Sabotaging Recovery

Wearing a fitness watch is a regular habit so I can track my exercise efforts and caloric intake. Since I have Been in the fitness industry for 30+ years I have always had good water drinking habits. Whenever I would have a body composition test performed, my hydration levels would show in need of improvement. Since all I drink is water, it was hard for me to understand why my hydration was lower than what it should be.

Whoop

A friend of mine introduced me to a recovery tracker called Whoop. What makes this tracker different? The technology tracks your sleep habits and rates your body’s recovery process. Other trackers only measure your sleep quality and duration. Whoop tells me the percentage of the recovery along with personalized performance insights.

Recovery

Recovery reflects how well the body is prepared to take on the strain. The measurement of your body’s rate of return to baseline after a stressor. Recovery is affected by:

  1. Exercise
  2. Illness
  3. Psychological stress
  4. Sleep deprivation
  5. Diet
  6. Hydration

Recovery is rated from a 0-100% scale with the Whoop device.

  1. Run Down (red)
  2. Okay to operate (yellow)
  3. Peaking Physically (green)

When your recovery is high your body is ready to take on Strain. When it’s low, you may be at greater risk of overtraining and/or injury. (click here for resource.)

My Recovery

I was shocked when my recovery percentages came in around the 30 & 40 percentile. No matter what I did my recovery rate was terrible. I would become frustrated and stop wearing it for a while and then start back up. All the while, irregular recovery rates were the result, sometimes in the single-digit percentile.

Surprisingly, one day, I woke up and checked my analytics to find my recovery in the 60 percentile. Wow, I was excited. The next day I was in the high 60 percentile. Each day it climbed more. Until one day I woke up with a 98% recovery. I was excited and started running through my routine to see if I could figure out what changes I made to my daily routine.

Then it hit me what it was. I stopped taking allergy medicine before bedtime. Could that be what was causing my poor recovery and if so, why?

Hydration

One day, I received an email from Whoop that contained an article about the importance of hydration related to recovery. It all started to fall into place in my mind. Now granted, I don’t have any official studies proving my hypothesis. I can only share the changes that I made during that time compared to what I felt directly affected my recovery. So, I started researching allergy medicines to decipher which ones would reduce the effect on my hydration levels. Once I figured that out, I changed brands and started taking it the mornings on days I felt I needed it. My recovery leveled out and became more consistent.

Check out a previous blog that I worked on for other reasons “Why drinking water is important”

BOSU Power Systems

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Some Good News by John Krasinski

Episode 3-Baseball, Healthcare workers, AT&T

If you haven’t watched SGN by John Krasinski, you are missing out. To see Episode 3, click here.

Episode 2: Hamilton

Elizabeth Gracen at FlapperPress shared this link to SGN by John Krasinski. This is a must-watch if you like humor and good news. Watch the complete video to witness an amazing, Virtual Performance by the Hamilton Cast. it gave me the chills.

I will be tuning in to John’s YouTube channel for future SGN broadcasts. Click here to watch the video.

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Escape Room Adventure

Company team building event

I received word that we were going out on Thursday night after our company meetings. No one knew where we were going which resulted in many conversations with growing anticipation. Since there was a high level of secrecy, I knew it was going to be good. Turns out, Seattle Escape Games was our destination and most of us were excited.

Let the games begin

After we arrived and signed in, we waited in a lounge area for the 1st round of teams to enter their Escape Rooms. Along with the event, our company provided catering. With 4 escape rooms and 7 teams, each round had time to kill.

I watched with anticipation as the 1st round of groups went to the escape rooms. I was in the 2nd round which gave me time to play a couple of games of Corn Hole. Along with this, I had the pleasure of watching 2 team members play a mean game of Jenga. They were amazing at it.

As we were relaxing in the lounge area, we could hear teams celebrating their accomplishments which added to our excitement. Each team has 60 minutes to figure out all the clues and escape the room. Each room has a watcher guiding us through the do’s and don’ts of the game. We were allowed to ask for help solving a clue, the 1st one was free. Each clue we asked for after the freebie, cost us a minute of our allotted time.

