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For Your Well Being: Just For Fun, Be Slightly Off

April 27, 2006, Vol. IV Issue 9

Dear Friends,

Meeting planners continue to ask for lots of fun, whether it’s fun in the way a health message is delivered or in a program that’s just plain packed with belly laughs. A good time means a good association with the organization and heaven knows we all can use belly laughs – they’re good for our stomach muscles as well as our psyches!

In that light, I’m pleased to introduce you to Deb DiSandro, a humorist, syndicated columnist, and self-appointed purse-ologist. In fact, she calls everything she does, “Slightly Off,” and she encourages women to embrace their slightly off natures. She did just that for the women of Altoona, Pennsylvania last Thursday night.

On the homefront here in Portland, Oregon, 1350 women were drawn to Oregon Health & Science University ’ s (OHSU) 11th annual Women’s Health Conference last Saturday. Reflecting the keynote speakers’ topics, I thought the headline on their newspaper ad was a winner: “Rejuvenate Your Sexuality and Justify Your Chocolate Obsession.” That works for me!

Deb DiSandro’s Slightly Off Philosophy Yields Fun and Balance

The power of a good time brings ‘em back year after year for Altoona Regional Health System’s “Women’s Night Out.” Sherry Turchetta, community education specialist, said the event sold out (500 seats) three weeks after it was announced in their newsletter. They’ve been holding the evening event for over ten years. Women are invited to enjoy an unencumbered, stress-free evening of fine food, great company and laughter designed especially for them, all for just $35 per person.

“We are happy if we break even . . . usually lose some money.” Sherry told me. “But the hospital feels it is important to make women happy as they are usually the healthcare decision-makers of their families. This year we added a jewelry raffle that benefited our hospital’s auxiliary thus benefiting the system’s patients, as well.”

Deb DiSandro, “Slightly Off” humor columnist and advocate for overworked and underappreciated women, was this year’s keynote speaker. Appearing in her caped Superwoman costume, Deb led the women through her “Break Free From the Purse Straps that Bind You!” program.

“The purses represent the various roles women play and the different things women carry in life that cause stress,” Deb explained. “Women need to find humor in their purses and understand what they can do to lighten their loads.”

Deb comes by her purse expertise honestly. “There was a time when I resisted carrying a purse,” she said, “because a purse says, ‘I’m responsible.’ The bigger the purse, well, the more responsibility, until you literally have the weight of the world dangling from your shoulder. And carrying a big bag is a progressive disease, which creeps up on you when you’re not looking.”

She started the program with a four-year-old’s purse (bringing back many a sweet memory) and took the audience through a lifetime of purses (with some very interesting contents and more memories!) all the way to Grandma’s bag. And that’s before Deb moved out into the audience!

As a leading expert in the field of purseology – the study and meaning found in the deepest, darkest recesses of a purse — Deb has thoroughly combed through the contents of thousands of audience members’ pocketbooks, handbags, purses (and even men’s wallets) in her presentations.

When I first heard about Deb’s purseology analysis, I was intrigued. More than once I’ve pondered the overflowing aisles of purses at department stores. Who buys all those purses in a gazillion shapes and sizes, I’ve wondered, as I search for a sleek little black number that won’t break my back?

“The purse is a metaphor for what women carry,” Deb says, “and that usually means too much – too much anxiety and too much worry. I encourage women to lighten the load in their purse and embrace the slightly off side, letting go of worries, stress and illusions of perfection.”

Finding humor in even the most difficult situations, Deb reminds women that their purses don’t always have to be stylish. “Women need to accept the things about their purses that they can’t change. I believe women need to let go of their quest to be the best,” Deb says. “It’s okay to be less than perfect, or ‘slightly off,’ and unfortunately, most women lose sight of that when they’re feeling stressed.”

And just how many purses does Deb carry? In addition to her role as a humorist and motivational speaker, she is a syndicated newspaper columnist, a radio and television personality, a creative writing instructor and coach, an author, wife and mother of three.

Her book, Tales of a Slightly Off Supermom: Fighting for Truth, Justice and Clean Underwear, (Pelican Publishing) is enjoyed by parents of all ages.

To learn more about Deb, visit Deb’s page on our website.

Say YES to Se^x & Chocolate, NO to the Habits that Mess Up a Woman’s Diet

It’s always inspiring to me to attend the annual women’s health conference sponsored by OHSU. It’s just great energy just to be there among 1350 women eager to learn how to take better care of themselves and I always come away with some information that hits home.

This year I learned from a sociologist, Pepper Schwartz, PhD, that se^x is seriously good for my health and from an MD, Erika Schuster, affirmation that chocolate is good for me. Now, these recommendations came with a few caveats, but chocolate is the one that came with moderation warnings.

Talking about bad habits – the ones that mess up our diets – was Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, based on her latest book, The Ten Habits that Mess Up A Woman’s Diet. She said it’s the subtle habits that get us. “Ninety percent of women say we eat well,” she said. “Most of us are delusional.” Elizabeth should know. She mines 100 research studies a month.

“Ten Habits” is not a diet book. It’s meant to accompany any nutrition plan and to blow the whistle on the subtle habits, many so second-nature you don’t even know you’re doing them, that sabotage your best efforts to lose weight for good.

Elizabeth Somer

Not being honest about what you’re eating is one of the most troublesome habits. “Women under-report their food intake by up to 700 calories a day and glorify how much they exercise,” Elizabeth said. “Not being honest about what you eat and how much you exercise gets in the way of any real and permanent change for the better. If you think you’re doing pretty well, eating right and exercising enough, there is no reason to improve. Fibbing makes it impossible to identify what you’re doing wrong so it can be fixed. It forfeits your right to control your health and well being.”

In addition to alerting the audience to the habits that could be ruining their best efforts, Elizabeth summed up the consequences and offered “Kick It” plans for each bad habit.

There’s something for everybody in this book and her presentation. I highly recommend it.

To learn more about Elizabeth, visit her page on the Speak Well Being website.

Behind the Scenes

This year, as I have for the last couple of years, I not only attended OHSU’s Women’s Health Conference, I was a volunteer. That meant showing up at 6:20 a.m. to stuff bags and open the doors for the earlybirds at 7:30 a.m. Then at 11:15, all the volunteers assembled to roll carts of box lunches down the aisles, pass water and a See’s chocolate candy treat. (See’s sponsored the chocolate speaker). Imagine the servers on the Oprah Show on a much larger scale. We served 1350 lunches in about 10 minutes – quite a feat!
There are so many free samples at this conference that the veterans have learned to ease up on their arm and shoulder muscles. You might think they’ve been listening in on Deb DiSandro’s talk about the weight of those purses and bags indenting their shoulders. They come prepared, rolling in their carry-on suitcases and backpacks on wheels to haul all the goodies home! Free shopping. Women love it.

All that and we got to walk out into a gloriously sunny spring day. Until next time, be good to yourself, for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,

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