KRON 4 | Last-Minute Restorative Gifts for $25 and Less

Don’t stress if you still have gifts to buy for Christmas! I shared some of my top last-minute restorative gifts yesterday with Marty Gonzalez, KRON 4 Morning News weekend anchor. They’ll help ease active minds, increase well-being, and relax tight muscles  — all for $25 or less. And while you’re at it, treat yourself to one (or all seven) of these super health solutions. 😀

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1. Gaiam Restore™ Multi-Point Massager – $10

Your muscles adapt to the demands you place on it. If they’re chronically tight and you don’t do anything to change that, your body will tend to stay that way. Eventually, your posture changes (i.e., your head jets forward, your shoulders hunch, your abdomen sinks in, and your legs tighten up).

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Massage should be a routine part of your self-care.

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This massager targets trigger points in small muscles with deep pressure depending on how much you “dig” in. If you prefer a more relaxing session, just lighten up on the amount of pressure you apply.

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The Multi-point Massager has six outer prongs and one longer center prong. This allows you to easily “tilt” it and hit multiple pressure points at the same time. Especially good for massaging the tight upper chest muscles if you have poor posture (rounded shoulders). A great massager for partners!

Found this at Whole Foods Market (the Whole Body Care section), but Target and most sports/fitness stores carry products from Gaiam (pronounced “Guy-um”).

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: If you carry your stress in your shoulders, turn the massager upside down and place the KNOB of the massager into the “knot” at the top of your shoulder, hold it there while you add pressure, then roll your shoulders backward in small continuous circular motions while you work out the knot.

2. Whole Foods™ Aromatherapy Travel Fan Diffuser – $14

This compact (2 in x 4 in) diffuser is perfect when you want the benefits of aromatherapy while you’re on the go. No water or heat needed to operate. It also has a continuous soft color changing light. It’s truly portable — no electricity needed. Includes five 1″ round absorbing pads which are refillable when needed. Available at Whole Foods Market (the Whole Body Care section).

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Use it at your computer, in the car, airport, hotel room, wherever and whenever you need to restore.
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Powered by a USB cable or 3 AAA batteries.
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Just add a few drops of essential oils on the absorbing pad, then turn it on. 

3. Everyone Essential Oils Blend (Relax) – $14 

Pair these pure essential oils with the diffuser. No synthetic fragrances. This soothing aromatherapy blend contains essentials oils that can help you relax: Lavender, Vetiver, Lavandin, Ylang Ylang, Orange, and Frankincense. Includes a dropper inside. Available at Whole Foods Market (the Whole Body Care section).

4. Gaiam Restore™ Pinpoint Back Massager – $25

I LOVE this back massager!! Yes, love it! I’ve tried different brands and varieties (including the larger S-shape style) of this type of back massager, and this one is a winner. The material is strong, yet it still has some flex. (The flexibility factor was problematic with some I tried — either too much or not enough.) What I love most is its size. The “hook” can fit in a carryon, laptop bag, even a backpack. That means, when you start to tense up at the office, on a plane, train, BART, wherever, you can relieve pain in your neck, shoulders and back on the spot before it becomes unbearable.

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Found this at Whole Foods Market (the Whole Body Care section), but Target and most sports/fitness stores carry Gaiam products.

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Includes a downloadable exercise guide.

KRON4_HealthyGifts10 Continue reading “KRON 4 | Last-Minute Restorative Gifts for $25 and Less”

KRON 4 | Beware of “Drinksgiving”

Did you know that Thanksgiving Eve has skyrocketed to be one of the biggest binge drinking days of the year? Some call it “Drinksgiving”, or “Blackout Wednesday”, and it’s become an extraordinary night for the bar industry. I explain to KRON 4 Morning News weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, the why’s and why not’s of this big drinking holiday.

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Drinkers and Drivers Beware!

