5 Sneaky Food Traps to Avoid

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Disclosure: This is a non-compensated guest post, courtesy of Rise.

5 Sneaky Food Traps to AvoidEveryday people sabotage their diet with choices they think are healthy.

Rise coach Elisa Itkowitz, MS, RD shares tips to help avoid sneaky food traps. Rise is a nutrition service focused on helping people lead healthier lives by connecting people 1:1 with their very own registered dietitian “coach” to guide them through nutrition education and small behavioral changes to achieve their health goals.

(1) Protein Bars: Unless you’re extremely active—doing strenuous exercise for more than an hour per day—you likely don’t need the high amount of protein that’s packed into these bars. If you aren’t burning it, excess protein is stored as fat! For the average exercise enthusiast, simply grabbing a glass of skim milk will help you replenish and refuel post-workout. If you do grab a bar, look for one that has no more than 250 calories, 8-10 grams protein, 1 gram or less saturated fat and no more than 4-8 grams of fiber.

(2) Smoothies: Blended fruit is healthy, right? The answer depends on the size of the smoothie and what else is in it. A good tip is to go for the smallest size, which can easily save 200 or more calories, and make sure the base is either ice, non-fat yogurt or even coconut water. Then stick to 1-2 servings of fruit. Some smoothies pack 4-6 servings, which can cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving you susceptible to more sugar cravings.


(3) Low Fat Foods: Even after the SnackWells Era, were still hesitant to include fat in our meals. But including healthy fats (nuts, avocado, salmon, tofu) in your diet can help your satiety level and actually lead to eating less! Plus, in order to make a food low-fat, the manufacturer typically has to add something to make the food taste good. That something is often sugar, which means low-fat foods are often higher in calories than the regular version. A good rule of thumb: if you’re eating 2,000 calories per day, aim for 30% calories from fat, or about 66 grams.


(4) Serving Sizes: Theres no doubt that our food portions are getting larger and larger. Take a simple burger. A few decades ago, it would have been a simple 3 oz patty. Now? Its mainstream to have it be at least 6 oz topped with loads of cheese, bacon and mayonnaise. I recommend that everyone spend about a week paying attention to labels and measuring out certain foods that we tend to overeat at home, like cereal, rice and pasta. And when out to eat: order apps, which are typically a healthy size, in place of entrees.

(5) Coffee: Black coffee with a little bit of milk is great; but over the years, coffee has morphed into a decadent dessert, with some coffee beverages weighing in at more than 600 calories! As with everything, watch your portion sizes and the add-ons like sweeteners & whipped cream. To keep your coffee to 200 calories or less, opt for a small with low-fat milk. Stick to 1 pump of added sweetener or packet of sugar and use cocoa powder or cinnamon for extra flavor.

Top 10 Tips to Start Getting Out Of Debt

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Top 10 Tips to Start Getting Out Of DebtAs the holiday shopping season approaches, more and more I hear people discussing how overwhelmed they feel with budgeting and their debt load. The temptation to overspend on holiday gifts is very real to many people, and they max out credit cards planning to find a way to deal with it in January. It’s not too late to make a plan, budget for the holidays and try not to charge if at all possible. You have to be strong to resist all those promotions to “SAVE AN EXTRA %% on today’s purchase if you open an account with us!” unless you truly can afford to pay the balance in full each and every month. These tips are applicable any time of the year to help you whenever it is that you decide to tackle your debt. Kuddos to you for being brave enough to take on this task, eliminating debt is truly freeing, and I’d love for anyone who has been successful to leave additional tips in the comment section below. If you have a question and need help, leave that in the comments too, my readers are kind, and would love to offer words of encouragement to you.

