Working from Home: How to Set Up Your Workspace

This week we’re starting a whole series of videos on how to effectively work (and learn) from home. In this initial video, we’ll go through what it takes to set up at great workspace that enables you to focus easily and detach once the workday is over.

15 Ways To Celebrate Independence Day

Check out this article on how you can celebrate Independence Day.

History recognizes July 4, 1776, as the day America was born. On this day, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed freedom from British rule. The Constitution was approved in 1787, adding a then-revolutionary idea of government for and by the people.

As the forefathers had imagined, America’s birthday is punctuated by public displays of patriotism, fireworks and jubilant celebrations. Researchers expect this year Independence Day celebrants will spend $6.9 billion on food and eat more than 150 million hot dogs. And no surprise, this is America’s top beer drinking holiday.

Wow!

Fun has its place, but dedicating part of this holiday toward reflection and volunteerism, physical activities, and health maintenance is likewise beneficial.

Physical Activities

Spend the day outdoors. Turn off electronic devices. Visit with friends and family. Simple socializing boosts those feel good endorphins, lowers blood pressure and stimulates brain activity.

  • Get back to nature. Take a leisurely bicycle ride, pack a picnic, or head to the water. Whether bird watching, sailing, or relaxing in the park, being outside is the key.
  • Indulge in a group activity. Keep things active with a tug-of-war tournament, volleyball or croquet game. Set up a fun scavenger hunt or craft activity that children and adults of all ages can enjoy together.
  • Get the cardio going. Who doesn’t enjoy a game of softball, soccer or flag football to work up heart rates and burn calories?
  • Change the pace. Find a nearby lake, beach, or forest where friends or extended family can camp together. Shared fun builds new memories.
  • Work at relaxing. Take out a kayak, canoe or paddleboat to get a good workout for the arms and a relaxing vibe just being out on the water.

 Reflection and Volunteerism

Do good to feel good.

Consider how individually we can contribute to the premise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all.

  • Reflect on the meaning of the day. Read the Declaration of Independence with family and friends. Discuss what it means to stand up for personal principles. Did you know, eight of the 56 signers were born in Britain, not in the colonies?
  • Take time to honor veterans. Offer the gift of time and friendship to those who fought for America. Join a parade.
  • Small gestures count. Contact local military bases and support deployed military. Send notes. Prepare care packages. Check online resources like www.soldiersangels.org for other ideas.
  • Donate time. Food banks, soup kitchens and shelters welcome contributions. Offer time, supplies and money to support less fortunate individuals.
  • Relive history. Visit historic American Revolution sites. Attend re-enactment events and study history books.

Health Maintenance

Give thanks for freedom, and then express your independent nature in healthy ways by doing the some of the following:

  • Connect to your spiritual self. Engage in daily rituals and practices be it meditation or yoga. Share time with like-minded souls. Savor life and quiet moments every day.
  • Give people your full attention. Share stories, laughter and friendship with elderly relatives, neighbors, and family you don’t see often enough. Conversation increases energy, brightens moods, releases stress, and makes a person feel important and understood.
  • Hydrate for health. Follow the 70/70 Rule: Sip lots of water while participating in activities when temps and humidity are 70 or higher for that is the dehydration danger zone. Also, avoid alcohol-induced dehydration by alternating each cocktail with water or a decaf soda.
  • Protect your body. Wear sunscreen for protection from UVA and UVB rays. Sunburns increase risk of skin cancer by a factor of 12 times. Exposure to noise levels over 85 decibels (dB) like loud marching bands can damage hearing; fireworks typically exceed 150 dB. Use ear protection yourself and especially with babies and toddlers.
  • Trust your instinct. Staying home and lounging on the patio with your best friend might be just what you need.

On this day indulge a little, and celebrate freedom your way.

Freshen Your Room With Dryer Sheets & A Fan

Ok, Ok… we get it… Sometimes your room, well, doesn’t smell as minty-fresh as you’d like it.

No worries.

Here’s a quick tip: If your place needs a refresher every now and then, put some dryer sheets on your fan. This will quickly make your entire area smell great!