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, high-risk binge drinking and DUI- related injuries increase by 33 percent. In some cities, there are more DUI’s and hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption during Drinksgiving. According to MADD, more people are KILLED during the Thanksgiving holiday than the Christmas holiday.

Habitual Homecoming 

Since around 2012, Thanksgiving Eve has become known as one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year — right up there with St. Patrick’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday, and July Fourth. Why? Thanksgiving Eve is a big holiday homecoming party. A lot of people are visiting their parents for the long weekend and kick off the event by meeting up (and drinking) with old friends.

Some bar owners say their business goes up as much as 400% compared to an average Wednesday. It’s considered the “holiday before the holiday”.

Most Popular Drink During Thanksgiving

  • Wine – about 65% of drinkers 
  • Beer – 20%
  • Mixed liquor drinks – about 15%

What is a Standard Drink?

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One standard drink is defined as 0.6 fl. oz. of “pure” alcohol.

In the U.S., one “standard” drink is defined as 0.6 fl. oz of “pure” alcohol which equates to:

  • 12-oz regular beer (about 5% alcohol; light beer about 4.2% alcohol)
  • 5-oz. glass of wine (about 12% alcohol) 
  • 1.5-oz. shot of distilled spirits (gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whisky, etc. — about 40% alcohol)

What’s Considered Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as having the following within a two-hour period:

  • Women: 4 or more drinks
  • Men: 5 or more drinks

One bottle of wine = 25 ounces (five 5-oz servings)

On the average, 2 people can finish a full bottle of wine in about 2 to 2.5 hours.

Long-Term Health Dangers from Binge Drinking

  1. Heart Disease: Binge drinking can cause weakening of the heart muscles (“alcoholic cardiomyopathy”) even in 20- and 30-somethings and results in congestive heart failure.
  1. Blood Pressure: There is a definitive link between blood pressure and the amount of alcohol consumed. Binge drinking, in particular, has been                associated with dangerous surges in blood pressure.
  1. Cancer: Alcohol is a known carcinogen for areas of the head and neck — the mouth, esophagus, throat. Long-term binge drinking may also increase the risk for cancers of the liver and breast.
  1. Brain Damage: Binge drinking impacts the developing brain whereby a person in their 20’s is especially vulnerable to long-term memory loss and an inability to learn new skills in the years to come. That’s because the brain is continually changing and alcohol can interfere with those changes. Alcohol in large quantities is toxic to the delicate cells within the brain.
  1. Alcohol Poisoning (Death): From 2010 to 2012, alcohol poisoning was responsible for approximately 2,200 deaths each year, or six deaths per day. Most people who die from alcohol poisoning are white men ages 35 to 64, according to the CDC.
  1. Injuries: Per the CDC, binge drinking is responsible for 80,000 DEATHS in the U.S. each year.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: More than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink. Know your limits, watch your intake, and consider the immediate and long-term health risks.

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KRON 4 | Tailgating 101: How to Party and Picnic Safely

Football and baseball are synonymous with tailgate parties, cooking outdoors, and picnics. That means you’ll need to pay special attention to menu planning, preparation, and safe food handling practices. Since you’re without a refrigerator and running water, here’s how to keep your food safe all day.

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What to Pack

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  1. Lots of clean utensils for preparing and serving safely cooked food.
  2. Insulated coolers to keep food protected and cold OR hot.
  3. A meat thermometer to be sure meat and poultry are cooked at high enough temperatures to destroy harmful bacteria and foods are reheated to safe-to-eat temperatures.
  4. fridge and freezer thermometer for coolers.
  5. An oven thermometer for hot insulators.
  6. An instant-read thermometer for reheating leftovers.
  7. Clean, wet, disposable cloths, hand sanitizer, and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.
  8. Disposable gloves for cleaning or touching raw meat.
  9. Smaller containers or foil for leftovers.
  10. Water for cleaning.

