Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Technology Being Used to Detect Lung Cancer

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The FDA Responds to Criticism of 'Loosening' Ban on Blood Donations From Gay and Bi Men


On Dec. 30 I organized a protest outside the FDA field office in Philadelphia to raise awareness about their ongoing ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. The ban has been in place since 1983 and excludes men who have had sex with men since 1977 from donating blood. The ban also applies to anyone who has had sex with a man who has had sex with a man since 1977.

Recently, the FDA announced that it will "loosen" the ban (after reaffirming it only a few weeks prior). However, the "loosened" restrictions will have little effect, as they require men who have sex with men to remain celibate for one year prior to donating. This one-year waiting period is puzzling, considering that HIV is now detectable within about two weeks of infection.

During the protest, several reporters asked why we were protesting if the ban was being "loosened." The simple answer to that question is that the ban still prevents most men who have sex with men from giving blood due to the year-long celibacy requirement. When it comes to heterosexuals, a donor's risk level for HIV is determined on a case-by-case basis. For example, a heterosexual person engaging in sex with an intravenous drug user would be unable to donate.

However, all men who have sex with men are simply lumped into one group and automatically deemed "high-risk" without being asked questions about their behavior to determine risk level. So a single heterosexual person engaging in frequent casual sex would be able to donate, yet a monogamous gay couple who have been together for 25 years would not be able to do so, even though their individual risk level for HIV is clearly lower.

The FDA has said very little about their decision to "loosen" the ban, so I was absolutely shocked that the FDA actually gave Philadelphia's WHYY News a statement regarding our protest! According to WHYY:

In a statement, the FDA said it had considered individual self-assessments, but did not find them reliable.

"Assessment of high-risk sexual behaviors would be highly burdensome on blood donation establishments and potentially offensive to donors," the agency wrote.

The FDA also said there is not yet enough evidence to reduce the waiting period to less than one year.

The FDA's response is utterly puzzling on several fronts. How can they claim that individual self-assessments are unreliable and burdensome when they already use them to determine risk levels for heterosexual donors? Are they saying that gay people will lie? Who's offended? Also, anyone who has basic knowledge about HIV testing knows that the claim that there is not enough evidence to reduce the waiting period to less than a year is a blatant, outright lie!

It seems to me that this is all the more reason to continue pushing the FDA to extinguish the ban entirely. If men who have sex with men must be celibate for a year before donating, then everyone else should be held to that standard too. If they can determine risk level for heterosexuals on a case-by-case basis, then they should do it for men who have sex with men as well.

Finally, the ban is a joke anyway, because anyone can lie on the questionnaire. It's time that the FDA just lifted the ban completely and put an end to this blatant discrimination against men who have sex with men. Assess the risk, test the blood, and treat everyone the same. It's really that simple. There are plenty of men who have sex with men who are willing to donate, and I am one of them, but I refuse to have to lie in order to do so.

Putting Smart Closure On New Year's Bottles

If there was a way in 2015 for winemakers and consumers to gain momentum in green wine production and consumption, what might that be?

The idea of recycling wine enclosures has, to date, received little attention since blogger Jennifer Grayson took up the subject in 2009 on Huffington Post. And that's no surprise as cork focus is still mostly about protecting wine and eliminating tainted bottles. But in this time of heightened green consciousness - beginning in the vineyard and ending with empty bottles - the idea of reusing or recycling enclosures is novel to most consumers. And so corks of all types - billions produced annually - and newer Stelvin enclosures, all tend to end up in landfills.

While it may not make quick compost, recycled natural cork is being used in composite flooring and in products as diverse as shoe soles. A few businesses in the United States solicit natural, unpressed used corks for reuse. There's an emerging market here worth cultivating.

It's a different story for composite and plastic corks, Zorks, Stelvin twist-offs and aluminum caps.

Composite corks, made from a variety of cork bits and binders, seem to have little potential for reuse: destination, landfill. Although some plastic cork manufacturers claim plastic used in wine corks is recyclable, no unified industry or recycling effort is in place to alert consumers. So plastic corks and Zorks, a brand of plastic wine stopper used by a few wineries, tend to end up in landfills.

Stelvin aluminum enclosures, developed by the 1970's and now commonplace in the wine industry, would seem likely candidates for recycling. But in states with vigorous recycling programs like Wisconsin and Minnesota, Stelvin and other caps remain absent from lists of acceptable sources of aluminum. That shouldn't stop conscientious consumer recyclers from bringing Stelvin caps to regional scrap metal processors who will take them.

There are ways to minimize the use of disposable enclosures. Tetra wine packs are recyclable, but doing what Mas de Gourgonnier in Les Baux de Provence did on a previous visit is a model of how to eliminate packaging altogether. On my last stop, the well-known, organically farmed property had a lively tasting room where neighbors and locals popped in with their own take-out plastic jugs, which were promptly filled with red, rose, or huile d'olive. By eliminating the need for a bottle - at least for local consumers - the estate spared the cost of bottles which would eventually be discarded or recycled. And they also eliminated the cost and waste of cork, which - by most accounts - still ends up landfills around the globe.

Beer drinkers around the country now bring used growlers to breweries, brew pubs, and liquor stores for fill-ups. Perhaps it's time for a similar means of obtaining wine at stores and wineries in America while at the same time reducing the use of non-recyclable wine enclosures.

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Make a New Year's resolution to manage your diabetes

Early detection and treatment can decrease the risk of developing complications from diabetes. Certified diabetes educators report that the new year is a good time to see a doctor if you think you have diabetes.

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Edward Herrmann, 'Gilmore Girls' star, dead at 71 after battle with brain cancer

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Dow Chemical settles brain cancer lawsuits

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How to Be a Healthier and Happier Entrepreneur in 2015

Nothing could be more exciting than following your dreams and launching your own business. Yet all too often, that initial excitement is dampened by the realities of running a company. It takes hard work, and with too many long days and late nights, entrepreneurs become tense, burnt out, and unhappy.

If any of this sounds familiar, let's make a pact to be happier, healthier, and better entrepreneurs this year. If you think that happiness is overrated in business, research from the University of California at Riverside found that happy people are more successful in many areas of life. It makes sense: when you're in a good mood, you're more confident, energetic, and ready to take on new goals and challenges.

With this in mind, here are five ways to stay happy, healthy, and sane amidst the inevitable stress and road bumps in the entrepreneur's year.

