A to Z Challenge: T is for Travel

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Have you ever taken a Fitcation? Maybe you, or someone you know, has used their vacation time to run a half marathon, a tough mudder or go on a yoga retreat?

We have done a few of these types of trips and I have to say, I really recommend it!

There are all types of fitcations, all over the world and of course at varying costs. In an attempt to be all encompassing, I tried to include a wide variety of options.

First, Health and Fitness travel

They have an enormous variety to offer, of course for a price! I have not tried this resource yet, but I am tempted! They will work with you to tailor your destination and activity for your ideal holiday and fitness goals. This would be my way of going to an exotic local and tying in yoga or a spa holiday!

 

The Best fitness vacations to take in 2018

Of course we are already in April, but this is a great place to get ideas for next year as well.

I have been to a few of these already, and certainly agree with some of their choices!

They highlight Mii Amo Resort in Sedona, Arizona. We stayed there in 2016 and it was one of the reasons we eventually bought our house in Tucson.

Sedona is spectacular!  And Mii Amo is a truly unique experience. It is pricy to be sure, but it is all inclusive and worth every penny! Massages, yoga, hiking, golf, mountain biking and delicious, healthy food!

 

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The Edgewater Inn at the Seattle waterfront is fabulous and while they reference the Brunch Run in April, the reality is that there are many 5k, 10k and half marathons in the Seattle area all summer long. There are bike rides and wonderful hiking in the nearby mountain ranges as well. I can promise you that the best time to visit Seattle is the summer, not so much the rest of the year.🌧☔️💦

 

 

Vancouver in September! The perfect time to go! But the SeaWheeze half marathon fills fast, so if you are interested sign up now! The run through Stanley park is beautiful!

 

Finally, I would like to recommend O.A.R.S. for the more adventurious of you. We have done the white water rafting trip through a portion of the Grand Canyon. We spent the night at Bar 10 Ranch and, the next morning, took a helicopter ride down into Whitmore Wash. We boarded the Dories (wooden boats) and our guides took us through the rapids for the next three days. We camped along the way, and dined on delicious food, all provided by the company!

We actually have two more adventure trips set up for this summer! I am sure there will be plenty of pictures on my blog! 😊

I do hope you will consider a Fitcation at some point in your vacation planning. They are a great alternative to the same old routine and you may just find that your friends and family enjoy having a new shared activity.

Do you have a favorite Fitcation adventure? Please share it with me! I am always looking for new ideas 💡 💕

 

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Agatha Christie Readathon: The Body in the Library

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Time for our third book for the month, a quick reminder…..

The awesome Jay Cudney is hosting an Agatha Christie Readathon! The plan is simple. We have a week to read one of Christie’s fabulous novels and we post a review at the end of the week.

My approach to this Readathon

I am new to Agatha Christie, and I am also embarrassed to admit that! She is such a well known author, yet I have waited 5 decades to read her classic mysteries. What make this admission even worse for me, is that this is my favorite literary genre! When Jay launched this readathon, I saw it as an opportunity to right a horrible wrong in my life (too bad Jay can’t fix all of those!😢 )

These stories have been discussed, reviewed, studied and examined by minds far greater than mine. You can find many a brilliant, detailed and thorough review in numerous places. So, rather than focus on the storyline, I would like to take some time to discuss my thoughts on each of the novels. I suppose this is my chance to have a book club discussion without the actual book club meeting. Dang, I will miss the wine and cookies 🍷 🍪 !

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Now, onto the review!

 

Synopsis:

Agatha Christie’s

The Body in the Library

A Miss Marple Mystery

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Bantrys are a wealthy, upper class couple enjoying their social status, when they get the shock of their lives. The dead body of a young, blond woman is found on the hearthrug in their library. Who is she? Why is she in the Bantry’s library and who killed her? People begin to talk, naturally they believe Colonel Bantry must be involved, why else would a young woman be in his home?

The gossip mill is out of control and Mrs. Bantry looks to do some serious damage control. She calls for her friend and village busy body, Miss Marple. Jane Marple, the village spinster, is dialed into everyone’s business, and is a human lie detector. Her many years of observing her neighbors’ behavior has left her with the uncanny knack of seeing  connections that others miss. She delves into the lives of local dancers, film makers and bridge players in order to find the truth, to identify the girl, and learn the truth of her death. Of course the police have it all wrong and Miss Marple sets it right!

