How to Prevent a Fall

One of the reasons I study and practice yoga is to maintain my balance during my life after 50. We do poses to improve our balance on two feet with poses such as “Warrior“ and on one foot with poses such as “Tree.” Being better balanced can help prevent falls as we age.
As the snow piled up on my doorstep recently, I was reminded of how easy it is to slip on icy and wet surfaces during the cold-weather months. Several family members and friends fell on black ice last winter. One friend fractured her elbow.
According to the National Safety Floor Institute (NSFI), falls are the leading cause of hospital emergency room visits. An AARP Bulletin in December 2015 says, “Injuries caused by falls are affecting adults ages 45 to 64, just as they are for those 65 and older, according to data collected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s national injury-surveillance system.” Not good news.
So now that you know falling is a serious health issue, what can you do to prevent a fall?
“Shoes Designed With Your Sole In Mind”
Besides practicing yoga for balance, I was interested to learn about a line of shoes that was engineered to be slip-resistant. “We are a footwear company that makes casual flats and sandals for women. However, we use a fully patented outsole that provides the strongest grip on all slippery surfaces. We focus on primarily shoes designed to prevent slips and falls,” said Rhea Footwear’s cofounder John Lee in his email. He offered to send a pair for me to try.
Rhea Footwear makes slip-resistant shoes and flip-flops.
The Rhea website says John and his cofounder, Paul Ahn, brought together the technology that provides superior grip on all terrains and a stylish design while at Cornell University (my alma mater). During their time in Ithaca, New York—a place where it rains and snows more often than it shines—they were unable to find shoes that were practical in the rain and snow while being stylish. Rhea was founded with the mission to deliver high-quality shoes that integrate style with technology. (Wish I had these shoes when I had to climb Libe Slope to make it to class during winters in the ’70s. Half the time I felt like when I put one foot forward the other foot went backward.)
I took my Rhea blue suede loafers out for a walk after the snowstorm yesterday. They did grab the wet ground nicely—and I didn’t fall. I didn’t try any ice skating with them—not a sport I wanted to test out with loafers, even if they do have a high COF, better known as coefficient of friction.
John says that “as a general number in the slip-resistant shoe industry, a coefficient rating of 0.5 or above (from a scale of 0.0 to 1.0) is considered to be slip-resistant.” It’s like checking the tires on your car for tread.
I tested out my Rhea blue suede loafers on the ice yesterday.
Finding Stylish Shoes for My Flat Feet
I do like my blue suede loafers, but I need a more supportive shoe for my flat arches. So I am sending a challenge to the smart Cornell grads of Rhea Footwear to ask them to develop a stylish woman’s shoe that has more support with a thicker sole than a loafer. The shoe must also be able to fit my orthotic insert.
I just bought a new pair of SAS shoes that my podiatrist recommended with laces and  rubber soles. They aren’t the most flattering fashion statement, but they are really supportive, fit my orthotic and, most important, I can wear them all day with comfort and ease.
After visiting the Rhea website and looking at the men’s collection, I think the company could easily design a nice stylish lace-up shoe that would work for me. (Let me know if you are game to try it, guys!) I bet there would be a big market among boomer women.
More Tips for Preventing Falls
The NFSI has more tips for preventing falls including:
Always tie loose shoelaces.
Check the outsole of your shoes for excessive wear. Shoes provide less grip as the outsoles wear out.
Inspect and clean your shoes regularly to remove any debris that gets stuck in the outsole. Debris can reduce the resistance of the shoes.
Be extra careful when walking indoors from outside, especially when it is wet outside. Use mats to wipe and dry your shoe’s outsole at the entrance to your home. (Be careful that the mats have good grippers so they don’t slip around, which can cause falls, too.)
Is It Summer Yet?
The best part about summer is walking barefoot in the sand. That’s when my feet are the happiest. You can find nice flip-flops that have strong nonslip soles at the Rhea website. Check them out and order a pair ahead of time at the sale price.
From my soul to your sole, I leave you my friends with a shoe quote from designer Christian Dior. As Christian says, “You can never take too much care over the choice of your shoes. Too many women think that they are unimportant, but the real proof of an elegant woman is what is on her feet.”
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A River Cruise on the Douro: Visiting Favaios and Lamego

It was the last two days of our river cruise on the Douro in Portugal.
“Tomorrow we will see the most scenic road you can find in the Douro,” said our program director, Jorge. “Come along and you will be wowed.” While I couldn’t wait to go on a tour of the wine country, my boyfriend L was happy to stay on board and watch the vineyards from the deck as the Viking Hemming sailed to Pinhão.