1. Don't get bogged down in the negative
When it's your own business and you are passionate about what to do, it's only natural that you take each critique personally. But keep in mind that for an entrepreneur, rejection is just part of the game. I can assure you that whenever you put something out for the world to see, there will be some kind of bad news or criticism...for example, your blog post may get a few negative comments; or your application for an incubator program or loan is rejected.

If you dwell on each rejection or critique, you'll get bogged down in bitterness. Rather, you need to remove emotion and your own pride from the situation. Think objectively about the criticism and see if there's anything to learn. Then, make the necessary changes and move on.

2. Get more sleep
Whether the magic number of nightly sleep is seven or eight, I know of few entrepreneurs who enjoy nearly that much sleep on a consistent basis. But we know that brains with too little sleep don't perform as well as those that do. That's why I'm going to make a concerted effort to improve my sleep habits this year.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic advise us to go to bed and get up at the same time every day to reinforce the body's sleep-wake cycle. If you have trouble falling asleep, don't force the issue. If you don't fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing, like reading, light stretching, or eat a light snack.

All those smartphones and tablets in the bedroom emit a glow that can throw off the sleep cycle...not to mention the disruption when you decide to check your email at 2 am. That's why I'm making it a point to banish devices from my bedside at night.

3. Find time to exercise
When you're an entrepreneur, trips to the gym often take a back seat to last minute projects, client meetings, and tight deadlines. However, keeping a regular exercise routine is one of the most important things you can do for your health and wellbeing. The endorphins released from physical activity help relieve stress and keep your mood up when things get tough.

If you struggle to fit exercise into your entrepreneurial schedule, find a few friends or colleagues to join you for a regular bike ride, hike, or walk. Start a challenge board at the office to track activity, or pick up a device like Fitbit or Nike Fuel. If necessary, you can even exercise at your desk.

The most important thing you can do is to treat your workouts like any other work commitment. You're not going to break an appointment with a client, so don't break a commitment to yourself either.

4. Work smarter, not harder
In this modern era, we take too much pride in being busy. New entrepreneurs see busyness as a sign of success. However, the most successful entrepreneurs have built a business that allows them to eat dinner with their family, have fun on the weekends, and take a vacation every now and then. In short, good entrepreneurs know how to prioritize, surround themselves with smart people, and delegate.

Conduct a time audit to see how you spend your time during an average day or week. Are you focused on the tasks that matter and that will drive your business forward? What are the key areas that you should delegate to someone else?

If your business is a one-man or one-woman show, find an assistant to help you take care of the busy work or outsource more complex matters (like bookkeeping) to a specialist. If you already have employees, think about new ways to expand their responsibilities and expertise this year.

5. Be grateful

In the chaos of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, it is very easy to lose sight of what really matters. As a result, we get stressed and grumpy. I have found that when I take the time to consciously think about all the things I am thankful for, it gives me a new perspective and I am able to embrace all the craziness.

Some people keep a gratitude journal of all the people and events they are grateful for each day. Adopting some kind of gratitude practice (whether you write it down or not) will change your mindset from complaining and dwelling on the negative to focusing on solutions and best outcomes.

6. Seize the moment
Entrepreneurship is one of the most exciting and fulfilling journeys you can take, but you need to be present and stay in the moment to enjoy the ride. Step back every once in awhile to enjoy and appreciate what you are doing right now, rather than always looking to the next thing to make you happy.

What habits do you plan on adopting this year to be healthier and happier as an entrepreneur?

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Snoop Dogg's Got a Taste for Brazil This New Years


Recently I caught up with Snoop Dogg to find out how he likes to celebrate New Years Eve. I fully expected his reply to be "Gin and Juice" and perhaps with a twist. He completely surprised me.

Snoop puts away the traditional and brings the flavor of Brazil to his holiday festivities with a drink he calls "The Cranberry Blaze."

The Cranberry Blaze


2 parts Cuca Fresca Cachaça
2 parts Cranberry Juice
1 part Simple Syrup
1 part Fresh Lime Juice

GARNISH: Rosemary Sprig with three cranberries on the end

Happy New Year!

Follow Snoop @SnoopDogg

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The Best Hangover Busters at 15 Fast-food Chains

Credit: Andrew Zimmer

By: Dave Infante

If you're anything like us, your Christmas tree is probably still decorated, your New Year's Eve plans came together at the last second, and locking down a New Year's Day brunch was an impossible dream. Regardless, you'll still need food on the first day of 2015, so when you wake up -- in a strange city, or a stranger's bed, or both -- we've got you covered. Behold our definitive guide to the best, most hangover-busting-est order you can get from these 15 major fast-food chains. According to OpenForNewYears (a very trustworthy blog that absolutely dominates SEO one week each year), each of these beloved brands have franchises doing business on New Year's Day, and according to math or something, there's almost definitely one serving near you. Figure out which, find some pants, and stumble in. Your perfect hangover-busting order awaits.

Regular menus. We tried to ignore tantalizing special items, because they aren't always available.

Greasiness. According to WebMD -- the also-trustworthy website you visit to convince yourself that your minor headache is actually a combination of SARS and AIDS -- grease and fat act better as a preventative hangover tactic, rather than a day-after repair move. Anecdotally, though: Yep, grease'll work.

Carb content. No bread, you're dead! Beat it with wheat! Eat grain, no pain! And so forth.

Heartiness. Unlike the person you'll kiss at midnight tonight, these orders have substance.

Absence of spice. Obviously there are exceptions based on personal taste, but by and large, we reached a consensus that mega-spicy foods were not optimal for alcohol-addled stomachs.

Stay safe tonight, party hard, buy the expedited bathroom access bracelet, then tomorrow, order one of these picks, and you're guaranteed to spend 2015 as a much wealthier, more beautiful, significantly less hungover person.

More: What Your Cocktail Says About You

What you're getting: Beef 'n Cheddar XL meal, curly fries, mozzarella sticks
If you can find an Arby's willing to make you a Meat Mountain, for God's sake, don't miss the opportunity. That's rare, though. Assuming you can't, you're going to want to snag a Beef 'n Cheddar -- with its onion roll & cheesy sauce, it's more robust than the original -- and tack on curly fries & extra sauce. Pro tip: Start with a side of mozzarella sticks. It's the smart way to ease your stomach into the New Year.

