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Archive for October, 2012

 

Every waking hour, consumers are bombarded with deals. Online and on TV, in magazines and on the sides of buses, ads show us objects we can’t possibly live without.

Except that we usually can. How do you suppose people managed before greeting card companies made birthday cards “from the cat” or “from me and the dog”? Before applesauce came in tubes? Before we started thinking our blankets needed sleeves?

This list of 16 things you don’t need is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start.

Disposable income = disposable items

1. Bottled water.
 “It’s more expensive than gasoline . . . $6.40 per gallon for a liquid I can get for free at home,” writes Karla Bowsher at Money Talks News. If you live where the water tastes weird (howdy, Phoenix!), get yourself a filter.

2. Paper plates. For a picnic in the park, maybe. But why not get a set of unbreakable dishes for picnics, barbecues and visits from the grandbabies? That’s certainly greener and ultimately cheaper if you shop thrift stores and yard sales.

3. Paper napkins. Notice a pattern here? Reusable beats disposable any time. I got six cloth napkins for a quarter at a rummage sale; check post-holiday clearance sales, too. Or buy a fabric remnant and sew your own.

4. Paper cups in the bathroom. If you’re that concerned about germs, carry the cup to the kitchen each morning and toss it in the dishwasher. Note: Some people “cup” their palms and bring water to their mouths. Just sayin’.

5. Disposable hand towels. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw these advertised. Neither could Mrs. Money of the Ultimate Money Blog: “The last thing we need is another disposable product, especially one that is pretty much useless and replaces something that has worked well for so many years.” What she said.

Use and toss
6. Disposable flossers. Bathrooms sure are full of, um, waste. Rolls of floss go on sale all the time.

7. Name-brand OTC meds. Compare ingredient labels for any over-the-counter medications you need; when in doubt, talk to the pharmacist. Tip: Know what things cost since name-brand pills might be cheaper with a sale plus coupon and/or rebate.

8. Sandwich bags. No need to buy and toss, buy and toss. Put your PBJs in a reusable container.

9. Lunch bags. They’re still for sale, but I don’t know why. Get yourself a reusable lunchbox or lunch bag. (I found mine in the free box at a yard sale.)

10. Ringtones. Your phone came with a ringer installed. Use it.

11. Diaper Genie.
 A mechanized trashcan just for nappies? Throw them in the household garbage just as people did back in the dark ages.

Dogs don’t celebrate Halloween
12. DVDs.
 Be honest: How many of your DVDs have been watched more than once? Now: Add up what you’ve spent on them. When your headache goes away, remember you can probably get DVDs free from the public library.

13. Books.
 Libraries have books, too. Unless you plan to read a title numerous times (see “DVDs,” above) why are you dropping $30 per hardback? Those best-sellers show up pretty quickly in used-book shops, yard sales and thrift stores.

14. Magazine subscriptions. Are you reading the ones you have? Then why keep subscribing? Your favorites may be available for free at the library. (What swell places libraries are.)

15. Pet costumes. Do I really have to explain?

16. Snuggies. First, put your bathrobe on backward. Next, congratulate yourself on all the money you just saved.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Donna Freedman

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Moving day is a giant logistical hassle, but a missed detail can make it much worse.

 

Moving day is a giant logistical hassle before you get to the minutiae. A missed detail just makes it that much worse.

Renting a truck, hiring movers and getting stuff packed up and out of the house are the relatively easy portions of the move. Only when you get second notices forwarded to your new address or the lights cut off as you’re packing up the old place do you realize how much the little things add up.

In the interest of saving readers some hassle while they plan to ship out, we contacted the American Moving and Storage Association and asked about common oversights that people made while planning long or involved moves. The following 10 items are usually the easiest to overlook and the toughest to just shove into a garbage bag with the contents of the junk drawer at the last minute.

1. Your local government
If you don’t have a driveway for a moving truck to pull into or a storage container to be dropped in, chances are you need to put it on the street. If that’s the case, in some places you’re going to need a permit. To get that permit, you’re going to need some sort of proof that the company you’re working with is insured or bonded with the local government. That’s the case in Massachusetts, Florida and elsewhere. It can really put a crimp in your moving plans if you don’t check first and your belongings end up in the impound lot.

