Useful Hints For Getting And Staying In Shape

by: Derek Carroll (reading – 6.8. - 12.8.)

It can be a real challenge to come up with an exercise plan that is both inspiring to you in the long run, and effective in the short. Preparation is vital if you are to see real results from your fitness routines. Staying motivated is one of the toughest parts of following any exercise plan, but you can have a lot more success if you do some goal-setting in advance. Goals keep us focused, and give us a sense of achievement as we go along the journey to better health and fitness. Here are some ideas to ponder.

Walking Is Severely Underrated:
One of the easiest things that you can do to benefit your health is to walk whenever you can. You can take regular walks to enhance your cardiovascular fitness and keep your leg muscles toned. In addition, you can find other ways and times to get in some extra walking. Instead of searching for a parking space near a store, be willing to take one in the middle or even in the outer area of the lot and appreciate the extra steps as a bonus to your health. You can opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator to really give your leg muscles a workout.

Two's Company:
It's really smart to try and find an exercise partner. This is someone that you exercise with a couple of times each week. You may decide to walk or go to the gym together. What matters is that you have someone besides yourself to whom you are committed. You may even have multiple exercise buddies for different types of activities. One friend of mine has an interesting approach, he uses the p90x workout plan for his workouts. If you don't know these, they are by Tony Horton, and are pretty extreme if you ask me. They are based on a theory called "muscle confusion" that stops the muscles from plateauing, and allows the workouts to continue being fruitful to the max.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life:
Eat a wide variety of healthy foods to make certain that your body has the fuel it needs to perform well. Try different types of produce to keep your salads exciting. There are many foods termed as "super foods" that are very rich in nutrients that are vital for us, and you should try to include many of these in your diet, like spinach, walnuts, and blueberries. Beware of hidden calories in dressings and sauces. Water is vital, drink a lot. Water helps the body to release the toxins created naturally by exercise and digestion.

Beat The Boredom:
It's really important to look at lots of different exercises for adding variety into your routines. This is great to stop the boredom factor and make sure that you get a great all round workout. Some of the forms you may consider include the traditional weights, walking, and aerobics classes. You might also look at less conventional options like yoga and tai chi. If you are fit enough, consider taking a martial arts class like judo, which means "gentle way". See what classes are offered at your local gym or community college. Maybe you enjoy racket sports like tennis, or even bowling. The idea is to keep an open mind and a varied routine.

Write your exercise plans into your schedule. Treat your physical fitness as though it is an appointment you have made with someone else. This will minimize the chances that you will skip your workout. Keeping your body in shape should be a priority.

Tools Of The Trade:
If you purchase any exercise equipment for home use, be certain that you know how to use it. Read the manuals thoroughly so that you understand how to adjust the speed, weight, or other settings the machine may have. If you have questions, go to the website of the manufacturer and see if you can locate the answers there. Be careful to only use equipment you are familiar with, or get instruction on how to use new equipment. On my personal fitness journey, I wanted to workout at home as well as at the gym, so I got my hands on a set of selectable weight dumbbells from a market leading company called Bowflex. It really was handy because all I had to do was turn a dial on each dumbbell to select the weight I wanted. I was able to save a ton of space by having the one set of adjustable weights rather than needing to keep 15 individual sets to get the same range.

Performance You Track, Will Increase:
You might consider keeping a fitness journal where you record the exercises you perform. This differs from writing it in your daily schedule. The journal should be devoted exclusively to your fitness. Tracking the amount of time and what you do can help keep you motivated. As you change your routine on a regular basis, reviewing old entries in the journal may remind you of things you would like to do again.

If you follow these suggestions, you will have a great plan to keep you in shape. Remember to keep yourself accountable and to vary your routine for best results.

For more information about the P90x routine mentioned above, and to read his bowflex adjustable dumbbells reviews, visit Derek Carroll, the author, at his blog where he shares his latest reviews of popular products.

The Meaning of Pearls

by: Doug Mahopac (reading – 13.8. - 19.8.)

Just like all other gemstones, pearls carry a meaning. Historically, the glowing white orbs have been associated with the moon. With the high luster and deep color of pearls, it is no wonder why these natural gemstones have been held in such high regard for thousands of years.

Eastern cultures believe that pearls symbolize purity and spiritual transformation. Simply wearing a pearl reminds the wearer to be honest, pure, wise, and to walk with the utmost dignity. Different colors of pearls bear different meanings. As expected, white pearls symbolize purity, innocence, faith, and honesty. Gold or black pearls symbolize prosperity and riches. Rose or pink pearls work well with the heart Chakra, while all pearls work with the solar plexus Chakra, beneficial for digestion and immunity.

