Woman looking at her skin in bathroom mirror

How to Clear Clogged Pores Properly

It seems like recently, everyone’s been doing their best to prevent clogged pores. Let’s face it – clogged pores are one of the biggest nuisances there are.

And, once you get them, it’s a bit annoying trying to get rid of them.

Every day, your skin battles pollution, your own sweat and makeup. Sometimes, its defenses get a bit sluggish. And, when that happens – you’re faced with clogged pores.

But, don’t worry. Where your skin falters, you must continue. There are ways to clear clogged pores properly, with perseverance, tenacity and, of course, a few tips from professionals.

What Are Clogged Pores?

Pores are basically small holes in the skin through which oil and sweat go out.

Clogged pores occur when dead skin cells get trapped in your skin. They are supposed to be shed into the environment, but sometimes they can get stuck.

You can usually see when your pores are clogged if you see pimples or, in general, a certain dullness to your skin.

Now, many people think that clogged pores necessarily lead to pimples. However, that is simply not true.

While yes, many such pores do end up becoming pimples, there are some that don’t involve inflammation. Unlike with pimples, there’s no need for your body to get rid of them and they can remain like that, blocked, forever. (Well, not forever, but you catch the drift. For a very long time.)

You can usually see them in a certain light or, when you tilt your head just so. But, even the clogged pores that don’t immediately become pimples can become pimples at one point. That is why it is best to deal with them on a regular basis.

Infographic on clogged pores

What Causes Clogged Pores?

There are a lot of things that can cause clogged pores.

Truly, a lot. Our skin reacts to various things, both internal (like hormonal changes), to external (like air pollution).

But that is truly unfortunate, because it means that there are a lot of things you and your skin have to fight. Here are some of the things which can cause clogged pores.

  • Puberty. Yes, during puberty, our bodies increase its production of oil, that is, sebum, which can combine with dead skin and bacteria at times. And you get stuck with clogged pores which, as you may have guessed, can easily turn into pimples.
  • Smoking. You may not have known this, but greasy particles from smoke can easily land on your skin, thus contributing to unclean pores. Aside from the other adverse effects smoking has on the skin, it also contributes to clogged pores.
  • Stress. During stressful times, our bodies produce stress hormones in excess. This, in turn, triggers sebaceous glands to produce a lot of sebum.
  • Using certain beauty products. Basically, many of your favorite beauty products can be the culprit here. You should only buy non-comedogenic formulas. That means that they use ingredients which won’t clog your pores. Also, you should only use face products that specify that they are oil free.
  • Not cleansing or cleansing too much. Yes, this one is really the trickiest cause of clogged pores. Basically, while not cleansing your face can lead to a buildup of sebum, if you do it too much, this can also be a bad thing. Too much exfoliating strips your skin of its natural oils. Then, your oil glands decide to overcompensate and create more oil. That is why finding the golden middle is perfect for your skin.

Professional Treatments for Excessively Clogged Pores

If you have particularly specific skin and you’re not quite sure you can deal with your clogged pores on your own, going the professional route can often prove to be the best option.

Basically, you go to a dermatologist or a skincare specialist for a facial treatment which can be done in several ways. They test your skin and decide how best to proceed.

1)   Extractions

We know how it sounds – a bit terrifying, to be honest.

However, you have to have faith sometimes – professionals know what they’re doing (and they’ve done it a thousand times).

They extract what should not be there in the first place by using a metal extractor tool to apply pressure around the clogged pores. This causes the content to spill out.

Now, this can also be done with pimples if they can be unclogged. If they can’t, your skincare specialist will not suggest this treatment.

After unclogging your pores, the specialist usually applies some antibacterial or antiseptic which should bring back the natural pH levels of the skin, preventing further breakouts. They may even apply a soothing mask or carry out some other treatment. You can go on these treatments once a month to keep your skin healthy and glowing.

In any case, such extractions should be left in the hands of professionals. If you try to pop your pimples at home, you can damage your pores and cause further buildup of sebum.

2)   Steaming

As blasé as this may sound, this treatment is simply heaven.

You can literally feel your skin getting clean. Of course, steaming is something you can do at home with a towel and a pot. However, that requires more effort than a professional doing it.

Your dermatologist or skincare specialist uses a steamer to put warm, moist air on your face, which helps your pores open.

Woman undergoing face-steaming procedure

Then, they can apply treatments such as masks and moisturizers more easily. After steaming, your skin absorbs those treatments more deeply, and this can, and usually does have better results.

3)   Exfoliation

Exfoliation basically includes a process of removing dead skin cells from your skin. It typically includes using an exfoliation tool or a chemical or a granular substance.

Regular exfoliation, whether done by professionals or not, improves the overall health of your skin and unclogs your pores. It also improves skin elasticity and encourages collagen production. Truly, there are many benefits to exfoliation.

