Kickstart Your Spring Exercise Program With These Tips

After hibernating all winter, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get back to the gym. Bathing suit season is fast approaching, however, and it’s time to set your spring exercise plan in motion. These simple tips can help you get off the couch and onto the treadmill.

  1. Pace yourself. If you’ve relaxed your exercise routine all winter, it’s important to start slowly once you get back at it. Take a few slow jogs or do some gentle yoga classes to get your body ready for exercise.
  2. Schedule your yearly check-up. If you usually visit the doctor once per year, try to schedule your appointment in the springtime. This will ensure that you’re healthy enough for exercise.
  3. Invest in comfortable workout gear. Pack away the insulated jackets and warm running pants and purchase workout clothing made of lightweight, breathable fabrics instead. A waterproof rain coat is also a good idea if you run outside because you can expect a few spring showers.
  4. Get outdoors. If you normally work out at a gym, opt to get your cardio in outside when the weather is nicer. Spending time outdoors is a great incentive to work out, and mixing things up always makes you feel more motivated to exercise.
  5. Have fun! Whether you work out with a friend or join a community soccer league, warm weather offers lots of options for making your workouts more fun.

10 Spring Fitness Tips [She Knows]
Spring Back into Your Exercise Program [WebMD]

5 Spring-Cleaning Shortcuts!

1. Remove dust now. Household dust is made up of tracked-in dirt, sloughed-off skin cells, pet dander and dust mite excrement and corpses. For a thorough dusting, work your way from top to bottom so you don’t have to go over surfaces more than once.

Help keep dust at bay. Stash a pack of Pledge® Wipes in a decorative basket by the staircase so you can grab a wipe to run along the banister on your way up or down the stairs. Put another pack in the living room so you can stay on top of dust while watching your favorite shows. You can also avoid dusting small appliances you seldom use by storing them in a large Ziploc® Brand Big Bag.

2. Master microwave messes now. Boil a cup of water in the microwave. The steam will help loosen dried-on food particles so you can easily wipe them away using a paper towel. To clean up messes before they dry, try Windex® Multi-Surface Antibacterial spray.

Keep it mess-free later. Use a microwave food cover to keep your microwave clean and free from food splatters. Most covers cost between $2 and $10 and are dishwasher-safe.

3. Tackle laundry now. Spring-cleaning brings loads of extra laundry. As tempting as it may be to try to get the job done quicker, don’t overload the washer or dryer. Clothes need to move freely in the machine to come out clean and wrinkle-free. Instead, save time by reducing the need for sorting with Shout® Color Catcher® with Oxi.

Lighten the load later. Enlist the help of family members by divvying up laundry chores like loading, folding and ironing. To make it easy for everyone to treat stains before they set in, put Shout® Trigger by each hamper. Make sure the young ones are supervised by adults when treating stains.

4. Clean window treatments now. Window treatments are often overlooked when cleaning, but dirt and dust can build up over time. Give them a thorough cleaning using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner or wash according to the label directions.

Keep them clean later. To avoid dirt and dust buildup, open and close your window treatments often and gently shake them. Give dust a few minutes to fall to the floor so you can easily wipe it up with a dust mop or towel.

5. Banish bathroom grime now. Wash your shower curtain according to its label and replace the shower curtain liner, which can harbor mold and grime. To rid your tub of soap scum quickly, use the Scrubbing Bubbles® Mega Shower Foamer. Its wide spray ensures you won’t miss a spot, and tough cleaning action makes scrubbing virtually obsolete.

Keep it at bay later. Traditional bar soaps have binders that are the main cause of soapy residue. So try switching to a liquid shower gel or glycerin bar soap to help prevent soap scum buildup. You can also install Scrubbing Bubbles® Automatic Shower Cleaner to keep your shower clean for up to 30 days with the touch of a button. And don’t forget to open a window or run the fan during your shower (and for at least 10 minutes afterward) to avoid mold and mildew buildup.

Limit Fat and Sugar with These Easy Tips

Fat and sugar are best enjoyed in moderation, but they're found in so many food that it can be very hard to avoid them.

If you want to take control of your diet, these simple tips from the NIH website can help you reduce the amount of fat and sugar your eat:

  • Just because a food is low-fat or fat-free doesn’t mean it’s also low in calories. Those foods can have a large amount of sugar, causing them to also have a large number of calories.
  • Many people don’t consider the added sugar in beverages like soda or juice, but these can also cause you to gain weight. Some studies show that people who cut these sugary drinks out of their diets noticed significantly reduced weight gain.
  • Sugars found naturally in foods like fruit or milk are beneficial to your body, and fresh fruit can make a healthy alternative to other sugary snacks.

You can find more tips about managing your fat and sugar intake on the NIH's website.