Turns out there was a low success rate with the 1st round, only one team made it out. Wow, this was going to be hard.

The Bank Job

We got the call to proceed to our Escape Room, which we chose The Bank Job. We were robbing a rival Mob Boss with an inside man that was supposed to be helping us. First, it was a poor choice to trust a Con Man, second, what am I doing locking myself in a room with 3 other people looking for an escape? Our company is full of smart, High D type of personalities, which can cause conflict if we don’t work together. I decided as a team member to let my other team members work their strengths and I would work mine. Needless to say, I was grateful we had a couple of “numbers” people on our team. I knew that would be important.

Finding the 1st clue

It was absolutely exciting to find that 1st clue. We went to work fast looking for that 1st clue which resulted in a quick find. The clue we found was easy. The problem was we were clearly overthinking the solution which slowed us down. With each clue, came new problems to overcome. Figuring out the clues resulted in an extremely rewarding feeling of accomplishment. We opened False doors, and crawl spaces. Sometimes, a new clue would send us running back to the starting point to retrieve corresponding clues. I remember bursting through a crawl space on my way back to the team with an answer, took the turn too quickly, and rammed my arm into a door jam. Yep, that was going to leave a mark.

Does it ever end

Every time we thought this clue would lead to our escape, we were wrong; the clues kept coming. We pulled together as a team and ended up getting out of volt in the end. When the volt door opened, we started yelling, throwing high fives, congratulating ourselves and enjoying the celebration. Our watcher comes down and congratulates us for getting out. Something told me that he was delivering bad news. We ended up asking for help 3 times which used up 2 minutes of our time which left us with only 45 seconds left on the clock. Darn! We were 1 minute 15 seconds over our time and considered “Captured”

Lessons learned

  • We are only as strong as our other team members. We couldn’t have done it without each other
  • Observation is key
  • Don’t dismiss something you see or hear
  • Don’t over think situations
  • Slow down; I still have a bit of a bruise on my arm. :=)

Is it for you?

I had a blast! If you are not afraid of small spaces and being locked in a room for an hour, I highly recommend you find an Escape Room and give it a try. If you like challenges, this is for you. Can you work with other team members and utilize each other’s strengths? If you can, this is for you.

Add another to my list

I wanted to try an escape room adventure. I can gladly say that I did. My next escape room adventure is on my horizon; maybe next time I am in Seattle or I understand we have one that has opened near my home. My list of Been There Done That adventures is growing.

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The Sword Experience

The Sword Experience

My latest adventure

In January, I wrote down my top goals for 2019. Attending The Sword Experience was on that list and I can now check it off as complete. Watching the tour dates, I saw they booked a Texas event at the Austin Comic Con 2019. It was the perfect weekend getaway I had been looking for. I bought a Comic Con ticket and booked the event.

Picking up a sword was new to me. I am always looking for ways to enhance my fitness journey and I wanted to try it. I’m glad that I did. The experience made me recognize some areas in my life that I have been struggling with for 6 years now.

Check-in

I checked-in at Adrian’s booth at the Comic Con as instructed. The team delivered all of the promised benefits for the Gold level of The Sword Experience. (Autographed picture of Adrian Paul, armband for the event, a picture with Adrian Paul, and my bokken autographed the 2nd day.) I had the pleasure of meeting Anise and Beverly, as they revealed that they are amazing and bring a high level of customer care to the table. It is evident they take pride in Adrian and his work.

What is The Sword Experience?

Adrian founded The Sword Experience, as a way to pass on some of the knowledge he learned while working with world renowned action stars, stunt choreographers, and sword masters. To date, the testimonials speak for themselves. Not only has it given people a chance to receive the best sword fighting tips and techniques, training with some of the best sword experts around, but it has also given people a chance to do something different, to improve their fitness, their communication skills, their abilities, along with the chance to do something they may have only dreamed about.