Exfoliation usually includes the use of a few abrasive materials:

  • Loofahs
  • Cleansing scrubs
  • Exfoliating mitts
  • Micro derma rollers
  • Dry brushes

These are the products you can use yourself at home with a good chance of success. You can combine them with a facial exfoliant for truly magnificent results.

On the other hand, you should never attempt to do chemical exfoliation yourself. This should only be done by professionals.

If you choose chemical exfoliation, consult with your dermatologist first to find the best option for you. Typically, this usually includes alpha hydroxyl acids, beta hydroxyl acids, retinols or topical enzymes.

Precisely because some of these chemicals are harsh and can dry out your skin if handled improperly, it is important to talk to a professional.

At-Home Treatments for Clogged Pores

While many, many people go to professionals, fearing that they won’t be able to deal with their clogged pores properly, there are plenty of options that are definitely safe to try at home and quite effective when it comes to unclogging pores.

You simply need to be a bit more persistent. Here are some products you can use at home to clear your pores efficiently.

1)   Pore Strips

Pore strips come in various shapes and sizes. While most people use them for their nose, you can use them for any part of your face.

You can use pore strips to remove bacteria, oil, dead skin and everything else that is left on the surface of your skin.

And the process is quite simple. You wet the strip and put it on the part of the face with clogged pores. Leave it there for five or ten minutes, and then slowly peel away.

Make sure to rinse the area with warm water. You want to remove any residue that the strip left.

However, you should avoid pore strips if you have any skin allergies or if you have sensitive skin. Also, they can be used once a week at most. Don’t overdo it if you want to avoid skin irritation.

2)   Charcoal Masks

Everywhere you look nowadays, some Instagram celebrity is praising this invention. Activated charcoal is now used in facial and body cleansers, scrubs, and even masks.

And truly, it does have many benefits, as it removes toxins, dirt and pollution from pores.

For most charcoal masks, you should first rinse your face before using them. Also, you should leave it between 5 and 10 minutes and then remove it. While some should be rinsed off, others harden and should be pulled off.

Spa professional applying black face mask on woman's face

However, dermatologists warn that you should never make your own charcoal mask at home. This can be dangerous and can cause irritation of the skin. It’s better to buy a charcoal mask from a certified distributor.

3)   Pore Vacuums

Pore vacuums have also been gaining on popularity in recent years. Many people praise them as the best invention in recent years.

The principle is pretty simple – there’s something in your pores, this sucks it out.

However, experts recommend that you don’t use it too often. Apparently, while they may work for blackheads that are already loosened, they do not have the same effect on other types of clogged pores.

Also, while there are pore vacuums that can be bought for as little as $10, experts also recommend that you don’t buy cheap ones. If you are to do this at home, you should at least

Another option is to go to a professional. They will be able to see which areas need more suction and which areas need less. They can then adapt the treatment to your particular needs.

Natural Remedies for Clogged Pores

There are really a lot of ways you can clean your pores at home, without buying anything. You can simply use what you have in your cupboard.

No, we’re not talking about the chemicals you use to unclog your sink, if that’s where your mind wandered.

Basically, people have long found various uses for common things you can find in every home. Some of those uses can include purifying the skin.

1)   Baking Soda

Yes, this is truly an ingredient everyone has in their homes. But it’s one of the most versatile ingredients there are in this world.

First, mix two teaspoons of this epic ingredient with one teaspoon of water. This should make a paste. Then, you should gently massage it onto your face.

Don’t leave it on for longer than five minutes, though, this should be perfectly enough to unclog your pores. Then, rinse if off.

You can do this once a week if you want balanced skin but don’t want to overdo it with cleaning.

2)   Lemon Slice

Lemon also has quite a lot of benefits for many parts of our bodies, not just our skin. But it is also a superb ingredient when it comes to unclogging pores.

Slicing a lemon on chopping board

All you have to do is cut a lemon in half and run it over your skin where you’ve been having problems with clogged pores.

You should leave it on the skin for about five minutes, and then rinse it off with cold water. Again, don’t leave it for longer than five minutes, because it can irritate your skin and possibly cause other problems.

This works because the acidity present in the lemon can help break up all the old skin cells, dirt and grime that have accumulated over time.

3)  Parsley

Parsley is not just a garnish, it’s a life saver!

Parsley is known to pull out impurities and toxins out of your skin and it’s incredibly effective.

Put a handful of parsley in a pot of water, bringing it to a boil. After that, let it cool down a bit. (Yes, you’re basically making parsley tea, which has all sorts of benefits.)

Simply dip a clean washcloth into the water, and then squeeze out excess moisture. Place it on your face for about 10-15 minutes. Wash your face afterwards.

This treatment can actually be repeated every other day, as it has numerous benefits.

There have recently been some claims that such home-made treatments of clogged pores do more harm than good. However, that is simply not true. The key here is not to do it too much, as some of these ingredients can harm the skin if left for too long. But, if you use it the way they’re supposed to be used, they will clean your pores in no time.

