Getting Fit With Your Furry Pal

 

Young attractive sport girl running with dog in park

Young attractive sport girl running with dog in park

In order to find and keep the motivation to exercise more, eat better and lose weight, some people turn to a workout partner for help. Knowing that another person will keep them company during workouts and hold them accountable can be really useful. On the flip side, in order to exercise with another person usually involves a number of texts and emails to set up your workout schedule. Not only is this time consuming, but if your schedules don’t match up, it can be more frustrating than successful.

If you are fortunate enough to share your life and home with a dog, you have a built-in workout partner just waiting to get out and exercise with you. Check out the following tips on how you and your dog can lose weight and get healthy together.

Think beyond the walk around the block

While most dogs adore going for walks with you — and walking is a terrific way to get out and get active — you can also try other workouts with your pooch. If you enjoy running and your dog is young and fit enough for a good cardio workout, alter your walks with jogs. If you’re both new to running, make sure you build up to it so you don’t over do it or overexercise your pup. It’s also important to maintain safety, so make sure you keep your dog on a leash. If your pup is prone to pulling, consider a comfortable harness that will prevent him from getting too far ahead of you. You can also try cycling with him by your side; this is especially great for extremely active dogs who need a lot of exercise to stay calm. To keep both hands on the handlebars and not the leash, you can buy the Walky Dog Exerciser; it attaches to your bike easily and keeps your dog running safely next to you. As Barkpost notes, since most dogs love swimming, you can also exercise in the backyard pool together — swim laps or work with a paddle board while your pooch dog paddles around or fetches floating balls. Just make sure yours knows how to swim and is able to get out of the pool on his own.

Keep tabs on your workouts

To keep track of your combined exercises, you can treat yourself and your furry friend to a fitness wearable. Monitor your pup’s level of exercise with the FitBark, and arm yourself with the Apple Watch Sport. With the smartwatch, you can run an app called Workout, which lets you choose your favorite workouts, get reminders about your milestones as you exercise and see a detailed summary of what you did.

Be inspired to eat better

Your four-legged friend can also help inspire you to eat more healthily. For example, most dogs love veggies like green beans, carrots and pumpkin puree. As you shop for these healthy treats, throw some extra carrots and beans in the cart for you and stock up on other fruits and veggies that you like. Also, instead of buying your pup store-bought treats that often contain artificial colors and unhealthy oils, consider making him a batch of homemade treats. There are plenty of dog treat recipes available online, so find one that sounds good to you. While you are at it, search for healthy forms of your favorite treats, too.

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See Summer Better

Raglan_HimalayanSalt_Barrie_Melon_JuneDelivery_113_PR

Raglan

Summer is the time to have fun, be active and be outside.  As a health professional, I encourage everyone to wear sunglasses year round but especially in the summertime.  The sun is not only damaging to your skin but your eyes as well.  The sun is strong and harsh especially to your retina.  I have a personal story to share.  My brother spent years outside in the sun not protecting his eyes and two years ago his ophthalmologist told him he had retinal damage due to not protecting his eyes.  In the past two years, he bought sunglasses and have been wearing them religiously.

Three years ago, I bought my eyeglasses and sunglasses through my hospital because they provided a discount.  After paying $800 for eyeglasses and sunglasses (after my insurance and discount was added on), I decided I did not want to pay that much for eyeglasses that I will use for only two years.  I also wear contacts and usually only wear my eyeglasses twice a year.  Lately, I have been wearing my eyeglasses more since I invested so much money on them.

I had brunch with my brother last week and he mentioned he wanted to purchase eyeglasses at Warby Parker.  I was intrigued because my brother mentioned the price of one pair of eyeglasses and sunglasses. I could purchase eight different pairs of eyeglasses or sunglasses with the amount of money of two pairs I purchased with my hospital discount!

I have heard of this company before through social media but never took the time to look into the website until last week.  I wondered how people could choose their eyeglasses online without even trying them on.  I usually rely on the optometrist or salespeople in the store to help me find glasses that look good on me. Coincidentally,  after my conversation with my brother about Warby Parker, I received an email from the brand team at Warby Parker to check out the #SeeSummerBetter campaign.  My first thoughts? The eyeglasses and sunglasses styles from Warby Parker are trendier than the styles in the optometrist office.  And the price was unreal! The prices are $95 for single lenses and $295 for progressive lenses.

