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Cincy Chic Staff

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    Since childhood, girls are socialized to be cooperative and blend into a group. Girls who stand out in anyway are often ostracized and expressing strong opinions is usually frowned upon. Boys, on the other hand, are socialized to be competitive. Their individual strengths and strong opinions are valued. "This pattern persists into adulthood when men are generally viewed as autonomous leaders when they express strong opinions," explains Hillary Wishnick, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the West Chester-based Bridgepoint Psychological and Counseling Services, "while women are often viewed negatively for expressing the same opinions, i.e. viewed as not being a team-player. So, in general, it is usually more challenging for women to be assertive."

    Assertive communication finds a balance between meeting your own needs as well as the needs of the listener. "The aggressive communicator meets her own needs at the expense of the listener while the passive communicator does not meet any of her own needs and often does not express much of what she thinks or feels at all," explains Laurie Little, PsyD, a licensed psychologist and owner of the Florence-based Little Psychological Services. "Learning how to become an assertive communicator takes time. It is a skill to be learned and practiced."

    Sharing your Opinion

    Sharing your opinion, whether it is the same or different from those around you, is often a difficult task. Knowing what to say and when to say it is important. "A good way to express an opinion is to own it as your own by using 'I' statements," explains Wishnick. "Timing and setting are also important considerations to determine if it is an appropriate time and place to speak up. Generally, it is best to avoid 'you' statements, which can make opinion-giving feel more confrontational."

    Be sure to identify your opinion as such before you start speaking. This sort of opener alerts others that what you are expressing is your own personal view and it allows room for others to share their opinions, whether the same or different. "People who are too forceful and blunt in giving their opinions are likely to turn people off, and the point they are trying to make may become lost due to the negative reactions they elicit from others," explains Sara M. Mills PsyD, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Mt. Lookout. "It is helpful for these types of people to gain understanding of how their approach is affecting other people and modify it so that others want to hear what they have to say." Mills states that this can be obtained by demonstrating respect for the views of others, modifying their tone of voice and also intensity of their delivery.

    When effectively sharing your opinion with others, you want to be sure that you are being clear without being rude or hurtful. "One must first have the underlying belief that everyone is equally entitled to their own opinions," explains Little. "Your own opinions, feelings and needs are just as worthy and important as everyone else's. Statements that imply that your opinion is 'the truth,' or that denigrate another's perspective, can alienate others or appear aggressive."

    Speaking up When Shy

    For a lot of women, it is easier to know what to say, or what you want to say, than it is to actually verbalize it. Overcoming shyness is an important part in learning to share your opinion. You have to realize that what you are saying is important and others will value you for speaking up. When listing ways that shy people can speak up for themselves Susan D. Gray, the regional director of education at Health Management Corporation, WellPoint Inc., says that, "they don't know that what they have to say is worthwhile. Know who you are speaking up to. What matters is speaking up in a way or manor that is perceived valuable. Find the hook, common language and go for it."

    Knowing that you may not be the only person with a particular opinion can help when sharing. There may be others who agree with you and that can help to build confidence. "Oftentimes, we don't speak up when we believe that our opinions are in the minority," explains Little. "Remind yourself that there may be others who are feeling the same way, but are also hesitant to speak up. Also, remind yourself that your opinions are equally as valid and worthy as everyone else's opinions."

    Along with the benefits of speaking up, you can also think about the costs of not doing so. "Are you being respected? Are your needs being met? Are you taken seriously?" asks Wishnick. "By evaluating this, one can determine whether the risk of speaking up outweighs the risk of not being respected at work and in interpersonal relationships."

    Defending your Cause

    When you are defending your cause, it is crucial to at least acknowledge the existence and possible validity of other points of view. "If a person comes on too strong by implying or stating that their view is the only ‘right’ way, others will get turned off," explains Mills. "On the other hand, it is good to be passionate about a cause and to express this passion. If you truly believe in something and are consistent in the way you demonstrate this, others are more likely to appreciate your sincerity, even if they disagree with your views."