Father and daughter dancing on bed

Fun Family Exercise Routines

Obesity rates are a growing problem, especially among the new generations of children who prefer spending their days indoors behind a screen, rather than being active outside.

This is why exercising as a family is so important. It not only teaches your children the importance of staying physically fit, setting a good example for them, but it can also be such a fantastic bonding experience for the whole family.

Not sure where to start?

Here are some fun ways to exercise with your family that everyone will enjoy…

Get Dancing

Dancing is such a fantastic workout, and this is an easy one for getting the whole family involved.

All you need to do is put together a playlist of songs that your family love, turn up the volume and get moving! If you do this in the evening, adding in flashlights in lieu of strobe lights can make the activity even more special for young children.

You will likely find that this is an activity that your family could do for hours, enabling all of you to reap the many benefits of dancing, such as:

Walk the Dog

This may seem simple, but children tend to have such a fascination with animals.

An activity as basic as walking the dog will likely seem so much more exciting to kids than to you, making this a great way to get the whole family (as well as the dog) moving.

Family running with the dog

To keep things interesting, try to pick new routes and locations each day. Areas where your dog can run free and properly play and interact with the entire family would be a bonus.

Don’t have a dog?

Borrow a friend or neighbor’s dog instead. Even if you do have a dog, adding in an extra one can really change the dynamics of your walk.

There are also many apps out there that connect dog owners with people who enjoy walking them. This will give your family the chance to interact with many different pooches, although you would need to ensure that they are each child-friendly.

Commercial Break Workouts

Are there any television shows that the entire family watch together?

Well, since you already have everyone in the same room, this is a great opportunity to sneak some exercise in too.

How?

You will need to wait for the commercials to come on, but, as soon as they do, get everyone doing a certain exercise. From high jumps to planking to push-ups, this is a great way of ensuring that your children don’t end up too sedentary when watching TV.

You could also arrange for each family member to take turns being the “leader” of the workout for each commercial break. This will make things more interesting, as everyone will be able to have their say when it comes to exercises that they enjoy.

Jump Roping

Is jump roping something that your children do?

This simple activity actually brings with it a number of benefits, such as:

  • Improved motor coordination
  • Improved agility, speed, reflexes and balance
  • Provides cardio benefits
  • Helps with brain development and boosts creativity

Plus, the fact that jump roping is a low-impact activity means that it will not put any unnecessary pressure on the joints.

Family jumping rope in the park

There are plenty of jump roping games and rhymes to be found online, so equip yourself with some of these before introducing the activity to your family.

Grow Some Food

No matter what age you are, being able to grow something and then eat it gives you a huge thrill of satisfaction. The fact that you can also enjoy organic produce at a fraction of what you would have paid for it is an added bonus. 

This is something that your whole family can take part in, with each family member choosing a few of their favorite foods to grow.

Wondering where the exercise part comes in?

Gardening itself is actually a fantastic workout!

Did you know that gardening for an hour can burn as many calories as if you had jogged for four miles? 

Gardening requires your body to perform such a wide range of motions, from squatting and bending to lifting and digging, giving you the ultimate workout. It also triggers your brain to release feel-good endorphins, while teaching your children a sense of responsibility.

Wondering how to get started?

Have a family meeting to discuss the foods you want to grow. Then, go out and get some seeds or plants, and get growing!

Some easy foods to start off with include:

  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Different types of lettuces
  • Herbs

Don’t forget to teach your family how to properly warm up before gardening, especially if you have a few strenuous tasks ahead of you that day. Due to all of the muscles that are used when gardening, gardening-related injuries are actually more common than you would think!

Go for a Swim

Swimming is often referred to as the perfect exercise.

Why?

Because it provides you with all of the benefits of a full aerobic workout, but without putting any pressure on the joints. Swimming is an exercise that can be done by just about every member of the family, no matter their age. 

When it comes to deciding where to go for a family swim…

You can either opt for a local swimming pool or the sea, although this does depend on where you live. While the sea usually tends to be more fun, this can often be impractical in the colder months, so make sure that you have a few back-up options too. 

Can’t imagine your children getting on board with the idea of swimming laps?

Don’t worry, they don’t need to!

You can either just leave them to splash and play about in the water, which will bring them pretty similar health benefits, or you can get everyone involved in a family pool game.

Jumping or diving competitions are always fun, as is Starfish Tag. Younger children tend to love underwater mirror games, while balancing competitions on a floating mattress will get everybody’s muscles working.

Cycling Adventures

While it may be easy enough to cycle with your kids to school instead of driving them, or cycling to the shops on the weekends, this list is all about ways to make exercise fun.

The best way to do that when it comes to cycling is by turning the journey into a little adventure.

Family cycling outdoors

This means planning new routes and cycling through new areas, so that the views and scenery are different each time. Try to alternate between urban and rural areas, as this contrast will keep things interesting.

