8 Creative Ways to Enjoy Summer That Don’t Cost a Fortune

Ferris wheelIs everyone playing while you’re working? We get it: It can feel painful to sit at your desk when the weather warms. But there’s no reason to forfeit fun in the sun.

Here are eight ways to enjoy summer, without going into debt on a pricey vacation.

At work

1. Eat lunch al fresco: There’s nothing like an hour in the sun to recharge your batteries. But don’t waste money on an overpriced salad at the local café. Brown bag it to a park or even just a nearby bench, then take a stroll after you’ve eaten. At least one study has connected a lunchtime walk with increased enthusiasm and less fatigue and stress when workers returned to the office.

2. Ask about flexible hours: Something about a sunny summer morning makes you want to get out of bed with the birds (or the birds might just be waking you!). Some people prefer to get their day started and head straight into the office, then leave earlier to enjoy an extended late afternoon. See if your HR department will allow you to flex your hours at least part of the week and then take advantage of an early departure to enjoy an afternoon hike or a spin on the Ferris wheel at the local carnival when it’s less crowded. You can even finish your work at home later that evening if you need to.

3. Take the meeting outside: Everyone is feeling the same summer fever so be the hero and move from your boring conference room to an outdoor location. Even claiming a far corner of the parking lot can feel like a respite when you feel the sun on your face.

4. Take days off strategically: If you’re not able to plan an extended getaway, see if you can create your own mini trips. The trick is to take Fridays off so that you have three uninterrupted days to play. Plan short getaways to nearby towns, go camping or just be a tourist in your own town on a staycation. (Trust us: There’s nothing like taking in a matinee to really feel indulgent!) Try taking every other Friday off in July and August and see how much summer fun you can cram in without dealing with crowds and overpriced lodging and travel costs.

After work/ on the weekends

5. Find a festival: Art. Music. Food. Doesn’t matter. Nothing says summer like a festival. Beware of some that can be budget busters, especially if rides are involved, but many even allow you to browse for free or a nominal fee. Find samples to graze on or bring your own snacks. But do enjoy that elephant ear if you’ve been craving one!

6. Grow your own produce: A summer vegetable garden will get you outside and also help you eat healthier — while saving a bundle on weekly produce. If you’re not one for a green thumb or don’t have ample space, a farmer’s market is a great alternative to once again — be outside.

7. Streamline your errands: It can be brutal to spend a lovely afternoon running errands, but we all need to grocery shop and get the dry cleaning. Or, do we? Sometimes ordering online can actually save you money, even despite the nominal service or shipping fee, since you won’t be tempted to impulse buy, a habit that costs Americans a whopping $5,400 annually If you must do some errands in person, plan them efficiently, which not only saves time, but gas, as you avoid backtracking.

8. Use “nature’s gym:” Summer mornings are glorious times to go for a walk or bike ride, and even if you work full time, there’s still plenty of light to do the same in the afternoon — maybe even hit a nearby hiking trail or play an active game of tag with the kids. Bonus: You can probably put your health club membership on hold to save some cash. Many gyms allow a “freeze,” until it’s, well, freezing.




6 Ways to Protect Your Lower Back From Injury

Man holding his backBack pain is one of the most widespread issues in modern American life. Experts estimate that eight out of ten Americans will experience back pain in their lives. 

According to the Integrated Benefits Institute’s Health and Productivity Benchmarking 2016, musculoskeletal disorders (aka pain in the back and joints — especially the hips, knees and shoulders) account for the biggest portion of long-term disability claims — a total of 29 percent in 2016. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) meanwhile writes that musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time.

Here are six ways you can protect your lower back against injury — and the negative effects such an injury could impact on your ability to work and earn an income: 

Exercise Your Core

There are many real-world benefits of building up well-balanced and resilient core muscles. There is a wide range of exercises you can do to strengthen your core, such as incorporating front planks and leg lowering. If you can’t see yourself doing front planks and want to start with something simple, aim to go out for more walks. A walk nourishes the spinal structure.

Watch Your Posture

All the tiny habits we engage in every day can lead to big effects down the line. If you work in an office, check your posture at your desk. Follow these steps from the Cleveland Clinic to make sure you’re sitting with an optimum posture. 

