Achieve Optimum Health

optimum health

Tips From Experts and Friends of Houston Family Magazine*

Achieve Optimum Health. Optimum health, which flourishes by nurturing every aspect of self, yields benefits not only for the individual, but also for society, as well as for the environment. It’s time we start establishing goals for achieving this kind of health, just as we create goals for developing and maintaining our personal wealth. Rather than focusing on  money and property, we could work to possess mental, emotional, physical, social and spiritual well-being.

It may sound overwhelming, but optimum health is an attainable goal, if you take small steps.  We asked friends of Houston Family Magazine and experts in their respective fields to suggest things our readers could do to change, improve or enhance their minds, bodies and souls.    Pick and choose one or more idea from each category, put them on the calendar, and see them through. You’ll be well on your way to optimum health in the New Year!

Be an active managing partner in your health care.
Knowing how to manage personal health care is not an asset that comes to us overnight. It must be cultivated and developed from an early age, just as any other good habit or body of knowledge. These vital lessons can begin as young as the Kindergarten level.

Starting with the basics, we can ask key questions of our healthcare provider at each visit. Three pieces of valuable knowledge are: diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan. Never walk out of your doctor’s office without these important facts. This is the basis of understanding your condition and actively partnering in your own care.

Know the name, dosage and side effects of medication prescribed. Keep a food diary to pinpoint specific problem areas. Learn the parts of the body to better use the language of health. Understand that, with positive thinking and spiritual focus, the body is its own wonderful healer.

Cindy Womack, RN, BSN, School Nurse,
St. Francis de Sales Catholic School

Combine shopping with exercise.
Achieve Optimum Health. When you feel good, you look good and vice versa. What better way to achieve this than combining shopping and exercise? On your next trip to an outdoor outlet mall, park in the middle of the lot. This way you are walking to all the stores but can easily drop off your purchases halfway through. And with the financially healthy prices found in outlet shops, you can easily come back for another outfit to fit the new, toned you!

Charlotte Wattigny, Innovation Manager
San Marcos Convention & Visitor Bureau

Be grateful.

Achieve Optimum Health. Good health can be achieved from practicing GRATITUDE. Be thankful for what you have, for the people in your life, for your job, for your home, for the clothes on your back.  Make a list of things that you are thankful for. This practice will bring joy and happiness into your life and reduce stress.

Dr. Layne Spitzenberger 

Circle Lake Ranch, Inc.

Explore your inner artist.
Achieve Optimum Health. Art nourishes the human soul. One feels good doing it. Studies show that kids who make art read better and get better grades in science and Art stimulates perception. Kids thrive independently in a place where they are able to express themselves. Art teaches kids to think creatively to solve problems. Kids can share and reflect on their art and learn something about the world they live in. Art promotes self- esteem. Young artists learn to respect differences in others, which cultivates a peaceful and meaningful outlook on life!

Lisa Connolly, Public Relations Manager
Katy Visual & Performing Arts Center (

Find a place in your life for music.
Achieve Optimum Health. Put music in your life.  Studies have shown that there are definite therapeutic effects of either playing an instrument or just listening to music.  Music is medicine!

Pauline Cooper, Director

Bach to Rock Music Lessons

Sugar Land, TX  77479

Dance like nobody’s watching.

Achieve Optimum Health. Dancing is a key to optimum health at physical, mental and emotional levels. Whether you had a long day at the office or are struggling to lose weight, there is always dance to pick you up! Fred Astaire Dance Studio students have shown that taking a dance class can boost your energy in an instant! The constant movement and muscle extension during a dance session creates a gentle stretching and toning. Dancing also strengthens your cardiovascular system, balance and posture. In addition, there are many mental and emotional benefits as well; several studies have concluded that social dancing can even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes up to 75%. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that, “Dancing may boost your memory and prevent you from developing dementia as you get older.” Moving your feet and dancing is a key to better health. Set a romantic date night for you and your significant other for a private dance lesson, or make it a ladies night and join a dance group class for a night of learning salsa at Fred Astaire Dance Studio! You will see once you step on the dance floor and start dancing that you are a better you with confidence and poise.

