#254 Happy Mother's Day

Tell a friend

My mother always told me I wouldn't amount to anything
because I procrastinate. I said, 'Just wait.'

Judy Tenuta

9 Healthy Gift Ideas for Mom

By Joe Wilkes

Mother and ChildWith Mother's Day just around the corner, the pressure's on to find a great present for a great woman who has cared for you, taught you right from wrong, and provided you with many interest-free loans over the years. Flowers are a favorite, but they wither and die within days, not exactly a lasting gift. You could get chocolates or candy, because there's nothing like the gift that says "Mom, here's my contribution to your adult-onset diabetes!" Or, you could look for a gift that tells your mother you love her and want her to be around for a long time to come.

  1. Gift CardGift certificates. Does Mom have a favorite hobby? Keep in mind, a hobby is something she enjoys—not something she does all the time. If she loves to watch the Food Network and gets Gourmet magazine, a gift certificate to Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma would be a great idea. If she cooks meals for the family while cursing and muttering vague threats of ground glass under her breath, the kitchen store gift certificate may be akin to buying the maid a new mop for Christmas. Find something she likes, or if you're completely unsure, you can get her a Visa gift certificate she can spend anywhere. But for extra points, incorporate the gift certificate into a day of retail therapy that you spend with her.

  2. Yoga Booty BalletDVD workouts. Come on, you didn't think we'd leave out the obvious great Mother's Day present? Whatever your mom's fitness level or interest, there's a Beachbody fitness program that's right for her. Maybe she wants to get her mantra on with Yoga Booty Ballet®. Or kick up her heels with Turbo Jam®. Or maybe she even wants to get ripped to shreds with P90X®. Investing in your mom's physical fitness is a great way to show you care about her long-term health. And if you commit to doing the videos with her, you'll be the best kid ever! Even if you don't live in the same town, you can still make dates to work out together. Putting your mom on the road to a healthier lifestyle is one of the best gifts you can give.

  3. Phone CardPhone cards. Prepaid long-distance cards make great presents, especially if your mom's a long-distance phone call away. This shows your mom that you value conversation with her and want to keep her involved in your life even if it's not possible to live in the same town. Other variations on the gift of gab would be to upgrade her cell phone plan so she has more minutes to talk to you, or add a line to your family plan especially for her. All good ways to get Mom's words of wisdom on the go.

  4. MaidClean the house. Or if you aren't inclined toward domestic chores, you can hire a maid service to give Mom a week off. This may involve some strategizing with Dad or consulting with Mom beforehand, as this could backfire if the maid shows up for an 8 AM surprise the day Mom decides to sleep in. This also depends on the personality of your mom. If she's someone who likes things "just so", having a stranger come in to "mess things up" might be more stress than treat. Also, I remember from my own childhood, that nothing strained my relationship with my mother more than my poor quality control regarding my household chores. If you're going to clean the house, and she has to re-clean it, it's not much of a present.

  5. MealCook a healthy dinner. Preferably at your place where you invite her over and wait on her hand and foot. Cook her favorites or try to introduce her to some healthy new foods. This isn't a good present if you're a lousy cook or an easily stressed host. Try and choose dishes that can be prepared in advance, so that you're not spending the evening in the kitchen while Mom's cooling her heels in the living room. The idea behind any Mother's Day present should be about spending time together. If you get stuck in the kitchen preparing the big meal, set your mom up somewhere in the kitchen with a glass of wine or a cup of tea, so you can chat while you get dinner ready. And do NOT let her help clean up.

  6. MassageSpa treatment or massage. After all she does for everyone, doesn't Mom deserve a day of pampering and beauty—or at least an hour? Most day spas offer a range of services from a simple manicure or facial to a full-body makeover. There should be something for any budget. If money's no object, you could even make it a full-blown weekend at a spa. And of course, it's even better if you accompany her to the treatment. If you're strapped for cash or don't live someplace that is spa-adjacent, make your own spa day at home. Give yourselves facials, rent some movies, make some healthy salads and smoothies, put on some Enya, and just bliss out with Mom.

  7. ActiVitMake your own gift basket. Unless Harry and David are your brothers, they're not going to know what your mom likes better than you do. You can pick up a wicker basket at your local World Market or Pier One and fill it with goodies you know your mom likes. Fresh fruits are great. Or her favorite beauty products, like hand creams or perfume. Scented candles or artisanal soaps are also great non-candy additions. You can check out Beachbody for some good ideas, like ActiVit® Multivitamins. Remember when your mom told you to take your vitamins every morning? Now you can return the favor. Beachbody's Joint Support Super Formula is another great supplement to throw in your gift basket, as is Total Health Women's Formula. Or maybe some fitness gear products like Weighted Gloves or some new yoga gear. Whatever you put in the basket, make it something you know your mother will like. The real gift is the thoughtfulness that goes into putting it together.

