ss_blog_claim=6cd73fab0d1dd89407889b31eb885dd3 ss_blog_claim=6cd73fab0d1dd89407889b31eb885dd3 Blog Directory Things I Did Not Know Before: October 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

8 Things No One Tells Me About Marriage

The surprising, enlightening, and sometimes hard truths we all face after marriage, and how they teach us about what love really means.

"...And they lived happily ever after."

I must admit that we should know all these basic things about marriage, even before we decide to get married. What normally happens is that, we tend to know these things only when we are facing it or as soon as we encounter anything bothering us sometimes! Human instinct reveals. You're smart. You know life is no storybook. But admit it: Somewhere deep in your subconscious lurk romantic visions of Cinderella, or maybe Julia Roberts. The images may be sketchy and a little outdated, but you can still make out the silhouette of the bride and Prince Charming riding off into the sunset.

In real life, sometimes your Disney fairy tale ends up feeling more like a Wes Craven horror flick — and you're the chick who keeps falling down and screaming for her life. I've been there. Let's face it, marriage is not for the faint of heart. You want to believe your pure love for each other will pull you through. And it does. But it ain't always pretty.

That may sound grim. But here's a secret: Sometimes it's the least romantic parts of marriage that have the most to teach you about yourself, your partner, and the nature of love. Read on for some simple truths that will unlock the surprising treasures and pleasures in your imperfect, un-story book, real-life love.

1. You will look at the person lying next to you and wonder, Is this it? Forever?

When you get married, you think that as long as you pick the right guy — your soul mate — you'll be happy together until death do you part. Then you wake up one day and realize that no matter how great he is, he doesn't make you happy every moment of every day. In fact, some days you might wonder why you were in such a hurry to get married in the first place. You think to yourself, This is so not what I signed up for.

Actually, it is. You just didn't realize it the day you and your guy were cramming wedding cake into each other's faces, clinking champagne glasses, and dancing the Electric Slide. Back then you had no idea that "for better and for worse" doesn't kick in only when life hands you a tragedy. Your relationship mettle is, in fact, most tested on a daily basis, when the utter sameness of day-in/day-out togetherness can sometimes make you want to run for the hills. That's when the disappointment sneaks in, and maybe even a palpable sense of loneliness and grief. It's not him. It's just you, letting go of that sugarcoated fantasy of marriage that danced in your eyes the day you and your beloved posed in all those soft-focus wedding photos. You're learning that marriage isn't a destination; it's a journey filled with equal parts excitement and tedium.

Waking up from a good dream to face the harsh morning daylight may not seem like a reason to celebrate. But trust me, it is. Because once you let go of all the hokey stories of eternal bliss, you find that the reality of marriage is far richer and more rewarding than you ever could have guessed. Hard, yes. Frustrating, yes. But full of its own powerful, quiet enchantments just the same, and that's better than any fairy tale.

2. You'll work harder than you ever imagined.

Early on, when people say, "Marriage takes work," you assume "work" means being patient when he forgets to put down the toilet seat. In your naiveté, you think that you will struggle to accommodate some annoying habit, like persistent knuckle cracking or flatulence.

If only it were that easy. Human beings, you may have noticed, are not simple creatures. Your man has mysterious, unplumbed depths — and from where he sits, you're pretty complicated, too. You have to learn each other the same way that you once learned earth science or world geography. And getting married doesn't mean you're done — it just means you've advanced to graduate-level studies. That's because every time you think you've mastered the material, he'll change a bit. And so will you. As two people grow and evolve, the real work of marriage is finding a way to relate to and nurture each other in the process.

"It's like losing weight," says Andrea Harden, 45, of Buffalo, NY. "You want it to be a one-time deal. You lost it, now just live. But then you learn it's a lifestyle. That's marriage. The effort is a forever thing." So don't be too hard on yourself — or him — on those days when you feel like you're struggling through remedial math.

3. You will sometimes go to bed mad (and maybe even wake up madder).

Whoever decided to tell newlyweds "Never go to bed angry" doesn't know what it's like inside a bedroom where tears and accusations fly as one spouse talks the other into a woozy stupor until night meets the dawn. If this scenario sounds familiar, I've got three words for you: Sleep on it.

