Is Your Sunburn Cause for Concern?

SCFCThe sun’s effects on our skin can range from some seemingly innocent freckles and a healthy glow to blisters and pain. It can be difficult to know when to let it go and when to freak out. Although all exposure to the sun is damaging and can cause skin cancer later in life, there are some warning signs to look out for when you get sunburn. Continue reading

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The Importance of Good Sleep and How to Get It!

(Image Credit: Rachel Titiriga)

(Image Credit: Rachel Titiriga)

Today I want to address a problem which is definitely an issue for many people in their day-to-day life (including mine!). Sleep. Sleep is essential for life; it allows our bodies to recuperate, it gives us the energy for the next day, and it gives our brains time to process all of the information we absorb each day.  Plus we tend to feel a bit under the weather and start getting snappy when we haven’t had enough. Most sources suggest that not getting enough sleep for a prolonged period of time can be detrimental to health – it can leave you with extra stress, lack of energy and even weight gain. But getting enough sleep, and satisfying sleep at that, is easier said than done. Continue reading

Is Your Computer Making You Sick?

(Image Credit: Ray Smith)

(Image Credit: Ray Smith)

We are living in a technology-obsessed society. Even those who argue they aren’t obsessed, I bet they won’t deny they need their gadgets. These days, phones and tablets are doubling as computers as everyone is on the go, trying to get their fill of information and entertainment. But what some don’t know is how much these devices are turning into vices, as they are beginning to affect various parts of our health. Continue reading

What to Do When You Have a Panic Attack

What to Do When You Have a Panic Attack

The first time I had a panic attack, I thought I was dying. I’d gone to see a movie with some friends one Thanksgiving night in high school, and I ran into an ex I’d had a messy breakup with and thought I’d never have to see again. Continue reading

Simple (and healthy) ways to boost your energy levels!

Simple (and healthy) ways to boost your energy levels!

Energy, is something that we all wish we had more of. Some days it can be ridiculously hard to pull yourself out of bed, others you start flagging in the afternoon. Often you find yourself reaching for a third cup of coffee for the day just to keep going. We all know those annoyingly energetic people, the sort that have an endless bounce to their step and always seem to get everything done and are still raring to go at the end of the day. I can’t give you the secret to these people’s gusto in life, but there are ways to boost your own energy levels. Just a follow a few small tips to hopefully improve your ability to make it through the day and make life a little bit easier! Continue reading

Meditation for Stress Relief

(Image Credit: Daniella Segura)

(Image Credit: Daniella Segura)

What’s the one thing people always tell you not to do, but seems impossible not to do? Stress. Stress seems to be an inevitable part of daily life that many people cannot overcome. Although stress seems unconquerable, there are remedies to lessen daily stress, such as meditation.

As far back as prehistoric times, meditation was used to deepen people’s understanding of higher beings in life, but has since transitioned into a common way to practice relaxation and stress reduction, according to Mayo Clinic. A simple definition of meditation is that it “consists of simply sitting quietly, focusing on one’s breath, a word or phrase… [and] a meditator may also be walking or standing,” according to Psychology Today.

Some studies have proven that there is a link between meditation and stress levels, such as one conducted by researchers in China and at the University of Oregon, according to Science Daily.

The study consisted of a control and an experimental group of undergraduate college students. The control group received five days of relaxation training, while the experimental group received five days of meditation training. In the experiment, stress was induced by mental math. Although the two groups both released the stress hormone, cortisol, the experimental group, or the one with meditation training, released less of this hormone and also showed “lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue.”

Overall, the study found that there is “a measurable benefit that people could achieve through body-mind meditation, especially involving an effective training regimen, but larger studies are needed to fully test the findings of this small, short-term study,” according to a researcher quoted by the Science Daily.

Although everyday stress reduction is the prime benefit of practicing meditation, there are also other benefits linked to meditation. According to Jaan Suurküla M.D., because practicing meditation can lower the amount of cortisol that your body releases, this may in turn help to lower the chances of chronic stress.

Other studies have also found that meditation may both prevent and treat cardiovascular disease.

Some forms of meditation include: guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, qi gong, tai chi and yoga. Each of these practices has different elements and levels of difficulty, which helps make meditation a practice that is accessible to anyone.

So the next time someone tells you “don’t’ stress,” remember to take a deep breath and meditate.

Originally posted July 14, 2013

Top 5 Gym Pet Peeves

Top 5 Gym Pet PeevesAhh! There’s nothing better than getting a nice sweat going. I’ve been into the fitness lifestyle for about three years now and I can honestly say it was one the best decisions I’ve ever made. The feeling you get from pushing your body past its physical capacity is indescribable. Of course with fitness comes gym memberships and not so pleasurable experiences. Here are a few gym pet peeves that’ve manifested since I’ve started working out.