The Sword Experience website-click to read entire about us page

The Event

It was exciting and nerve-racking to be in a room full of people swinging bokkens (practice swords). I was feeling a sense of empowerment as we practiced the Attack Numbering system and the Defense Numbering system. Adrian Paul (the founder of The Sword Experience and The Peace Fund, Actor, Director, Martial Arts Expert) and Anthony Buonomo (Teacher from Austin Historical Weapons Guild) were guiding us on our form and footwork.

There were many age groups and many different personalities in the room. The large diversity of the attendees and spectators was surprising. Each one of us had personal reasons for being there. Mine was to step out of my comfort zone and investigate the adventurous side of myself that I have tucked away.

Practice

We learned choreographed moves that were based on a scene out of Batman Returns. There were different moves in each of the 4 groups. We split up into practice groups and practiced our moves with an attacker coming at us. The feeling of Empowerment shifted to fear. It was a totally different experience with someone coming at you, which changed my frame of mind completely. I now feel exposed and uncomfortable.

The attackers learned the choreography for all 4 groups. They would alternate between attacking a person in each of the groups.

I continued to practice my moves off to the side as they shuffled practice groups in and out. I kept walking through the routine knowing how challenging it was to face off with someone. Anthony was a big help and guided me through my struggles with form and footwork.

Filming

After learning and practicing for 2 1/2 hours, it was time to film the scene. I am looking forward to seeing the results of the footage. We all lined up in 3 rows, down on 1 knee. We followed the command to stand, step out and present our bokkens. That was cool to see a group of people work together as a team and perform those moves as a group. Keep in mind we had 2 1/2 hours to learn it and practice it.

Oh, by the way, we were all dressed as Ninjas, except for the attackers. After shooting the opening entrance and the presentation, the attacks began. I had a great time and watching the filming process was actually like working on a movie set.

What I learned about myself

I have been trying to rediscover myself again for some time now. After the event, I did some soul searching and dug into some things that Adrian pointed out to me. He mentioned that I am holding onto stress and tension and instructed me to loosen my grip to let the bokken move with the hits. That stress and tension were holding me back. I wanted to know how and why I went from being confident, and outgoing to becoming a weekend recluse and homebody.

I can trace it back to 2 life-changing events. The accident I suffered 6 years ago affected my outlook and personality in many ways. I no longer trust myself or my decisions, I let fear hold me back which restrains my inner self (click to read about my accident). I have a friend and mentor that reminds me to let my inner Catherine out. Recognizing why I am holding back has been a struggle for me. This experience has helped me piece together the why’s which should help me overcome it.

Thank you

The event ran late and The Sword Experience team asked the Gold Experience attendees to come back to the booth at the Comic Con the next day to have our bokken autographed as promised. This would give me the opportunity to thank Adrian, Beverly, and Anise.

I arrive at the booth with bokken in hand and thanked Anise. She handed me a certificate that stated that I had crossed swords with Adrian Paul and survived. That was a cool certificate. I approached Adrian and handed him my bokken. He asked me if I enjoyed the event and I expressed that I was disappointed in my performance. He seemed confused and asked, why? I started talking and tears started pouring out of my eyes.

Remember, I have been holding back for a long time. Crying is one of those things I hold back on. I try to control my emotions and not let my emotions control me. I felt absolutely mortified by my actions. Adrian was gracious and understanding. As he reassured me, I regained my composure and thanked him and Beverly.

From a fitness standpoint

I have been teaching fitness classes for over 30 years. It was my 1st career and is now my “hobby” career. Before my accident, I taught a kickboxing class 2 to 3 times per week. The bag was a great place to let out the tension from my daily, high-stress job that I held at the time. After my accident, returning to kickboxing was difficult and I eventually gave it up. I currently teach PiYo and Turbo Kick. Both are great workouts but I enjoy trying new things to kick it up a notch.

When Adrian pointed out that I was holding on to tension, it brought me back to my kickboxing days. Punching and kicking that bag resulted in letting all that tension out. Adrian grabbed the bokken, started moving it and instructed me to let it move with the hit to let the tension out. He later told me, during my emotional moment, still embarrassed about that, to use the bokken as a tool to release the tension. In my mind, I went back to the boxing bag and how I used that as a tool for stress relief. Each piece of the puzzle is helping me understand myself better.