We were wowed by the views of the Douro wine country.
Favaios—Home of Muscatel Wine and Four Corners Bread
The small town of Favaios was my favorite spot of the entire week. The village is home to muscatel wine and four corners bread, so named because of the shape of the four-cornered buns.
We visited a few of the cooperative wineries. Together, they make 30 million bottles of wine per year. Most of the bottles are individual size because in Portugal they often combine a small bottle of muscatel with beer. Muscatel grapes are very sweet and our guide Maria told us, “Muscatel is very good to cure a cold, perhaps because of the honey aroma.”
Our guide Maria shared how they make muscatel wines.
Once we had consumed our morning wine, it was time to taste some bread. Maria’s brother, Mithun (pronounced me-too) led the tour to the bakery. “It’s a family business,” said Mithun. “There are two ovens used to produce 1,000 loaves a day. It is the best bread in Favaios.”
We sampled the warm bread straight out of the brick oven. OMG! It was so good. Villagers sometimes bring their meats to the bakery and ask the bakers to bake the meat into the bread.
Four corners bread is fresh from the ovens in Favaios. Grapes hang from the outside of the bakery.
There is even a bread and wine museum in Favaios. Between the wine, the bread and the beautiful scenery, I decided that if I ever leave the country to write my memoir during my life after 50, this is where I am going to do it.
Lunch at Quinta da Avessada
There was more to come, with lunch at the magnificent wine estate of Quinta da Avessada. “We hand down muscatel through the generations,” said owner Luis Barris, as he walked around the 100-year-old warehouse. “The wines from my father are 50 years old. There are also wines from my grandfather that are 70 years old and from my great-grandfather that are 100 years old.” The wine was flowing at lunch, including grappa, a brandy made out of grape skins. As you can see from the pictures, grappa did not please my palate.
(Note: I told my daughter A that I really like Quinta for a destination wedding, if and when she gets married. The view alone is worth the trip. She smiled and humored me. I told her I might indeed be living in the small village since I might be writing my memoir there—so it really would not be expensive for me to attend.)
Lunch at Quinta da Avessada. Grappa was not a palate pleaser.
Our Last Trip to Lamego
On Saturday, we had our final trip to Lamego, “an ancient city of myths and miracles hidden in the mountains.” One of the highlights is the Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies, where devout worshippers go to pray high up on the hill. The shrine is reached via a 686-step double staircase. “The staircase represents all the challenges we face in life,” said our guide, Elia. “People ask for healing by walking up on their knees and going inside the church.”
I chose to walk down the hundreds of steps instead—that was enough penitence for me.
Our last trip to Lamego’s Our Lady of Remedies shrine.
A Local Market Tour
During our time in Lamego, I joined Chef Carlos for a local market tour. We went from stall to stall as he talked about the different ingredients—from selecting fresh sardines (if you hold the sardine in one hand and it doesn’t break then it is very fresh) to how to eat a yellow bean (squeeze and take off the skin). He also explained how sacred Portuguese bread is to the meal. “Portuguese buy bread at breakfast, lunch and dinner. They never eat the bread for breakfast at another meal. They use the old bread for a recipe ingredient. They never throw food away.”
The local food market tour with Chef Carlos was fantastic.
Chef Carlos told us that he works with local markets to select and prepare a majority of his menus. In fact, when we arrived back at the ship for lunch, we were treated to a special salmon that had been purchased at the market and then cured in salt.
Our last meals aboard the Viking: cured salmon, Portuguese cornbread, octopus carpaccio, and pastéis custard tarts.
Farewell to Portugal
Before long it would be time to say adieus to Portugal. Sadly, we had to pack our bags after dinner. “Throughout this week we found new friends, new food, new places, new cultures,” said Jorge. “The crew had fun. You had fun. There is always a smile that makes you long for the next moment. Take your memories with you. You are now ambassadors for Portugal.”
It was hard to say adeus to Chef Carlos, our tour guide, Elia, and Captain Alfonso.
I hope I have stayed true to Jorge and been a good ambassador. I definitely plan to return to Portugal one day and hope that my blog posts and pictures these past few weeks have given you a pleasurable peek at this beautiful country and the Douro river.
If I have whetted your appetite and made you want to travel and explore more during your life after 50, 60, 70 or beyond, then I have done my job. Life on the river is peaceful. You should try it.
My boyfriend L and I are still together after our first-ever international trip.
Now for the best part: my boyfriend L and I made it through 10 days together on our first-ever international trip and we’re still together. “What did you think?” I asked L upon our return.
“I liked it,” he said.
“Where are we going next?” I asked.