Next, analyze your chair. Is it designed for a six foot two soul but you’re five foot four? Do your feet even rest on the floor? Ergonomics means “fitting a job to a person”, and an ergonomic chair is designed to perfectly fit with your body. By using a chair that allows you to adjust your posture according to your exact height and particular desk setup, you’ll lessen muscle fatigue, increase your productivity, and be far more healthy. It’s worth the time to investigate and correct your posture.

Walk Frequently

Regardless of what sort of chair you sit in, make sure you build up a habit of getting up and moving about frequently. The Mayo Clinic writes that the impacts of movement at work are profound; even leisurely movement with frequent breaks from one’s seat has been proven to have great impacts. You’ll burn more calories by doing this, and as the Mayo Clinic writes: “The muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes stall — and your health risks increase. When you’re standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action.”

Travel With Care

If you drive a lot, tweak your posture while behind the wheel. A recent study in the U.K. found that a massive 75 percent of drivers were suffering from back pain caused by driving. A physiotherapist who worked on the study offered the following advice:

  • Keep the seat as close to the wheel as is comfortable, so you can easily reach the wheel with your elbows relaxed.
  • Adjust your backrest recline so it supports your spine without leaning too far back.
  • Ensure all mirrors are adjusted before you start your journey.
  • Build in rest stops every one-two hours for longer journeys, to stretch your legs.

Life Objects Carefully

Spend a moment to brush up on the best techniques for lifting heavy objects: keep your feet shoulder width apart, squat down rather than bending, and maintain a good posture with a straight back throughout. But don’t go too far, and avoid lifting all objects. Fiona Wilson, an Associate Professor and Chartered Physiotherapist at Trinity College Dublin recently argued that, “People are becoming less active and more overweight, which means they are becoming less fit and less able to tolerate the activity and loading for which we were designed. Recent expert advice highlights that the best way to prevent back pain is with exercise.”

Live Healthily

A healthy lifestyle, with a good diet, lots of water, and frequent exercise shores up your body’s strength and fitness. Watch your diet and try to keep the extra weight off — and be sure to get enough sleep. By building a preventative approach to your back’s health where you watch your posture and engage in healthy habits of exercise, eating, and rest, you’ll be able to build up your body’s best possible defenses against back pain.

That said, you won’t be able to prevent accidents that come out of the blue — so make sure you have an income protection plan in place in the event that you need to miss work for a prolonged period due to a back injury. A combination of health, exercise, and a solid financial plan will make you that much more ready to react to whatever life throws your way. 




4 Ways to Make Your Commute Healthier and Happier

Man driving car. Working Americans are spending a lot of time behind the wheel. The U.S. Census reports that in 2016 the average American commute was 26 minutes each way. That’s nearly an hour a day on the road, five hours a week, 20 hours a month. What effect does all this time in the driver’s seat have on your body and mind?

Studies show that commuting can be very challenging for your health from its physical toll to increased stress and anxiety. Here are four ways you can reduce the negative effects and build a more healthy and happy commute:

Exercise

Even though we may be moving at 70 miles an hour down fast-moving highways, driving is largely sedentary — and one of its biggest impacts is on our physical activity. Studies have shown that a longer commuting distance adversely affects people’s physical activity and makes them more likely to be overweight and have poor cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Overcome this by finding creative ways to infuse exercise into your daily life. Take a walk during lunch time or during a break. If you sit at a desk a lot during the day, get up every hour or so and walk around the office, stretching your legs and moving your muscles. Consider waking earlier to add some physical exercise into your routine. 

Watch Your Posture

Another major negative side effect of regular driving is neck and back pain. One Gallup survey in 2010 showed that one in three employees with a commute of 90 minutes or more reported neck or back pain. A more recent study by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) showed that 14 percent of drivers experienced neck or back pain. Musculoskeletal issues are the leading cause of disability insurance claims in the U.S., and a bad driving posture can contribute to your risk of this. 