What you're getting: Two cheeseburgers, 20-piece chicken nuggets
Look, you can wake up with the King if you want. Cool Teens™ do it, when they're not too busy tweeting at Denny's, and, like, "vaping." But we recommend a very specific, very non-brekkie tack if you tied one/several/all on the night before. First, double up with two basic cheeseburgers off the value menu. Do NOT buy the double cheeseburger; you want two sandwiches. Why? Buns, man! That double-dose of carbs (or whatever fast-food buns are made out of these days) will sustain your energy as you start stage two: the nuggets. Now, the King's nuggets are solidly average on a normal day. But this is no normal day; this is the first day of the rest of your life. Or 2015. Yeah, that. And today, you will appreciate their excellent breading and one-bite density, because you'll be able to line your vodka-addled tummy with a half-score of 'em in one sitting.

Credit: Andrew Zimmer

What you're getting: Chicken-and-rice bowl, guacamole, no beans, sour cream and cheese on the side
Despite being truly magnificent, it's the opinion of this hungover fast-food guide that a standard Chipotle burrito is a misstep for your substance-addled stomach. The thing is, 'Potle is healthy-ish (no grease!), but it's still a gut-busting volume of food. That's why you're dropping the tortilla and beans; there's only so much room in there before you burst, and you need to make sure it's all occupied by either meat or carbs. Keep the dairy on the edges, and pray heavenly angels manning the line may take pity on you and load up your bowl with extra chicken.

What you're getting: The 1/3lb Guacamole Bacon Thickburger, a side of CrissCut fries
You need the avocado, because it contains those omega-3 fatty acids to keep your heart ticking, plus potassium, and a lot of fiber so you can, you know, be rid of the night before. You need the bacon because it's got that protein, a lot of thiamin, and will elevate your mood. You need that beef because it will fill your stomach up, and tastes delicious with melted cheese on it. You need those veggies and the bun because you're trying to have a well-balanced meal here. And you need the CrissCut fries because waffle fries are the best kind of fries.

What you're getting: Spicy Chicken Biscuit, nuggets with no fewer than three things of Polynesian (for later)
Chick-fil-A is always closed on Sunday. But New Year's Day 2015 falls on a Thursday, which means there's a chance this Southern institution is not closed (it varies by franchise location). Huzzah! If you find one with the lights on and the fryers bubbling, this is your move. The cayenne/pepper sting of the chicken's breading is moderate, and when combined with the buttery biscuit, it cuts through brain-fog without causing a heartburn flare-up. Eat this immediately. Break into the nuggets & tangy sauce only once you've found a couch on which to sprawl and watch the bowls.

Head to to see the best hangover busting orders at Dunkin' Donuts, In-N-Out, Taco Bell, Sonic, and more!

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3 Simple Questions to Help You Let Go of the Year That Was

If you feel the desire to reflect on the year that was, here is a simple 10-minute way of celebrating and releasing 2014. Three simple questions for you to answer.

You can grab a pen and paper right now and play along as you read, or if you enjoy the ambience of rituals, find a quiet spot at the beach, take a picnic rug to the park or light some candles at home. The setting is up to you.

But remember: It's better done than perfect.

1. What can I thank the Universe for?

This is your chance to go on a rampage of appreciation and list everything that made your heart dance this year. It's a gratitude-fest and all of your best memories are invited.

Why does it matter?

Because no matter how many goals you kick, goods you acquire, riches you amass or lovers you meet, you will never feel true and sustainable happiness until you master the art of pausing to soak up and appreciate all of your blessings, gifts and successes.

Plus, by reflecting on your favorite moments and going, "Wow, these things were amazing, they made me feel alive, joyful and fulfilled," you are clarifying for yourself what you want more of -- and you are simultaneously sending a clear memo to the Universe about your desires.

You get more of what you focus on, so it pays to throw a spotlight on the good in your life.

2. What life lessons did I learn about myself and the world?

This is your chance to list any major "aha!" moments you had that expanded your mind and soul. Give yourself a pat on the back, a little nod of respect and a cheeky wink -- you totally grew and evolved this year. You rock.

Why does it matter?

Because growing and flourishing into your best, brightest self through a series of life experiences is your ultimate purpose in life -- to be you, to discover what makes your soul dance, and to go do that more.

Even if you're not in a very good place right now, you may be surprised to discover just how much you've grown in a year. And that is an empowering realization, and can open you up to expanding even further.

3. What held me back that I want to master?

This is your chance to reflect on any self-sabotaging patterns, negative vibrations, limiting beliefs or unhelpful habits that are keeping you bound in invisible chains when you were born to soar free.

Why does it matter?

Because the Universe will keep hitting you over the head with the same people, circumstances and challenges until you learn the lesson and grow out of it.

Tip: Only write down things that really did hold you back -- not things you feel you "should" master because society, your friends or your mother told you to.

It's also important to answer this final question with a light-touch and an energy of self-love and acceptance -- no beating yourself up. Even when you are striving to grow, you are perfect and complete along the journey. As Buddha once said, "We are all perfect as we are, and we could all use a little work."

Next steps

Once you've completed your year in review, you can keep your list to reflect on in six or 12 months time, or release it from your life -- whatever feels right to you.

Elyse is the founder of, your guidebook to happiness and creating a beautiful life, and the creator of the Beautiful Life Bootcamp 6-week eCourse. For free tips and inspiration, sign up now.

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Room Temp Or Refrigerate? 7 Foods To Always Store In The Fridge

One thing you can always count on after a big holiday meal is leftovers. Coupled with food gifts that pile up around the house, it can be confusing to figure out how to store these extras to safely eat later on. Whether it's a few days, or a few months, check out these tips to help you decide whether to leave your foods at room temperature — or keep them in the refrigerator.

Room Temp Or Refrigerate? 7 Foods To Always Store In The Fridge

One thing you can always count on after a big holiday meal is leftovers. Coupled with food gifts that pile up around the house, it can be confusing to figure out how to store these extras to safely eat later on. Whether it's a few days, or a few months, check out these tips to help you decide whether to leave your foods at room temperature — or keep them in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Brookside children take a stand against breast cancer

Greek Traditional New Year's Cake for Good Luck!

Vassilopita with Chios mastic, orange blossom water and pistachios


Every New Year's Eve we prepare the cake ("Vassilopita", St. Basil's New Year's cake), decorate it with the number of the New Year and we hide a coin (gold, silver or brass) inside, which is believed to bring good luck to whoever wins.

The unique flavor of Mastic will give a special aroma in your "Vassilopita" that will be memorable to the family and your guests !


