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Into the Mist with Audiobooks: Running With Audible

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It is a misty morning here in Alaska as I run through the streets and trails, and so far there has been a murder of a young school girl, and I’ve been getting to know Magnus fairly well, in fact, I would say we are becoming friends. Magnus is a man of mystery to most people, partly because he is a hermit and not many people want to get to know him, and partly because they care more about town gossip and make up false stories about him.

Although I am in Alaska, where it rains more than most places in the country, the man, and the murder mystery is happening in my head, actually to be more accurate in my headphones. As I continue to run the novel “Raven Black” by Ann Cleeves keeps my adrenaline thumping, making me more excited as I continue going about my path. The thriller novel set in the Shetland Islands in Scotland makes me wish I was solving each case with Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, chatting with Magnus about ravens, and roaming around Scotland taking in all of the sites. The thought of solving a mystery half way across the world through an audiobook delights me, and even as I run I feel as though I am part of it.

Listening to audiobooks while running isn’t quite new, in fact, loads of people have been listening to audiobooks while they were running, lifting weights, or hiking; just to name a few. For me, when I am running I have found out that I cannot listen to music while I run because the music is more of a distraction than a helpful tool, whereas the audiobooks are more of a helpful tool for me. I can concentrate on the narrator, imagine the scenes playing out before me, and can even concentrate on my pace. While I am concentrating on all of that, I have completely forgotten how many miles I have logged.
The best thing about the audiobooks that I pick I can easily access them on my mobile, having already downloaded the app, making it easier to access them before I suit up for my morning jog. Not only that, I don’t have to listen to the same old boring music that seems to haunt the radio stations over and over again. I can listen to a novel for a couple of weeks in a row (if it is a lengthy one) and will never get bored, because the story is captivating, and keeps me up in the morning as I lace up my running shoes.

Many of you already follow my book club, which I am extremely thankful that you have joined, and so it is with great pleasure to let you all know that I will be hosting an audiobook book club for those who are runners, hikers, weight lifters, or any of the like. I think it will be fun to get people into listening to more audiobooks while they are engaging in activity, to make it more fun.

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Healing From the Core: Lower Back Pain

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Everyone deals with lower back pain from those who participate in exercising to those who sit in the most uncomfortable chairs at work. This lower back pain is brought on by the stress that is put on it from what you were previously doing, i.e. running, weightlifting, or just sitting in a desk chair. When lower back pain happens, all of the muscles and the spine tense up and create a knot-like feeling, while having the pressure sensation of something heavy on your lower back. Thankfully there are ways to help get rid of this lower back pain, these are in no particular order.

Yoga – Yoga is one of the most amazing forms of therapy a person can use to help heal their body. The numerous amounts of poses helps a person work all angles of the lower back. The child’s pose and The Lord of the Half Fishes are the number one poses to use to help heal your lower back effectively and without enduring any pain.

Legs up the wall – Although it can be used as a cool down for yoga, putting your legs straight up the wall with a mat underneath your lower back as you lie on the floor is highly beneficial. Relieving the stress for your lower back, your entire body will feel better by the time you have risen up. Do this for roughly three to five minutes.

Chiropractor –  For this please see a professional and check their credentials. Seeing a chiropractor is what you might need, they can help align your spine and check to see what else could be going on.

Deep tissue – A deep tissue massage works wonders and getting one at least twice a month will help your lower back. Please see a professional when it comes to massage therapy, your friend might be a great amateur masseuse, but they could ultimately hurt you without realizing it.

Pilates – As a certified Pilates Instructor, I recommend this just as I recommend the others. Pilates is a great form of exercise for the body, and it is a great way for you to heal your body all over. There are several exercises that help strengthen your back and relieve the stress away from your body, attending some classes in a group setting or even private setting will help you ultimately get rid of the lower back pain, all the while strengthening your back.

There are many different ways out there to help heal your lower back pain, and that is the ultimate goal really, to heal your back and get rid of the unwanted stress and pain that is causing you aches and grief’s. Talk to your primary physician about what you can handle when it comes to exercising and stretching, that way they can also help you make the ultimate decision and also determine how bad it may be.

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Healing From the Core: Working out for the Bookworm

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As a bookworm (I refer to myself as a book dragon, but I digress), and a fitness enthusiast and coach, I try to make my workouts a lot of fun because I don’t want to make working out feel like a chore. And if it were a chore, I wouldn’t want to do it at all. That being said, I know a lot of bookworms out there who want to workout but don’t know how to go about it, because they are constantly wanting to read a book instead of working out (I used to be like this). After giving it some thought, I realized how to help other bookworms on how to incorporate books while working out and making it fun.

