Healthy Living

Beauty At A Toxic Price

Kimberly Distilli Detox, Education, Healthy Living, Uncategorized Leave a comment  
Toxins in beauty products

Beauty at what price?

That new lotion you just bought smells so delicious, it couldn’t be hiding toxins in there, could it?  Unfortunately, many of the lotions and potions we use every day contain chemicals that are allowed in the United States, but it doesn’t mean they are good for you. Many chemicals that are legal here, are illegal in European countries. Conversely, chemicals that are not allowed in the US are found in European countries. How do we know what is a toxin and what is safe?

While certain additives in products may cause allergies, asthma or even cancer, pinning down which exact ingredient is damaging is difficult.  Hard evidence on the dangers of chemical ingredients is so challenging because the data comes from observational studies, and each person’s exposure and risk varies greatly.

Burden on the Public

According to Russ Hauser, Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Too much of the burden is on the public, and it’s unfair to expect the average person to have the time and scientific background to stay on top of this.”

Parabens and phthalates, chemicals often found in nail polishes and lotions, are thought to disrupt the hormonal system, affecting many of our bodily systems, including the reproductive and neurological systems. Studies have shown a possible link between talc and ovarian cancer. So how do we avoid these chemicals? One study by the TH Chan School of Public Health suggested that purchasing products with fewer ingredients was one possible method of reducing your exposure to toxins. But words like “possible” and “potential” don’t help a lot when you are standing in a store, trying to decide which product is “safe” to purchase.

Where to Go for Help

The Environmental Working Group is a good place to start to learn a little more about the chemicals around us. According to their mission statement, they are “a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” Their website features consumer guides on beauty products, home care products, food, and water safety.  They also have a data base of various beauty products that are rated for safety based on the ingredient list. You can type in the name of a product, or an ingredient to learn how safe it is. If you find it to be too toxic for you, use their data base to find alternative products that contain less toxins.

Another great option is to look into making one or two of your own beauty products. Making soaps, lotions and lip balms are very do-able in a standard kitchen. Finding how-to videos and recipes, like this one, is easy to do.

In short, learning which products to use does require a bit of time, but by learning companies that place a priority on healthy products, and/or making your own products, consumers send a message with their checkbooks.  Hopefully more companies will start listening to the message we are sending.

Next Generation Wellness Retreats

Kimberly Distilli Destress, Education, Healthy Living Leave a comment  
Wellness retreats

Wellness Retreats

The term “Wellness” is sometimes bandied about by marketers seeking to make a quick buck. How do you sort through the hype about wellness retreats to find what you are looking for? Read on to find out.  Read more

How to Trim Calories this Holiday Season

Kimberly Distilli Healthy Food, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Obesity Leave a comment  

Holiday Choices

Kicking off the holiday season is that wonderful Thanksgiving feast, where, according to the Caloric Control Council, the average American eats more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat. That would be more than twice the number of calories most people should eat in an entire day. The fat content is actually enough fat for three days. What can you do to make reasonably healthy food choices this holiday? Read on. Read more

Keeping Fit During Winter Months

Kimberly Distilli Destress, Healthy Living Leave a comment  
winter exercise

winter exercise

Looking ahead to the gloomy winter months and thinking about skipping exercise, and hibernating in your stretchy pants and roomy sweaters? Think again. Winter is a great time to try a new routine and stay fit.

The University of Maastricht in the Netherlands studied exercise in colder months and found that as your body learns to adjust to working out in the cold, it burns more stores of fat. This extra fat is burned because your body, in addition to burning energy to jog or ski, is also burning energy to keep you warm. Exercising in cold weather is particularly good for reducing fat.

Exercise also helps to alleviate the winter blues for people who suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder or depression. Many studies have shown that the release of endorphins from an indoor swim or outdoor jog improve moods. finding a workout you can do outdoors in winter, like jogging, skiing or snowshoeing adds Vitamin D, which helps to improve your mood and bone strength. Exercising also improves your sleep, which gives you the added benefits of mental vigilance, improves mood and helps regulate metabolism.

A Limited Period of Time
Knowing that winter is only here for several months is a good motivator to enjoy winter sports while they last. Many towns erect a winter ice skating rink, so become a regular. If that gets too expensive, look for an inexpensive sled and a few good hills. Hiking or walking in the snow is calming and great exercise, but most athletic trainers advise forgoing outdoor walking or running in the ice because one slip can easily result in a twisted ankle or a trip to the emergency room.

Outdoor exercise requires smart clothing choices. Layering is usually the key to the winter exercise wardrobe. Make sure to wear wicking tights and shirt, followed by a fleece jacket, and a waterproof shell for rain, and some track pants. A winter cap and gloves are a good addition to the mix, based on how cold it is. Bright colors and reflective stripes are more necessary in winter, when the sun comes up late and goes down early. Add a headlamp or reflective coat for maximum visibility.

Strength in Numbers
One of the best ideas for ensuring you exercise in the winter is the buddy system. Having another person helps with accountability and motivation. Can’t find a buddy who wants to run at 5am? Join a boot camp class or Masters swim program for the support and encouragement.

If outdoor exercise is not your top choice, add something new and fun into your routine. Try hot yoga, take a dance class or something you’ve always wanted to try. Avoid treating yourself to special foods as a reward for working out. Instead, stay away from food and use the sauna after a gym workout, take a warm tub after your run or schedule a massage for a month of consistent workouts. Making your workouts fun, and enjoying a special treat after will make this a winter of fun and fitness.