By the way, that was an amazing workout! The warm-up started with holding a squat for a minute. Everyone was like, yeah, I can do that. Adrian chuckled and said, “you say that now”. Within 30 seconds the room started erupting with loud breath releases and groaning. It was awesome! By the time we were done with the learning and practice sessions, everyone was sweating, red-faced and in disbelief of how challenging and invigorating it was.

Will I do it again?

Yes, I want to participate in this event again. I am going to continue to practice the attack and defense numbering system and maybe find a local teacher that can help instruct me. Now I know what to expect and it won’t be the first time having a bokken swung at me. That should boost my confidence.

One more thing added to my “Been There Done That” list. Whoop Whoop!

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Striving for Self-Improvement

I like to start off my week with a quote and a motivational “to-do list”. When I start with mindful preparation, it guides me through a fulfilling, productive week. My goal is to perform acts of kindness and to partake in motivational, self-improvement exercises.

You Cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is delicate

I recently caught a cold which was more inconvenient than anything. Being sick made me realize how a simple illness can slow me down and derail my success on many levels. I hate it when I get sick. I feel like I am wasting precious time trying to recover. Yes, my body needs the rest to overcome the disgusting bug in my body, but I am a doer and feel totally worthless when I cannot accomplish something.

About the same time that I was sick, one of my grandsons came down with a virus that was pretty scary. He ran a fever, broke out in a rash when the fever spiked, and he complained of his legs hurting. The pain in his legs worsened and he stopped walking, for 4-full days. On the 5th day, I told his mom and dad that they must be freaking out inside. The doctors were telling them to let it run its course. After 5-days of not walking, I realized again, how delicate life is. One day, this 3 1/2-year-old is walking, running, and doing normal things that a young child does, and was unable to them the next day. The virus did run its course and he finally started walking little by little on the 5th day.

After reading that story, I encourage you to go back to the kindness quote at the top of the page and look for opportunities to be kind to your family, friends, and total strangers.

Self Improvement Exercise

This week’s exercise was to create a list of things that motivate me. Once I come up with that list, I practice putting it into action. I take one item and implement it every day for that week. Once I make that push to implement I start to see my accomplishments build up right in front of me.

In the 1st week of January, I sat down and developed my list of goals and dreams for 2019. After I accomplished that, I wrote down a list of things that would have to happen to turn each goal into a reality. At week 19, I revisited that list to see how much I have accomplished. I am pleased to say that 29% of those goals have become a reality as a result, and I have many things in play to see more of those goals through. One of my biggest, career goals, will come to fruition by September! I have completed the steps to acquire 62% of that goal. Because I am taking this mindful approach, all of the goals I set for 2019 will become reality.

The “to-do” lists weekly help me revisit the long term goals, and push me towards completing the short term goals that are in play to accomplish them. If I wander away from this daily project and take my eyes off my long term goals, the progress slows down as a result. It has been at least a month since I last visited my goals and weekly self-improvement exercise. As I reviewed completions, it motivated me to pick up where I left off.

Make your 2019, goals and dreams list today

Don’t wait for the new year to arrive before you make a commitment to work towards your goals and dreams. Get a journal out, ask yourself what do I want to accomplish before the end of the year, and write it down. The next step is to pick one of those goals and write an action plan on steps that need to happen to make that goal a reality. I recommend working through each goal the same way.

There are many online tools to help you develop a goal system. I prefer good, old fashioned, books and notebooks. I get my daily kindness quotes from “everyday kindness-365 ways to a peaceful life”. It was a gift that brings me joy daily.

Learn how to stop and smell the roses. Don’t get me wrong, I sink into dark moods as a result of life sometimes. But, I have learned to Take time for myself. Self-healing comes in many different forms. Find yours and implement it. If something doesn’t work, find another, healthy avenue.

Want help on Self Improvement Exercise ideas? Click here to read an article on 12 self-awareness exercises. Leave comments and share your self-healing and motivational ideas.

Catherine Bares

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There is Something Special about Spring

Spring adds new life and new beauty to all that is.