    Stay focused and be sure not to be overly emotional about your cause. "It is important to stay calm," explains Little. "Although one can feel very passionately about a cause, if it is defended with too much emotion, the listener is less likely to take you seriously."

    If you listen to others, you can usually find out what is important to them and the business. "Once you identify this fact, then frame what you want to say in the context of what they see as valuable," explains Gray.

    If you are clear and to the point, there is a better chance that people will understand what you are saying and possibly agree with your cause. "Have a simple clear message, explains Wishnick, "own it with ‘I’ statements, and repeat the message numerous times without wavering or changing your opinion."

    Helpful Tips

    If you feel like you are being lost in silence and your opinion and cause aren't being heard, you should reassure yourself that your opinion does matter and believe that your feelings are worth discussing. If you want specific helpful ideas and tips, Mills, Wishnick, Gray and Little list ways in which you can speak up for yourself, defend your cause and not get lost in silence.

    "If you don't believe in yourself or that your thoughts or feelings are worth discussing, then it may be time to look at how your self esteem/self worth has gotten so low," explains Little. "You can address this issue through self help books, journaling and/or psychotherapy. If you know your opinion matters but you just don't know how to communicate it, then it is primarily a skills deficit which can be addressed with communication skills training classes, or therapy with an emphasis on teaching assertiveness skills."

    Little also suggests writing your statement on an index card and carrying it with you to remind yourself of it throughout each day. She also explains that defending your cause often takes preparation. Rehearsing what you want to say beforehand is essential when expressing your feelings.

    When it comes to overcoming shyness, Mills believes that people often have to practice and work up to being able to state their opinions assertively and openly. " If someone is shy, it might be enough for them just to be present while a group is discussing an issue," Mills states. "That person could increase their comfort level within the group, perhaps by first asking some clarifying questions, and working up to making a short comment about their own opinion. For people dealing with shyness, I think a good approach is for them to push themselves a little bit out of their comfort zone, but not so far out that they are unable to tolerate the anxiety. This is a process and it takes time, patience, and practice, and possibly, if the person is dealing with significant social anxiety, professional help from a trained mental health professional."

    Easier said than done? Maybe not. Push yourself in a way you may not normally and you may be surprised with the results. "Choose not to be silent," states Gray. "instead choose to be a contributor."

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    050707HEALTH.jpg
    I have a disease and it scares me to death. I've come to the realization that I'm not perfect and it's possible that I will be incapable of fulfilling my childhood dream of being a mother. But that's not what scares me the most.

    An estimated 10 percent of females have the same disease. Most of them won't find out until they try to have children and it's too late.

    My mission is to shed light on this disease to break the silence, even if it means exposing my health condition to our thousands of readers. I hope the readers of this issue will truly take it to heart. The theme of this issue is "Underneath it All." That's what I had to do – uncover layers of band-aids I had been putting on all my warning signs – and it's the only reason I still have a possibility of being a biological mother one day.

    I noticed my first symptoms in high school. But being the typical pubescent teen, those signs were overlooked because I just wanted to be "normal." I had excessive facial hair. We're not just talking a random dark hair here and there. It was black, thick, curly hair on my chin and sides of my face. So, I bleached. Problem solved, or so I thought.

    I also had a weight issue. But I managed it with excessive exercise, a very strict diet and a myriad of appetite suppressants. Oh, and I had extremely irregular periods too, but what sane woman would complain about having fewer of those, right?

    But these band-aids on the exterior weren't inhibiting the activity of the interior. In retrospect, I learned that with every missed period, my ovaries would grow another cyst. Because I ignored my body's signs, my ovaries are now covered in these cysts. The medical term for "many cysts" is polycystic. So, when my doctor discovered my polycystic ovaries, he diagnosed me with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It is the leading cause of infertility and it indiscriminately strikes women between the ages of puberty and menopause. Left untreated, it can lead to diabetes, heart disease and endometrial cancer. 050707HEALTH2.jpg

    The symptoms of PCOS frequently rob a woman of her self-esteem and femininity. They can include irregular menstrual cycles, male hair growth patterns, acne, obesity/weight gain, depression and infertility.