Raquel Sarabia, Marketing Director

Fred Astaire Dance Studios

Get to the root of those headaches, sinus pain and migraines. 
Achieve Optimum Health. Did you know that headaches can be caused by a problem in your nose and sinuses? It’s true. If you have persistent headaches or migraines I suggest you have a CT scan of the sinuses to rule out a problem that can be easily fixed either with a septoplasty or new balloon Sinuplasty procedure. The latter opens the sinus cavities with the use of a small balloon and can be performed in the office. Both are covered by insurance and have a great chance of providing relief.

Kevin Smith, MD

Author of “The Migraine Imposter”

Smith Center

Breathe and relax.

Achieve Optimum Health. The recent holidays were a time of stress for many people, even if they were happy times. Stress is the body’s reaction to change, and can be good or bad, because stress is entirely perceptual and personal. This means that you can control your stress by altering your view of things! You can also control your stress by learning self-hypnosis. Simply close your eyes, take 3-5 deep breaths (in through nose, out through mouth) and feel a wave of relaxation flowing over your body from head to toe, as you visualize a serene and happy place. Repeat as needed!

Suzanne Sears, Advanced Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist

Healthy Choices Hypnosis

Embrace new challenges.
Step outside your comfort zone in 2014. Pushing yourself both mentally and physically can help you develop new perspectives. Repetitive routines can become stale, and a new challenge can be just the spark you need to get you moving forward. Houston has plenty of opportunities to push your mind and body, ranging from yoga and ballet-inspired fitness classes to competitive martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing. No matter your fitness level and interest, there is always a new and inventive workout to help push you to new heights.

Shanae Walters, Operations Manager, LMT
Paradigm Training Center

Start children’s dental care early. 
Despite great strides in decay prevention, one in four young children develops signs of tooth decay before they start school. Half of all children between the ages of 12 and 15 have cavities. “Dental care should begin as soon as a child’s first tooth appears, usually around six months,” Caryn Solie, RDH, president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, tells WebMD. “Teeth can be wiped with a clean, damp cloth or a very soft brush. At about age two, you can let kids try brushing for themselves—although it’s important to supervise.”

Dr William Gomez

Summit Dental Center in the Medical Center

Seal off dental trouble. 
Permanent molars come in around age six. Thin protective coatings called sealants applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth can prevent decay in the pits and fissures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sealants can significantly reduce caries, yet only one in three U.S. kids receives dental sealants. Talk to your dental professional.

Dr Essa Kawaja

Summit Dental Center on S. Braeswood

Brush twice a day and floss daily.  

Gum disease and tooth decay remain big problems — and not just for older people. Three-fourths of teenagers have gums that bleed, according to the ADHA.

  • Toothbrushes should be changed three to four times a year.
  • Teenagers with braces may need to use special toothbrushes and other oral hygiene tools to brush their teeth. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist.
  • The best way to brush is by placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gums and gently moving it in a circular motion, rather than a back-and-forth motion. Grip the toothbrush like a pencil so you won’t scrub too hard.
  • Brush your teeth when you first get out of bed and before you get back in at night.  They’re the two most crucial times. That’s because saliva (which keeps cavity-causing plaque off teeth) dries up at night, so it’s best to have all plaque cleaned off the teeth before sleep. It’s also important to brush first thing in the morning to brush off plaque and bacteria (morning breath!) that may have built up as you slept.

Dr Rickie Nguyen

Summit Dental Center on Woodforest

Block blows to teeth. 
Sports and recreational activities build healthy bodies, but they can pose a threat to teeth. Most school teams now require children to wear Sports Mouth Guards. But remember: unsupervised recreational activities like skate-boarding and roller-blading can also result in injuries. Your dentist can make a custom-fitted mouth guard. Another option: buy a Sports Mouth Guard at a sporting goods store that can be softened using hot water to form fit your mouth.