Danger Zone for Cold Foods – Above 40ºF

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Fridge and Freezer Thermometer
  • Place a fridge and freezer thermometer in your cooler. Be sure your food stays at 40ºF or below.
  • Cold food should be stored in a well-chilled cooler.
  • Do not leave the food out for more than two hours (one hour if weather is above 90ºF).
  • Keep food in the shade and out of the sun.
  • Keep perishable cooked food, such as luncheon meat, cooked meat, chicken, and potato/pasta salads “refrigerator cold”, so keep it next to the ice.

Danger Zones for Hot Foods – Below 140ºF

  • Do NOT partially cook meat or poultry at home ahead of time, then transport the half-cooked food to the party/picnic. Doing so allows harmful bacteria to thrive and multiply.
  • Hot foods like chili, soup and stew need to stay hot (140ºF or above).
  • Eat hot food within two hours.
  • To transport and store piping hot foods, use an insulated container* like a cooler.
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Your cooler can become a hot insulator.

*How to prepare a hot insulator:

  1. Heat up some hot bricks. Wrap them in heavy-duty foil first, then heat up in a 300 degree oven for at least 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, warm up your insulator (e.g., a cooler):  Fill it with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, and empty.
  3. Place newspaper and brown paper grocery bags on the bottom to insulate.
  4. Add your hot bricks.
  5. Oven thermometerLine the insulator with thick towels to further insulate and prevent melting the plastic if inserting a hot pot off the stove.
  6. Place an oven thermometer in the insulator to ensure it stays hot enough.
  7. Keep the insulated container closed and the food should stay hot (140º or above) for the whole game.

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How to Cool Large Pots of Hot Food

If you’re cooking hot food the night before (e.g., a pot of chili), it needs to be refrigerated after cooking. WARNING: Food needs to chill quickly to avoid bacteria growth during the cooling process. To do so, separate into smaller containers and set the containers in an ice bath. When cool, refrigerate.

Handling Raw Meat, Poultry and Fish

    • Cooking raw meat is risky unless all food handlers are diligent about keeping utensils, hands and surfaces clean to prevent cross-contamination.

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  • If transporting perishable raw meat (e.g., hamburger patties, sausages, chicken, fish), place it in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs, or containers of ice.
  • Wrap raw meat securely to prevent juices from cross-contaminating ready-to-eat food. Ideally, keep these raw foods in a separate cooler.
  • Use a meat thermometer to measure internal cooking temperatures.
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Use a meat thermometer when cooking raw meat.

Remember… a cooler is not a refrigerator. Keep the most perishable items next to the ice.

Safe minimum internal temperatures:

  • Beef, pork, lamb, veal steaks, roasts, and chops (145ºF)
  • Ground meats (160ºF)
  • Poultry (165ºF)
  • Leftovers (165ºF)

NOTE! If cooking marinated raw meat at the tailgate site, be sure not to reuse the marinade unless it’s boiled first to destroy harmful bacteria. Be sure cooked food is placed on a clean platter free of any raw meat juices.

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: If you can’t keep the food hot while transporting it to the picnic/tailgate party site, cook the food the night before, and cool it in the refrigerator. On the day of the party/picnic, pack the food in a well-chilled cooler and reheat it to 165ºF on a camping stove.

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KRON 4 | Here’s Why You May Be Carrying a 40-lb Head

Occupational and recreational habits have led to real pains in the neck. Tension and poor posture rank high as the most common pain generators. KRON 4 Morning News anchor, Marty Gonzalez, helps me demonstrate the effects of poor posture and how to fight the aching forces of gravity.

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Forward Head Posture (FHP)

One of the most common postural problems is forward head posture — for both young and old. Forward head posture is also known as:

    • Text neck, computer/notebook neck
    • Sofa neck
    • Book or reader’s neck
    • Driver’s neck

KRON 4 PosturePain1Your head should sit directly on your neck and shoulders. Think of a golf ball on a tee. But the head is more like a bowling ball (weighing about 10 to 11 lbs) than a golf ball. Your neck and shoulders have to carry the burden of this “bowling ball” all day. Supporting and moving the human head is a challenging and tiring task.