    The cysts vary in size. My largest one was the size of a golf ball, and doctors considered me lucky. the longer the symptoms are ignored, the larger the cysts grow. The cysts cause many problems and imbalances, and those irregularities lead to other problems and imbalances, creating a vicious cycle.

    Believe it or not, insulin resistance is the root of most PCOS problems. Doctors still have not discovered why, but PCOS sufferers' bodies do not read insulin levels correctly. This causes two big problems: low blood sugar levels and high androgen levels. The low blood sugar causes constant cravings (maybe K.D. Lang has PCOS!) for sweets and carbohydrates. Those are of course stored as fat int he body. The high androgen levels cause the unsightly acne and excessive hair growth.

    If you have symptoms of PCOS, or relate to my experiences with it, contact an endocrinologist immediately. They specialize in glandular disorders. They will run several tests, such as glucose tolerance, cholesterol, testosterone and ultrasound to determine a definite PCOS diagnosis.

    New discoveries are being made all the time. For more is known now, than 80 years ago when the syndrome was discovered. Yes, there is still no cure. This is a condition to be managed and closely monitored, rather than cured. Treatment of the PCOS symptoms can reduce the side effects as well as your risks of future health problems.

    I can remember the endless tests and the numerous doctor consultations. I had a tough time accepting and dealing with it all at first. I would sit there and think, "Why me? Why can't I just be normal like all of my friends?" I realize now, my friends might also be part of this large percentage of women hiding behind the same band-aids I was using to appear "normal."

    So, take off the band-aids, shed light on the disease and stop the silence. Your health, happiness and future family depend on it.

     

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    "Why is it most good looking, remotely successful guys in the this town think they are in L.A. and act like a ass on a consistant basis? Is the pool of a well-rounded guys so void in Cincy that the few there are milk it for all it's worth?"
    -Sarah, Westwood

    I can't count how many times I've heard this one, or something similar: "There just aren't any good guys out there," "All of the good ones are taken," or "please stop calling me, you psycho." OK, maybe not the last one. Not recently, anyway.

    Did it ever occur to people that, if you're constantly meeting the wrong people, you just might be looking in all the wrong places? "You know, it's the funniest thing. Every weekend, when I wear the tightest, most revealing outfit in my wardrobe, and head out to the clubs looking for the man of my dreams, only oversexed man-children seem to hit on me. I can't figure it out!" Hmmm.. Need I explain that one?

    Unfortunately, we men are but simple creatures. Although we may be highly intelligent and fairly evolved beings, there's just something about women in a bar/club-type atmosphere that drops us back a few links down the evolutionary chain – somewhere just below marmets, and a notch or two above pond scum. I can't explain it. It's like there's some invisible bouncer sitting at the door of every club, that require most men to check their tact and dignity at the door before entering.

    I know it sounds cliché, but it seems that I've met the best people when I was least expecting it. I might have even met a few of them at clubs or bars – but it certainly wasn't when I was trying to. Maybe that's the problem. Most people are just trying too hard.

    And as good-looking as that guy might be who just pulled up to the club in a Ferrari, keep this in mind: a good-looking guy in a Ferrari probably isn't pulling up to a club in Cincinnati to meet someone for a stimulating intellectual conversation. Ever been in a Ferrari? They are way too small for brains that big. Personally, I believe that Ferraris (or any small exotic sports car, for that matter) were designed to attract incredibly beautiful women, and get them back to your place as fast as humanly possible. I hear that hats or t-shirts that say "ask me about my billions" are sometimes also equally attractive, provided the person actually does have billions, and doesn't live at home with mommy and daddy any more. Unless, of course, "home" is a palace in Europe, and "mommy" and "daddy" happen to be members of some royal family. But I digress…

    Not happy with the caliber of men you're attracting? Try doing some thing different. Get involved in different social settings. Find a hobby. Join a group or a club. And make it something you might like to do, or have always wanted to learn more about. That way, even if you don't meet someone right away, you still get something out of the experience – something more beneficial than a hangover, assorted napkins full of numbers you would never, ever call and a wardrobe full of smoky clothes (if you're hitting the clubs outside of Ohio, anyway.)

