Don’t Turn Your Vacation into a Diet Disaster

5 Ways to Vacation in Style Without Breaking the Calorie Bank!

 

Who doesn’t love to go on vacation? New sights to see, people to have fun with, and just a complete rest from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Get some neat souvenirs to take back, but you don’t want to bring back extra pounds that may be hard to take off.

Here are five ways to vacation in style without breaking the calorie bank:

Pack Healthy Snacks

You’ll probably be eating a lot of meals out, so having healthy snacks on hand will help keep calories in check. Fill small Ziploc bags with fresh fruit, trail mix, or protein bars.  Once it’s time for dinner, you won’t be so hungry that you inhale the bread basket or order a three-course meal.

Bring Workout Equipment

Many hotels have a gym or swimming pool, so take advantage of that if possible. If not, bring an exercise DVD or a jump rope and exercise in your room. If it is a hip-hop DVD, you can close the blinds and really get crazy.

Stick to Light Drinks

Part of the fun of being on vacation is sitting and sipping one of those fancy umbrella drinks with the rest of your friends. Unfortunately, those cute drinks can add up to 500 calories, so stick with lighter options such as a Bloody Mary, white wine spritzer, or champagne.

Balance Sweets and Treats

I’m not into self-denial, and if I am at a special lunch or dinner, I don’t want to eat an apple while everyone else is having apple pie. However, I try to balance things out by doing more exercise, or eating a smaller helping.

Exercise as a Family

Kids are notorious for being bored on vacation, so a family activity such as bicycle riding should be fun for everyone. There are lots of nice bicycle trails, or if you don’t mind spending some extra money, rent Segway-powered scooters.

Throwing a football around outside allows kids to work off that nervous energy, and it doesn’t cost anything. Throw a few passes over their heads so they have to run and retrieve the ball.

 

 

 

Stiff Neck Making You Grouchy?

5 tips to Reduce Chronic Neck Pain in Menopause

Nothing makes me crankier than a stiff neck, and once it comes on, it’s awfully hard to get rid of. When I go out to any social occasion, I tuck a good supply of Tylenol™ or Ibuprofen™ in my purse.

I’ve been doing some research on the whole problem and was pleasantly surprised that there are steps I can take on my own that not only help the pain, but keep my neck in the best condition possible.

Here are five tips to reduce chronic neck pain in menopause:

Put Your Computer at Eye Level

Sit down at your computer and close your eyes. When you open them, you should be looking directly in the middle of your computer screen. If that is not the case, you will need to raise the height of the monitor.

Laptops are a little trickier, since you usually have to gaze downward to see the screen. An easy fix is to hook it up to a separate monitor.

Use a Backpack

It is a natural tendency to stuff everything you’ll need for the day in your purse or briefcase, and the weight is usually all on one side of the body. Use a backpack and the weight will be more evenly distributed across your shoulders.

Sleep on Your Back

If you sleep on your back, your spine will be more comfortable. To take even more pressure off your neck, place a pillow under each arm.

Try an Orthopedic Pillow

You want to sleep on a pillow that keeps your cervical spine in alignment, and an orthopedic pillow has a deeper depression where your head lies, giving extra support to the neck.

If you must sleep on your side, try the Biosense 2-1 Shoulder Pillow. This lightweight memory foam has a special cut-out for the shoulders, and keeps your head, neck, and shoulders in proper alignment while you sleep.

Do Stretching/Strengthening Exercises

As you go about your daily routine, make time to do some neck exercises. Stretching the neck preserves your range of motion, and helps relieve stiffness.

Strengthening exercises will help maintain improved posture, and prevent future flare-ups. These exercises should be done every other day so the muscles have time to repair themselves.

 

 

3 Tips to Prevent An Aching Back in the Workplace

You Won't Feel So Wiped Out at the End of the Day!

I worked a desk job like many other people, and sitting eight hours was the norm. Sure, I could get up and take my breaks and lunch, but that still added up to a lot of sitting time. It seemed like my back hurt from the minute I sat down until I finally clocked out for the day.

If I knew all the tips and tricks that I know now, I could have saved myself a lot of pain. Here are three tips to prevent an aching back in your workplace:

Ergonomic Chair

According to the Cleveland Clinic, poor posture raises the risk of sprains and strains, and can cause unnatural wear on the joints.

More employers are stepping up and making sure that you have the right equipment to do the job and do it comfortably.  Ergonomic chairs are high enough to support your whole back and can also help prevent a stiff neck. Best of all, you’ll be sitting in a chair that has extra depth, so your hips won’t be aching at the end of the day.

Lumbar Cushion/Roll

I use a lumbar cushion to support my lower back and it makes a world of difference in my pain level. Your chair may have lumbar support built into the back of the chair, but that doesn’t give you adequate support.  A lumbar cushion or roll allows you to sit deeply into the chair which supports better alignment of your spine.

Footrest

Once you start using a footrest, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it. If your feet are not properly supported, you can develop circulation problems and strain your lower back muscles. Purchase an ergonomic footrest that is adjustable and supports your entire foot. You’ll be able to sit all the way back in your chair and still be comfortable at the end of the day.