Top 10 Tips to start getting out of debt:

  1. STOP Charging. If you don’t have cash to pay for it, you can’t afford it.
  2. Make a list of ALL of your incoming money and debts. You need to know where your money is coming from AND going.
  3. Create a workable budget AND STICK TO IT. Once you know how much money is coming in, you can allocate where it’s going.
  4. Pay yourself FIRST. You need to set up a savings account, piggy bank, or some secure place to store some savings for emergencies. Even if you can only save $20 per month, you KNOW emergencies happen, and you need a contingency fund to pay for them. When just starting out, I’d say set a goal to save 10% of each paycheck, but that isn’t always feasible in reality. So, save as much of that as you can. This may mean cutting out extras temporarily, but you can add those back in once you get your finances under control.
  5. Try to lower your interest rates. This isn’t always possible, since you are at the mercy of your lenders to approve this. Each person’s situation is different, but it’s worth a call to see if this is possible.
  6. Look for ways to increase your income. Perhaps you can get a 2nd job, or sell some things, take online surveys, perform some secret shops, etc. But, if you can get some extra cash coming in, you can apply that to a debt.
  7. Determine your % of debt on each account. If you can get each account under 80% of its limit, you can increase your credit score. For example, if the limit is $1,000, try to get the balance below $800.
  8. Next, payoff the smallest amount owed. Once each card is below 80%, if your score is in bad shape, try to get them under 60%. If the score is ok and you just want the debt GONE, payoff the smallest balance to give you a boost of encouragement to keep going.
  9. Payoff highest interest rate balance. Snowball the amount you were paying towards the smallest balance, add it to the payment you’ve been making on the highest interest rate account, and you will payoff this account faster. Continue this process with each additional account.
  10. Pay ON TIME. Even if you can only pay the minimum balance, and are applying extra income sources to accounts, it is imperative you pay the minimum payment on time each month. You can always send extra payments, but meeting the due date is so important. Once you’ve made on time payments on each of your accounts for 6 months, you are in a better position to call and ask for rates to be lowered. Not to mention, on many accounts, if you are late with ANY company, they can raise your rate to their max rate.

It’s always important to READ your terms and conditions with ALL accounts. Knowledge is power. Know when your payments are due, how you can make them, and under what conditions your rates can be raised/lowered. If you are making on time payments and get your percentage owed balances under control, you should notice improvements in your credit score.

It’s also very important to make sure you are monitoring your credit report regularly. I recommend using the free annual service, and spacing your requests out. Order 1 every 4 months so you can see the improvements over time. Likely you didn’t get into debt trouble overnight, so it’s unreasonable to expect things to improve overnight. Most people that I have known personally, usually see massive improvements in about 2 years of paying on time with balances under that 80% mark, but everyone’s situation is different.


Light Bladder Leakage Tips

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Thank you to Poise for sponsoring this post and keeping me confident!


Light Bladder Leakage (LBL) is something that can be embarrassing to talk about, even though many women battle it on a daily basis, for one reason or another. LBL can happen when we are coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, etc. Some women try to avoid using anything, or even opt to use feminine products to help with this, but those aren’t really designed for incontinence. You want something that is designed with Super Absorbent Material (SAM) that will absorb any leakage and odor, so you can feel comfortable and confident when you are out enjoying life. LBL can happen due to physical changes women go through, such as childbirth, pregnancy, hysterectomy, menopause, bladder infections, Urinary Tract Infections, or complications from surgery or chronic illness.

Poise MicrolinersPoise Microliners are designed to do just this. I want to know if I’m on the treadmill at the gym, out for a Girl’s Night Out and laughing with my girlfriends (we always laugh til we cry!), or even at one of my kids sports events that LBL is not an issue I need to worry about. It just takes seconds to slip on a Poise Microliner when getting ready to go out, and the packages are small and discreet, so you can carry extras in your handbag. I carry an epi-pen with me at all times, due to severe allergies, and these tiny packages fit into that box, so they aren’t noticeable at all! (They have larger, more absorbent options as well, if your LBL isn’t so light.) I am sure all females know that any prolonged exposure to wetness in the panty area can lead to some uncomfortable infections, which is why doing nothing about LBL is not the best choice. The odor is a huge negative too! Poise Microliners, while made with SAM, are also very thin, so you likely won’t even feel it!

poise-microliner-sampleBe sure to visit THIS LINK to get your FREE SAMPLE of Poise Microliners, so you can try them out for yourself! You are welcome and encouraged to send you’re friends and family a link to this post so they can get a sample for themselves as well!

