoming more and more relaxed. Sounds crazy but it helps.
It took a little time, but it helped a great deal.
Today I am virtually pain free, the headaches rarely come around, I no longer crash from fatigue, I have less bouts with my depression, and those pesky anxiety attacks are more controlled.
Have a question, feel free to ask!
May peace and harmony find you.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
2 apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 cup of stock + hot water
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
1. Brown the red onion in some oil in a pot.
2. Boil the kettle for your stock. Make up stock and add to the pot.
3. Add the pumpkin, apples and nutmeg. Add more hot water to cover all the ingredients.
4. Gently simmer until the pumpkin and apples are soft, about 30 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat and blitz well with a hand blender or food processor. Add more stock until you have the consistency you want.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
If you want to sell more of your products every year, you need to get better at selling every year. Business owners who think they're done learning how to sell are usually just DONE. And that's OK if you have no problem closing down your dreams and having to say "Do you want fries with that?"
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee...You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.... It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans... She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.... Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see.'
'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee.. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, 'What does it mean, mother?'
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.
The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way...
The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.
When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.
You might want to send this message to those people who mean something to you (I JUST DID); to those who have touched your life in one way or another; to those who make you smile when you really need it; to those who make you see the brighter side of things when you are really down; to those whose friendship you appreciate; to those who are so meaningful in your life.
May we all be COFFEE.
CROCKPOT POT ROAST
1 sm. roast
2 potatoes, pared and quartered
3 carrots, pared and cut in thirds
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 c. water
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
Put vegetables in the bottom of crockpot. Salt and pepper meat, put in crockpot. Add water and tomato sauce. Sprinkle oregano and basil over meat. Cover and cook on low 10-12 hours.
Monday, September 28, 2009
...or in my case. Time to smell the tasty cookies, scones and muffins!
This weekend at a local Chicago farmer's market at the
very popular Jeanettes Patisserie organic bakery booth....can we say YUMMO!
Not in my neck of the woods, try their online store at http://www.jeanettespatisserie.com !
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I'll share with you my little weight loss journey which took over a year to accomplish, and how I went from 285 to 135 pounds. I know what you're thinking...over a year? Yes. This journey took that long because in the past when I lost weight too fast it all came back, and then some. I wanted to make sure that my new ways of eating and exercising routines stuck with me for the rest of my life, and to do so meant taking my time to get use to the new way of life.
I don't have a PHD, not a trained dietitian and I'm in no ways a personal trainer. So please see a doctor before starting any new changes in your activity (exercise) and eating. Especially if you are on medications.
I have been there...been called the "fat girl" in junior high to being the topic of conversation at work. The last girl to be asked out to the dance, to even having relatives make rude comments.
But even with all of that, I still over ate. It wasn't until I was in my late twenties that I took hold of myself and starting caring about me, and not what others thought of me.
I GOT BUSY!
I'll cut to how I lost the weight now that you know the whys. The first step was to weigh myself, just to get that logged in and see how many pounds I had lost to reach my goal weight which was ideally anywhere from 135-150 pounds.
Its best to weigh yourself 1-2 hours upon rising for the day, do not eat or drink anything. Then simply take a weekly reading of your weight (I usually weigh every Sunday morning). DO NOT get obsessed with checking your weight, some days you won't show a decrease in numbers but may have build muscle from your exercising and strength training. Believe me, following a healthy diet and working out will get you there.
I would start out every day with this: (I did get some help from sites like ediets.com...its worth it if you are serious about losing weight!)
"I will only eat healthy foods to fuel my body. I will do some form of exercise today. I deserve to look and feel great. I will reach my weight loss goals."
Feel free to create your own, this was my way of starting off the days.
Follow portion sizes on packages and meal plans given.
Typical week for me -
Breakfast: 1 cup Oatmeal with blueberries...even frozen fruit is fine, I simply use those mini snack bags to break up portions of the frozen fruit into separate bags roughly 1/2 a cup and when I want to use one I take it out before I start cooking my oatmeal. They thaw out pretty quickly, then when tossing onto oatmeal its pretty much ready to eat. 1/2 a small grapefruit or orange, 1/2 slice whole grain toast, 1 cup low-sugar OJ and water. I use wheat germ just about every day, its packed with nutrients including fiber, omega oils and protein.