Running – While you are either running outdoors or indoors on a treadmill, grab your iPod, Mp3, or cell phone and download audible. Audible is a great sight for where you can get some amazing books as audio, you can listen to them while you run and still get into the story. Whenever I am running and don’t want to listen to music, I turn on my audible app and go to town with the running. I try to make it through at least five chapters of the story while I am running.

Wall sits- The exercise where you are pressing your back up against the wall with your legs bent and parallel with the floor is a great exercise as it is. Now grab your favorite book or any book in general, and begin the exercise. With the average novel, read at least two chapters and you will be done after that with that exercise.

Planks – When it comes to planking, you can go two different ways with this, you can either listen to an audio book or you can just read a normal hardback book. If you are going to use a hardback book, use a weight of some sort so when you are at a spot in the book where you need to keep the page kept down, it won’t keep flying up and making you lose your spot.

Bicep curls – Pictured above is a girl with her dumbbell and a book, which quite honestly is one of the coolest pictures I have yet to find. Holding the book in one hand and reading, while you do the curls with your other hand is easy yet hard at the same time. It is all about balance. Trying to steady the dumbbell with one hand, while you are trying to steady a large book takes a lot of balance, so keep that in mind when you are preparing yourself for this exercise.

There is a site roaming around on Google about workouts for bookworms according to their genre preference, and after looking at it and chuckling a little bit, I could definitely see that those specific workouts would be perfect for anyone who is into certain genres of the literary world. I will post the link down below to that site. Engaging a bookworm into exercise is a tricky thing, do to the fact that they already have amazing arms from carrying all those heavy books that they find at the bookstores (you should see how many books I will come home with at the end of the month when I go shopping for new books to read), however it will help them have a healthier body by engaging not only their mind, but the entire body as well. What will be pretty amazing is that when the bookworm is in their 80’s, reading a classic novel, and being able to knock out someone for trying to take their book (I do not condone violence, I just think that it would be funny).

Follow this link for exercises and bookworms: http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/2015/08/18/gym-rats-bookworms/

 

 

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Healing From the Core – Weight loss

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Scales, they are the epitome of evil; they can make grown women and men cry just by the number that is on the scale. And pretty much all of you know that I haven’t really stepped on a scale in quite some time, in fact, I threw out my scale way back in the beginning of the year. And here we are, just a couple of weeks away from it being 2017 all over the world. And you know what that means, resolutions. Every single person on this year is going to make a resolution of some sort, for some it might be to move to another place, for others it is to finally settle down, and for some it is to lose weight.

Now here is the problem that I have with people trying to lose weight, everyone seems to think that once they lose that 10,15, 25 pounds that they will have a healthier relationship with their body; not only that, they seem to think that the number on the scale is what matters the most, which to me is utterly horrifying. First off, before you start losing the weight, you need to establish a healthy relationship with your body now. Not after you lose the weight. If you establish a healthy loving relationship with your body then you will still love it after you lost the weight. You shouldn’t be at war with your body, that is the media and society telling you that. You don’t need to be downing every diet pill that is out there just to lose a little bit of weight just because others are telling you to lose the weight. And you certainly do not need to lose the weight just to please others (however, I would like to interject here, if you are clinically obese and are on the verge of Type II Diabetes, then you need to speak with your physician).  Secondly, that scale that you have stored in your bathroom next to the shower or toilet, you need to toss that thing out the window and straight into the dumpster. Why? Because scales are completely inaccurate on many different things. For example, it does not take into consideration the organs, bone density, the meal you just ate, breasts (ladies your breasts weigh anywhere from 1 pound to 23 pounds, depending on size); those are just a couple of ways the scale is inaccurate.

If you want to lose weight than please do it the healthiest way possible, it isn’t that hard.

Love yourself – Yes, it sounds like being selfish. And in a way it is, the reason why you need to love yourself and accept yourself is due to the fact that you have been brainwashed by society and by the media since your birth to hate yourself for not looking like one of the many photoshopped models that you see on the runway. Instead of believing in our society and believing in the media, start believing in yourself; as cliché as it sounds, you know I am right on this. Every morning or evening, after you have taken a shower, stand in front of your mirror and look at your body. Name three to five things that you love about yourself, they can be about your personality, character, body, anything. By the end of the year, your relationship with your body will be healthier and more loving. **Everyone has flaws, it is just how we are all made, and it is great to embrace them.

