It’s My Birthday, and I’m Getting Away From It All…

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Copyright : Christopher Howey

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Copyright : kbuntu

My plans for my birthday week will take place in this part of the globe…Thank goodness for this break!

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How To Keep Cool At Night

The one part about summer which I never miss is the endless string of hot nights which keep me tossing and turning. In an effort to keep the ambient temperature as comfortable as possible while I slumber, I have tried many different methods to cool down, and some still do the trick quite nicely. Thankfully, the mercury should start dropping soon, and the blazing hot nights will abate.

Here’s what has worked nicely for me in my quest for a cool sleeping environment:

1. Central A/C is always set for a certain temperature. We have it set at 77 degrees because at 78 degrees or higher, the entire household (there are four of us) bakes like incubating baby chicks.

2. The ceiling fan in my bedroom is always on. There’s nothing I can do about the fan placement, and often lament the fact that the fan is positioned over the foot of my bed instead of over my head, but the bedroom is huge. If I owned the place I live in, I would install three ceiling fans in line so that I could stay cool in bed, sitting in front of the television, or sitting at my desk on the other side of the room.

3. I have two sleek tabletop fans on my nightstands which are wonderful on hot nights. They have a slim profile, and are relatively quiet.

4. I always use 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, which have more of a tendency to stay cool than sheets which are a lower thread count or made of synthetic materials.

5. I have a cooling mattress pad on my mattress. The brand I have, PureCare Frio 11 Inch Cooling Mattress Protector, is acceptable but not great.

Frio Cooling Mattress Pad

Several other bloggers have recommended the Slumber Cloud Nacreous Mattress Pad which is available at slumbercloud.com, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it does a better job of cooling than the Frio.

6. When I was dealing with the worst of my perimenopausal nights sweats, I would place an ice cold gel pack between my shoulder blades and sleep on my back so that I could maximize the surface area which came into contact with the pack. After two summers of using gel packs on a nightly basis, I am thrilled that I haven’t had to resort to such craziness this summer.

7. On the hottest summer nights, I will take a tepid shower before retiring. The shower ritual cools core body temperature and primes the body for more restful sleep.

8. I will often kick a foot or an entire leg out from under the covers to cool down. This has been scientifically proven to decrease core body temperature. Some researchers even recommend that people sleep with their feet completely unencumbered by socks or bedding.

What did NOT work for me was a bed fan. I had seen the BedJet Climate Comfort Cooling Fan and was intrigued by it, but the steep price ($300 and up) caused me to lose interest quickly. When I learned that there was a Brookstone version of the bed fan, and that it was $99, I quickly purchased it, only to be so disappointed by the performance that I returned it. Even with the lightweight sheets I have on the bed and a simple coverlet (no blanket, no heavy comforter), and with the fan cranked up to the maximum setting, the device spewed out just enough air power to keep the toes of one foot cool.

I am intrigued by the Breezy Buddy fan-cooled pillow and wish I had known about this product when I was in the throes of hormonal night sweats. However, I no longer need such a device.

If you are looking for ways to cool down your bedroom, you might want to try a few of the suggestions I have discussed here. Here’s to a restful and cool night’s sleep!

The Origins Of Daylight Savings Time

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Now that most of the nation is taking a break from Daylight Savings Time (Arizona and Hawaii are exempt from the twice yearly clock shift) and is also recovering from the Presidential Election, I thought it might be fun to review the history of Daylight Savings Time.

ROOTS OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

The concept of Daylight Savings Time (DST) originated in ancient civilizations as our ancestors referenced the daylight hours and adjusted their daily schedules accordingly. However, the practice of conserving daylight hours over the centuries was sporadic. The idea resurfaced in the 18th century when American politician and inventor Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay in 1784 called “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” which he submitted to the editor of The Journal of Paris. Franklin suggested that candle usage could be minimized by adjusting clocks to get people out of bed earlier in the morning in an effort to use natural sunlight instead.

More than a century later, a New Zealand scientist by the name of George Vernon Hudson proposed a two-hour shift in time forward in October with a corresponding two-hour shift backward in March, but the idea never took off. Ten years later, a more dizzying concept of adjusting clocks was suggested by a Brit by the name of William Willett. Willett came up with the idea of setting clocks ahead 20 minutes on each Sunday in April, then switching them back on each Sunday in September. His idea was then introduced to the House of Commons in 1908, with the first Daylight Saving Bill drafted the following year and presented to Parliament. The United Kingdom did not put DST into effect until 1916, a year after Willett died.
More recently, Germany developed DST and introduced it on April 30, 1916 by turning the clocks forward by one hour. This was done in an effort to conserve fuel normally used for artificial lighting so that it would be used for the war effort during World War I.

The United States followed suit two years later by instilling the Standard Time Act, which ran from March through the summer. President Woodrow Wilson signed DST, also known as “Fast Time”, into law to support the war effort during WWI. However, it was not a popular idea and was revoked by the end of WWI. Other countries, like France and the United Kingdom, had also embraced the concept of DST but also abandoned it after WWI.