My Observations:

This was a tough one for me. I have no trouble believing that the elder woman is clever, astute and observant. Jane Marple could easily be a brilliant detective. And, I appreciate that Ms. Christie created such a literary character during an age when an older woman would never be cast in that light. However, I struggled with this novel. I was immediately turned off by the gossipy nature of the story. Probably because it mirrors real life, even present tense, too closely. The majority of Miss Marple’s intel was pure hearsay, and she seemed to pick and choose at random, which “facts” were to be believed and which were summarily discarded. She really had a small role in the story, as the police and inspectors were the ones conducting the actual investigation. Miss Marple would just pop in every so often to make a comparison to someone she used to know in the village. From that one example of human behavior, she would negate all the facts. To draw such powerful and apparently, always correct inferences was a bit of a stretch for me. These inconsistencies made the ending difficult for me, as I felt it was borne from a fragmented line of reasoning.

I found it entertaining, and I do love reading the language of the time. I have already read a third of the next novel “The Murder at the Vicarage” and am hopeful that I might find it a more believable story. It may just be that this series is too much of a suspension of belief for me.  😊💕

 

A to Z Challenge: S is for Staphylococcus

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You probably think I have lost my mind, and you are most likely right! But let me explain!

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They are actually cute, as long as they stay put 😊

As an active person, who frequents gyms and yoga studios, and has some knowledge regarding microbiologics, I have a heightened awareness of “disease by contact”. I often get questions from fellow gym rats about MRSA. I don’t want to push any panic buttons, but thought it might be a good idea to talk about exactly what MRSA is, how it is transmitted, how we can avoid it and if needed, how to treat it.

Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacteria that colonizes 20-30% of the healthy population at any given time. It is estimated that 60% of us will have staph, on our skin or in our nostrils, at some point, and around 10-20% never have it on their person.

Why do some have it and others do not? That is personal genetics for you! Some of us have a more inviting living environment for this particular strain of bacteria. And, it is usually harmless as it goes about living on our bodies.

But that is the key point, on our bodies, not inside! Should staph breach our exterior defense and enter into the tissue or blood stream, then we may have a problem.

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I will give you a personal and embarrassing example of just how easy it is to become infected with staph from your own body! I had a hangnail on my thumb, probably from some exercise related event. I should have removed it with a nail clipper or scissor, but no. I was in a hurry, it was bugging me, so I bit it off with my teeth. Yes, I am an animal!😬

One day later my thumb was twice the size it is supposed to be, and I knew I had a staph infection. I had bitten too close to the surface of the skin and caused a small tear. The staph entered and found a warm, moist environment and began to multiply like crazy.

Of course I was busy and didn’t have time to go to the doctor. I also wanted to give my immune system a chance to clear the infection on its own, which happens often as our immune systems are incredibly competent. Apparently I overestimated my healing powers, because just 48 hours later I could barely bend my thumb at the joint.

I swallowed my pride and saw my doc, who laughed and said “a PhD in molecular biology should know better!” She was right, I should have and I still infected myself! After 2 weeks of a standard antibiotic, I was back to using my opposable digit with no ill after affects. Ego was still bruised. 😳

My experience has been, and will continue to be the norm. These stories don’t make headlines.

So, what is MRSA?

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This strain of bacteria has acquired antibiotic resistance by living in a strict environment, such as those in hospitals. A hospital, or hs_id_hai_MRSAhealth care facility, is extremely clean and forces the bacteria to mutate to survive. Under this selective pressure, the bacteria have to acquire genetic mutations to deal with strong cleaning solvents, hot temperatures and multiple forms of antibiotics.  Those individual bacteria that hit the genetic jackpot will reproduce and provide the next generation with those specific genes, making this strain extremely tough to kill.

Hospitals don’t only provide that extreme environment, they also have patients who are already ill, and have compromised immune systems. The act of surgery, intebation and catheterization are all breaches into the body that help facilitate the bacteria’s entry.

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Infections that occur while a patient is in the hospital are called nosocomial infections. Hospitals are required to publish their nosocomial rates of infection by the CDC and WHO, and the consumer can look up that data, if they are concerned about an upcoming procedure.