The Staredown:

Allight, I’m all for helping somebody if need be, but one thing that bothers me is when somebody just stares at you from afar and doesn’t even utter a word or acknowledge that they may have a problem with you or with what you’re doing. I’m not saying this happens only at the gym, but it’s happened quite a few times. You could already imagine the NSFW thoughts I’ve had during these situations.

 

Not Wiping Down Machines:

Etiquette is a must when attending a gym, so explain to me why some individuals have a problem with this rule. If you’re using a particular machine or equipment is it that hard to grab a wet wipe and clean your station? Like seriously how old are we?? Get it together folks.

 

Dirty Locker Rooms /Bathrooms:

I know that cleanliness falls on the gym staff, but as adults I feel as if we make tend to make their job harder than it has to be. Why are we flushing things that don’t even belong anywhere near a toilet? I’ve seen newspaper, lunch bags and bandages thrown in there. On top of that, some decide that placing used towels on the floor instead of a basket is a better choice. I tend to believe the notion that people are more civilized in places that they reside than in public. Usually in most gyms you have to be 18 years old to have a membership, so I question where some people learned their manners.

 

Obnoxious Grunting:

At a gym you’re going to hear an array of noises such as people conversing (which should be taking place elsewhere, not at a gym) or the clanging of weights against each other. One particular noise that gets to me is the LOUD, obnoxious grunting that takes place during an individual’s set. It’s usually being done by the jacked up muscle dude who thinks he runs the place. I have no problem with you expressing yourself at a gym, but if you’re grunting due to the difficulty of the weight being lifted, how about you just lessen the weight? Stop ego lifting, guys.

 

Use of Membership:

Alright, this one has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time now and that is the use of a membership. If you’re paying monthly for a gym membership then you have every right to decide how to put it in great use. What gets to me is when people attend a gym just to ride on a bike or run on a treadmill. It’s cool if you want to get your cardio in, but you can also make better use of a membership by doing other exercise. Many gym-goers, especially women, are afraid to lift weights, but it’s actually a great way to round out your fitness routine and reach your goals. If you’re willing to spend money on a membership, why not take advantage of all of the benefits that come with it?

 

There you go, my gym pet peeves that tend to get to me on occasion. It’s important to respect those around you, no matter where you are, and we tend to forget that, even if it may be common sense. I’m here to make my gym (and yours) a welcoming place for all.

 

Why You Should Stop Checking Your Scale

Unless you participate in a sport that requires you to fall within a certain weight range, there is really no reason you should be overly concerned with how much you weigh. If you’re rapidly gaining or losing weight, then of course you need to address it with your physician, but basing your health and fitness off of a number isn’t always the best way to operate. Here’s a few reasons why you should quit checking your scale.

Weight fluctuates

If I weigh myself at three different times in a day, I can almost guarantee you that all three measurements will reflect different weights. This is for a few reasons. First, your weight will fluctuate during the day depending on what goes into (and what comes out of) your body, and second, you can’t guarantee that all scales are the same. If I eat and drink nothing between my house and the gym and get on the scales at both locations, I can never get one, guaranteed-accurate number.

 

It’s frustrating

Because weight does have this tendency to change on us every minute, tracking your health and weight loss progress through a scale can be a trying process. Nobody wants to see that they’ve gained a pound the day after a hard workout, but it happens often. This can be very discouraging; if you’re doing everything right but don’t seem to see any results via the scale, what motivation is there to keep pushing yourself?

 

Weight is just a number

I’m well aware that this is probably the most cliche thing I could tell you, but it’s true! Weight is nothing more than a number on a scale. It has little to do with how you look and is definitely not a reflection of how you feel. Many people who decide to dedicate themselves to a healthier lifestyle will find that their weight doesn’t change, or that they actually gain weight. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t look way more toned and feel like a totally new person.

 

What you see in the mirror isn’t defined by the number on your scale. Learn to keep your focus on how you’re feeling, both mentally and physically, and you’ll start to notice much more consistent progress!

7 Easy Ways to Help Prevent the Cold and Flu

Winter is officially upon us.  The temperature is cooling, leaves are falling, and people everywhere are… sneezing?  That’s right– It may be one of the most beautiful times of the year, but with that also comes the threat of the dreaded, less anticipated, cold and flu season.  Now, there may be no stopping it when the flu comes knocking on your door, but we can certainly take a few preventative steps to keep her away for as long as possible.

