Archive for July, 2017

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end.  The family day trips to the amusement park or zoo, and our time lazing around the pool will soon be over until next year. Do you find the transition from summer into the routines of the school year school-1549880_1920difficult? I find that I sometimes struggle with the back-to-school schedule more than my two children (who are now a freshman and a sophomore in high school). Because of my struggles, I want to share some tips from Kids.gov  and USA.gov. Both sites create and organize timely, needed government information and services that is accessible anytime, anywhere, via your channel of choice.

  • Ease into the School Routine
    • Start going to bed and waking up on a schedule similar to the school year. Remember that teens need 9-10 hours of sleep per night, school age children need 10 hours and preschoolers need 11-12 hours.
    • Make a family docking station in the living room or kitchen for mobile phones and electronics.  By not allowing these in the bedrooms, teens and pre-teens will get a better night’s sleep.  You can also set a house rule that phones may not be checked until the morning routine is complete. Purchase a cheap alarm clock if you hear,  “I need to have my phone/tablet/etc. in my room because it has my alarm on it.”
  • Teach Time Management
    • Routine is very important. Talk to your children and set a daily schedule together and follow it.  Don’t forget to include wake-up, showering, teeth brushing, homework, (outdoor) play time/physical activity, screen-time, reading together, family meals, and bed time. If something unscheduled comes up, see if other things can be adjusted to accommodate it.
    • Use pictures for your preschoolers and early readers and a checklist for the pre-teens and teens. Don’t forget to agree upon the outcomes if the schedule is followed (a special privilege) or if it is not (a consequence). Your weekend schedule will most likely be different so map that out too.
  • Pack a Nutritious Lunch
    • A well-balanced meal will help provide the nutrients to get through the long days.
    • It helps to allow your children choices when packing their lunch.  Allow them to pack their lunch (and even yours), so that together your family is making the choice to eat healthier.
  • Listen
    • Talk to your children about what’s coming up in the next few weeks.  Talk through the schedule and the changes that will be happening as school starts. Listen to their excitement and their fears. Make a plan together for having the best school year yet.
    • Don’t forget to check in with them each day and listen for what they say (and what they don’t say, especially with the pre-teens and teens).
  • Shop Smart
    • Pick up the school supply list now and take advantage of the many sales and coupons that are available.  Use your mobile device to download coupons and always ask if a store has any coupons available.  Check the closets before you head out shopping and only purchase what you need.  
    • Take advantage of  Ohio’s tax free weekend for more savings: August 4-6.

Good luck getting back into the swing of the school year. May your school year be blessed with many wonderful memories! Enjoy every teachable moment and find something fabulous in each day!

Written By: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County

Reviewed By: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County











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Have you ever had a great idea come to you while in the shower? Why is it that the best thoughts seem to occur when we’re not prepared to write them down? For me, my mind seems to be most creative when I’m driving, walking my dog, riding my bike, or doing housework – not when I’m at work or sitting in front of a computer. I have noticed a common theme in these activities: solitude.

The word solitude tends to have a negative connotation, but it is not the same as loneliness or boredom. Loneliness is described as the pain of being alone when companionship is desired. It is something imposed on you by others. Solitude, on the other hand, is something you choose. It is a constructive state, a time of self-reflection and engagement with oneself that often results in innovation and creative thinking. Solitude renews the mind; loneliness depletes it.

Although walking the dog, doing chores and driving are not things I always enjoy doing, these activities do provide me with the opportunity to disconnect from technology and let my mind wander. Taking time to be alone can seem like a waste in the busy, fast-paced world we live in today, but it is more valuable than one might think! Solitude was named one of the ten habits of highly creative people by the authors of the book “Wired To Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind”. Daydreaming is another habit, which often occurs during simple activities done in solitude such as walking and cleaning.

How might you embrace solitude and provide your mind with space to wander in the midst of your daily life? Maybe you could try:

Going into work early. If you can work an early arrival into your schedule, you may be able to get some quiet work done before your co-workers arrive and new emails start to come in.

