Thursday, February 13, 2014

Junk Food is Eating Away Your Wealth and Health

The food industry generates billions of dollars every year, especially those companies which produce junk foods.  What do I mean by junk food?  I use the term to describe any food that is over processed, loaded with chemicals, and preservatives, while not providing much nutritional value.  I consider such grocery items as pastries, chips, cereals, sugary juices, sodas, energy drinks, to be junk food. Most items that you can find on a fast food menu fall under the category of junk food.  Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of what constitutes junk food.

You might be wondering, “How does junk food relate to my wealth?”   Well, have you ever heard of the Latte Factor®, by David Bach?   It goes something like this:  If you stop (or drastically) reduce your spending on that daily latte, and other similar impulse buys, you will be in a stronger position to save and invest money, as well as get yourself out of debt.  The money that you spend on lattes can be used instead to do other things like, fund your retirement or invest.

I can honestly say that I have spent well over $75,000 over a 15 year period on junk food.  That works out to about $13.70 daily that I spent on garbage foods. And I am being extremely modest as this figure only includes money that I spent on fast food and energy drinks.  Now imagine what I could (and should) have done with $75,000 instead of spending it on fast food.  Had I invested this money in an stock index fund with an average 10% annual return, rather than wasting it, I would have more than doubled the money at the end of 15 years!  That’s the power of compounding. 

Overspending on junk food comes from bad habits, poor programming and ignorance. It is very hard to kick that junk food habit, because it may be a habit deeply ingrained in our subconscious, from childhood.  I remember reading about a study which concluded that children can identify the golden arches of McDonald’s before they know how to spell their name.  So, seeing the imagery of junk food in advertising has subliminally programmed children in Western societies, to crave junk foods and to think that consuming it is somehow cool. 

It does make sense doesn’t it?  Think about how you react when you see commercial advertisements of food on television.  When you see those images of piping hot, aesthetically pleasing foods, your mouth may start to water like Pavlov’s dog.  You may even begin to feel hungry, when you weren’t even thinking about food moments before the ad.  The advertisers know what they are doing.  They use psychology to try and manipulate the subconscious mind and push our hot buttons.

Plus, we sometimes live a very fast lifestyle and desire instant gratification.  We feel often pressured to multi-task and get everything done rapidly.  Instead of taking the time to cook good, natural food, we might develop the habit of running to a fast food joint.  We run to the store or a fast food joint almost in a trance, with very little after thought of what we are doing to our physical and fiscal fitness.

In the short term, junk food is more convenient and appears to be cheaper.  Over the long haul, junk food is not cheaper, because junk food is bad for the human body.  As you know, consuming junk food may increase the likelihood of developing chronic illnesses, like Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, high-blood pressure, etc. Medicines and medical treatments for these illnesses are not cheap at all. In addition, people who require treatments for these ailments, spend hours per year in doctor’s offices or hospitals, receiving their medical treatments.

So, if you are struggling with spending your money on junk food, then it is time for a paradigm shift in this area of your life.  You might think that spending $5 here and there on junk food is not much.  However, by sitting down and running the numbers you will see that it all adds up rather quickly. 

I have a few simple suggestions. If it didn’t come from the Earth, then it is most likely junk food.  That means that you should avoid eating it.  Also, start planning your meals and your shopping trips ahead of time.  This will cut out impulse buys at fast food joints and retail stores.  Prepare your meals at home and pack them.  For people that aren’t very good with cooking, there is an awesome website called www.allrecipes.com, where you will find lots of recipes for tasty, and easy to prepare dishes.

Take the extra money that you would have spent on junk food and pay down your debt or put it in a savings account.  Many online savings accounts offer higher interest payments and they aren’t quite as accessible as traditional banks.  So, that decreases some of the temptation to go and withdraw your savings for foolish spending.


© Copyright 2014 Susan Broadbelt


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Old Farts and Sexual Harassment

This woman that I worked with came to me with a very pressing issue, called workplace sexual harassment.  She needed some advice on how to deal with a male co-worker whom she alleged was sexually harassing her.   I will call the male co-worker Dennis (not his real name) for the sake of simplicity.  He is roughly 15-20 years older than her, and he is a Black man from the Caribbean.  I was shocked by Dennis, since he is actually a very cordial person and he never gave me any indication that he would do that.  The woman, whom I will call Martha (not her real name), is a White woman and she originates from the Midwestern United States.   

She told me that Dennis got a hold of her cellphone number and constantly called her and sent text messages.  She didn’t answer the text messages or his phone calls.  He would also leave voice mail messages suggesting that they go out on dates or meet somewhere.   Martha became disgusted with his constant pestering and told Dennis that she was not interested in dating him or meeting with him outside of work.   However, Dennis didn’t seem to get the message.  He continued to pressure her for dates and even hinted that he wanted sexual relations with Martha.