2. Your hidden belongings
It seems pretty obvious, but taking another few sweeps around the house can help you avoid leaving grandma’s china to the new tenants or going without holiday decorations for a season or so. AMSA spokesman John Bisey says the easiest items to forget are those tucked away in crawl spaces, attics and built-in cabinets. If there’s a spot in your house or apartment that’s out of sight, chances are that’s where your last box full of stuff is coming from.

3. Your items on loan
Wondering where your reciprocating saw or popcorn maker got off to? Check in with the neighbors. The AMSA says items lent to neighbors, family or friends tend to cause customers the greatest headaches once they realize they’re gone. Take a quick inventory and make some rounds at the going-away party.

4. Your sleeping arrangements
So you’ve packed up the truck or container and are ready to take off in the morning. That’s great, but where are you going to sleep tonight? The first night at the new destination isn’t that big of a problem, as you’ll get to your bed eventually, but the last night after the big load-up can be tough if you don’t pack the bed last or plan to stay with someone else.

5. Your records
It’s a lot easier to do things electronically these days, but that’s not always the case with medical, dental or school records. Sometimes it’s just easier to keep these things on hand, so try to get copies from everyone as soon as you’re ready to pack them up. Once you have them, keep them all in the same place so they’re easy to refer to once you’re setting up your new home.

6. Your heat and lights
If you don’t turn the electricity, gas or oil heat on, nobody’s going to do it for you. The AMSA advises turning off all utilities two to three days after you load out and turning them on at the new place two to three days before you move in. It’s not great to get a bill for lights that someone else is using forwarded to the address you’re already being charged for. Speaking of forwarding …

7. Your mail
Oh yeah, you’re going to want to check in with the Postal Service and make sure it knows you’re leaving. It will forward mail to your new address only if you check with it in advance, and even then it’s not permanent. Forwarding basically gives you a couple of months to change your mailing address with various institutions. At some point, that yellow forwarding label will stop appearing.

8. Your insurance
“Be careful when referring to ‘insurance,'” Bisey says. “Very few movers offer true insurance, which is regulated by the states and is offered by an insurance agent.”

The best you can get from the movers themselves is valuation protection, which covers only a percentage of what your goods are worth. In May, a federal regulation took effect requiring interstate movers to include the cost of full-value protection in their initial written estimate. This should give consumers some second thoughts about choosing the minimal valuation option, which is only 60 cents per pound.

9. Your paid labor
If you tip someone for carrying a tray of food to you, you may want to consider tipping the people who just lugged a dresser to your fourth-floor walk-up. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about this, but if you’re not at least offering some water afterward, you have no sense of empathy whatsoever.

10. Your mess
Whether there are a few nail holes left in the walls where your family photos once hung or a huge paint spot in the closet from when you knocked over a gallon of Periwinkle Blue, it’s usually in your best interest to take care of it immediately. Your security deposit or even a sale could hang in the balance.

“I think the last-minute repairs and/or fix-ups are legit,” Bisey says, “especially when, for example, a large piece of furniture is moved away, revealing a problem with the floor or wall it was hiding.”

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Jason Notte of TheStreet

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Financial institutions have no obligations to disclose or fix flaws in an as-is property, so buyers need to do the due diligence and hire seasoned foreclosure home inspectors to make sure they are not stuck with a lemon.

 

Q: When a bank forecloses and then sells a house, do they have to disclose any faults or flaws? My friend bought a house that had been foreclosed and didn’t get the power turned on to see if the well and heat pump worked. They don’t!
—  Olga

A: Though some banks are fixing up foreclosure properties, the vast majority are sold as is, hence these institutions have no obligations to disclose flaws and typically don’t know exactly what the defects are, anyway. Moreover, banks are under no obligation to fix as-is homes, and they tend to provide only a narrow time frame for inspections.

So it’s usually up to buyers to do the due diligence and a thorough inspection. As your pal discovered, it’s not a stretch to suspect that the previous owner of a distressed home let maintenance slide. Further, many such homes are vacant for months with no caretaker. Plumbing and sewer problems result.

Unfortunately, your friend found out the hard way that getting the power restored is a must when examining a foreclosure. Granted, getting that done is not always easy. Banks often state upfront in their special addendums that they won’t be responsible for having utilities turned on to allow inspections.

And little wonder: Electric companies often remove a home’s electric meter after terminating service, which complicates the whole process. Depending on the site and city, it might cost money to have a meter reinstalled, a permit fee may be required, a county inspector may have to inspect the meter post, and an electrician may even have to conduct an inspection to make sure the house won’t burn down when power is restored.