I started browsing the eyeglasses page and found a few that I really liked.  I like that the colors are not the traditional black, brown or blue.  The colors at Warby Parker are vibrant and colorful and reflects a person’s personality or even mood for the day.  The eyeglasses that I liked are the Welty, Leighty, Dahly, Wilky, Keen, and Upton.  Yes, that is too many for me to choose from.

Since I wear prescription sunglasses, I started perusing the sunglasses section.  I tend to go bolder for my sunglasses color. These are the sunglasses that I liked at first glance:  Tilley, Raglan (apparently pink is not my color and is in the picture above), Downing, Banks,Roland, Eastman, Hattie, Madison, Beckett 16, Ellison.  Oh my goodness, I can keep on going. I seem to like a lot of sunglasses from Warby Parker!

After perusing the Warby Parker website for the eyeglasses and sunglasses that I like, I started reading the other hyperlinks in the website like the retail locations and Our Story.  Little did I realize there is a brick and mortar store less than a mile away from me.  I usually jog in the area but never paid any attention to the stores.  I always like to hear the story behind a company and the Warby Parker story hit home for me.  I always wondered why eyeglasses were so expensive and it is something that people need to see.  I personally do not want to spend a lot of money on something I need medically. I usually buy a new pair of eyeglasses and sunglasses every two years or so.  I skipped buying a new pair last year because of the ridiculous amount of money that I spent for one pair of eyeglasses and sunglasses in 2013.

Warby Parker also has a home try-on if there are no retail locations near you.  The company will send you five frames of your choice to try on for five days and the shipping is free! I love free shipping.  You can buy anytime and if you need help with choosing a frame, they will help you with the help of social media and hashtags.

The concept of buying eyeglasses and sunglasses online is not new but the fact that it is easy to do, makes it worthwhile for me to try.  Thank you Warby Parker!

 

 

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3 Affordable and Eco-Friendly Home Repairs

Home repairs are a fact of life when you’re a homeowner. Depending on the damages, these repairs can take a good chunk out of your funds, particularly if you want quality materials. Eco-friendly options tend to be somewhat more expensive but, in the long run, will often save you money. Here are a few environmentally friendly options for when your home needs repairing.

 

  1. A Color Change for Your Roof

 

The standard dark, asphalt shingles you find on most houses are not only unrecyclable but also draw in heat, increasing your energy costs and negatively impacting the surrounding climate. With steadily rising popularity, white roofs are making an appearance in the eco-friendly market. These white roofs are comparable in price to their dark counterparts depending on the materials used. The asphalt option is the least expensive, but remains unrecyclable.

A more expensive alternative – but better in the long run – is a composite white roofing material. They are entirely sustainable and retain their light color for many years as opposed to the more rapidly fading asphalt shingles. Also unlike asphalt shingles, these unique tiles come with a 50-year warranty, making them much cheaper than the standard 20-year lifespan of asphalt shingles.

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Furthermore, this change can make your home more unique and more attractive for the time you decide to sell your home. Not only will it visually stand out but you can also draw potential buyers in with the reduced energy costs, increased lifespan, and sustainability of this unique roof. Image via Pixabay by midascode

 

  1. Replace Old Appliances with More Efficient Options

 

If one of your appliances has bitten the dust, consider replacing it with an Energy Star alternative. Energy Star items can cost more upfront but the amount of energy saved will make it worth the extra cost. Furthermore, you can even get a tax break for simply owning an Energy Star appliance. On top of the personal gain, Energy Star appliances positively impact the planet by reducing emissions. Beyond the initial cost, there is no con to counteract the numerous pros behind an Energy Star appliance.

 

For things like toilets and sinks, a slightly different array of options is available. Low flush toilets reduce the amount of water used per flush. This can save hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water per year. Aerated sinks push out both water and air, reducing the water flow while maintaining water pressure. Tankless water heaters simply force water through a heating system instead of filling a tank with a limited supply of hot water. All of these options will save you money in the long run and don’t cost much more upfront.