Nourish yourself – Food is meant to nourish us and give us the energy to carry us throughout the day. It is not something that we need to torture ourselves with. And it is certainly not what we should be harming our bodies with. Eating the nutritious foods that are available in your stores and local farmer’s markets will help your body get the nutrients it needs, all the while you are enjoying the food. Eat whole, clean, simple foods. Basically, anything without a label is going to be great for you. On this note I would like to say that when you cook and bake for yourself, you are able to see what ingredients are going into the product itself. Unlike what you find in packaged processed foods and fast foods, where you clearly have no idea where that meat or other product comes from.

Exercise – It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you move around. Dance, swim, ski, snowboard, running, hiking; anything that gets you moving. Exercising at least four to five days a week for at least thirty minutes will keep your body healthy. Don’t make exercising feel like a chore, make it fun. Do something that you love to do and just do that for thirty minutes or so to get you moving. For myself, I am a Pilates Instructor and Muay Thai Instructor who loves to swim, jog, hike; play volleyball, tennis, and practice what I teach. You know what makes it even better, is when you have a partner with you; it can either be a friend or it can be your pet. Exercise for both you and your pet does wonders.

Catch those zzz’s –Sleep is a big thing, and trust me when I say this, for those who don’t get the number of hours recommended (8to 9 hours), they end up gaining weight. During the night (or day for some of you who work night shifts), your body is trying to run through the entire day and trying to loosen up your muscles, help in aiding digestion from the meals you had throughout the day, and letting loose of all of the stress that lingers in your body. Sleep is such a beautiful thing, and I think everyone on this planet agrees.

Release the stress – Stress is a big factor when it comes to weight loss, when you have a lot of stress reigning in your body, your body will try to fight back but to no avail. Instead you will have gained stress weight and then you will become more stressed, making yourself even more agitated. Yoga, meditation, retreats, camping, anything that will reduce the stress and help you relax will relieve that stress weight.

Toss the scale – Like I said before, the scale is inaccurate and therefor should not be in our lives. It does nothing but causes grief and hatred towards ourselves. There are many other ways to see your progress to a healthier you, and one of those ways is to look at the fit of your clothing is one way, for when they get looser and start to fall off that is a key sign that you have lost the weight.

Don’t listen to the media/society – Let’s be honest here, the media and society doesn’t know their head from a hole in the ground, in fact that they seem to think that you need to look a certain way to “fit in” or to be considered beautiful. But we both know that everyone is beautiful in their own way and their is no such thing as a “one-type”.  If everyone looked alike then it would be very boring.

Don’t fall into the fad diets and pills that these companies are pushing on you, because they are going to be more deadly than helpful; learn to love yourself, nourish your body, exercise, and live a life that is less stressful and more relaxing, and you will become a healthier you.

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Managing Your Stress

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Stress is one of the inevitable things in life in the 21st century, due to the fact that we are constantly on the go, having to be at work by a specific time, never having a enough hours in the day to get everything done, and our lives are more controlled by electronics and social media than anything else. So, it is nice to take a breather, to step back and reduce the stress that has begun to consume you. Thankfully, there are many different types of activities that you can do to help reduce stress, now keep in mind, these are in no particular order.

Read a good book – Who doesn’t love a good book? I certainly enjoy reading a book when my stress levels are high. When you grab a book, the stress that has accumulated throughout your body and mind have started to subside. Your imagination is able to run rampant and while that happens, the stress melts away.

Watch your favorite movie – You know that favorite movie that you love so much? Grab it and put it into your DVD player, sink into your couch or bed, and just relax. When you watch something that you thoroughly enjoy, your body relaxes, your mind starts to soothe itself, and the stress has faded away because you have been enjoying yourself and the movie.

Aromatherapy – Burning incense or candles are always one of the best things to do. The smell from the object releases a trigger that calms down your entire system and helps reduce the stress. Choose your favorite scents, do you enjoy a light lavender or do you enjoy an earthy Frankincense? Whatever you enjoy, use that and let it help relieve you from your worries.

Tea or Coffee – Pretty much everyone on this planet enjoys either a nice hot mug of tea or coffee. I prefer tea, and drink it every other day with breakfast before I start my day. Enjoying a mug of hot tea or coffee relaxes every inch of your body from the inside to the outside. So while you sit down, just enjoy a nice hot mug of your favorite tea or coffee flavor, there many to choose from.