Dr. David Gomez

Summit Dental Center on North Gessner

Unplug. Go live.
We live in a world where tablets, texts, and instant photos are taking over our communication with others… characteristically transient, superficial conversations. That is why “live” art forms really matter. It is so important to expose ourselves and those in our family to interactions that encourage empathy and delve deeply into understanding the situations that life can throw our way.  Participating in theatre, whether as audience or actor or even integrated in the classroom, allows us to pause our frenetic lives and get a healthy dose of perspective on what it means to be a member of the human race.

Mary Sutton, Director of Education and Community Engagement

Alley Theatre

Reduce the passing of illness to your baby.

Preventing communicable disease in your baby is a key to their optimal health during the flu season! Viral illness such as the flu can live on hands and other surfaces for hours. Some easy measures to prevent transfer of these illnesses to your newborn or infant include:

  • Keep all newborns less than six weeks old at home.
  • Practice frequent and thorough hand washing.
  • Avoid adults with “allergies,” as they may have a virus, and, because their symptoms are mild or they don’t have fever, they may think their symptoms are allergy-related.
  • Have your older children change clothes and wash hands and face when they come home from school before they snuggle the baby.
  • When one of your older children is ill, divide the childcare between you and your spouse or you and another family member, so that you take care of your newborn and someone else takes care of your sick child.
  • Get a flu shot!

Dr. Anastasia Gentles, CEO, co-founder and medical director

NightLight Pediatric Urgent Care

Choose a theme word.
Be specific about how you want to grow with a personal theme word,  from concepts like “letting go” to a simple practice of “gratitude” or choosing “peace.”  Sometimes it’s fun to choose a theme song as well.  Make a list of specific ways to cultivate more of your given theme for the year, from reading a book to a daily activity.  Choosing a theme of “kindness” might mean deciding ahead of time to respond to loved ones AND yourself with kindness, no matter the situation. Perhaps this means doing one small act of kindness each week as well.

Amy Fuller PhD, LMFT, LPC, Clinical Director 

Fuller Life Family Therapy

Try some smile therapy.
We can all do more mouth yoga—that magical practice of smiling at someone or something.  Evidence shows that smiling really does make us happier.  And, because smiling is contagious, it has the power to make others happier, too.  Smiling can lower stress and improve your looks at the same time.

Tips for smiling more:  put a pencil in your mouth between your teeth three times a day, practice smiling in the mirror with the eyes, intentionally smile any time you say hello or goodbye, smile at people you don’t know just for fun, and look for humor everywhere.

Amy Fuller PhD, LMFT, LPC, Clinical Director 

Fuller Life Family Therapy

Create a calmer household.
Teach your children good habits by praising and rewarding behaviors you want to increase instead of punishing behaviors you want to stop.  Whatever behaviors you pay attention to are likely to increase, even if the attention is negative. If you pay more attention to what your children are doing right and provide mild, brief consequences for what your children do wrong, their behavior will improve, and so will your relationship with them!

You can also improve your child’s mental health by creating routines and setting clear expectations. Keep a regular schedule as much as possible. Let them know exactly what behaviors you expect from them and tie rewards to good behaviors. Discipline should also be consistent; any punished behavior should receive the same punishment every time. Letting kids know what to expect helps reduce their anxiety and improve their behavior.

Ehrin E. Weiss, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

Houston Family Psychology, PLLC

Dive into exercise.
If you like being in the water but don’t like the idea of swimming laps, water aerobics may be the perfect way for you to achieve optimum health! Remember step classes at the gym? Water aerobics is a fantastic way to feel the burn without damaging your joints. Unlike swimming, you are vertical in the water, and many pools offer classes in both shallow and deep water. You will use water weights in addition to the water resistance, so water aerobics is a great way to build muscle and get in a fun cardio workout with your friends!

Taylor Rhoades

Swim With Lisa

Mind your fruits and veggies!

Fruits and vegetables are crucial to staying healthy: they prevent heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure and even prevent some types of cancer! Because it can be difficult to fit the recommended servings in your daily diet, here are a few tips on sneaking fruits and veggies into every meal:

  • Breakfast: A smoothie made with fruits and veggies will keep you full and energized.
  • Lunch: Use cabbage or iceberg lettuce on your sandwich instead of bread.
  • Dinner: Try mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.
  • Dessert: Replace oils, sugars and fats with fruit and vegetable purees.