 

  1. For Floor Repairs, Think Recycled or Alternative

 

Rather than using new wood and contributing to forest destruction, consider using reclaimed wood or even bamboo to make any repairs to a wood floor. Bamboo is rising in popularity as both a flooring and a building material. It grows very quickly – up to 3ft per day – and is a very sustainable alternative to more common choices like maple, oak, and pine. Some hardwoods can cost up to $10 per foot while bamboo is most often found between $2 and $5 per foot.

 

Reclaimed wood, while sustainable, is the more costly option. It runs at about $8 per square foot and may be best for repairs rather than entire floor replacements. Of course, wood floors are not a necessity. Tile flooring is also very sustainable and extremely flexible in regards to color and design. Tile is more durable but also more expensive to install.

 

Regardless of your home repair, there is always a sustainable or eco-friendly option whether it be bamboo floors, an Energy Star refrigerator, or a brand new white roof. With a little research, you can easily be on your way to saving money and doing your part to improve the environment.

 

 

 

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Just Keep Swimming: Wearable Water Gear That Gets Everybody in the Pool

Swimming pool - young happy couple relax on poolside

Swimming pool – young happy couple relax on poolside

 

The snow may be falling and the winds may be howling, but it’s never too soon to start dreaming of warm temperatures and the return of swim season. In fact, if you and your family have access to an indoor pool or heated garage or large, tiled area, your blissful afternoons spent by the refreshing water never have to end — even when it’s 20 degrees outside. Check your local community center for indoor pools or get a small above-ground pool for your little ones to practice in before summer hits.

To encourage your kids to enjoy spending time in the pool and inspire yourself to get some much-needed exercise, there are a variety of innovative types of technology and other equipment. Check out the following ideas to get everyone in the family in the pool:

Aqua Jogger Fitness Belts

In this season of New Year’s Resolutions, purchasing some equipment that makes it fun and easy to get a good workout in the pool makes a lot of sense. For example, the Aqua Jogger Fitness Belt is perfect for swimmers of all ages and fitness levels. These clever and supportive belts turn any pool into a great place for a workout, and they will allow you and your kids to do just about any type of land activity you can think of, from running and aerobic dancing to cross-country skiing. The comfy belt will suspend you in the water at shoulder level, which lets you rest easily in the water and use the majority of your body to exercise.

TomTom Spark Cardio Fitness Tracker

A great tech item that will encourage you to swim laps is the TomTom Spark Cardio fitness tracker. This resilient and waterproof device can handle time in the pool with ease. As a bonus, you can play music while swimming laps, and also get accurate heart rate, time, distance, speed and pace info. A word of advice — you might want to pick up a couple waterproof fitness trackers if you can. Kids love wearing these devices and will enjoy timing themselves as they crawl, butterfly and dog paddle their way across the pool.

Waterproof Smartphone Case

While it’s important to keep a smartphone near the pool in case of emergency, we all know that phones do not mix well with water. To keep your phones safe and maybe even take a few selfies under water, consider purchasing a couple Griffin Survivor Waterproof phone cases. This rugged, affordable and waterproof case is designed to handle accidental and intentional drops in up to nine feet of water. Your kids are sure to love using their phones by or even in the pool; for instance, as you paddle back and forth they can stay busy taking some silly selfies under water, or you can ask them to take video of your swimming stroke from below the surface to check that your form is spot on.

Mini Bluetooth Speakers

If you love working out to good music but are unsure how to combine your favorite tunes with 20 minutes of aqua aerobics, check out the SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker II from Bose. This innovative little speaker can be set up on a nearby table or chair and will deliver amazingly powerful and natural sound. You can connect it wirelessly to your waterproof smartphone, which will allow you to enjoy your music while working out in the water. The battery lasts a full 10 hours, which means you won’t have to recharge it after every workout.

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Sam’s Club Health Screening on January 9

I don’t write down New Year’s resolutions. I write down New Year’s goals.  What are your goals this 2016?  Mine are to run a 5 K and half marathon, practice yoga daily, eat healthy, don’t drink alcohol, and pay off my credit cards.

