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Choosing A Weight Loss Plan That’s Right For You

(Family Features) Losing weight and getting into shape is a goal many Americans aspire to achieve. Choosing a weight loss plan that fits your lifestyle is a crucial first step in developing the diet that works for you.

The road to a sound weight loss plan should begin with the following steps:

Talk with your doctor. First and foremost, speak with your doctor. Your healthcare provider can help you set attainable weight loss goals as well as discuss any medical conditions you have or medications you may take that could affect your ability to modify your diet. Talking with your doctor can help you find a plan that's tailored to your particular needs.

Choose the right plan for you. One size does not fit all when it comes to diets. In fact, several studies featured in the International Journal of Obesity Supplements (IJOS) reported that adults with greater insulin resistance are more successful with weight loss on a low-carbohydrate diet compared with a low-fat diet. In such cases, a low-carbohydrate diet such as the Atkins Diet has been proven to have positive results on insulin resistance. Dieters start with a focus on carbohydrates from vegetables and slowly add back fruit, nuts and whole grains as one's carb balance is established and weight loss goals are met. Opt for a diet backed by science over the latest fad.

Commit to your Plan. Losing weight and keeping it off requires a long-term commitment. Once you have developed your weight loss plan it is important that you stick with it. You need to make healthy changes to both your diet and lifestyle.

Your diet should include foods you will enjoy eating for a long time, not just for a few weeks or months. Adopt a plan that gives you the ability to enjoy a variety of food options. For example, if you are a veggie lover, the Atkins Diet could be a good plan for you to follow. From day one, the low-carb diet allows you to consume more vegetables than are recommended by USDA Guidelines. In fact, you can even follow Atkins as a vegetarian or vegan. Finding a plan that works for your lifestyle and incorporates more of the foods you already love will help reinforce your new healthier eating habits.

Drink more water. The Beverage Institute reports that the average adult in the US gets a significant portion of their calories from beverages, mostly in the form of carbohydrates. Avoid drinking sugary sodas, juices and alcohol, and replace these with more water.

Rally support. The first few weeks of the diet can be the most difficult. To be successful, look to family and friends who have made similar lifestyle changes for support and advice. Doing a little homework and smart planning can help you choose a weight loss plan that will help you be successful both now and for the rest of your life. For more tips, ideas and free tools, visit Photo courtesy of Getty Images

How Thoughts And Beliefs Affect Your Health

By Greg Riley

The first situation to consider is the relationship between thoughts and conditions like depression and stress. A crucial question is whether the person's thoughts are creating the physical depression or the physical depression is creating the negative thinking. When it comes to how you can use your mind to help, this can be accomplished consciously and subconsciously. When someone has a habit of imagining things turning out very badly, rational thinking can show show them that they often exaggerate. However, the unconscious mind is much more powerful in shaping our habitual behavior, oftentimes beyond our conscious control. Visualization and hypnosis can be very effective in modifying beliefs and, if you do this, the long-lasting effects can be more powerful than using logic only.

It is likewise true that positive thinking can have an impact on our physical health, and you may be aware of the placebo effect on people who feel ill. This is when individuals are given a pill which in reality does not have any healing value, and yet they claim to notice an improvement in how they feel. This is evidence of the connection between mind and body, and there are many examples of men and women with a positive outlook being able to recover faster from malady and injury. You can also use the power of your mind to help you in achieving your fitness goals. A historic example of this is when the four minute barrier for running the mile was broken, which had been considered as unachievable up to that point. Once the "barrier" had been broken, other runners also began to break through what had really been a barrier of belief.

The effects of aging are likewise influenced by how we think about the process. As you get older, do you talk to your friends about your "aches and pains" and your weakened capabilities? It seems there's a great deal of truth to the saying, "You're only as old as you think you are," and our thoughts can be used to undo a lot of the so-called effects of aging. Unfortunately, numerous individuals will continue to hold on to old beliefs about the unavoidable "decline" of health in old age, and not pay attention to the benefits of a positive outlook.

Now that you are aware that your attitude can bring you a much better state of health, it's up to you to take advantage of this information and set your intention to think positive thoughts whenever you remember.

How To Care For Problem Skin

(Family Features) According to the National Institutes of Health, skin is the largest organ of your body. Skin can be a very delicate thing, and as the outermost layer, it needs to be cared for in order to look and feel its best. Unfortunately, for those who suffer from highly prevalent skin conditions, such as eczema, caring for and maintaining skin can be a daily challenge.