You need to calm down. You need to gain perspective. You need to just give it a rest. I've found that an argument of any quality, like a fine wine, needs to breathe. A break in the action will help you figure out whether you're angry, hurt, or both, and then pinpoint the exact source. Maybe the fight that seemed to erupt over the overflowing garbage can is really about feeling under-appreciated. Could be you're both stressed out at work and just needed to unload on someone. Taking a break will help you see that, and let go. Or maybe you really do have a legitimate disagreement to work out. Without a time-out, sometimes a perfectly good argument can turn into an endless round of silly back-and-forth, rehashing old and irrelevant transgressions as you get more and more wound up.

Even when you do manage to stay focused and on topic, there are some fights that stubbornly refuse to die by bedtime. And if you stifle your real feelings just to meet some arbitrary deadline, your marriage will surely be the worse for it. "This was a huge lesson for me," says Andrea. "As women we've been trained to make nice. But the whole kiss-and-make-up thing just to keep the peace was eating me up inside. I'd let things build up inside me until I just exploded. Now I wait a while to get hold of myself — let the emotions settle a bit — and state my position. Even if that means reopening the fight the next day."

4. You will go without sex — sometimes for a long time — and that's okay.

There are few men in the Western world sexier than my husband. And I don't say this because I know he may read this article. I've seen women checking him out when they think I'm not looking. (Honestly, ladies, you don't have to sneak a peek. I don't mind if you stare.) That said, there are times that I just don't feel like having sex — often for reasons that have nothing to do with Genoveso. (See? Even his name is sexy.) I can't lie and say this is always okay with him. But the fact is, there are also plenty of nights when he's not in the mood. So maybe a few days go by when we don't do it. And then a few more. And...

Sexless periods are a natural part of married life. A dry spell isn't a sign that you've lost your mojo or that you'll never have sex again. It just means that maybe this week, sleep is more important than sex. (I don't know about you, but between work, 3 a.m. feedings, the PTA, soccer, T-ball, and everything else, I sometimes crave sleep the way a pimply, hormonal adolescent longs to cop a feel.)

And don't kid yourself; no one in America is doing it as often as popular culture would have you believe. Instead of worrying about how much you think you "should" be having sex, keep the focus on figuring out your own rhythm. "I used to think, What's happened to us? We always used to be in the mood," says 35-year-old Kim Henderson of Oakland, CA, who's been married for five years. "Now I know better. Life happens. My husband just started a new job. He has a long commute, and we have two small children. I think we're good."

The key is to make sure that even if you're not doing "it," you're still doing something — touching, kissing, hugging. Personally, my heart gets warm and mushy when my husband rubs my feet after a long, tiring day. He may not be anywhere near my G-spot, but that little bit of touch and attention keeps us connected even when we're not having spine-tingling sex.

5. Getting your way is usually not as important as finding a way to work together.

I can be a bit of a know-it-all. There, I said it. It's really not my intention to be hurtful or brash with people I love. It's just that a lifetime of experience has taught me that in most areas, at most times, I am right about most things. What shocked me several years into my marriage, though, was the realization that the more "right" I was, the more discontented my husband and I were as a couple. See, oddly enough, throughout his life Genoveso has been under the misguided impression that he's right most of the time (go figure!). So we'd lock horns — often. That is, until I learned a few things.

5. Getting your way is usually not as important as finding a way to work together.

Namely, that when it comes to certain disagreements, there is no right or wrong — there is simply your way of looking at things and your husband's. "I used to be very black-and-white earlier in our marriage," says Lindy Vincent, 38, who lives in Minneapolis. "Now I see that I'm not all right and my husband is not all wrong. There's more gray in life than I thought, and that's taught me patience and the value of compromise."

The more I get to know and appreciate my husband for who he is, the more I respect his positions. That doesn't mean I always agree with him. But I can see the value in striking a balance that satisfies us both. And instead of harping on how wrong he is, I can usually swallow the verbal vitriol and simply say something like, "I see your point" or "I hadn't considered that." After I sincerely acknowledge his view, it seems to become easier for him to hear mine. And because I know I'm being heard, most of the time now, I don't even want to prove how right I am anymore. Funny how that works, isn't it?