Vitamin D: How Much is Too Much?

Kimberly Distilli Education, Healthy Food, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Uncategorized Leave a comment  
Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Getting the right amount of vitamins is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Ideally, getting vitamins through the food we eat is the best way for our bodies to receive nutrition. When that fails, supplements can be a good source of nutrition. Unfortunately, many people tend to treat supplements less seriously than medicine and often take larger doses than necessary. Vitamin D is easy to over-ingest. Often, Vitamin D is found in daily supplements AND in calcium supplements, and many people, especially women, can take too much. Conversely, with decreasing outdoor activity and increased sunscreen usage, many people are diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency. Read more

Baking Is Good For Your Health and Wellness

Kimberly Distilli Destress, Healthy Living Leave a comment   , ,


    Baking for others helps everyone

It turns out, if you enjoy baking for other people, the recipients aren’t the only ones to benefit.  Science now explains why we feel so good when we bake and give our results away. Baking allows for creativity. Creative expression is helpful for stress relief. According to Donna Pincus, an associate professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University “Baking has the benefit of allowing people creative expression. There’s a lot of literature for connection between creative expression and overall wellbeing. Whether it’s painting or it’s making music [or baking], there is a stress relief that people get from having some kind of an outlet and a way to express themselves.” Read more

Cold Laser Treatment–What Is It?

Kimberly Distilli Detox, Education, Healthy Living, Lyme Disease Leave a comment  

LaserCold Laser Therapy, also called Low Level Light Therapy, is a treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light to help speed the body’s healing process. It can help patients who suffer from acute and chronic conditions to reduce swelling, help eliminate pain, decrease spasms and increase functionality.  This is an FDA-approved, non-invasive, non-prescription therapy.
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Creating Good Sleep Habits at Any Age

Kimberly Distilli Healthy Living Leave a comment  
Good sleep

Good sleep

While we may not often consider sleep essential, it is as necessary for our bodies as air and food. Lack of sleep affects us at all ages. Growth hormones that increase a child or teen’s muscle mass and that repair cells are released during sleep. For humans of any age, cognitive abilities suffer from lack of sleep, making us prone to accidents and mishaps.  Lack of sleep has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly.

The good news is that sleeping is a habit and everyone can learn better habits with some structure and a little bit of effort. Harvard University offers the following suggestions:

  • maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule (wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends)
  • avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep
  • make your bedroom a comfortable sleep environment
  • establish a calming pre-sleep routine
  • go to sleep when you’re truly tired
  • avoid watching the clock at night
  • use light to your advantage by exposing yourself to light during the day and limiting light exposure in the evening, this helps regulate your natural circadian rhythms
  • avoid napping too close to your regular bedtime
  • eat and drink enough—but not too much or too soon before bedtime
  • exercise regularly—but not too soon before bedtime


Pre-Sleep Routine

Most of these ideas are self-explanatory, but a pre-sleep routine is worth examining closely.  A pre-sleep routine is different for every person.  Reading, crossword puzzles, knitting are all good “transition” activities from daily life to sleep. These transition activities should be done prior to climbing into bed, in a calm, comfortable room in your home.


Keep your bed as a place for sleeping, not reading, watching TV or answering email.  Sleep experts recommend no TV or electronic gadgets in your bedroom. This allows your mind to rest and helps you to fall asleep faster.  Also, screens on our electronic devices emit blue light, which reduces the production of melatonin, a hormone that controls our circadian rhythm, the cycles that help us fall asleep and stay asleep. In addition to the blue light, cell phones and gadgets often beep, tweet or buzz throughout the night, which prevents you from a restful sleep.  A technology curfew is helpful to sleepers of all ages.

Getting Enough Sleep

How much sleep is enough? The answer is it depends.  For children, check with your pediatrican for recommendations on how many hours your child should be sleeping.  For adults, most people need at least seven hours.  To find out what your body needs, start getting seven hours of sleep a night, and after three or four weeks, take inventory on how you feel. Still tired? Add a half hour and take inventory again. Continue until you typically feel rested most of the time.

The need for sleep is often seen as a weakness in American culture. In truth, it is an essential element to human existence.  Ensure that you are making the time for the wonderful necessity of sleep.

How Does Exercise Affect the Brain?

Kimberly Distilli Education, Healthy Living Leave a comment  
Exercise for brain and body health.

Exercise for brain and body health.

So far, no drug or therapy exists that matches the powerful effect regular physical exercise has on improving brain function or preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study of senior citizens by the Mayo Clinic, exercise five to six times a week reduces the risk of mild cognitive impairment by 32 percent, as compared to other senior citizens who are not getting up and moving. Another Mayo Clinic study showed that for people with memory impairment, exercise improved memory about the same amount as the benefit of taking donepezil (Aircept), which does give some modest and temporary help to those struggling with memory loss. Read more

Stress-Reduction Techniques for Everyone

Kimberly Distilli Education, Healthy Living Leave a comment   ,

Reduce stress in your life through relaxation.

Per the Mayo Clinic, “Relaxation isn’t just about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body.” Finding a method of stress-reduction is important for everyone. Practicing relaxation can take many different methods, but all with the same goal of regularly coping with everyday stress, and extra ordinary stress, as needed.  The Mayo Clinic advocates stress-reduction techniques for everyone, but especially for its patients who may be dealing with a difficult diagnosis, a long-term illness or even chronic pain. Read more