Just like other gemstones, pearls are given to a single month as a birthstone. June is the month of the pearl and many women and men born in the month of June proudly display their pearls to honor this fact. The birthstone chart was first established in the 16th century, when it was believed fair favor and good luck would fall upon the wearer of their birthstone.

In Christianity, St. Augustine deemed the pearl to be a symbol of Jesus Christ, after evaluating a passage of Biblical text that gives each of the twelve apostles a specific gemstone in their honor. There are actually several passages in the Bible that refer to pearls, the most well known one an allegory about the "pearly gates" of heaven and "casting pearls before swine."

The Japanese have always held pearls in high esteem, and often associate good luck to those who wear the round beauties. It should be noted that the Japanese only hold meaning for the salt water variety of the pearl, since the round salt water pearls are native to the archipelago chain and have made the island native quite popular due to the innovations of pearl harvesting companies like Mikimoto.

Pearls have been the most popular accessories with bridal wear historically and still continue to be a strong favorite today. The innocence and beauty symbolized by the pearl is also symbolized by the bride, so the match is perfect. From the traditional princess length pearl necklace to a stunning pendant, earrings, or bracelet mixing pearls with other precious gemstones, pearls are a fast favorite for weddings. Even many bridal gowns, veils, and headpieces are adorned with pearls to create a stunningly elegant effect.

The Jewelry Industry in 2011

by: Fleury Sommers (reading – 20.8. - 26.8.)

From a faltering Kimberley Process for conflict diamonds to the Guinness Book of Records, the jewelry industry saw its share of hits and misses in 2011. Here is my highly subjective pick of notable news and trends from and about the jewelry industry.

Most Watched Royal Accessories. When the world’s most famous bachelor, Prince William, finally tied the knot with Kate Middleton, millions watched the pageantry. Millions more are now obsessively watching what Kate and her sister, Pippa, are wearing. This Christmas Kate was sporting a new pair of earrings, 18k drop earrings with green amethysts and diamonds, designed by Kiki McDonough, a favorite of Princess Diana. The gift, believed to be from William, was pictured, reported and discussed in trade publications, news outlets and blogs around the world.

World’s Most Coveted Jewels. Liz Taylor’s collection of jewelry, including the Burton Diamond and La Peregrina, was auctioned by Christie’s after a world tour. La Peregrina, one of the most famous pearls in the world, a huge 55 carat pearl discovered in the 16th century and owned by a number of European royalty, sold for $11.8 million. An ivory and gold necklace was estimated at $1,500. It sold for $314,500. Similarly, a charm bracelet was estimated at $30,000 went for $326,500. The auction set the record for a single collection, heretofore held by the Duchess of Windsor, whose jewelry collection sold for $50 million.

Most Anxiety Producing. The price of gold continued to rise, reaching a high of $1,889.70 in 2011. This prompted designers and manufacturers to turn to other, less familiar materials such as tungsten carbide, for wedding bands and other jewelry items. The price of silver, although far less expensive than gold, has also risen with some experts predicting it will reach the $50 per ounce mark in a few years.

Ring sets World Record. A diamond ring, set with 2,525 diamonds entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011 for having the most diamonds set in one ring. Produced by Labortas Classic Jewelry, a Ukraine-based company, the ring is in the shape of a swan and is called the “Tsarevna Swan.”

Hope for Banning Conflict Diamonds Falters. The Kimberley Process by which diamonds are “certified” faltered in 2011 when it lifted the ban on sales of diamonds from Zimbabwe’s rich Marange fields. These vast alluvial deposits were discovered in 2009 and were promptly seized by the government which evicted artisanal workers through violence, including murder and rape. China and India, potentially huge customers of Marange diamonds, hailed the decision, despite the lack of progress in correcting abuses. However, the U.S., various human rights groups and industry groups criticized it. The Rappaport Group, an influential diamond organization, called for a boycott of the diamonds. Anxious industry observers suggest that these developments do not bode well for future efforts in curtailing the sales of conflict diamonds.

Bigfoot leaves the Scene. For three generations the Oppenheimer family controlled DeBeers, creating a single source of diamonds for many years and changing forever the way the public regards diamonds. In a stunning and historic move, in 2011, the family sold DeBeers to Anglo-American departing from a scene they created and controlled for decades.