Here is a list of 7 easy and natural ways to boost your immune system and help keep those cold and flu germs away:

Stay Hydrated

Drinking lots of fluid is key to keeping healthy.  Every single cell, tissue and organ needs water to survive.  Staying hydrated will keep your body running the way it’s supposed to, in turn, keeping your immune system up and running.

Garlic

Garlic is packed with antioxidants that help boost your immune system.  Throwing some chopped or whole garlic cloves into that chicken soup could benefit your body.

Lemon

Lemon is great for the body for a multitude of reasons.  Not only does it aid in digestion and help prevent kidney stones, lemon soothes sore throats, helps balance your body’s pH levels, and is a great source of Vitamin C! Try drinking water with lemon or adding lemon to your tea.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a natural immune booster.  Drinking OJ or taking a Vitamin C supplement this flu season could certainly help.

Washing your hands/Disinfecting

Germs are so easily spread that they are even airborne in some instances.  Our hands are the most susceptible to germ transfer; with all the touching of doorknobs, phones, railings, and the like, followed by touching our own belongings (like a cell phone) and then proceeding to put that against our face.  Yuck.  Keep those hands clean and disinfect areas of public exposure to help increase your odds in the germ catching relay game.

Gargle

When you feel that dreaded tickle in your throat or that slight dry soreness, it feels like the calm before the storm.  Keep your throat moistened by drinking a lot of water and by gargling.  Add a little salt to warm water, gargle, spit, and repeat until your throat feels soothed.

Rest Up

We all know that sleep is crucial for our energy levels, and our energy is depleted when the body is using so much of it to aid our immune system.  Rest up and give your body that extra energy it needs to fight the immune battle.

 

These tips are not cures and may not work to prevent the cold and flu for everyone, but they certainly help our body function at its best.  I wish you all the best of luck at ducking the cold and flu this season!

What’s the Big Deal About…Fabletics

There are monthly subscription services for basically everything these days, so it was only a matter of time before athletic gear got tossed into the mix. You may have heard about Fabletics, a monthly subscription service for fashionable workout apparel, but you may have some questions or hesitations about committing to signing up. I’m going to give you the rundown of everything Fabletics to help you determine if the service is right for you.

What it is: Fabletics features an online shop with a variety of workout gear including tops, leggings, sports bras, shorts, jackets, and even accessories. You can purchase individual products on their own, or you can choose to purchase a full “outfit,” which is a pre-selected combination of 2-4 Fabletics items carefully chosen to work together perfectly.

When you sign up, you take a short quiz that helps Fabletics determine which outfits are best suited to your needs, but you’re welcome to purchase any outfits, not just your top picks.

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

How it works: You can purchase items or outfits as a guest at their full price, or you can register as a VIP member, which gives you a discount on all Fabletics merchandise.

The catch? Once you register as a VIP, Fabletics will send you a message at the beginning of each month linking you to their new monthly outfits. You can choose to purchase an outfit, or, if nothing strikes your fancy, you can skip the month – but you only have until the 5th of the month to select the “skip” option, or your credit card will get charged $49.95 and you will be given an equivalent credit on your account to use at any time.

You can cancel your VIP membership at any time, but unlike other subscription services (like Birchbox), you need to call and speak to customer service; you can’t just cancel over the web.

As a VIP, you earn rewards points for each dollar you spend and for each product review you post. Your reward points can be redeemed for specific items in the Fabletics shop – there are a variety of reward item options at varying point levels.

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

Quality and Price: Fabletics gear is high quality and sturdy. It’s not quite Lululemon, but it’s definitely a step up from what you’ll find at Target. The prices are in line with that – you won’t be spending $100 on a pair of yoga pants, but you are looking at around $40-$60 for a pair of pants at the non-membership price. VIPs are looking at about $30 for the same pair.

Outfits run around $50-90 for VIPs depending on the amount and type of pieces included, but outfit prices increase significantly if you’re not a VIP – for example, an outfit that costs a VIP $79.95 is $139.90 for a non-member.

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

What are the outfits like?: Pretty much all outfits include a top and a bottom of some kind, whether it’s shorts and a tank or compression crops and a sweatshirt. Some outfits offer a third piece, like a sports bra or a jacket, and occasionally you’ll find 4 piece outfits with headbands or other accessories included.

Outfits are added monthly with new pieces and updated patterns. There are some standby items (like the salar capri) that is consistently available, but the colors and prints offered change based on the month. Other pieces are specific to a particular month or season and are unavailable after they sell out.