Lisa Pounds, founder and CEO 
Green Plate Foods

Shake your groove thing!
Get up and move!  It’s amazing what even just 10 minutes of dancing and being active to your favorite song or radio station can do for you.   It’s a great way to lift your mood when you are having a rough day.

Autumn Rosemond, Owner/Artistic Director

Houston Dance Works

Don’t floss all your teeth—just the ones you want to keep.
“Preventive dentistry can add 10 years to your life,” according to Dr. Charles Mayo. Consider these alarming statistics and areas of concern:

  1. Tooth decay is the number one disease in the world.  Prevent it by flossing.
  2. Gum disease affects many other facets of general health.  According to the American Dental Association about 80% of the population has some form of gum disease.  I wonder if that is the same percentage of patients that don’t floss?
  3. I found 10 patients within the last year that had clogged carotid arteries that were visible on my dental x-rays.
  4. Studies now link gum disease to heart disease, stroke, premature birth, diabetes and other general health conditions.  I have seen reports that suggest that perhaps 25% of all heart attacks and strokes are linked to gum disease.  Thus the term “FLOSS OR DIE.”

Dr. Spiker Davis

Spiker Dental


Share your time to help those less fortunate.  Bring joy into the lives of others, and you will see the world from a whole new perspective.

Pat Prior Sorrells, President & CEO
Camp For All

Schedule your fitness activities, then take it easy.
Put your fitness activity into your daily schedule!  For many people it must be part of the daily schedule or it will be be tossed aside. The health benefits of a  fitness routine are so overwhelmingly positive;  why doesn’t everybody do it? Put it in the schedule, for a month or more at a time (if need be).  Physical fitness means optimizing  brain power and a body functioning on all cylinders, and that is  best for  you and your family.

Be careful not to not overwork yourself, especially if you’re just beginning or establishing a fitness routine. Resist the (well-meaning) temptation to  make up for lost time by being  over-exuberant in resuming fitness activities.  Baby step your way to fitness.  Set incremental goals (daily and  weekly)  that are achievable, which  in turn will provide  the  enthusiasm and motivation  to continue.

Tony Wood, President

Texwood Shows

Make appointments for yourself: schedule time to get your nails done, go on a date with your husband, have lunch with  your mom, call your sister, read an article or  take your kids on a bike ride.  Planning and actually scheduling time to fit it in ensures you will do it.

Kay Rodgers, President
K2 Academy of Kids Sports

Do one thing every day to help your endothelial function.
The endothelium is the lining layer of cells within the entire circulatory system of the body (the arteries, veins, capillaries), and good endothelial function means a healthier cardiovascular system (and less heart disease and stroke). To improve your endothelial function: (1) exercise 30 minutes or more a day (2) consume one glass of red wine per day (3) listen to your favorite music each day (4) eat more fish (omega-3 fatty acids), walnuts, garlic, and dark chocolate (flavonoids) (5) take a multivitamin and vitamin C daily (6) watch a movie that makes you laugh or uplifts you.

John P. Higgins MD,
Associate Professor of Cardiology at The University of Texas
Health Science Center at Houston

Moms to Be: Exercise for your baby’s body and mind.
Moms to be should strive for 150 minutes of exercise per week. Studies have shown benefits from mom doing regular exercise (e.g. walking, jogging, swimming, light resistance training) to improve the baby’s body (more likely to be term baby and correct weight, easier labor) and develop the baby’s mind. (babies had better ability to discern and remember sounds at 10 days).

John P. Higgins MD,
Associate Professor of Cardiology at The University of Texas
Health Science Center at Houston

Eat at least 3 colors every meal.
Set a goal of having at least three different colors of food for each meal you eat, e.g. vanilla yoghurt (white), grapes (green), and an apple (red). Also, have at least two pieces of fruit and two vegetables each day. Remember, you are what you eat! So if your diet is dull, you are dull, and your cardiovascular system gets dull and doesn’t function as well.