    In short, to attract the kind of man you think you deserve, be the type of woman you think he'd like you to be. Which, in most cases, is yourself.

     

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    "I joined Weight Watchers online over a year ago and have lost 30 pounds and have kept it off. I work-out at the gym 3-4 days a week, doing elliptical, stepper, fast walking on treadmill and weights. I usually do 60 minutes of aerobics and switch up area of body with free weights. I also cycle 20-50 miles a week. My problem is how to firm up and lose cellulite from my hips and thighs. I've considered trying to loose 5 more pounds, but don't want to loose any more than that. What do I need to do?"
    – Mindy, Cincinnati

    You’re a friggin' lunatic! I see this all the time and it’s not going to be pretty. All I see in the question is aerobics…aerobics…aerobics and more friggin' aerobics. Holy s**t! Then I see that, you decide to switch one body part with free weights. Oh, how noble.

    To be able to lose fat (which cellulite is) around any area you need to replace it with muscle. Gaining muscle in your hips and thighs will round out that area create a smoothing effect.

    I would do 25-30 lunges on the same leg for two sets and one set of Mountain Climbers for sixty second before the lunges and one set after. If you don’t know what Mountain Climbers are, go to askROCCO.com , get a free Boot Camp Workout Card and I'll show you in person. Keep your rear down on the Mountain Climbers, and in no time you’ll be getting way too many compliments on it.  

     

    Click here to get your "One Day Free Pass" for Rocco's boot camp.

     

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    050707_michelle1.jpg
    Cincy Chic: How did the opportunity to be on Survivor came about?
    Michelle Yi:
    I’m always on the hunt for new experiences and adventures. So, it all started when me and my sister applied to be on CBS’s Amazing Race. Interview, after interview, before I knew it, I found myself on Survivor instead! It was certainly a much more challenging experience than I had first anticipated, but well worth it!

    Cincy Chic: You were a fashion design at the University of Cincinnati before the Survivor gig came about. Did you have to put that on hold to go out to Fiji?
    Yi:
    In order to make it out to Fiji, I had to take a travel quarter from school. It was a fair bit of paperwork and catching up, but UC’s co-op department has been wonderful in assisting me, to assure I still get to graduate in June!

    Cincy Chic: Did you do anything special in your try-out video to catch their eye?
    Yi:
    Honestly, in my video, I didn’t do anything particularly exciting. Just sat down in front of my little digital camera on the video setting, and spent two minutes talking about myself. That’s the best recommendation I can give. Just be yourself, be excited and tell them why you’ve got what it takes!

    Cincy Chic: Before the Survivor gig, what was the most difficult thing you had done?
    Yi:
    Oh gosh… I’d say it’s probably something to do with climbing. I ironically have a fear of falling, so I’m really pushing myself every time I go to Red River Gorge. And there was one time, when I worked in jewelry, that we were held up at gunpoint. But in those situations, I think your choices are obvious.

    Cincy Chic: What was the most difficult thing you faced in your time with Survivor?
    Yi:
    Without a doubt, it was the first seven days without water. You’d have a hard time convincing me I wasn’t dead already. No, I’m being dramatic. But really. I was amazed at what my body could go through!

    Cincy Chic: Did you get along with teammates off-screen?
    Yi:
    Absolutely. Many of them I just adore, and who’d have thought we’d never meet without this crazy experience!

    Cincy Chic: Tell us some juice that we won't get from watching the show?
    Yi:
    Actually, I think that most shocking part for me was how real it is! You really don’t brush your teeth, and your gums hurt, and you’re just filthy. It’s a wonder how everyone else still manages to look so glamorous on TV!
    050707_michelle2.jpg
    Cincy Chic: Your athleticism earned you the nicknames "Ninja" and "Monkey" …where'd you get those skills, girlfriend?
    Yi:
    It’s all from rock climbing! I’m still a little kid, running everywhere, climbing all over whatever I can get my paws on. I love being active. I lift weights, do yoga, bike around… Whatever I can. It’s certainly not my attachment for Skyline and Graeter’s that earned me that handle.

