4 Ways to Embrace the Outdoors this Winter

With winter well on its way, it is time to take a look at some outdoor winter activities to help your family stay active, happy and healthy through the cold months. Instead of hunkering down for the winter with warm drinks, puzzles and Netflix, try embracing this winter by spending more time outdoors!

  1. Go for family winter walks: Bundle up the family, get out the flashlights and head outside for a wintertime walk. Whether it is an afternoon stroll on a weekend or an evening after-dinner walk, getting the whole family outside and enjoying the scenery that winter in Alaska brings us is an easy way to stay active this winter. Go and check out the neighborhood holiday decorations, take the dog for a walk instead of just letting it in the yard and enjoy some fresh air. Keep an eye on the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) forecast and go for an evening walk out to a darker area to get a great view of the best night time light show it the sky. Always stay safe by watching for moose and by bringing lights or reflectors so that vehicles can see you.
  2. Find a winter activity: There are so many winter sports that anyone in the family can try. Sit down with your kids this fall and ask them what winter sport they want to work on throughout the winter, maybe even have them set goals for specific activity-related accomplishments. Some of the options include but are not limited to: snowboarding, skiing, dog sleds, snow shoeing, ice skating, driving a snow-mobile, ice fishing and sledding! Don’t want to commit to the price of the gear if your kid is only trying the activity for the first time? Check with local sport equipment stores such as Skinny Raven and REI for gear and supply rentals. Additionally, the University of Alaska Anchorage has an outdoor gear rental shop with winter gear and information available to students and faculty. Take advantage of sunny warmer days and get outside with your winter activity of choice. Always pay attention to weather and snow conditions for your destination before going out on a snowy Alaskan adventure. Snow conditions are fickle and can be dangerous even if they do not appear to be, so educate yourselves and your family of current conditions prior to every outing.
  3. Choose a winter challenge: Have you ever wanted to go camping in the winter, hike a snowy peak, or go on a group cross-country ski trip to a remote cabin? Challenge yourself to one of your wish list Alaskan adventure items this year. Get outside as much as you can instead of basically hibernating in front of the TV for the next few months. Find something you want to do but have always been too lazy, afraid or busy to do and make it happen this winter. End the year right by reaching goals you’ve had on your mind for a while. Challenge yourself to that ski trip or that big slope you’ve been eyeing, go for a hike with some snow shoes and enjoy yourself. Alaska can be cold and dreary throughout the winter, or you can go out and embrace its beauty and all that is has to offer all year long.
  4. Attend the winter festivities: Bored of doing the same winter activity every week? Check out the winter festivities going on around Alaska every year such as the annual Fur Rondy Festival and the Slush Cup. Keep up online with all the big events happening in Anchorage, Eagle River and Wasilla.

8 Healthy Meals to Start this Fall Season Right

As the fall season begins and our minds turn to our favorite holiday feasts and our cold weather comfort foods, it is time to rethink our sodium and calorie-dense favorite foods and start looking at healthier options.

  1. Pumpkin Ravioli: The regular meat and cheese ravioli is high in fat and calories; try making your own ravioli with pumpkin instead of cheese. This recipe will keep the creamy texture everyone enjoys with ravioli while making it a healthier option
  2. Pecan Crusted Chicken: Skip the usual fatty breading with your favorite chicken dish and replace it with crushed pecans. Serve with a spinach salad or some whole grain brown rice to make it a complete, healthy meal.
  3. Salmon Cakes: Change things up from the normal crab cake appetizer by using what is probably already in your freezer- salmon! Get creative this fall by trying various salmon recipes, this salmon cake recipe is sure to impress your friends and family at this years holiday parties. There are plenty of fall-themed fish dishes with a lot of variety worth checking out and trying out this season.
  4. Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Brussels sprouts are a delicious healthy side for any meal on their own, but with this recipe your family will be asking to have Brussels sprouts more often.  With the capers and carrots, this healthy side dish is great for a holiday party or for your average family dinner.
  5. Creamy Turnip Potatoes: Change up the normal mashed potatoes and make them a little healthier for everyone with this turnip potatoes recipe. Low in calories and high in vitamin C, turnips are a great addition to potatoes with their peppery flavor.
  6. Broccoli Beef and Potato Hotdish: We all crave warm, filling dinners after a long, cold day in Alaska. Instead of loads of cheese, meat and potatoes, try adding some veggies to make the meal healthier. Check out this recipe as a new casserole option this fall.
  7. Slow Cooker Stew: Save yourself some time all while prepping a hearty, healthy meal for your family this fall. Mix things up and try chicken-based stews, or of course the Alaskan family favorite: moose meat stew. Be sure to add lots of fresh veggies to make it a well-rounded meal.
  8. Roast Chicken and Sweat Potatoes: The sweet potatoes add some variety to your normal meat and potatoes dinner while adding extra nutrition as well. This recipe is quick and healthy, especially when served with a veggie or salad side. You will have a warm happy and full family with this delicious healthy meal.