 

 

However, you can still acquire MRSA or other forms of staph infections outside of the health care system, that’s known as CA-MRSA, or Community Acquired MRSA.

Who is at risk?

CA-MRSA is transmitted by direct contact with a

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carrier, or contact with an object used by the infected individual. Athletes, particularly those who use mats or pads for their activities are at a higher risk of contracting staph infections. Think boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, yoga…you get the idea. Also, people living in close quarters, who share items in that environment, such as prisons, dorms, and barracks.

 

Hygiene is king!

You knew that was going to be the answer, right! Washing hands, taking showers, disinfecting mats and exercise gear, all of these are the best defense to contracting ANY infections.Cupping-Water

Keep cuts and tears covered at the gym, don’t help the bacteria get into you in the first place. If you do become infected with something, don’t panic or presume the worst!  The odds are great that you have a standard, treatable condition.

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MRSA can be effectively treated with strong antibiotics, in combination. Often the sores or blisters that result from the infection can be drained and they heal on their own. It is important to treat the infection before it has a chance to spread via the blood stream, that condition is called sepsis, or systemic and is far harder to treat.

 

I have to admit, I was really happy the other day when I saw the mats being cleaned at kickboxing! 😏

Stay healthy my friends!💕

References:

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/staph/basics.html

VISA; vancomycin intermediate SA, VRSA: vancomycin resistant SA

https://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/visa_vrsa/visa_vrsa.html

Antibiotics used to treat staph infections

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16271060

https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/infections/bacterial-infections/staphylococcus-aureus-infections

CA MRSA

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/infectious-diseases/fact-sheet-community-acquired-methicillin-resistant-staphylococcus-aureus-mrsa.html

 

A to Z Challenge: R is for Recipes

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Healthy recipes, that is! I wanted to share some wonderful healthy food blogs with you today. These are blogs I follow and regularly search when I am looking for inspiration!

Let’s dive in!

Eat Yourself Skinny

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Kelly started her food blog in 2011. After getting married she and her hubby both gained a little weight, and she decided to create some healthier recipes. Now her blog has tons of recipes for their new, healthier lifestyle. You will be able to find vegan, paleo and dairy free recipes. As well as tips for clean eating in general.

Smorgasbord

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Sally Gronin has founded more than just a food blog. She has lived in a huge variety of countries and brings her knowledge to her, amazingly comprehensive site. Along with Carol Taylor, another well travelled lady, they have created “Cook from scratch with Sally and Carol”. They take nutritionally dense ingredients and create healthy, and hearty dishes. Additionally, Sally features health related news articles, and a nutritional directory. Truly, a one stop shop for nutritional information and delicious recipes!

Everyday Healthy Recipes

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Monika takes classic dishes, and comfort foods, and gives them modern and healthy twists. We share the belief that dieting is not the answer, but living a healthy lifestyle will enhance ones quality of life. Her recipes are easy enough to make any busy weeknight and she is wonderful about answer culinary questions! I should know, I bug her a lot and she has always come through for me, thank you Monika!😊

There are a couple other sources I like:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/healthy-food-blogs_n_5460940.html

https://makeyourbodywork.com/best-healthy-food-blogs/

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipes/84/healthy-recipes/

 

I hope this helps you the next time you are looking for some delicious and healthy options🌽🥑🍓😋

 

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Quizzes

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You see them all the time. “Test your knowledge of _____________”! I usually just close the box and move on. But, every once in awhile it is kind of fun to take a moment to find out what I don’t know, it usually turns out to be quite a lot!😜

I decided to take some specific quizzes, related to Health and Fitness topics, and see how I did. I shared my results, no doubt you can easily best me!

I chose four different quizzes, but of course there are many more. If you want to play along you can find the quizzes in the links. Some advice, don’t rush, I did missread at least one question (probably more).

 

First up, a fitness related test

This quiz was centered around acronyms and jargon regularly used in classes and at the gym.

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/quizzes_start.asp?quizid=73

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My score: 10/15

Not my best result! There are quite a few terms for me to learn! 😐

 

Next, “Are you a distracted diner?” quiz. These are obviously questions regarding dinning habits and mindful eating.