6. A great marriage doesn't mean no conflict; it simply means a couple keeps trying to get it right.

Maybe you think that because of my newfound wisdom, Genoveso and I never fight anymore. Ha! As important as it is to strike a balance, it's also important to have a big, fat fight every now and then. Because when you fight, you don't just raise your voices; you raise real — sometimes buried — issues that challenge you to come to a clearer understanding of you, your man, and your relationship. I wouldn't give up our fights for anything in the world, because I know in the end they won't break us; they'll only make us stronger.

7. You'll realize that you can only change yourself.

Ever seen the '80s sci-fi cult classic Making Mr. Right? When the stylish heroine, played by Ann Magnuson, is hired to teach a robot how to act like a human, she seizes the chance to create a perfect guy. A hotshot commercial whiz, she uses her marketing prowess to shape John Malkovich's android character into her personal version of the ideal man — sensitive, eager to please, and willing to listen.

There is a bit of that makeover fantasy in all of us — something that makes us believe we can change the person we love, make him just a little bit closer to perfect. We may use support and empathy or shouts and ultimatums, but with dogged conviction we take on this huge responsibility, convinced we're doing the right thing.

7. You'll realize that you can only change yourself.

Whatever our motives, the effort is exhausting. Transforming a full-grown man — stripping him of decades-old habits, beliefs, and idiosyncrasies — is truly an impossible task. And you will come to realize, sooner than later if you're lucky, that it is far easier to change the way you respond to him.

Here's a perfect case in point: "I used to go off on my husband because he didn't empty the sink trap when he cleaned the kitchen," says Kimberly Seals Allers, 36, of Bay Shore, NY. "It got me nowhere; my rants only made him resentful. Now I come home and when the kitchen looks clean, I'm like, 'Cool, now all I have to do is empty the sink trap.'"

8. As you face your fears and insecurities, you will find out what you're really made of.

I've got issues. Trust issues. Control issues. And others, I'm sure, that I've yet to fully discover. I guess I've always known I wasn't perfect. But in more than a decade of marriage, I've been smacked upside the head with the cold, hard evidence.

There were clues when Genoveso and I were dating, especially with the trust thing. Early on, I was supersuspicious of him. He used to say things like, "I'll call you at 8." Then, just to try to trip me up, he'd call at 8. I knew he was up to something, I just couldn't figure out what. The same kinds of experiences followed after the wedding. Except occasionally he would actually mess up. And I had no sense of scale when it came to rating his offenses; everything was a major violation. Whether he teased me about a new haircut or came home late, I seethed for days and even let thoughts of divorce creep into my head. I figured, if he loved me — really and truly — this stuff wouldn't happen.

I'd like to be able to say that this irrational behavior lasted only a few months and I eventually worked it out. Kind of, sort of, is closer to the truth. After years of looking deeply into my soul and talking to good friends and the best sister a girl could ever have, I've come to recognize certain things about myself. Not to get all Dr. Phil about it, but I've had to examine my history with an emotionally distant dad and a strong-willed mom and face up to all the ways, both good and bad, that those relationships have affected how I approach my marriage.

I still struggle as a work in progress. But I am completely clear in the knowledge that many of the deepest frustrations in your relationship are an opportunity for you to confront yourself. That can be difficult to accept — after all, it's so much more comforting to keep a running tab of your hubby's deficits and tell yourself that his failings are the only thing standing between you and a better marriage. But if you let it, this bumpy journey toward self-awareness can be one of the more fulfilling rewards of a committed, long-term relationship — you'll learn to love your quirks and be compassionate toward yourself, just as you're learning to do with him.

8. As you face your fears and insecurities, you will find out what you're really made of. continued...

That's the strange beauty of marriage: It's full of hard times and hard lessons that no one can ever prepare you for. But in the end, those are the things that give richness to your life together — and make your love even deeper and stronger than when it began.


WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Ylonda Gault Caviness

The Morning "Banana Diet"

I am glad to have read this article. I love banana, and I have never realized this before! Well, I want to try this. Bananas, along with most fruits have long been a part of healthy diets and weight loss plans. A new diet said to result in fast, stress-free weight loss has taken Japan by storm. It is possibly the world's easiest diet to follow - except in Japan where its intense popularity has led to the nation's worst-ever banana shortage.