Your best line of defense is to actively check how you are sitting in the vehicle, and shift to the best possible posture. The BCA report includes a list of great recommendations on how to reduce neck pain while driving, such as aligning your steering wheel, mirrors, and adapting your back posture. There are also various subtle exercises you can do while you drive (butt clenches anyone?) Although adapting your posture and the way you hold the wheel can feel distinctly uncomfortable at first, keep practicing and it’ll soon start to feel perfectly normal. Your future body will thank you. 

Explore Flexible Hours

There is a psychological impact to our commute — and not just the road rage that flares up. A large-scale 2017 study in the United Kingdom by VitalityHealth, the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer, found that those with longer commuting distances were 33 percent more likely to suffer from depression, and 12 percent more likely to report multiple aspects of work-related stress. 

A lot of this is arising from something called “time pressure”. This is when we feel that we don’t have enough time to get things done — for example, the commuting time is eating into family time or exercise time. Address this by talking to your employer about options for flexible work hours. Can you come in and leave a little later to miss the morning and evening rush hours? Or can some of your time be spent working remotely from home to allow more yoga, exercise or family time? Show them the data: 2.7 million more Americans were doing this in 2017 than they were a decade ago. 

Change Your Perspective

If there’s nothing you can do about shifting the time of your commute, consider transforming the very way that you view that time spent in the car. Could you use it as an opportunity for self-improvement? Perhaps you can practice mindfulness during the commute, or listen to audiobooks or podcasts to educate yourself. Maybe you can start to treat it as valuable time for you to unwind and think through work problems, so that when you arrive at home, you’ll be ready to focus on your family or just relax.

Finding a way to make your commute as comfortable and enjoyable as possible will help to improve your long-term health. You’ll also enjoy those 20 hours a lot more. 




How To Start an Exercise Habit—And Stick With It

Runner puts on shoes.Just under half of all adult Americans do not meet the physical exercise guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you’re one of these people, you probably already know that you should be exercising. You’ve heard all the benefits of frequent exercise: how it can control your weight, build resilience against disease and illness, increase your energy, lift your mood, and help you sleep. But you’re still not doing it. Why?

Often it’s because we’re not very good at building the habit itself. We book ourselves into a yoga studio, join a gym, decide to run everyday, or find a tribe of fellow cyclists — but we don’t know how to commit to a regular rhythm of engaging in that practice. We decide we’ll exercise when we feel like it, which means we rarely do it. To succeed at this, you need to focus on building the habit itself.

Here are a few ways to make it work for the long-haul:

Start Small

Instead of taking on the Boston Marathon, what if you were to walk around the block once a day at work for a week. Clearly, this isn’t a huge aerobic workout — and it probably doesn’t hit the CDC’s guidelines. However, because it’s so manageable you’ll be that much more likely to do it. And through the very act of doing it — walking, moving your legs, breathing in that fresh air, and successfully accomplishing the goal for a week — your confidence will scale up. So set yourself a tiny, totally achievable goal — and just enjoy seeing it through. 

Try a 30-Day Challenge

When you’ve identified the form of exercise you’ll be doing, set up a goal for a month. Don’t commit to something for the rest of your life — that’s too easy to fail at, then feel bad. But by committing to something for a certain stretch of time, it’s that much easier to succeed. Perhaps you decide you’ll go for a run two mornings a week for 30 days. If you make it through to the end of your challenge, congratulate yourself, perhaps have a few days off to celebrate and laze about in glory, then commit once again.

Build Triggers Into Your Schedule

According to a fascinating study published in the journal Health Psychology, some of the most successful people build exercise routines based on “instigation habits”, where an environmental or internal trigger tells them it’s time to exercise. This might be an simple as setting an alarm on your phone, deciding to put on your running shoes as soon as you wake up in the mornings, or deciding that at 5:30pm every Tuesday and Thursday, you’ll go to the gym. By making it an automatic trigger, all ambiguity goes out the window. It’s not about whether or not you feel like doing it, it’s on your calendar. 

