June 17, 2019 // Archive

Date based archive
17 Jun

Superintendent Bryan Johnson speaks among Hamilton County leaders regarding how the increased school budget could help students with their mental health. (Image: WTVC)

Next week, Hamilton County Commissioners could raise property taxes to fund education.

And today, school and county leaders worked to sell you on the idea. They held a round table discussion ahead of next week’s budget vote, which includes a 34-cent tax increase.

But today involved more than just how the increased budget could improve quality of education. County leaders stressed the importance of maintaining mental health for students, and giving kids the chance to receive the emotional support and guidance they need in school.

Superintendent Bryan Johnson says with social media in today’s day and age, students need access to quality counselors.

This is to deal with rising depression and suicide rates.

“Times have changed and there’s this little thing called social media that has created a whole new realm of challenge for students in what they experience,” Johnson said.

Mental health was the hot topic at today’s panel discussion with county leaders talking about the big changes in the proposed budget.

Don Mueller, CEO of the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, says suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. In fact, he says Tennessee ranks last in the country in getting help for young people suffering from depression.

“If we can catch these kids early on — before all of this is compounded on them — we can stop that process,” Mueller said. “We can intervene in that process. Counselors need to do this in the schools. That’s where it’s the most cost effective, and that’s where it’s best for kids.”

Sheriff Jim Hammond, whose department also asked for more money for next year, says schools must make sure students who are dealing with emotional problems are given the help they need, particularly in abusive households.

He says he wants kids to have these tools so they become good citizens in the community.

“Eventually these kids are gonna get on the street [as adults], and I need to know that not only are we teaching them what we need to teach them, but also that we can see that they’re going to be productive citizens,” Hammond said.

But what about residents who feel schools would be overstepping to address students’ mental health?

“If you want to have a community that’s well and healthy, you have to get to these kids where they live and spend their time,” Mueller said. “I’m a big proponent of pushing healthcare out of the hospitals and into the schools because it’s where kids live — it’s where they are every day.”

Mueller went as far to say that mental health is the No. 1 concern among healthcare for students today. The city commission will vote on the proposed budget June 26th.

According to Mayor Jim Coppinger, the average homeowner in Hamilton County has a house worth $200,000. They will pay $170 more in taxes a year, if commissioners approve the budget.

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17 Jun

In the gym, like elsewhere in life, being a tall and wide guy has advantages. But it also has…let’s not call them “disadvantages,” but rather, times “the norm” for smaller guys just won’t work for you. When that happens, you can either try to make your body bend to someone else’s rules—not recommended—or modify movements so they’ll work better for you.

As a big and tall lifter myself—6-foot-4 and about 250—I get sick and tired of hearing that it’s some form of copout or excuse to take leverages into account when training. Guess what: This isn’t my opinion. It’s eighth grade physics! When it comes to applying forces or moving loads, more work will always be needed to move the same load using a longer lever (i.e., a longer leg, arm, or spine) than a shorter one.

Translation: The bigger you are, the farther a weight has to move, and the more difficult it will be. To give a concrete example, a “normal” deadlift from the floor for one guy might basically be a three-inch deficit pull for you. As that image might help make clear, travelling more distance with a load will mean more stress and greater shear forces on the joints or regions that act as the fulcrum—think of the lower back in a deadlift, or the knees in a front squat.

Because of added joint stress to longer limbs, you’d be smart to employ a few modifications to make movements more favourable. Here are a few of my favorites.

Pressing: Use Fat Grips

The simple addition of an extra inch in bar width can have a remarkable number of positive effects. For one, an increase in bar thickness means a more even distribution of pressure throughout the palm of the hand, which can mean less joint stress through the elbow and shoulder. It seems like a very insignificant detail, but it translates to better-quality presses for anyone with longer arms and a greater distance to travel. Especially in compromised positions like the bottom of a bench, a dip, or a shoulder press, this modification can make for happier joints.