Taking short “mental breaks” throughout the day. Step away from your computer every couple of hours to stretch or take a walk, if possible, or to practice mindfulness.

Minimizing distractions. Consider turning off phone and email notifications when you’re working on an important project to stay focused without unnecessary interruptions.

Taking a technology break. Set limits on technology use to enjoy quality time with family or in nature.

Do you have another suggestion for embracing solitude? Share your suggestions in the comment box below!


Author: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu


Kaufman, S.B. & Gregoire, C. (2016). Ten Habits of Highly Creative People. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/ten_habits_of_highly_creative_people

Marano, H.E. (2016). What is Solitude? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200307/what-is-solitude.

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Have you ever had an argument with a friend (boy or girl), sibling, classmate, or spouse who was trying to tell you what to do and you countered with the response “You’re not the boss of me?” I think most of us have thrown that phrase out to someone at some point in time (hopefully you weren’t under 18 and saying it to your parents). But (and this is a big but) have you ever used that phrase on yourself?

As part of a new work-related project, I’ve been thinking about how mathematics can be used to promote health and wellness. I decided to compare the square footage of my mouth to the whole of my body (I know this is a weird segue, but stick with me here).

To figure out the square footage of my body, I used the same formula you use to calculate the square footage of a rectangle (width x length). Our bodies look similar to a rectangle, so I multiplied my height (66 inches) x my width (for most people the widest point is going to be across their hips).  Since my hips measure 39 inches around, and you only need to go across, the final equation was 66 x 19.5.  Using one of the square footage calculators on the internet (remember, these numbers are in inches—you will need to click on inches in the calculation box) generated the information that the square footage of my body is 8.94 square feet.

Repeating the same calculation with my mouth (I went with a 2 x 1 measurement), the result was .01 square foot. So do you see where I’m going with this? In essence, you’re letting a miniscule part of your body tell the rest of it what kind of fuel, and in what quantity, is going to come down the pike. The 99% of your body that doesn’t get to decide what gets eaten should be irate.  It should be yelling at your mouth saying “You’re not the boss of me!”

Let’s be real. When you have a craving for pizza or a hot fudge sundae, it’s not your arms and legs asking for those two items.  It’s your MOUTH!  Now when my mouth wants donuts or a third piece of pizza, I yell at it (mentally) and tell it “you are NOT the boss of me.”  It’s ludicrous that such a small unit of our body has such a huge influence on our weight, our risk for chronic disease, and on psychological issues such as self-perception and self-esteem.eating


Rebel with a Cause

This defiant attitude towards my mouth (I call it the Pie Hole Rebellion) has enabled me to lose 10 pounds over the last six weeks. I realize we are hard-wired to crave certain foods by other entities in our bodies besides our mouth (brain, eyes, nose, hormones, blood sugar, etc). But for most of us, the mouth is the driver, the “big Kahuna,” the “head honcho” of our food choices. It is the gateway for fuel to gain access to the rest of the body.

I’ve put mine on notice. “My mouth is not the boss of me” is my new mantra. It will occasionally (probably) still try to take charge, but I’m bigger (and meaner). Vive la révolte!

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu





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Want some muscles or to reduce your body fat?  Working out but still not seeing much difference?  Would taking supplements like a steroid or a nutritional supplement help?

With football practices starting up your son might want an advantage to be the best on the team.  It seems like many athletes are taking steroids or supplements thinking that “bigger is better,” and “being the best is more important than how you get there.”   Since they do it, it must be alright.  But wait! 

Some athletes take anabolic steroids to increase muscle mass and strength.  These drugs appear to make muscles bigger and may help athletes recover from a workout more quickly, which means they can work out more frequently and harder.  However, the use of these drugs is not recommended for improving athletic performance and many cause some serious side effects or risks. These drugs are dangerous and when used may cause some severe, long-lasting and irreversible negative health consequences.   This can be especially serious for youth, whose bodies are still growing and developing.  The Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse has an online letter warning about the use of anabolic steroids and encouraging young people and adults not to take unnecessary health risks by using steroids.  Some of the serious adverse effects may not be recognized for many years.