3/4 cup olive oil
1½ cups sugar
4 eggs
3 1/2 cups (400gr.) self -rising flour
1 cup warm fresh milk
3 tablespoons orange blossom water
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon crushed mastic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 lemon ( zest )
1 cup pistachios ground

Beat the oil with sugar . Pour the egg yolks one at a time , and continue beating . Add the lemon zest , mastic , orange blossom water , lemon juice , milk and flour sifted with baking powder . Finally add the pistachios and egg whites , after we beat them on meringue . Gently incorporate the meringue in the dough and mix with a spoon until the mixture becomes homogenous .
Grease and lay parchment paper on a baking tray 30 cm . Pour the mixture into the baking tray .
Bake for 45-50 at 180 °C/350F, up to inflate the cake and turns lightly brown evenly. Let it cool for a while, sprinkle some sugar powder on the top and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Mastic when not used sparingly bitter . So, do not put more than 3/4 teaspoon !
If we use mastic crystals we must crush them very well in a mortar until they become a fine powder. The mastic should be frozen . Add always a little sugar in the mortar.

For more recipes by Katerina, visit here.

San Francisco Schools Transformed By The Power Of Meditation

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14 New Year's Resolutions You Can Take From Fortune Cookies

Being too lazy to come up with your own New Year's resolution doesn't bode well for the changes you're hoping to make in 2015, but perhaps you just need a little inspiration.

Instead of making half-hearted promises to yourself, why not allow the ever-mystical fortune cookie to provide you with the perfect resolution based on it's all-knowing wisdom.*

Scroll down to see how these classic fortune cookie messages parlay into New Year's resolutions for 2015.

*Warning, some resolutions may be less wise than others.

Sponsored: 7 Reduced-Sugar Recipes for the New Year

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The Ultimate Guide for a Healthy Back in 2015

Good posture, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle -- believe it or not, all of these things are important factors in avoiding back pain. It can be difficult to make the changes you need to get healthy, but don't worry, I've got your back! These tips and links will help you get on the right track!

Be Posture Perfect
Posture may seem like an obvious factor in preventing back pain, but fixing it isn't always so simple. Bad posture is a tough habit to break. These tips can help keep you on the up and up.

1. Listen to your mother!
You probably rolled your eyes as a kid when Mom told you to sit up straight -- but she was right! Slouching puts extra weight on the spine, and the muscles and ligaments in your back strain to support that extra weight. Most of us are hunching over our desks and phones, too. If you sit up straight, you can avoid that strain on your muscles -- and you'll make Mom happy! It's a win-win situation.

2. "Roll" into better posture.
Need some help with correcting your posture? Shoulder rolls are a great way to improve your posture, and you can even do them while sitting at your desk! All you have to do is slowly raise your shoulders for a count of five, then slowly lower them for another count of five. Finally, squeeze your shoulder blades as if you were trying to make them touch, and hold for another five seconds. That's it! Repeat at least seven times, and aim to do as many as 50 a day.

3. Don't let high fashion hurt you.
Unfortunately, a lot of the things that are in style can do quite a number on your posture. High heels make your body tilt forward, taking the spine out of its natural alignment. You aren't necessarily better off with flat shoes like Uggs or flip-flops, though; both shoes can affect how you walk, which ultimately affects your posture. Also, opt for a cross-body handbag to evenly distribute the weight so your spine doesn't curve to one side. If you absolutely can't give up that oversized handbag, switch shoulders often to even it out.

Exercise The Right Way

It can be difficult to motivate yourself to exercise regularly. The key to keeping up an exercise routine is to choose the exercises that fit your needs and provide the results you want. That way, you'll be more likely to keep it up in the long run.

1. Exercise while traveling? Yep, it's possible -- and you don't need a gym.
You do a lot of multitasking in your everyday life, so why not apply that to your exercise routine? The key here is to choose do-anywhere exercises that work multiple muscle groups at one time, like wall squats and bridges. The right exercises help to strengthen your core and the other muscles that help support your back. All you need is a few minutes and a little free space.

2. Not into high-impact exercise? Yoga or stretching might be for you.
Sometimes you just need to slow down and stretch out. A good stretch of the neck, shoulders, and back can help relieve the tension that's causing your back pain. Stretching the hips, glutes, and hamstrings can also do wonders for lower back pain. If you're looking for the added benefit of stress relief, give yoga a try. Yoga tends to be more popular with women, but several famous male athletes are known to practice yoga too. It worked for Lebron James, and it might work for you, too.

3. Know what NOT to do.
Exercise can help you if you're prone to back pain, as long as you do the right ones. On the other hand, if you do the wrong ones, you could make it harder on yourself. Sit-ups, leg lifts, forward bending, overhead lifting, and high impact exercise can all make your back pain worse than it was before, so it's best to find alternatives for these activities.

Healthy New You in 2015
Your everyday habits could be putting you at greater risk for back pain. Poor diet, a lack of sleep, and a sedentary lifestyle can all contribute to back pain. Not to worry, though -- these hacks can make it easier for you to get healthier.

1. Take it slow -- a few simple swaps can help you get on the right track.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away. Do some stretches while watching your favorite TV show instead of sitting on the couch. Swap whole milk for 2 percent or skim, mayo for mustard, or coffee and tea for water. None of this requires a lot of extra effort on your part, but all of these little positive changes can add up and motivate you to do even more to get healthy.

2. The best way to avoid unhealthy foods? Keep them out of reach!
You need a good diet to get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to nourish the bones, muscles, and discs in the spine. It's difficult to make the right food choices sometimes, but if you don't have junk food easily available to you, you'll be less likely to go for it when you're hungry. Stock up on healthy foods and snacks instead.

3. Like Goldilocks, your mattress needs to be "just right."
The wrong mattress can leave you with back pain and disrupt your sleep, which can lower your pain tolerance. A mattress with the right balance of softness and firmness can support your back and improve your quality of sleep. Try out several mattresses, and find the one that's "just right" for you.

Let's make 2015 about a Healthy New You!

Happy & Healthy New Year!
Michael A. Gleiber, MD

Michael A. Gleiber, MD is a board certified, fellowship trained, minimally invasive spine surgeon in South Florida.
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The best Champagne for every budget

Credit: Shutterstock/Jennifer Bui

By: Nora O'Malley

At this point in human evolution, the mere sound of Ryan Seacrest counting backward from 10 causes a Pavlovian response that can only be cured by bubbly. But not everyone has Seacrest's bank account, so it's not always gonna rain Dom. Luckily, there's sparkling wine for every budget -- whether it's a low-price cava or a high-end brut -- and we've identified the best at each price point. Seacrest, out.

