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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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: M is for Mindfulness

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Mindfulness is a bit of a buzz word these days. You see it ascribed to a number of activities. Lately I have found it associated with eating, as in slow down, think about your choices, savor the experience.  Sounds good!

We can also apply this to other areas of our daily lives, and not just when we are eating. You don’t have to be in a pretzel formation, chanting a certain word for this to work! The goal is simply really. SLOW DOWN. Be present, in the moment. mindfuldog-wide

This is not a new concept, just newish to the Western world. The roots of mindfulness and meditation is a decidedly Buddhist concept and entered into American practice in 1979. Jon Kabat-Zinn founded MBSR -Mindfuness-Based Stress Reduction. Since then there have been thousands (yes, thousands) of studies that document both the physical and mental benefits of practicing mindfulness.

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The toughest part of mindfulness is loosing the judgment component. We tend to assign “good” and “bad” to the random thoughts that flow across our minds. This is a big issue for me in particular, I can get caught up in a negative loop that will drive my mood straight into the dumps. And, fast too!Mindfulness

Many experts believe that mindfulness can help people accept painful experiences, after all you can’t change them, they happened. Mindfulness is a process by one acknowledges the thought or emotion, recognize it for what it is, a past memory or pain, then your thoughts move on.

Why take the time to practice mindfulness?

Mindfulness can improve your mental health

You can reduce stress and anxiety as you focus on your mental state. Recognizing and acknowledging negative thoughts is the first step. Refocusing your mind on positive and healthy events and goals will eventually become easier.  You will find that you spend less time dwelling on thoughts that cause your stress levels to spike. Your overall anxiety levels will decrease. You will be slower at self judgments and passing judgment over others. 40c7b4948342fc7b1cfb1d306a2d7dac

Mindfulness can improve your physical health. This is the essence of biofeedback. Through breathing one can lower their blood pressure, slow the heat rate, and reduce the level of stress hormones in your system. Those with chronic pain also reported less discomfort.  All with just calm, measure breaths.

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Mindfulness can improve your overall well being. Controlling the negative thoughts will lesson the power they hold over you. Being present in the positive moments of the day and focusing your attention on the pleasure in life leaves less time for the negative to take root. People who practice mindfulness report a higher satisfaction in life and deeper connection with the people around them.

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Do you remember, the Mental Health Core Habits of Healthy People? One was that they surround themselves with positive people. For that to happen, you have to be one of those positive people. Practicing mindfulness will take you in that direction. Perhaps not right away. This is a practice after all, and requires some effort on your part.

 

 

There are many books, online tools and apps that can get you started. I prefer Headspace as it is free and these are guided mediations. I have found this to be very helpful in dealing with those times when life is tough, or I am struggling with negative issues.

Practice mindfulness in 15 minutes (1)

Of course a yoga class will also incorporate mindfulness, with the added benefit of exercise! There are also numerous online classes should you want to try that out too!🧘🏻‍♀️

 

Reference:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition

https://centerforchange.com/why-be-mindful/

https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/benefits-of-mindfulness/#benefits

A to Z Challenge: I is for Industry Trends

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Every year the new “it” workouts take the nation by storm. Some are so “different” that they just don’t interest me, like naked yoga-Ya, not gunna happen here!

I was curious as to what was making the rounds in 2018. Some of these predictions rolled out back in January, when most people are thinking about those dreaded resolutions. But it’s April now, and most have fallen by the wayside already. Which trends and workouts are popular now?

I am excited about where the industry is headed, some really great trends are happening. I took a look at a few more lists, just like my H is for healthy habits post, I tried to breakdown those trends that appeared more than just a few times.

Here we go!

 

  1. Functional training. This sounds odd but makes perfect sense. These exercises are centered around the movements that our body performs in our daily lives. Think gardening, grocery shopping and running kids all over town. Your body needs to bend, lunge, squat, push, pull, twist and walk. These motions specifically involve all your core muscles. How many times have you heard “lift with your legs, not you back”? Strengthening these muscles will help prevent injuries as you go about your daily activities. The goal with this training is to perform relatively easy movements with a strong emphasis on having the correct form.
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Twisting exercises are a great example of functional movement

2. Boxing and kickboxing workouts will increase in popularity. I can say this one works for me! I love my kickboxing class. I work every muscle and get an amazing cardio workout all in 60 minutes.  There is a reason boxers are in such amazing shape!😉 It also fits well with the next trend.

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3. Team coaching and group classes will increase. There will still be one-on-one training available, of course. However, there has been a greater demand for small group work. Many people prefer a strong social component to their exercise programs, not to mention the personal training cost is lower for more participants. Group sizes are often capped at 8 to 10 which provides plenty of interaction with the trainer. And, team coaching often includes nutritional advice, which most people need in addition to exercise information.

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4. At home workout options will expand. I know I subscribed to Beach Body on Demand, because there are days when I only have 30 minutes or an hour, and it’s really convenient to be able to turn on my computer, and fit in a good sweat session. Additionally , online coaching works extremely well in this setting. A quick email or text to a coach with a question or two, and you have your answers in real time!