  8. Mixed MusicThe gift of music. In writing this article, I asked my own mom what the best presents were that I'd given her over the years. While I'm sure there is a soft spot for the macaroni-and-glitter projects of my early years, her favorites were mix CDs that I gave her when I was in college and too broke to get her anything store-bought. But I was able to put together a couple of CDs of songs that I knew she would like, and she appreciated the customized music, and finding out about new artists she hadn't heard of. Later in life, when I was less of a burden on society, I would get concert tickets for presents. And when possible, I made the concert part of an evening we could spend together.

  9. Mother and child on BeachTime and thoughtfulness. After I asked my mom what the best presents I gave her were, I asked what she thought were the best presents that any mother could get for Mother's Day, keeping my fingers crossed that the answer wasn't jewelry. She told me that the thing that any mother wants is to spend time with her thoughtful child. And while that's hard to wrap, it's a present you can give your mom all year long. Let's face it, your mom's got a basement full of misbegotten gift ideas you've come up with over the years. And while you should get her something tangible for Mother's Day, just so your brother doesn't make you look like a jerk, the most important component of that gift should be that you give of yourself, not just of your wallet.

Joe Wilkes If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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10 Super-Easy Daily Stretches

By Steve Edwards

FamilyThe best Mother's Day gift anyone could receive would be better health. Most of us are aware of what we can do, but dedicating your life to exercise and healthy eating is easier said than done. Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. Here's a quick way to feel great that's so easy you won't even know you're exercising. Happy Mother's Day! (By the way, this routine is helpful for anyone, not just moms.)

StretchingBefore we get started, let's talk a bit about "stretching." Generally, you hear that you need to warm up first. This is true. So, in theory, these are not stretches but exercises that help stretch you out. You don't need to warm up first. In fact, they are a warm-up themselves, as they'll prep your body for the rigors of each day. Enjoy!

  1. FeetFoot manipulations. This one won't even feel like an exercise, but can help you walk pain free and, if you spend a lot of time on your feet, it will decrease your chances of developing plantar fasciitis. Each morning, before you get out of bed, rotate your feet in a circle 10 times in each direction. Then flex your foot up and down, pointing your toes and pulling them up. The first step of your morning can be the most damaging to your feet. If you've done this exercise first, you're ready to start the day.

  2. Cat StretchCat stretch. Don't confuse this one with the yoga pose; it's much more basic than that. This is the stretch your cat does after it's been napping. You can do this in bed, while standing, or both. Simply extend your arms over your head and stretch your body as far as possible, pointing your toes and straightening your fingers. It feels good anytime during the day, too, especially if you've been sitting around.

  3. Dog StretchDog stretch. This one is exactly like the yoga pose. A quick Sun Salutation or two, or at least the Downward and Upward Dog parts, are a great way to begin your day. Hey, it works for Fido. If you don't know this move, here it is:

    • Downward DogDownward Dog. Place your hands and feet on the ground as if you're doing a push-up, but with your feet a bit closer to your hands. Now raise your body into an upside down V. Keep your hands flat and your heels as low to the ground as you can. Flatten your back and push your hips to the sky.

    • Upward DogUpward Dog. Copy your dog's morning routine. From the Downward Dog position, drop your hips toward the floor, arch your back, and lift your head to the sky. You can also move slightly forward, moving off of your toes and onto the tops of your feet.

    You can hold these positions as long as you're comfortable and move back and forth between the two. One repetition of each is much better than nothing. It will help your body loosen up, regulate your breathing, and invigorate you.

  4. CalvesCalf stretch. From the Downward Dog position, move one knee forward and push the opposite heel toward the ground. Switch your legs back and forth a few times. These foot manipulations help reduce your chances of ever walking in pain again.

  5. Stretched HandStars. A client friend of mine came up with this move's name. I have no idea why. For this "exercise," simply open your hand as wide as possible (so it looks like a star, maybe) and close it into a fist. Concentrate on fully extending the fingers. You can do these anytime during the day, as many repetitions as you have time for. It may not seem like much, but this exercise will greatly reduce your chance of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

  6. Fingers StretchFinger/forearm stretch. Extend your arm straight in front of you. With the other arm, grab your fingers and stretch them back toward your body. Do this with your arm facing up, down, and inward. This completes your "no carpal tunnel for me" daily session. For an added stretch, interlock your fingers and push your hands away from your body. This also stretches the shoulders and back.

