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 🍷 🍪 !

poirot

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!

1200px-Staphylococcus_aureus_VISA_2

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.

Human_neutrophil_ingesting_MRSA

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

mrsa-symptoms-gym

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.

mrsa_awareness_poster

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

 

Agatha Christie Readathon: Peril at End House

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Time for our second 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 🍷 🍪 !

 

Now, onto the review! Little-Grey-Cells-poirot-35371574-353-500

 

Synopsis:

Agatha Christie’s

Peril at End House

A Hercule Poirot Mystery

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

The famous detective, Hercule Poirot has retired and is on holiday with his good friend, Captain Hastings, in the south of England.  It would appear that the gentlemen are in for some rest and relaxation when they have a chance encounter with the young woman who lives at End House, which is an estate near the detective’s hotel. They begin to chat, as one does with a new acquaintance on holiday. Poirot grows concerned about her welfare, and decides to investigate some strange “accidents” that have plagued this young lady. He quickly learns that these accidents are not what they appear and appoints himself as her guardian until he can unravel the truth behind the strange happenings at End House.

 

My Observations:

This is my second Poirot novel and I am quickly falling in love with this series! Christie is marvelous at weaving interesting characters together while developing intrigue and mystery! Hercule Poirot is arrogant, flamboyant and brilliant, a rather complex character to say the least. He is quite confident in his mental abilities and has no real sense of humility. He loves his notoriety and wears it proudly, and backs it up with dogged determination to uncover the truth.

This story kept me riveted and I was completely shocked at the end with a twist I never foresaw. For me, that is the mark of a great mystery, when I am caught totally unaware, and I love it! I am also enjoying the “old language” of Christie’s time, words and expressions no longer in use today. For example, I marveled at the phraseology, when Hastings describes a low point for Poirot and says

I thought he looked rather cast down and not his usual cock-a-hoop self. p. 193

Christie’s writing style engages me as much as her characters’ actions. I will be returning to the Poirot series at the end of our Readathon 😊!

Thank you Jay for bringing me into the fold 📚💕

 

 

 

A to Z Challenge: L is for Level of Fitness

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Our fitness levels are really important, especially as we enter into midlife. The reality is that our overall fitness level begins to degrade long before midlife, in fact there are losses beginning as early as our 20s and 30s. We loose 3% to 6% in those early decades but skyrocket to 20% loss as we near 70 years of age.

Why should you care? The less overall fitness you have, the slower your metabolism, which of course leaves you vulnerable to injury and disease.maxresdefault

Decreased muscle mass also correlated to bone strength. Strong healthy muscles need strong bones for attachment, so new bone must be laid down as your muscles grow. Of course the converse relationship also exists. You lose a third to a half a pound of muscle each year unless you’re strength training and your bones will loose density as well.

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The good news is that this can be reversed at any time! Moving is critical! There are five key tests that are used to determine your overall fitness level. This is a great indicator as to where to focus your exercise goals. They specifically measure your overall strength, flexibility and aerobic fitness.

 

  1. Core strength: You will need a timer for this exercise. Get into a plank formation and start your timer. The goal is to hold this position for as long as possible. Note the time when you can no longer support your body weight and find your age group on the chart below.

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core-test

 

2. Upper body strength: This is a push up test, no timer needed. Perform the exercise and keep track of your completed reps. Watch your form! Count only completed push ups.

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upper-body-test

3. Lower body strength:

This is a timed wall sit. Stand with your back against a flat surface and lower until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Start your timer, and record when you can no loner hold the position.

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lower-body-test

4. Aerobic Fitness:

There are several versions for this as some will have you walk a track for a specific time or distance. This one will be a step assessment. If you choose an alternative test, make sure you use the chart for that specific assessment, as the charts are not interchangeable.

For this, you will need a timer and an 8 inch step. Straighten your back and engage your stomach muscles, then begin stepping on and off the step, alternating your feet. Maintain a steady pace for three minutes, with the goal of taking 40 steps per minute. When the time is up, rest for 30 seconds, then take your pulse for 15 seconds. (You can check your pulse at your wrist using your opposite hand’s index and middle finger.) Multiply the 15 second pulse count by four to get your heart rate per minute.

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aerobic-test-women

Women’s Chart

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Men’s Chart

5. Flexibility: This is the sit and reach test. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Stretch your arms forward, reaching toward your toes. If you cannot reach your toes, then bend your knees until you can.

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flexibility-test

 

So, how did you do?😊 Now that you know your strength and weaknesses you can add in those activities that will help you move into a better overall fitness level! The goal is to be a little better than you were the day before 💕

 

References:

https://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/how-to-test-your-fitness-level/slide/6

https://saveourbones.com/test-your-fitness-level-with-these-five-simple-assessments/

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1112

http://www.healthreviser.com/content/fitness-level-declines-dramatically-age

A to Z Challenge: K is for Kickboxing

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It’s Wednesday and time for the letter K. For me, this has to mean kickboxing.  I wanted to introduce you to something that you may not have thought about, to give you a new activity to try. After all, isn’t trying something new one of the ways to keep our mental acuity sharp as we age?

I take a one hour class every Wednesday, and I look forward to it each week. If I enjoy it so much, you might wonder why I don’t do it more than just once a week. Well, I also am committed to my rock climbing training program, which has specific workouts three times a week for 2 hours per session, plus I climb on the off days. Add in yoga and hiking and this old body needs a break from time to time 😃 I also love the trainer that teaches only the Wednesday class!

Kickboxing or boxing, may seem intimidating but here are some reasons to consider adding in a class either at a gym, or a home workout.