In short, some would-be owners find themselves forking out $400 to $900 just to get an inspection. As a result, some will drop the deal. Others, like your friend, simply choose to forgo that part of the inspection entirely.

One cheaper way is to secure a foreclosure inspector who can power the entire home with a portable generator to check the furnace, heat pumps, condenser, water heater, appliances, lighting, outlets and any electrically operated well, as in your friend’s case. A call to such an inspector will let you know if this is allowable in your area.

Let this serve as a cautionary tale. As tempting as it is to go it alone in an effort to save some bucks, a foreclosure buyer is always wise to hire a real-estate agent experienced with foreclosure deals and their nuances, get that power turned on and use a seasoned foreclosure home inspector to give it the twice-over. Good luck.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Steve McLinden of Bankrate.com

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For years it was assumed that renters were simply less civic-minded. But low tenant turnout may be due to something far easier to overcome: the cumbersome registration process.

 

With time running out in some states to register to vote in the presidential election, see if you know which of the following questions is more crucial for renters:

A) Will you take the time to vote on Nov. 6?

B) Are you registered to vote?

The answer is “B.” The distinction is particularly important for tenants, who have just as much of a stake in election outcomes as do homeowners. (Even if Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips said in 2010 that the nation’s founders were on to a good idea in allowing only property owners to vote, “because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community.”)

For years, the massive population of tenants — one-third of Americans and climbing — has turned out at a markedly lower rate than homeowners. In the 2008 presidential election, for example, 52% of renters voted, compared with 68% of homeowners, a sizable gap that, if closed, could turn elections. A back-of-the-envelope calculation using census figures shows that if tenants voted at the same rate as homeowners, an additional 11.2 million tenants would cast ballots in the upcoming November election.

For years, the reason for low tenant turnout has been chalked up to demographic factors, such as lifestyle or income — really just a polite way of saying, “Renters don’t care.” That’s because the demographics of tenants tend to mirror the demographics of those with low voter-turnout rates:

Lower income: The median income of tenants is about half the median income of homeowners, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Low-income citizens register and vote at lower rates. In 2008, according to census data, 80% of people with incomes of more than $100,000 were registered and 73% voted; only 64% of those with incomes of less than $20,000 were registered and 52% voted.

Less education: People with less education are less likely to own a home, and voting trends again correlate. In 2008, only 50.5% of eligible voters with less than a high-school diploma had registered to vote, compared with 64.1% of those with a high-school diploma and 81.2% of those with a four-year college degree, according to census data.

Younger: The 2008 election saw near-record youth turnout, which was credited with helping to secure victory for President Barack Obama. Even so, among 18- to 29-year-olds, only 51% of eligible voters went to the polls, compared with 69% of those between the 45 and 64.

More mobile: Tenants are far more likely to move than homeowners. Because of that, theorists have surmised, they are less likely to put down roots and become civically engaged.

Oops, I completely forgot to register
But evidence is mounting that it is the last point — the fact that people move — that is key, and that past assumptions about why tenants don’t vote may be incorrect.

Political scientists who have been re-evaluating reams of voting data have found that whether a tenant votes is less about political will and more about the cumbersome and at times elusive process of registering.

Think about it: The last time you moved, which tenants obviously do far more frequently than homeowners, at exactly what point in the unpacking process did you jump and say: “I’ve got to go re-register to vote at my new address!”

“Registration itself is really the red tape and the stumbling block right now,” says Liz Kennedy, a counsel with Demos, a public policy research group that advances voter rights. “There are so many different jurisdictions that administer elections that a lot of this can be perhaps somewhat tricky to navigate.”

It isn’t until an election draws near that many people even remember that they need to re-register at their new address. Then it’s up to them to find out how, where and by when. Recent, tighter voter ID laws present further complications, while threatening to disenfranchise millions of elderly, minority and low-income citizens.

There’s still time to register to vote
Meanwhile, voters may hear or read little about legal protections afforded citizens, including those designed to help people who have recently moved.

For example, under the National Voting Rights Act, if you did not move out of your jurisdiction (for example, New York City is in one jurisdiction), you are allowed to cast your ballot at your old polling place.Furthermore, many states allow anyone who has moved within the state to vote at the new polling place, even if that person hasn’t yet registered to vote at his new address. A voter can update his address on the day of the election. Many states allow voters to register online.