Segura Viudas Brut Cava NV: $9
For real value in bubbles, the magic "C" is not Champagne -- it's cava. The Spanish sparkler is made in the same style as Champagne, but using different grapes, which leaves it leaner and less nutty than its French cohort. You can find great values with these dry and citrusy wines, like the Segura, which is one of the most reliable ways to get anyone dancing regrettably at a holiday party.

More: What Your Cocktail Says About You

Credit: Gruet Winery

Gruet Blanc de Noirs NV: $18
Q: What do you get when you take a wine-making family from France and drop them in the middle of New Mexico? A: Kick-ass sparkling wine, that's what. Believe it or not, the sons of the renowned Gruet Champagne house have managed to milk the microclimates of New Mexico for everything they're worth, resulting in some outrageous value sparklers. The Blanc de Noirs is creamy, perfectly fruity, and beyond affordable.

Crémant de Bourgogne Moissenet-Bonnard NV: $25
As a general rule, Crémant-style bubbly is about as close as you can get to Champagne, but at about half the cost. Made in the same way and with the same grapes, this delicate and balanced Crémant de Bourgogne is not only a killer value, it's just downright delicious. Buy one for a gift, and one for yourself.

Credit: Ca'Del Bosco

Ca' del Bosco Cuvée Prestige Brut, Franciacorta DOCG: $35
At exactly 7pm in Italy, work stops, glasses clink, and the Franciacorta flows. This "Champagne of Italy" -- from the Northern region of Lombardy -- may just be this wine-loving nation's best kept secret. Try Ca' del Bosco for a fragrant, rich, and intensely drinkable bubbly that won't break the bank.

Head to to see solid champagne picks for under $50, $100, and a $350 bottle!

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The Individuation Process: Finding Your True Authentic Self

Have you ever met someone who has undeniably discovered his authentic self? There is a confidence, a conviction in his passion for whatever path he is on. Psychologist Carl Jung described this as individuation, the process by which the personal and collective unconscious are brought into consciousness to reveal one's whole personality. In short: it is the process of becoming self-actualized.

How many of us can say that we live fully authentic lives? In our quest for approval from our peers, parents, mentors, and even from strangers, we often set aside what our intuition tells us is right, what is true for us, to fall in line with the rest of the pack. For example, think of the classic tale of the artist son or daughter who goes to law school or medical school to please his/her parents. And ironically,the energy that we use to suppress our inner voice is the very creative energy that returns to us, to be used for our own vocation. Fear of failure or low self-esteem may further work to push our passions down to a forgotten place, where we tell ourselves they belong. The problem is that by attempting to silence our inner voice, we limit our true potential and our ability to lead full and happy lives.

"What is it, in the end, that induces a man to go his own way and to rise out of unconscious identity with the mass as out of a swathing mist?" Jung asked in his collected works, The Development of Personality. "It is what is commonly called vocation: an irrational factor that destines a man to emancipate himself from the herd and from its well-worn paths. Anyone with a vocation hears that voice of his inner man: he is called."

The individuation process leads one ever closer to the person he is meant to be, with both a sense of awareness and a sense of wholeness. This journey is not just one of becoming whole, but also one of expansion. Through individuation, boundaries of who we are and what we allow ourselves to know and feel, extend even further out into the far reaches of what is possible: our potential.

As we wind down one year, and prepare to embrace a new year full of possibility, ask yourself: What is your passion -- your vocation?

By learning to listen and following your inner voice, you will be able to direct your journey toward a unique and self-actualized life. If you don't follow "herd" consciousness, but rather your own destiny, you will be able to unlock your true potential and discover, at last, a sense of personal wholeness. Only the outcast can lead, for he stands ahead and above the rest... and from that place can contribute back to the group and lead. By listening to that inner calling and pursuing your dreams, you can individuate and live a happy, fulfilled and self-directed life of authenticity and purpose.

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Health systems explore how to meet the needs of an increasing number of breast cancer survivors

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Six-figure asbestos-exposure payout for Hartlepool fitter diagnosed with terminal cancer

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Lung cancer metastases may travel through airways to adjacent or distant lung tissue

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Healthcare worker diagnosed with Ebola in Glasgow

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Devastating incontinence that strikes thousands after prostate treatment

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Having a Severe Mental Illness Means Dying Young

People diagnosed with serious mental illness -- schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression -- die 20 years early, on average, because of a combination of lousy medical care, smoking, lack of exercise, complications of medication, suicide, and accidents. They are the most discriminated-against and neglected group in the U.S., which has become probably the worst place in the developed world to be mentally ill.

In many previous blog posts I have bemoaned the shameful state of psychiatric care and housing for people with severe mental illness. My conclusion was that the United States has become the worst place, and now the worst time ever, to have a severe mental illness. Hundreds of thousands of the severely ill languish inappropriately in prisons. Additional hundreds of thousands are homeless on the street.

But it gets worse. Having a severe mental illness also means that you will probably die very young. I have asked Dr. Peter Weiden to explain why, and to suggest what we should do about it. He is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and has spent his professional career working on improving outcomes and reducing side effects and complications for people with serious mental illness.

Dr. Weiden writes:

In the general population, our life expectancy in the United States is approximately 80 years (77.4 years for men, and 82.2 years for women). This is a stunning improvement in life expectancy since back in the 1970's when life expectancies were a full decade shorter, around 70 years. The rapid and profound decrease in smoking is probably the single most important factor.

Certain groups do not share this good fortune. For example, black Americans live about 5 fewer years than whites. But one group suffers by far the most- with an average of 20 years of reduced life, in the ballpark of the life expectancy in Rwanda or Afghanistan.

Who is dying so young? You might think it would be people with HIV or severe asthma or some other serious medical condition. But it is not. As you have guessed by now, the group in question are those with a diagnosis of serious mental illness-schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or treatment resistant depression.

It has been known for many years that individuals with serious mental illness were more likely to have medical problems like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, but most of the mortality concern was on suicide prevention and other kinds of injuries that come from poorly controlled psychiatric symptoms.

The wake up call came in 2006 when a groundbreaking study of mortality statistics showed that individuals with severe mental illness were dying ranged between 13 and 31years early, averaging to over 20 years of life lost relative to age matched general populations. Their causes of death were actually very similar to the causes of death in the general population, only happening on average about 20 years earlier.