Planning your route so that there is something special and rewarding at the end of it will help to give your kids some extra motivation. Treating them to a hot chocolate at a cafe, or visiting a pond to feed some ducks, will help to make the activity even more special.

Turn Household Chores into a Workout

Ok, so the idea of turning household chores into a workout may not seem like much fun at first, but hear this out…

Just like with gardening, household chores require the body to perform such a wide range of motions, giving you a great workout.

The trick to getting the whole family involved is to make it fun, by adding in some music and a competitive edge.

The music needs to be energetic and fast-paced, and you should try to get each family member to contribute to the playlist, as everyone will have certain tunes that motivate them.

You need to make sure that you also time this chore workout well…

You don’t want to do it before a mealtime, when everyone is hungry and cranky. You also don’t want to do it after a meal, when everyone is full.

Wondering how to actually turn those boring chores into a competitive workout?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Wash the car within a certain length of time, competing to see whose side is the cleanest
  • See who can tidy away the most items in a certain amount of time, but make sure that everyone squats instead of bending down normally
  • Everyone takes a window or a wall to clean, competing to see who can do the best job the fastest
  • Play a guessing game with laundry items, before giving each family member their own items to fold
  • Get everyone making some bread, as the kneading process gives the arms a great workout
  • Use step trackers to see who takes the most steps when doing chores for 20 minutes. Many smartphones already have a step tracker in them, saving you from having to purchase dedicated trackers for each family member

Try Different Sports

Sports games can be so much fun, to the point where you often forget how long you have actually been exercising for.

Learning a new sport can be even more exciting, and there are so many different sports out there that you and your family could try.

In addition to providing some good ol’ fashioned fun, regularly playing family sports games will result in the following:

  • Better learning skills, and therefore better academic results
  • Improved problem-solving and teamwork skills
  • Gives the body a workout, keeping it healthy
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence
  • Reduced stress

So, which sports should you try playing with your family?

Well, that depends…

If there is already a sport that every member of your family enjoys playing, you could try to improve your skills in this. Sign your family up for a class, or enter yourselves into a local tournament.

On the other hand, if your family isn’t naturally inclined to sports…

Keeping things varied will help to make the activities more fun.

Try having each family member pick a sport that they would want to try, and then you could alternate which one you do each week.

A few ideas would be:

  • Cricket
  • Boxing
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Frisbee
  • Table tennis

Father and child playing basketball

Even something like bowling would still ensure that your family are on their feet for a few hours.

You could make things more interesting by having rewards for the winning team or “punishments” for the losing team. For example, the losing team would need to cook the family meal that night, or the winning team would be able to decide what to watch on TV for that week. This will give everyone the motivation to put their all into the activity.

Make Some Exercise Cards

Have you heard of exercise cards before?

They’re an increasingly popular way to plan a workout.

Each card in the deck would feature a specific workout, whether this may be a bodyweight exercise, a stretch, or anything else.

Exercise cards are available pre-printed, but since this is an activity that you are basing around your family, you may find it more useful to create your own deck of cards.

Why?

Because this way you can incorporate exercise that fit your family’s specific skills and requirements. You can add in plenty of fun games, such as the jump roping mentioned above, to keep your kids interested.

Once you have your deck of exercise cards together, set aside some time for your family workout. Then, get everyone in the family to pick one or two cards from the deck, before combining these all together to create your unique routine.

You can keep things interesting by alternating the location of your workouts. While there is nothing wrong with doing these at home or in your backyard, taking your deck to a local park or hiking trail will instantly make the workout seem so much more exciting.

Exercising is something that every family should be doing together, but it can definitely be tricky to find activities that the whole family can enjoy. Each of these activities will provide your family with a fantastic workout, while keeping them motivated and engaged at the same time.

Couple breathing deeply outdoors

The Benefits of Deep Breathing

Chances are during times of stress, one or more people around you have told you to take a deep breath in order to help you relax. Maybe you did or maybe you didn’t, but those individuals had a point. Deep breathing can do incredible things for the body. It may take some getting used to, but it’s easy to learn and the efforts can be worth it.

Let’s start with discussing how to actually do deep breathing. Close your eyes, breathe in deeply (and slowly) through your nose, hold it for a second or two, then breathe out through either your mouth or nose – whichever feels more comfortable to you – while counting to five. You can do this while sitting or lying down. Focus on your breathing, maybe repeat a mantra in your mind, or focus on something that makes you especially happy such as a destination you love. Now onto a few of the benefits.

You Can Relax
One of the worst feelings is being tense; you feel like every part of your body is in one giant knot. Deep breathing helps you relax, ease your muscles, and calm your mind.

You Can Ease Unpleasant Moods
Whether you’re scared, upset, or just plain ticked off, deep breathing can help you get past the initial stages of that mood and anything negative that may come with it to get you to a better, calmer place. This can be especially advantageous if you’re having a rough day at work. After deep breathing, you may be able to focus better on the issue at hand and may even come up with a solution if need be.