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Learn How to Read a Nutrition Label

If you've done much grocery shopping, you've probably noticed that most food items have a nutrition label which offers an array of information. It's designed to be easily understandable, but the sheer number of different elements on the label can make reading it a little daunting.

These helpful tips from the Food and Drug Administration can help you read a nutrition label more effectively. Here are some guidelines:

  • The information at the very top of the label describes how large a serving size is (for example, 1 cup) and how many of those servings are in the whole container.
  • The next section describes the calories and calories from fat in a single serving. If the number of calories from fat is close to the number of calories total, that food is likely not very good for you, because it means that the majority of calories come from fats.
  • The dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron are better for your body. You should make it a goal to get enough of these nutrients.
  • The footnote at the bottom of the label specifies that the percent daily values in nutrition label are based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.
  • The percent daily values, listed to the far right of each nutrient in the food, are the daily value recommendations for that nutrient.

For more information about reading nutrition labels, visit the FDA website.

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Happy Presidents’ Day

Remembering the courage and vision of past and present leaders, we honor and share the spirit of Presidents' Day together as a nation.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wishing everyone a day filled with fun and happy memories!

Tips for Busting Stress

If you often feel stressed out, these simple tips from around the web will help you relax and feel better.

Take your work calls standing up
It may seem strange, but studies have shown that sitting in one position at work all day can cause muscle tension and slow blood flow, exacerbating stress. Standing up periodically can counteract the tension.

Enforce a three second rule with email
The average person spends 23% of his or her day checking email. If your inbox feels overwhelming, allow yourself only thee seconds per email to decide if it’s important, then decide whether to respond or to banish it to the junk folder.

Get a massage
Though it seems like a luxury, even a short massage can significantly lower cortisol levels and increase oxytocin, a hormone that boosts feelings of contentment.

Go for a jog
Light exercise increases dopamine in the brain, a “happy” hormone that gives you a feeling of emotional wellness even on high stress days.

Easy Ways to Bust Stress [MSN]
7 Best Ways to Bust Stress [SheKnows]
Easy Ways to Bust Stress [Bubblews]
Top 10 Instant Stress Busters [Lifehacker]

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Learn to Make Handcrafted Cocktails With These Helpful Sites

We’ve seen a recent upswing of high-quality cocktails and creative mixology in the past few years. If you’re an at-home mixologist who wants to learn to make the perfect Manhattan or attempt to imitate that whiskey cocktail from your favorite bar, these helpful websites will show you how.
This beautifully designed, easy-to-navigate website allows visitors to search for cocktails by name, event, flavors, spirits or brands to plan the perfect drink menu for any occasion. If you’re unsure of the exact drink you’d like to make, also allows you to browse by category to find drinks that you and your guests will love.

Cocktail Builder
Perfect for the nights when you have a few half-empty bottles in your bar and no idea of what to do with them, Cocktail Builder is an innovative website that allows you to type in the types of alcohol you have and find drink recipes based on those items. The site also features a large database of cocktail ideas if you’d rather browse on your own, from classic favorites like the Whiskey Sour to new combinations like the creamy, tropical White Dream of the Sky.

Learn the Benefits of Strength Training

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that strength training a few times a week can have a profound impact on a person’s emotional and physical health. Here are just a few reasons why.

Healthy Heart Tissue
When the body is leaner, a person’s risk of heart disease becomes drastically reduced. Lifting weights just three times per week can help to minimize the risk of heart disease and even act as rehabilitation for those with existing heart problems.

Healthy State of Mind
Strength training can even act as a natural alternative to anti-depressant medications in adults, because a person’s improved self-esteem has such a powerful impact on his or her self-worth. 

Visit the CDC's website to see more benefits of strength training!

Why Strength Training? [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

Stay On Top of the Weather With These Expert Blogs

If you’ve ever wondered what a “cold front” really means in terms of the weather forecast or how a storm in the northern part of the country changes the weather in the southern part, these fascinating weather blogs are for you. You don’t need to have a background in meteorology to find these blogs interesting, and you’ll surely learn a thing or two about the weather! Weather Blogs
Weather experts, including forecasters and meteorologists from a variety of different subfields, write’s weather blogs. These blogs cover subjects like jet streams and their effects on upcoming weather, weekend forecasts in certain areas of the country, and unseasonably mild air and its impact on winter temperatures. If you’re only interested in a specific region, you can also follow AccuWeather's regional blogs.

Live Weather Blogs
This site is packed with just about any weather tool you can imagine, keeping you one step ahead of even the most recent news forecast. Here you’ll find interactive maps of specific areas, national satellites and radars, and blogs tailored toward specific regions of the country. The Live Weather Blogs site also keeps readers informed about severe weather warnings from around the country, including potentially hazardous earthquakes and hurricanes common in certain areas.

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