In order to build long-term habits, you need to set yourself up for success by defining and setting manageable goals. Then focus on seeing through those goals. Once you do this in a sustained manner over time, you’ll start to feel all those benefits of exercise kicking in. You’ll be feeling stronger, looking better, boosting your natural serotonin levels and sleeping more peacefully. You’ll have created a virtuous cycle, where to not exercise actually feels bad. At this point, the habit is so ingrained, it’s become a part of you. 




Sleep Helps Regulate Your Metabolism and Weight

Jan-sleep-imageMost people use exercise and a healthy diet to maintain their weight. While those are two key factors, many people forget one more important contributor—sleep. Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night to maintain optimum health. Sleep deprivation sends your body into survival mode, which increases your appetite and food cravings, leaving you with unwanted weight gain.

Your Brain and Sleep

The body performs important functions while it sleeps. Much of your body’s restoration and repair work takes place while you’re unconscious. It’s during these quiet hours that you have spare energy that can be used for these important functions. Your brain, too, uses that downtime to reset, repair, and get ready for the day.

Sleep deprivation actually slows down your neurons, those cells that send signals in the brain. In an attempt to get the sleep it needs, your brain slows reaction times, reasoning, and problem-solving in the hopes you will drift off to sleep. At the same time, the brain starts changing the amount of hormones released for controlling the appetite and metabolism.

Sleep Deprivation and Appetite Control

Have you noticed how much hungrier you are when you’re tired? That’s because the brain releases the hormones that control hunger in different amounts when you’re sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation boosts your hunger. While your body is slower to send out and recognize the hormone that signals satiety.

Not only that, the kind of foods you crave when you’re tired changes too. You’re more likely to reach for chips, cookies, and other high-fat, sugary foods when sleep deprived. With an increase in your food intake and the desire to reach for unhealthy foods, it’s no wonder that getting a full seven hours of shut-eye is critical to regulating your metabolism and weight.

How to Get More Sleep

Getting the high-quality sleep you need starts long before you lay down at night. What you eat and your daily habits affect your ability to get a good night’s rest. A few ways to set yourself up for success include:

  • Regular Exercise Early in the Day: Exercise helps maintain your weight but it also helps establish the right conditions for better sleep. You’re more tired at night if you’ve done 30 minutes of vigorous exercise earlier. Avoid exercising within four hours of bedtime as the release of endorphins and rise in body temperature may keep you awake.

  • Avoid Stimulants: Caffeine and alcohol can both disturb sleep patterns. Caffeine can keep you awake while alcohol interrupts your sleep during the night. Stop drinking caffeine in the early afternoon. If you can, stop drinking alcohol within four hours of your bedtime.

  • Create the Right Environment: A quiet, soothing bedroom helps you relax and relieve stress. Keep your bedroom temperature between 60-68 degrees at night. Reduce light and sound as much as possible.

  • Establish a Consistent Bedtime: Your brain helps regulate your circadian rhythms, those processes your body cycles through every day. A consistent bedtime helps to solidify the release of the hormones that make you tired. Along those same lines, try to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends to your brain and body on schedule.




Put Muscle Into Your Metabolism

Jan-BuildMuscle-imageHow’s your metabolism these days? If your body isn’t looking or feeling the way you’d like it to, maybe it’s time to take a closer look.
As we get older, especially in our 40s, our metabolism tends to slow down. Even for people who jog or cycle a few times a week and maintain an average weight, their metabolism can continue to decline. What’s going on?

 

The basics of your metabolism are simple. You eat food, most of it becomes glucose (sugar), insulin delivers the glucose to cells, and how well all of this happens is your metabolic rate.

 

For too many Americans, diet is the primary cause for a slowing metabolism. Consuming too much sugar or carbohydrates can lead to more stored body fat that sets off a chain of problems involving blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

 

Faster at Any Age

How to speed up you metabolism is simple, but first there are some misconceptions to get past. Getting older doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about your metabolic rate. In fact, with some important changes, an older person’s metabolism can outperform that of a 20 something. Being thinner isn’t necessarily an advantage for having a faster metabolism. And regular exercise such as running, cycling or walking is all you need to help manage your metabolism.