While suicide and accidental deaths are still much more likely to happen in the severely mentally ill relative to general population, these are still relatively uncommon, whereas there is a doubling or tripling of the mortality from heart disease, diabetes, respiratory ailments, and cancer. People mostly die in their 50s of the same problems that kill off the rest of us 20 years later.

Many reasons conspire to create this shameful statistic. People with severe mental illness are less likely to take good care of themselves, more likely to smoke heavily and have sedentary lifestyles, and have more difficulty than most negotiating the complicated medical care system to go for appointments and follow-up care. And primary care physicians are not well trained or compensated for the additional complexities involved in diagnosing or treating medical problems in the severely ill.

A word about medications for mental illness, and their role in mortality. It is a complicated question because medications can be very effective in controlling psychiatric symptoms so that patients are better able to reduce medical risks and actively participate in medical care. On the other hand, some medications cause significant weight gain and dyslipidemia (increase in triglycerides and cholesterol) which can make the already bad situation worse. This dilemma is better now that there are effective medications that do not often cause weight gain or elevated lipids. Though this remains a vexing challenge for mental health professionals, the major problem seems to be the greater number of medical risk factors among persons with mental illness and their lack of access to high quality medical care.

A growing research literature shows that bringing the medical doctor to the psychiatric patient works much better than trying to bring the patient to regular medical services. The merging of primary psychiatric care with primary medical care is urgently needed.

Is this too much to ask? When we get surgery we expect other doctors to be available. The surgeon will be surrounded by a team including radiologists, anesthetists, and if there are heart problems a cardiologist. Having an appropriate medical team working together is usually not available for those who have psychiatric conditions.

Which throws the basic inequality into stark relief. Society would not tolerate 20 years of lost life expectancy for other groups, even those that also suffer discrimination like Latino or blacks or gays. If this were HIV or breast cancer or multiple sclerosis, we would not tolerate the total fragmentation of healthcare as we do with mental illness.

We are complacent because the lives of those with severe mental illness do not matter to us. Unless the person dying young is your parent or your child, or your brother.

Thanks so much, Peter, for this glum but much-needed assessment. Until recently I assumed that the reduced life expectancy in the severely ill was attributable to the "big four" factors of lousy medical care, heavy smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and antipsychotic use. To my great surprise a large and well-conducted study recently found the lowest mortality in the severely ill who had received low to moderate doses as compared with those who had taken no medicine or high doses. This is just one study, and it can be interpreted in different ways, but it does suggest that antipsychotics are less the culprit in early death than I had imagined.

This possibility should focus our attention even more on lousy medical care and smoking. Clearly we mustn't just improve the totally inadequate psychiatric care and housing currently provided for the severely ill. We must also follow Dr. Weiden's suggestion that medical care be an essential part of the package, along with smoking cessation and exercise.

Will anything change? The (non)treatment of severe mental illness in the U.S. is our national shame. This is a voiceless constituency in the U.S. that very few people seem to care about. It is different in much of Europe, where enlightened policies and adequate funding for the severely ill lead to decent lives in the community and better health care.

There is always an outcry from the media and our politicians when there is poor health care for the military, children, women or ethnic minorities. Everyone went crazy when one person died of Ebola. We should be deeply ashamed of ourselves for neglecting the severely ill, creating a system that imprisons them, renders them homeless, and allows them to die so young. We need a Charles Dickens to illustrate their plight, and a new Pinel to free them of their chains. Two centuries ago the Age of Enlightenment banished the idea that mental illness was caused by witchcraft or possession. As Harry Stack Sullivan put it, people with schizophrenia were more simply human than otherwise. It's long past time that we remembered this and acted accordingly.

Allen Frances is a professor emeritus at Duke University and was the chairman of the DSM-IV task force.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

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'Undercover Boss' CEO Fires Employee For Not Wearing Bikini On Camera, Offers Another A Boob Job

"Undercover Boss" is supposed to reveal the good, bad and ugly of everyday workplaces by inserting senior executives into their own companies -- you guessed it -- undercover. But Sunday night's episode just uncovered a wildly sexist CEO.

The episode featured Doug Guller, CEO of Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill, going undercover and attempting to "improve" his business from the inside. By the end of the hour-long program, Guller had fired a bartender for wearing a t-shirt instead of a bikini during work, and offered to pay for another employee's breast augmentation surgery if she showed improvement and became a "rockstar" at her job.

Similar to Hooters' business model, Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill's waitresses wear skimpy outfits -- string bikini tops and short shorts in this case -- as their work uniforms. According to CBS, Guller "welcomes controversy and proudly refers to his chain of restaurants as 'breastaurants.'"


Guller before and after his "Undercover Boss" transformation.

While he's undercover, Guller notices that one of the bartenders, Jessica, is wearing a t-shirt instead of a bikini top. When Guller asks her why she's not wearing her bikini, Jessica tells him she usually wears it but prefers not to wear a swimsuit on camera. (Presumably Jessica was told she was being filmed for some other imaginary project.) Watch the full exchange below:

At the end of the episode Guller reveals his true identity and confronts Jessica about her choice to not wear a bikini top. He tells Jessica that it was a "big bummer,” and proceeds to fire her.

Guller later sits down with another waitress named Grace to discuss her work. After complimenting her as the "model Bikinis babe," Guller offers her a deal, telling her: “If you can make it through six months and you’re a rockstar... I’m going to put you in touch with the best [breast augmentation surgeon] in town and we’ll make this happen!" Yes, that exchange is real.

Many people took to Twitter to voice their outrage about Guller's actions and the episode in general:

Total (misogynistic) fail.

H/T Jezebel

How to Keep Your 2015 New Year's Resolution

It's easy to say "a new year, a new me" every January 1st. We all have things we can or want to improve on from fitness and weight loss to budgeting and improving relationships.

Not surprisingly, we often forget or give up on these New Year's resolutions within the first few weeks, if not sooner.

So how can we stick to our 2015 resolutions?

Be Realistic

It's easy to say you want to save so much money or lose so much weight. While having specific goals are great, maybe be realistic by not putting numbers to it. Instead of saying 'I want to save $10,000 to travel,' say you want to put 25 percent of each paycheck into a savings account. That way it's not putting too big of a hurting on your needs.

Baby Steps

The saying 'go big or go home' is great for some people, but in reality we are setting ourselves up for failure. Start small and progressively be more aggressive with your goal.