Those laws alone affect millions of tenants. Within the past year, almost 20 million voting-age adults moved in this country. Of those, two-thirds moved within their county and 84% moved within their state.

“So all is not lost when people move, and they should certainly not think, ‘Oh, gee, now I can’t vote at all.’ They should instead call their Board of Elections,” Kennedy said.

States determine their own voter-registration deadlines. The earliest are 30 days before the election, or Oct. 7 for the upcoming presidential election. Eleven states, including swing states Iowa and New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia allow voters to register up to and including Election Day. North Dakota has no registration requirements.

To find voter-registration details for your state and jurisdiction, you can call the 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline or go to www.866OurVote.org. You can also see deadlines and other information at VoteSmart.org.

If you register, you will vote
But back to bucking the old stereotypes about why tenants don’t vote.

It turns out that once renters register to vote, they are just as likely as homeowners — or those who haven’t moved — to cast a ballot. About 90% of registered voters show up to vote for president.

“A lot of our under-represented demographic, these groups are highly mobile. But if you look at the turnout rate among the registered voters, they turn out at the same rates,” says Youjin Kim, apolicy analyst with Demos.

A 2011 academic study of 1.8 million voter-registration records found that after about age 22, people were more likely to register only because they were more likely to have been at one address for a longer period of time. The authors found a correlation with the registration process itself, not with a lack of resources or interest.

“So the argument that the younger you are, the less ties that you have to the community, and the less interested you are, is not true,” Kim says.

A 2000 study by a political scientist at the University of California, Davis, found that while voter-turnout rates were highly affected by the act of moving, it didn’t matter how far away the voter moved. In other words, it wasn’t changing communities that mattered, but simply changing addresses. So much for the assumption that low voter turnout meant people hadn’t established roots in their community, the author concluded.

Furthermore, says Demos, when registration is uncomplicated, people vote. The five states with the highest voter-turnout rates all have same-day registration.

Just give tenants the forms?
In Madison, Wis., where half the city households are renters, one elected official introduced a novel idea to help streamline voter registration for city clerks, who were getting inundated with applications on Election Day.

Since so many people move into new apartments in mid-August, just as election season is heating up, why not require that landlords give all new tenants voter-registration application and information sheets?

As in other states, efforts have been under way to clamp down on voter registration. And Wisconsin does not ask about voter registration when drivers apply for a license, as many states do under the National Voter Registration Act. Really, though, Alderwoman Bridget Maniaci says she just wanted to reduce government costs and ease clerical workload by preventing tens of thousands of registration applications from landing on Nov. 6.

Since the law went into effect this summer, city clerks have been receiving about 1,000 applications a day, a far more efficient stream to handle. Local government provides the paperwork to landlords, who then include it in the packet of information they already provide tenants.

“We’re trying to get the forms to people so they can come in in a staggered fashion,” she says. The clerk’s staff “is able to manage that and get everyone into the poll books.”

Minnesota, which has had same-day voter registration since 1974, has the country’s highest rate of voter turnout: 75% in 2008, compared with 64% nationally.

“It doesn’t matter to me how you’re voting; it matters to me that we have accessibility for individuals to go vote,” Maniaci says. “I don’t understand how we got to the point as a country where discouraging voting is a positive policy goal to have.”

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Karen Aho of MSN Real Estate

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From what to plant to what to harvest, here’s everything you need to know to prepare your garden for autumn.

 

There’s a snap in the air, the songbirds are looking at their calendars, and trees are exploding in hues of yellow, pink and red. But don’t think that means you can spend the weekends in your jammies. Make haste while the weather is still gardener-tolerant; you’ll be happy for those shorter to-do lists come late fall and winter.

Perennials
Keep planting spring-flowering bulbs, all the way up until the ground becomes frozen, and prepare tender perennials for winter.

  • Holes for planting crocuses, daffodils, tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs should be about three times deeper than the diameter of the bulbs. Add peat moss, fertilizer and bulb dust to the soil as you plant; then give them a good watering.
  • In milder climates, bulbs can still be divided and transplanted.
  • Before the first frost, move tender plants such as begonias, geraniums, gerbera daisies and impatiens indoors for the winter.
  • Buy hardy garden mums to plant in well-drained soil in a sunny location; fertilize now, and again in the spring. Color spots of winter pansies and flowering kale and cabbage can also be planted early in the month, or until the ground freezes.
  • Gladioluses, dahlias, tuberous begonias and fuchsias should be prepared now for winter storage.
  • Hold off on mulching perennials until the ground has frozen.