Jessica Harrelson

I have spent some time enjoying the look, the sounds, and the smells of spring this past week. There are so many beautiful things about spring it is almost impossible to capture it all.

Meditating in Nature

I don’t go into a full meditation mode, but more of an observational meditation. I start by the smells in the air and try to recognize where they are coming from. Right now, the Jasmine vines are in full bloom with the wind carrying an elegant fragrance that stops me in my tracks. You may not see the vines but you know they are around with the wind delivering the invitation to seek them out.

I then move onto sight, what am I seeing? Spring grass that is at its greenest; what a beautiful sight. Colorful flowers sprouting up everywhere creating a painting by nature. Water spouts in the ponds casting rainbows in the wind. Baby ducks swimming close together in tow of their mother. Birds flying, butterflies fluttering around, dragonflies zipping by, the list goes on.

When I move on to observing the sounds that go along with smells and sight, it pulls everything together. Sometimes I close my eyes to assure that I don’t miss sounds by focusing too much on sight. Birds chirping and singing is a sure sign that spring has arrived. How many different bird chirps am I hearing? The air is crowded with birds.


What does nature teach us during spring?

Spring is a time of new beginnings. No matter how bad the year before was, spring is always a new beginning. Although nature suffers great tragedy as well as humans, in their wakes, forest fires can give way to new growth. Nature teaches us that even after a devastating loss, we can push through and be stronger than ever.

Spring teaches us that no matter what happens, we have the right to be happy. It shows us persistence and perseverance. It reminds us that life is delicate but we can start anew.

What is your favorite thing about spring? Take a moment, go outside, look, listen, and smell spring in the air. In that moment of observation, get connected with your positivity. Visualize your future and think about the 1st step you must take to start down that path.

Catherine Bares

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Reduce Pressure on Knees

Did you know that losing weight reduces knee joint pressure?

According to a study conducted by Dr. Stephen Messier, 1-lb. of weight loss equals 4-lb. reduction in the knee joint load. Also suggested, individuals that lose 10-lbs would reduce up to 48,000 pounds of pressure for every mile walked. The results are a compelling case for weight loss associated with improving knee pain. Consider the workload over time, it can result in making a significant difference in knee joint damage, reducing overall pain throughout your life in the future.

Knee pain is a frequent issue that continues as people age. One factor that compounds this issue is weight.

https://www.livestrong.com/article/403363-one-pound-weight-loss-equals-reduced-pressure-on-knees/

Are you training with weighted vests?

After reading the facts about pressure on the knee joints, it makes me question the safety of wearing extra weight on stair climbers or while running. Over the years I have seen many types of training that I, myself, would not be comfortable with. Performing cardio with weights (hand weights, weighted vests, etc.) is one of them. The added weight will most certainly add to joint pressure. If it affects the knee joints, what about the hip joints?

As we age, those joints age right along with us. Will this strategy help everyone; probably not, especially if there are other factors weighing in:

  • arthritis
  • disrupted cartilage in the knee joint
  • cartilaginous breakdown
  • torn meniscus
  • etc.

Each case is different and everyone should consult with physicians before starting any diet and exercise program. If you have any of the mentioned concerns above, your medical professional can give you advice on which type of workout is best for your body type. I, personally, love to swim when I have joint pain. (click here to see reasons why swimming is a smart choice) It helps relieve the pressure rather than add to the pressure. There are many facilities now offering water aerobics for clients that suffer from arthritis and other joint related illnesses, especially hospital-based facilities.

What about foot pain?

I have a client and friend who has been on a weight loss journey for a year now and has had great success as a result of lifestyle changes. Her goal was to lose 40-lbs and she is currently 1-lb away from hitting her goal. We had a discussion about reducing knee pressure which struck a chord with her regarding her journey. She mentioned that she recently wore a pair of wedge heels that would normally cause the ball of her feet to hurt by the end of the day. After losing 39lbs, her feet did not hurt as she had come to expect it to when wearing those shoes. That’s a win in my book!

Do you have any pain reduction stories related to weight loss? If you do have any stories, please share them with us by leaving comments. They can be success stories or no results, don’t feel constricted on the topic.