The calorie burn 🔥 kb2

This is an intense, one hour workout that combines balance, coordination, flexibility, endurance, power and strength. You will be jumping rope, shadow boxing, circuit training and performing conditioning drills. The average 125lb  person will burn anywhere from 750-900 calories!

It’s a total body workout 🏋🏻‍♀️ images

The movements necessary to punch, jab, kick and slip a punch require a coordinated effort from several muscle groups, all  working in unison. You will work your arms, core, legs, glutes and back. Working muscles from different angels is the most efficient way to build strength. And no ladies, you will not bulk up! You will tone and lengthen the muscle fibers.

This is also a cardio workout🏃‍♀️2932-01P_MMY_RBG_JUMPROPE-hpr-2_u99ynl

The intensity level is high, as you raise your heart rate and maintain that throughout the entire workout. Of course, you will need to start slowly and build that endurance, just like any other sport. Eventually, you will be able to keep moving during the complete hour. Cardio, not only torches calories, it will also help to remove stubborn abdomninal fat that has been linked to so many health complications.

Kickboxing can improve your overall mood😁

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Kickboxing is an excellent stress reliever. Participants report better quality of sleep, better mental clarity and lower stress levels throughout the day. Both men and women often site learning basic defense skills as a source of self confidence, and better self esteem.

You don’t have to join a pricey gym

I do love my gym and I appreciate my trainer and fellow students. You really get to know someone when trying to kick them in the head!😜 But, I will only have access to this gym when I am in Tucson. When I am in Seattle, I will be doing the Core de Force program from Beachbody on Demand. There are several levels and skill sets to choose from. I also recommend this for anyone who would like to start slower, or learn some basics before making the monetary commitment. core-de-force2

Is there a sport or activity you have always wanted to try, but just haven’t pulled the trigger? Go for it 😊

References:

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/fitness/benefits-of-kickboxing-for-women/view-all/

https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/kickboxing-benefits

https://www.livestrong.com/article/155221-kickboxing-belts-gradings/

A to Z Challenge: J is for Juicing

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Let’s talk about juicing, facts and fictions.

If you type in “juicing for health” into the old search bar, a smorgasbord of topics pop up. The majority are related to weight loss, various juice recipes and information on how to start your own juicing business. The links related to actual science behind this idea, are much farther down the list.

Which tells me a couple things. Most people searching for information about juicing are interested in using it as a weight loss tool, perhaps thinking about meal substitutions or a juice cleanse. And, that like all other herbal and homeopathic supplements, there is little to no regulation associated with these products or their health claims.

In fact, I have only included two references, the only two that were not sponsored by a biased party, that relate to the science of juicing.

Let’s start with the facts:

All juices are higher in sugar content than the whole fruit, or vegetable, from which it was extracted.  Juicing works by pulverizing cellular walls and allowing the water soluble contents to leave the cell. Without the protective cell membrane, ever present airborne bacteria can begin to feed on the sugars released from the produce. Store bought juices have preservatives to slow down this natural process. You should consume fresh squeezed juice immediately. Also, be sure to clean your juicer thoroughly for food safety concerns.

Orange-Juice-vs-small-orangeThe juice has almost 2 1/2 times the sugar and total carbohydrates content of the 1 whole orange, and zero fiber. It takes far less time to drink that glass of juice than it does to peal and eat the orange.

Juicing removes all fiber from the whole fruit or vegetable. In fact the best machines list, as a top selling point, the removal of all seeds, stems, peel and pulp. That insoluble fiber is critical for healthy digestion and regularity. Many juicing fad diets recommend adding Metamucil to their juice to replace the fiber lost. Again, why not just eat the whole food!!

Fiber also provides a satiation that liquid alone can’t. Meaning you will be hungry soon after drinking those calories. Juicing proponents like to point out that there are more vitamins in the glass of juice, but that nutrient equivalent is also in those three orange, and you would not be hungry after eating three oranges!

Juice “cleanses” work in the same manner as all other cleanses and are completely unnecessary. We have already talked about the fact that your liver and kidneys do a perfectly fine job of filtering toxins from your system in our fad diet discussion.

Any weight lost during a juice diet, or cleanse, will be in the form of water and muscle mass. Fat will be regained when the individual returns to a normal, healthy eating plan.

Juicers can be expensive, anywhere from $50 to $400, if you really want to grind all that fiber out of it!

Now for some fiction:

The health claims made by the numerous juicing plans and diet architects, have no science to back up their claims.

Health-Benefits-of-Juicing-Cold-Press-Juicer

Boosting immunity is only short term, long term effects of a juice only diet results in decreased immune response.

“Women’s Issues”? Which ones?

Decrease in body odor? Yikes, who had to sniff the subjects of that research project?😬 Oh, there weren’t any!

 

A top selling point for these plans is the claim that “your kids will love having their servings of fruit and veggies now!”  Seriously! Who are these kids? I don’t know any, certainly did not give birth to any!!  We all want our kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and that is the approach we should take. It is healthier, and if necessary there are multivitamins to supplement our kids’ diets until we find that magical combination of whole fruits and veggies that they will eat. I think adults who eat whole produce are better role models than a cup of green liquid😊.

 

The Bottom Line:

If you love to have juice, and have the caloric room in your normal eating plan, then go for it! Juicing your own will allow you to control the sugar content and mix your own blends. Just don’t over indulge, or use it as a meal replacement. Keep the serving size to 8oz and there is nothing wrong with it. But don’t fool yourself! You still need to incoporate whole produce, and in a variety of colors, to make sure that you are getting all the correct nutrition for the healthiest version of you😊💕

Do you juice? What is your experience with it? Love it? Let me know!

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/juicing/faq-20058020

https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/juicing-health-risks-and-benefits#1