Risks of anabolic steroids include:

  • Short Stature (if taken by adolescents)
  • Increased tendinitis and tendon rupture
  • Severe acne and cysts
  • Liver abnormalities and tumors
  • Liver cancer
  • Increased LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol)
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Depression
  • Drug dependence
  • kidney damage

The FDA warns that many bodybuilding products sold online as well as in retail stores are labeled as “dietary supplements.”  However, these are not dietary supplements but are illegally marketed and unapproved new drugs.  They have not been reviewed by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or quality.  A study done by Consumer Reports some years ago highlighted problems with many bodybuilding substances as many of them had substances not on the label and not approved by the FDA.

The FDA recommends you do not take bodybuilding products.  If you are taking them they recommend you stop taking them immediately.  They encourage you to talk to your health care professional about the products you were taking.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension


Federal Drug Administration. (2017). Caution: Bodybuilding Products Can Be Risky. FDA Consumer Updates.  Available at https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm173739.htm

National Institute on Drug Abuse, (2006). What are the Health Consequences of Steroid Abuse? National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Health.  Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/anabolic-steroid-abuse/what-are-health-consequences-steroid-abuse

Volkow, N.D. (2006). Letter From the Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health.  Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/anabolic-steroid-abuse/letter-director

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John Snow was a British physician who lived and practiced in Victorian-era London. Many credit him as being the father of public health and epidemiology (the study of disease). At the time, cholera was raging in European cities, yet physicians didn’t know how it was spread. Through careful detective work by conducting interviews and making maps, Dr. Snow proved that a particular cholera epidemic in London could be traced back to one particular pump, where all the victims had sourced their water. Dr. Snow’s work showed that where you lived could impact your health.

In todays modern world, at least in developed countries,  terrible bacterial scourges such as cholera and plague are rare fortunately. However, our prevalent diseases are different in nature in that they are chronic – diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, cancer, and arthritis. Traditionally thought of as “old age” diseases, we see more and more people in their 30s and 40s living with them. Unlike bacterial infections, they don’t go away with antibiotics and people live with them for many years impacting their quality of life and well being. In addition to speeding up conveyer belts to death, these “chronic” illnesses can be detrimental to one’s productivity, mental health, finances, and relationships. Ultimately, they impact the vitality of entire communities.

Dr. Snow’s work is still relevant today. Many of these chronic illnesses are partly caused by behaviors- poor eating habits, physical inactivity, stress. Like the cholera epidemics in Victorian-era London, research suggests that unhealthy behaviors are determined by WHERE we live and work. In fact, some studies have found that zip codes are more predictive of chronic disease than genetic code! For example in DC, your risk for developing  a debilitating chronic illness depends on what bus line you live on!

Why are zip codes important for our health? Community features such as access to healthy foods, parks, sidewalks, recreation centers, bike trails, nutrition classes can all influence health behaviors. Fortunately unlike our genetic code, we are able to make changes to these unhealthy features in our zip codes, just like London was able to improve its water to prevent cholera. Maps of our communities can be used to get a glimpse of some of these features. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has the County Health Rankings where you can click on your  county and see how it compares to the state and nation for features healthy food environments, access to parks and recreational facilities, in addition to health outcomes such as smoking and obesity rates. The map even provides an overall health ranking for your county. Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap provides a map where you can find your county and see the percent who live in poverty, are food insecure, and look at the average cost of a meal. U.S.D.A.’s Food Desert Locator shows whether you live in a “food desert”, or a census track with a large percentage of people living far from a grocery store and without reliable transportation.