A recent survey found that Americans have three main goals in 2016 – to increase savings, increase exercise and lose weight. Resolutions can be hard to keep, though – especially for busy parents. To help make it easier for people to achieve their health goals this year without straining their wallets, Sam’s Club Pharmacies nationwide will host several free health screenings for both members and the public.

 

Additional details on each screening will be made available at SamsClub.com. The first screening will take place this Saturday, January 9 from 11am-4pm at all Sam’s Club locations with a pharmacy. It is valued at $150 and includes the following tests:

 

  • Blood pressure
  • Total cholesterol
  • HDL (good cholesterol)
  • Glucose
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Vision (not available at all locations)
  • Hearing (not available at all locations)
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My Holiday Movie Night

During the holidays and winter months, I prefer to stay at home to recharge, rejuvenate, and relax.  Too much holiday schmoozing and socializing can get me mentally and emotionally taxed.  To relax during the holidays,  I make some popcorn, find my warmest blanket and fluffiest pillows, put on my fleece pajamas, pour myself a glass of white wine, and put on “The Holiday” on my DVD (see checklist below).  Oh, and it helps if I can snuggle up to my special someone too.  He just has to like my choice of romantic holiday movie.   Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet is just fabulous in this movie.  My two favorite leading ladies.  And the male actors are great as well.  This is my idea of fun during the holidays and after the holidays too.  This movie gets me in the holiday spirit because its adventurous and not the typical Christmas movie since Cameron Diaz is in England.  Not only does this movie put me in the holiday spirit but it also signifies strong and independent women who are willing to take chances.

 

Anna_HolidayMovieNight(1)

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What to Remember While Driving with Your Kids: Teaching Safe Habits

Teenage daughter gets a driving lesson from her mother or an instructor.

Teenage daughter gets a driving lesson from her mother or an instructor.

Eighty-three percent of teens say their parents engage in unsafe driving behavior with them in the car, according to a survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). Of the teens surveyed, 60 percent report asking parents to stop their dangerous driving habits like texting while driving.

While texting tops the list for dangerous driving habits, there are other important things to be aware of while driving with your kids, from car maintenance to highlighting teachable moments. Whether you hope to impart safe driving skills or want to improve your own, there are ways to increase awareness while on the road. Here are a few things to keep in mind while driving with your kids.

Quality Tires Save Lives

Sure, you know that the the maintenance of components like the brakes and steering are crucial to safe driving. But the quality of your tires and how you care for them can make a bigger impact than you may think. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, maintaining good tire pressure can save lives, gas and liability. Under inflating your tires can also decrease your fuel efficiency and add to environmental pollution and a poor future climate for your children.

Regularly check your tire pressure and keep the tires rotated and balanced according to your car manufacturer’s recommendations. Choosing the right tires to begin with can make an impact on your family’s safety and the longevity and durability of your tires. For example, TireBuyer offers a large selection of Continental tires with year-round traction, fuel efficient performance and safety.

Distracted Driving goes Beyond Texting

According to Esurance, there are three types of distracted driving, including visual, cognitive and manual. Cognitive distractions happen when a driver’s mind isn’t focused on the road and can even happen when being preoccupied by personal issues or talking to another passenger. Visual distractions include looking at anything other than the road like tinkering with electronic devices or looking in the back seat to address your kids. A manual distraction is when the driver takes one or both hands off the wheel to eat or drink, dig through a purse or to text.

It’s tough not to look back at your kids when they need something or take your hand off the wheel to adjust your seat belt. But you can control keeping your phone off and put away to stop yourself from texting or taking an important call. You can also set an example for your kids by limiting your distractions as much as possible and discussing what distracted driving means, why not to do it, and the consequences involved. The more your kids understand what distracted driving is and why it’s dangerous, the more likely they are to take it seriously.

Driving is a Teachable Moment

Every time you get behind the wheel with your kids in tow is a teachable moment. Explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, like suddenly braking to avoid an animal in the road, or slowing down in the rain. Admit when you’ve been careless while driving or made a mistake so your see you taking accountability and responsibility for your actions. The more you model the behavior you want your kids’ to emulate behind the wheel, the more likely they are to follow your lead.

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