John P. Higgins MD,
Associate Professor of Cardiology 
The University of Texas
Health Science Center at Houston

Track your physical activity every day.
Go out and buy a FITBIT, NIKE FUELBAND, JAWBONE UP, POLAR, BODYMEDIA FIT or other wrist monitor. Start tracking your activity during the day, have a goal of setting yourself a record, and try to better this record each day (e.g., 8000 steps today, 8200 steps tomorrow.) Chart your progress on your computer at home or work, and check several times a day. What gets monitored gets improved! Get some others at work on board, and soon, a friendly competition will get you moving even faster in the right direction.

John P. Higgins MD,
Associate Professor of Cardiology 
The University of Texas
Health Science Center at Houston

Get a furry, feathered, or scaly friend.
In trying to achieve optimal health, you don’t have to go it alone! When working towards becoming healthier, having a companion animal can help tremendously. Owning and taking care of a furry, feathered, or scaly friend has been shown to help decrease blood pressure and stress levels, as well as increase overall happiness in pet owners and their families. Having a pet in the family can also help teach children about responsibility and help them learn important emotions such as empathy, kindness, and compassion. They can use these lessons in the future as they grow into compassionate adults.

Michelle Arnold,
Humane Education and
Youth Programs Manager 
Houston SPCA

Win the homework wars!
The whole house relaxes when homework struggles are put to rest. Here are some tips for overcoming homework challenges in your home.

  1. Set Up a Study Area.  
  2. Make Materials Available  — everything within easy reach.
  3. Remove the Distractions  — turn off distractions.
  4. Offer Guidance  — but don’t do the work for them.
  5. Use an Agenda  — so you don’t forget the instructions.
  6. Stay Informed  — ask the teacher about upcoming work.
  7. Be a Role Model  — do a little work, too!
  8. Offer Praise  — everyone loves it!
  9. Watch Frustration Levels  — sometimes, you just have to take a break.
  10. Set a Time Frame  — for bigger projects, try to set up chunks of time over multiple days to make work manageable.

Kristal Kaidasz, Center Director

GradePower Learning

Remember that Breakfast Changes Lives.
You’ve heard it over and over again: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So why do so many of us skip it? It’s no secret mornings can be hectic. Between cries for, “Just five more minutes!”,battles for bathroom time, and last minute scrambles, there’s little time to have breakfast.

Eating healthy  can benefit the body AND the brain, and breakfast is an important way to get both ready for a full day of learning. Without it, students are lethargic, unfocused, and hungry. Food is fuel and making a healthy breakfast part of your family’s morning routine is very important.

Kristal Kaidasz, Center Director

GradePower Learning

Let go of your ego.
My number one best way to ensure overall mental health is to avoid the trap of doing whatever you do for personal gain. We want to help, but our ego sometimes traps us into believing that no matter what we do, we should gain something tangible. Money, status, fame, accolades; this feeling goes on to cause comparison, jealousy, jaded relationships, and bitterness. One’s ego can inspire them to compile a list of what they’ve done for others without seeing reciprocity. Your life becomes more isolated because you no longer trust others; you cling more to what you have, becoming miserly; and the joy you once saw in life becomes clouded with obsessions of what you get back. You die rich, but your ex (there is always an ex when this happens) and kids no longer respect you or remember anything but how tight you were.

Mary Jo Rapini

An alert mind is the key to creativity.  How do we clear the cobwebs and anxiety which increase as we age?  Yoga is a great practice to adopt.  This ancient practice focuses on the importance of breath as much as it does the yoga poses.  Each inhale and exhale can energize and calm, helping to form a deeper mind-body connection.  If you don’t have time for yoga, try to engage in deep breathing during the day or under stressful situations.  You’ll be amazed out how a full breath in and out can calm your mind and nerves.  It’s believed that Ujjayi breath, or victory breath, as this deep breathing is often called, generates internal heat and can help regulate healing in the body.  Namaste.