By World War II, however, President Franklin D Roosevelt implemented year-round DST, also called “War Time”, from February 9th, 1942, until September 30th, 1945 throughout the United States and Canada. The different time zones throughout the United States were referred to as “Pacific War Time”, “Central War Time”, “Mountain War Time”, and “Eastern War Time”. The time zones were renamed “Peace Time” in August of 1945 after Japan’s surrender.

The United Kingdom took a slightly different approach, employing the use of “Double Summer Time” during WWII which meant setting clocks two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) during the summer, and one hour ahead of GMT during the winter.

AMERICANS PLAYING WITH DAYLIGHT – 20TH CENTURY AND BEYOND

After WWI and WWII, the United States dropped the federal mandate on DST, leaving it up to individual states and cities to decide if they wanted to practice DST, and how to implement it. In 1954, only two states, California and Nevada, had statewide laws regarding DST. By 1966, there were 100 million Americans who observed DST based on their local laws, but a federal law was still lacking. Congress decided to end the confusion by establishing a pattern which applied throughout the country. The Uniform Time Act was signed into law in April of 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson, thus creating the modern version of Daylight Saving Time. It specified the beginning as the last Sunday of April and the end as the last Sunday of October. The law was not mandated, so any state which wanted to be exempt from DST could do so by passing a state law.

Congress revised the Uniform Time Act in 1972 to enable a state which was in two or more time zones to exempt one portion of the state in one time zone while observing DST in another part of the state. When the oil embargo of 1973 hit, Congress decided to extend DST to a period of ten months in 1974, then eight months in 1975, in an effort to save energy. Federal law was again revised in 1986 to change the beginning of DST to the first Sunday in April.

The current United States DST schedule, which was adopted in 2007, followed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which extended the period of DST by about one month. The current DST guidelines are as follows:

Begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March

Ends at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November

There are over 70 countries worldwide which use Daylight Savings Time, with many variations on beginning and end dates. However, the European Union (EU) implemented a standardized EU-wide DST schedule in 1996 which begins the last Sunday in March and ends the last Sunday in October.

What Kind Of Body Do You Want This Summer?

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Summer is almost upon us, which means that more skin-baring outfits will appear, and the pressure to look as good as possible will be greater than ever. So what do you do if you’ve been cozily hiding under a layer of winter storage fat for the last few months or years? There isn’t much time to strip that away, but it definitely IS possible to reveal a trimmer, more toned you for the warmer weather that is right around the corner.

The first and most important thing to do in order to build a body transformation strategy for the summer is to define your goals. Make sure that they fit the SMART criteria: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, RELEVANT and TIMELY. Let’s look at each aspect more closely.

SPECIFIC: The more specific you are in defining your summer transformation goals, the more likely you are to be successful in reaching them. A good specific goal could be losing body fat.

MEASURABLE: Let’s look more closely at the body fat reduction goal that I mentioned above. What if you set a goal of losing 5% of your body fat? By doing this, you have now made that goal measurable.

ACHIEVABLE: Make sure that you can actually reach the goals you put in front of you. For example, if you have an excessive amount of storage body fat, it would be unreasonable for you to try to lose 15% of body fat by the beginning of July. However, an achievable goal of 5% is much more reasonable and completely attainable.

RELEVANT: The goals you set should match up to your abilities and interests. For example, if you have been a complete couch potato for years, it would not be relevant to your lifestyle or skill set to aim to prep for an Ironman competition by July. A relevant goal that would still enable you to successfully reach a higher level of fitness would be to prep for a 5k walk/run in July.

TIMELY: In the above examples, I mentioned early July as a timeline marker. By setting a target date, you will establish a framework upon which you will build an action plan.

When I perform nutrition and fitness assessments, I always advise my clients and patients to follow the SMART acronym. Another thing I love to suggest is the development of a vision board. A vision board can be as simple as having a photo of a celebrity or other person who has the kind of physique that a client covets. In some cases, the photo may be of the client from earlier, leaner days. In either case, the photo serves as a perfect carrot to chase after. I always suggest placing the photo on a bathroom mirror or a refrigerator door. Another clever and very effective place for an inspiring photo is to use it as a computer or phone wallpaper design.

If you really want to get creative and inspired, you can create a larger vision board, either digitally or via old-school printed photos and inspiring quotes and messages. Just make sure that whatever you create, you believe 100% in what is on the board, and that you can attain it all.

Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh

MJ Daisy Eau So Fresh

I first got a whiff of this amazing fragrance last summer, and was immediately intrigued. It was flirty, spring-summery, delicate, floral and sweet, yet not overly floral and not cloyingly sweet. It was the perfect balance of feminine, fresh, and seductive.

Every time I sampled it on my wrist, I fell more in love with its light, fun, happy vibe. So I put it on my Christmas wishlist.