You Could Lower Your Blood Pressure
Stress can temporarily raise your blood pressure, but deep breathing can help get those numbers back to a normal level. Deep breathing on a daily basis may help you keep your numbers where they’re supposed to be, especially during times of stress.

You Can Clear Your Mind
We go through so much on a daily basis, so it’s understandable how our mind can get cluttered. Deep breathing allows you to clear your mind, refocus on the positive, and move forward in a calm and rational manner. This can be excellent in every aspect of life from home to relationships to work. A mind that isn’t cluttered is one that’s better able to be more aware and in the present moment.

You Help Your Body Overall
You’ve probably heard by now how many diseases and conditions may be made worse by stress. Considering deep breathing helps to ease your stress level and improve your mood, that, in turn, could have a positive effect on your body as a whole.

Deep breathing is all about mindfulness and getting you to a place where you feel better than you did before you started. Try out different methods and don’t overthink the process. Once you start, chances are it will become a habit you will want to keep and make a part of your daily routine.

Woman flossing

To Floss Or Not to Floss

A survey by the American Academy of Periodontology found that almost 15% of adults would rather clean a toilet than floss their teeth. That means we either have some people who are really ardent defenders of the porcelain throne or that a lot of people really hate to floss their teeth. Most probably, it’s the latter.

For years, mothers have been telling children to floss their teeth. It might not have seemed the most pleasant activity for a juvenile, but it sort of made sense that it was good for you. Weren’t we always taught that food residue rots teeth enamel? It would then seem logical that if food particles were lurking unknown beneath our teeth, we should surely want to get rid of them, and this seemed to be the main goal of flossing. Could mother have been wrong?

The Skeptics
According to recent reports by the associated Press, officials had never properly researched the effectiveness of regular flossing. (What? Could this have been some capitalistic plot encouraging us to buy ineffective rolls of string?) Well, it seems as if the American Academy of Periodontology concurs. They point to a 2011 Cochrane “oral health” review of 12 studies which, supported the efficacy of flossing. The academy is now claiming that these studies did not “examine gum health over a significant period of time” to determine whether of not there are long term benefits. Tim Iafolla, a dentist with the National institute of dental Craniofacial Research says, “The condition we’re trying to prevent, which is gum disease, is something that takes years to develop and most of the studies only last a few weeks or months.”

The Supporters
Now, keep in mind that the jury is still out on this one. Just because the studies did not support that flossing is beneficial, doesn’t mean it isn’t. Before you go throwing your floss in the dumpster and yelling, “Free at last, free at last,” listen to this: Says Joan Otomo-Corgel, a periodontist with the American Academy of Periodontology,”…My concern is that the public picks up on this and says, ‘Oh, flossing is not a benefit. That means I don’t have to do it.'” She also says, based on her 32 years of observation, flossing gets rid of bacteria that manifest themselves between teeth causing infections and other oral problems. “Biofilms are live,” she says,”I mean…You have different types of bacteria that form and the longer they stay, the more virulent they become.”

Keep in mind also that while studies on prevention of plaque and gum health are inconclusive, floss is still believed to prevent gingivitis, a condition causing fumes to inflame and bleed, although the naysayers are quick to add that the quality of evidence supporting this was “very low.”

It seems that it would be remiss not to include an admonition from Dr. Wayne Aldredge, president of the American Academy of Periodontlogy, who reminds us that gum disease is, “insidious, slow and bone melting.” He says those who quit flossing are, “rolling the dice,” and; “You don’t know if you’ll develop periodontal disease, and your can find out too late.”

Woman reading a book in a hammock

Planning To Do Nothing

Planning an event takes energy. You need to  invite the necessary people, find a time that is convenient for everyone, be there at a certain time, figure out what to wear, make sure you have all the necessary supplies, and worry about getting home.  Doesn’t sound like much fun.  In fact, it sounds like a lot of work.  Whatever happened to the concept of real downtime?  Not having to think about waking up at a certain time or being anywhere and not having to answer to anyone and not even having to provide stimulating conversation. Although it is important to remain social, it is equally as important to allow for some time to concentrate on the simpler things in life. Let’s talk about some things you can do that qualify as real fun.

Play Music
The sound of music floating on the air from a window must be the essence of decadence.  Whether it is the twangy sound of plucking guitar strings or the sound of an opera singer practicing scales, the playing music implies leisure.  It is a sensual activity that requires us only to listen and think about what we are hearing, allowing our minds to drift.

Cook
it is strange how cooking can be one of the most stressful activities or one of the most stressful.  Sure, cooking can be hard when you have people to keep happy and healthy every night, but let’s talk about the “Julie and Julia” or “Tortilla Soup” kind of cooking where you have endless time to experiment and perfect.  Let’s talk about cooking as a kind of healing, and as a way of doing something productive with your time, while escaping from the daily grind.