Not that Martha is to blame for this situation, but part of the problem may lie in her personality and how she deals with conflicts. Now, Martha is a very nice, reserved, and easy-going person.  She tries to avoid conflicts with others and is even somewhat of a people pleaser.   Martha rejected Dennis, but I have a feeling that she was rather wishy-washy with him.  The other part of the equation is that Dennis is apparently a desperate, horny, old, dusting farting geezer, who didn't want to accept "No" as his final answer. 

Having experienced sexual harassment firsthand, I understood what Martha was going through.  My advice to Martha was that she toughen up on Dennis and become a total bitch.  If I were in the same predicament, I would not talk to him.  Nor, would I continue to smile or joke around with a person like that.  Anyone who carries on in this manner, and who doesn’t accept “No” for answer, isn’t worthy of my respect or time. In spite of the fact that she was being sexually harassed by Dennis, Martha continued to have lunch with him and other co-workers!  It just didn’t make sense to me.

Some of you may not agree with this approach, but I have found that it has worked like a charm for me over the years.  Some people just don’t comprehend polite “No’s” or diplomacy.  The only time that it occurs to these types of people that they should back off, is when they are put in a position of feeling threatened.  If you hurt their feelings by letting them know what an A-hole they are, more often than not, they will leave you alone. If you make it clear to these people that you won’t tolerate harassment and help them to understand the potential threat of job loss, they will leave you alone. 

There was this instance where another male co-worker was sexually harassing me.  Even after telling this man “No” and  “I am not interested”, he still persisted with the sexual advances.  This is the straw that broke the camel’s back:  One day a friend of this man, told me that someone wanted to speak with me inside of a room at the workplace.  He didn’t reveal the identity of the person waiting in the room.  The man’s friend followed me into the room.

When I entered the room, I discovered that the man who had been sexually harassing me was waiting.  I suppose that he was looking for the opportunity to make an appeal to me.  Well, I didn’t give him the opportunity to speak.  I immediately told him in a very stern manner, “Look here, I don’t want to date you.  I don’t want to be your girlfriend. I don’t want to marry you.  And, I don’t want to fuck you.  LEAVE ME ALONE.” 

The man stood there astounded and speechless.  His friend stood to the side with a smirk on his face and gloating.  After that explosive outburst, I didn’t have any further problems with this man.  As I said before, this is the approach that I use when all else fails.  This is because I prefer to try and resolve problems directly with the other party, before escalating things to the next level.  Also, I don’t like the idea of having my name on the record, or in a file somewhere connected to a sexual harassment complaint.

Most companies in the United States take the issue of sexual harassment very serious.  The larger companies provide training to new employees at orientation in order to educate them.  Sometimes people blatantly sexually harass their co-workers or subordinates, like in the case of “quid pro quo”.  Some people are guilty of sexual harassment without even knowing it.  This could be due to cultural and social misunderstandings. Therefore, companies will provide education and training on this matter, in order to help prevent it and avoid costly sexual harassment lawsuits.  Most of the time, a person who is rightfully accused of workplace sexual harassment will either, be severely reprimanded or terminated. 

Martha was at her wits end and had reached a point where she was ready to go ahead and report Dennis.  I never mentioned her problems to Dennis or anyone else, because I didn’t feel that it was my place to do so.  Oddly enough, she had even asked me a few weeks later if I said anything to Dennis about the fiasco.  Of course, I reassured her that her secret was safe with me and that Dennis had not approached me regarding the issue.  While I would handle the situation differently, I still support Martha if she ever decides to file a formal sexual harassment complaint against Dennis.  


© Copyright 2014 Susan Broadbelt

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Some Health Benefits of Blueberries

Disclaimer/Disclosure:  I am not a medical doctor or nutrition, so I am not rendering medical advice.  Please seek advice on your health and nutrition concerns from a licensed healthcare professional.


Research suggests that regularly consuming blueberries can have some amazing health benefits. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that contribute to their benefits. Antioxidants function to lessen "free radical" damage to cells caused by environmental pollutants and chemicals. There other benefits to eating blueberries:
  • Blueberries are good for the eyes. They provide a good dose of antioxidants, which slow down degenerative eye-diseases, such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.
  • Blueberries may help to prevent hardening of the arteries, promote cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of heart-attack. Blueberries contain compounds called anthocyanin, which gives blueberries their blue-purple color. The anthocyanin in blueberries may reduce plaque buildup in the arteries, which could lead to heart attack.
  • Eating blueberries at least once per week may lower the blood pressure. Blueberries contain an antioxidant called, pterostilbene. A study by the ChromaDex Corporation suggested that pterostilbene, significantly reduced blood pressure in adults, when administered in high doses.
  • Pterostilbene in blueberries may help to lower LDL cholesterol. Many of the studies regarding the effects on cholesterol were done on rats and not humans, though. Consuming blueberries alone might not be enough to lower cholesterol in humans.
  • Blueberries are good for the brain. Blueberries may help to improve memory and slow down age related brain disorders.
  • One antioxidant in blueberries may have properties which reduce urinary tract infections.