    Cincy Chic: What would you have done with all the money, had you won?
    Yi:
    After a vacation for the family? I’d love to start my own clothing line. Something in activewear. Well, I think people can be on the lookout for that anyway.

    Cincy Chic: Aside from any money, what was the best part about the experience?
    Yi:
    The money pales in comparison to just the game itself! Thirty-nine days in Fiji, meeting some incredible personalities. And I’ve got a very competitive spirit, so I’m all about the challenges.

    Cincy Chic: What was the worst?
    Yi:
    The dehydration was without a doubt the worst. It wipes you out in everyway: mental clarity, physical prowess and your nerves become so hyper-sensitive.

    Cincy Chic: Any lessons you learned on Survivor that you'll take throughout your life?
    Yi:
    Just keep your head up. Always. Things in the game – and in life – can turn at the drop of a hat. Know what you’re working with, and make it happen.

    Cincy Chic: Now that you've been thrust into the public eye, is it difficult to come back to life in Cincinnati?
    Yi:
    Cincinnati is such a wonderful city, and was very welcoming to come back to. The people here have been so supportive, and it makes all the difference. I love to know that people are proud of me, so there’s nothing difficult about that!
    050707_michelle3.jpg
    Cincy Chic: Where's your favorite hang out spot in Cincy?
    Yi:
    I spend a good portion of my nights training at Climb Time in Blue Ash. One can always find me there. Otherwise, I feel like every other day I’m eating at either Arthur’s or Lemongrass in Hyde Park. I’m always about the food. Especially these days!

    Cincy Chic: What are you going to do now? Any goals/adventures planned that you hope to survive in the near future?
    Yi:
    I graduate in June. I’d love to take some time climbing around the States. And then after that, it’s the big brave world of Fashion.

    Cincy Chic: What would you like to say to those Cincinnati women out there afraid to put a little adventure into their life?
    Yi:
    Follow your passions, and fear nothing. Ambition has no risk. So just go for it, but don’t lose your head on the way. Friends and family can help you through amazing feats. Take advantage of it!

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    As thousands of young athletes are at such high risk for developing skin cancer, a University of Cincinnati (UC) dermatologist says he dreams of the day "when sunscreen is right up there in the locker room next to the Gatorade."

    050707BEAUTY.jpg What's more, says Brian Adams, MD, a sports medicine specialist at UC and a part-time high school coach, the risks are so high that sunscreen use should be compulsory in outdoor sports.

    Adams says he applauds one rowing coach who benches any crew member who appears for practice sunburned. That, he believes, gets the message across.

    According to the American Cancer Society, most of the more than 1 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States are sun related. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for about 59,600 cases of skin cancer in 2005 and about 7,800 of the 10,600 deaths due to skin cancer each year.

    Unfortunately, says Adams, a study he did recently with medical student Erica Hamant revealed that most young athletes ignore the danger.

    Reported in a recent edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the study showed that 85 percent of 186 NCAA soccer players and cross-country runners at four Cincinnati-area colleges used no sunscreen during the previous seven practice days. Ninety-four percent admitted they used sunscreen on fewer than three days during the previous week.

    "The NCAA has medical guidelines for wrestlers, football players and others," says Adams, "but using sunscreen in outdoor athletics, which is very, very important, just isn't part of the culture.

    "The well documented consequences of not using sunscreen all point to the fact every locker room should have sunscreen right up there next to the Gatorade."

    What is part of the culture, Adams laments, is "the tan."

    Although a tan wasn't "hip" in earlier times, he says, "unfortunately today if you have a little color you're perceived as being healthy or better looking.

    "The problem is that a tan is a bad response. It's the body's last attempt to protect itself against ultraviolet (UV) light damage and the subsequent mutations that UV rays induce in the skin cells. It's your skin's way of saying please stop the madness!"