The patterns and designs are usually really cute and fashionable, but you do have to be mindful of fashion vs. function. Most fabletics pieces are intended for both, but they do offer “athleisure” pieces that might not hold up to intense activity. You’ll find that some months the new outfits are full of adorable and fun new ideas, while others are a little less exciting – but it balances out when you skip a few months but then have a month where you want all the outfits.

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

What I Like: The quality for the VIP price is quite high for Fabletics, and I’ve yet to receive a piece that’s a total dud. The website features a really useful (and active!) section of user reviews and fit surveys to help you determine what items will work for you and what size to select. The only bummer about it is that you won’t find any reviews on brand new pieces, so you have to take a chance. That said, Fabletics does have a very simple return process if you do happen to get something that totally doesn’t work for you.

The concept of pre-determined outfits is great if you want a little help putting together a look, but you also have the freedom to mix and match colors and patterns within the outfit you pick, so you don’t have to order an outfit exactly as is if you are more interested in the individual pieces than the overall look.

I really like how often Fabletics mixes up their colors, patterns and styles, and their pieces often have unique details that make them feel special. I like the freedom of being able to get the VIP deals a few times a year but not having a commitment to buy every month.  I don’t have any problem remembering to skip months (Fabletics sends an email on the 1st of the month, which serves as a great reminder), so I’ve never run into trouble with having my card charged when I wasn’t expecting it.

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

What I Don’t: The reward system is just okay. It used to be that once you reached a certain amount of points, you could trade them in for a full Fabletics outfit of your choice. Now that points are traded for single items, it does feel like you get less for your points, and you don’t have as many options to pick from. I also find that the items available for rewards are often sold out in most colors/sizes, further limiting your options.

I hate hate HATE that you have to call to cancel, and I’ve heard that customer service can be a huge pain about canceling. I’ve also heard from people who had no trouble canceling, though, so it might just depend on who you talk to.

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

(Image Credit: Fabletics)

Bottom Line: Fabletics is a great service if you like variety in your workout gear and value the combination of style and functionality. However, if you’re not planning on taking the VIP route, the price might outweigh the novelty. And if you do  take the VIP route, make sure you’re comfortable with the responsibility of checking in at the beginning of each month in case you want to skip.

 

Don’t Let Family Bully You

(Image Credit: Olly)

(Image Credit: Olly)

Imagine this: you and a longtime friend are hanging out, getting coffee at Starbucks because that’s what you do. You are talking, having a great time, when all of a sudden you say something that wasn’t entirely the smartest thing you’ve ever said. It happens; it’s what you do. But your friend? They lash out. They look at you with disgust, they tell you that this is why America is going to hell in a hand basket and put you down. Then, in an instant, they laugh it off as they see your face contort in confusion and hurt. “I’m just joking; gosh can’t you take a joke?” They smirk and move on, as if nothing even happened. Continue reading

Real Women Have Curves: Not

(Image Credit: Iordani)

(Image Credit: Iordani)

Sure, “real women have curves.” But some real women don’t have curves. And that’s okay, but saying that women are only “real” if they fit one body stereotype or another is completely not okay. In fact, it’s entirely hypocritical and it isn’t helping improve the situation on either side of the spectrum whatsoever. Continue reading

Social Media, Anxiety and YOU

(Image Credit: ViewApart)

(Image Credit: ViewApart)

“Did someone like my status? Or see my newest picture on Instagram?” “I know I didn’t get a notification, but it won’t hurt to check just to be absolutely completely sure that nothing new happened on Facebook.” Yes, I’m one of those people. Someone who checks his social media accounts periodically, even when he knows decently well that nothing has happened. Rationally, I know it seems like borderline insane behavior – or at least the behavior of someone who is very anxious. But, at the same time, I know plenty of people just like me… Is social media making us crazy? Continue reading

Things I Wish I Knew In High School

(Image Credit: Voyagerix)

(Image Credit: Voyagerix)

I graduated high school four years ago, so I don’t know if kids are still being fed the same story I was, or if they’re still buying into it. I remember coming out of high school thinking, “Alright, I’m ready for that job now.” Well, it’s been four years since then and I’m still waiting. I’ve had jobs, don’t get me wrong. I spent a few years making coffee for the types of people I thought I was going to be, but the truth is, I won’t be one of those people with the briefcases and salaries until I get a good degree, or maybe three. Just “some college” doesn’t cut it. I’m one class away from an Associate’s, a stepping stone to my next stepping stone: a Bachelor’s degree. And after that, I really ought to get a Master’s, and maybe one day, when I’m sitting on a doctorate and I’m neck deep in a heap of student debt, that’s when I’ll finally get hired for a decent salary. Continue reading