What can you do to make your community healthier? Changing communities is hard, and takes time, diligence and patience. Advocating for health can take many shapes and forms. Asking a convenience store to carry fruit is one small way to advocate. Starting a community garden, volunteering to clean up a park, or repairing a sidewalk in front of your house are also small changes that collectively can make a big difference. Contact your local health department or county Extension office to see if there are groups, coalitions, or food councils that focus on making healthy changes in your community. Small changes can have a “ripple” effect that ultimately improve the quality of life for you, your family, and community!


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on 7/12/17

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Accessed on 7/12/17

Feeding America- Map the Meal Gap, Accessed on 7/12/17

United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service– Food Desert Locator, Accessed 7/12/17

Author, Dan Remley,  Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, OSU Extension, Wood County

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fruit infused water

Are you getting enough water? The old hard and fast rule was that you were to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. However, the rule was actually just an estimate and the amount you should be drinking can vary based on gender, weight, activity level and other special considerations. You can check out this article to calculate how much water you should be drinking.

According to the CDC water helps your body:

  • Keep your temperature normal
  • Lubricate and cushion joints
  • Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
  • Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements

They also report that your body needs more water when you are:

  • In hot climates
  • More physically active
  • Running a fever
  • Having diarrhea or vomiting

Do you find yourself struggling to get your water intake in? I grew up with a pitcher of sweet tea in the refrigerator at all times so drinking plain water was very difficult for me. I craved flavor. So I started to infuse my water with fruit. If you are new to fruit infused water you may be taken back by the fact that it’s not sweetened. It’s a little hard on the taste buds at first especially if you are used to drinking sweetened beverages. I would recommend starting with fruit that is already really sweet, like pineapple, to help trick your taste buds since there is no added sugar. Then, as you become accustom to things less sweet you can try and experiment with other flavors. Check out this blog post where another extension educator lists the steps to making infused water and different combinations to try. A couple of my favorites are: lemon water

  • Orange Pineapple – 16 oz water, 4-6 inch pineapple spear, 1 small orange sliced
  • Berry Splash – 16 oz water, 4 raspberries, 2 blackberries, 2 strawberries
  • Grape Pineapple – 16 oz water, 6 grapes and a 3-4 inch pineapple spear

Maybe you infuse your water already. I encourage you to think about what fruits and vegetables are in season where you live and try different combinations. Are you feeling a little more adventurous in your selection? Why not try going gourmet with these flavors:

  • Green Apple Raspberry Rosemary – Sliced apple, whole raspberry and 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • Orange Chai Spice – Sliced oranges, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, allspice
  • Vanilla Basil Strawberry – Vanilla bean (remove seeds first), handful fresh basil, 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • Mango Pineapple Mint – Slice of firm-ripe mango, slices of pineapple, handful fresh mint

Make sure to prepare your infused water at least 2 to 3 hours before you plan to drink it to allow time for flavors to blend. Refrigerated infused water can be kept for up to 3 days before drinking. What’s your favorite combination of infused water?







Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu

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There are many different facets of health. We think of health as eating well and exercising, yet health also includes our social interactions and connections.

We all tend to get busy in our lives and lose contact with our friends and family. July is a perfect time to build stronger social ties with family and friends and reach out to others.  Social Wellness encourages us to develop better communications with our friends and family and to spend time nurturing our relationships and ourselves.  Respect yourself and others and develop a solid social support system.  Check in with your family and friends.

On-line social networking has grown because of our need to be connected. It allows us to read status updates and get a glimpse of what is going on with our friends and family.  Yet, it is important to have a full conversation to maintain social wellness.

Grow your social network. Consider your interests and hobbies and you are bound to meet new people that share the same interest.

Social Wellness is important including:

  • People who have strong social networks live longer
  • People with healthy relationships respond better to stress and have healthier cardiovascular systems
  • Healthy social networks improve the immunes system’s ability to fight off infectious disease

Reconnect this month with your friends and family to strengthen your bonds and improve your social wellness. Be Well!

References: https://www.butler.edu/health-wellness/social                                                    http://www.fsap.emory.edu › Workplace Resources › Wellness


Author: Beth Stefura, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Mahoning County

Reviewer: Donna Green, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Erie County



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