Fitness: Tips To Start The New Year Off Right!

Many people start the new year off with a resolution to become healthier, lose weight, exercise more, etc. However, close to 60% of those individuals start off great, but eventually fall off the wagon. A common mistake that people make is trying to do too many things at one time instead of making obtainable goals. Here are some tips to help you set up realistic goals and keep your resolution.


What is the motivation behind your weight loss or healthy resolution? Do you want to feel better, do you want your clothes to fit a little looser or do you want to have more energy? Take a minute to figure out the main reason behind your end goal and prepare a plan.

Instead of jumping into all the changes at once, make it easier on yourself and make one change at a time. If your end goal is to cut out high-carb foods and work out three to four times a week, then begin by slowly taking away the foods you want to avoid and add in more of the foods you need, like protein and vegetables. Set a goal to work out once or twice a week to start and gradually add in more days.

Goals are an easy way to know where you’re going and how to get there. SMART goals will help you narrow down your plan and simplify your strategies. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. For example, “I will work out for 30 minutes twice this week and pack a lunch to take to work every day.”

Tracking what you eat on a daily basis can be a great way to help you gradually make better choices when it comes to food. Being aware of the food you eat can help you to control portions and calories. It can be shocking to see what some of our favorite foods consist of. As you start replacing some of your foods, eating more vegetables is a great way to get many of the nutrients your body needs. Filling up with veggies cuts down your calorie intake and also makes you feel full.

Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day, it’s not just a saying. Eating a large healthy breakfast early in the morning will help you stay full longer, give you more energy throughout the day, and it will influence you to make healthier food choices.

https://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/10-tips-to-help-you-achieve-your-new-years-health-goals.html

Easy Dinner Ideas That Will Impress Your Valentine

Ingredients:
• 3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 tbsp. dried thyme
• 1 tbsp. dried oregano
• 4 steak fillets, such as sirloin
• 2 tomatoes, sliced
• Kosher salt
• 4 slices mozzarella
• Fresh basil leaves, for serving

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, garlic, honey, olive oil, dried thyme, and dried oregano.

2. Pour over steak and let marinade 20 minutes.

3. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper.

4. Heat grill to high. Grill steak 5 minutes per side, then top with mozzarella and tomatoes and cover grill until cheese is melty, 2 minutes.

5. Add basil and serve.

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a48615/caprese-steak-recipe/

Ingredients:
• 1 c. all-purpose flour
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
• 2 tbsp. butter
• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 3/4 c. marsala wine
• 3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
• 1/3 c. heavy cream
• 2 tbsp. Freshly Chopped Parsley
• Cooked angel hair, for serving

Directions:
1. Season flour with salt and pepper, dredge chicken in flour.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil. Add chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.

3. Make Marsala sauce: melt remaining butter in skillet and add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are golden and liquid has been released, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, then season with salt.

4. Add marsala, chicken broth, heavy cream, and parsley and bring to a simmer.

5. Return chicken to skillet and spoon sauce over breasts.

6. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

7. Serve over angel hair, if desired.

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49576/creamy-chicken-marsala-recipe/

Ingredients:
• 4 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
• 1 lb. fresh strawberries

Directions:
1. Place chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth.

2. Holding the strawberries by the stem, dip in the melted chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip off.

3. Transfer the dipped strawberries onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

4. Refrigerate the strawberries until the chocolate is firm, at least 30 min. Enjoy!

Travel: Get Away for the Winter

Cruises are a popular getaway choice for many during the icy winter months, but when is the best time to go? Waiting until later in the winter season can be the better time to go as most people tend to go in December or January. Below we have listed the top five cruise locations to escape to.

The Caribbean and Bahamas are two of the most popular cruise getaway locations, especially during the winter months. With fun in the sun activities like snorkeling and racing around the sand dunes, it’s not hard to see why. Not to mention the much-needed warmth and sunshine.

During our winter months, it’s actually summer in the Galapagos. This is a great destination for snorkeling and wild sea life watching, especially during the months of December through February. If you wait until March for this trip, it is likely that you’ll get to see the hatching of baby green turtles and giant tortoises!

The winter is also a great time to visit the Mediterranean parts of Europe like Rome, Venice and Barcelona. During the winter, cruises are confined to this area, but on the plus side you can visit these hot spots and enjoy everything there is to do without a ton of people around. Another option for European cruises include the coastal Norwegian cruises, which guarantees sightings of the Northern Lights on any classic round trip, 12-night stay between October 1st and March 31st.

Like the Galapagos it’s also summer in Australia and New Zealand. If you’re looking for some beautiful weather to take advantage of, look no further. Cities on New Zealand’s South Island and along Australia’s eastern and southern edges feature some of the best weather of the year. There’s no shortage of things to do and places to see, whether you visit the hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne or take in the natural beauty of New Zealand.