  • Free-radicals can cause damage to cellular DNA, which may lead to genetic mutation. Blueberries help to fight against cancer by lessening free-radical damage to cells from oxidation. They also contain other anti-cancer nutrients. One study suggests that postmenopausal women, who consume at least one serving of blueberries and peaches per week, had decreased risk of breast cancer.


    They can help you to lose weight since they are high in fiber, low-calorie and low-fat compared to other foods. One cup of blueberries contains about 85 calories. The antioxidants in blueberries may lead to a decrease in visceral fat around the abdomen. This applies when blueberries are incorporated in a healthy, balanced diet.

    Anthocyanin can improve insulin sensitivities in person with diabetes. This means that blueberries can help diabetics to control their blood glucose levels and manage their diabetes. They can also satisfy cravings for sugar.

    It is better to consume blueberries, either fresh or frozen. Cooking blueberries tends to destroy the vitamins and antioxidant properties. Also, there was a study that suggests that consuming blueberries with milk will inhibit the effects of some antioxidants, called polyphenols in the blueberries.



    Related Posts:

    http://www.thewhimsicalmusingsofsusan.com/2012/04/review-of-ninja-professional-blender.html


    Sources:

    "ChromaDex Corp. Clinical Study Shows Blueberry Antioxidant Lowers Blood Pressure in Adults"

    Entertainment Close-up. Sept 27, 2012
    https://chromadex.com/NewsEventDetail.aspx?Aid=665


    "Blueberry Chemical May Lower Cholesterol"

    Harvard Reviews of Health News. August 21, 2006

    "Consuming berries could delay brain aging up to two and a half years." author D. Dye, Life Extension
     
    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Consuming+berries+could+delay+brain+aging+up+to+two+and+a+half+years.-a0300995684


    "Berries may lower women’s heart attack risk"
     
    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/berries-may-lower-womens-heart-attack-risk/

    The Power of Your Thoughts and Your Words

    Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you decide to click on the links and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. This blog post reflects my honest opinion on the subject and products mentioned.


    A very close family friend of mine passed away several months, ago. He was a genuinely nice guy, but he had many demons which he never conquered. I won't get into the specifics of his personal problems, since I want to protect privacy. I will say that I truly believe that his death was somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The last few years of his life, he struggled with depression and constantly stated that he wanted to just die and that he had nothing to live for.

    When he would talk like that, it made me feel very sad for him and I didn't want to be around him very long. No matter how much me and others tried to encourage him and tell him to trust God, it wasn't enough. This man felt very defeated. He often said that no one loved him. The irony is that he left behind hundreds of people, mourning at his funeral, whom do love him. They thought enough of him to pay last respects and honor his memory.

    It really haunted me to see this man, lifeless and laying in a casket, as his family wept and wailed. He had so much going for him. He had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, he did not see the value and purpose of his life. Apparently , he talked about and meditated constantly on his miseries and despair. I truly believe that the universe found a way to grant his wishes.

    Thoughts become things. That's what Bob Proctor said in the movie, "
    The Secret". I recommend that people either buy the movie on Amazon.com, rent it or borrow it from the local library. The message in the movie is powerful and the main topic of the movie is The Law of Attraction. The LOA is complex, but a simplistic way of describing the LOA is this: . Your thoughts have a vibration and that vibration is sent out into the universe. What you focus on continually, is what you will attract and manifest in your life.

    On the other end of the spectrum, is a woman who was able to leverage the power of her thoughts to her greatest advantage. Her name is Cynthia Stafford and in 2007 she won a California lottery for $112 million. In an interview, Ms. Stafford revealed that her back was up against the wall at one time in her life. She struggled financially to raise her brother's four children. She had taken the children in, because her brother was killed by a drunk driver and the children's mother was in no position to care for them. Ms. Stafford did not have a job and her home was slipping into foreclosure. Also, the state wanted to remove the children from her custody and she couldn't allow that to happen.

    She began to meditate daily on winning the lottery. Ms. Stafford visualized herself, with the children living happily and she visualized herself winning the Mega Millions lottery in California for a specific amount of money. She practiced her meditation for several weeks. Eventually, she was able to manifest what she focused on through the LOA. She won $112 million, which was the exact amount that she meditated on. Ms. Stafford ultimately, split her lottery winnings with her father, and one of her brothers. It is a very heart-warming and beautiful testimony for how the LOA can work in people's lives.

    If you want to learn more about the Law of Attraction, there are three books that I highly recommend. Some of them don't deal directly with LOA, but are closely related in the subject matter. They are:

    "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale

    "The Power of The Subconcious Mind" by Joseph Murphy

    "Think and Grow, Rich" by Napoleon Hill

    These books contain life changing methods for changing your thinking patterns, using your brain more effectively, and living the life that you want. There are hundreds of other excellent books available on this topic. These three books are good a starting point, though.  Be very careful of your thoughts and your words.