What is eczema?

Eczema is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition characterized by dry, itchy skin and visible skin rash. Over 35 million Americans, both children and adults, suffer from eczema. The prevalence of eczema has increased nearly 400 percent over the past 30 years and is projected to continue to increase due to environmental and other factors such as stress, according to the National Eczema Association.

In a healthy state, the external layer of your skin acts as a protective barrier. For eczema sufferers, the skin has a deficiency in the external layer that allows the moisture to escape and causes chronic dryness. When skin is dry and unprotected, irritants can reach the sensitive layers below and cause uncomfortable itch flare-ups.

Common triggers: There are a number of things that can trigger an eczema flare-up:

• Irritants such as synthetic fibers, detergents, perfumes, rough or poor fitting clothing, dust or sand.

• Environmental factors such as hot or cold temperatures, humidity, or dry air.

• Emotional factors such as anxiety or stress.

Tips for managing eczema

The National Eczema Association says that daily skin care is essential to help manage eczema.

• When bathing, wash in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes.

• Use a non-irritating and fragrance-free wash. Do not scrub skin harshly.

• Moisturize within 3 minutes after every shower. It helps lock in your skin's natural moisture to help prevent eczema-related dryness.

• In addition to your daily skincare routine, try applying a cold compress to soothe your skin.

When choosing skincare products, look for gentle, fragrance-free washes and moisturizers, such as Neosporin Essentials products, a line of skincare products which includes a daily body wash, daily moisturizing cream and anti-itch cream specifically designed for people with eczema. Each product has a unique Relipid formula, which contains a lipid, humectant, emollient and botanical blend to help retain the moisture essential for healthy-looking skin. Plus, the daily moisturizing cream contains colloidal oatmeal and was clinically shown to restore visibly healthier skin in three days. Use all products as directed.

Eczema can be stressful and make daily living challenging and uncomfortable. With diligent skin care and good habits, you can help maintain healthy skin and effectively manage symptoms when they do flare up.

To get more information on living with eczema, daily management tips and money-saving coupons, go to Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Get A Glowing Tan By Drinking Your Vegetables

Juicing is hot like the vibrant fashion colors for summer -- lemon, raspberry, orange, lime and tomato. Making delicious fruit and veggie juices is great for your energy, immune system, and workout. But did you know the juices can also improve the color of your skin?

Many people wonder if they should use a self-tanning cream or slather on copious amounts of sunscreen so they can get a little color in the summer. There’s another option you may never have heard about that can give your skin a healthy golden tan the safest way possible.

New research suggests that eating vegetables gives your skin a healthy golden tan color. A study led by Dr. Ian Stephen at the University of Nottingham revealed that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables gives you more of a healthy golden glow than the sun, according to the journal Evolution & Human Behavior.

Instead of heading for the sun, which can irreversibly damage your skin, you can get your tan on by munching on or juicing up vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes.

These can do double duty, depending on the ingredients you choose. In my newest book, “The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies,” I share recipes for veggie combinations that soothe headaches, cleanse the liver, boost endorphins and help heal stomach ulcers, among other ailments. To think you can get all that and a beautiful tanned appearance!

“Our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective” than getting a suntan, Dr. Stephen says.

Most people just don’t eat enough brightly colored vegetables and fruit to make a difference in their skin tone or their overall health. But people can juice a wide variety of produce in a short time.

It’s easy to drink two servings in one 12-ounce glass. Have two glasses of freshly made veggie and fruit juice a day, and you’ve sipped four servings. That will make a difference in how you look.

Dr. Stephen and his team found that people who eat more portions of fruits and vegetables per day have an attractive golden skin color thanks to substances called carotenoids.

These antioxidants help soak up toxins and damaging compounds produced by the stresses of everyday living, poor food choices, and environmental toxins, and are especially prevalent when the body is combating disease.

“We found that, given the choice between skin color caused by suntan and skin color caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin color,” Dr. Stephen said.

The study is especially important for single people, because individuals in search of a mate favor those who appear healthy, he says.

“This is something we share with many other species,” adds Professor David Perrett, director of Perception Lab, where the study was conducted. “For example, the bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is. What’s more, females of these species prefer to mate with brighter, more colorful males.”