The Morning Banana diet was developed by Hitoshi Watanabe, who studied preventive medicine in Tokyo, and his pharmacist wife, Sumiko. The diet has since gained popularity by word of mouth, web sites, TV shows, magazine articles, and a book written by the Watanabes. All this goes to show that dieting is an international obsession, not just an American one. But could weight loss really be as simple as eating bananas?

The Morning Banana Diet: What You Can Eat

The Morning Banana Diet is a super simple plan. For breakfast, you have only bananas and room-temperature water. Then, you can eat whatever you like for lunch, dinner, and snacks, as long as you don't eat after 8 p.m. The only restrictions: No ice cream, dairy products, alcohol, or dessert after dinner, and the only beverage you may have with meals is room-temperature water. One sweet snack is allowed mid-afternoon.

One of the most popular aspects of the plan is the lack of emphasis on exercise. Dieters are advised to do it only if they want to, and even then, it should be done in a manner that is the least stressful.

The Morning Banana Diet: How It Works

Different versions of the Morning Banana Diet tout varying explanations of exactly how bananas work to promote weight loss. One theory suggests that certain enzymes in bananas speed up digestion and elimination, causing rapid weight loss. However, the human body already contains all the enzymes needed for digestion. It's true that foods with fiber (and bananas have some) can go through the digestive system more quickly and may not be completely absorbed, thus saving a few calories. But the calorie savings are certainly not enough to revolutionize the weight loss industry.

Another theory centers on resistant starch, a type of fiber that is supposed to promote fullness and increase fat burning. Resistant starch is found naturally in carbohydrate foods such as green bananas, potatoes, grains, and beans -- but only when you eat them cold. It resists digestion in the small intestine, where most digestion occurs, and gets passed along to the large bowel.

Studies show that the indigestible fiber may block the conversion of some carbs, but even so, bananas contain only a small amount of fiber and resistant starch. Bananas have 2-4 grams of fiber; to be considered a "good" source, a food must have 3.5-4.9 grams of fiber per serving.

But while they are nutritious, they do not have special weight loss properties.

The Morning Banana Diet: Bottom Line

Eating whatever you like at lunch, dinner, and snacks is no recipe for weight loss. To lose weight, you need to be physically active and control calories. And to stay healthy, you should choose healthy foods.

Not eating after 8 p.m. is good advice for those who tend to mindlessly snack after dinner. But make no mistake about it: There is nothing miraculous about not eating after 8 p.m. What matters are how many calories you consume (regardless of the time of day), and how many calories you burn.

And while eating breakfast does help to get your metabolism percolating, there's nothing magical about having a banana for your morning meal. Eating a banana and water for breakfast is easy enough and certainly a low-calorie option. Bananas range from 72-135 calories and 10-20 grams of sugar, depending on size. But even though bananas have some fiber, a pure carb breakfast usually leads to hunger within a few hours, and hunger is the downfall of dieters.

Instead, you could blend a banana with a few cubes of ice and a cup of plain, low-fat yogurt (150 calories and 12 grams protein) for a delicious, nutritious smoothie with staying power.

The Morning Banana Diet: Food for Thought

To feel full on the fewest calories, focus on eating healthy foods high in water and fiber, like beans, soups, vegetables, and fruits. Be sure to include lean protein, such as low-fat yogurt, lean meat, eggs, or nuts, to help keep hunger at bay.

The truth is that fad diets that restrict calories can result in weight loss, but it's almost always followed by quick weight regain. And experts agree that there is no food capable of burning off fat. If there were, we would not be coping with an obesity epidemic.

It may not be sexy or exciting, but to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. Period.


Source: Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD and the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Truth About Various Birthmarks

I used to wonder how and why some people get and some won't. Is there any theory lies behind birthmarks? We all aware that a birthmark is a colored mark on or under the skin that’s present at birth or develops shortly after birth. Some birthmarks fade with time; others become more pronounced. Birthmarks may be caused by extra pigment in the skin or by blood vessels that do not grow normally. Most birthmarks are painless and harmless. In rare cases, they can cause complications or are associated with other conditions. All birthmarks should be checked by a doctor.