The Middle East and Southeast Asia offer both ocean and river cruises. During the winter months is the best time to visit these destinations with temperatures in the upper 70s to mid-80s. Ocean cruises to the Middle East stop at ports in Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Nile river cruises are also very popular during this time of year. Ocean cruises in Southeast Asia include ports like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, but if a river cruise sounds more appealing, you can sail down the Mekong in Vietnam or the Irrawaddy in Myanmar.

December Pets of the Month

Hi! My name is Fergie and I live at LionsGate in Lincoln, Nebraska! I am a domestic shorthair kitten and my mom adopted me in September from Capital Humane Society. I love to play with my feather boa and all my fun toys. I also love to explore and watch the cars drive by outside the window!

Hi! My name is Sherlock and I’m an 8-month-old Sheltie! My mom and I just moved into The Saxony in Dallas, Texas a month or so ago and it’s been great! We go on tons of walks now ‘cause there’s so much shade to stay cool and tons of bushes and green stuff that we get to sniff. When we’re not out and about, I love to sleep where I’m not supposed to (My momma says I’m mischievous! I don’t know what that means, though.) and play fetch with my favorite ball!

Think you have the world’s cutest pet and want everyone to know it? There’s nothing wrong with being a show off! Enter your pet in Richdale’s Pet of the Month contest for a chance to win a BarkBox or KitNipBox for your furry friend. Tell us about your furry friend and if he or she is featured, YOU win! Send pictures and a brief description to: TheLeaf@richdale.com!

Slow Cooker Peppermint Hot Cocoa

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 2 hours

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
5 1/2 cups milk
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups good quality milk chocolate chips
Marshmallows and mini candy canes for garnish

Instructions:
1. Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a slow cooker set to low heat.
Let cook for 2 hours, stirring occassionally. When chocolate is fully melted
and the drink is hot to taste, it’s done!
2. Top with marshmallows and mini candy canes for some extra fun.
3. Enjoy!

Make A Difference This Holiday Season

The cold holiday months can be a difficult time for many people. If you’re looking for a way to give back, this time of year is the perfect time to start. Below we have listed six of the simplest and most impactful ways you can spread your holiday spirit this year. Many of our communities participate in these these opportunities; watch for emails from your community about our giving back events.

Send holiday cards to active-duty military and veterans:
Sending cards to our military heroes is a simple, yet impactful way to give back this holiday season. It may not seem like much, but this small gesture can brighten the day of those who have given so much to fight for our freedom and those who aren’t able to make it home to their families for the holidays. You can send cards through your local American Red Cross that participates in the Holidays for Heroes program. You can also see if A Million Thanks has a card drop-off location near you.

Collect donations for a food bank:

Food banks are always in need of help, but especially during the holidays. During this time, many people are in the giving spirit and it’s a great opportunity to get friends together to collect donations. You can form your own food drive or gather cash and food donations for a drive run by another organization. Food banks look for nutritious nonperishable items like whole grain foods and canned foods with low sodium. If you’d like to look for a food bank in your area, click here.

Volunteer at a Shelter:
As money is short for many during the holiday season, one of the most rewarding ways to give back is to donate your time. Take time to volunteer at a homeless shelter or a women and children’s shelter to help with meal prep or food service. This allows for the opportunity to meet the individuals you serve and makes for a very gratifying experience. To find a shelter to serve at near you, click here.

Assemble a group of friends to sponsor a family:
Get a group of friends involved in the giving this year by sponsoring a family in need. There are many organizations such as The Salvation Army that gather information for families in need of sponsorship during the holiday season. Groups will be provided with a list of the family members and the children’s ages, clothing sizes and wish lists. After choosing a family, let the holiday shopping begin! Your group is free to spend whatever amount meets the budget. This very rewarding way of giving back ensures that families in need have a holiday they won’t soon forget.

Help Children in Need with Toys for Tots:
A great way to get involved this season is to help children in need by donating new, unused toys to the Toys for Tots Foundation. Toys for Tots is a charity that collects unwrapped donated toys to give to less fortunate families who can’t afford gifts during the holidays. “The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.”

Black Friday Is Coming!

Black Friday is quickly approaching and this year’s deals are expected to be even better than they were last year. All major stores will be competing to have the best deals and online sales are expected to be a higher priority for most retailers. Every year, online sales are increasing as fighting the crowds is becoming less and less appealing. It has also become a trend for retailers to have deals going on for the entire week after Thanksgiving as opposed to just on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Some big-name retailers may even start their deals even earlier than the week before the holiday. So, all that being said, what can you expect for deals this year on some of the big-ticket items? Below are some of the highly anticipated items that are sure to be worth checking out!

The brand-new iPhone 8 models and iPhone X are some of the highest anticipated gifts of the season. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have upgraded cameras, HD displays and a new glass exterior. The biggest changes are seen in the iPhone X with a 5.8” entire screen retina display, face ID to unlock your phone and use Apple Pay, improved stabilization on the camera and animojis that give your emojis personality. All three of the new iPhones charge wirelessly for another added convenience.