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/assessment_questions.asp?quizid=68

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My score: I received the grade of “Balancing Act”. I guess the quiz thought I was doing an ok job!

 

A quiz on reading food and nutrition labels accurately

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/quizzes_start.asp?quizid=64

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My score: 6/11. Geesh, I really thought I would do better on this one! Sadly my score was still better than the average quiz taker. There is plenty of work for me to do on this topic😬

 

And finally, a quiz on health and fitness topics in general. A mix of questions, some of which we have talked about in the series.

https://www.medicinenet.com/exercise_and_fitness_quiz/quiz.htm

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My score: 14/15. I don’t remember which one I missed, I may have to go back and take it again, just because I am curious!

 

Take the tests and let me know how you kicked my butt!! 😅

 

Do you want more tests? Check out:

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/quizzes.asp

 

A to Z Challenge: P is for Protein

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Let’s talk about protein today. There is this understanding that protein is the most crucial macromolecule that we can eat. It is also widely believed that we are not getting enough in our daily consumption. And, if you are active you must take in even more protein to be healthy. So, let’s find out if any, or all of that is true!

What is protein?

Protein molecules are long chains made up of smaller amino acids. The 21* amino acids that account for every protein on the planet (yes, just 21 make up all proteins, in all living creatures) and are used to make hair, bone, blood, anitbodies, hormones, collagen, muscles and enzymes, and more!aHR0cHM6Ly9pLmltZ3VyLmNvbS9SQTlEaVNjLnBuZz8x

 

Obviously this is an important class of molecules! You are capable of making 11 of the 20 amino acids whenever you need them. The other 9, known as essential amino acids, must be consumed through food.

Proteins also store energy, just as carbohydrate and fat molecules. In N is for Nutrition we talked about how the cell will break apart atoms to release the stored energy to perform cellular work. Well, the same is true for proteins. The cell can break down the large protein back into amino acids and release energy at the same time.

 

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If you are withholding carbs and fats in your diet and exercising, the cells are able to break down muscle fibers, muscle proteins, to get the energy they require. Remember the cycle of fad diets? How you will loose water and muscle, and gain back fat! This is how that happens!

 

Even though cells can break down protein, it is much harder do so than breaking down carbohydrates and fats. Making protein the cell’s last choice for its energy needs. So, in the long run a high protein, low carb diet will not work for weight loss.

Are we getting enough Protein?

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According to the USDA the average American consumes 69 grams of protein daily. That include vegetarians! An active 130lb female needs 65 grams of protein, so most of us are set! If you workout an hour, for more than five days a week, then you should bump it up a little more.

Can you consume too much Protein?

Yes! A diet too high in protein can stress your kidneys, and even cause heart problems. But, you would have to consume hundreds of grams of protein for a prolong period of time to cause this damage.

Can Protein cause weight gain?

chocolate-peanut-butter-protein-shake-ingredients-4_smYes! People tend to talk about protein as if it is a magical answer to all things diet related. Protein can help in building muscle, which burns calories, but protein itself is not calorie free! In fact: 1 gram of protein = 4 calories, 1 gram of carbs = 4 calories and 1 gram of fat = 9 calories.  You need to consume protein to repair muscle fibers that are damaged during exercise, but if you eat too much protein, the extra will be stored and can cause weight gain. Obviously, if you are not limiting your portions of fatty protein sources you are taking in protein and fat.

So, what should you do?

Proteins-carbs-fatsBe judicious about your protein consumption. Be sure to have some form of lean protein at the start of the day, and a little at each meal. Include a protein snack 30-45 minutes after your workout. This is the magic window when your muscles need access to lean protein sources to repair the damage done during exercise.

 

Plant based protein sources are just as good as animal based and are very weightloss friendly! 😊

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I do hope this clarifies some of your protein concerns 😃

 

References:

https://www.muscleandfitness.com/nutrition/gain-mass/8-things-you-should-know-about-protein

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/fitness/articles/2017-10-20/5-muscle-building-nutrients-that-arent-protein

https://www.webmd.com/men/features/benefits-protein#1

https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/nutrition/protein-diet-nutrition-facts/

http://www.nutrientsreview.com/proteins/amino-acids

*Selenocysteine is a recently discovered amino acid and is the 21st as it is found in protein synthesis. Ornithine was recently discovered but is a byproduct of urea formation so is not found in proteins.