    Sources:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kboJcNQ_dWc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_lcvBfLLoQ



    © Copyright 2014 Susan Broadbelt

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Why I Don't Buy Stuff off The Streets

    Many years ago, when I was about 19 or 20, I decided to drive down to a flea market in Miami, with my sisters and brothers.  While we were there browsing, a man walked up to me, offering to sell me "a real gold braclet" for only $40.  Upon looking at it, the bracelt did look like real gold.  I thought about it and was a little bit skeptical, because the man was a complete stranger. I asked my brother and sisters  what they thought and they all said that the bracelet looked real. So, I went into my purse and gave the man $40 in exchange for the bracelet.  

    In my mind, I would be able to go to a pawn shop and flip the braclet for a quick profit.  As soon I got the braclet, we all left and drove around the area looking for a pawn shop.  After finding one nearby we entered and rushed to the clerk's window to find out how much the braclet was worth. To my dismay, the clerk whom tested the braclet looked at me and said very harshly, "We will give you nothing for it, because it is not real".  My smile quickly turned into a frown.  I felt like the butt of a prank.  

    I decided to go back to the flea market to try and find the charlattan who sold me the fake braclet.  He was going to get a piece of my mind and then some.  Of course, he was  no where to be found and I was out $40.  The entire drive home, my brother made fun of me for being a sucker.  When we all arrived back home, my brother snitched on me to our parents.  And our parents me made feel further like an idiot and told me, "Well, that's what you get for buying jewelry off the streets."  It taught me a valuable lesson and I promised myself that I would never do that again.  

    To this very day, I stuck to that rule and there are certain things that I will not buy off the streets from complete strangers.  This includes jewelry, electronics, DVDs, CDs (especially pirated), and other items that would raise the hairs on the back of my neck.  Aside from the fact, that I mistrust complete strangers, there is no way to know where most of that stuff came from.  

    If some random stranger is selling stuff like this off the streets, there is a good chance that the stuff isn't theirs.  There are professional theives called "boosters", who go into stores and shoplift like it's nothing to them.  I don't understand how they are able to get away with it, but then again, that's why they are the pros.  According to this program that I watched about it on MSNBC, boosting is a multimillion dollar a year business.  The boosters most likely get rid of the stolen merchandise through a fence or they load it off on a greedy sucker.  

    It is a far fetched thing to think about, but someone could have been assaulted or killed for their possession.  Some drug addicts have gone as far as removing phones and wallets from dead bodies ( Watch this show called "The First 48" and you'll get an idea of what I am talking about here).  They then sell the stolen property, at a rock bottom price (no pun intended) to some unsuspecting fool.  Can you imagine purchasing a smartphone that was removed from a dead person and then receiving a call from a homicide detective?  It's hard to believe, but it happens to people, more often than we think.     

    Many are unaware that it is a crime to buy stolen stuff.  Even if you didn't know that the merchandise was stolen, you could still be charged with receiving stolen property in some jurisdictions.  This applies especially if you should have known or at least have reason to believe that the merchandise is stolen.  For example, a person walks up to you and offers to sell 2013 Acura TL, in excellent condition for $1,500 in cash.  That's an offer that would raise a red flag for me. So, no matter how tempting it may be, I refrain from buying high risk items on the streets.  It's just bad karma.  

    Another reason why I don't buy stuff off the streets is because there is often no warranty  or refunds with electronics bought through strangers.  If I purchase an electronic from a retailer, at least I have some sort of assurance that I may return the item in the event that it malfunctions.  

    There is a prevalent scam with people selling fake electronics, too.  The scam artist may have a shell of an HDTV, a tablet computer, or other electronic that is filled with a worthless material, such as plastic or wood.  In order to sweeten the "deal" the scam artist may tell the mark the he will sell the item at a super discount.  A gullible person won't bother to even test the so-called electronic and easily part with his money.   There is an old saying that "If something is too good to be true, then it probably is".  

    © Copyright 2013  Susan Broadbelt 

    Walmart is Ghetto and Their Customer Service Sucks

    I  have a question for people who are reading this blog post:  Are you a customer service shopper or is getting a bargain the most important thing to you? This question is directed towards those people that do heavy shopping for grocery and personal care items at mass market retailers, such as Target, Walmart, and Kmart.  I consider myself to be a combination of both, leaning more towards a good customer service experience.  I like a good bargain, and I am frequently looking for ways to save money off my grocery bill, but the way that I am treated at a retail store is very important to me. 

    The main reason why I write this article is because Walmart has a major advertising campaign going where, the retailer compares its prices to other retailers, mainly Publix.  The premise behind the commercials is that Walmart has everyday low prices and saves consumers alot more money than shopping at Publix and other comparable retailers.  I think that it is partially true, because I have found many good deals on merchandise at Walmart without catching sales there.  