Here’s a video of some dips using fat grips for added comfort.

The problem, of course, is that finding fat barbells and dumbbells is pretty hard if you don’t belong to a strongman or powerlifting gym angled toward high-level performance. The answer in this case is to invest in your own pair of fat grips, which are relatively inexpensive but endlessly useful.

Most people focus on using these to improve grip strength during pulling movements (which they’re also great for), but in the case of big and tall lifters, they should be considered mandatory for pressing, especially if you’ve got big hands to boot.

Sub the Barbell Bench Press for Pin Press

In my article “The 3 Rules of Upper-Body Training for Tall Guys,” I touched on the importance of this movement, but it’s worth mentioning again. Straight up: You’ve got long arms, and that usually wreaks havoc for movements with deep ranges of motion. In the case of chest work, shoulder stress may frustrate your ability to do full range of motion barbell bench presses, having you sub things out for dumbbells more often than you’d like.

To be fair, dumbbell pressing is a smart change and a very effective variation. But for 90 percent of lifters, it won’t allow you to match your true totals and push your actual strength quite as effectively as using a barbell will.

With that said, the fixed hand position on a straight barbell means things will usually get sketchy in those last few inches of ROM at the bottom. Forfeiting those can mean salvation to your shoulders and allow you to push more absolute weight pain free. Here’s why:

  • You can kill the negative rep. That means more volume toward the actual “lifting” part of the lift, and less tax on the nervous system as a result of that.
  • There’s no real need for a spotter. The pins block the bar from crushing you, and if you can’t lift the weight, then it just stays on the pins.
  • Pushing from the safeties means you can’t rely on the stretch reflex to take you out of the hole, meaning you’ll work harder, and get better strength gains, from lighter weights.
  • You can get closer to your true and absolute 1RM bench, which is something few can say they’ve ever accomplished using dumbbells.

Personally, I recommend using pin presses with a low-rep cluster set protocol, like I outline in my article “The Simple Strength Trick to Get the Most Out of Heavy Lifts.” Since you’re resting the bar on the safeties between reps anyway, this allows you to reset and position yourself for perfect, pain-free reps.

One more tip: If you hate all the attention you’re bringing your way thanks to the noisy bar crashing down on the pins each rep, drape a couple of thin yoga mats over the pins to mute the sound. Problem solved.

Use Two Ropes for Face Pulls

If you’ve got long arms or you’re very muscular, chances are a single rope on a pulley attachment doesn’t give you the freedom of rotation you need to really benefit from face pulls. Muscular guys are often also tight through the shoulders, so having the hands too close together when pulling doesn’t help their cause.

To involve the rear deltoids for the rotary component of this lift, you need to have a slightly wider hand position than, say, a row. The closer you can get to mimicking a double biceps pose, the better a “hit” you’ll get for your rear deltoids during face pulls. That’s why the simple hack of attaching two ropes to one pulley works like magic for long guys—and big, tight guys, too.

You’ve just doubled your radius and improved every rep of this great movement.  

Start doing this right away. Your upper back and shoulders can thank me later.

Deadlifts: Try the Medium Sumo Stance and the Trap Bar

Seriously, these two movements may be the best friend your lower back ever had. For tall lifters, deadlifts usually pose the biggest challenge and threat to their safety. And understandably so! It’s a long way up, and a pair of long legs can seriously block the ability to pull a heavy bar in a straight path to the top, free of dangerous compensations.

Instead of forcing a conventional deadlift style with a straight bar, acknowledge that your leverages aren’t in your favor, and that injury is a much more serious possibility for you. If you’ve got long legs, a short torso, and less than fantastic mobility, you’ll inevitably be putting your upper body behind the bar, which is not an optimal position for pulling strength.

Unlike a straight bar, the trap bar allows the shins to travel forward, which by extension allows the upper body to remain more vertical. The lower hip position improves quad activity and overall leg drive while maintaining a flat spine, and the weight is perfectly aligned with your center of gravity with no spinal contortions necessary.