6 Ways to Prepare for winter in Alaska this Year

We all know that the shorter days and cooler nights means that winter is coming; it is time to prepare yourselves, your family, and your home before the first snowfall surprises us all again.

  1. Make the Most of Daylight Hours: The dark and cold tends to cause Alaskans to withdraw inside for the winter, so be sure to take advantage of the warm days and late sunsets while they’re still here. Hurry up and go on that hike you have been meaning to do all summer, have a couple more family BBQ’s out on the deck, go for sunset walks around your neighborhood while your are still able to make it home before the sun sets.
  2. Winterize the Car: This is a major safety and wellness must for every Alaskan family. Aside from making sure your snow tires are on and good to go before the first snow fall, the family car needs to be checked over for any potential issues that might leave one stranded in the middle of rural Alaska on a cold winter night. A properly prepared car will have items such as heat blankets, flares, flashlights, and food and water rations. September is National Preparedness month; so take this time to make sure a roadside emergency doesn’t turn into a disaster.
  3. Clean up the Garden: If you have an at-home garden, take the next few weeks to prepare your garden for the following spring, as well as bringing in any removable garden items that could potentially be damaged by the snow and cold. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has compiled a checklist specific for Alaska Gardeners to prepare for fall and winter.
  4. Find Indoor Workouts: If you are used to running outdoors and aren’t comfortable doing so in the winter, start looking at how to transition your daily workout from outside to inside. There are plenty of options for quick indoor workouts. Even if your space is small and you don’t want to buy equipment, it is very possible to get a good workout indoors all winter.
  5. Clean out the freezer: Fall in Alaska means the end of fishing season and the start to big game season so it is time to clean out and organize the family’s freezer. Be sure that anything outdated or expired is disposed of. Take this time to do a winter clean out of the whole pantry and refrigerator as well to be sure nobody in the family falls ill from spoiled food.
  6. Plan Winter Activities: Lastly, while making all your home and garden preparations for winter, be sure to take some time to plan activities for the whole family to enjoy. Avoid feeling cooped up; seasonal affective disorder and other winter-related blues can be kept at bay by keeping the family busy. You and your family could plan a mid-winter vacation somewhere warm, or spend a night each month trying out a new healthy restaurant. Get outside; try out skiing or sledding, or see what fall sports your kids or the whole family may get involved in. Staying active throughout the winter is important for physical and mental health.

 

 

 

4 Reasons that Running is Good for Your Health

Running is one of the most readily available options to get in a good workout wherever you are. Whether you prefer going to the gym, an off-road trail, or the treadmill at home; you can run anytime, anywhere. Here are four science-based health benefits from getting in a quick run on a regular basis.

  1. Lose Weight: Running is one of the best and most efficient ways to burn off calories. Skip the gym costs to reach your weight goal by simply enjoying a good trail and some fresh air. If you plan to run outdoors through the fall and winter as daylight hours diminish, be sure to use proper safety precautions to protect yourself and others. Some helpful gear you might want to consider investing in would be a reflector, a small flashlight and a waterproof cellphone case or an arm strap holster.
  2. Increase Bone Strength: Long time runners often suffer from knee, shin or ankle problems, leading many to the conclusion that running is hard on your body. However, more recent studies have shown evidence that running on a regular basis can help improve bone health and build bone mass. Talk to your doctor about the possibility that running can help with your bone strength.
  3. Improve Health: Exercising for at least thirty minutes five times a week will improve anybody’s health. Runners have been shown to have a healthier cholesterol, immune systems and lung function. More recent studies are showing that long time runners can add years to their lives.
  4. Stress Less: Research shows that regular exercise can lift a person’s mood and improve their sleep quality. A good exercise can help a person cope with anxiety and stress as well as aid with depression over time. So if you are feeling down, stressed, or you just can’t sleep, lace up your sneakers, do a few warm-up stretches, and go for a good run around your neighborhood, through your favorite park or around the track at the gym. Just 30 minutes of running at least five times per week can make a big difference.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Improve the Lives of Elders

In addition to simply listening to their stories, needs, and wishes while offering them our endless love and respect, there are some things we can do to make our elders’ lives a little better as the years go on.