    That's not always the case, because I have also been able to find certain items at other retailers, at pricing much lower than Walmart.  Plus, if you know how to shop strategically with coupons and sales, you can get many things for free at Publix, CVS and Walgreens.  A few days ago, I purchased a couple of cans of soup at Publix, BOGO and used a coupon for $.50 off.  Therefore, I came out ahead buying the soup at Publix, instead of Walmart.  

    The main thing that I want to get at here, is this:  Walmart is always emphasizing how low their prices are, without giving much attention to the overall customer shopping experience.  Walmart really does need to work on improving many aspects of the shopping experience, especially their customer service.  They are definitely driving away prospective customers.  

    I can't tell you how many times I have been to a Walmart and waited 15 minutes or longer to checkout.  Their lines are usually very long at certain times, but you would think that Walmart management would understand this, and schedule enough personell to better serve the customers.  

    Another bone that I have to pick with them is that their shelves are either empty, or poorly stocked and disorganized.  You better pay very close attention to the signage, becuase merchandise is quite often placed in the wrong location.  For example, I went there looking for Brinks pad locks and the locks were stocked in a juxtaposed position.  The cheaper locks were placed under a sign where the more expensive locks should have been placed and vice versa.    

    Walmart has the most horrible produce, anywhere on the planet.  Yes, their prices are normally lower than any other retailer that I have visited for produce, besides a farmer's market.  However, it has been my experience that the produce goes bad quicker.  Once, I was in the produce section at a Walmart, and found a bag of rotting potatoes.  The stench was worst than a rotting corpse smell. 

    There was one situation at Walmart, where I went to the Money Center to cash a check.  As I approached the counter, I noticed that the cashier had his head down on the counter, taking a short rest. I said "Hello." to him and he didn't respond and raised his head in a manner which suggested that he wasn't too happy about me disturbing his short rest.  

    So, I told the cashier that I was there to cash a check and then add the funds onto a Walmart Money Card.  I handed him the check and the Walmart Moneycard.  He proceeded to cash my check, and laid my card down on the desk, asking, "Why did you give this to me?".   He cashed the check, but didn't load the funds onto the Money Card.  So, I started wondering if dude was on crack or whether he was sleep deprived.  I kept my cool and repeated what I was there to do and he cancelled the transaction and started over.

    He screwed up yet again, by charging me a load fee, when it should have been waived.  To throw salt in the wound, he tried to argue with me about how I should be charged the fee. By that time, I was wondering how he managed to slip through the cracks during the hiring process.  A CSR ended up straightening the situation out for him and waived the fee.  

    He cashed my check, handed the check back to me, gestured to hand me the cash, and loaded the funds onto my Walmart Money Card!  I had an expression on my face that said, "WTF!".  He realized his mistake and said, "Oops, my bad", in a goofy voice.  It took about twenty minutes for me to get through a process that shouldn't have been more than a few minutes.  

    I feel like most of the people that Walmart hires in their retail stores, to put it bluntly, are socially retarded and ghetto.  It seems to be part of their retail culture to hire ghetto and immature people.  Now, I am not saying that all of their retail employees are like that.  But, the problem is that when too many people with those sorts of attitudes are present, the attitude seems to spread like a virus and cast a dark cloud over the atmosphere.  

    Apparently, there are residents of Midtown Miami, an upscale community in Dade county, Florida that have ideas similar to mine.  The city planning department approved a plan to build the Walmart in Midtown Miami , August 2013. Several opponents of the plan have filed appeals to the decision with the city.   Some of the opponents say that the plan doesn't conform to the building code.  Others feel that a Walmart will crush the competition and ruin the character of the neighborhood. 

    This is all good and well, but what they aren't saying is that Walmart is too ghetto for the area.  They don't want the mentality of some low-class and ignorant people to pervade their neighborhood.  This  sounds classist and elitist, but I can't say that I blame them.  I had a complete stranger to walk up to me in a Walmart store and ask me if I wanted to buy food stamps from him.  When I declined, he glared at me as if I were the crazy one!  Not only is this very ghetto, it is also very illegal.  

    I understand  the benefits of brining in a new Walmart into that community.  It would mean hundreds of new jobs and an alternative shopping venue for the residents.  At the same time, I can sort of see where the opponents of the Walmart building plan are coming from as well.  

    I don't live far from a Super Walmart, but there are times  that I prefer to stop at Winn-Dixie, Publix, or CVS.  Sometimes, better customer service and less stress far outweighs lower prices.  I am sure that the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton intended lower prices and good customer service as part of his legacy. 