    Forty-six percent of 139 athletes who gave reasons for not using sunscreen blamed lack of availability, and 33 percent thought they didn't need it because of various misconceptions. Others says they didn't consider the weather hot enough for sunburn.

    However, says Adams, only 1 percent of the athletes says they didn't use sunscreen because it hurt their eyes, commonly thought to be the reason they ignore it.

    The American Academy of Dermatology Web site recommends avoiding sun exposure from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., "exactly the times when most teams are out practicing, be they soccer players, long-distance runners, or tennis players," Adams pointed out. "They're getting an enormous amount exposure to UV light."

    Outdoor athletes are also in double jeopardy, because sweating exacerbates their risk, Adams says. Perspiration on the skin lowers what's called the minimal erythema dose, the lowest UV exposure needed to turn the skin barely pink.

    "You've already set yourself up for trouble by not using sunscreen," Adams says, "and now by sweating you're making it worse. Think about that the next time you see all those men jogging around town without their shirts on.

    "Nearly 20 years ago when I was in college running at 3 p.m. and getting burned and tanned, there wasn't as much knowledge about the risks as we have now, and there weren't as many sunscreen products – especially for sports enthusiasts.

    "Today there are plenty, so there's no excuse for this risky behavior, on or off the sports field."

    Skiers have it even worse, Adams says. Not only is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. prime time for lift tickets, but UV light on the high slopes isn't "filtered" by the pollution found in the atmosphere at sea level, and it's even intensified by the white snow.

    Studies have shown that sun exposure at noon in Vail equals that at the same hour on a Florida beach, says Adams. "Because it's cold on ski slopes, people who typically have their face and hands exposed tend not to wear sunscreen. Whereas on the beach they feel hot and are more aware, and they're influenced by the fact that everyone around them is using sunscreen."

    The solution, Adams suggests, is relatively simple and could cost organizations like the NCAA – with its 250,000 outdoor athletes – very little or even nothing.

    "All the NCCA and the other conferences, colleges and clubs need to do," he says, "is install a huge container of sunscreen in the locker room, where it's impossible to avoid. Manufacturers would probably donate product for the promotional value."

    Infrastructure is already in place through the various sports organizations for educating outdoor athletes about the risk, Adams says. Preventive programs could easily be integrated into daily practice and competition regimes.

    And enforcing a sunscreen rule should be a snap.

    "Young athletes are at the right age to learn good habits that they can take into adulthood," he says, "and most kids heed their coach more than they do their parents."

    – University of Cincinnati

     

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    050707SOCIAL.jpg
    “We reveal stories about freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom today.”
    – National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) Mission Statement

    Since the Freedom Center opened its doors to the public on August 23, 2004, it's been reaching out to the Tri-State through a variety of ongoing events and programs. "For example," says Eileen Turner, NURFC communications specialist, "our speaker series features prominent artists and authors who discuss a variety of topics from slavery to contemporary issues."

    In addition, NURFC's Freedom Community Arts Productions, which is a 26-night series that presents high quality arts experiences for the Greater Cincinnati community that complement the mission and vision of the Freedom Center. Upcoming performances include the School for Creative and Performing Arts and the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus. The NURFC also hosts many forums, community conversations and Freedom Circles for the public to dialogue and discuss issues impacting Greater Cincinnatians.

    The Freedom Center’s young professionals’ group, FreedomYP, hosts a bi-monthly "Freedom of…" Event Series. "The Event Series is our way of opening the doors of the Freedom Center for evening programming which includes special guests, music, food and a cash bar," says Turner.

    On designated Freedom Family Saturdays, families can enjoy unique programming, family-oriented, hands-on arts and crafts, interactive activities and music.

    NURFC's guided thematic tour, Women of Courage, (available Wednesday through Friday at 1 p.m.) highlights the courage, cooperation and perseverance of more than 20 women who each overcame personal struggles to achieve freedom. Some of the women featured on the tour are Ellen Craft, Harriet Tubman, Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Susan B. Anthony.