For all these reasons, the trap bar deadlift is the bee’s knees for many NBA strength coaches who want their athletes to pull heavy. Take a page out of their books and make the switch—preferably with my program in “The Best Damn Trap Bar Workout, Period”—and you’ll be glad you did. And don’t be afraid to use the high handles. You’re still getting plenty of ROM, big guy.

Having said all that, if you’re a stubborn lummox who can’t breathe without barbell deadlifts and you think a trap bar is “faking it,” do yourself a favor and at least modify your stance. Going for a medium sumo stance will lower your hip position and allow for some space to get the back tighter and keep the scapulae over the bar.

Don’t Apologize for Your Size!

If you’re big, train like it. Make accommodations for your size and length, and you’ll be training pain free, and seeing gains all the same. We make adjustments for these things in regular life, and the same should be true in the gym. This is what will make you look imposing, but more importantly, allow you to train hard for the long haul, just like the small guys.

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17 Jun

Four Virtues is (another) Rutherford Wine Company sub-brand, with a focus on bourbon-barrel aged wines. We review one of these below, along with a standard, bourbon-free pinot noir.

2016 Four Virtues Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi Bourbon Barrel Aged – Lodi cab, finished in heavy-char bourbon barrels for 1 to 3 months. The whiskey sits heavy on this wine, as is typical of the nascent style, loading it up with vanilla and brown sugar notes to the point where it can initially strike the palate as more of a fortified dessert wine. I take it on faith that the actual wine in here is cabernet, its heavy, sweet currant and black cherry character seemingly disconnected from any specific varietal. Lodi cabs can be quite sweet to begin with, and the bourbon barrel pushes that over the top, leading to a finish that is quite saccharine and gummy, causing me to enjoy this wine less and less over time. D+ / $18

2017 Four Virtues Pinot Noir Monterey County – A bit pruny and dense, this pinot offers a gentle eucalyptus character backed up by notes of raspberry jam, dark chocolate, and some spice elements. Coming off as more of a Russian River pinot in style, that black fruit gives the finish a weighty, almost beefy note that takes an initially fruit-forward wine into unnecessarily dark territory. B- / $15

rutherfordwine.com

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2016 Four Virtues Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi Bourbon Barrel Aged

$18

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17 Jun

Let’s start by pushing aside the myth that we should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. There is no science behind this belief, even though, especially during the hot summer weather, you will frequently hear this repeated over and over. It is a fact, however, that in the summer months when the temperature rises, our perspiration increases. Every day, our bodies lose water naturally through the intestines, skin, lungs, and, of course, urine. Participating in physical activity increases perspiration even further, leading to water loss; therefore, proper hydration or replacement of water in our bodies is essential.

Benefits of Drinking Enough Water

Health Line offers the following seven science-based health benefits of drinking enough water:

  1. Maximizes physical performance
  2. Positive effect on energy levels and brain function
  3. Prevents and treats headaches
  4. Relieves constipation
  5. Treats kidney stones
  6. Prevents hangovers
  7. Helps with weight loss

Even more health benefits from drinking enough water include:

  • Joint lubrication
  • Formation of saliva and mucus
  • Oxygen delivery throughout the body
  • Boosts skin health and beauty
  • Cushions the brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Supports the digestive system
  • Flushes body waste
  • Helps maintain blood pressure
  • Promotes healthy airways
  • Makes minerals and nutrients accessible

How Do You Tell if You’re Dehydrated?

According to research by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, more than 50 percent of children and adolescents in the U.S. are not getting the hydration they need. This number, when it comes to adults, is only slightly better; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 43 percent of adults don’t drink enough water. If you’re thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated. However, lack of thirst doesn’t necessarily mean you’re well hydrated. Here are two quick ways to check the state of your body’s hydration:

  • Two finger skin pinch. In a matter of seconds, the skin should spring back to its normal position.
  • Check your urine. When well-hydrated, your urine will be mostly clear with a tinge of yellow. If you see darker yellow or orange, the “warning” colors, start drinking fluids.