“There are many more rivers around the world—the Rhine, the Rhone, the Danube, the Yangtze. I’m ready when you are.”
For more posts about my trip to Portugal, visit my Travel and Leisure page.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a sponsored post. Viking River Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip river cruise on the Douro. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
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Is There Sugar Hiding in Your Food?

As if we didn’t already know it, a lot of us are eating too much sugar. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Americans eat, on the average, about 20 teaspoons a day, with teens and men consuming the most. That adds up to an average daily calorie count of 335 for men, 230 for women, 362 for boys and 282 for girls.
With the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we are advised to cut added sugars to no more than 10 percent of our daily calories—roughly 12 teaspoons a day.
Added sugars—which are sugars added to foods or beverages during their processing or preparation—are shown in some studies to be associated with diets that are low in fiber, calcium, vitamin A, iron and zinc, all essential to a healthy diet. Unfortunately, food labels do not distinguish between “added sugars” and “naturally occurring sugars,” which are sugars found in milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose).
And to make things worse, added sugars are disguised with words like agave syrup, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, and words ending in “ose” like dextrose, glucose, maltose and sucrose. Add more words like fruit juice concentrate, honey invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses and raw sugar and your head can swim with confusion.
Foods don’t necessarily have to be sweet to be filled with added sugars, which can make it even tougher to even detect—or presume—that they have any sugar at all.  The key is to check the labels carefully.
Here are a few you might not suspect:
Salad dressings. Watch out for “reduced-fat” dressings, which often replace healthy vegetable oils with sugar. These can contain up to 3 grams of sugar in each tablespoon, which is about the same concentration, by weight, as is in a regular soft drink, according to a Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. You’re better off making your own dressing and adding flavor with spices and vinegar rather than sugar.
Tomato sauces. Beware of the “ready-to-serve” types, which are the most likely to be sugar-heavy. Some can contain between 10 to 15 grams in a cup. It’s easy to cook your own sauce. You can even use canned tomato sauce (find one that is low in sugar) or paste as a base and add healthy ingredients like onions, garlic and peppers. But you’re best off using fresh tomatoes, when possible. If the sauce tastes too acidic when it’s done, just a pinch of sugar can help.
Ketchup and barbecue sauces. A tablespoon of ketchup can contain almost 4 teaspoons of sugar, and barbecue sauces, even more. And because it’s unlikely you use only 1 tablespoon of barbecue sauce, it may pay to make your own.
Cereals. While it’s obvious that children’s sugar-coated cereals are, well, filled with sugars, there are others that are not so obvious (and sound healthy) like oat brans, oat and wheat squares and granolas, which can typically contain from 10 to 15 grams of sugar in one serving.
Frozen entrees. They may be convenient and fast, but maybe you should reconsider: frozen entrees (like chicken pot pie), can contain 4 grams of sugar per serving. And worse, lasagna typically weighs in at 6 grams, with honey-roasted turkey breast at 9 grams of sugar.
Granola bars and trail mix bars. Sound healthy, right? Ideally, they should be, but they can contain up to 20 grams of sugar in each bar, especially those coated in things like chocolate.
Baked beans. Beans are healthy—by themselves. But make them baked beans, and you’re getting a helping of up to 20 grams of sugar in each cup, based on the sweeter canned varieties.
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Yoga, Anyone? Or Maybe, Everyone?

Does it seem like everyone you know is doing yoga? Well, not everyone, but the numbers are rapidly rising—and with good reason.
Yoga is a form of exercise that nearly anyone can do, with very little equipment, and it improves strength, balance, flexibility and overall physical and mental well-being.
A newly released study shows that the number of U.S. yoga practitioners has increased to more than 36 million, up from 20.4 million in 2012. That’s one in every nine people. Wow! Most (almost three-fourths) of yoga practitioners are women, but men and older people are trying yoga in increasing numbers.
The 2016 Yoga in America Study, conducted by Ispos Public Affairs on behalf of Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, shows that more than one-third of Americans (80 million people) say they are likely to try yoga for the first time in the next 12 months. That means I’d better get to class early and stake out my space.
Getting Started
I started a mixed-level yoga class at my gym about five years ago, in my mid-50s, when I began to realize that flexibility and balance get more challenging and more important with each passing day. That’s especially true for someone like me who has never been flexible or had good balance. I remember trying a ballet class in my 20s and being shocked that women who were three decades older were so much more flexible than I was.
It only took one yoga class for me to realize that I could use help on all counts—strength, flexibility and balance. As my bare feet gripped the back of the mat and my arms extended forward, I was certain my hands would slip or my arms collapse and I’d fall flat on my face in the midst of downward dog.