    © Copyright 2013  Susan Broadbelt

    Sunday, November 10, 2013

    Review of Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer Knee Highs for Women

    Disclaimer:  I am not a medical doctor or health care practitioner.  The contents of this blog reflects my personal experience and opinion.  It is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.  For any questions or concerns about your health and varicose veins, please talk to a licensed doctor or health care practitioner.  You will need to speak with your doctor so that he or she can determine whether compression therapy is right for you.  Your doctor will also help you to choose the right type of compression stockings, if necessary. 


    Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer Knee Highs
    For Women

    Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer Knee Highs
    For Women


    This is a review of Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer Knee Highs for Women, medium black, Mild 8-15mm/Hg compression.  They are manufactured in the U.S.A. for 3M Consumer Health Care.  There are many styles, and varieties of compression stockings available by this company.  I purchased mine at Publix Supermarket for around $15 for one pair.  

    There is a helpful chart on the back of the box, explaining some of the differences between mild, moderate, and firm compression stockings.  Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer, Mild compression stockings are intended for use with consumers that have mild varicose veins, minor swelling and tired, aching legs.  There is also a size chart on the box to help consumers select the right size based on shoe size, calf measurements and the length of the lower leg.  

    These are black compression stockings that provide a mild compression on the lower legs.  They reach just below the knee and are closed toed.  They are plain, black and semi-sheer (in my opinion and not Ultra Sheer) as you aren't able to see completely through them.  They are very soft to the touch and feel comfortable to wear and are composed of 80% Nylon and 20% Spandex.  They definitely provide me with relief  from achy legs and feet, caused by standing for long periods and varicose veins.  You really can't tell the difference between these stockings and regular stockings just by looking at them. 

    Futuro stockings really do give the legs a massaging feeling while you wear them.  I usually wear them underneath a pair of paints and I put a pair black anklets on over them.  I work in a mostly air-conditioned environment,so when I wear these stockings, I never feel itchy or sweaty.   I  never had a problem with these stockings slipping down as I am walking, so there is no need to frequently pull them up or adjust them.  That's a plus. 

    The stockings have a reinforced toe that is enhanced with durable run guard.   As long as you properly care for these stockings, you may not have any problems with running or ripping.  The manufacturer suggests that they are washed in mild soap and lukewarm water. I don't dry mine in a dryer and prefer to allow them to air dry after washing.  I am very satisfied with the Futuro brand of compression stockings and will seek more information on some of their other products.  

    If you have any comments and questions, visit: 
    www.futuro.com
    or call 1-800-537-2191

    © Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt

    I Have Ugly Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

    Disclaimer:  I am not a medical doctor or health care practitioner.  The contents of this blog reflects my personal experience and opinion.  It is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.  For any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a licensed doctor or health care practitioner.  







     
     

    Since, I my mid-twenties I have had a problem with varicose veins and spider veins in my legs.  They've gotten worse over the years.  My condition is mainly cosmetic and I had not experienced any major medical complications due to the varicose veins.  Also, according to what I occasionally see on the Internet and out in public, many people have it far worse than I do.  Still, I don't like the way that they look, and I generally don't wear short skirts without also wearing concealing stockings or short pants because of the appearance of the varicose veins and spider veins.  

    Veins are the blood vessels which function to carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart,  from the tissues.  Varicose veins are formed in some people that have hereditary weakening of the valves in the veins.  The weak valves, cause blood to pool in the vein, resulting in bulging, twisted, bluish-green veins near the surface of the skin.  Spider veins are similar, except they are mainly formed in smaller blood vessels.
      
    I am not surprised that I have varicose veins, because it runs on my mother's side of the family.  My mother has them after giving birth to several children, my sisters have them, and my brother has varicose veins.  In addition, I have struggled with weight problems most of my adult life.  Also, I have worked in job fields for several years, which required standing for very long periods.  

    Besides it being a hereditary condition, certain other people are more prone to developing varicose veins.  Pregnant women, overweight people, and those that sit or stand for long periods of time may be at increased risk of developing varicose veins.   I would tell most people that have a predisposition towards forming varicose veins, that they should take measures to try and prevent them from forming (although this may be impossible for some people).  

    Well, it is too late for me to prevent varicose veins, but at least there are options available to me to keep the conditioning from worsening.  I did visit a doctor several years ago about treatment for my varicose veins.  He explained all of the choices of treatment available, as well the side effects for each.  Since my veins weren't all that noticeable back then, he recommended sclerotherapy and compression stockings.  

    Sclerotherapy involves injecting the varicose veins with a chemical which will cause it to close off and disappear.  I decided to pass on the sclerotherapy, because I am fearful of invasive forms of treatment and their possible side effects.  I went out and bought a few pairs of compression stockings and I started using them on and off since then.

    Now, my varicose veins have worsened because I took a position a few years ago that required me to stand and walk around for most of the work day.  My legs would throb and sometimes give a burning sensation from all the walking and standing. I slacked off and stopped using the compression stockings and the varicose veins began to reappear and worsen.  They appear only on my feet, lower legs and thighs.  I am lucky in that respect, because there are people that have thousands of spider veins and varicose veins on the face, chest, arms, and legs.  