  1. Exercise: We all know that exercise can improve the health and wellness of any individual, but it becomes even more vital as life goes on and our bodies aren’t as strong or resilient as they used to be. Even if they are bound to a wheelchair, keeping elders active as much as possible could really improve their physical and mental health. There are many routines for wheelchair and chair based exercises and stretches that can be utilized to help keep the aches and pains away and improve one’s mood.
  2. Music and Art: Individually or combined these two things are not only great hobbies for people to have, but they are extremely therapeutic. Music is a medicine all on its own; it helps improve memory and keeps spirits up. Art can take many shapes, allowing our elders to express themselves in ways they cannot on their own. Providing these things is very easy as there are plenty of programs in communities for the elderly, as well as in the senior care and skilled nursing facilities. If the elder in your life lives in a form of assisted living, speak with their activities director to see what forms of music and art they could potentially benefit from.
  3. Healthy Diet: Maintaining a healthy, well-rounded diet is a hard enough thing to do as a young person in good shape. As the body ages, keeping up with a healthy diet becomes more important than ever. Eating only pop tarts for breakfast each day is not a good idea, as healthy diet has been linked to long-term memory, preventing dementia, and many other health benefits. With strong bones and immune system, an elder is fit to recover from a fall or broken limb.
  4. Senior Socials: Keeping busy is very important post-retirement and throughout the rest of ones life. When someone is bored, they aren’t very happy. Keeping the mind active and stress-free as it ages is a good way to stay sharp and healthy for as long as possible. Good options include senior centers, local senior meet-ups, joining them at bingo night or simply taking them out to dinner to their favorite place. As one ages and things happen to the body and mind, one loses their independence; giving them any resemblance of that self-dependence can be very helpful for their mood and overall mental health.
  5. Keep them Current: Teaching Grandma to use an iPad so she can play her favorite games like solitaire, Sudoku and Crossword puzzles is a great way to keep her busy, entertained and using her brain. Showing an elder how to maneuver Netflix, Email or even texting is beneficial for all involved. Being able to hand my wheelchair bound Grandma and iPad with the Netflix application open and trust that she can find her way to her favorite show is a great way to give her some independence and self made happiness. She gets to browse some of her old favorites or take suggestions from me as to what she might enjoy. Maybe the elder in your life has no interest in those silly gadgets and toys, in which case sitting down with them and reading them the daily paper is something that can be of great value. Explaining current events to them, hearing their opinions on politics and life is not only going to make them feel better and involved, you might learn a thing or two as well.

4 Ways to Combat Snoring

Snoring can make you tired and groggy, even if you think you slept all night. Snoring causes health problems and can be a problem for the rest of the household. Aside from maintaining a healthy weight and having a healthier diet, there are a few things you can do to combat snoring that you may not have known about.

  1. Essential Oils: One option to potentially help your snoring problem is to clear your nasal passageways each night before bed. Try using any of the following essential oils: eucalyptus, mint, marjoram or lavender. There are various ways to use the oils, all of which involve diluting the oils with water or a plain body oil of your choice. Try dabbing the oils with a Q-tip near your nostrils, or rub a diluted mixture onto your chest, shoulders and neck. A diffuser machine might be helpful as well, or a steam sink treatment with your essential oil of choice. There are many options for types of oils and ways to use the oils to benefit your snoring. Ask your local chiropractor if they can recommend essential oils that might benefit you.
  2. New Pillow: Sleeping with a new pillow that supports your neck and shoulders, allowing you to breathe easier, could make all the difference in your snoring problem. Try switching to sleeping on your back or side and ask your chiropractor for pillow recommendations. Supportive Tempur-Pedic or Oxygen pillow options could be the answer to your snoring issues.
  3. Allergies: When is the last time you dusted your shelves and the fan above your bed? How often do you clean or change your bedding and shampoo your carpets? Do your pets sleep in your bed with you or when you’re not home? Does your snoring act up when the seasons change? Your snoring could be purely allergen related so take steps to reduce the allergens in your home, bedroom and life over all to help combat your snoring problem.
  4. Sleep Doctor: If the at-home do-it-yourself remedies don’t help your snoring, it is probably best to visit a sleep therapy doctor to talk about what else could be causing your snoring. You could have sleep apnea or other health issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

8 Items Your Family will Save Money on When Shopping in Bulk

In case you don’t already have one, consider going out to get a membership at Costco or Sam’s Club and save money on many of your household needs!