Or I’d totally lose my balance and fall over during stork or tree pose. I did—and still do—lose my balance. But I didn’t get hurt, and no one laughed or pointed. I just got back in the pose and tried again.
Since those first classes, I’ve learned a lot about my body, my mind and my yoga practice. I’ve learned that I will never be as flexible or as good at balancing as some people in the class—but it doesn’t matter. My instructor (like most good yoga instructors) repeatedly reminds us to focus our thoughts inward on our movement and our breath. She encourages us to find what works for our individual bodies.
Yoga is not competitive, which is one reason I didn’t take to it in my younger, more competitive days. It’s more about getting in tune with your own body and mind. Admittedly, as an extreme extrovert, I have trouble with inward focus. Sometimes, when we’re instructed to lie still and breathe and relax, I totally lose focus and start running through my to-do list. But, I am usually able to return my focus to my breathing. When we’re practicing our poses, it’s even easier for me to stay focused and let go of the outside world.
Five years into my practice, it’s hard to say what has been the biggest benefit to me. My flexibility and strength are better than when I started. My balance is still shaky—literally—but hasn’t gotten worse, and at my age, that’s a plus. And, I think my mind is calmer and my stress lower.
The yoga survey says the top five reasons for starting yoga are: flexibility (61 percent), stress relief (56 percent), general fitness (49 percent), improve overall health (49 percent), and physical fitness (44 percent). Those are all terrific reasons—and yoga can help with all of them.
The survey also mentions that yoga practitioners are more likely than non-practitioners to be involved in other forms of exercise, such as running, cycling and weight-lifting. The survey doesn’t say why this is true, but I think yoga makes you more attuned to your body and more likely to want to take care of it by living a healthy lifestyle.
Although regular yoga practice at home would improve my skills, I enjoy the community of classes. I’ve made new friends and renewed some old friendships, and I like sharing the experience with people I might otherwise not be around. My classes include people of varied ages and ethnicities, and I don’t think that’s unusual. Survey data shows that 43 percent of practitioners are 30 to 49 years old; 38 percent are 50-plus; and 19 percent are 18 to 29.
As I get older, it may become harder to do some of the more challenging poses, but, thankfully, yoga is adaptable. Classes cater to various levels and special needs. Some of my older friends enjoy chair yoga, where you don’t have to get down on the floor. I’m not there yet, but, if I stay healthy and keep exercising, I may be someday!
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How Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms Are Different Than Men’s

Here’s some good news for all of you who received dark chocolate for Valentine’s Day: You’re eating something that is heart-healthy. The flavonoids found in dark chocolate are friendly to your vascular health and can lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to your brain and heart and make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.
But while you’re munching on your chocolate (and not too much of it!) be aware of this: Sometimes the reality of hearing that coronary heart disease—not cancer—is the number one cause of death for American women is startling.
Yet, the fact is that almost twice as many women die from a heart attack, stroke or other related forms ofcoronary heart disease than of all types of cancers combined—and that includes breast cancer.
Another startling fact: Since 1984, more women have died of cardiovascular disease than men. More than one in three women have some form of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association, with an overall increase in heart attacks occurring around 10 years after menopause.
And while it’s true that family history contributes to your risk, you can also take charge of your heart health by eating right (include fruits, veggies and whole grains), eliminating unhealthy habits (quit smoking, limit red meat and sugary foods and drinks) and getting plenty of exercise (aim for 150 minutes each week).
Since February is heart month, it’s always good to know the signs of a heart attack. Did you know they’re different for women? That could be one of the reasons why women are only half as likely as men to survive a heart attack. Either women and their health care professionals don’t recognize the symptoms, or medical personnel don’t associate women with heart attacks as readily as they do men.
A heart attack is not always the classic feeling of an elephant sitting on your chest or a sudden, sharp pain that causes you to clutch your chest and collapse. Although the most common symptom for women is similar to men—feeling chest pain or discomfort—sometimes it’s subtler than that:
You may feel short of breath—as if you’ve done heavy exercise—even though you haven’t exerted yourself at all. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
You might feel upper back pressure that may feel like there’s a rope around you, being squeezed.
You may feel dizzy or lightheaded or may actually faint.
You may feel jaw, neck, arm or stomach pain.
You might experience nausea or vomiting.
Many women attribute their symptoms to things like having the flu, being tired, experiencing acid reflux or normal signs of aging. Others may think they’re having a heart attack and simply take an aspirin, but not call 911, Neica Goldberg, MD, tells the American Heart Association. Dr. Goldberg, who is medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, stresses that heart disease is preventable. She offers these tips:
Discuss your risk for heart disease with your health care provider
If you smoke, quit. After just one year, your risk of coronary heart disease can decrease by 50 percent.