Woman sleeping

Take A Nap
Nothing brings on the “cat that just caught the mouse” feeling quite like taking a nap.  You have managed to steal time to let  your mind and body successfully escape to that purgatorial space between on and off.  You wake up energized and feeling like you have a leg up on all those less fortunate.  The morning is somehow more manageable and there is less of it to survive.  FYI: Research shows that naps can also reduce the risk of heart attack.

Pamper Yourself
Have a nice bubble bath.  Throw in your favorite oil, light some candles, play some music and pour some (beverage of choice).  Do a facial, or mani pedi,  or hair treatment.  Great for your mind and body.

Shop
“Now you’re talking,” you think. Not to be confused with emotional spending, shopping can be a very relaxing and therapeutic activity. If your retail therapy is moderate in nature, and your credit is good, shopping can decrease stress and anxiety and allow you to gain control over situations and ease anxiety. Besides this, shopping also gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in creativity,  improve  decision making and provide an outlet for social interaction.

Remember, you’re own company can sometimes be as good or better than other people’s.   You’re the coolest person  here.  It’s not about doing, its about being!

Woman having lunch

Meal Prep Is Not Just For Dieters

Ask most people what they are planning to do for dinner tonight and they night say, “I’m planning on ordering pizza.”

“What’s wrong with pizza?” you ask, “Tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants, the cheese has source of calcium and the toppings can have a variety of health benefits.’

Well, you have a point. But have you ever looked behind the scenes at a pizza place? Unless it specifies otherwise, your favorite pizza kitchen may be making using ingredients that you ordinarily would not think of consuming, such as fatty oil and whole milk cheeses. Not that we don’t love them, but we don’t always know if Big Mama and Big Papa have your best health options in mind. They are not necessarily thinking about portion control in mind when they’re heaping that cheese on. And pizza is a relatively harmless choice. I don’t even think I have to warn you about what is in a lot of the fast food burgers. The only way you can really guarantee that you know what’s in the food you eat is to make it yourself. “Make it myself?”, you say, “you mean, shop for ingredients and actually cook them? I don’t have the time or energy.” Well. welcome to meal prep 101.

Why Should I Prep my Meals?

  1. You don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat on the spot. Have you ever been here? You’re working late at the office. You’re on a tight deadline. Mike, your boss, is talking about getting some Macdonalds. You would rather die. What do you do? You don’t want to be responsible for the project not being done on time because you were too much of a diva to eat a Big Mac. The solution? You whip out your tupperware container with your healthy premade meal and are halfway through it when Mike gets back with his suspicious smelling bags.
  2. It saves you money. When you buy preprepared food, your’e paying for the preparation. If you’re buying from a food truck, your’e helping them pay for the upkeep of the truck; in a restaurant, you are paying for their waitstaff ,rent, and electricity bills. When you start to do the work yourself, you cut out a lot of expenses.

Basic Tips

1. Plan your meals to contain one protein, one starch and one vegetable. Make a list of acceptable alternatives. For example:

  • Protein Options: Boneless skinless chicken breast, ground turkey, fish, avocado
  • Starch Options: Sweet potato, pasta,rice
  • Veggie Options; Spinach, green beans, peppers, tomato (choices may vary)

2. Set aside a day for shopping

3. Peel, chop and cut all veggies and fruit for the week so they are ready to grab for a snack or to add to your lunch box.

4. Prep your protein and meat: Keep meat preparation down to a minimum. Use seasonings instead of a marinade or make a huge quantity of different types of marinated turkey or chicken at once and freeze them. You can use them in tacos or throw them in a salad. Hard boil eggs. Make homemade burgers and freeze them.

Think you can handle it? It may seem a like a lot of work at first, but you will be the epitome of cool when it comes to meal time, and you won’t have to worry about asking the waitress to put the dressing on the side.

Happy woman with outstretched arms outside

Moving, Eating, Being, Thinking

Happiness finally seems to be getting a fair shake.  Didn’t it seem like years ago, we thought that anything that made us happy couldn’t possibly be good for us?  Weren’t we brought up on sayings like, “If it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t working”, or “It’s not love if it doesn’t hurt.”  Isn’t it time that we bring an end to this self punishing philosophy?  Isn’t it time we admitted that some things that we like can be good for us?  Aren’t we tired of being miserable?  (Cue shouts of, “Go, girl” and “Amen!’)

It seems like its getting more and more obvious that we don’t always have to suffer and deprive ourselves to reach our goals.  Happiness may not pay the bills, but it seems like it could take us into a ripe old age.  Here’s to being happy and healthy!