    These efforts are working, too. As of January, 2007, more than 500,000 guests have visited the Freedom Center, including more than 120,000 school children. Visitors have come from all 50 states and more than 40 countries around the world, according to Turner.

    If you haven't been, you must. If you've been before, but not in a while, you should revisit, according to Turner. "Guests should return to the Freedom Center because we now have a changing exhibition gallery, comprised of approximately 3,000 square feet, on the third floor," she adds. "The gallery enables us to display larger-scale exhibits throughout the year."

    She encourages all people, of all ages, races and cultures to visit the Freedom Center because "through the exhibits and various programs, we offer lessons and reflections on the struggle for freedom not only in the past, but in the present. The fight for freedom continues today, in the U.S. and all over the world. The Freedom Center helps guests discover the power of one voice."

    Go to www.freedomcenter.org to learn more about programs and events at the Freedom Center.

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      This city loves its runners, and it shows this love by providing some rockin' running events. This year will mark the 98th annual Thanksgiving Day race. And Runner's World ranks the Flying Pig Marathon in its "Top 10 Most Fun Marathons" list.

      043007FEATURE_intext1.jpg With the Flying Pig Marathon coming up this weekend, you might be getting the itch to go for a good run. But, before you do, you need a few key things. First and foremost, you will need good shoes.

      Roncker says you need to come to a shoe-buying experience prepared. "Bring your current shoes with you," he says. "They tell a story about your running patterns." Go to a specialty running store – like one of the many Running Spot stores or the Miles and Meters store in Newport – where they measure your feet, are knowledgeable about running and are concerned about getting you in the proper shoe with the correct fit. "Color and appearance is part of the equation, but don’t let it be the overriding principle that determines your shoe purchase," Roncker says.

      In addition to good shoes and socks, Roncker says, these things are specifically important for females:

      1. First and foremost, a good running bra. The Running Spot carries a large selection of running-specific bras by Moving Comfort that offer function and style, and are a full range of sizes. The Running Spot also has compression bras by other manufacturers, particularly Hind and Nike.
      2. BodyGlide, a lubricant that helps avoid chafing. "BodyGlide is a great preventative measure that many of my female friends find essential for long runs (over an hour)," says Roncker.
      3. Running clothes made with wicking fabric. Keeping the moisture away from your skin will keep you feeling cool and fresh, and it's better for your skin as well.
      4. Use your head, and wear something on it! "I never run in warm weather without a headband or hat of some kind to keep the sweat out of my eyes," says Roncker.
      5. Of course, sunscreen. You might have your mind on your run, but all the while, the sun has its rays on your skin. So, protect it with a good sweat-proof sunscreen.


      Okay, you have your gear, but where will you go to break it in? If you've run in Cincinnati before, you're probably familiar with the routes available at Lunken, Hyde Park and the bridges between Cincinnati, Covington and Newport. Paths along the Little Miami River, Winton and Sharon Woods and Miami Whitewater Park are all very popular, as well. But the park trails are where you'll find the hidden gems, according to Roncker. "The Park Board has done a very good job of maintaining and improving the paths in the parks," he says. "Ault, French and Mt. Airy parks have a nice network of trails that you use for extensive periods of time."

      Now, you're ready to hit the ground running, but will that run be more effective with a partner, group or just by yourself?

      Group Runs
      Roncker says the type of person that does well with running in a group is a "social" person. "It's fun to have friends to share the run with and to talk to," he says "However, I also find that the group atmosphere makes you almost feel like you're on a 'team.' If you need motivation or accountability to get your running shoes on, a group provides that, too." Groups also come in handy with the logistics of a run. "On longer runs, you can take turns putting out water or deciding on the course, and leading the run," ROncker says. "Many of my best training runs have been with a group." 043007FEATURE_initext2.jpg

      If you're interested in running with a group, there are a number of local running groups in the area that meet on a weekly basis. More details can be found by going to www.runningspot.com and clicking on "Greater Cincinnati Running and Walking." In addition, training groups leading up to some of the major local races are very popular. Stores like the Running Spot offer training programs most of the year.