 

5 Creative Things To Do in Retirement

Including Some Freebies!

 

Retirement is everything I thought it would be and so much more.  No boss to answer to, beating the crowd for restaurants and shopping, taking trips whenever, and there is a check waiting for me each month. What a life!

However, not everyone that is retired is happy with their situation, and they miss being out with people and feeling like they are making a contribution to the world.

Here are five creative things to do in retirement:

Sing in a Chorus:

Sure, you probably sing in the shower, but now that you have more free time, consider joining a chorus. Pick a group you are interested in and attend a few performances. Some choirs are more professional, while others just want to have fun. You might even be interested in joining your church choir.

Theatre or Concert Usher

You’ve probably got a list a mile long of shows or concerts you would like to see, but they’re too expensive to get good seats. Volunteer to take tickets at the door or show people to their seats. Once the show starts, your job is usually over, and you can sit back and enjoy these talented performers.

Take a Cooking Class

Yes, you probably have been cooking for years, but you can always learn something new. Holiday baking is popular, or you can learn how to work the grill when it’s barbecue season. There is always an option you will enjoy, and it’s a chance to meet new friends.

Campground Docent

Do you like to travel to state or natural parks and stay for extended visits? All that beautiful scenery, being out in the fresh air, packing a picnic. It all sounds divine but expensive.

Instead of coughing up all those camping fees, volunteer to lead nature walks, assist with cleaning up campsites, or just be a friendly welcoming face as people arrive.

Reconnect with Your Spiritual Side

Now that life isn’t so hectic, you may find that something is missing in your life. You may feel the need to meditate, pray, or doing something to help others.

If you’re interested in being part of a community, consider going to a church, mosque, or synagogue.

What creative things have you done in retirement?

4 Tips to Celebrate Valentine’s Day On the Cheap

And Still Get to Chow Down on Chocolate!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and visions of chocolate are dancing in my head. Everyone has their own way of celebrating. It could be a fancy dinner with wine, dancing, a couple’s massage, or a walk along the beach.

As special as this day is, it can also take a big bite out of your wallet. Fortunately, you can still celebrate with your sweetheart and not break the bank.

Here are four tips to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the cheap:

Biking

If you like to bike, there are plenty of trails to explore, and you and your sweetheart can be getting in a good workout. You don’t have to speed along, but be sure to stop from time to time to have some romantic conversation with a few hugs and kisses thrown in.

Romantic Picnic

While most people will be waiting in a long restaurant line, you and your sweetheart can find a spot you both enjoy and settle down for a romantic picnic. Of course a bottle of wine is a must, but you can get creative with the food end of it by cutting up fruit into tiny pieces for a salad, and threading skewers with ham, cheese, and cherry tomatoes.

Tiny sandwiches are the perfect finger food for a picnic, and don’t forget chocolate for dessert.

Use a Meal Service

Just because you’re staying home doesn’t mean you have to cook. What could be better than having pre-portioned food delivered right to your door? Tasty dishes like steak fajitas, tomato-poached fish, and barbecued turkey meatloaf are just a few of the many entrée choices.

Plated offers these tasty entrees and often gives first-time customers a discount.

Make a Memory Box

Think of all the fun times you have shared together and put reminders in your memory box. It could be a menu from a nice restaurant, some pretty seashells from the beach, a photo you took doing something crazy like rock climbing or zip lining. Maybe you carved your initials into a tree and kept a piece of the bark.

5 Tasty Ways To Eat More Fruit

And Have Fun Doing It!

 

Of course it is best to eat fresh fruit, and my favorites are bananas and apples. Strawberries are nice with a dollop or two, (well, three or four for me), of whipped cream. When the Farmer’s Market is in town, I like to eat fresh peaches or apricots.

However, I get tired of eating plain fruit and since I like to experiment, I have come up with a few new ideas. Here are five fun ways to add fruit to your diet:

Hit the Salad Bar

When you go out to eat, make sure the salad bar is included in your meal. One of my favorites is a fruit cup. Blueberries, strawberries, apples, and mandarin oranges are mixed together and I like the different tastes and textures. Another favorite is cottage cheese and pineapple.

Juice Bars

An icy cold juice bar hits the spot on a hot day and is usually offered in different flavors. One word of caution, make sure you are purchasing bars with 100% juice. Better yet, get some Popsicle sticks and make your own recipe.

Fruit and Cheese Kabobs

It’s fun to eat from a skewer and adding cheese to the skewers bumps up the protein. Cut your favorite cheese into small cubes. Use wooden skewers and alternate threading between green grapes, cheese and strawberries. In just minutes, you’re ready to sit down and enjoy.

Substitute Applesauce for Oil

When you’re baking a cake or cookies, substituting unsweetened applesauce instead of oil cuts the fat and calories. Use the same measurement as you would for oil. If you are baking for a special occasion, do a test bake first, and see if you need to make adjustments.