Eating
Eat fewer calories, but more food.  That sounds like happiness to me!) Load on the greens and the beans.  Take a second helping of (fresh fruit.  Skip the burgers and cream sauce and pile on the whole grains.  You’ll end up with less calories, more antioxidants and longer, happier lives. Dr. Bradley Wilcox of the Pacific Health Institute in Honolulu says, “People in Okimawa eat more food by weight than people who eat a Western style diet.” The result?  Their risk for dementia, heart attacks, strokes and cancer are among the lowest in the world.

Woman exercising

Moving
Exercise can help to give you better quality of life and slow down the aging process.  In fact, you don’t even have to work that hard! (Happy now?)  A University of Florida study showed that healthy people aged 65 to 85 who did low intensity exercises had a drop in free radical damage while high intensity exercisers had a slight increase! For protecting the heart and arteries, just walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes a day, along with resistance training and aerobic exercise can do the trick.

Being
Find something interesting to do.  So, admit it.  We all love to relax.  We love to sit back and watch the tube and put our feet up. Well, that may sound appetizing, but if you’re better off doing something slightly more meaningful. People who pursue their interests develop better coping mechanisms and tend to be more optimistic and live longer.

Also, connect with friends and family.  Science journal prove that having friends changes the biochemistry of the brain and strengthen immunity.  Being alone, causes the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol to rise which can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and sleep problems.  BTW:  Marriage can add seven years to a man’s life and three to a woman’s.  Can’t live with ’em?  Pets can reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

Woman solving a crossword

Thinking
Just like our bodies, our brain needs exercise to stay healthy.  Reading, doing crossword puzzles and writing are all ways of lowering risk of mental decline.  Also, it has been proven that using your brain can actually up your “cognitive reserve.”  That means that you get a kind of bonus of extra neurons and pathways in your brain that make them function longer.  Our brain muscles are just like all the other muscles in our bodies; the more we use them, the healthier and more flexible they’ll be! So be happy, live healthy and be your best, most beautiful self!  Cheers!

Women in a locker room

Avoiding Locker Room Germs

So how’s this for a first world problem?  We are constantly being warned about dangers of obesity.  In fact, it seems we cannot put on the tv or  social media without seeing pictures of people on treadmills, eating green vegetables and  practically bursting with health. The message is obvious, exercise is important and we need to incorporate it into our lifestyles.

However, no matter how healthy we are, virus and bacteria horror stories seem to pop up almost as often.  Whether it be an outbreak in a food chain or a child on a slide at MacDonald’s, it seems evident that we must also place avoiding germs high on our list of priorities.

And therein lies our dilemma:  the gym locker room.  We’ve heard so many horror stories about what happens in this place.  There seems to be a disagreement about locker room etiquette.  From inappropriate bodily emissions to naked toenail cutting, the potential for picking up some kind of bacteria seems almost unavoidable.  So what options are there for the health obsessed germophobe?  Should we choose to be sick and skinny or disease free and fat?  Here are some things we can do to keep ourselves protected in this hotbed of germs.

Keep Your Jellies On
Because the shower and locker room  tend to be  warm and damp, they are great places to find to mold, algae and fungus.  These villains  find their way around the locker room mixing with sweat, skin cells, and urine.  (And don’t think that shower floor has never been urinated on)  Barefooted athletes in the gym locker are a prime target for Athlete’s Foot and other catchable infections.  Cover those feet!

Don’t Stuff Your Sweaty Clothes in Your Gym Bag
Jack Foley, ATC, director of sports medicine and head athletic trainer at Lehigh University says,”If you’re tossing warm, damp gear in your gym bag after a workout, you’re allowing germs to have a free ride home in a perfect petrie dish. ” (Quite an  image, no?) A better idea is to bring a clean plastic bag with you for dirty clothes and wash them when you get home  and, while your doing that, try tossing in your gym bag every other time or two or use disinfectant wipes to clean it inside and out.

Don’t Drink from the Water Fountain
This seems like good advice in the locker room and not.  According to the cleaning business, Coverall, a water fountain can have 2.7 million bacteria per square inch per spigot.  BYOW. (Bring your own water.)

Wash Your Face and Hands
Letting sweat and grime fester on your face is not going to do anything to help your acne problem.  And,before you wash your face, wash your hands.   After touching the handlebars on the stationary bike in spin class, you don’t want to know what kind of germs and viruses are your hands may be carrying.  Your hands are the most common culprits for transferring bacteria between surfaces, so keep ’em clean!

Bring Your Own Towels
Ah!  The pleasure of drying off with a nice clean towel after a good hot shower.  Not so fast!   Some gym employees have a habit of using the same containers for dirty and clean towels which aids in the spread of E. coli and MRSA.  Bring two antimicrobial towels from home, one for wiping sweat, the other for post shower and you will be the coolest (and cleanest) kid at the gym.

Woman playing golf

Round the Year Skincare for Golfers

Let’s review the facts.

Golfers spend a lot of time in the sun. The average time for a foursome to play 18 holes is four hours.It’s also recommended that if golfers play regularly if they are serious about improving their game.  In fact, as of 2011, golfers played an average of 58 rounds a year.  Do the math and that works out to a lot of time outside.

