Make Exercise Fun or You Won't Do it.
by M. Kemmeter, freelance writer.

Take it from somebody who hates to exercise, I would rather do strenuous yard work all day, hauling rocks around, digging holes for trees, ditches, gardening, anything rather than work out in a gym or on my stationary exercise equipment for 5 minutes. If I'm running on my treadmill, before I even realize it, I have wondered off and am looking for something, or I start doing housework. You know how it is. You're running on your treadmill and you happen to look over and see a sock laying on the floor. Next thing you know, you're thinking, "Darn, I forgot to do laundry." And off you go. Calisthenics just don't hold my interest long enough for me to even work up a sweat and I'll wonder off to do something more exciting, like watch paint dry. Lifting weights? Even more boring for me.

So over the years, I've devised an exercise regimen that keeps me interested long enough to at least get my heart pumping. I love music, so incorporating it into my exercise routine is a must in order to keep my brain focused so it doesn't wonder off. I can dance to my favorite music literally for hours and not get bored or tired because the music keeps my adrenaline going. I've worked out specific routines and dance steps to certain songs, and believe me, it makes for quite a workout. I've learned that if I am not interested in it, or I get easily bored, I won't do it. So no matter what it takes, I have to make it so I will do it: that's the point right? When I'm dancing to music, before I know it, an hour has gone by and I didn't even notice. So I look forward to it the next day and the next.

I guess you could say I've been doing Zumba for years, before it was popular, and I do it to 70s and 80s rock songs rather than Latino music. I look for music to download that has a good beat to it, something I can really get worked up with, and I change my music every couple of months so I don't get bored with it. It's become challenging for me to look for new dance music to download as well, so the whole experience is uplifting and fun for me.
I have managed to work some sit-ups, jogging, jumping jacks and the more mundane stuff into my dance routines to round out my workout and make sure everything gets exercised equally, but I break it up with dance before I get bored with it. So I'll do 20 sit-ups, then dance to the next song, 20 pushups, then dance to the next song etc. On days that I don't quite feel up to par, I do yoga, which is very relaxing, but still gets the circulation going. The point is, that by constantly mixing up my exercise routine, I keep it fun and interesting enough to keep up with it.

A few weeks ago, I bought a hula hoop from Walmart and let me tell you, it's more difficult to do than you think. It is a good workout for the stomach and much more entertaining than sit-ups. Any little toy or gadget you can find to spice things up a bit is worth it. I also use 4 lb hand weights while I'm dancing to give my arms a bit more of a workout. My favorite exercise gadget is a mini trampoline I bought years ago. I use it to jog on, do jumping jjacks on, or a dance move I use that is similar to an Irish jig. The purpose of the trampoline is that it reduces stress on my joints by not coming in contact with a hard surface. I love the thing.

In the summer, I manage to find plenty of yard work to do to keep me fit, and I enjoy it so it feels like progress not work to me. I get gratification from accomplishing something. My roommate always says, "Why don't you use my truck instead of the wheel barrow?" Or "Why don't you do that the easy way?" And I try to explain that I'm also doing it for the exercise, so even though there is a much easier way to do it, I would rather do the manual labor and skip the gym thank you.

Biking outdoors is much more enjoyable than using my stationary bike in my weight room. My bicycle was neglected for many years, collecting dust in my shed. So one day I cleaned it up, tuned it up, lubricated it and adjusted it. Bought a more comfortable seat for it and last fall, took it out for a spin. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed biking, and this summer, I plan to do a lot more of it. I also discovered I love kayaking, and am looking for a good used kayak. The name of the game is staying active, so find things you enjoy and do just that. If you hate working out at the gym, you won't do it. If you hate doing 20 reps of stomach crunches every day, you won't do it. So improvise, dress it up, make it fun.


Easy Breakfast Substitutions for Sugary, Nutritionless Prepackaged Cereals.

Kids want the sugary stuff: Captain Crunch, Fruit Loops, Count Chocula, Frosted Flakes. Bluck! They don't even look real let alone nutritious. We're pretty sure none of those bright fluorescent-colored Fruit Loops are natural in the least. Chocked full of food dyes, empty carbs and preservatives, they leave little room for proper nutrition and most parents know it. It's difficult to get kids to want the good stuff, but we have a couple breakfast recipes that are fast for you, fun enough to keep them interested, and nutritious for everybody.

Yogurt fruit bowl: This doesn't have to be boring.

Dice up a banana, a couple slices of cantaloupe or watermelon, 1/2 an apple and throw in some grapes or raisins, walnuts or almonds. Mix in 1/4 C pineapple juice, a couple tablespoons of yogurt and sprinkle with some raw, uncooked oatmeal or granola. We haven't found anybody who didn't think this was yummy: kids included.

Fruity oatmeal in a snap:

The best way to "cook" whole grains to preserve their nutrients is to not cook them. Boil some water and just pour it over a cup of raw oatmeal or barley flakes in a bowl. Let it steep for about a minute, drain off any excess water, then add milk, sprinkle of salt, and a Tbsp of whole fruit jam for sweetener. You can spice it up with cinnamon and nuts for added nutrients and flavor. There are many variations you can add to whole grains to make them more appealing for kids. Honey and cinnamon, raisins, blueberries etc.

Easy homemade cocoa wheat. Much more packed full of vitamins when prepared our way rather than the processed stuff out of the box.

