Monday, March 30, 2009


"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want." ~Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

Stress is an unavoidable part of life.
Here at the Ocean County Library, we are confronting some very stressful situations:

*our beloved Director is retiring
*we are about to begin a transition from an old computer system (Horizon) to a completely new Integrated Library System (Polaris)
*we are busier than ever, thanks to economic conditions

I am going to share some excerpts from Chapter 6 of Dr. Andrew Weil's book "Natural Health, Natural Medicine". He says, "Stress is the discomfort or distress caused by forces that limit our freedom and movement. Stress has two aspects, one external and one internal. Life is full of challenges and disappointments that continually threaten to disrupt our ease, and we have to deal with them in order to survive, grow, and reach our full development. Just as muscles become stronger and bigger when they work against resistance, so our minds and spirits enlarge by meeting the difficulties life presents. Without difficulty, there is no growth."

"The internal aspect of stress is our reaction to obstacles...If we become anxious, fearful, angry, or depressed about them, those states can certainly do us harm. Internalized stress keeps the mind agitated, throws the nervous system out of balance, interferes with the functioning of the immune system, and produces many stress-related disorders so common in our society. It is easy to think that external "stressors" are the cause of your tensions, but, in fact, you have a choice as to how they affect you, and you can learn to change your reactions to them."

So what can we do about it? Try some of these activities:
1) Start with a quiz to see what your stress level is.
2) Since we just finished working on conscious Eating, check out this slideshow of stress reducing foods.
Try some of the following activities suggested by Dr. Weil:

3) Eliminate caffeine and other stimulants. They interfere with your body's ability to relax. Try it for a week and see if you feel differently.

4) Sound has a profound influence on our nervous system. Pay attention to the sounds in your life that you can control. Think of sound as something you can choose to experience, like your choice of foods. Of course, when you want to rock out to your favorite song, go ahead and turn it up. But if you constantly have the radio or television on in the background, even if you are not paying attention to it, it affects your nervous system. Try a little silence, or more soothing music, especially at bedtime. See if it affects your ability to relax.

5) News can also affect our mental state. Most news reports increase anxiety. (I know that many library staffers are news junkies, including me!) But keep in mind that most news stories are chosen for their ability to excite, horrify, and titillate. Experiment with breaking the constant news habit. Use your power of choice to tune into news selectively and consciously.

6) Experiment with a relaxation technique. The library is full of books on relaxation, conscious breathing, yoga,, and meditation. Go to the stacks and find a book and try at least one exercise from it. Share any technique you like with others.

Our next Stress Round will focus on workplace stress.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tofu Scrambler

Got recipes? Share your healthy delights with everyone! Send them by e-mail to:

The dish below was a big hit in Toms River. Give it a try!

Tofu Scrambler

From Nancy Voitko

This dish is easy, versatile and contains no cholesterol and very little fat. It is meant to replace scrambled eggs, but even if you eat eggs you can enjoy this easy dish.

-1 T vegetable oil
-1 block tofu (soft or firm, whichever you prefer)
-1 cup vegetable broth (can be from 1 cube dissolved in 8 oz water or from
can, box, etc.
-vegetables of choice (suggestions: onions, garlic, peppers, zucchini,
tomatoes, spinach, carrots, mushrooms, to name a few)
-4 T nutritional yeast (NOT to be confused with Brewer’s yeast) or to taste
-1 t Paul Prudhomme’s Seasoning (any flavor, but I prefer the Blackened
-salt and pepper to taste

There are many variations on this recipe so it allows you to be creative.

First, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Saut̩ the onions on medium Рhigh heat (and garlic, if using), till soft, add salt and pepper to taste, then add other vegetables that take longer to cook. If you are using tomatoes, only add them at the very end or they get too mushy. Cook your veggies about 8 minutes and remember to stir.

When veggies are a bit soft, lower heat to medium and add the tofu and mash with fork in frying pan (or you can mash in a bowl and add it). Mix well.

Add the vegetable broth a bit at a time and stir.

Add nutritional yeast and seasoning. If you don’t have Paul Prudhomme’s, make up your own – you can use basil, oregano, parsley for an Italian taste, chili flakes or taco seasoning for a Mexican taste,etc. Like I said, be creative!

Stir and cook another 2 minutes. You may serve it as is,
on a roll or in a pita pocket, with toast or with a salad on the side. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

ROUND THREE - Conscious Eating One More Time

Thanks to everyone who has signed up for the Challenge. We currently have 160 participants! Way to go! This is our last Conscious Eating round. Please try at least two of the following activities.

DEADLINE for this Round: April 1, 2009

1. March is National Caffeine Awareness Month. Read this article on how Caffeine may kill some cancer cells,2933,500924,00.html


Read up on some facts about caffeine on sites such as:


share an article or book you've found.

2. March is National Nutrition Month.
There is lots to learn about the nutrion facts on food labels. To learn more, take a look at

3. Body Mass Index is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to both males and females. Find out what your body mass index is. Use tools such as:

4. Check out the Food Network's healthy meals. There are healthy alternatives to some of your favorite dishes:

Try a healty alternative to one of your favorite meals and let us know how it was.

5. Although this round ends April 1, April is Emotional Overeating Awareness Month. You can take quizes at sites like:

where you can find out if you are an emotional eater. Anther quiz is available at Psychology Today:

Being aware of your emotions can help you stick to your eating goals.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Revised Schedule

The Challenge schedule was revised to move Stress Management to coincide with the Polaris implementation.