Deals for the Samsung Galaxy S8 are more than likely going to be as good as they were last year with retailers charging $0 for the phone if you sign a contract. There’s also a good chance that they will throw in some free gift cards and accessories.

The Xbox One X is set to release on November 7th – just in time for Black Friday. The best deals will be on the bundles, which will include games for only a slightly higher price. It’s also worth mentioning that Microsoft gives retailers more room to be aggressive with their discounts, so keep an eye out!

Depending on the game it comes with, and whether or not you will play it, buying the bundle will often times be a better deal than just buying the console itself. In past years, the bundle only costs slightly more than the console alone. Right now, the prices are remaining pretty solid, but are expected to drop later this fall, just in time for when Microsoft releases their new Xbox One X.

As is usually the case for new TVs on Black Friday, you will have to move fast this year if you want to snatch one before they’re gone. If you’re in the market for a new high-end set, but can’t afford the price tag, this is your chance – don’t miss these deals!

Work Out Your Brain

Everyone knows the importance of eating healthy and getting some sort of exercise on a regular basis, but many people forget the importance of also exercising their brain. Studies have shown that doing regular “brain exercises,” along with regular exercise and eating plenty of antioxidants, can increase your brain’s cognitive reserve. There are several types of software that can be purchased to put your brain to work, but experts recommend practicing more real-world activities for more effective brain training. Here are 10 effective and less expensive ways to give your mind a workout.


1. Test your recall: Do something as simple as making a grocery list and try to memorize everything on it. Put it away for an hour or so and then see how many items you can recall.

2. Music: Studies have shown that learning to play a musical instrument over time or singing in a choir can do wonders for an aging mind.

3. Mental Math: With all the technology available today, math is made simple, but figuring out problems the old-fashioned way can be a great mental stimulation. To really test your cognitive abilities, try walking at the same time!

4. Cooking Class: Whether you’re a natural in the kitchen or are more of a microwave chef, try cooking something new. Because cooking involves so many senses (smell, touch, sight and taste) it is ideal for working several different parts of the brain.

5. Learn a new language: Not only does the listening stimulate the brain, but having a rich vocabulary has been linked to reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

6. Visualizing Words: Think about a word and the way it is spelled in your mind and then use either the first two or last two letters to form another word. This activity helps to refresh your brain on the things you already know.

7. Maps: After traveling to a new place, sit down and try to visualize a map that you used and draw it from memory.

8. How good are your tastebuds: When eating a meal, try and identify the different ingredients that you are tasting, like the different spices or other tastes that may be harder to place.

9. Hand-eye coordination: Instead of watching television or using various forms of technology, try a hobby that requires the use of your fine-motor skills like knitting, drawing/coloring or doing a puzzle.

10. Learn a sport: Try a new sport that not only uses the body, but also the mind, for instance yoga, golf or tennis.

The Scoop on Sunscreen

Any sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun, right? – Wrong! There are several factors that play in to how well a sunscreen will protect. Consumer reports tested over 60 sunscreens ranging from lotions to lip balms and found that there are more important factors than just the SPF number. The sun protection factor (SPF) measures how long a sunscreen will protect you from ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. This radiation is the main cause of sunburn and it also contributes to skin cancer. They also tested for protection against ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which tan and age your skin, but can also contribute to skin cancer.

In order to get the most out of your sunscreen, Consumer Reports suggests using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection from both UVB and UVA rays. It is recommended that you use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and is water resistant. It’s important to apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. If you’re using a lotion sunscreen, a teaspoon per area is a good amount to ensure full coverage. If you prefer spray-on sunscreen, apply a thick layer that can be rubbed in (rub it in) and repeat it one more time. Consumer Reports stresses the fact that sunscreen, no matter which type, is to be reapplied every two hours as well as after swimming and sweating to get the best results.



To find out more about sun protection and to see the top-rated sunscreens by Consumer Reports, go to www.consumerreports.org and search for “sunscreen buying guide”. Below you will find some other helpful tips on keeping your skin protected from the sun this summer.


CLOTHING: Wear clothing that covers your skin when in direct sunlight for a long period of time. Hats also help to shade your face.

SHADE: When spending an extended amount of time in the sun, be sure there is a shaded area or bring something like an umbrella or canopy to create a shield from the harmful rays.

SUNGLASSES: Not only are sunglasses an easy way to make a fashion statement, they also are essential for protecting your eyes from UV radiation.

TIME OF DAY: It’s a good idea to spend your time outside when it’s earlier in the morning and in the evening when the sun isn’t as high in the sky.

NO BURN: Try your best to prevent any red, sore or blistered skin and use sunscreen as a last resort. It is best to avoid the damaging rays if at all possible.

UV INDEX: Be sure to check the UV Index to help plan your outdoor activites and avoid sun exposure.

 

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/sunscreens/buying-guide.htm
http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/?gclid=CLrjydWy5dMCFQa4wAod8LICew