Lunch: Low fat turkey and swiss cheese, one medium whole wheat or spinach tortilla. Simply roll the ingredients up for a healthy wrap. Small salad on the side: 1 cup arugula or spinach whatever you like - 1/2 cup red cabbage, 1 small beet sliced thinly, and cherry tomatoes. I use a homemade dressing like olive oil, lemon juice a little Mrs. Dash herb seasoning for flavor. A chilled glass of soy milk, and water of course.
Dinner: Grilled fish or whichever protein you like just make sure its low in fat. A side salad, small whole grain dinner roll, green tea (hot or cold) and water.
Snacks: Nuts, plain popcorn, pretzels, low fat string cheese, and lowfat yogurt.
Working out was simply walking 30 minutes a day on the treadmill, jumping rope or bike riding when possible. Stretch bands for strength training and an easy yoga tape. That's it.
I did something every day, and did not push myself into thinking I had to work out 3 hours a day 6 days a week. Your body will respond to the new healthier eating and the exercise, trust me!
With every pound lost I just got more excited to keep at it. Sure you'll have moments where not even a pound will go away, but don't ever let that discourage you. Its just your body re-adjusting. This happened to me several times, and usually lasts a week or so. Don't get frustrated and start eating and slacking off, this will surely hinder your goals. Just keep at it and in no time the pounds will start to go away again. Its like our bodies lose and lose the weight and at some point our bodies freak out and put everything on hold, so no matter how well you did for the week you didn't lose a pound. Don't worry, its only temporary. I usually use this as a sign to switch up my exercise routine.
On days that I did not have time to make or run out to grab a healthy meal I went for snacks in my drawer to tie me over. Never go without putting something in your belly, even if you think that you can hold off for another hour or two. If your body is hungry, feed it. If its lunch time and you have not eaten since breakfast, grab a 1/2 cup of nuts....yogurt and fruit, or even a Kashi cereal bar to keep those hunger pangs away. Water, don't forget the water. If you wait you'll only be setting yourself for an afternoon of over eating.
After 2 weeks I was seeing a difference and was surprised that my eating habits were easier to change than I thought. I looked forward to making those healthy meals and after a month or so my natural instinct was to grab the healthy products that would help me lose the weight and nourish my body. The sugar cravings I use to have were suddenly not there anymore. I felt lighter and just all around better.
After a couple of months I noticed that I walked with more confidence. Others started noticing my weight loss too.
Having that piece of cake is ok....
Of course we need to get in our favorites too, so having a small slice of homemade chocolate cake is just fine. Most times a piece of fruit like strawberries will curb that want. Remember, you will be faced with offerings such as your mothers apple pie, or grandmas pasta (and you know she likes to pile it on your plate). Go ahead, eat a portion you'd normally eat to stay on track and pack the rest to go. Refusing to eat only makes it worse! LOL..
You'll hit those walls, I certainly did. So mentally prepare yourself for them and what you will do to overcome them. To help with those times I turned to my video journal, which I started at the beginning of this journey...to remind myself as to why I'm doing this. Writing a journal is certainly fine too!
You can take a walk if you're feeling a craving coming on, or call a friend if you feel like you're about to raid the fridge. But what worked best for me was my personal video journal telling me all the reasons as to why I started this, need to finish it and why its important to my health and happiness.
I also use photos all around my office at home...such as photos of people biking on a mountain trail, a swimmer diving into the ocean, or someone running. I would visualize myself doing those things at my goal weight.
I'd also visualize myself in a size I wanted to wear such as a dress or top, and I'd close my eyes to draw in the feelings that I would feel being at that weight and shape. How happy I would be, the smile on my face and kick in my step. Whether its money you want, weight loss or having that loving relationship...it all starts with YOU truly believing that you can have those things.
Every month that passed that I stayed on track with my weight loss, I would do something special for myself.
Keeping things around me that reminded me of my goals is what kept me going, and every time I was faced with a vending machine dilemma or office gathering filled with sugary items I stopped myself. Went for my bottle of water that I kept with me and simply had a drink. AAAHHHH REFRESHING!
Then, I would go to my office or purse to grab my bag of healthy snacks and before I knew it that craving or dilemma no longer posed a threat.
You can control what you're eating, and it only takes a minute or two to switch your thinking around from wanting that candy bar to eating that satisfying cup of strawberries.
Preparation is key!!!
Get those snacks and meals made ahead of time so whatever crazy schedule you have, you'll always have those healthy choices to choose from.
I continue to eat healthy today and whenever I feel like jumping head first into the abyss of junk food I think about how I felt being over weight, and how I feel now. No contest!
Good luck on your journey!