So, rather than going to a tanning salon before suiting up for summer, why not head to the farmer’s market and load up on beautiful veggies and fruit? Not only will your skin improve — your body will thank you as well.

Cherie Calbom, MS, CN is the author of 21 books, including her newest, “The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies,” and best-sellers “Juicing for Life,” with 2 million copies sold. Known as “The Juice Lady” for her work with juicing and health, her juice therapy and cleansing programs have been popular for more than a decade. She holds a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Bastyr University. She has practiced as a clinical nutritionist at St. Luke Medical Center, Bellevue, Wash., and as a celebrity nutritionist for George Foreman and Richard Simmons. For more information, go to

Five Wholesome Snacks For Families On-The-Go

(Family Features) A busy family schedule means there's less time to gather around the dinner table each night, let alone ensure everyone in the family is getting the nutrients they need to live healthy. And what convenience foods offer in terms of portability, they often lack in vitamins and nutrients.

But with a little preparation, you can ensure that convenient, wholesome, on-the-go snacks are at the ready when it's time to head to play practice or ballet lessons. Here are a few snack ideas to keep your family happy and healthy:

1. Smoothies - While smoothies may not be the first thing that pops in your mind in terms of portability and convenience, with the right to-go cup, straw and lid, smoothies can be a great way to get some key nutrients en route. Pre-packaged smoothies, however, often contain a great deal of sugar. Ensure your family reaps the benefits of a fruit smoothie by whipping up a batch using all-natural ingredients and freezing them for later. Be sure to store blended smoothies in freezer-safe or airtight containers in the freezer, and allow for one to two hours of defrost time before grabbing them and heading for the door.

2. Whole Food Bars - Just because you're short on time, doesn't mean you can't work wholesome foods in convenient, pocket or purse-sized portions into your diet. But make sure to check the labels when you grab a quick snack. While many snack bars contain few nutrients and may be high in sugar, the Good 'N Natural(r) Sun Valley's Fruit, Nut & Seed Bar contains only 9 to 12g of sugar and comes in four delicious flavors - Cranberry Almond, Lemon, Chocolate and Peanut Butter. Made using wholesome ingredients such as rolled oats, organic soynuts and almond butter, these tasty bars are dairy and gluten-free, as well as vegan. Plus, with 5g of fiber and 10g of protein, these bars are great go-to options you can feel good about giving your family. Learn more about these wholesome snacks at

3. Apple Chips - If you're a fan of apples, consider making apple chips. Simply cut apples into about 1/8-inch thick slices, add a pinch of cinnamon, and place them in the oven at 200∞F for roughly two hours. You'll end up with tasty, wholesome apple chips you can store in sealed sandwich bags for up to three days. Toss them in a backpack, your purse, or leave them in the car for snacking on-the-go.

4. Edamame - While soybeans might not be something you regularly prepare, they're actually simple to cook, can be modified using different seasonings and easily eaten on-the-go. The night before a busy day, simply add 1 teaspoon of salt to a large pot of water, bring to a boil and add the edamame. Cook between 4 to 5 minutes for frozen edamame, 5 to 6 minutes for fresh. Drain, then add your favorite seasoning and store in a zip-top bag or storage container in the refrigerator until you head out the door.

5. Homemade Trail Mix - For a shelf-stable snack that's perfect for storing in the car, at the office, or in your purse, consider mixing up your favorite dry food snack items such as popcorn, almonds, peanuts, dried cranberries, raisins, banana chips and more.

Keep snacks readily available in your kitchen, such as in a basket on the counter or portioned out in a shelf within the refrigerator to ensure your family will choose wholesome foods over convenient, less-healthy snacks. With a little planning and preparation, you can save time on busy days, while ensuring everyone gets the nutrients they need. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

How To Control High Blood Pressure

(Family Features) High blood pressure is sometimes called the 'silent killer' because it has no symptoms, except in extreme cases. It's critical that the millions of people who have high blood pressure learn how to control it, before it's too late.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 76 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. The high force of blood flow can damage arteries, the heart, kidneys, eyes and the brain. If uncontrolled, high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get your high blood pressure under control. These include eating healthfully, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.

Eat healthfully. When it comes to eating healthfully to help keep blood pressure down, it's not just about what to avoid - such as lowering your intake of saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars - but about what to add to your diet so that it is rich in nutrients and fiber. In fact, many experts believe that antioxidants show great promise for reducing high blood pressure and supporting heart health.