  1. Milk- If you are a family with kids, a small restaurant owner or just someone who likes milk, buying this in bulk saves not only money but the time it would take you to go grab a gallon of milk in the morning because you realized you were out and your kids are going through a cereal-only phase for breakfast. With many options of brands, types and sizes, everyone who enjoys milk can benefit from this cost savings.
  2. Bread- With almost every option I see in a typical grocery store bread is a great item to buy in bulk. At Costco you can get two giant loaves of your favorite bread for about the price of one normal loaf! Worried you wont eat it fast enough? Put the extra loaf into your freezer until you are ready for it.
  3. Eggs- From organic to 5-dozen at a time, eggs are a must buy at a warehouse store. If you don’t think you’ll eat them all before they go bad, ask your neighbors or family if they want to share the cost of some warehouse items with you and split them up after purchasing. This method comes in handy with roommates or community living situations when space and money may be limited.
  4. Spices- Every chef should know about the great prices on large containers of spices at warehouse stores. For restaurants, events, and avid home cooks, having enough spices on hand is very important. With long shelf lives, it is not a worry to buy a giant container of Taco Seasoning.
  5. Snacks- The snack section at warehouse stores is great for families with kids who need daily lunches for schools and college kids needing quick, cheap on-the-go food. Luckily, the need for adult on-the-go snacks for the working professional has been recognized and hardy protein bars, trail mix packets and other organic snacks can now be found at warehouse stores too.
  6. Toilet Paper- This is one that pretty much everyone should be taking advantage of. Stop paying more than you need to for something you will need every day for the entirety of your life. Bulk toilet paper at warehouse stores is much cheaper than buying it at a regular store. Compare prices for each brand to find the most cost efficient brand that is just right for you.
  7. Paper Towels- Another household essential for most people. Buying these in bulk will save you time and money. This is another great supply for small business owners to purchase locally when in a pinch between supply shipments.
  8. Hygiene Products- While they don’t have every brand every person desires, they do have a lot of things for a discounted prices such a shampoos, soaps, medicines and shaving supplies. Next time you’re in a warehouse store browse through the hygiene/personal care section to see if they carry the brand you love. If they don’t, check back later as I’ve noticed those brands are interchangeable.

 

4 Scientifically Based Benefits of Being in Nature

 

More studies are coming out claiming that being in nature benefits your health; here are some of the benefits you can gain from spending some time in nature.

Vitamin D: Even if it is cloudy, you body is still getting some of the Vitamin D we Alaskans are so often deficient on. Instead of dosing up on a lot of supplements, try getting the thing your body needs naturally by spending more time outside. Even if it is just reading on your deck, getting some sun rays on you is a good way to get some extra Vitamin D and boost your energy.

Improved Sleep: When we get out more and expose our eyes to bright natural light, you might sleep better than if you spend your whole day inside staring at artificial lights and electronic screens. Aside from the benefits on your eyes, getting outside helps your brain and body have an accurate internal clock. Even just 20-30 minutes outside in natural light could result in a more restful night sleep. Whether you are in a nursing home and need more time outside, or an office worker who should spend their breaks outside, getting more exposure to natural light should improve sleep patterns.

Exercise: You can’t go outside without getting some form of exercise. Even just a quick walk, or a long walk along a favorite trail, you are getting some much needed exercise. If you don’t like going to the gym, try doing your own workout routines outdoors in natural light and fresh air. Studies find that outdoor air is cleaner than indoor air, so a workout outside is not only good to be active, but the fresh air should feel good, too. Try going for at least one 30-minute walk outdoors each day, this way you’ll get your natural light exposure, fresh air and a little exercise.  Don’t want to go alone? Bring your dog or a friend to keep your company and motivated.

Psychological Health: It is true; being outside simply makes you a happier person. Feeling down? Go spend some time outside in the quiet and the clean fresh air. Get in touch with nature or spend a bit of time sitting on a rock at the beach or by a creek, relaxing and enjoying the scenery.  According to scientists, being outside boosts your serotonin levels which is responsible for your happiness and good feelings. Additionally, studies are showing that spending time outdoors helps people with depression and enhances their mental wellbeing.

5 Medical Therapies Olympians Use

Many of us are watching as records are being shattered, history is being made and the Gold Medals are stacking up for Team USA at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics right now. The hard work, athleticism and good health of these athletes is something to be noticed and wondered how they do it. Many Olympic Athletes claim that they five types of medical sports therapies help them recover faster and have an edge over their competitors.