Salmon Patches

Salmon patches are nests of blood vessels that appear as small, pink, flat marks on the skin. They occur in 1/3 of newborn babies. Salmon patches can appear on the back of the neck (“stork bite”), between the eyes (“angel’s kiss”), or on the forehead, nose, upper lip, or eyelids. Some fade as baby grows, but patches on the back of the neck usually don’t go away. Salmon patches require no treatment.

Port Wine Stains

A port wine stain begins as a flat, pinkish-red mark at birth and gradually becomes darker and reddish-purple with age. Most will get bigger and thicker, too. Port wine stains are caused by dilated blood capillaries. Those on the eyelid may increase the risk of glaucoma. Port wine stains may be a sign of other disorders, but usually not. Treatment includes laser therapy, skin grafts, and masking makeup.

Mongolian Spots

Mongolian spots are flat, smooth marks that are present from birth. Frequently found on the buttocks or lower back, they’re typically blue, but can also be bluish gray, bluish black, or brown. They may resemble a bruise. Mongolian spots are most common on darker-skinned babies. They usually fade by school age, but may never disappear entirely. No treatment is required.

Cafe-Au-Lait Spots

Cafe-au-lait spots are smooth and oval and range in color from light to medium brown, which is how they got their name, “coffee with milk” in French. They’re typically found on the torso, buttocks, and legs. Cafe-au-lait spots may get bigger and darker with age, but are generally not considered a problem. However, having several spots larger than a quarter is linked with neurofibromatosis and the rare McCune-Albright syndrome. Consult a doctor if your child has several spots.

Strawberry Hemangiomas

Hemangiomas are a collection of small, closely packed blood vessels. Strawberry hemangiomas occur on the surface of the skin, usually on the face, scalp, back, or chest. They may be red or purple; they can be flat or slightly raised, with sharp borders.

Strawberry hemangiomas usually develop a few weeks after birth. They grow rapidly through the first year before subsiding around age 9. Some slight discoloration or puckering of the skin may remain at the site. No treatment is required, but when desired, medicines and laser therapy are effective.

Cavernous Hemangiomas

Present at birth, deeper cavernous hemangiomas are just under the skin and appear as a bluish spongy mass of tissue filled with blood. If they’re deep enough, the overlying skin may look normal. Cavernous hemangiomas typically appear on the head or neck. Most disappear by puberty. A combination of cavernous and strawberry hemangioma can occur.

Venous Malformation

Venous malformations are caused by abnormally formed, dilated veins. Although present at birth, they may not become apparent until later in childhood or adulthood. Venous malformations appear in 1% to 4% of babies. They are often found on the jaw, cheek, tongue, and lips. They may also appear on the limbs, trunk and internal organs, including the brain. They will continue to grow slowly, and they don’t shrink with time. Treatment -- often sclerotherapy or surgery -- may be necessary for pain or impaired function.

Pigmented Nevi (Moles)

Moles occur when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body, alone or in groups. Moles are usually flesh-colored, brown, or black. Moles may darken with sun exposure and during pregnancy. They tend to lose color during adulthood and may disappear in old age. Most moles are not cause for alarm. However, moles may have a slightly increased risk of becoming skin cancer. Moles should be checked by a doctor if:

  • They change size or shape.
  • They look different from other moles.
  • They appear after age 20.
Congenital Nevi

Congenital nevi are moles that appear at birth. The skin texture may range from normal to raised, or nodular to irregular. Congenital nevi can grow anywhere on the body and vary in size --from a small 1-inch mark to a giant birthmark covering half of the body or more. Small congenital nevi occur in 1% of newborns. Most moles are not dangerous. But congenital nevi, especially large ones, should always be evaluated by a doctor since they may have an increased risk of becoming skin cancer.

Dysplastic Nevi (Atypical Moles)

Atypical moles are generally larger (one-quarter inch across or more) than ordinary moles and have irregular and indistinct borders. They may resemble cancerous moles. They may have a mix of colors including pink, red, tan and brown.These moles tend to be hereditary. Atypical moles have an increased chance of developing into melanoma skin cancer. Have a doctor evaluate all moles that look unusual, grow larger, or change in any way.

CLOMID - Increases the Chance of Having Twins...