Debra Ford, Chief Creative Officer

Ford & Company

You’re sweet enough—cut out the sweet drinks.
If you’re going to make one change to help eliminate unnecessary calories and get your family back on track, start with this: No sweet drinks. As a registered dietitian, I used to believe in a “once in a while approach” when it comes to sugary beverages. No more. Liquid calories don’t register in the brain the same way solid foods do. That “super-sized drink” can be between 600-800 calories. Sweet drinks are more than just soda. Fruit punch, lemonade, sweet tea, flavored coffee drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks that are consumed outside of physical activity all count as a sweet drink. Although juice has some nutrition, limit the consumption to about 1/2 cup per day.

Roberta Anding, director of sports nutrition 

Texas Children’s Hospital

When in doubt, remember it’s EASY!
If you want to help your family lead a healthier lifestyle and you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry it’s E-A-S-Y! E – Exercise 60 minutes daily.   A – Always eat breakfast and a healthy snack. S – Sugar-free beverages. Y – Yes to vegetables: half of your plate should be vegetables.

Kristi King, clinical dietitian

Texas Children’s Hospital

Keep your athletic child safe.
Although concussions are the most common head injury among student athletes, many don’t know the signs to look for. Symptoms to watch for are pain, nausea, dizziness, a change of consciousness and slurred speech. If you suspect a concussion, try and keep the athlete very still and ask simple questions—“What’s today’s date?” or “What’s your name?”—to help determine the severity of the head injury and keep them awake. All athletes should wear the recommended protective head gear for their sport to help prevent concussions, especially when participating in full-contact sports. You should seek medical attention immediately if you suspect any type of head injury has occurred.

Dr. Jorge Gomez, sports medicine specialist

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus

Balance your stress.

There are good stresses and bad stresses.  The thing that makes a stress bad or good is  how you see  it.  Examples of good stress are: exercise; learning; any hobby that takes high concentration; and fun exhilarating things, such as a rollercoaster, skydiving, or thriller movies.  Chiropractic adjustments help to balance stress because they lower the sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight mode and enhance the balancing parasympathetic nervous system.  Massage helps this through human touch.  Yoga and Tai Chi, etc., help through proper breathing techniques.  Spend time doing things you like, or learn to like what you spend time on.

Randall Holmes DC 

Holmes Chiropractic 

Do some “home” work.
Study your relationships, and work to improve them.
Healthy relationships are a key factor in overall health.   Invest in making the relationship with your partner better this year with the same passion you pursue weight loss or parenting, and watch your health, life satisfaction and happiness increase.   Start by reviewing the best relationship moments in 2013 and scheduling relationship-improving activities in 2014.  

Research shows that strengthening your significant relationship improves life satisfaction, health, goal achievement and financial well-being.  Take action daily, intentionally connecting with each other.  Take turns planning weekly dates.  Invest in a research-based relationship book, seminar or weekend.

Do something about your relationship struggles!  A recent research study revealed that a large majority of individuals in unhappy marriages who hang in there and avoid divorce end up reporting their marriages are very happy a few years later. For the most part, those who divorced and even those who divorced and remarried were not happier than those who stuck with their marriages.  Staying stuck in an unhealthy relationship is not the answer.  Take action and do something in 2014 to create the relationship you desire.

Roy Wooten, Executive Director

Shield Bearer Counseling Centers

Try everyday changes to improve your dental health.

  • If plain floss gets stuck in your teeth, use the waxed variety. If you have a hard time handling dental floss, try a floss holder.
  • Planning a trip out of the country? Make an appointment for a dental checkup before you leave. A checkup is especially important if you will be traveling in developing countries or remote areas without access to dental care.
  • For a dry mouth, chew sugar free gum. It not only stimulates saliva flow but choosing gum with xylitol helps prevent cavities.
  • Next time you see your dentist, make sure you ask for an oral cancer examination. Oral cancer is on the rise and can be treated if caught early. A special device is used in detection that highlights suspect areas invisible to the naked eye.
  • Your next dental visit is the ideal time to have your blood pressure checked. Since you usually see the dentist twice a year, the dentist will be able to detect any blood pressure problems early on and refer you to the right specialist
- Do not put your child to bed with a bottle of anything but water. The sugar in milk and juices bathe the teeth in sugar and cause cavities.
  • Hard-bristled toothbrushes can create sensitivity and notches in your teeth. Look for a toothbrush that has soft to medium bristles and change it every three months.
  • The most effective mouthwash is alcohol-free. Alcohol dries the mouth out.
  • Make sure and replace a missing tooth as soon as possible, as it may cause other teeth in the mouth to shift, leading to gum problems and misalignment.

