Live more sustainably

The beginning of a new year — and a new decade — is the time many people pledge to live differently. For many, that change means living a more sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability, once only a buzz word, is now fast becoming the way to live consciously.

Two ways to live more sustainably are to seek earth-friendly packaging and to embrace natural products. Alter shopping habits to look for products with compostable packaging. Snyder’s of Hanover, for instance, recently introduced a new Pretzel Variety Sack of 100-Calorie Pretzels and Pretzel Sandwiches in the market’s first 100 percent compostable outer package made from 100 percent renewable cornstarch-based plastic. The new Variety Sack includes a special logo indicating that the bag can be composted and is made with sustainable materials. In addition to that example, more manufacturers are switching to cardboard packaging materials, which are made from renewable materials and can be recycled or composted.

Many farmers, ranchers and, increasingly, food manufacturers, are offering foods and beverages made using sustainable practices. It could be a farmers market tomato, a local dairy’s milk, an organic snack food or any number of natural or organic items. To learn more about Snyder’s of Hanover’s sustainability initiatives visit

Budget control

Sticking to a budget is one of the top resolutions Americans make after the holidays, but many people aren’t sure how to start effectively managing their household finances. Understanding the terms of your credit card agreement will help you better manage your finances. Here are three things to remember:

1. Interest — The best way to avoid paying interest is to pay your full balance when the bill arrives. If that is more than you can handle, always try to pay more than the minimum to lower interest costs.

2. Payment — Late fees are a hazard you want to avoid, so it’s best to get your payment out early. When sending your payment in the mail, seven days is the recommended time frame – even if the bill isn’t due for a couple of weeks.

3. Fees — Keep in mind advances and other common credit transactions like balance transfers, can trigger fees. Understanding how to take advantage of all the products and services offered by financial institutions is essential to maintaining financial health. To help customers better understand and manage their credit cards, Bank of America recently launched the Credit Card Clarity Commitment, an easy-to-read one-page summary of certain important account terms.

Resolve to eat healthy

After indulging during the holidays, many people start the new year with intentions to eat well.

“Treating yourself during the holidays and depriving yourself in January is not healthy,” says Anne M. Wolf, obesity specialist and instructor of research at the University of Virginia. “A better approach is to consider what you’re eating and its effect on your well-being, no matter what time of year it is.

To start the year off right, Wolf recommends eating well-balanced meals instead of obsessively counting calories. She suggests stocking up on fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, healthy breakfast foods and better-for-you snacks.

But practicing portion control and choosing healthy foods over high-fat ones isn’t easy for everyone. For those who need some extra help, Wolf recommends FDA-approved alli to her patients. With the alli plan, you can lose weight gradually by learning the right way to use food. “Because of the way it works, alli makes you more conscious of the fat in the foods you eat, which ultimately helps you lose weight,” says Wolf. “It should be used as part of a comprehensive plan that teaches you to make healthy decisions.”

Maximize your health benefits

By fully maximizing your health benefits and learning the ins and outs of your health benefits plan, you could save yourself hundreds of dollars this year. Experts say the most important first step is to review your coverage documents carefully.

Here are tips to help you get the most out of your health benefits plan this year:

• Get your preventive care, such as yearly physicals. Many plans cover these services 100 percent.

• Use doctors and other health care providers that are in the health plan’s network.

• If your doctor recommends any type of tests or lab work — outside of what is normally part of an annual physical — call your health plan to see if these require a preauthorization.

• Read your policy carefully if you need any type of therapy, for instance, physical, occupational or speech therapy.

• When Explanations of Benefits (EOBs) arrive, review them carefully.

• Understand your rights to file an appeal or grievance if a claim is denied that you feel should be paid.

• Take advantage of discounts your plan offers. You could save on gym memberships, weight loss programs, massage therapy, acupuncture, eyewear and more.Visit to learn more.

A new you, in a new year

With the New Year just around the corner, could it be time for a new you? Reinventing your style can give you a new attitude and outlook. With a few simple updates, you shouldn’t have to worry about breaking your budget.

“You can start with garments you already have in your closet,” says Anne Hankey Forman, fashion marketing and management instructor at The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago. “Mix up the way you wear your pieces,” suggests Art Institute of Philadelphia fashion instructor Karen Karuza. “If you always wear a white blouse with a black skirt, try wearing a lavender sweater.”

Adding new accessories can bring last year’s — or last decade’s — outfit back to life. Mary Jo Miller, department chair of fashion and retail management at The Art Institute of Atlanta says. “Scarves, hats and gloves make your current wardrobe more up-to-date.”

And, instead of looking just to your closet for a new look, take a look in the mirror. Both Miller and Forman agree that a different hairstyle and new make-up can dramatically change and update your style.

If you’re a fashionista looking for a career in style, learn more about options at The Art Institutes schools by visiting


To his owners, Moby, a four-year-old Australian Shepherd, was a very healthy, spry dog, so when his veterinarian told them that beneath his thick, reddish-brown coat he had a weight problem, they were a bit shocked.

Apparently, all that baby food licked off the floor and the lack of activity that came with the two toddlers who had recently joined the family, added about 10 extra pounds on a normally 65-pound dog. The good news is the veterinarian was able to put Moby on a program of diet and exercise, and he was back in perfect shape within a year.

Studies show that pet obesity is an epidemic in this country. According to a 2005 study, approximately 35 percent of American dogs and cats are obese or overweight, and some veterinarians report that they see even higher percentages now.

Obesity can cause a number of health problems, including diabetes and heart problems. Diabetes in animals can be treated successfully with diet and insulin, but treatments are expensive and difficult to undertake successfully with cats. Diabetes treatments require animals to eat on a consistent basis and cats don’t often enjoy following a schedule. Treating obesity before the animal becomes diabetic is a far simpler solution.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has partnered with Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. to combat obesity by sponsoring the Alliance for Healthier Pets — Obesity Awareness and Prevention Program. The initiative’s primary goal is to educate the public on how to recognize obesity and to suggest simple solutions. Visit to see examples of how common pet treats translate into major calories. Watch as personal trainer Gunnar Petersen teaches pet owners how to exercise with their pets and then take the “Pet Fit” Challenge.

For more information about animal health, visit and visit for an informative video about pet obesity. : :

This article was published in the Jan. 9 – Jan. 22 print edition.