  1. Cupping: If you watched the swimming competition at the Olympics recently, you may have seen the dark circular bruises all over Michael Phelps shoulders and back. As the best Olympian of all time, Phelps uses the traditional Chinese Medicine treatment called Cupping to help his fatigued, sore and tight muscles recover quickly. It is thought that this is helping give him an extra edge in the pool, all while taking care of his body. The Cupping treatment uses a certain style of suction cups placed all over the effected area to help loosen the muscles using negative pressure. While the treatment itself isn’t painful, the bruises do last upwards of a week. By stimulating flow and energy along the meridians of the body, muscles are able to recover faster. Although there is no scientific proof that cupping actually works, with it being used by top-notch athletes around the world, it is leaving people to wonder if it will help them. Ask your chiropractor or acupuncturist about cupping if you have hard to treat aches and pains in your body.
  1. Massage: Sports Therapy Massage is a common use of treatment by many elite athletes around the globe. Aside from the aiding in tired, tight and sore muscle recovery a good massage could be just what an athlete needs to relax and get in the zone for the next big competition. It has been said that Michael Phelps gets two massages a day to help his body recover from his intense 6 hours 6 days a week workout routine. If you are a weekend warrior or avidly exercise, you might benefit from some regular massage therapy.
  1. Acupuncture: While this form of treatment isn’t as commonly used among athletes, throughout the years many Olympians have talked about the benefits they receive from acupuncture.  Instead of being a quick in between events fix like a massage or cupping might be acupuncture is used to help treat injuries and help athletes take care of their body, preventing injuries.  Since the substances that athletes can take are severely regulated, they will often turn to drug-free forms of therapies for pain and injuries such as acupuncture to treat pain, anxiety and other symptoms.
  1. Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care is a standard part of Team USA’s sports medicine practices. With Chiropractors on hand for Team USA at the games, it is clear that they are very valued among the coaches and athletes alike. Keeping the body aligned properly and making sure the muscles and tendons are where they are supposed to be before putting a lot of strain on them is very important. While the average person probably may not have a lot of aches and pains, any athlete, weekend warrior, or ex athlete understands that sports take a toll on your body over time, and identifying the pains you feel before continuing to workout is very important. From runners, to swimmers chiropractors are very valuable to the athletes.
  1. Kinesiology Tape: As seen on athletes such as Keri Walsh Jennings as well as many others, Kinesiology tape is said to be an aid to athletes in stability, muscle recovery and endurance. As a strong long lasting sports tape, Kinesiology tapes popularity is spreading. While there is no scientific proof that the tape actually aids athletes the way that they think, with so many of the best athletes in the world using it, it might just help you with your weekend hikes, or sciatic nerve pain. Ask your chiropractor about Kinesiology tape if you have muscle problems that could use some extra support.

6 DIY Tricks to Deter Wasps

 

Aside from keeping your food inside, sealing up your house and trashcans, avoiding sweet smells and bright colors, you should try these six tricks to deter the pesky and sometimes aggressive wasps around you and your house.

  1. Water and Pennies: Many agree, while they don’t know why, that putting water and some pennies in a clear Ziploc bag and hanging it over your door frame flies, wasps and other flying insects will stay away. Although if, how well, and why it works is still in question, it seems to be doing the trick for many people with severe flying insect problems.
  2. Peppermint Oil: Bugs are not a fan of peppermint oil, especially spiders and wasps. Put some oil and dilute it with water into a spray bottle to spray on yourself and around your house to help deter unwanted bugs.
  3. Hang a Fake Nest: While you can buy a fake wasp nest in the store, it is much easier and cheaper to make one at home out of a brown paper bag. Hang the bag slightly wrinkled and crumpled upside down outside in a tree or near your home where a wasp nest might normally be. The fake nest is said to deter wasps from either building their own nest, or encourage an already established nest to move somewhere else avoiding conflict. This would be a great trick to do early in the season next spring to help combat the wasp problem before it really gets started.
  4. Make a Trap: There are many types of aesthetically pleasing or guaranteed to work wasp traps you can buy in the store, but again there is a version that can be made at home using common household supplies. Use a large empty soda or water bottle. Cut off the top section, turning it upside down to rest with the mouthpiece inside of the bottle. Tape the two pieces together. Next, cover the mouthpiece in jam and fill the bottom of the water bottle with soapy water. This trap will draw the wasps into the narrow hole with the sweet jam. Once inside, the wasps will have trouble getting out. After some time, they will fall into the water and drown. These traps are small and easy to make so they can be placed all over the outside of your home and yard.
  5. Spray them away: Instead of dousing one self in bug repellent everyday, try dousing the bugs themselves! Using common household goods like dish soapy water, hairspray and cooking oil you can spray the wasp until it is dead or slowed down enough to squash it. Spraying a wasp with just water will only aggravate it so avoid that method.
  6. Destroy Nests Carefully: If dealing with a live wasp nest just isn’t your idea of a good time, wait until the first freeze of the winter when the temperatures kill off the wasps and their nests become easy to remove and destroy. If you must deal with your wasp nest right now, check out this article: Natural Wasp Control for some nest removal tips.