Dr. Terri Alani, dentist

Consider alternative remedies.

Before each meal drink a glass of water with two tablespoons of cider vinegar and a pinch of salt.   I have done this before breakfast and before dinner, and let me tell you, it works.   This is recommended for diabetes.   It helps your sugar to remain at a good number and not go crazy. Also, I have woken up preparing a cup of warm water and 1/2 of a lime (green lime).   I drink this only in the morning before my vinegar. I have felt so good, and I’m impressed by how good my numbers have been lately.   Besides, I have lost weight.

Another recipe I’ve tried:   in a blender place a stick of celery, a slice of pineapple and some (nopal) cactus.   You can purchase cactus in Hispanic stores or HEB.   This is super good for you because it cleans your system.   I add Splenda and a little bit of water and crushed ice.   Blend it and that’s it!   This has been my breakfast for about three weeks!   It works!   I am never hungry.   I have lost fat and tummy and my diabetes is almost disappearing.   It’s true!   I told my husband and my mom that I want to share this information with others. People like me have taken a lot of medicine and are disappointed by their results every time they go to the doctor, and now I have solved it by going with natural things. I feel great, I don’t need shots, I don’t need pills, and I am looking great.   I’m telling you, for a diabetic this works!

Elvia Taylor, CEO
Crossing Borders 

Get fit with your kids.
Keeping fit doesn’t have to be all about going to the gym. If you’re a busy parent with little time for regular classes or workouts at a gym, get active with your family. Take the kids with you on power walks or jogs, for example. My kids hop on their bikes or throw on their rollerblades. Their wheels make them faster than me, and they can bang out five or ten kilometeres without a problem. It’s a great way to spend an evening together!

If you truly see the most benefit from working out at a gym, find one with a Kids Club with free daycare. And bring all the kids with you! It’ll be easier on any shy kiddies to have their siblings with them, and you’ll never be far away—and, besides, a Kids Club means new toys and games for them to play with!

Julie Cole, Co-Founder

Mabel’s Labels Inc. and mom of 6

Get your will in order.
Lowering your stress levels is key to wellness. It brings with it lower risk of illness like cold, and even major illnesses like heart disease and high blood pressure. The reality is, you are constantly worrying about taking care of your family. Fortunately, there are many ways to gain some peace of mind by ensuring your family’s well-being, in good times and bad. Two important ways are preparing your will and naming guardians for your minor children. You’ll feel relief when you are finished, and with many online options, the process is quick, effective and often inexpensive!

Mark Bissada, Co-Founder/Owner

Take your spiritual vitamins. 
Parents want children to develop properly in body, mind and spirit.  The problem is, with so many demands placed upon a family, how do you find the time to keep the balance you know your children need?  Give them  a “spiritual vitamin”  every morning.  Physical vitamins are small pills which make a big difference.    In the same way, it doesn’t take long to claim a spiritual truth which can make a big difference for the day.

Each morning, lift up a passage from Scripture as people are eating breakfast.  Say a word or two about it, perhaps have the children repeat it, then say a prayer.  Then, in the evening over dinner or while driving carpool, lift up the same Scripture again and ask the kids what happened during the day which might relate to it.  You will be surprised that, after a while, they will start having things to say  about the Scripture!  In the process, they will not only learn passages you feel are helpful, but will more importantly begin to think about their  lives from a spiritual point of view.

Joe Flores, Director of Communications
First Methodist Houston

Drink water and laugh.

“If you don’t have your health, you have nothing” is a popular quote to keep in mind when making healthy decisions. Two ways to improve your health include water and laughter. A simple and cheap way to improve health is to order water while dinning out. The benefits of drinking water are well-known, so instead of ordering sodas, order water. Water is usually free and is a great way to cut calories, and hydrate your skin and kidneys.

