Category Archives: Feel Good

Donate What You Don’t Need

As summer comes to a close, we pack up our swimsuits and flip-flops and pull out the sweaters and boots that were just a cold distant memory a month ago. With every seasonal transition we find ourselves swapping these items in and out of our visible closets, but when do we actually sift through them and pull out the dresses and shoes we unpack and repack every year that haven’t made it out into the sun during their 6 month wearable window. Instead of packing them away for another winter of being unworn under the bed, take the time to clear out the clutter and help those in need.

When it comes to donating clothes there are usually two questions, “Where should I donate” and “Can I get money for these?”. There are plenty of places that would be more than happy to accept your donations although it’s important to check their online guidelines before dropping off anything or scheduling a pickup to make sure what you’re donating is appropriate for the charity. As a rule of thumb, while sifting through piles of old t-shirts and items that just aren’t for you; Look for clothing that still remains intact. If it’s missing buttons, ripped (but not intentionally), fray- ing, stained or just severely outdated put it in a separate pile.

There’s nothing better than a little “getting back” with your “giving back”.

While brainstorming places to take your donations there are a few “oldie-but-goodies” that may come to mind like The Salvation Army and Goodwill. Both are excellent choices. If you’re concerned about tax-deductions, The Salvation Army’s website has a comprehensive list of cloth- ing and its estimated taxable worth on their website. Goodwill on the other hand has a great drop-down list on their site that allows you to enter the belongings you wish to donate and details how those donations will positively impact lives of those they help. Regardless of which avenue you might decide upon you should always get a receipt for your donations because there’s nothing better than a little “getting back” with your “giving back”.

If you’re a woman with office attire that you won’t wear next season, you can consider donating to Dress for Success. With locations throughout Pennsylvania, Dress for Success has a goal to provide women the condense to interview for employment and remain employed. DFS Clients receive one suit for a job interview and can return for a second suit or separates when they find employment. More information can be found on their website.

It’s always best to call ahead and ensure they take used clothing donations.

If you like the idea of Dress for Success but would like a place that accepts men’s work attire, look no further than Career Wardrobe in Philadelphia. They not only give job seekers the ability to show a presentable and professional appearance at interviews; they also offer education courses to help men and women become more knowledgeable on applying for jobs and retaining employment.

Easton’s Salvation Army profits are used to supply food for feeding the homeless breakfast and lunch daily.

While you may feel inclined to donate to your local women’s and children’s or men’s shelters, it’s always best to call ahead and ensure they take used clothing donations. For example, a quick call to Third Street Alliance for Women and Children of Easton resulted in a helpful talk with a receptionist. She informed me that while they don’t accept used clothing due to storage concerns, they personally suggest donating to the Salvation Army. Easton’s Salvation Army profits are used to supply food for feeding the homeless breakfast and lunch daily.

Additionally, if you’re in the Philadelphia area and in need of a place for gently used children’s clothing consider Cradles to Crayons. They have a comprehensive list of accepted donations on their website which include other items such as diaper bags, baby carriers and bibs. Similarly, Pregnancy Resource Center of the Poconos takes baby clothing donations and gently used maternity clothing. If those aren’t near you then Life Choices in Phillipsburg, New Jersey (just outside Easton and closer to our New Jersey readers) accepts the same types of items.

Making a contribution that helps your local community may have more benefit than the risk of your good intentions being boxed and placed aside.

You may be wondering why there wasn’t mention of donating to disaster relief funds such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma? Multiple news reports have shown that the most useful and resourceful contributions during disasters such as these are monetary donations. Unfortunately, relief organizations end up with entire warehouses filled with clothing, blankets and toys that do not meet their specific relief needs. Those who work to organize and distribute donations are over- whelmed by the sheer amount of items received and while the gesture is undeniably appreciated, it unfortunately slows down the relief process significantly. Making a contribution that helps your local community may have more benefit than the risk of your good intentions being boxed and placed aside. All donations efforts are great but research prior to execution is a wonderful place to start and with finishing this article you’re already a step ahead!


Commit to a Healthier You


In the hope that we won’t be having this conversation come this time next year, some easy-to-follow advice on how to make those New Year’s Resolutions stick.