  7. Quad StretchQuad stretch. Here's one you can do anytime you're standing around. Lift one foot and grab it behind you, pulling it up behind your butt. Now stand straight and tall and arch your back. This mainly stretches your quad (front of your leg), but also stretches your shoulders, chest, back and arms, especially if you move around to specifically address these areas. You can lean forward, pull your other arm behind you, and pull your shoulder blades together. There are more intense stretches for your quads, but this is one you can do pretty much anywhere and without warming up.

  8. Hangs. This is generally called a "forward hamstring stretch," but in this version you don't concentrate on the "stretch" aspect, just the hang. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, then bend forward at the waist and hang down. Once you're hanging, you may fold your arms over your head and straighten and/or widen your legs for a greater range of motion, but if you aren't warmed up, just let gravity provide all of the force. Hang and breathe calmly for as long as you like.

  9. Leg-UpLeg-up. The leg-up is more than a popular blocking technique for male actors in films of the '40s and '50s; it's also the easiest way to loosen up the muscles in your waist region. To begin, pretend you're Tyrone Power discussing his case with the boys in Witness for the Prosecution (but feel free to lose the cigarette), and prop your leg up on anything convenient. To turn this simple act into a stretch, simply lower your torso (it helps to start in an exaggerated wide leg-up) by bending the knee. You can add more elements by twisting at your waist. To add a hamstring element, straighten the bent leg and continue to lean forward.

  10. Side StretchSide stretch. This is like the cat stretch, only done standing and bending sideways, making somewhat of a bow out of your body. Begin standing tall with your arms overhead. Drop one arm down along your side and bend in that direction, stretching with the upper arm. Keep your head looking up toward the upper arm. Repeat, stretching your other side.

For more stretching routines, try one of Debbie Siebers' flexibility workouts like Slim & Limber from Slim in 6, or Cool It Off! Express from her brand-new program Slim Series® Express. Tony Horton's 30-minute full-body Stretch from Power Half Hour® is also a great relax-and-rejuvenate routine.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

Steve Edwards If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Comfort Food IQ!

By Joe Wilkes
  1. ChipsIn what country were potato chips invented? In the good old U.S.A. They were invented in 1853 by chef George Crum, who became annoyed by a customer who complained his fried potatoes were sliced too thickly. The chips quickly became a hit and were put on the menu of Crum's restaurant, the Moon Lake Lodge in Saratoga Springs, NY, as "Saratoga chips." Another great step in potato chip technology was when food entrepreneur Laura Scudder invented an airtight wax-paper bag in 1934, ensuring that the potato chips would stay fresh until the bag was opened.

  2. Macaroni and CheeseWhat was the first recipe to be printed on a package of American food? Macaroni and cheese. According to food writer Jeffrey Steingarten, a Pennsylvania pasta maker printed a recipe for the gooey treat on a package of macaroni back in 1802. Rumor has it that the dish of macaroni and cheese may have been invented by Thomas Jefferson, but that has never been comfirmed.

  3. CookiesWhat is the official cookie of Massachusetts? The chocolate chip cookie, or the Toll House cookie, was invented by Ruth Wakefield, the owner of the Toll House Inn in 1933. The legend is that some pieces of Baker's chocolate fell into a mixer full of sugar cookie batter. During World War II, soldiers from Massachusetts began asking for Toll House cookies in care packages, sparking a national craze for the cookie. Today, an estimated seven billion chocolate chip cookies are consumed annually.

  4. SoupWhat comfort food was believed by the Jewish sage Maimonides to aid sufferers of hemorrhoids or leprosy? The king of the comfort foods, chicken soup! It has been prescribed as a home remedy for the common cold since ancient Egypt, and while scientists have debunked some of its putative curative powers, it has been shown that the chicken soup may indeed have an anti-inflammatory effect, which may bring relief to those suffering from a variety of illnesses. In Wisconsin, a type of chicken soup with vegetables and cream is even nicknamed "Belgian penicillin."

  5. I Love NYWhat popular comfort food is made in New York or Montreal style? The bagel. New York bagels have salt and malt in their recipes, are boiled in water, and are then baked in a regular oven. Montreal bagels contain malt and eggs, are boiled in honey-flavored water, and are then baked in a wood oven.

  6. Source: Wikipedia

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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