Also, have you laughed today? Laughter helps release tension, lowers your blood pressure and improves your mood, leaving you ready to tackle any obstacles throughout the day. Think about how you feel after a belly-aching, thigh-slapping, doubled-over laugh and how your mood is lightened. Laughter truly can improve your health.

Sara L. Brown, PR Manager
Moody Gardens Hotel

Nurture your mind, body, and soul.

How long will you live? Nobody can tell exactly, but everyday choices can affect your life as well as your life span. Consider these ideas for keeping your mind, body and soul in tip-top shape:

Do daily brainteasers to help you think faster, focus better and remember more. There are several places to find fun puzzles for the mind: websites like, your local library, mobile apps and even at The Health Museum!

Exercising five to seven days a week, eating tomato sauce regularly, and having three or more close friends or being happily married can each add two years to your life. Some choices like no exercise, using a cell phone while driving and letting your weight yo-yo can each cut two years from your lifespan.

There is a secret about secrets! Secrets can be healthy and harmful. Keeping secrets helps build individuality and self-control; however, keeping too many secrets can make you stressed, which makes you more vulnerable to illness.

Whitney Schovajsa, Marketing & Communications Manager

The Health Museum

Prepare an emergency plan.

Good planning is essential to confidently tackling everyday tasks, but the importance of having a plan is never as apparent as it is during an emergency.  Take time to make and discuss an emergency plan with your family at the beginning of the year.  This plan should include contacts, meeting places, and an emergency supply/first aid kit.  Family members will at least benefit from the peace of mind that comes from knowing what to do in case of a fire, hurricane, or any other unpredictable emergency situation.

Jason Luze/Chief Meteorologist
Weather Center Houston

Lift mental weights.
Like your physical body, your brain needs a regimented workout to achieve optimum alertness. Target your  weak cognitive areas and work on them three to five times a week for at least an hour a day. A good workout will include memory, attention, logic/reasoning, auditory processing, visual processing and processing speed. You will feel your best with a faster, sharper brain.

Syndee Howgate, Sugar Land Executive Director

LearningRx Brain Training Center

Set playlists for every mood and need.

Instead of running to food or social media as a way of distraction, arm yourself with a variety of positive music playlists.  Need more energy?  Fast-paced music with full treble and bass melodies gets you going.  Feeling frustrated?  Select upbeat, cheerful tunes you can sing along with.  Repetitions are catchy, taking your mind off the negative.  Dragging your feet?  Music with varying rhythms and bass lines adds interest to your ears, alertness to your brain, and breaks the humdrum of the day.  Ready to relax?  Slow, sweeping harmonies calms the mind and body.  Let this music habit enrich your soul!

Natalie Voogt, School Director 
Campbell Learning Center, Maestro School of Music

Stay sharp by getting creative.
Are you bombarded by messages, technology and information overload? Proven research shows that the simple act of creating art has emotional and physical benefits that reduce stress levels and promote healing.  Practicing new ways to think outside the box by exploring new materials and techniques can even help you at work and in daily decision-making.

Julie Farr, Executive Director,
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Get your kids in the game—early.

From a young age, children start labeling themselves as athletic or not. Feeling successful on the field, court, or playground leads to a continued desire to play, which leads to more learning and greater success. Tragically, the opposite is also true—getting off to a bad start can cause a child to want to sit out, missing the opportunity to develop fully during key growth years. Considering the benefits of an active life and the detriments of inactivity, every child should “get in the game!”

Kyle Schomburg/Owner

Great Play of Cypress

Prepare today for what you plan to do tomorrow.

Whether its hydrating for a long day’s work outside in the heat, carbing up for the long run or going on a road trip… planning and PREParation gets both the body and mind ready. Simple planning can eliminate stresses, frustrations and injury, making for a better workout and recovery (especially important when working a 24-hour shift at the fire station.. )

Beda Kent

Assistant Fire Chief, Houston Fire Department

*Each suggestion made in this article is the opinion of the writer and should not be construed as the advice or opinion of Houston Family Magazine. As with any health-related concern, consult your doctor before proceeding with any of the suggestions made here.

Photo Courtesy of Holly Young 

Article first published in 2013

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