I was blessed with a large bottle at Christmas (thank you Ian Lauer!), and I have worn it every day since. It is my signature scent now. I swear that I cannot walk out the door (except when I am headed to the gym) without spritzing Daisy Eau So Fresh on my skin. It doesn’t last too long, but I love the way it fades on me. It’s absolutely perfect and draws me in every time I wear it. It’s like instant happiness in a bottle!

Here is the official description of Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh:

Exhilarating. Bubbly. Playful. Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh Eau de Toilette is a reinterpretation of Daisy: More fruity, more bubbly, more fun! A floral fruity fragrance, it transports you to a place that is exhilarating, happy, and funny.

Topnotes: Natural Raspberry, Grapefruit, Pear
Midnotes: Violet, Wild Rose, Apple Blossom
Basenotes: Musks, Cedarwood, Plum

I Just Had To Get A New Pillow

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The combination of a poorly cooled townhouse (the result of an untimely coil leak in the central air conditioning), night sweats, cats who think it’s cool to use me as a natural radiator, aches and pains in my hips, legs, shoulders, forearms and hands, and a recurrent neck strain have all robbed me of sleep almost every night this summer. With the exception of the cat issue, I was determined to find solutions to all of the sleep robbing elements in my life.

The central air conditioning is finally going to be replaced within the next week (HALLELUJAH!), the night sweats have abated somewhat (due to better hormonal balance in my perimenopausal body), and the aches and pains have been better as a result of fantastic chiropractic work by Dr. Ryan Pendon and Dr. Ryan Chapman from Urban Med. I realized that the neck strain was aggravated by pillows which did a horrible job of supporting my noggin, so I figured I could buy new ones.

Since I always buy new pillows for my bed every year in the autumn months, and wasn’t quite due for a new set, I hesitated on making a purchase. But the pillows I had been sleeping on since November were no longer fluffable, and at night, my head would sink right onto the mattress. I could literally feel the mattress through the pillows! I will admit that I am highly sensitive to tactile changes, just like the princess who could feel the pea through 20 mattresses. So I toughed it out and figured that I would just somehow get used to having deflated pillows. Then I got one of those mailers from Bed, Bath and Beyond, with a 20% off coupon on any one item. After thinking about it for a week, I decided to buy one pillow at a 20% discount.

I ended up with an Isotonic® Indulgence™ Side Sleeper Pillow, originally priced at $59 but which I paid $47 and some change for after using my coupon. This pillow is for side sleepers, but isn’t as firm as some of the other side sleeper pillows I found. Since I always start out my night on my back, I can’t deal with a very firm pillow because it wrenches my neck into an uncomfortable flexed position. The perfect pillow has to be a perfect balance of support and softness, with some loft, but soft enough that it doesn’t feel like my head is resting on a Bosu ball. So far (it has been a couple of nights since I started using this pillow to sleep on), this pillow is doing the trick for me.

Now I only have to deal with one, or actually, THREE issues which interrupt my slumber. The cats rule the roost in our house and have free access to my room, which means that if they want to wrap their perspiration-inducing, furry bodies around me in the middle of the night, I am not exactly going to do anything to prevent them from doing so. However, it is a small price to pay for their constant and unconditional love!

What’s Up With L.A. Weather?

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Los Angeles is known for its great weather, but those of us who have lived here for many years are well acquainted with the quirks and inconsistencies in the weather patterns. I was born and raised in L.A. and have lived here for the majority of my life, and know first-hand that there are a few cold nights during the winter in which the temperature drops to the upper 20’s Fahrenheit where I currently live. Generally speaking, though, those of us who live in Los Angeles are usually blessed with pretty nice weather most of the time. We often get sunny days with moderate temperatures, and the oppressive humidity which our East Coast beach fantasy counterpart, i.e. Florida, must deal with around this time of the year doesn’t hit us until August and September. No wonder people think we are spoiled with good weather in Los Angeles, because we are.

However, an odd pattern has emerged with the weather lately, in which one week will be blazing hot, reaching temperatures in the high-80’s to mid-90’s, only to be followed by overcast skies and much cooler weather (low to mid-60’s) and the threat of rain the following week. It has become next to impossible to determine how to dress for the day when such fluctuations assert themselves. As an example, last week was so hot that I wore tank tops the entire week, but this week I am bundled up in a warm sweater and leggings. According to the extended weather forecast, things will warm up again next week, with temperatures rising into the 80’s once more. I wouldn’t mind so much if the weather fluctuated from warm to a bit chilly, which would be appropriate for the spring months, but the summer heat has made its appearance far too often this season. Basically, we toggle back and forth on a weekly basis from spring weather to summer weather, and April showers seem to have largely eluded us. When the mercury drops and rain clouds hover over the southland, many of us hope for rain so that the state of California can find some relief from the severe drought it is in, but we just get the overcast skies and perhaps a light drizzle. It is such a tease!