 

Muscle for Metabolism

To create a healthy metabolic rate, building muscle is the answer. More muscle burns more sugar for fuel. And the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolic furnace runs. Strength training – yes, working with weights – is absolutely essential to ward off useless fat. You don’t have to be a gym rat to change your metabolism. Simple resistance training even at home can start to build more muscle mass.

 

With a focus on strength training, you’re engaging the most important metabolic tissue in your body. A pound of muscle burns far more calories than a pound of fat. Unlike cardio training that is important for the heart and lungs, weight training consumes more sugar and delivers more strength. All you need to do is to start resistance work on the muscles you have. You can start at sixty and older and still get great results.

 

Getting Started

If you haven’t done resistance training before or it’s been a long time since you last did, here are few suggestions to get started. Like anything new, start slowly to avoid burnout or injury. If you have any concerns about lifting weights or using weight machines in a gym, be sure to consult with your physician. Begin with light weights and work on good form. You’re looking for a complete range of motion with good posture and alignment. You can start a program at home, but to really get results, visit a nearby gym and seek the advice of a good trainer. Just spending two–three days per week doing resistance training will start putting good muscle into your metabolism.

 




Tiredness or Fatigue, What’s the Difference?

Dec-fatigue-imageWe all know what it is to feel tired. Maybe it’s from a long day at work, or staying out late to catch up with an old friend, or your three year old who decided 5:00am was a good time to wake you. Whatever the reason, we’ve all suffered through a day or two while sleep deprived.

Fortunately, tiredness can typically be cured with a good night’s sleep; and a little coffee will help you get through the day. Lasting fatigue, however, is a different issue and should not be passed off as simply being tired.

 

What is Fatigue?

While tiredness is generally short term and easily relieved, true fatigue is long lasting and can ultimately interfere with one’s ability to lead a normal life. People suffering from fatigue often describe feelings of lethargy and exhaustion, often accompanied by depression and sometimes physical ailments.

In most cases, fatigue is a symptom of a larger underlying issue. Mild cases often accompany an illness, such as a flu or cold, and generally go away when the illness does.

Stress can also lead to temporary fatigue. A heavy workload, financial difficulties, and other common stresses are often cause fatigue. The fatigue tends to compound the feelings of stress, which leads to more fatigue, and on and on. But, as with illness, alleviating the stress will also alleviate the fatigue.

 

Other Conditions that Can Cause Fatigue

When eliminating stress factors and catching up on sleep don’t help, it’s time to investigate other possibilities. Fatigue that lasts more than two weeks, particularly when accompanied by other symptoms, such as unexplained changes in weight or shortness of breath, may be a sign of something more serious and should be treated by a doctor. Some of the most common causes of fatigue include:

  • Coronary artery disease. When simple daily activities wear you out, it may be that your heart isn’t performing at its best.
  • Diabetes. This disease impacts your body’s ability to properly process sugars and preventing the conversion of food into energy.
  • Thyroid problems. This is the gland that controls metabolism, and therefore your energy levels. Fatigue is often the result of an under-active thyroid.
  • Anxiety and depression. Depression is a leading cause of missed work, and can even lead to a disability diagnosis. It’s much more than an emotional slump, and often contributes to physical symptoms, including fatigue.
  • Not enough sleep. Consistent sleep deprivation can lead to all sorts of problems, including lack of concentration, weight loss, memory failures, and fatigue.
  • Sleep apnea. Breathing pauses or interruptions while sleeping prevents those who suffer with sleep apnea from getting the deep sleep necessary to feel rested.
  • Poor diet. An imbalanced diet may result in too much or too little blood sugar, either of which can ultimately contribute to feelings of fatigue.

 

Treatment

Many underlying causes of fatigue are easily treated with supplements, dietary changes, exercise programs, or sending the three year old to live with grandma for a few weeks. But fatigue caused by more serious underlying medical issues will often need to be managed with prescription medications and physician assistance. These include:

 

Unlike occasional tiredness, fatigue interferes with a person’s quality of life, their mental health, and their ability to handle manage daily activities. It’s even recognized as a significant reason for early retirement. If feelings of tiredness persist for a couple of weeks, seek medical assistance. The solution may be simpler than you think.




Can a Vegetarian Diet Make You a Better Athlete?