If you're planning on losing weight, it can really hurt you to go really big in the opening week. If you're not used to not eating a lot of grains and you completely cut them out of your diet the first week, your cravings are going to be worse.

Or if you plan on training for a marathon, you can't expect to go from out of shape to running 10 miles quickly. If you overwhelm yourself the first week, you're not going to want to keep going the second week. Baby steps, people.

Tell People About It

It will keep you accountable. If you tell everyone you're going to quit smoking, people will call you out if they see you with a cigarette or lighter. The more people that know about it, the more people there are to police you -- which can be a blessing if you really want to change or a curse if you're making a resolution just because.

Track Your Progress

Yes, we all hate that person that shows progression every day and week on Facebook. But if you have real friends and good family on your social media, don't be afraid to post some updates -- you may even motivate others to follow in your footsteps.

Try to keep the updates no more than monthly, whether you did well or not. Talk about the struggles or your proud moments. If you hit a bump in the road, that's OK because you will overcome it as long as you're dedicated to self improvement.

Ask For Support

With all your friends and family aware of your resolution, it's great to have someone to lean on. Even better, find someone that wants to reach a similar goal as you. Find someone else that wants to travel the world and look to each other for support. They'll understand that it's hard when life throws you curve balls and it's someone to vent to.

Besides friends, there are tons of apps out there to help you out with tips on how to achieve specific goals while also tracking them. There's no shame in seeking help, whether from your parents or professionally. Do what you need to do to get your life where you want it.

Be Patient

Nothing comes easy. Totally cliche, but totally true. You have to be patient. You can't expect things to just happen. You have to remain dedicated to the cause. If you don't put in the work, you're not going to see the results.

On another note, sometimes life isn't fair. You can work hard and not see results or life can throw curve balls at you, but you have to be patient enough to know that you just got to keep going.

So what, you gained one pound this week. You'll probably lose five next week. So you ditched your friends this week because you were too busy, go out with them twice the next week. Your tire blew out and you had to spend three weeks worth of the money you've been saving, so up your savings percentage.

You can't give up when life gets hard, just like you can't give up when you have a misstep in your resolution.

Be Selfish

This one is probably the hardest for some people to do, while for others it's the easiest. If you REALLY want to achieve your goals, you're going to need to put yourself first -- above your significant other, above your social life, above other people's needs. Now that's not to say you should put it as top priority, but it should definitely be up there.

If you're cutting back on drinking, it's OK to skip out on a night with your friends. Suggest a coffee date or movie night to make up for it. If you're saving money, suggest a Netflix night instead of heading to the theaters. If the smell of smoke makes you want to light your cigarette, skip out on the club concert if you feel it's necessary.

If you really want to achieve it, you have to sacrifice. Others will understand as long as you make it clear why you are or aren't doing something; make it clear that you're just trying to better yourself.

If people are bitter about it, maybe you should change your New Year's resolution to finding more supportive and understanding friends.

By: Kate Mueller, Florida State University

Solved! The 3 Things New Year's Hosts Stress About Most

Hosting a New Year's party should be a great experience. But sometimes, being in charge of the fun is anything but.

As a sommelier and proprietor of a boutique wine, spirits and craft beer shop in Montclair, NJ, there are three things I've found that hosts stress over most: What should I serve? How much should I buy? And how do I keep my guests from drinking too much?

Take five and chill! This year, you're going to get it right.

"Spirited" Tips for the Ultimate Holiday Party

1. Serve What You Like
Don't worry about what so-and-so drinks or doesn't. You don't need to stock your bar with every kind of spirit under the sun or make sure you've got pinot noir, merlot and cabernet.

As the host, you get to call the shots. Serve crowd-pleasing wines that appeal to you. Or pick a theme for your party and create a signature cocktail -- still a huge trend going into 2015.

Choose a drink you can prepare in large batches ahead of time so you can spend the evening mingling rather than playing mixologist. Try the Stone Fence, a 1700s classic with rye, fresh lemon juice, apple cider and bitters, or our riff on a Negroni Sbagliato, the Amanti "Neargroni," with Campari, vermouth, cava and gin.

Another great idea? Nothing says, "welcome to my party," like being greeted at the door with a glass of sparkling wine.

Quick tip: Big bottles, like magnums, are fun, leaving you fewer bottles to open.

2. How Much Is Enough?
Running out of wine or beer is an embarrassment you don't need. Once you know how many guests are coming, it's easy to calculate how much you should purchase: Figure on each person having two drinks the first hour and one each additional hour.

How far each bottle of wine will go depends on who's doing the pouring. If guests are pouring for themselves, you'll likely get four glasses of wine per bottle. With a professional tending bar, expect six 4 oz. pours per bottle.

Quick tip: You can also make life easier by choosing screw-top bottles; no shame in that!

3. Water, Water Everywhere!
Your guests will appreciate all the thought you put into your party. But a refreshing glass of ice water is often the most welcome drink of all.

Water will also help guests from overdoing it. You've got to let folks hydrate. Place pitchers or bottles where they are easily accessible and in more than one spot.

Quick tip: Encourage your guests to use a ride sharing service, such as Uber, for a safe ride home.

Cheers! You're going to have an awesome -- headache-free -- celebration this year. Finally.

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Culturally-Inclusive and Trauma-Sensitive Yoga for Addiction and Recovery

2014-12-26-Dena.pngThis is an interview with Dena Samuels, who I met through the social justice work she has been doing as an educator and activist for about 15 years. Her new book on the topic is called The Culturally Inclusive Educator: Preparing for a Multicultural World (Columbia University's Teachers College Press). It was written for any educator teaching any subject (including yoga) who wishes to serve diverse clients. It asks readers/educators to delve deeply to understand their hidden biases, and to transform and heal themselves, each other, and the planet through self-reflection and mindfulness. Dena is Assistant Professor of Women's & Ethnic Studies and Director of the Matrix Center for the Advancement of Social Equity & Inclusion at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. She is also a yoga teacher serving in a donation-based studio and in an addiction recovery center. Dena believes, "we have so much to learn and reflect on to make all our spaces places where every single person feels like they belong."

Rob: What originally motivated you to do yoga service, and what continues to motivate you? How, if at all, has that motivation changed over time?