Fruit Dip

Fruit is delicious by itself, but making a fruit dip using low-fat yogurt adds even more delicious flavor and nutrition. If you’re crunched for time, try this dip that only calls for three ingredients.

Do You Feel Like Skipping the Gym?

4 Ways to Stay on Track with Home Exercises

The gym offers so many exercise options, and you can work all your muscles in one visit. It’s also fun to meet up with friends and catch up over a healthy smoothie.

However, when you’ve worked all day, endured a grueling commute, and you know your family will be hollering for dinner at soon as you walk through the door, the last thing you may want to do is drive to the gym.

Working out at home is certainly a popular option, but you’ll need to resist the temptation to beach on the couch or watch the TV instead of sticking with your exercise program.

Here are four ways to keep on track with home exercises:

Set Up Exercise Space

A few lucky people have access to a home gym, or have a basement that can be set up for exercise. However, most of us will have to move furniture and clear off a space wherever we can find it. Get things organized ahead of time, and you’ll be ready to go.

Wear Workout Clothes

Just putting on your workout clothes will motivate you to exercise. If you have a day off, stay in your workout clothes for the whole day. Don’t worry if you have to run errands, because most people are in casual clothes so you won’t stand out.

Use Online Exercise Programs

Pooch to 5K is a program designed to help you and your dog get in shape. You download the free program and it is broken down into weekly exercise sessions. What dog doesn’t like to exercise?

Fitness Blender teaches you strength training, and the 4-week booty camp targets those problem thigh and butt areas. I can sure benefit from that program. These are just two of the many programs that are offered, and the cost is very economical.

Schedule Exercise Time

You put your doctor and dentist appointments on your calendar, and your exercise session should also be scheduled. Pick a time of day when you’re least likely to be disturbed, and take your time. You’ll feel more energetic, and better able to tackle your daily tasks.

Are You So Tired You Could Drop?

5 Helpful Tips for a Better Night's Sleep

If the Guinness Book of Records had a category for insomnia, I’m sure I would be their top contender.  I used to sleep eight hours every night and didn’t even need an alarm clock to wake up. Now, I can feel like I am about to drop, but the minute my head hits the pillow I am wide awake again.  After all that trouble dozing off, I often wake up in the wee hours of the morning and find it hard to go back to sleep.

Here are five helpful tips to get a better night’s sleep:

Limit Nap Time

If you feel so tired you must take a nap, do it in the early part of the day. A nap of 20 minutes or less should leave you refreshed, but you can get the same benefits from taking a brisk walk or drinking a glass of cold water.

Use Leg Pillow for Back Pain

An aching back can cause you to toss and turn all night, so put a pillow between your knees. This keeps your hips aligned, and takes the stress off your lower back. If you’re like me and sleep on your back, tuck a pillow under your knees.

Identify Hidden Sources of Caffeine

You probably already know that a big cup of coffee right before bedtime will keep you awake. Hidden sources of caffeine can be found in chocolate and your medications. Read the label or insert that comes with your medication, and ask your doctor what alternatives might work as well.

Nix a Bedtime Nightcap

You may have noticed that alcohol makes you sleepy at first, but once the relaxing effects wear off, you may wake up multiple times during the night.

Dim House Lights

Start lowering your lights two to three hours before bedtime.  This signals your body that it is time to make melatonin, which helps you fall asleep.

What tips do you have for getting a good night’s sleep?

5 Healthy Breakfast Options to Eat on the Run

No, Pop Tarts Are Not on the List!

 

Mornings are a busy time, and it doesn’t take much to throw you off schedule. By the time you get yourself and the kids dressed, and everyone is ready to go their separate ways, there may not be enough time for you to eat breakfast.

Instead of skipping breakfast altogether or eating a donut, you need a breakfast that tastes good, and will keep you full until lunch.

Here are five healthy breakfast options to eat on the run:

Energy Bars

These tasty banana protein balls can be made ahead of time and then sealed in individual bags. They’re vegan-friendly, and at 47 calories a bar, you don’t have to worry if you eat more than one. Best of all, there are over eight grams of protein in each bar, so you’ll be less tempted to hit the vending machine.

Yogurt Parfait

I love the yogurt parfait from McDonald’s, but you can make your own parfait with a lot less sugar. You’ll need a mason jar for storage.  Layer healthy ingredients such as plain Greek yogurt, your favorite fruit, granola or quinoa, and then top with nuts. Your on-the-go breakfast is ready!

Apple Mug Muffins

You can’t get much more convenient than making a healthy breakfast in a mug. Instead of sugar, this recipe calls for unsweetened applesauce and a teaspoon of maple syrup. Combine the rest of the ingredients, zap in the microwave for two minutes, and you’re ready to go out the door.

Breakfast Smoothie

To save time, you can use frozen berries of your choice, and blend in some flaxseed. Flaxseed is a good source of fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower your triglycerides. This smoothie is sweetened with honey, and fat-free yogurt gives it a creamier texture.

Frittata Muffins

What a delicious way to get the protein of eggs, and sneak in a few healthy vegetables! You can make these muffins on the weekend and just pop one in your bag as you leave for work.