3-Best-Bodyweight-Exercises-for-At-Home-Workouts

 

5. Mindfulness will be incorporated into all types of workouts, not just yoga! 🧘‍♀️ Taking a moment, at the beginning or end (or both) of a workout to still the mind, and slow your heart rate, are great ways to incorporate biofeedback.

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Of course, there are more than just 5 trends right now. The links below provide information about training with 3D technology, Cryogenics for muscle recovery and low intensity training, which is a great alternative to HIIT,  and using exercise to enhance cognitive functioning as we age.

I do hope you find this helpful and informative! I have to go workout now! 🏋🏻‍♀️😊

 

References:

https://www.self.com/story/biggest-fitness-trends-of-2018

http://ffmag.com/fitness-trends-2018/

https://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/top-fitness-trends-2018/

https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/6892/8-fitness-trends-for-2018

Agatha Christie Readathon: The Secret Adversary

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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 🍷 🍪 !

 

Synopsis:

Agatha Christie’s

The Secret Adversary

Tommy and Tuppence series (book 1)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Tommy and Tuppence are good friends, down on their luck and flat broke when we first meet them. With World War I over, and difficult economic prospects, they are having a tough time finding employment in London. So much so that Tuppence proposes they form their own business, The Young Adventurers, LTD. They place an ad in the local paper stating that they “will do anything, go anywhere”, as long as the price is right! When they receive two replies they believe their luck has changed for the better.

Tuppence is impetuous, confident and fearless as she meets with Mr. Whittington to negotiate their first paid engagement. She was unwilling to give her real name to a stranger and quickly pulls a name from her subconscious. However, in doing so, she accidentally provides the name of an actual person who is at the center of a international investigation. Now she and Tommy have to find the real woman, secure important foreign documents and discover the identity of a criminal mastermind!

 

My Observations:

I am still new to Agatha Christie and this is only the second of her novels that I have had the privilege of reading. My first was “Murder on the Orient Express”, which I read only a couple months ago, mainly because I wanted to see how it compared to the movie version. I am so impressed by her ability to create suspense and mystery, working with so little of what mystery writers enjoy today.

Present readers expect high tech crime scene analysis, technology not available to Ms. Christie. She has to weave a tale based solely on character interaction and subtle clues. There is no “in your face”moment. No phone records, emails or videos to discover.

I am also struck by the political incorrectness of the time! Ms. Christie’s sleuths often make deductions based on personal biases and prejudices. To rule out a suspect because he is French or English and to include one because he is German, is astounding to me. But then again, this is where those ingrained prejudices came from, right? I really shouldn’t be surprised.

Tuppence has to fight to be included, at times, because she is a female, so obviously “the weaker sex”. Yet Christie writes her as strong young woman, the fact that Tuppence has to overcome male chauvinism and does so successfully, seems to indicate that Christie is more than just aware of a woman’s role at this time. She too has to work against those societal boundaries, making her accomplishments even more impressive. I wonder what she would make of the #metoo movement.

Although Christie created this strong female, there was still a whole lot of proposing going on! Was marriage really that coveted at this time? Or, is Christie adding in what would be considered gratuitous “sex” scenes, such as they were back then? Many writers of today can’t help but toss in a one night stand or erotic scene, as the heroes are being chased by the bad guys, just to keep the readers interested.

Both Tommy and Tuppence are young, which probably works in their favor as those around them assume they are incapable of putting the clues together to uncover the truth. Tommy is the sensible, thoughtful and analytical foil to Tuppence’s “act first think second” persona. They make an excellent team. Those that underestimated the duo, however, later were impressed at their doggedness and determination to see their role to the end.

I was excited to learn that this is a series and I hope to return to it when we complete the other books on our list. I am glad there will be more adventurers for these two!

Thank you Jay, for hosting this challenge!

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Thank You!😊💕

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The beautiful Sophie from Foodzesty, has nominated me for the “Best Pal” award this year!!

Don’t know if you have already voted yet, but I would be honored if you would consider me if you do!

Someone also nominated me as most inspirational! Can you believe that! Another fabulous honor, but I don’t know who it was, so thank you mystery person😊

Have a fabulous weekend everyone, love you all💕!

Roda’s Critter Connection Challenge, Winter Edition!

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Ok, so spring officially begins tomorrow, but I am still searching for critters in the Tucson area. My hubby and I were out walking in our neighborhood, around 10 am. We were walking on the lower road when a coyote casually went the opposite way on the upper road. Do you see him? By the mailbox?

Unfortunately this was the best pic I got as I was using my cell phone and shooting into the sun. This is a really healthy looking canine! We are just now starting to see chipmunks and lizards scurrying around as the weather has warmed. Clearly the coyote population has found plenty to eat this winter! Perhaps feasting on the many roadrunners we have nearby😊