Trees and shrubs
October is a great month to shop for trees and shrubs, as they’re showing their true colors at the nursery. Planting can take place now and over the next several months, letting strong, healthy roots develop over the winter.

  • Make your last selections of trees for planting this month and later, even if you hold off on buying.
  • Tie up and prune raspberries.
  • Mid-autumn is a perfect time for planting grapevines.
  • Take hardwood cuttings.

Lawn care
In most areas, lawn care can continue until about mid-October.

    • Aerate lawns now while grass can recover easily; if you core aerate, make cores 3 inches deep, spaced about every 4 to 6 inches. Break up the cores and spread them around.
    • If your lawn needs it, thatch and follow with a fall or winter fertilizer.
    • Even if thatching isn’t necessary, your lawn will be happy for a dusting of fertilizer now to help roots gain strength before the spring growing season.
    • Overseed bald patches or whole lawns as needed.
    • Rake and compost leaves as they fall, as well as grass clippings from mowing. If left on the ground now, they’ll just make a wet, slippery mess, inviting to pests.

Watering
It’s easy to forget about watering duties in the middle of fall, but proper moisture now is key to your plants’ successful survival over the cold winter months.

  • Check the moisture of all plants, especially those in dry, sheltered areas such as under eaves and around tall evergreens.

Composting
Autumn leaves must fall — but what to do with them?

  • Rake or otherwise gather all the little fallen ones, from leaves to grass clippings to spent plants and vegetables, and either give the compost pile a good feeding or spade them directly into the ground. Exception: If your grass has been treated with herbicides, it might be safer to compost than to blend into the soil.
  • As an alternative to raking, if you have drifts of piled leaves, mow over them in the grass to break them up and make a great brown-and-green composting combo.
  • Save some whole leaves for piling around roses after the ground has frozen

Pest control
Slugs don’t slow down as the weather gets cooler; in fact, you’ll likely find them at all life stages in October, from eggs to youngsters and adults.

  • Take whatever measures you prefer — salt, slug bait, saucers of beer — to eliminate slugs. It’s best to catch them at early stages, to stop the reproduction cycle.
  • Keep the ground raked and tidied to reduce their habitat.
  • Keep staying ahead of weeds this month; they serve as homes for pests and bugs, and destroying them before they flower and seed will save you work in the future.

Harvesting
In many areas, October is the month to harvest.

  • Do a taste test on vegetables, and harvest them when flavor is at its peak. If you’d like to extend the harvest of carrots, turnips and other root vegetables, leave some in the ground to mulch as the weather gets colder. They can handle cold snaps!
  • Early in the month, before temperatures drop too much, seed cover crops such as clover, peas or vetch to enrich the soil. It will serve as a natural fertilizer, stifle weed growth and help loosen up the soil for next year’s crops.

Houseplants
If your September was mild enough that your houseplants and geraniums are still outdoors, be sure to make them cozy inside before the first frost takes a bite out of them.

  • Take geranium cuttings of 2 to 4 inches to root indoors.
  • If you treat houseplants chemically, after treating be sure to keep them warm and away from direct sunlight.
  • Fertilize houseplants now; they shouldn’t need it again until March.
  • Get poinsettias and Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti ready for well-timed holiday color. Give them a daily dose of 10 hours of bright daylight or four hours of direct sun, and 14 hours of night darkness. Christmas cacti need a cool environment of 50 to 60 degrees F, while poinsettias prefer a warmer 65 to 72 degrees. Let cacti dry out between waterings.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Sally Anderson of MSN Real Estate

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…To start planning your Christmas Wishlist.

I find most of the gifts I ask  for from this beauty of a publication:

THE NEIMAN MARCUS CHRISTMAS BOOK

 

MY TOP PICKS:

These adorable Kendra Scott earrings – and a steal at only $90.00

This cashmere robe. Talk about luxurious. Too bad it doesn’t get below 90 degrees in Austin.

But above all else….

A walk-on role in the Broadway production of Annie. I would die and go to heaven. I am going to try to convince James to buy this one – but don’t hold your breath.