I have started to realize various ways and fertility medicines as soon as I lost our first baby, and I never did become conscious about this CLOMID tablets, that in fact, there is a possibility that you will be having twins! Uuummm sounds scrumptious but it is really true? I have made some inquiries and it seriously will. Please read here for more information.

This medication is used to treat infertility in women. It works by stimulating an increase in the amount of hormones that support the growth and release of a mature egg (ovulation). This medication is not recommended for women whose ovaries no longer make eggs properly (primary pituitary or ovarian failure).

Clomid and Twins
Clomid is also associated with a 10% increase in the chance of having twins. There is also the possibility of conceiving triplets, or more, however, the chances of multiple births while using Clomid is generally thought to be extremely low.

Unprescribed Clomid
Thanks to the internet, it is now easier than ever for women to get their hands on Clomid. As a result, a number of women who are not experiencing fertility problems have begun using Clomid as an inexpensive way to increase their chances of conceiving twins. Although Clomid can increase the chances of conceiving multiples compared to the general population, many agree that this increase is not significant. Moreover, the use of unprescribed Clomid is both dangerous and possibly detrimental to your chances of conceiving.

Since the drug is not prescribed, health care providers cannot properly monitor their patients that are using it. Without close monitoring, it is difficult to know whether or not the Clomid is even affecting your body. Additionally, it can cause the signs of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) to go unnoticed. OHSS is a serious complication in any woman who uses fertility drugs and severe cases require immediate medical attention.

Even if OHSS does not occur, women who use Clomid but do not have any ovulation problems may actually be making their body less effective at getting pregnant. Using Clomid unnecessarily can create new problems, such as making your cervical mucus hostile to your partner’s sperm, thereby lowering your chances of successfully conceiving.

Clomid Success Rates
Ovualtion rates with Clomid are generally very good. Between 70% and 90% of women using Clomid will ovulate within the first three cycles. Although the pregnancy success rates of Clomid will vary according to a variety of factors, on average, about 40% of women will be able to successfully conceive within the first three months of using Clomid. The live birth rate for women using Clomid is estimated to be between 30% and 60%.

General Info:

Treatment for infertility can encompass a great many number of things, from drugs to surgery to assisted reproductive techniques. Depending on the cause of your fertility problems, one or more different types of treatment may be recommended. If you are prescribed medications, then it is likely that you will need regular ultrasound exams to ensure that your medications are doing what they are supposed to rather than causing problems, like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

Women with ovulation problems will likely be prescribed medications to help induce ovulation. These drugs can include: clomid, bromocriptine, GnRH, tamoxifen/nolvadex and gonadotropins, which may be administered as a subcutaneous injection or as an intramuscular injection. Aromatase Inhibitors, a new and experimental line of fertility drugs, may provide alternative hormone therapy for both men and women.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spiritual Diets, Ways of Losing Weight

I have tried numerous ways of dieting, trying to loose weight but I never knew that there was such a Spiritual Diet. You would probably say that I don't need to diet anymore, but I was a young woman praying fervently to wake up at least 10 pounds thinner. Well, we all know that we have to follow the correct way to eat to be able to obtain what we want, like (no sugar, wheat or flour, and weighing and measuring all the food according to the plan from Food Addicts Anonymous. Then we have to find the motivation and fulfillment not to involve with binge eating.

One thing I know for sure, that there are lots of ways to lose weight, but only one way to ensure success. That is to engage all aspects of your being in the process: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. These seven books offer enough choices that anyone with an ounce of willingness can, one day at a time, transform his or her life. Some are more detailed and prescriptive than others, but all encourage you to address your whole self, from how you take care of your body to how you feed your soul.

7 New Programs to Flavor your Quest for Health and Weight Loss with Holistic Wisdom and Meaning

Gay Norton Edelman is senior editor at Family Circle magazine. She has written scores of magazine articles, but her favorite subjects continue to be spirituality, psychology, self-help, and balanced living.

Unleash your creative self.

Julia Cameron, author of The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size (Tarcher/Penguin), has been a creativity coach and artist for more than 30 years. Along the way, she discovered that as people learned to express themselves, their body weight normalized. The first part of "The Writing Diet" lays out sensible tools for right-sizing your body (walking, journaling, not getting too "hungry, angry, lonely, or tired"--HALT, for short). Part two offers a smart, succinct list of weight-loss pitfalls (night eating, food as sedative, genes, trauma) and ways to address each. Grounded in a deep humanist spirituality, informed by the world of 12-step, and filled with real-life anecdotes, Cameron covers personal weight-loss turf from inside (soul work) to outside (body work).

