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Information about fitness, health, nutrition and weight loss

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March Recipes - Click Here

This month we have a double delicious issue because we have both St. Patrick's Day and Easter in the same month, and we've offered you a couple of yummy meals for these holidays!!  We went straight to Ireland for our St. Patrick's Day meal, and we even went to green for dessert for the kiddies!!!  For Easter, we present a rack of lamb dinner with all the trimmings, with another great dessert for the kids to enjoy that will remind them of the Easter bunny, too!!!  So, get out your "green", and start thinking up some new hiding places for those Easter baskets, and have a great March!!!!

We'd love to feature one of your favorite recipes in any one of our monthly issues, just send them on to us at Hope to hear from all of you in the following months, and have a Happy New Year!!!

Healthy Easter Basket Goodies

Easter baskets filled with marshmallow peeps, jelly beans and chocolate Easter bunnies are sure to have the kids bouncing off the walls for days to come. It seems that just about every holiday encourages candy consumption. By the time the Halloween candy is gone, Christmas arrives, then Valentine’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day brings green cupcakes and other goodies and now, Easter is just around the corner! What’s a responsible parent to do? Be creative with an eye towards both fun and health and fill the basket with alternatives to the standard drug store Easter offerings. The kids won’t even miss the junk. Easter baskets don’t have to be full of chocolate and peeps. Here are some great ideas that will fill your Easter basket without all the extra fat and sugar.

I have found they love getting

Of course every child should have some special treats in the Easter basket as well. Along with the obligatory chocolate bunny, include some healthier treats.

Stuff plastic Easter eggs with stickers and other small items.

For older children:

For more information check out or

Written and submitted by: Maria Albus

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Of course, St. Patrick's Day wouldn't exist if not for the man himself! But how much do we know about him? Did you know that he spent six years of slavery in Ireland until he escaped and undertook religious training abroad? Important historical figures are frequently shadowed by the myths and legends attributed to them over the course of centuries, and St. Patrick is no exception. He is believed to have been born in the late fourth century. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, St. Patrick was the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Most of what is known about him comes from his two works, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians. Saint Patrick described himself as a "most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped idols and unclean things had become the people of God."

Saint Patrick is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland. It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, but there probably never have been -- the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice.

There are several accounts of St. Patrick's death. One says that St. Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on March 17, 460 A.D. His jawbone was preserved in a silver shrine and was often requested in times of childbirth, epileptic fits, and as a preservative against the "evil eye." Another account says that St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury, England and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey. Today, many Catholic places of worship all around the world are named after St. Patrick, including cathedrals in New York City, USA, Dublin, Ireland, and Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia.

Origins of St. Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick's Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. Most importantly, to those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick's Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. The Irish are descendants of the ancient Celts, but the Vikings, Normans and English contributed to the ethnic nature of the people. Centuries of English rule largely eliminated the use of the ancient Gaelic, or Irish, language. Most Irish are either Catholics or Protestants (Anglicans, members of the Church of England). So, why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that that is the day that St. Patrick died. Since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations. The biggest observance of all is, of course, in Ireland. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17th. Being a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass, where March 17th is the traditional day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins.

In American cities with a large Irish population, St. Patrick's Day is a very big deal. Big cities and small towns alike celebrate with parades, "wearing of the green," music and songs, Irish food and drink, and activities for kids such as crafts, coloring and games. Some communities even go so far as to dye rivers or streams green!

The Shamrock

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, a shamrock is "any of several similar-appearing trifoliate plants (plants whose leaves are divided into three leaflets). Common shamrocks include the wood sorrel or any of various plants of the pea family including white clover. According to Irish legend, St. Patrick chose the shamrock as a symbol of the church's Holy Trinity because of its three leaflets bound by a common stalk. Wood sorrel is shipped in large quantities from Ireland to other countries for St. Patrick's Day.