 

So ladies (or gentlemen), if you want to make your own Neiman Marcus wishlist to give to loved ones, view the online catalog here.  You’re welcome.

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The most potent weapon in your antiaging arsenal may be scaling back at mealtime.

The most potent weapon in your antiaging arsenal may be scaling back at mealtime.

IT CAN HAPPEN AT ANY AGE: One day you’re eating what you want with no consequences. The next day, one stray cookie and your jeans don’t zip. Elisabetta Politi, nutritional director at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina, notes that each year your resting metabolism burns approximately 10 fewer calories — 100 fewer per decade — meaning you can slide up into the next dress size all too easily if you don’t gradually adjust your diet over time. Plus, as you age, “your old techniques don’t work anymore,” says Heather Bauer, a New York City-based registered dietician and coauthor of Bread Is the Devil. “You can’t binge and starve your way to a healthy weight.” Research suggests that even exercise can’t counteract the evils of age-related weight gain. Recent studies indicate that metabolism is less responsive to exercise than we had thought. New York-based fitness instructor and holistic health coach Craig Smith believes that the food you eat accounts for a full 85 percent of your body’s appearance, while a gym routine dictates only the remaining 15. “No workout will give you the results you want unless you change your diet,” he says. We polled the country’s top nutritionists and doctors and a swath of svelte professional women to find the best body strategies for every age.

20s

THE SCIENTIFIC SCOOP: Most women’s basal metabolic rate — a key determinant of metabolism speed — can drop by 5 to 10 percent between their mid-teens and early 20s, due to a rise in reproductive hormones, says Dr. Jeffrey Morrison, a family doctor and nutritionist based in New York City. “As a woman enters prime childbearing years, estrogen — which increases body fat — rises,” he explains. At a cellular level, mitochondria, which convert glucose into energy, become less efficient, impairing the body’s ability to burn fat and sugar, says Oz Garcia, a New York City-based wellness and aging expert whose clients include Hilary Swank and Heidi Klum. “As kids, our mitochondria work at full blast,” he says, but they slow with age.

THE EATING STRATEGY: Aim to get a full third of your diet from protein, suggests Morrison, who says he’s seen patients become vegetarians only to find it harder to shed weight when they consume inadequate amounts of protein, which is necessary to maintain muscle mass and optimize metabolic function. Case in point? Jewelry designer Suzanne Somersall, 29, lost 5 pounds from cutting back on calorie- and carb-dense Nature Valley granola bars and eating more lean protein like chicken, salmon, and hummus. In addition, New York nutritionist Joy Bauer suggests swapping sugar- and calorie-heavy coffee drinks, the domain of college all-nighters, for skim-milk lattes. Milk provides calcium (women need 1,200 milligrams daily to help build bones before menopause) and protein. And add vegetables like spinach to get folic acid, which is important for women who want kids.

THE EXERCISE PLAN: Experts agree that establishing a consistent fitness routine, say 30 minutes of cardio three to four times a week to establish muscle tone and drive metabolism, is a must. Good habits now will pay dividends later.

30s

THE SCIENTIFIC SCOOP: Research done at the Cleveland Clinic shows that while portions of the human skeleton continue growing through the mid-20s, by her 30s, a woman’s vertical growth has stopped and the hormones responsible for boosting muscle and bone strength fall off dramatically. Experts say those growth hormones also help prevent glucose absorption in fat cells, and when there is a deficiency, it’s hard to lose weight. On top of that, pregnancy and breast-feeding mean many women temporarily increase their nutritional intake, and stress — brought on by full-fledged careers and family life — can cause overeating and trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone that signals to the body to store fat around the midsection.

THE EATING STRATEGY: “In your 30s, every day can be a frantic whirlwind,” says Bauer. To stabilize blood sugar and maximize energy, she suggests starting the morning with a breakfast of Greek yogurt, which has lots of calcium and twice the protein of regular yogurt, and making a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread for a mid-morning snack. (The slow-burning carbs help you feel fuller longer, as does the fat in the peanut butter.) Elisa Dahan, a 33-year-old mother of two and the Montreal-based co-creative director of outerwear line Mackage, eats Nutella on whole-wheat toast every morning, saying it satisfies her sweet tooth and gives her something to look forward to the night before. For dinner, in lieu of bread or pasta, Dahan has a salad and barbecued salmon. One habit busy women should avoid, experts agree, is unintentionally sabotaging a diet by casually polishing off high-calorie foods (like uneaten French fries) from your child’s or partner’s plate. “You have to create controlled moments when you can eat,” advises Bauer. So steam a big plate of spinach to snack on while your kids have dinner, or order a side of grilled asparagus at restaurants.