Novel Jewelry Distribution. A company in India, The Gitanjali Group, will use ATM machines to sell jewelry and diamonds. The company will roll-out 75 of the machines in 2012. Each machine will permit users to select from among 36 gold and diamond items. In a press release, the company says, “the machine is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and will further revolutionize the processes by which precious metals and jewelry is brought.”

Must See Event. Queen Elizabeth will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. To mark the event, Buckingham Palace recently announced it will mount an exhibition of royal diamonds in late Summer and Fall, 2012 “to chart the gemstone’s association with British monarchs over the last 200 years. Of interest include the “Williamson Brooch” and its rare pink diamond, supposedly the finest in the world. Other items that will be shown include Queen Victoria jewelry, state jewelry and pieces from the Queen’s private collection.

Designers Dominate the Stage. The industry faced the challenges of 2011 with creativity and imagination. In general, commercial jewelry is dominated now, more than ever before, by unique designs showing flair and creativity by incorporating unusual materials and gemstones. Jewelry artists continued to produce gorgeous work albeit with far less gold in designs. Evaluating an industry’s performance in adversity is perhaps its truest measure and in this, the jewelry industry must be given the highest grade.

Fleury Sommers is a goldsmith, pearl and bead stringer and has studied gemology for more than 25 years. She operated a gallery in Houston, Texas for more than ten years and is the creator of the comprehensive Professional Pearl and Bead Stringing course available on and her website.


Don't Know Where To Find The Latest Astronomy News?

by: Gary Nelson (reading – 27.8. - 2.9.)

When there are billions of stars in the galaxy, there are a billion and one reasons for an amateur astronomer to stay up at night to watch the sky. If you've been bitten by the stargazing bug, give in. It's a very enjoyable hobby. To help you get started, here are some things you might want to know:

Get A Sky Chart
A sky chart or a field guide can help you find where the stars are in the heavens. Since their positions change depending on the seasons, you can use the sky chart to help you find a particular star immediately. You can also map out the locations of different constellations and recognize any star in the night sky by simply refering to your sky chart.

Those more technologically minded might prefer to use astronomy software either on a laptop or a mobile phone to simulate the night sky so identifying celestial objects is easier.

What To Look For
The star that shines brightest in the northern hemisphere is Sirius. You might also want to find Polaris, the North Star. If you're a little lost, you can look to the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) to show you the way. Find the 'bowl' or 'ladle' of the Dipper. The two stars located away from the handle are the Pointer Stars, called Dubhe and Merak. Follow where they point straight towards the North and you will find Polaris.

Don’t forget to enjoy the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor), Cassiopeia, Draco, Cepheus and other constellations – there are 88 of them (about half in the Southern hemisphere), some of which are visible at different times of the year.

You can also watch for falling stars or meteor showers. Their appearance is usually announced on TV and in newspapers. On special nights, you can enjoy hundreds of meteors streaking across the night sky.

Star Light, Star Bright
Stars are categorized by brightness, which is measured by magnitude. The magnitude scale has the brightest stars having 0 or even negative magnitudes. For example, Sirius has a magnitude of -1.46. Vega, a star that shines bright during summer, has a magnitude 0. Polaris has a magnitude 2 and Antares has a magnitude 1. Stars with a magnitude of 29 need the Hubble Space telescope to be seen and get this: they are 250,000,000,000 times less bright than Vega.

As a newbie astronomer, you don’t really need a telescope to enjoy stargazing. It's best to familiarize yourself first with stars and constellations using just your naked eye at first. You can also use a good pair of astronomy binoculars since these will do the job nicely. Buy a telescope only if you're already familiar with the night sky and enjoy it to the fullest.

Final Thoughts
One of the major benefits of learning astronomy is the ability to observe rather than just look. The moon is one heavenly body that everyone is used to seeing. To the observant astronomer, the moon actually passes through a cycle of phases that lasts for twenty eight days.

When you begin to notice the subtle differences in the position and phases of the moon, it is evident that you are now in tune with the moon’s distinct rhythm.

The planets also travel across the sky during the year and change position from year to year as the amount of time they take to orbit the Sun is different to the Earth.

Probably the most elusive objects are the comets. Asteroids are discovered pretty regularly, but they tend to have well defined and predictable orbits. This is also the case with some comets but many others are on a one-time visit to the inner solar system, and will be flung out into interstellar space as they pass close to the Sun. There's only a short amount of time to see these objects before they're gone forever.

About The Author

Gary has run the Night Sky Observer amateur astronomy website since 1997. He is also the author of LunarPhase Pro a Moon astronomy software package that includes an interactive atlas of the moon.Getting The Latest Astronomy News