    I don't want to ever get to that point, so I bought a couple of pairs of new compression stockings.  My legs don't hurt so much, now that I have resumed using the compression stockings. The idea with compression stockings is that they apply gentle to firm pressure on the legs, in order to alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins, such as swelling and pain, and stimulate the circulation in the legs.  The two brands that I purchased were Truform Leg Health, knee high compression stockings and Futuro Energizing Ultra Sheer Knee Highs for Women.  

    I plan to continue wearing the compression stockings through out my day and elevate my legs above my heart in the evenings before bed.  I started my exercise routine to lose weight, too.  This will take some of the pressure off my legs and hopefully, lessen the appearance of the varicose veins and spider veins. I am in the process of researching herbal supplements that may help with varicose veins.   I will monitor how things turn out over the next several months and keep you posted.  

    © Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt 

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    Five Reasons Why We Should (But Probably Won’t ) Boycott Fast Food Joints

    Number ONE the food is way too expensive.  The amount of money that you pay for one meal could purchase enough food to feed two- four people for a few days.  Take for instance a typical meal deal at McDonald’s, which might cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.00-$7.00.  If you were to purchase a loaf of bread for $2.50 and 1 medium sized jar of peanut butter for $3.50, you would come out ahead, financially.   If you went ahead and purchased the meal deal at McDonald’s, that is only a ONE TIME occasion to feed ONE PERSON and then shit the food out later.  WTF!!  

    Number TWO, most menu items at fast food restaurants are not very healthy and nutritious.  They are usually loaded with sugars, saturated fats, chemical preservatives, and empty calories that provide little or no nutritional value.  Most people that frequent these joints have know idea of what they are eating.  They would never bother to read the labels and what they care most about is the taste and satisfying their hunger.  I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I believe that most of these food are intentionally made to be addictive.  

    Here are some examples of strange chemicals that are used in fast food:

    Propylene glycol-  This is a chemical used in anti-freeze, which is highly toxic;  electronic cigarette filler, and laxatives.   It keeps food frozen, enhances moisture and adds to flavor of the food

    Yellow 5 and 6-  A dye used in fast food, which has been found to increase the risk of hyperactivity in children

    Sodium nitrate-  an artificial flavoring and preservative used in cured meats;  May lead to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease

    Monosodium glutamate (MSG)-  a food preservative, that may cause memory problems and headache in persons sensitive to this chemical

    High fructose corn syrup made from GMO corn 

    Dimethylpolysiloxane-  This is an emulsifier, anti- foaming agent, and anti-caking agent found  in McDonald’s chicken McNuggets. It is also used in silly putty and silicon breast implant filler.  

    So most of that food is being consumed for the convenience and instant gratification. People feed themselves this crap day in and day out and this type of food has an accumulative affect on their health.  They may not see what it does to their bodies after a few months, but think about what they deteriorate to after a few years of eating that junk.  As the old saying goes “Garbage in, garbage out!”.  Watch the documentary "Super Size Me" and you’ll learn exactly what I am getting at here.  

    Number THREE, look at the quality of the service and the food that you typically receive and you will see that in most instances that you are not getting a good value for the money.  Most consumers of fast food are paying for the brand name, taste, and convenience.   Sometimes the employees have disrespectful attitudes and are very dismissive.  

    I can’t tell you how many times that I have been through a drive thru window of certain fast food establishments and received curt service. This is this an example of how you may be treated at a McDonald’s franchise or a Checker’s, etc.   You drive to the window to pay after placing your order.   Once you arrive at the window to pay, the cashier tells you your total,  without even saying as much as “Hello” and then hands you your receipt after you pay.  Another employees may pop up at the drive thru window and say something like “Here you go”, while handing the food to you.  No “Goodbye” , “Thank  you”, or “Have a nice day” .  It often leaves me thinking “What am I? Chopped liver?”  That’s the extent of the interaction at many fast food franchises.  I am not saying that this is going to be your usual occurrence, but it has happened to me too many times to ignore.  

    As far as the actual quality of the food goes,  you are very fortunate if you stumble upon a fast food establishment that will give you fresh food.  It really irks me when I visit a Dunkin Donuts and the employees try to pass off stale donuts on me.  I know that they realize the donut is stale.  I know that they  would not eat a pastry that is as hard as a rock, but yet they somehow think it is acceptable to serve this to a paying customer.  There was one occasion where a McDonald’s employee handed me a Hot Fudge Sundae, that was all melted.  It looked as if it had been partially eaten and played over.  I very angrily returned it to the McDonald’s employee and demanded a freshly made Hot Fudge Sundae.  