Best-of-book tip: Grab a notebook every morning (no excuses!) and write three pages. "Simply move your hand across the page and write whatever thought comes into your head," says Cameron. Complain, whine, blather on. Don't get arty or even worry about spelling or grammar. These "morning pages" will move you through emotions, prioritize your day, and remind you what you really need.

Gay tries it: I've actually been doing morning pages since I read Cameron's bestseller, The Artist's Way. Especially when I first started giving up the overeating, it was a way to vent emotions I would otherwise have stuffed down with the food. Powerful!

Cherish your food.

Sound science meets grounded holistic spirituality in Forget fad diets and fad food.

Jordan Rubin exhorts readers of Perfect Weight: Change Your Diet, Change Your Life, Change Your World (Siloam) to eschew "Frankenfood" in favor of eating "what God created for food" and "foods in a healthy form for the body." Rubin and co-author Dr. Bernard Bulwere offer strong opinions on earth-friendly eating and go into deep, sometimes controversial detail about "don't-touch" and "must-have" foods and supplements. The authors cover a lot of ground: specific food recommendations, a 16-week eating plan, directions for "cleansing your digestive system," physical fitness regimens, and a step-by-step stress-busting exercise. Rubin, a Christian author who wrote The Maker's Diet, provides simple inspiration, too: Check out section three, where more than a dozen women and men briefly share their weight-loss success stories.

Best-of-book tip: Dump intensely processed foods, including artificial sweeteners--some of the worst additives that are also the most widely consumed, says Rubin. Eat simple, seasonable foods. Drink water to flush out unavoidable food additives. Gay tries it: Simple foods do work best for me. I learned the hard way that sorbitol and malitol cause digestive trouble. Aspartame gives me a headache. Saccharine? Even though it has no calories, it makes me crave sweets that do. I take Rubin's advice, avoid the faux stuff, which makes natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables that much more enjoyable. (Celestial Arts). Health researchers Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz took a hard look at the American obesity epidemic to come up with this tested "whole-person" approach. They lay out seven main problems (food fretting, task snacking, emotional eating, fast foodism, solo dining, unappetizing atmosphere, and sensory disregard). Then they offer solutions that are both practical and soul satisfying--from meditation to visualization to the importance of fresh whole foods to specific fun physical exercises. Filled with first-person anecdotes and study references, "The Enlightened Diet" will continue to be a resource even after you've found your right weight. Best-of-book tip: Enjoy your food completely. Relish it! "When you take time to experience your food through all five senses," say the authors, "and to regard the mystery of life inherent in both food and yourself, you're more likely to be truly nourished, and less likely to overeat." In short, slow down and be fully present as you eat. Gay tries it: It seemed counterintuitive at first to focus more on food when you want it to have less dominance in your life, but then I realized they're talking about eating mindfully. Taking time to appreciate my meals--not only with my senses, but by taking smaller bites and chewing thoroughly--has made me feel fuller and happier when I'm done. Plus, I realized that better-spiced food is more satisfying, so I'm bulking up my spice cabinet (instead of my body!).

Believe you can change.

Dr. Dean Ornish, the acknowledged maven of the healthy eating movement has a new book, The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live longer, Lose Weight, Gain Health (Ballantine Books), which digs deep into the science of tailoring a healthy lifestyle for yourself. (There are even 100 tasty-sounding low-on-the-food-chain recipes.) What's spiritual about all this? Ornish's emphasis on dealing with, and building on, what is, including your genetics. Plus, he's such an advocate of meditation that the book comes with a CD of quiet music to support inner work.

Best-of-book tip: Don't ever, ever let that nagging saboteur inside you tell you you're hopeless. You can do it! "If we're just victims of our bad genes, bad karma, bad fat, or bad luck, then there's not much we can do about it, other than to suffer our destiny," says Ornish. "But to the degree that we realize that we can do something about it, then we're free to change our fortunes."