By Todd Soura

With all due respect to your desire to improve yourself, a resolution’s only as good as your commitment to it. So my aim here is for us to avoid having this conversation come this time next year. I want to channel all of your enthusiasm toward making this not only a worthwhile experience, but an enjoyable one. After all, if leading a healthier, fitter life doesn’t hook you on some deep personal level, you’re just going through the motions, and we both know where that’ll lead.

Be the tortoise
Whether you’re coming off a long layoff or you’re starting from scratch, begin slowly and you’ll greatly enhance the likelihood that you’ll remain consistent. And consistency is the most important thing here. I know everything you’ve churned up online over the last couple of weeks has harped on intensity—and that is a close runner-up—but until you get your legs beneath you, it’s better to imagine yourself as the tortoise rather than the hare.

A big part of that is being realistic in your initial expectations. Don’t plan to workout six days a week when you hardly know what once or twice feels like. Two to three sessions a week is a safe place to start. And try to schedule them for a time you know you’ll always be available, even if it means getting up a half-hour earlier. When the enthusiasm starts to wane, and it will, the last thing you’ll want is built-in excuses, which is pretty much all of life.

Suffer with pride
Look, this is never going to be easy. And if it is, you’re not doing it right. If you’re expecting to reach a place a month from now where you’ll be able to run for miles and miles and do 100 burpees consecutively without breathing all that hard, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Exercise is hard even for the fittest among us, and that would be pro athletes and Olympians. When it stops being hard, they set a new set of goals and adjust their training regimens accordingly. For the rest of us, exercise is the most unpleasant hour of our days. But, on the flipside, you’ll feel like you can get through anything else the day throws at you once you’re done. So put in the work, breathe hard, sweat profusely and suffer with pride, because you’re going to come out of that hole and meet a far sunnier day.

Subtract by addition
As far as your diet goes, I’m sure you’re already well aware of the ultimate goal: to delete as many of the bad foods on a daily basis as you can manage. Which is probably why you’ve avoided doing so until now. In drawing such a line in the sand, we tend to color our foods in extremes. What isn’t healthy is going to kill us. And that, of course, gives a really sour flavor to all the good stuff and a sweet one to everything we’re forsaking. In other words, we’re setting ourselves up to fail.

Instead, don’t be so intentional in revising your diet. Yes, of course, you’ll want to pass on that bagel smothered in half a pound of cream cheese at breakfast. But you’re only going to end up romanticizing it if you sit down tomorrow morning to a bowl of oatmeal. So try this instead: Make yourself the oatmeal, along with a hard-boiled egg and the bagel. Eat the oatmeal and the egg first and, if you still have room, eat the bagel, too. Give it some time. The better you feel and the more you see the connection between what you eat and how you move through your day, including your performance during your workouts, the less you’ll want the bagel. And when the day comes that you finally eliminate it altogether, you won’t even miss it.

The overriding theme here is patience. Be persistent in your workouts, your recovery and your nutrition, but give yourself a wide berth. Start slowly, accept the missteps with the progress and focus on what’s in front of you. That’s all you can control anyway.

Todd Soura is the owner of the Doylestown-based Action Personal Training.

Walk (Run, Preferably) This Way

A template for your first two months. —TS

Weeks 1 and 2
Workout: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Exercise: 20 minutes of resistance (weight) training and 10 minutes of interval (cardio) training
Intensity: 2 out of 5 (1 = a casual, easy-to-maintain pace; 5 = an all-out effort that you can hold only for short bursts at a time.)

Weeks 3 and 4
Workout: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Exercise: 30 minutes of resistance training and 15 minutes of intervals
Intensity: 3 out of 5

Weeks 5 and 6
Workout: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Exercise: 30 minutes of resistance training and 20 minutes of intervals
Intensity: 4 out of 5

Weeks 7 and 8
Workout: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Exercise: 30 to 40 minutes of resistance training and 10 minutes of intervals
Intensity: 5 out of 5

What You May Be Missing in Your Quest for Better Health

The Wellness Puzzle

So many Americans struggle with the feeling that their bodies just are not working as they should. From low energy levels, to stiffness and pain, they feel the effects that both physical and mental stresses have on their bodies. They want to regain a sense of vitality, so that they can enjoy their lives to the fullest, rather than feel like they are moving in slow motion. The health and wellness industry well knows this, which is why we see endless infomercials offering the latest supplements, hottest exercise programs, and more. They make millions of dollars selling “cure-alls,” while we continue to search for solutions to overcome these struggles.