To help keep blood pressure down, make sure your diet includes plenty of:

• Fruits and vegetables

• Whole grains

• High-fiber foods

• Lean meats

• Fat-free or low-fat dairy foods

• Fish containing omega-3, such as salmon, trout and herring

• Heart-healthy antioxidants

One example of a heart-healthy antioxidant is pterostilbene, which is found naturally in blueberries. [0]Studies have shown that pterostilbene may provide health benefits, including support of heart health, anti-aging capabilities, glucose and oxidative stress-level management, cognitive functions, weight loss and other metabolic disorders. In fact, results from a recent study from the University of Mississippi showed that pterostilbene had statistically significant results for blood pressure in adults.

Pterostilbene is closely related to resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes, but has properties that provide added benefits over resveratrol:

• It can easily enter into the blood stream.

• It has better absorption from the blood stream for use by cells.

• It is effective at activating proteins which help lower cholesterol levels and contribute to anti-aging.

Because this valuable antioxidant is only available in small amounts in each blueberry, those interested in adding pterostilbene to their diet can take a daily supplement including pTeroPure, a nature-identical form of pterostilbene. Learn more about pterostilbene and locate supplements containing pTeroPure at

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight raises your blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as lowering the amount of good cholesterol, according to the AHA. So losing even a little weight can reduce blood pressure in many overweight people. The best ways to do that are to modify your diet and get moving.

The Surgeon General recommends that adults engage in moderate physical activities for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. These activities:

• Can be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and can be spread throughout the week.

• Include flexibility and stretching exercises.

• Include muscle strengthening activity at least two days each week.

Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about how you can increase your physical activity safely and modify your diet to help you get to a healthy weight.

Don't smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels and speeds up the hardening of the arteries, making it a major risk for heart disease and stroke. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor about programs to help you quit.

If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, don't wait to get it under control. Take action now so you can have a healthier future. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Keeping Kids And Teens Tobacco-Free

(Family Features) The teen years bring plenty of changes for students, as well as new worries for parents. Smoking is at the top of that list for many parents. Every day in the U.S., approximately 3,600 children between the ages of 12 and 17 start smoking cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That number has plenty of parents looking for ways to help keep their children from starting, too.

There are a number of influences that get young people to start smoking, including:

• Having friends, peers or parents who use tobacco. • Linking smoking with a positive social image and bonding with a peer group. • Seeing tobacco use as a transition to adulthood. • Underestimating the health consequences of tobacco use. • Not understanding that the nicotine in tobacco is addictive. • Low self-esteem. • Lacking skills to resist influences.

What keeps kids and teens from smoking? One of the biggest influencers is having strong parental support. Having conversations about the issue really does have an impact on teens' decisions about tobacco use. Here are some tips for talking to your teen:

Keep the lines of communication open. The more you talk about a wide range of issues with your child, the easier it is to talk about specific topics such as tobacco. In general conversation, emphasize all the things your child does well rather than things they don't do well. And demonstrate respect for your child's opinions. Show you're listening and ask follow-up questions. Talk, don't lecture. Discussions will be received far better than a monologue from you. Here are some conversation starters:

• If you see smoking portrayed in the media, say "I wonder why the director had that guy light up a cigarette in the last scene. What do you think?"

• If you and your child see a young person smoking, use it as an opening by saying something like, "How much tobacco use are you seeing in your school? I wonder if it's the same as when I was your age."

Talk about health consequences. They need to know what can happen to them.

• Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the most dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke, besides nicotine, are tar and carbon monoxide. NIDA also states that tar causes lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial diseases, and that carbon monoxide causes heart problems.

• According to NIDA, health risks can be immediate, affecting breathing, for example. And addiction can occur after smoking as few as 100 cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another influencer for adolescents is having a school program that teaches them to identify the social influences of tobacco use, and that teaches them refusal skills. That's why many middle schools use the free supplemental teaching materials known as Right Decisions Right Now (RDRN), a program sponsored by R. J. Reynolds. RDRN helps educate students about the risk of using tobacco products, helps them build good decision-making skills, and gives them ways to handle peer pressure. The program is available in an easy-to-use, digital format, which lets educators, community youth groups, and anyone concerned about reducing youth tobacco use utilize the free materials.

Learn more about the program, and find more parent resources, at




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