Purchase some whole buckwheat groats from the bulk bins at Whole Foods or other health food store. When you get ready for breakfast, boil some water and meanwhile put 1/4 C of the groats in a coffee grinder and grind them to a coarse powder. When the water is heated to boiling, pour about a cup of the boiling water into a bowl, then using a whisk or fork, gradually add the ground groats to the water while stirring continually. If you add the water to the groats instead of the groats to the water gradually, it will be lumpy because it sets up quickly. Once the water and powder are mixed thoroughly and any lumps whisked out, let it sit and steep for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add almond or soy milk to thin it out a bit, honey to taste, a sprinkle of salt and a tsp of cocoa powder. If you don't want cocoa wheat that day, try it with just honey and cinnamon. Buckwheat is very good for lowering blood sugar levels and high in magnesium and B vitamins which make it a calming food and may help hyper kids stay more focused in school.

Smoothies and a muffin: Grab 'N Go food.

Always tasty and they can be custom made to your liking. Just throw a half cup orange juice, a half cup almond or soy milk, a banana, and any other fruit you have laying around like a peach, frozen blueberries, apple, mango etc and blend. Smoothie don't stave off hunger for long, so a muffin or bagel accompanies a smoothie well and gives you that long-term full feeling.

Huevos rancheros:

A bit more work, but worth it when you want that hardy breakfast. Fry some diced potatoes with onions. When they are done, spread about a cup of them on a flour tortilla. Top with a couple fried eggs, then sprinkle some chopped peppers, tomato, cilantro, avocado or salsa on top. Eat flat with a fork, they are too messy to roll up.

These quick alternatives to carbs and sugar are just as colorful and fun and definitely more nutritious than prepackaged commercial cereals. Prepackaged cereals are stripped of all their nutritional value in the manufacturing process and then have to be fortified to have any vitamins or nutrients at all and those that are added are synthetic and not as easily utilized by the body. Why not just go for the real thing. These recipes will get you pointed in the right direction and get your kids used to thinking about breakfast foods that don't come out of a box or a pop up toaster.

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In one study of 116 people with HSV, those who applied lemon balm cream to their lip sores experienced significant improvement in redness and swelling after only 2 days. Other symptoms, such as pain and scabbing, did not improve. Both the patients and their doctors reported that the lemon balm ointment was highly effective. Another large study involving three German hospitals and one dermatology clinic showed that, when lemon balm was used to treat the primary infection of HSV I, not a single recurrence was noted. The cream has also been found to reduce the healing time of both genital and oral herpes.

Commercial ointments usually don't contain enough of the true herb to know if it is the lemon balm or something else that is actually doing the work. It is easy to make a poultice from lemon balm leaves if you have a plant around, and lemon balm is very easy to grow in a pot indoors for just such occasions. When needed, pick the leaves and mash them up slightly with a mortar and pestle or chew them gently in your teeth to break the leaves and get the juices to the surface. Then apply the emaciated leaves to the sore and leave the poultice there for at least 30 minutes to an hour if possible.
Of course, this is not practical when you are at work or on the go, so using an ointment or oil would be a good second choice. Homemade ointments are easy to make. Melt some beeswax in a glass jar in a pot on the stove that is filled with about an inch of water. Make sure the glass jar is one you don't want to use for anything else because you won't ever get the beeswax completely cleaned out of it. Remove the wax from the heat when it is melted and let it cool just slightly but not get solid. Add lemon balm essential oil or a strong decoction you made earlier to the wax and add a couple drops of olive or grape seed oil to the beeswax to keep it at a more soft consistency. Keep it refrigerator for future use or it will get moldy. Discard if it does become moldy and make a new batch.

HERBS: How to use them for maximum benefit. Short and sweet descriptions and uses written by our on-staff Nutritional Herbalist. Always remember that herbs should be treated as a medicine. Almost all of our modern-day medicines are derived from compounds found in herbs and plants. If you have not used a particular herb before, try a half dose at first to make sure you do not have an unfavorable reaction to it.

Black Cohosh Cimicifuga racemosa.

Medicinal Properties: Many women are familiar with this herb for its use in alleviating menstrual and menopausal complaints. It is used in homeopathy for labor and postpartum pains, headaches and depression.

How to Use: Slice or grind the rhizomes. Add 1 Tbsp ground root to 2 C. water and simmer on very low for 20-30 minutes with a cover. Let cool and drink 1 Tbsp of this decoction at a time in 1 C water as needed, not to exceed 3 cups of tea a day for 1-2 weeks. Capsules, tablets, extracts.

Parts Used: Rhizomes

Warnings: Excess can cause nausea and vomiting. Do not use during pregnancy or lactation

Some Herb Basics: Most herbs work better on an empty stomach. A few exceptions are garlic, goldenseal and cayenne due to stomach upset. Herbs work in a cumulative fashion meaning they are not a "one dose wonder." They need to build up in the system a little, usually within 2-3 doses, before any real affect can be noticed. Fresh herbs always work better than old herbs and science is always proving the fact that a whole herb usually is more effective than one isolated compound of that herb.

Do you know what foods will give you more energy, calm your nerves, act as an anti-inflammatory, help prevent cancers, or help you lose weight? Hopefully this column will help you to have a better understanding of food and its healing properties. The best diet for optimal health is a wide variation of foods, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and minimally cooked whole foods. Sweets, fatty foods, meat, dairy and carbs in moderation.


Therapeutic Properties:
Blackberries have been used for centuries to help stop diarrhea. Is a good blood builder due to its high iron and manganese content. Manganese is needed to regulate blood sugar levels and the healthy function of nerves and the immune system. Manganese is also beneficial for iron-deficient anemia, sex hormone production and skeletal development. Protein, carb and fat production by synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol and mucopolysaccharides. (see herb info for more details on blackberries medicinal properties.)

Acid or Alkaline: Highly alkaline

Significant Nutrients: Manganese and iron. Because blackberries have a high amount of tannin, those with a history of cancer may want to eat them in moderation or avoid them all together.

You can find more herbs and home remedies in The Circkles Hangout under the Main Menu. (Sorry, you must be a member of


February 2013
Health and Nutrition Circkles
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