Dec-Veg-Athlete-imageToday it’s hard to miss stories about winning athletes in nearly all sports who are dedicated vegetarians. But is a vegetarian diet just a feel-good eco-fad or does it offer any advantages over a meat-based diet?

A recent Arizona State study shows that a veggie diet can offer you as much physical strength that a meat-based diet offers, and may give you an advantage in aerobic capacity. Even better, vegetarian diets have been linked to healthier hearts, fewer cancers, and longer lifespans.

Unexpected Protein Potential

One of the surprise findings in the Arizona State study was that you could get enough protein from a vegetarian diet to be as big and strong as someone on a meat diet.

“I expected cardiorespiratory fitness to be about the same since lots of endurance athletes say their performance has improved since going vegetarian,” says lead study author Heidi Lynch. “Now this study backs that. I was more surprised about strength, because people often think they need meat to get big and strong.”

For women in the study, a vegetarian diet actually provided 13 percent greater VO2 max scores than their omnivore counterparts. Part of the explanation for that difference is that vegetarians tend to consume more carbohydrates and may provide better fuel efficiency especially for endurance sports such as running, cycling, and distance swimming.

The big nutrient for building muscle of course is protein. Done right, vegetarianism can provide all the protein you need without the saturated fat and cholesterol found in meat or cheese. Green peas, quinoa, nuts, beans, and tofu are great protein sources and there are nearly limitless recipes on how to enjoy them.

Advantages off the Field, Too

If you’re not already a vegetarian, the benefits beyond athletic capacity are worth considering. Most vegetarian diets are low in or devoid of animal products. They’re also usually lower than non-vegetarian diets in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and some forms of cancer.

Getting Started

Starting a vegetarian diet doesn’t have to equate with giving up delicious food or enduring boring, brown meals. However, a vegetarian lifestyle does take some planning and understanding. For some people, a semi-vegetarian or pesco-vegetarian diet is an easy way to start. When starting out, be sure to have enough information to ensure that you are not missing any essential nutrients. You may also want to consult with a dietician or your physician if you have any concerns.

 

Eliminating meat from your diet won’t automatically make you a better athlete. However, when you make healthy, balanced choices, a veggie diet can give you all of the nutritional needs for performing well in any sport or lifestyle.




Winter Sports Safety Checklist

Nov-winter-sports-imageWhile the chill of winter can often be enough to cause many people to shutter themselves indoors for months on end, winter sports lovers often find themselves counting down the days until the first snowfall of the year. With the thrill and adrenaline rush of skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports, however, comes a real danger that resulted in 246,000 people being treated at hospitals, doctor’s offices and emergency rooms for injuries in 2015. Winter sports can be enjoyed safely, but only with the right amount of preparation before hitting the slopes.

 

Here’s a checklist to help you stay safe and have fun this winter, no matter what your favorite outdoor activity happens to be.

▢ Dress Appropriately

One of the easiest ways to ruin a day of skiing or snowboarding is to wear the wrong clothing. Regardless of how cold it is outside, your body will start sweating once you get moving, and any materials that don’t properly wick moisture will result in you feeling cold, wet and uncomfortable. It’s an annoyance to say the least, but wearing the wrong clothing can even lead to hypothermia under extreme circumstances. Stick to moisture-wicking thermal underwear (never cotton), an insulating layer and water/windproof outer layers to stay comfortable without being too warm.

▢ Take a Lesson

If it’s your first time hitting the slopes, you owe it to yourself and your own safety to take a lesson before heading out on your own. Why? It’s essential to have an understanding of basic techniques (such as how to fall properly) and safety precautions, as going in unprepared can spell disaster not just for yourself, but for your neighbors on the hill. The more educated you are about slope safety, the less likely it is that someone will end up getting hurt.

▢ Use Proper Gear

Even the best skiers and snowboarders are at risk of hurting themselves if they don’t have the right gear on their side. Boots, goggles, helmets and other equipment can be expensive, but heading out in the wrong or damaged gear is a surefire way to get hurt. Be sure to upgrade any equipment that has passed its prime—old skiing and snowboarding equipment is fine so long as it has been maintained properly and is outfitted with modern safety features.