Exercise – Any form of exercise helps reduce the stress, due to the fact that your mind is trying to focus on the exercise that you are doing, and also because exercise reduces the hormones that your body is excreting. These hormones are cortisol and adrenaline, when the body is high on these two, it makes the mind and body hard to relax. So when you do any form of exercise, those levels are lowered and you are able to relax.

Spend time with an animal – For the most part, almost all households have a little four legged child running around. When you spend time with your four legged child (dogs, cats, rabbits, etc. ) your stress levels are reduce almost immediately, this is due to the fact that animals are gifted with a sensation of knowing when something is wrong and they will do anything and everything to make you feel better. For an example, when you are stressed out to the max or sick, your dog is going to come over to you and curl up next to you (if your dog thinks they can sit on you, they will curl up on your lap or just lay all over you in general). Animals are absolutely, without a doubt, the best stress relievers out there on this planet. Cuddle with your animals, pet them, just spend time with them; they will reduce your stress levels quickly.

Yoga or Pilates – Although this does fall under the category of exercise, doing either yoga or Pilates is highly beneficial to you and your overall health. For example, stretching and focusing on the poses, all the while listening to some soothe melodies will relieve the stress from your body and you will have energy for the day. As a certified Pilates instructor I highly recommend either one of them, because they help you in every aspect from mentally to physically to emotionally.

Eat dark chocolate – Who doesn’t love chocolate, especially dark chocolate? Personally, I already love dark chocolate and thoroughly enjoy it a couple times a week. Dark chocolate is actually a lot healthier than milk chocolate and white chocolate, due to the fact that it has more of its natural essentials that you need and still has more of the required vitamins that you need in your system. Dark chocolate is also a great piece of food that helps reduce stress and both adrenaline and cortisol levels.

Surround yourself with nature sounds – You can either go outside and sit by the pond at the park while listening to the birds flutter about, or you can sit or lay down on the couch while listening to a CD of nature melodies. The sounds from nature have always had a calming effect on everyone, and they immediately destroy the stress and bring a serene feeling to you not only on the inside of your mind, body, and soul; but also to your physical appearance as well.

Chat with a friend who listens – Sometimes the best way to relieve the stress is to vent and to seek advice at the same time. Choosing a friend who is really good at listening and giving advice is one of the best things in the world, because they will be able to help you sort out problems you may encountering and give you the advice that you need.

 

These are just a few ways to manage your stress, help keep you from going insane, and having a meltdown. It truly is inevitable, life can be quite stressful sometimes; thankfully there are some great ways to reduce the stress and to create a healthier environment for ourselves and for those around us in the process.

 

 

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Sweat a Little Bit (Workout Playlist)

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It is time to put on our gym clothes and go for our workouts and pump some iron or do some cardio. Before we can do that, we normally scroll through Youtube to find the videos to listen to while working out to get us pumped up and keep us that way during the entire duration. Some people don’t know what kind of music to play and just wing it with whatever they come across, which is perfectly fine. You don’t need some magic playlist that was created by another person. This playlist should reflect your taste in music and also the type of workout you are doing. Just for fun I’ve created a workout playlist for anyone who wishes to add these songs and just have fun while working out. ** Remember, don’t make working out feel like it is a chore, make it feel like you are about to have a ton of fun (you are). I have fun when I lift weights, do squats, run, etc.

  1. Can’t Sleep Love – Pentatonix
  2. Dangerous Woman- Ariana Grande
  3. Killer – Baby K featuring Tiziano Ferro
  4. Fix- Chris Lane
  5. Chica Bomb- Dan Balan
  6. Cake by the Ocean – DNCE
  7. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
  8. Hands to Myself – Selena Gomez
  9. We Will Rock You – Queen
  10. Sparks – Hilary Duff
  11. Papi – Jennifer Lopez
  12. Sexy back – Justin Timberlake
  13. Dark Horse – Katy Perry
  14. Come With Me Now – KONGOS
  15. Take A Chance On Me – ABBA
  16. Sex and Candy – Marcy Playground
  17. Me Too – Megan Trainor
  18. Disintegration – Monarchy
  19. Sway – Rosemary Clooney
  20. Switch – Will Smith

 

Yes, some of these songs are classics and some of these songs are more modern and from different genres. That’s the whole point of this playlist. You don’t have to use this one per se, however they are fun to workout to and just sweat off the toxins and the bad day that you probably had.

Put in your headphones and get to your workout and have fun.