Catherine Bares

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Rough Day

Ever have a rough day that got the better of you?

Typically, I am a positive, upbeat, happy person. Even on my bad days, I look at the positive side of everything. I try to recognize the position of others and why they behave the way they do. I find it helps me get a better understanding of that person, which drives better decisions on my part, rather than negative, reactive, emotional decisions. When my emotions get the better of me, I end up regretting things said or done at that moment. I would rather walk away, satisfied, knowing that my emotions didn’t control my decisions and/or my reactions. When I act on emotions, I tend to get angry, which drains my energy. Energy is precious to me and when I let negativity inside, my energy is zapped and I go down a rabbit hole of desperate thoughts and I follow up with a dose of emotional eating.

Interesting concept

I once heard a speaker that said something which made sense and stuck with me for years.

your thoughts trigger your emotions

when your emotions are triggered, they trigger your actions

and your actions trigger the results.

Unknown

That bad day

Recently, I had a bad day from start to finish. I did a great job of controlling the urge to get angry. It started with little things like having butterfingers, dropping things at every turn. (This happened to be a Monday: no prejudice on Monday’s, just saying. :>)) I had a full day of conference calls scheduled and was starting my day off frustrated. I shook it off and drove to my office. On my way to the office, I encountered 2 drivers that were doing their best to continue to challenge me. It resulted in me shaking my head and praying a Hail Mary. Once I arrived at my office, I set up my computer and got myself ready for the 1st call. As a result of my efforts, I felt accomplished that I didn’t lose my cool.

Then, my 1st call canceled. Okay, no worries. I will get ready for the next call. During preparations for the 2nd call, I receive an email from the client with a request to reschedule. Okay, no worries, I will get ready for the next call. It turns out that the next 2 client calls rescheduled as well. Out of 5 scheduled calls I ended up doing 1 call at the end of the day. I was starting to feel like the cosmic energy was working overtime and throwing things at me around every corner. It’s amazing how your mind starts playing tricks on you and makes you feel like I did something wrong.

End of the day

As a result of a rough day, I was looking forward to going home and relaxing. Then, I encountered an angry person. At this point, my will power to keep fighting the desire to explode and scream at someone is getting weaker. I keep telling myself, it’s okay, I am in a bad headspace right now, it’s not as bad as it seems. I get through my evening and go to bed.

Success!

I ended that day feeling like I did a good job of not losing it. I also felt like I wasn’t able to get much accomplished since most of my work was rescheduled. But, in the end, I felt successful.

Along comes Anger

I get through the rest of the week without many challenges. Unfortunately, my great weekend went bad fast and I ended up letting my emotions get the better of me. I started this blog last week and decided to finish it up today to close the cosmic energy that is working against me. Keep in mind, I am not superstitious or truly believe that cosmic energy forces are working against me here, but I decided not to leave anything to chance and get this thing closed out. I let anger in yesterday and I realized that I haven’t let it out yet. I am letting anger take up shop in my soul and I don’t like it. So, I am here telling this anger to get out. I don’t have room in my soul for anger. I am sweeping anger out of the door to my soul.

How do you sweep away anger? Do you recommend any mindful tricks to help us keep our emotions in check?

Catherine Bares

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Reduce Germ Spreading Habits in your Home

Germiest spots in your bathroom

  1. Floors: your bathroom floors could be harboring more germs than any other area in the bathroom, says Gina Sloan, Ph.D., director of innovations with Microban. Why? Well, it seems that whatever is close to the toilet is going to get covered in those germy microbes every time we flush the toilet. Do you ever feel a little spritz hitting your bottom or your legs when you flush?


Okay, now I am totally grossed out. I don’t clean my bathroom floors nearly as much as I clean my toilet. That is going to change rather quickly. To reduce the amount of airborne germs when flushing, close the lid before flushing.

Toothbrush

Your toothbrush is the second biggest concern for germs in your bathroom, says Sloan.

Your toothbrush takes in bacteria not only from your mouth but wherever you lay it down on.