If you feel like your body just isn’t fulfilling its potential, now is the time to discover how Rolfing® structural integration may provide that missing piece of your individual wellness puzzle.

Structural integration bodywork aims to address an integral part of your body that many of us never really know about: your fascial system. Your fascia is the network of connective tissue that runs throughout your body, bringing together all of the parts into one, functioning whole. However, sometimes, issues with your fascial system, such as parts that have become thickened or fibrous, end up pulling your entire body out of alignment. At first, you may not notice this issue, but over time, that stiffness, poor posture, and general sense of discomfort all start creeping in. Rolfing aims to correct these aberrations through deep tissue body work, which helps correct any fascial aberrations. As a result, Rolfing helps people improve posture and ease of movement while also reducing chronic pain and restoring a sense of vitality.

About Author: As a trusted structural integration practitioner, Certified Advanced Rolfer® Bob Alonzi believes that our own paths to personal wellness our as individualized as we are. However, he is also passionate about educating his clients on how their fascial systems contribute to their overall health. If you want to learn more about Rolfing, and how it can help you feel better, stronger, and more in tune with your body, contact his office at 310-451-3250 for an appointment.

The Baseline Fitness Test

Before you jump into your New Year’s resolution, know where you stand.

By Todd Soura

Another January is upon us. Which means it must be time for a new you, too. Isn’t that the way it works? A fresh start, a hellish holiday hangover, regardless of your motivation, resetting (or beginning) a healthy lifestyle is never a bad thing. But taking on too much too soon all but guarantees that you’ll be right back here this time next year.

Neither of us wants to see that happen. So, before you do a single crunch, figure out exactly how fit you are. I’ve developed the following baseline test to gauge all the essentials: body fat, strength, balance and flexibility. By the time you finish, you’ll know how much work you have in front of you, and you’ll be able to scale your workouts accordingly.

Remember, the key to sustainability is consistency. A year from now, you can look back on your first workout and laugh because it means you stuck with it and improved steadily. Until then, one set at a time, one rep at a time.

  1. Body fat

I don’t like the body mass index, a standard measure of body fat based upon height and weight, because it fails to take into account muscle. A hip-to-waist ratio, by contrast, is not only easier to calculate, it’s more accurate.

Find a tape measure and wrap it around your waist (at your navel). Then do the same for your hips. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. Anything below .9 in men and .8 in women is an indication of relatively good health.

  1. Body control

Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lean forward like you would with a sit-up—no hands—and drop your right leg, tuck it beneath the left. Then plant your left foot and rise to a standing position—again, no hands.

If you’re under 70, you should be able to do this fairly easily. If you can, it means your overall strength and body control are good and your brain’s saying all the right things to your muscles.

  1. Core strength

Assume the position of an old-school sit-up—flat on your back, hands tucked behind your head—only you’re going to straighten your legs rather than bend them. Slowly perform a sit-up. When you’re completely upright, you should look more like half a “C” than an “L.”

If you can do 10 of these, your hip-flexor, abdominal and lower-back strength is above average. If you can do 20, you’re ahead of most.

  1. Upper body strength

The push-up is one of the oldest exercises there is, and it’s still the truest test of upper body strength. Your hands should be just outside your shoulders, your body, stiff and straight. Lower your chest until it grazes the floor, then push straight back up to the starting position. Twenty is good for guys; 40 is excellent. For women, 10 is promising, 20 is top-notch.

  1. Flexibility

Sit on the floor with straight legs. Lean forward and touch your toes. The taller you are, the harder this is going to be. It should be a bit easier for women. They tend to be more flexible than guys. Either way, if you can touch them, good. If you can grab them, even better.

Todd Soura is the owner of the Doylestown-based Action Personal Training