Conscious Eating
Round 1 Feb 19- March 4
Round 2 March 5- March 18
Round 3 March 19 – April 1

Stress Management
Round 4 April 2- April 15
Round 5 April 16- April 29
Round 6 April 30-May 13
Round 7 May 14 – May 27

Round 8 May 28 – June10
Round 9 June 11 – June 24
Round 10 June 25 July 8
Round 11 July 9 – July 22
Round 12 July 23 – Aug 5

Fun Activities
Round 13 Aug 6 – Aug 19
Round 14 Aug 20 – Sept 2
Round 15 Sept 3 – Sept 16
Round 16 Sept 17 – Sept 30

Service and Spirituality
Round 17 Oct 1 – Oct 14
Round 18 Oct 15 – 28
Round 19 Oct 29 – Nov 11
Round 20 Nov 12 – Nov25

Frequently Asked Questions

The committee has received some questions about the Challenge, so here is some information below that might clear up confusion. Please add questions in the comments or by e-mail if you need more information.

Q: What is a “shared activity”?

A: A shared activity is one of the suggested activities we post to the blog. It is shared in the sense that we expect all staff to try one or two of the activities we suggest. You do not have to do the activity with anyone else. However, you may want to share your experience with others, in order to pick up advice or tips, or just to commiserate!

Q: What is a “personal activity”?

A: This is an activity related to the Round’s theme that you come up with on your own. It may be related to your specific health or living situation.

Q: You list a LOT of activities! Do I have to do all of them?

A: No. We ask that you try at least two of them per round. That could be two shared activities, one shared and one personal activity, or two personal activities. You decide.

Q: What is a Team Leader?

A: A Team Leader is a staff member at your branch or location who is helping the committee track your progress with the challenge. At the end of each round, you should let your Team Leader know what activities you did. You can do this several ways. If you have a blog, write a post at the end of each Round. If you do not have a blog, send an e-mail message to your Team Leader reporting what you did. Also, each Team Leader gets a tally sheet at the beginning of each round. You can print this out, write down your activities, and share a copy at the end of each Round with your Team Leader. All of these methods will be kept confidential and need only be shared with your Team Leaders.

We are still working out a procedure for how the Team Leaders will report to the committee.

Team Leaders are also our cheerleaders. They are there to offer support and encouragement.

Q: Our branch/location does not have a Team Leader! What do we do?

A: Volunteer! It really won’t take up much time! If you really want to give the Health& Wellness Challenge your all, it helps to have your co-workers involved.

Q: Is is too late to join?

A: It’s never too late! If you still want to join, send an email to

Thursday, March 5, 2009

ROUND TWO - More Conscious Eating

Activities for Conscious Eating Cycle – March 5th – March 18th

Activity 1. Eat When Hungry . There is a difference between physical hunger and emotional eating, stress eating, eating from boredom, or timed eating. You can practice recognizing physiological hunger by following these steps before you eat;- Stop- Close your eyes- Take 3-5 deep breaths- Place your hand on your abdomen and focus on your stomach pouch (internally)- Notice- Ask yourself - Where is my hunger? What is my hunger?

Activity 2. Try this again if you did not get a chance - Watch a health related video or DVD or read a health-related book.. The following are just suggestions – you may watch one of your choosing and record it on your log:

Suggested Videos
Diet for a New America
Supersize Me
Fast Food Nation
How to Cook Your Life: a cooking class with Zen priest and chef Edward Espe Brown
(or choose one of your own and tell us what you chose)

Eat More, Weigh Less by Dean Ornish
Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe
Dr Macdougalls’ Digestive Tune-up
Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston
Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
Eat Right, Live Longer by Dr. Neal Barnard
Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes

Activity 3. Try a new health food each week. Scared of tofu? Buy a flavored one and chop it into a salad. Curious about veggie burgers? Try Boca Burgers if you like somethings traditional or Dr. Praeger’s or a Garden Burger for something delicious and different. Never had a raw avocado? Passionfruit? Pomegranite Juice? Fennel? Try it! If you have any questions, give me a holler!

Activity 4. Substitute a healthy snack food each day in place of your favorite junk food snack for a week. This is all about creating better habits. For example: instead of potato chips, have some dried fruit. Instead of cookies, have yogurt and granola. Instead of a candy bar have an apple or banana with (or without) a bit of peanut butter. Drink water when hungry – drinking an 8 oz glass of water helps to suppress your appetite. Instant miso soup is also a good easy food to keep on hand at work, especially in cold weather. Baby carrots and hummus are also easy snacks to carry and share with others.

Activity 5. Read this informative article: “Vegetarian Foods – Powerful for Health” at
Did you know that many studies have shown a balanced vegetarian diet has many health benefits such as helping to prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as lower blood pressure?

Activity 6. Familiarize yourself with food allergies and issues – As we increase our own “conscious eating” habits, let's become more sensitive to the habits of others. This activity will help you to understand and be patient with those friends and family members of yours who need to order special meals at restaurants or may be bringing their own food to parties! Compassion is always in fashion whether your friend or family member has a peanut allergy, is lactose intolerant or needs to maintain a gluten-free diet. Read on …

General info:

Peanut allergies: - a comprehensive view of peanut allergies, diagnosis, treatment, etc.

Dairy products:

Gluten-Free diets/Celiac Disease - a well-organized, comprehensive site

Egg Allergies:

If anyone out there has sites to contribute, please send them on…we try to vet a few valuable sites, but due to time constraints we will undoubtedly miss some good ones!

Activity 7. Try to follow the “8 x 8 rule" — drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (about 1.9 liters). The rule could also be stated, "Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day," as all fluids count toward the daily total. Though the approach isn't supported by scientific evidence, many people use this basic rule as a guideline for how much water and other fluids to drink.