Gina Sloan, PhD, director of innovations with Microban

Your counter-top could be transferring germs but think about where the germs are coming from. Is your toilet close to your sink? Yukola!!

Toothbrush Holder

A study from the public health organization NSF International found 64% of toothbrush holders contained mold and yeast, compared to 27% of toilet seats. According to the study they are likely to contain staph as well.

You put in your brush, which is damp or wet, and that residual water drips down and collects in the bottom of the cup. Germs tend to like warm and moist environments. Most holders can go in the dishwasher, which will get rid of any icky residue and germs feeding on it, so toss yours in weekly or monthly.

Lisa Yakas, microbiologists

Sink Handles

According to the study, sink handles contain more than 600 times more microorganisms per square inch than your toilet handles. Wipe them down with disinfecting wipes or use a bleach solution.

Doorknobs

According to the same study, doorknobs contain more microorganisms per square inch than a toilet seat. 1st line of defense is washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Always wipe those doorknobs during your regular cleaning routine.

Towels

Towels have been found to contain bacteria and even harbor E. coli. The germs stick to and hide in the fibers. Change the towels out regularly and wash in a hot cycle; cold water does not wash out the germs.

Loofah

Knowing everything else I have learned doing the research for this blog, I didn’t have to read the reasons why Loofahs are germ harboring items. Sloan recommends ditching the Loofahs entirely or buy new loofahs regularly.

Razor

Sloan recommends air drying your blades or keeping them in oil to resist germ growth. Don’t lay flat in a dish of water; this causes rusting and will enhance even more germ growth. Always stick to using your own razors rather than sharing razors.

Cutting Boards

University of Arizona researchers found that the average cutting board has 200 times more fecal bacteria than a toilet seat. What??? Now that is one I didn’t expect. Raw meat turns out to be the reason since fecal bacterial originate in the animals’ internal organs. When cutting raw meat on a surface, the knife leaves grooves and sets the stage for germs to sink in and make themselves at home. Washing cutting boards with hot soapy water will help reduce germs growing. If plastic, you can soak in a solution of 2 teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water. Do not soak overnight.

All Kitchens have germs

Did you know that 21% of food-borne illness cases are due to food consumed in private homes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kitchens are found to breed germs such as E. coli, salmonella, Listeria, mold and yeast.

Common Kitchen items carrying germs

  • Knife Blocks: have you ever cleaned yours?
  • Refrigerator vegetable drawers: Salmonella, Listeria, yeast, and mold are partying it up and contaminates fresh vegetables.
  • Refrigerator meat drawer: Salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold.
  • Blender gasket: follow manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to avoid bacteria in your food and smoothies.
  • Can openers: bacteria, yeast, and mold. Clean regularly.
  • Rubber mixing spatula: remove the rubber tip and clean the inside of it along with the handle that sits in the tip.
  • Food storage containers with rubber seals: be sure to wash those rubber seals in hot soapy water; don’t just rinse and dry.
  • Sponges: put a wet sponge in the microwave for 1 minute to help reduce germs. Wring out all water after use and place it in a drip dry container or rack.

Other household germy spots

  • Washing machines: Run washer empty with a cup of bleach once a week to kill germs
  • Mattresses: Wash mattress cover using hot water once a month.
  • Trash cans: scrub all trash cans in the house regularly, especially those in the bathroom and kitchen
  • Mop heads: rinse with water until water runs clear. Soak mop head in a bucket of 2 gallons of hot water and a cup of bleach for 10 minutes, then rinse again.

Having an air purifier added to your air conditioning and heating systems help to sanitize the air you breathe. I, myself, use one, and it has significantly helped my family from passing illnesses back and forth to each other. If you need a recommendation for an Air Conditioning and Heating company in the United States and Canada, leave a comment and I can see if we have any clients in your area that can help reduce your indoor air pollution.

As always, do the research on the things you have concerns about. I am not an expert, I share information that I come across in hopes that I will inspire healthier, happier lives.

Catherine Bares

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Smoky Mountains

I recently had the opportunity to take a trip so, we packed up and headed to the Smoky Mountains. Here are some of the things we ended up doing on this trip.