Light Bladder Leakage Tips:

  1. Use the restroom often, and make sure you are completely emptying your bladder.
  2. Stay Hydrated. It can seem counter-intuitive to drink MORE water when you are having LBL issues, but if you don’t drink enough fluids, it can lead to dehydration or constipation, both of which make LBL worse. I’ve found that the more water I drink, the more often I need to use the restroom, so it’s easier to remember to go often, and even easier to completely empty my bladder. Caffeine is a diuretic and can make the issue worse, water is a much healthier option for a multitude of reasons! We should all be aiming for eight 8oz glasses of water daily for good health anyway.
  3. Exercise Regularly: Even though you may have some LBL issues when you exercise, staying in shape and keeping your weight down can help reduce LBL. Don’t skip your workouts if you are having LBL, just use an incontinence product to deal with the issue until it’s better.
  4. Kegels. These really do help, and you can do them anywhere, at any time, and no one will even know. I had all of my children via Cesarean Section, but friends that had their babies vaginally said their OB instructed them to do Kegals post partum. I didn’t get that instruction, but I still firmly believe Kegals can help us ALL keep our lady areas fit and firm, which does help reduce LBL. This is the easiest way to strengthen your pelvic floor!
  5. Use a product designed for incontinence issues, such as the Poise Microliner, so you are equipped to handle any accidents that do happen easily. These can help you stay up to 3x drier, and neutralize odor!
  6. See your doctor. Sure, this can be embarrassing to talk about with friends, family, or physician, but a doctor can rule out any other medical concerns, and help monitor the situation. Keep a log of when your LBL is happening so you can determine a trigger. This will help the doctor in diagnosing the cause. It’s a common issue, and once any infection or chronic condition is ruled out, they can offer you additional advice on how to reduce the occurrence of LBL.
  7. Evict Embarrassment: This is something that happens to many women, even though it’s an embarrassing topic for most to discuss, much less admit to. Once you evict the embarrassment of the situation, and you bring up the subject with close friends, you’ll likely find that you are not alone. Sometimes people just need someone they trust to openly discuss a topic before they feel comfortable owning up to it themselves.

About Poise Microliners:

“These shockingly thin and surprisingly absorbent liners feature SAM (Super Absorbent Material) to provide discreet Light Bladder Leakage (LBL) protection that helps keep you dry and comfortable all day long so you can manage life’s little leaks with confidence. Poise Microliners are the thinnest liners in the light incontinence category and are designed to absorb wetness, neutralize odor and stay three times drier than period liners.”

National Walk Your Dog Week (October 1-7)

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Top 5 Reasons to Walk Your DogIt’s almost National Walk Your Dog Week (October 1-7)!

I had to take my dog to the vet today for her regularly scheduled checkup. She is not a fan of going to either the vet or groomers, both of which she see’s regularly anyway, and as you can see from the photo above, she chose to sit in the backseat pouting the whole way home, refusing to even look at me :)

Do you walk your dog daily? Multiple times per day? Just long enough to do their business, or a longer walk around the block? How long do you walk your dog, 5 minutes? 10? 30? Let loose in yard to tend to business?

Dogs, as well as humans, need exercise. Here are my Top 5 Reasons to Walk Your Dog:

  1. Good Digestive Health – Like humans, sometimes dogs get constipated, and need a little help in getting things moving within their digestive tract. Taking them on regular walks, can help ensure that they stay regular (which is also a BONUS for you to aid predicting when they need to go!).
  2. Good Weight Control – This is a great form of exercise for both pet and owner. Walking promotes good heart health, and can help keep your weight in check. For humans, if you are walking the neighborhood or park, the dog can serve as an added security layer for you. Our dog loves a good long walk in the neighborhood!
  3. Constructive Behavior – If your dog has to stay crated while you are out, a nice long walk when you get home will help them stretch their legs and release some energy. When your dog know they have a walk to look forward too, even a dog that isn’t crated is more likely to be less destructive around the house, because they have an outlet and alternative way to use their excess energy when you are on a walk. This doesn’t happen overnight, however, if we see our dog getting into things she shouldn’t, we’ll say, “Want to go for a walk?!” and she’ll stop and run to the door. She sits and waits for her leash, and after the walk (10-15 minutes) she comes in and is well behaved.
  4. Encourages Socialization – We’ve found that walking her and exposing her to other humans and pets has helped calm her some. She used to become overly excited around others, but when she sees other people and dogs in a regular, controlled situation, she is capable of staying much calmer now. She’s still a diva and wants all of the attention, but she has vastly improved. Regular car rides have helped too, she doesn’t get nervous or scared in the car anymore. She still is VERY protective if anyone comes near the house, and we’ve chosen not to break her of that.
  5. Strengthens Your Bond – When we first got our dog, we had a specific family member in mind to be the one responsible for the majority of care. From the very first walk, this family member has been the one to walk her at regular intervals, and is the person the dog considers her “master”. Now, when this person is not home and she needs to go out, she knows that I am the one who is most likely to walk her, and she has signals she shows to let me know it’s time. She is willing to go for others too if one of us is ill or unavailable, but it typically takes her longer to do her business than when she’s with her normal walking partner.

“Over 60% of humans in the United States are overweight or obese, and our pets mirror that statistic. Taking our dogs for a walk not only helps them burn calories, build lean muscle mass and relieve stress, it can also provide those same benefits to the two-legger on the other end of the leash.”

7 Uses for Paper Towels

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This article is sponsored by Viva.

7 Uses for Paper Towels

I have three boys approaching their teens. I only THOUGHT I used a lot of paper towels cleaning up messes when they were little! Now that they are older, they are able to help clean up after themselves, so it’s important that I have quality materials on hand to get the job done. My former beloved brand wasn’t working out well. They were using almost half a roll on a smallish mess. So, we had to experiment to find a new brand that works well for this season of life. I am pleased to say that the Viva Vantage Paper Towel passed with flying colors. The boys only need 1-2 paper towels to clean up a standard mess in our home because the Viva Vantage Paper Towels are so absorbent! It really stretches to help with scrubbing power AND it doesn’t rip or tear while in use.

Viva Collage 1We were shopping last week for a birthday gift, cards, and some basic cleaning essentials, and I found this product at my local Walmart Supercenter.

Viva CollageAs we walked through the cleaning product section and found the paper towels, it was easy to spot the Viva Vantage Paper Towels. They were priced at just $8.97 at my local store for an 8 pack, and had a coupon for $1.00 off the package, making them just $7.97 for an 8 pack. Under $1 per roll is an excellent price!!!

7 Uses for Paper Towels:

  1. Cleaning – This one is obvious, you just spray some cleaner and wipe down surfaces.
  2. Faces – They are great for cleaning up messy faces after meals!
  3. Microwave – Use to cover a dish in the microwave to keep splatters from making a mess.
  4. Keep Herbs Fresh – Store herbs loosely wrapped in a paper towel, placed in a zip top bag in the refrigerator. The paper towels will help absorb excess moisture to keep herbs fresh longer.
  5. Soften Hard Brown Sugar – Place Damp paper towel on top of open container of brown sugar overnight. The next morning it should be soft again!
  6. Protect pans and skillets – Line insides of clean pans or skillets with paper towels before storing in cabinets. They will help absorb any remaining moisture to prevent rusting and keep surfaces from getting scratched by pans you stack on top.
  7. Strain Grease from meat – I place several paper towels inside a bowl, and put my small colander on top. I pour all the meat in my skillet inside the colander and the grease drains through to the paper towels. Lift the colander, shake remaining drips off, and pour meat back into skillet to continue cooking or add seasonings. Let the grease cool (not harden) and then toss the paper towels into the trash. Grease is gone :)

How do you use Paper Towels in your home? Have you given the Viva Vantage Paper Towels a try?