The Legend of the Blarney Stone

There is a stone there,
That whoever kisses,
Oh, he never misses
To grow eloquent.
'Tis he may clamber
To a lady's chamber,
Or become a member
Of Parliament.

Just northwest of the Irish village of Cork is the village of Blarney. The name Blarney is derived from the Irish An blarna, "the plain." Blarney is home to the 90-foot-tall (27.4-meter) Blarney Castle. The castle visited today is the third one built at the site and was erected in 1446. Built on a rock, above several caves, the tower originally had three stories. On the top story, just below the battlements on the parapet, is the world famous Blarney Stone. While its origins are unknown, the Blarney Stone is said to give the gift of eloquence (beautiful speaking ability) to all who kiss it. Today, "Blarney" means "the ability to influence and coax with fair words and soft speech without offending." Kissing the stone is quite a physical feat. You have to sit with your back to the stone, and a local guide or friend sits on your legs or firmly holds your feet. Then you lean back and down into the darkness between the castle's 18-foot-thick (5.5-meter) walls and, grasping the iron rails, lower yourself until your head is even with the stone. One local legend claims that an old woman, saved from drowning by a king of Munster, rewarded him with a spell that if he would kiss a stone on the castle's top, he would gain a speech that would win all to him. It is not known, however, when and how the word Blarney entered the English language and the dictionary.

Famous Irish Americans

Along with other immigrants, the Irish have been coming to America for centuries. Rich and poor, Protestant and Roman Catholic, fortune seekers and refugees, they have all sought a new beginning here and many of them have gone on to strengthen the structure of our country, including:

Now that you know all about Saint Patrick, the day named in his honor, and the legends associated with the celebration, go out and enjoy St. Patrick's Day -- and don't forget to wear your green!

For more information on St. Patrick's Day and related topics, check out

Written and submitted by: Maria Albus

Exercising for Weight Management

On any given Monday at least one out of every four Americans spend more than 30 billion dollars per year on various weight loss methods, most of which fail. Excess body weight is associated with numerous health related problems including increased risk for coronary artery disease, diabetes and hyperlipidemia. Unfortunately, 95% of people who lose weight are unsuccessful at keeping the weight off permanently. In addition, an obsession with weight and weight loss can lead to serious practices of self imposed starvation, yo-yo eating and poor nutrition. While maintaining a healthy body weight and eating nutritionally is important, it is not an easy task for most people.

The diagnosis and treatment of obesity is difficult and frustrating. A detailed medical and dietary history is necessary before a physician can begin to determine the causes of obesity in patients. Obesity can be caused by complex psychosocial issues, caloric consumption and/or physical activity habits. These are all related to the increased prevalence of excess weight.

Exercise in combination with a sensible eating plan produces the best long-term weight loss results. Exercise is important because it helps maintain resting metabolic rate. Both strength training and aerobic exercise has been proven to make the greatest contribution to a weight-management program, when the caloric intake does not go below 1,200 kilocalories per day. Regular exercise may help control appetite and improve psychological outlook when trying to lose weight.

Exercise considerations for obese people should include the following listed items.

As with any exercise program, keeping goal achievements reasonable allows for more success. Significant health benefits can be realized by a body weight reduction of only ten percent. The key to a healthy weight management is consistency in both activity level and healthy eating.

Written by: Marianne Westervelt

Weight Loss Surgery can be scary words or they can be words of hope. Most SSBBWs have thought of or had someone mention weight loss surgery. It's obviously not for everyone. There are SSBBWs who have accepted that they are large and always will be. There are some who like being large and don't want to change. And there are others who live day to day with pain, both physical and emotional, of carrying the extra weight that have various reasons for wanting to do something about it.

Everyone has a view on weight loss surgery be it good or bad or even neutral. Which is perfectly fine as we are all entitled to our opinions. One reader has made the decision to have weight loss surgery and will take us on her journey. What are your thoughts on weight loss surgery? Have you had weight loss surgery? Our forums are available for you to discuss and give your views on this topic.

Click here to read about our readers journey with weight loss surgery.

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