Still Not Sure?

You might be surprised by the signs and symptoms of dehydration.  John Higgins, MD, Professor of Medicine at The McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas, states that these could include:

  • Bad breath caused by your body not making enough saliva
  • Dry skin, which may even appear flushed
  • Muscle cramps due to changes in electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium
  • Fever and chills, where the higher the fever, the more dehydrated you may become
  • Food cravings, especially for sweets
  • Headaches can be caused by even mild dehydration

couple preparing food togethercouple preparing food together

Looking Beyond Water – Seven Ways to Stay Hydrated

While you might think that staying hydrated simply means drinking more water, think again. There are at least seven ways to stay hydrated this summer, and all without even drinking water. These include:

  1. Eating fruit and vegetables which have a high water content.
  2. Feasting on summer fruit, which could contain up to 92 percent water. Just be aware that these are also high in natural sugars.
  3. Iced coffee, while sometimes being mildly diuretic, has been shown to not lead to dehydration. In fact, with a cup of coffee consisting of 98 percent water, it could be a valuable source of hydration.
  4. Avoid excess amounts of alcohol, which could lead to dehydration.
  5. Consume cold soup, especially if it contains vegetables with a high water content. Gazpacho, traditionally a cold Spanish soup, is a great chilled soup option.
  6. Start your day with an oatmeal breakfast that is especially beneficial with the addition of fresh fruit.
  7. Additional hydration options include potassium-rich coconut water and vegetable juices. Keep in mind that some fruits are loaded with natural sugars and are best eaten in their whole form including their fiber rather than as a juice.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

Here are some tips for ensuring the intake of all the fluids you need and avoiding dehydration:

  • Keep a water bottle handy. “If it’s right next to you, you’ll likely get into the habit of sipping it without even realizing it,” says the nutrition expert and Everyday Health columnist Johannah Sakimura.
  • Spice up plain water. Add a splash of fruit juice or chunks of fresh or frozen fruit or try naturally flavored calorie-free seltzers—their fizz and fruit flavor makes them more appealing.
  • Try different unsweetened teas. These are available in a variety of flavors. Even a mug of hot peppermint or chamomile tea at night will count toward your daily fluid goal.
  • Replace your dry snacks with fresh or frozen fruit, non-dairy yogurt, healthy smoothies, celery with peanut butter, and cut veggies with hummus.
  • Pile on the produce. Strive to make half of every meal vegetables and fruit. Not only will this provide water, but you’ll also get a hearty dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Sip more during meals. Not only will this help you stay hydrated, but you will eat more slowly.

family in park on sunny dayfamily in park on sunny day

The Takeaway

Water lubricates your joints, protects soft tissues, flushes waste from your body, and helps regulate your temperature. The amount of water you need to drink every day is impacted by factors, such as:

  • How much you exercise you get
  • The environment where you live (e.g., hot weather or high altitudes)
  • Your general health
  • Whether or not you’re pregnant or breastfeeding

While it can be a challenge to know how much water you actually need, it’s also possible to consume too much water. This could result in hyponatremia or too little sodium in the blood. To help you to track and monitor your water intake easily, the activity tracker app you might already have on your smartphone would be a great place to start. For more information on hydration and following a plant-based diet, be sure to check out our many product lines here at the Halleluiah Diet.


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17 Jun

Napa County’s proposed, carbon-cutting climate action plan is back with a new twist – install solar panels on all new or modified commercial rooftops in unincorporated areas.

A possible rooftop solar requirement for new commercial development is included in the recently released environmental impact report for the climate action plan. It’s listed as the “environmentally superior alternative.”

More solar panels generating electricity for local businesses would mean less greenhouse gas emissions, the report said. Nor did the report see any downsides to the idea, whether aesthetic or otherwise.