If you don’t already exercise, start now. Just 30 minutes of walking a day can make a difference.
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A New Way to Get Rid of Unwanted Fat

We all have our share of them—those spots on our bodies where fat loves to hang out. For some, it might be areas in the lower body with lovely nicknames like “bubble butt,” “thunder thighs,” “cankles,” “saddlebags,” “love handles” or “FUPA” (you’ll have to look that one up).
Then there’s that fat which accumulates in areas above the belly, known affectionately as “bat wings” or “turkey neck.”
Not. Funny.
Despite eating proportionally fewer calories than our male counterparts, it’s a fact that women store fat more efficiently than do men. It’s quite the paradox: Despite burning off more fat than men during exercise, women have more body fat than men—6 percent to 11 percent more.
Yay, us!
One likely culprit: estrogen, finds a study from the University of New South Wales. As cited in news release, the hormone “reduces a woman’s ability to burn energy after eating, resulting in more fat being store around the body. The likely reason is to prime women for childbearing, the review suggests.” (Another thing you can say to your child the next time you want to lay on some good old mommy-guilt.)
In a perfect world, we’d go to the gym, do some targeted work aimed at blasting those bulges away and whittle away all the extra fat on our (choose your dream) abs, thighs, butts, triceps, chins. But contrary to common belief, you cannot spot reduce. While fats do get broken down during exercise, those fats get broken down throughout the body—not just in the spot you wish for.
But—and here’s a bit of encouraging news—usually the spot where you gain weight first will be the same spot where you’ll lose it first.
Every little bit helps, no?
What all of this means is that sometimes exercise is not enough; you might want a little extra assistance.
There are surgical ways, but those require things like anesthesia, sutures, bruising, healing and risk of infection, as most surgeries do.
What if you want to reduce your fat, but don’t want surgery? You’re not alone: Nonsurgical fat-reduction procedures rate among the fastest-growing categories in the aesthetics market. There’s been a 42 percent increase in procedures performed between 2013 and 2014, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. There are things like liposuction (which, like it sounds, suctions excess fat from under the skin) and CoolSculpting (a technique that freezes the fat away).
There’s a new kid in town
I recently learned about a new body contouring system called SculpSure for removing stubborn fat. You know that kind of fat—the kind that, despite our best efforts at diet and exercise, remains obstinately present. Both clinically tested and FDA-cleared, SculpSure is a light-based procedure that yields results in six to 12 weeks.
How it works
Developed by Cynosure, this noninvasive procedure uses a laser that precisely targets fat cells under the skin. The temperature of the body fat is raised, the subcutaneous fat cells are disrupted and destroyed, and then, presto! The cells are naturally eliminated over time.
Bye-bye and sayonara. Gone forever.
SculpSure requires no downtime, other than sitting or lying comfortably for 25 minutes during the procedure. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Lawrence Bass, who was a lead investigator in SculpSure’s clinical trials, says, “SculpSure is also comfortable and well-tolerated, with most patients feeling nothing more than a deep warming sensation.”
Some patients feel a bit of tenderness for a few days after the procedure, but there’s nothing stopping you from having the procedure performed and getting right up and back to work and your normal schedule.
The procedure, which claims to produce up to a 24 percent reduction in stubborn fat, uses no suction to pull the tissues like CoolSculpting does. Instead, the applicators lay flat on top of the treatment area. Depending on how much fat you’re after, between one and five sessions might be necessary, each taking 25 minutes and costing an average of $1,500.
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The Amazing Reason Breast Milk Comes in Different Colors

Have you ever noticed how the color of your breast milk can vary? Arkansas mom Mallory Smothers noticed a difference from her pumped Friday morning breast milk versus the one from Thursday night (picture above) and shared it on Facebook. The reason her breast milk batches are different is pretty amazing, and it has the Internet pumped, with more than 70,000 shares.
You see, when a baby nurses, a vacuum is created in which the infant’s saliva sneaks into the mom’s nipple. If mammary gland receptors detect pathogens from the baby’s spit via backwash, Mom’s body will change the milk’s immunological composition and produce customized antibodies.
That’s why Smothers’s latest batch of milk “resembles colostrum,” or what many know as liquid gold—the form of milk moms make late in pregnancy and in the first few days of birth. It’s filled with leukocytes and antibodies to protect newborns against disease.
“This comes after nursing the baby with a cold all night long. Pretty awesome, huh?! The human body never ceases to amaze me,” Smothers writes.
Pretty incredible!
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