Cades Cove Driving Loop

Near the Smoky Mountain, National Park Campground, you will find an amazing wildlife viewing area that we love to pass through – Cades Cove Driving Loop. It’s an 11-mile, driving path that loops around the cove and offers many spectacular views.

Valley of Rich History

The Cherokee Indians hunted Cades Cove for hundreds of years but no evidence was found of major settlements. The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821. Cades Cove offers a wide variety of historic buildings and historic information about the people that lived there.

  • 3-Churches
  • A working grist mill
  • Barns
  • Log houses
  • other restored nineteenth century structures

Wildlife Viewing

Over the years, we have been blessed with many wild life sightings while driving through Cades Cove:

  • White-tailed deer (Huge bucks, fawns, does, button bucks)
  • Black bears (Grown adults, cubs of many sizes)
  • Turkey
  • Coyotes
  • Hawks
  • Red Wolves-Which are not in the park anymore.

Many years ago the park released Red wolves into Cades Cove in efforts to restore wild wolf populations in suitable areas. Unfortunately, their efforts failed and the remaining wolves were captured and moved. Many were recaptured after straying from the park onto private land, 6 were killed – either hit by cars or killed by humans. Out of 33 pups born in the wild, only 4 survived. The wolves couldn’t find enough food to eat in this mountainous area. Many wolves left, presumably in search of prey, and some of those that remained succumbed to disease, parasites, and starvation. During one of our early trips to the park, we were blessed with a sighting of a Red Wolf and came across him later carrying a turkey in his mouth. I treasure that memory.

Wildlife viewing tips

Biking

Experience the cove on a bike. The loop road is closed to motor vehicle traffic until 10:00 am every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September to allow cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the cove. You can rent a bike at the campground store. It is strongly recommended to wear helmets and required of any children 16 and under. Visit the Campground Store Website.

Hiking

Hiking was high on my priority list. Since we visit Cades Cove several times during these visits, we chose to hike a trail in the Cades Cove loop – Abrams Falls, which offers up a scenic hike and a beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail.

  • 5.2 miles round trip
  • moderate difficulty rating
  • parking lot

Hiking is one of my favorite, fitness activities. I find that the Smoky Mountains features cooler weather which means I don’t have to fight off mosquitoes, and the view is breathtaking. I find it risky with large drop-offs and slippery paths so, be sure to take precautions. You don’t want to end up in the E.R. as a result. Cold and rain can come up quickly, so do the research; what is the weather going to be like, what clothes to wear, what shoes to wear, what should you bring, etc.? Once, during my hike, a storm rolled in, causing the temperature to drop and I found the path extremely slick. I didn’t want to fall as a result, so I slowed my pace and kept a close eye on the path.

Pigeon Forge Titanic Attraction

There is something about the Titanic story that has always captured my attention so, we stopped in to see the museum and was quite pleased with it. The owner of the museum is none other than John Joslyn, who led a dive expedition to the Titanic site 2 years after it was discovered. As a result of his dives, 2 museums have opened up in Branson and Pigeon Forge, which exhibits some of the largest, permanent collections of the Titanic artifacts, and memorabilia. Guests enter a unique world that showcases exact replicas of the beautiful, handcrafted Grand Staircase.

Passenger Story

Each guest receives a card with a story of a passenger that was aboard the Titanic. At the end of the tour, their fate is revealed. My passenger survived the accident and her story turned out to be surprisingly interesting.

One tip I would like to offer: At the end of the tour, we had the opportunity to take a picture. The Grand Staircase was superimposed in the background and the picture is beautiful and professional looking. I wish I knew how well that photo would have come out, s0 I would have dressed nicer. As a result, I was unhappy with my picture, but that was my own fault. Other than that, this attraction deserves 5 stars!

There are so many things to do in the Smoky Mountain region. If ever traveling that way, make sure you visit websites and do some research. There are many places you can stay. Cades Cove is a major attraction for my family. So, when we visit the Smoky Mountains, we like to stay in Townsend. It’s the easiest access to Cades Cove and take Wears Valley Road when we venture into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Catherine Bares

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