Gay tries it: Holding tight to habits and thoughts that will bring me grace has served me well, especially when I weighed 254 pounds and the ugly little voice in my head was telling me I was the one obese person on the planet for whom weight loss was impossible. Once the weight was off, I learned that my life keeps getting better and better if I keep myself open to growth, one day at a time.

Drop the negative, embrace the positive.

In Slim for Life: The Ultimate Health and Detox Plan (Plume) Dr. Gillian McKeith takes you through a full diagnostic of your eating habits, including how your inner life intersects with your eating. Then you create a plan. "I want to teach you how to harness energy and make your goals happen," says McKeith, who offers specifics on what to eat and when--all lushly laid out with four-color photos. But she doesn't drop you there. She has you make a written commitment to yourself to exercise, and even offers a detox plan. And the piece de resistance: Her "SOS Emergency Plan"--a holistic way to jump-start your flagging enthusiasm for a new health regimen, complete with gentle breathing exercises, mantras, safe comfort foods, and seven important philosophical life points to remember.

Best-of-book tip: Keep your attitude positive by choosing good thoughts and imagining success. "Give out good energy and you will attract good energy," says McKeith. "When you are feeling happy and thinking positively, you will be more prone to making the right healthy food choices."

Gay tries it: When I first started paying attention to my thoughts, I was shocked at how much complaining was going on. Slowly but surely I'm learning to switch to affirming words. One thing that always works is reminding myself, over and over, what I am grateful for. Filled with gratitude, I'm not as tempted to do things I shouldn't.

Do what you need to do, in moderation.

Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous: A Nutritionist's Guide to Living Well While Living It Up (Chronicle Books) by Esther Blum is a sassy, sexy, irreverent take on how women can live reasonably as well healthfully. A registered dietician, Blum spares no dietary or lifestyle detail. She also prescribes knowing yourself and gradually changing what you ingest accordingly, never forgetting that joy is as important to peace of mind as perfect numbers on the scale. For women who absolutely need a bit of chocolate now and then, but are also willing to eat their greens, this is the ideal book. Another smart, joyful feature: a chapter on ways to upgrade blue-mood foods (mac and cheese, anyone?) so they'll soothe without abandoning good nutrition.

Best-of-book tip: Start where you are. What are you truly willing to do for yourself today? That's where your efforts should go. "Personally, I believe it's essential to eat a healthful diet," says Blum, "but if that's not a reality for you right now, it's better to be honest with yourself. Make slow and gradual changes rather than drastic, impermanent ones."

Gay tries it: A chronic yo-yo dieter, I didn't make real change until I stopped pretending I could just plunge into what scared me to death or felt totally impossible. Today, 14 years after I took off the last of the 100 pounds, I still work to make sure I don't set myself up for failure with unrealistic expectations. Just for today, I listen to my gut, find the willingness there, and do the next right thing.

Ask for help.

Seven years ago Chantel Hobbs made a phenomenal life change: 29 years old and nearly 350 pounds, she decided to take charge of her weight by changing her thinking. Two hundred pounds lighter, she took what she learned and wrote Never Say Diet: Make Five Decisions and Break the Fat Habit for Good (Waterbook Press). Early in the book, Hobbs shares her personal journey in detail--the humiliations, the revelations, the night she realized she was not living up to "the life God intended for me." Central to her program are the five decisions: Be truthful; be forgiving; be committed; be interested; surrender. The second half of the book gets down to business--a comprehensive regimen that includes illustrated exercises, foods to avoid, and ways to plan meals. A special bonus is a thoughtful chapter, "5 Ways to Get Your Family Fit," in which she lays out strategies based on the truism that no one, especially kids, can achieve healthy living alone. Best-of-book tip: Invite the help of a power greater than yourself, and success is assured. "God guaranteed me the victory if I did the work," says Hobbs, "and He has given me the strength when I didn't have much left." Surrender to your greater good, keep taking positive actions as best you can, and you'll find your healthy weight and a whole lot more. Gay tries it: The more I let go and let God, as they say in the 12-step programs, the better my health, my relationships, and my life become. Reliance on divine goodness and strength means every day can feel like a miracle, as long as I suit up, show up, put one foot in front of the other, and let God's love flow through me.