▢ Watch for Frostbite

No one ever goes out expecting to get frostbite, but it helps to know what to look for symptom-wise, as it can occur without warning. If while outside in the cold for a prolonged period of time you experience pain, burning, tingling, numbness or paleness of skin (particularly in the extremities), stop what you’re doing and seek medical attention immediately. Though “frostnip”—the first stage of frostbite—can be mitigated if caught on time, advanced frostbite can lead to joints or muscles that may no longer work.

▢ Bring a Buddy

There’s no better way to stay safe and have a great time when enjoying winter sports than to bring a buddy along. The “buddy system” can help to prevent against people getting lost in the cold, as well as ensure someone is around in case an injury of some sort occurs. Be sure that everyone in your party has a mobile phone on their person in case of emergency, and document where you’ll be heading for the day before setting off.

 

Don’t compromise your safety this winter. Follow the checklist outlined above, and—most importantly—have fun!

 




Dos and Don’ts for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Nov-Thanksgiving-imageIf you’re getting ready to dig into one of the 46 million turkeys Americans consume each Thanksgiving holiday, chances are you haven’t been thinking about what it might mean for your waistline. Many people use Thanksgiving as an excuse to fill their plates and fall asleep in front of the TV, but it’s not as if all those extra calories aren’t going to add up simply because it’s a holiday. For those who are trying to stick to a healthy eating regimen, the holiday can even bring along a sense of anxiety that can put a damper on the festivities.

 

Want to avoid throwing your diet down the drain this Thanksgiving? Here are a few “dos” and “don’ts” to keep in mind as you line up to fill your plate.

DO: Start the Day With Some Physical Activity

No matter how much willpower and restraint you bring to the table on Thanksgiving, chances are you’re still going to take down more calories than you’re used to eating in a single sitting. One of the best ways to offset Thanksgiving caloric overload is by kicking the day off with some exercise. You’ll not only feel a bit better about eating more than usual, but your body will thank you for adding balance to the holiday—it’s the reason why so many people run “turkey trots” on Thanksgiving morning!

DON’T: Fast Until the Big Dinner

A lot of people assume that they should consider fasting all day due to the fact that they’ll be eating a relatively large dinner—not a good idea. The notion that avoiding food during the day helps you “make room” for a larger meal at night is false. On the contrary, you’ll be much more likely to overeat if you wait all day for your first bite of food, which can result in bloating and heartburn. Say “yes” to breakfast if you want to fully enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.

DO: Catch Up With Family and Friends

Thanksgiving is all about spending time with friends and family, both distant and immediate. One of the best ways to pace yourself when the first bites of food start to come out is to keep things conversational. By chatting and catching up with friends and family members as you nibble on appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, you’ll avoid chowing down on an entire meal’s worth of food before the main course comes out.

DON’T: Stress Eat

The holidays can bring about quite a bit of stress, whether it be work-related or personal in nature. As tempting as it can be to drown things out with copious amounts of mashed potatoes and gravy, stress eating will do nothing but throw your cortisol levels out of whack and cause potential rebound anxiety as a result. Overloading your plate isn’t just a bad idea—it’s a recipe for a stomach ache.

DO: Watch Your Alcohol Intake

Alcohol and Thanksgiving can sometimes go hand-in-hand, as we celebrate the coming together of family. Overdo it, however, and you may end up with a hangover you wouldn’t even wish upon that annoying uncle who insists on arguing politics. Keep your limits in consideration as the evening progresses, and don’t ever get behind the wheel of a car if you’ve been drinking.

DON’T: Overlook Balance on the Plate

While many people believe that the tryptophan found in Turkey is responsible for that sleepy feeling following Thanksgiving dinner, it’s more likely a result of a massive carbohydrate intake. Between stuffing, potatoes, root vegetables and butter rolls, Thanksgiving dinner can be “carb-loading” to the max—the average American consumes a whopping 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving night! Fill your plate with greens, instead, balancing it out with turkey and carb-heavy sides for a delicious, not-so-heavy meal.

 

Most importantly, have fun this Thanksgiving!