      Partner Runs
      Partner runs offer the same benefits of sharing, talking and accountability that you get with a group run. However, partner runs offer a good chance to bond one-on-one with that other person. Roncker says safety is an issue for many female runners, so running with at least one more person is a smart idea for those of you with safety concerns.

      Individual Runs
      "If you have a very social job, work in a high stress field or have a house full of preschoolers, a run alone can provide good 'quiet time' and, of course, the run itself is a good stress-reliever," Roncker says. Other times, it's just a matter of convenience. Some women run alone because no one else will get up that early to run with them, or they run when they can find a window of free time in their sporadic schedules.

      Getting Started
      Roncker says it's essential to educate yourself when taking on a new activity, especially running. See your physician for a check-up to begin, and then learn from the good advice of other runners. There are some great books available on running, specifically for women runners. "Not long after I started running I purchased The Complete Book of Running for Women by Claire Kowalchik, which covered most of the basics for me, including stretching, injury prevention, training schedules and nutrition," says Martha Nash, a Running Spot employee. "Nowadays, it's easy to find links from running Web sites that offer loads of advice, too."

      In addition to reading about running, Ronckers says, one of the smartest things a novice runner can do is to join a training group. Becoming a part of a group – like the ones available through the Running Spot – puts you in contact with a coach and mentors who help you learn all you need to know to be successful. "If you do experience any problems, these folks can guide you," says Roncker. "I have had many opportunities to talk with new female runners who have come in the store for shoes and gear. Many of them come to a specialty running store to ask questions and find guidance on how to get started. Collectively, our staff holds a wealth of information and experience that we love to share."

       

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      Gone are the days of tattered gym shorts and oversized t-shirts. Ladies: It’s time for the 21st century running style. After all, you’re divas in your jobs and personal lives – so why not out on the track?

      According to Dana Carman, a PR representative for SportSkirts, when it comes to running-wear, women need to maintain their femininity. “In the old days, women's running apparel was created by ‘shrinking and pinking,’ which means that manufacturers would take the existing men's line and offer women smaller sizes in pastel colors,” Carman says. ”But these days, running wear is actually designed for a woman's body so it fits better and works better for performance.”

      When asked about her favorite up-and-coming trend in running wear, Carman enthusiastically cites the running skirt. “As a woman who grew up playing sports in a pre-sports bra era, I can really appreciate having apparel that is specific to women … and nothing says that better than the skirt,” she says. But, her fondness for running skirts has more to do with than just style.

      From a technical standpoint, she says, “It's very strong, as it prevents chafing by not having material between your thighs, and it's [also] extremely lightweight and cool.” Because of this, Carman heartily endorses the running skirt for long-distance running.

      And, in regards to color, Carman thinks women should get out of the pink rut. “Last year,” she says, “pink was the color ‘du jour’; and there's still some pink out there, which is great, but it looks like more colors have entered the market.” This season’s must-have shades: fruity, succulent colors like lemon yellow and kiwi green. Note: the brighter, the better; running safety is always a "Do."
      Another trend making its way onto the fashion scene is X-static odor-free running apparel, says Brad Dunlevy, owner of Northern Kentucky-based Meters and Miles. According to Dunlevy, X-static technology benefits runners in a variety of ways, including:

      • Eliminating bacteria and ammonia
      • Keeping the garment cool in the summer by distributing heat, and warm in the winter by reflecting heat
      • Featuring silver fibers, which pull the skin’s electric charges away from the body; this aids in quicker muscle recovery and reduces muscle fatigue


      Thanks to such technology, Dunlevy says that exercise enthusiasts are now more comfortable than ever. “The saying is ‘cotton is rotten!’” he says. But for Leah Peelman, a front-runner for this year’s Flying Pig marathon, it’s all about combining style with functionality. And, considering her outfit has to last her for 26.2 miles, Peelman is careful in her selections. This year, Peelman plans on gracing the Flying Pig in a yellow Mizuno tank top and bright blue Puma t-shirt. Outfitted in such style, Peelman will likely leave a fashionable footprint in her trail of dust.

       

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