THE EXERCISE PLAN: Full-body conditioning, like in a cardio class with weights, will torch calories and build muscle simultaneously, making it a time-efficient way to get in shape during your 30s, says Smith.

40s, 50s & BEYOND

THE SCIENTIFIC SCOOP: As metabolism function drops further, daily calorie requirements dip, too. In addition, women approaching menopause have less estrogen, meaning fat goes straight to the abdomen, not hips or thighs.

THE EATING STRATEGY: After 40, overall health becomes as much a consideration as weight. Experts highlight the need for heart-healthy fats like coconut oil, which contain a cholesterol-lowering triglyceride that’s easily converted into energy; and antioxidant-packed and anti-inflammatory foods like red bell peppers, which can reduce the effects of chronic oxidative stress and excessive inflammation, both of which are linked to higher cancer risks. Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Moreno, a San Diego-based family practitioner whose latest book, The 17 Day Plan to Stop Aging, was published in September, tells patients this age to eat Brazil nuts, loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that can help fight depression. Ji Baek, 42, founder of Rescue Beauty Lounge, an upscale line of nail products, has her own approach: She eats just one meal a day. Throughout the morning and afternoon, Baek snacks on an apple or a few cashews and drinks tea in anticipation of a 6 p.m. dinner date with her husband or friends, which often includes wine, stuffed pasta shells, and steak. “I’m not a farmer. I don’t need to eat three times a day,” she says, adding that the diet allows her to enjoy the foods she loves while staying lean. “I choose quality over quantity.”

Jewelry designer Ann Dexter-Jones, in her late 50s, took the opposite approach, eating more, not less, when she realized that being too thin was adding years to her appearance. “I needed a few carbs to fill out my face,” says Dexter-Jones, who now has oatmeal for breakfast, a meal she used to skip; vegetable- and fish-filled lunches and dinners (Dover sole and sea bass are favorites); and vodka sodas instead of wine, which she says has too much sugar. Savory snacks, like Gorgonzola and Emmentaler cheese, salami, and pickles, round out the day.

THE EXERCISE PLAN: Add resistance training to your fitness program to mitigate the effects of sarcopenia, the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass, says Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center.

THE NEW PRESCRIPTIONS

Last summer, the FDA approved its first two diet medications in more than a decade, Belviq and Qsymia. (Another, Contrave, was rejected in 2011 but is expected to be reviewed again in two years.) Die-hard dieters are rejoicing, but experts like Dr. Gerard Mullin, the director of Integrative Gastroenterology Nutrition Services at Johns Hopkins Hospital, question the drugs’ long-term efficacy. Even those who celebrate the addition of new tools to help patients, like Dr. Caroline Apovian, say the drugs are intended for clinically obese patients with diseases like type 2 diabetes or hypertension. “This is not for someone who wants to lose 5 pounds to fit into a wedding dress,” she says.

NAME: BELVIQ

TIMELINE: Approved by the FDA in June 2012; available by prescription soon.

CLAIM TO FAME: This appetite suppressant activates a serotonin receptor in the brain, so smaller portion sizes trigger greater satiety. In clinical trials, almost half of the nondiabetic patients who used Belviq lost 5 percent or more of their starting weight (an average of 12 pounds) in a year. Possible side effects include headaches and dizziness.

NAME: QSYMIA

TIMELINE: Approved by the FDA in July 2011; available by prescription soon.

CLAIM TO FAME: This drug combines phentermine, an appetite suppressant, with topiramate, an epilepsy and migraine medication often prescribed off-label to help people feel fuller. Dieters on a high dose lost slightly more than 10 percent of their starting weight, but possible side effects include elevated heart rates, a decline in cognitive function, and birth defects in babies of pregnant patients.

NAME: CONTRAVE

TIMELINE: Rejected by the FDA in 2011; may be reviewed again in two years.

CLAIM TO FAME: Contrave, a combination of the antidepressant buproprion (marketed as Wellbutrin) and naltrexone, a medication for drug and alcohol addiction, suppresses food cravings. The FDA has asked for more research on its effect on cardiovascular health.

 

 

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Tatiana Boncompagni

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