Solar panels on new homes is another issue, one that the climate action plan doesn’t address. But then, it doesn’t need to. The state is already requiring new California homes built after 2020 be solar-powered.

On Wednesday, a revised Napa County climate action plan and environmental impact report will go before the Planning Commission not for approval, but for public comments. The meeting is at 9 a.m. in the county administration building, 1195 Third St. in Napa.

“There is strong consensus that global climate change is occurring; seasons are shifting, average temperatures are increasing, precipitation levels are changing and sea levels are rising,” the proposed plan said.

Napa County’s response is dozens of proposed steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions. These steps would affect only the unincorporated area that county government has jurisdiction over, not the cities.

Requiring new water heaters at homes be powered by electricity or alternative energy, supporting the use of farm equipment powered by electricity or alternative fuels and increasing participation in Marin Clean Energy’s 100-percent renewable option are among the ideas.

The county has worked on its latest attempt to complete a climate action plan since 2015, with various versions issued. The end – passage by the Board of Supervisors—could finally be in sight.

“We’re tentatively looking at the end of the year,” Planning, Building and Environmental Services Director David Morrison said.

One potential variable is the proposal that a regional Napa County climate action approach be created, he said. Then the county and its cities would work together on strategies to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The county Board of Supervisors and Napa City Council will at their separate meetings on Tuesday discuss the issue. The results could be a working group with the other local cities to develop shared greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and standards.

Meanwhile, the county continues crafting its own plan.

Some community members have called on the county to place a moratorium on new wineries and new vineyards. That would gain time to study how much greenhouse gas emissions are generated by Napa County global wine distribution and tourists traveling to Napa County wineries from beyond the region.

But the draft environmental report rejects the idea of tracking trans-regional greenhouse gas emissions. This conclusion is backed by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, which the county consulted on this issue, it said.

A growth moratorium for further climate action plan work would delay implementing the county’s greenhouse gas emission strategies, the report said.

The proposed climate action plan does more than suggest ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also sets reduction targets based on state standards for 2020, 2030 and 2070, using 2014 emissions as the baseline.

Napa County’s target for 2020 is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent. The plan envisions topping that goal with a 12-percent cut, largely due to statewide carbon-cutting steps.

The proposals in the county’s climate action plan would have more time to kick in by 2030. The county envisions meeting the targeted 40-percent reduction by that year, with a 42-percent cut predicted.

But the county would have to go beyond the climate action plan to meet the targeted 77-percent reduction by 2050, given the plan predicts only a 43-percent cut by then. The plan questions whether a local government can meet this target based on local actions alone.

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17 Jun

This post features all of the dupes I would normally enter and share during the review process for Jaclyn Hill’s Lipsticks (all 20!), which launched earlier this month. I am not reviewing these at this time, and I will wait to see how the brand responds to customers (now and future), how they move forward (they’re supposed to change labs), and so forth, as I think the situation is still ongoing and it’s certainly possible more information comes to light (by the brand or a third-party) before making more permanent/final decisions.

A lil’ confused? If you managed to escape the online beauty community for the last couple of weeks, you might have missed the rollercoaster ride that was Jaclyn Cosmetics’ first launch (20 lipsticks) where customers were reporting issues from sweaty, soft/melting lipsticks to unknown fibers/hairs/lint pieces (and many things in-between that were minor to major, annoying to concerning). For closure (at this point, at least), you can watch Jaclyn Hill’s YouTube video addressing the many issues of the lipsticks here.  I addressed the initial issues here and subsequent issues here.

If you have dupes to suggest, you can always submit your own!

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17 Jun

My first book was called The Miracle of Meditation and that title perfectly describes exactly what I feel unendingly inspired to share with people.

My practice of meditation has blessed me with the experience of a miracle, a miracle so beautiful and life transforming that I’ve been tirelessly sharing it with people all over the world nonstop for over fifteen years.

So what is the miracle of meditation?