    Number FOUR, Can you really be certain of how your food is being handled?  There have been several instances of employees working for fast food establishments that have been caught doing some very disgusting and unsavory things with the food.  Like, the kids that decided that it would but funny to make a dick sandwich with Subway bread.  Or the fellow that thought that it was cute to lick a whole sleeve of tacos at a Taco Bell franchise where he was employed.  What makes matters worse is that these folks experienced a eureka moment and decided to take pictures of themselves in the act of their hair brain activities and put the photos on Twitter and Instagram.  

    Aside from these mishaps you have to worry about whether the food was stored and prepared in sanitary conditions and properly cooked.  There is also a concern of  whether employees washed their hands before handling your food.  A relative of mine once worked at a fast food restaurant and she told me that the soda fountain that they used was really dirty.  It was not cleaned very frequently and was contaminated with mold, dust, and crusted up syrup.    

    Number FIVE, the employees at fast food restaurants are paid crappy wages and treated like crap by their management.   So, it almost goes without saying that most of these employees have no real incentive for providing top notch service to customers.  I don’t know about you, but I have some reservations  about disgruntled and mistreated employees handling my food. Some of them don’t appreciate and take their jobs very seriously.  They are basically overworked and underpaid.  I can honestly say that I feel them on that one, because I was a fast food employee in my teens ,working for a measly $3.35 an hour.  Ah.  Those were the days.  There have even been several mass protests staged by retail and fast food workers.  They demand to be paid $15 an hour or more for their time.  


    © Copyright 2013 Susan Broadbelt 

    With a Little Knowledge, You can do a lot of Damage

    Many years ago, I was enrolled in a personal finance related course.  I was one of those borderline annoying students who liked to shout out answers to questions in class.  I am sure that some of the other students couldn't stand me because of it, but whatever.  

    So, the course instructor asked the class a question and I was the only person in the class to know the answer.  It wasn't even information that was esoteric, but for some reason the instructor was impressed that I knew the answer to his question.  During the class break, the instructor asked me where I learned the answer to the question that he had asked earlier.  he was so curious because it wasn't a topic that was covered in the course textbook and he never went over the topic in class.  I told him that I had read about it in a book. 

    He then nodded and said, "With a little knowledge, you can do a lot of damage".  And this is something that stuck with me all these years.  It also brings me to the point of this article:  There is enough information available for you to achieve any objective ti is that you wish to achieve.  It does not matter if your goal is to lose weight, start a business, or find a natural treatment for a disease, the information is out there.

    In most cases, information can be obtained for low cost or free.  If you want someone else to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of research and save you some time, then you may need to be willing to pay a premium for good, solid, thorough information.  In that situation, you will need to pay an expert/coach, attend a seminar, or purchase some training courses for the sort of specialized information that you are seeking.  The point that I am illustrating is that whether the information is free or not, it is out there.
      
    Now as far as the free information available, the most obvious place to get it is on the Internet.  You could jump on search engines like, Google, Yahoo, or Bing.  Websites such as Wikipedia.org and Howstuffworks.com are also very interesting and helpful.  Not only is YouTube a great place to watch entertaining videos, it is a destination for an education.  The YouTube channel, Khan Academy is highly recommended.  I am not saying that everything out there on the Internet is true and accurate, but these websites are good starting places. 

    Another resource for free information is the public library.  It is like the Fort Knox of information and can literally be used as a come up. I am a huge proponent of public libraries, because I grew up in poverty and the library was a safe haven for me. This is why I do not scorn most homeless people who frequent the library.  The ones whom utilize their time wisely are simply taking advantage of whatever free resources they can in order to get on their feet.  

    Being a resident of South Florida, the library system that I normally use in Broward county, is an awesome system.  It gives patrons access to free computers with Internet, free Wi-Fi, e-books, reference volumes, huge online databases of articles from scholarly journals, audio books, DVDs, CDs. The Broward County library system also offers patrons free classes on how to use a PC, how to surf the Internet, how to use Microsoft Office, how to interview for a job, and how to create a resume. From time to time, there also free lectures from SCORE.  In addition, if a patron seeks a particular book that is not available in BCL system, a librarian may be able to borrow that book from another system that has it through an interlibrary loan and Worldcat.  These are just a small sample of the benefits of using the public library. So if you aren't using the public library to your advantage, you are slipping, seriously.  

    One of my favorite stories about a person that used the library to her greatest advantage, is the J.K. Rowling story.  She is the author of the Harry Potter series of books.  At one time in her life, she was a divorced, single mother relying on the dole (the U.K.'s form of welfare).  She spent hours in the library researching and reading material to write her Harry Potter tales.  Long story short, she is now worth nearly billions of dollars, because of the royalties that she receives from the Harry Potter books, movies, and merchandise.  That's how she was able to leverage her knowledge in order to become a more educated and wealthy woman.  

    Always be about the business of acquiring more knowledge because knowledge is power and knowledge is the new money.  When you acquire knowledge, then put it to good use.  After all, what good is it if it's not used?

    © Copyright 2013  Susan Broadbelt

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