The majority of golf players are male.  Even though the popularity of the Ladies PGA tour grows every day, and we love you, Maria Sharapova,  77.5% of golfers in the U.S. are male.  And the average age of golfers in the U.S. is 54.  Now, ask yourself this, honestly, how many men do you know who are over 54 religiously apply sunblock?

Men over the age of 40 have the highest annual exposure to UV radiation and the majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are caucasian meant over 50. According to an article in Golf digest, dermatologists believe the odds of skin cancer are worse for golfers and it is likely that a higher percentage of golfers have skin cancer than the 20% reported for the US population.   According to Dr. Michael Kaminer, “Some golfers, it’s like they’re going out of their way to get skin cancer,” and he plays golf.

But just because you’re not in the average demographic for golfing, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy golf, and just because you are not a female millennial, you do not get an excuse for being ignorant about skin health.  So, let’s agree that golfing and taking care of your skin is not mutually exclusive! So listen up golfers:  here are some round the year skincare tips for golfers.

Use Sunblock Every Time You Play
Make sure to go with at least SPF 30 and make sure it says “broad spectrum”  on the label.  This way you know you are getting both UVA and UVB protection.

Woman playing golf

Wear a Hat, Long Sleeves, Pants and Sunglasses
The Skin Cancer Foundation says to wear one that extends 3″ ALL THE WAY AROUND; that means, no baseball caps or visors.  (Something tells me this may be a problem.) Wearing pants and long sleeves are very helpful in keeping the sun off.  If you are really too hot for sleeves, Nike and Under Armour make sun sleeves.  Try to get them with at least a 30 UPF.  and don’t forget to rock the SGs.  Make sure you choose a pair that blocks 99-100% of the sun.  OK, so now that you’re bundled up, let’s go play some golf.  No, only kidding, but statistics show that most golfers are college educated, so use those brains!  Stay away from the sun.

Re-Apply Sunscreen Every Two Hours
Sweat, moisture and time can all effect the strength of sunscreen. Check around the 8th or 9th hole to see how long it has been since your last application.

Schedule an Early or Late Tee Time
Try to avoid putting between 10 and 4 when the sun is strongest.  Take advantage of twilight rates, or predawn hours.

Find Shade
Trees are not really the most common features on golf courts, so a golf cart may be a good idea. The cart’s awning will provide some sun relief. If you must walk the court, try and stand in the shadiest place possible when not teeing off.  You will be cooler as well.

Woman learning how to swim

Adult Swim Lessons Mean A Safer Summer

Everyone tries to look cool in the summer.  In fact, a good portion of fashion is dedicated to discovering and promoting the latest styles  in beachwear, swimwear and shorts.   So how’s this for a look?  A killer bikini, a huge sunhat, serious sunglasses, a kick board, life jacket, and arm floats.  Ok, not how you were picturing yourself this summer?  Point taken, but the truth is, knowing how to swim is important for summer safety and swim lessons are not just for children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, about 30% of adults in the United States can’t swim the length of a typical recreation center pool and adults make up more than 70% of drowning deaths in the U.S.

Why is it that so many adults have never learned to swim?  Some may have grown up in urban areas where access to a pool was limited. Some are afraid, and many are embarrassed. But whatever the cause, it can be agreed that teaching adults to swim takes a special touch.  John Fitzpatrick, owner and head coach of swim facility, Chicago Blue Dolphins says adults are “very results focused.” They have no patience for learning activities like floating and kicking, they just want to be swimming.  Lori Pailet, founder and director of Aqua Skills recounts a tale of one adult student who became so frustrated, he began smacking the water with a foam noodle.

However, despite the apparent frustration, Pailet reports that the number of adults in her practice has doubled in recent years and clientele normally increases by 15 to 25% per years.

Why Should You Learn To Swim? Need some motivation?  How about this?

Personal Safety
As much as you may try to avoid it,  you will probably, at some point in your life, find yourself near water. I mean, what happens when George or Leo invite you on their yacht or your fiancé wants to romance you on a cruise ship?  If the water is deeper than you are tall, knowing how to swim will definitely come in handy.

Rescuing Others
According to the CDC, more that 3,400 people in the US die from drowning every year.  If you know how to swim, you will be better prepared to save a life.  Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children under 14.

Health
Swimming counts as both cardio and muscle toning, so you’ll earn brownie points for both. Swimming hits underworked muscles and, since the water provides natural resistance, the exercise is low impact.  (Bonus- no sweating involved!)

Pleasure
Not only does swimming relieve stress, it is also a social activity.  You may just meet your perfect mate while surfing or water skiing and you’ll get  a lot more exercise than swiping right on Tinder.

So put on those nose plugs and strap on that bathing cap,  and be proud!  You may end up saving a life and meeting your significant other at the same time.