 

A to Z Challenge: O is for Overtraining

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Yes, this is a real phenomenon! It happens to me from time to time. I didn’t realize that overtraining was possible. I mean, I am not an olympic athlete, so it never occurred to me that my constant aching muscles, or my struggle to sleep, could be related to “overtraining syndrome”.

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It wasn’t until I started researching my symptoms that I stumbled across articles related to overtraining. Of course this makes perfect sense. If you train more than you allow for recovery, than the muscles and tendons never get a chance to repair.

We tend to believe that “more is better” with exercise. We get excited about a new sport, getting better at our current activities or loosing weight for that special occasion. So, we hit the gym, and hit it hard. So how do you know if you are overtraining or just hitting a natural plateau?

Symptoms of Overtraining  Syndrome

You are restless at night and having trouble sleeping.Unknown

This is a tough one because many things can be disrupting your sleep. Hormones, eating too close to bedtime and daily stresses from work or kids, are all valid reasons that you may be missing your much needed shuteye. When you exercise too much your body is stressed and can be releasing cortisol, which will stimulate your sympathetic nervous system, keeping you awake. Evaluate your training or exercise program if you are not finding stressors in your daily life, and  particularly if you have any of the other symptoms of overtraining.

You have odd pains in your muscles, joints or bones.over-training-syndrome

This is my big clue that I am doing too much! The pains are mostly in both my arms, and are especially bad when I lay down to sleep. They ache all night, waking me if I make the slightest movements. The pains usually begin in my biceps or shoulders and make their way to my forearms and grip strength. When I am training for a half marathon my hips will hurt. This is the time to back off!

 

You are getting sick more often than normal.overtraining

 

When we tax our body to repair itself, our immune system is stressed and unable to fight off infections as easily as it did before overtraining. Resting will allow your immune system to reboot and regain full strength.

 

You are feeling depressed and irritable even after a great workout.

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That wonderful feeling after the endorphins are released is great. That runner’s high that you look forward to at the end of a run. If those are not happening you may be overtraining.

 

Loss of enthusiasm for a sport or activity.

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If you suddenly are no longer the first person at the gym, or have to drag yourself to the soccer field, you may be overtraining. A drop in performance can also be a sign. I know that if I suddenly drop a grade or two at the climbing gym, it is a sign that my body is just too depleted to operate at my basic level.

Some other common symptoms may include: headaches, decreased appetite and increased injuries.

Everyone is different and their body will respond with a variety of these symptoms. You need to listen to your own signals, and learn when you are approaching the edge.

So how do you avoid, or recover from, overtraining?

Build in recovery and rest days to your schedule.10-Effective-Yoga-Poses-To-Cure-Anxiety-14

 

This doesn’t mean you have to do nothing. Think of this as an opportunity to cross train. I will hike, or do yoga, when I need to give my climbing muscles a break. Swimming and cycling are great non-impact activities that will allow you to recover one muscle group while still advancing your health goals.

 

 

 

Improve your nutrition and hydration

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Are you eating properly before and after your workouts? Are you taking in enough water so the cells can make repairs? Most of us can improve in this area! Check out N is for Nutrition if you want a refresher on the recommended guildelines.

 

 

Get more sleep.

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This is the fastest way for your body to heal itself. Sleep is restorative on every level, physically, mentally and emotionally. It will also help you reduce your overall stress and inflammation levels.

 

Consider getting a sports massage.

This can help with circulation which can assist the immune system in removing pathogens. Massage can lower overall stress levels and aid muscle fibers in healing. I try to do this every so often but it can be hard to schedule these into a busy life. If it is too costly, consider other ways to relax the muscles. Soak in a warm tub and gentle stretching can help the cells make repairs.

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Enjoy your workouts! And, watch out for overtraining! 🏋🏻‍♀️

 

References:

https://www.verywellfit.com/overtraining-syndrome-and-athletes-3119386

https://www.builtlean.com/2012/06/05/overtraining/

https://www.oxygenmag.com/training/4-signs-overtraining-11346

https://www.muscleforlife.com/8-signs-of-overtraining/