Carrying your head is an isometric contraction — you’re actually “strength training”. An isometric exercise is a static hold where the joint angle and muscle length does not change during the muscle contraction. 

Posture_AdobeStock_113073952_croppedCorrect posture: Your ears line up over your shoulder blades.

Incorrect posture: Along with forward head posture, your shoulders also “round” and roll forward.

Causes of Forward Head Posture

Repetitive use of computers, TV, video games, trauma, and even backpacks/laptop bags have forced the body forward. Also, general muscle weakness from illness or aging can cause FHP —  that is, you’re too weak to hold your own head up anymore.

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When you’re holding your head forward (out of alignment), you are putting additional strain on your neck, shoulders, and upper back muscles. The result? Muscle fatigue and an aching neck and back. Here’s why…    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Here’s Why You May Be Carrying a 40-lb Head”

KRON 4 | Germs You Get from Gyms

Your doctor told you to get some exercise, so you go to the gym, but you end up with more than you bargained for. Fitness facilities can be icky germ factories. I’m armed with tips on how to get fit without getting sick.

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Breeding Grounds for a Wide Variety of Germs 

Fitness studios or gyms may be places to get healthy, but they’re also breeding grounds for a host of germs — particularly Staphylococcus bacteria or “staph”. 

A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found 25 different categories of bacteria lurking in fitness centers.

Why Germs Thrive

Cold and flu season will be creeping up on us again soon, so beware of those coughers and sneezers who can quickly spread viruses from one treadmill to the next. 

But… the majority of germs that people pick up at their favorite fitness studio are those that affect the skin. 

Bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause skin infections thrive in SWEAT. Warm, moist areas are particularly problematic.

Sweat gets left behind on:

    • Exercise equipment (from rowers to reformers, weights, and boxing gloves to basketballs), mats, and machines
    • Handrails, towels
    • Saunas, showers, swimming pool decks
    • Locker room benches, toilet/door handles
If you’re sweaty, it’s likely your hands AND gloves are sweaty too.

The Most Common Germs 

The following skin problems are the most common ones you can pick up at a fitness facility:

1. Athlete’s Foot and Jock Itch

  • Blame these conditions on fungus.
  • Fungi (pronounced “fun-guy”) reproduce through tiny spores in the air. That means, you can inhale the spores or they can land on you! As a result, fungal infections often begin in your lungs or on your skin. That means they’re easy to get and PASS AROUND.
  • Fungi, the plural for fungus, live and reproduce in the air, in soil and water, on plants… and on YOU. Those embarrassing health conditions mentioned above are caused by an excessive amount of fungus growing on the surface of your skin. Think of that fuzzy green mold that grows on decaying old fruit hiding in the back of your frig or the mildew that grows on shower walls. Same idea.
  • Only half of them are harmful, but they can be annoying, ITCHY and difficult to kill. If you have a circulation problem, weakened immune system, diabetes, or take antibiotics, you may be more likely to get a fungal infection. (Antibiotics may disrupt the balance of natural microflora in your system which causes fungi to overpopulate.) It’s important to get treatment at the first sign of a problem.

2. Hot-Tub Rash

  • When levels of disinfectants (like chlorine) are too low in swimming pools and hot tubs, you can get an itchy red rash from the bacteria that you pick up.

3. Plantar Warts

  • This virus infects feet, so don’t go barefoot in the locker room, gym showers, or exercise studios.

4. Impetigo (im-pe-TEE-go)

  • This HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS infection is caused by a staph or strep bacteria.
  • It gets into your body through broken skin (a cut, scrape or insect bite).
  • Transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, contaminated towels, and sports equipment.
Sports equipment is a carrier for germs. Disinfect the ball with wipes and wash your hands.

5. Staph Infections and MRSA    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Germs You Get from Gyms”