Simply put, life is an unfolding process guided by a universal source of wisdom and love, and the direct recognition of the true source of life is immediately available to any of us as soon as we stop being distracted by other things.

Caught in a Loop

To a much a greater degree than any of us ever suspected we limit our attention on a very very tiny range of experience. What we think of as the whole of our experience is merely a speck in an ocean of possibility.

We have been caught in a loop like a dog tied to a tree. The call circle of dead grass defined by the length of our mental chains becomes the limit of our world and our life.

The cosmic joke is the there is no chain binding us. We are penned in by an invisible fence that only exists in our mind. It is. The fence that defines our life is nothing more than a collection of ideas about who we are and what is possible for us.

When we sit to meditate we we don’t do anything. We stop trying to manipulate or control our experience in anyway. We simply allow everything to be exactly the way it is.

It took many years of diligent practice before I gave up control for even a few moments. Yet in those few moments everything changed. When you give up control you assume that everything is going to stop, but in actuality nothing stops.

Everything Continues

What you discover is that everything you thought you were was part of an unfolding process of life. Your own choices and effort arise naturally as part of the life process. You were never the one doing any of it. It was all happening spontaneously and effortlessly.

Even a moment of two of letting go this deeply changes everything. Some people may protest and want to protect their current sense of freewill and choice, but the miracle of meditation does not take your freedom away. It is an exercise of the greatest freedom there is – the freedom to choose to give up control and experience first hand the ever present process of life that you are.

The miracle of meditation is a transformation from being an isolated individual struggling to navigate through an often hostile world, to being a mysterious locus of awareness on a journey of existence that it will never understand.

Everything looks different after this moment. The problems we thought we had start to disappear – not because they have been solved, but because our attention is being compelled by a mystery that is so awe-inspiring that we can’t to take our eyes off it.

We are captivated by the mystery of life, by the love and wisdom that has always been guiding this process. We know that we were never alone and that despite the fact that bad things happen, life is amazing.

That is the miracle of meditation.

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17 Jun

NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday it will create a new unit of deputies and case workers dedicated to the mental health needs of the county.

“This is definitely the wave of the future,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a news conference.

The Mental Health and Threat Assessment Team plans to interact directly with people who are experiencing mental health crises with emphasis on those who have been repeatedly detained under the Baker Act. Lt. Toni Roach, who will lead the new unit, has traveled to Houston, Salt Lake City and Arlington, Va., to see how law enforcement agencies are managing the intersection of mental health and policing across the country.

Deputies in Pasco County responded last year to nearly 20,000 calls related to mental health issues. The Sheriff’s Office estimates that in 2018 about 503 people have been detained under the Baker Act more than once.

Nocco said he hopes members of the unit will form relationships with people experiencing mental illness so they can anticipate their needs rather than just respond when they are in distress. The team will also connect them with local partners who provide care, like BayCare Behavioral Health and Novus Detox.

The unit will cost $1.45 million per year and is set to start in October. It will consist of a lieutenant, a sergeant, a social worker, two case managers and six deputies.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has a similar unit, started in 2016. A team of social workers and deputies responds to calls of people in emotional distress, said Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Gross. The unit also checks back in with people it interacts with often to connect them with behavioral health services.

Its goal is to reduce the number of people deputies detain under the Baker Act, Gross said.

In Hillsborough County, the Sheriff’s Office has no mental health unit but last week announced a new policy requiring all its deputies to undergo 40 hours of training through the office’s Crisis Intervention Training program.

The program is designed to inform officers how to calm someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Amanda Granit said.

Nocco said he hopes Pasco County can some day create a mental health emergency room through proceeds from a nationwide lawsuit against opioid distributors and manufacturers. Pasco joined the suit last year.

People know where to go when they break their arm, Nocco said, but those facing emotional distress only know to call 911.

“We need places where people understand, ‘This is where I go if I have a mental health crisis.’”

Contact Sarah Verschoor at [email protected] Follow @SarahVerschoor

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