Dena: Because I am a trauma survivor, yoga and meditation have been, and still are, a huge part of my path to healing. I am continually motivated by the notion that yoga is a moving meditation, and a means of surrender. Coming back to the mat makes my life work physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and brings me a feeling of inner peace and contentment that stays with me both on and off the mat. Although I continue to heal from the many forms of childhood abuse I suffered (physical, emotional, and sexual), knowing that I can hold space for others to heal and transform is what continues to motivate me as a facilitator of their self-acceptance, learning, and growth.

Is there a standout moment from your work with recovering addicts?

There are so many; one that I continue to experience is the humility that comes over me whenever I am working with a client who is going through detox. That person's willingness to engage in their yoga practice even though their bodies are fragile and literally shaky from withdrawal, has been incredibly inspiring. Like the lotus flower rooted in muck, yet growing toward the sunlight, I'm continually reminded that this is what true survival and reaching for one's best life looks like.

What did you know about the population you are working with, before you began teaching? What were some of the assumptions you had about this population, and how have those assumptions changed?

Not having had an alcohol or drug addiction myself, I did not know a lot about that specific recovery process. However, I do know what healing one's life looks and feels like, so I have used my own process to shape the classes I teach. I think I assumed all the clients would be much more physically challenged by practicing yoga than they are. I have been surprised by their strength and stamina.

What are two distinct ways that your teaching style differs from the way you might teach in a studio, and what are the reasons for these differences?

The key difference is that in a studio, I wouldn't practice with my clients; also I give hands-on adjustments. In the addiction center teaching trauma-sensitive yoga, I do not get off my mat because I want the clients to know where I am at all times. Also, many clients are new to yoga, so when I practice asana with them they can use not only my verbal cues, but also visual ones. Physical adjustments with trauma survivors is not permitted at the center, so I use more verbal cues to provide feedback as clients adjust their own alignment or sink deeper into a posture.

What has been the greatest challenge in your teaching experience, and what tools have you developed for addressing that challenge?

The greatest challenge for me is finding a balance between encouraging clients to explore their boundaries in a posture and at the same time, wanting them to feel secure in their bodies. These are not necessarily mutually exclusive ideas but still require some forethought. For example, if I wanted to use "cultivating gratitude" as a theme for class, I have to consider that that may not be available to some clients at this point in their journey. The tool that I rely on is remembering my own healing journey, which allows me to use language and concepts that are more likely to resonate with anyone who is in the process of deep, heartfelt discovery.

I know there were times in my healing when gratitude was not even remotely possible to contemplate; in fact, it brought up shame that I was unable to feel gratitude! So I might suggest clients consider whether there is any part of their lives that is positive at this moment that they can focus on. I might give them some suggestions, like the fact that they have chosen to be here to start a new journey, one that is different from the past. Or I might suggest they focus on a part of their body about which they feel positive: a big toe, the way their knee bends, or their smile. This has allowed me to connect to clients' experience better, which in effect means I am connecting more profoundly to them.

What advice would you give to anyone who is going to teach yoga to people in recovery from addictions?

If the teacher has not had their own experience of recovery or healing, I would strongly recommend reading books on the topic to try to understand what clients might be experiencing. Overcoming Trauma through Yoga by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper is short and to the point, and although it's not perfect, it offers some good suggestions.

What are some of your ideas about, or hopes for, the future of "service yoga" in America in the next decade?

I believe all yoga is service yoga, but it shouldn't stop there. We have so much to learn and reflect on to make all our teaching spaces welcoming to every single person. We need to consider how to change our yoga spaces to welcome new and diverse members of our greater communities. The current Western paradigm is that yoga is for thin, educated white women. This needs to change. We need more yoga spaces that offer adaptive yoga for people of varying body sizes, shapes, and abilities.

I would love to see more donation-based studios. My home studio, Cambio Donation Yoga, is an example of the fact that this is a sustainable way to offer yoga. Donation yoga also means that the studio is much more diverse.

How has this work changed your definition of service? Your definition of yoga? Your practice?

My practice has been an affirmation of the deep impact that yoga can have on our bodies, minds, and spirits, and I've known I wasn't the only one gaining these kinds of benefits from yoga. This form of service reminds me that we can all benefit from yoga, no matter who we are, what our experiences are in life, how our body is shaped, etc. And that yoga is always available -- whether we are new to the practice, have taken time off and are coming back to it, or are committed to a regular practice -- we can always gain some benefit from the movement as meditation in motion.

Editor: Alice Trembour

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The December Curry: Brussels Sprouts and Parsnips


When they first came to this country in 1971, my two uncles stayed as paying guests with a sweet Indian auntie in Leicester. On most days, when they arrived home in the evening and opened the kitchen door, they were consumed by the overpowering smell of brussels sprouts, and when it wasn't brussels sprouts curry, it would be broad beans curry. Brussels sprouts or beans curry with roti every evening doesn't exactly sound appetizing (they moved four months later.) They'd often fill up on chips and a two-course lunch at their college for 12 pence. It's no wonder we've never in all these years tried brussels sprouts or broad beans curry!

To think of the varieties of vegetables we can now buy at the supermarket, the number of Indian shops stocking the most authentic spices and Indian vegetables that can't be found elsewhere... a mere four decades later.

Well, I do like these small globular green bundles called brussels sprouts (once in a while) and having made brussels, kale, red cabbage and lentils salad for Christmas lunch, I decided to try my hand at a curry today. I mixed it with parsnips, sweet and rich in dietary fibre. Both vegetables retain a very slight crunch even after being cooked, and both absorb the aromatic masalas so that each time you bite into a sprout or a parsnip, it is richly infused with the blend of onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and all the heady masalas which work together in creating the perfect curry.

Serves 4

3-4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 parsnips
500g brussels sprouts, halved (around 20)
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
few fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
pinch asafetida
2 red onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ginger, garlic, chili paste
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon red chili powder
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato puree, optional
1½ teaspoon salt
250ml water

Cut the brussels sprouts in half and the parsnips in round pieces. Bring a pot of water to boil and add both vegetables. Blanch in hot water for about 5 minutes, drain and leave to one side. Now heat the oil, mustard, fenugreek and cumin seeds in a large pan on low heat. When the mustard seeds start to pop and the cumin seeds are brown, add a pinch of asafetida and immediately add the chopped onions. Stir the onions in the oil and once cooked and brown, add the chopped or grated garlic as well as the ginger, garlic and chili paste. Stir this for a minute before adding all the masalas -- coriander, cumin and turmeric powder, and the salt. Now you can add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, forming a thick paste. Pour in the brussels sprouts and parsnips and mix thoroughly. Add the water and let this cook on low to medium heat for another 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.