Ranking Your Takeout By How Healthy It Is For You

Check out this article from dollarshaveclub.com.

Takeout_Rank

Dear whoever concocted food delivery and takeout: You are my God, my Lord and Savior. Your existence, whoever and wherever you may be, will live on forever in my deeply nourished heart.

Seriously, now more than ever, being able to enjoy professionally made, healthy takeout meals from the comfort and safety of our homes is a godsend, especially for anyone who typically relies on restaurants that are now closed, except for delivery and takeout.

However, seeing as many of us, stuck inside and possibly without work, are suddenly spending a lot more time on our couches, being prudent about what we order — and maybe not just ordering 40 pizzas — can help ensure that, when the coronavirus has finally passed, we can make an epic departure from our homes, looking fresh and healthy, as opposed to looking like Pizza the Hutt. As such, I asked Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, to help me rank some frequently ordered takeout fare by how healthy they are — from potentially ultra balanced to almost always unhealthy as heck.

Before we jump into the ranking, I need to emphasize that, within just about every one of these options, you can find healthy dishes and unhealthy dishes — hell, you can order a salad from just about anywhere. Accordingly, this ranking is based upon how likely you are to end up with something healthy if you order like a normal person, and not someone who orders freaking salad for takeout. And even then, Hunnes notes, “All restaurant foods will have more salt than what you might make at home, thereby potentially decreasing their healthfulness.” Good to know!

Now come quickly, so I can figure out what to order for tonight before I get hangry.

1) Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese Takeout (tied): If you tend to order orange chicken and deep-fried wontons, these being at the top of our list may come as a surprise. But as Hunnes explains, “Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese, aside from their salt, have the highest likelihood of being most healthful due to lots of steaming, lots of soups and them being low in animal protein.” To explain her thinking further, steaming is one of the healthiest methods of cooking, because it requires very little added fats, such as those in cooking oils, and typically preserves nutrients better than other, high-heat cooking methods.

Soups, like pho, meanwhile, are often the staple of any healthy diet, as they tend to be balanced with an array of vitamins and minerals, and they can be quite satiating without contributing too many extra calories. As a result, people who regularly consume soups tend to consume fewer calories overall than people who steer clear of the brothy stuff.

Likewise, these Asian cuisines being lower in animal proteins translates broadly to fewer unhealthy fats, fewer calories and a wider assortment of nutritious vegetables. Therefore, Asian cuisines in general are known for being high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, while low in unhealthy saturated and total fats. This is one of the main reasons why many health professionals believe Asian people are able to dodge chronic diseases and live longer than people of many other origins.

4) Sushi Takeout: “Sushi can be healthy,” Hunnes says. “I still like to recommend brown rice and vegetarian options wherever possible, but fish oil can be anti-inflammatory. They just come with a risk of possible plastic residues and them not being sustainable.” More specifically, fish contains more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and less artery-clogging saturated fat than other meats. But unless you make an effort, sushi can be lacking in vegetables, the heartbeat of every healthy diet, so just make sure to include greens wherever possible.

5) Indian Takeout: Hunnes says Indian food leaves tons of room for vegetable-based options and boasts “lots of anti-inflammatory herbs and spices,” most notably turmeric, which is often regarded as one of the most powerful healing spices out there. Because Indian food can be so flavorful, however, Hunnes warns that it can be especially “high in salt,” too much of which can be bad for your heart. Nonetheless, there are loads of good, healthy Indian takeout options.

6) Mediterranean Takeout: Hunnes says Mediterranean food tends to consist of healthy whole grains, is low in fatty dairy products, is “low-ish” in animal products and contains lots of healthy beans and hummus. During MEL‘s ranking of meat alternatives, Hunnes waxed poetic about beans, saying, “These, of course, are all-natural, full of healthy protein and fiber and contain no added salt. One hundred grams of beans have around 21 grams of protein (some have more, some have slightly less), whereas 100 grams of chicken has 30 grams. So for anyone concerned about protein content, beans and legumes (pulses, as they’re called in other countries) are great.”

So really, anything with lots of beans is a good bet. And as many of us know, Mediterranean food has long been an example of a truly healthy diet, with loads of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with small portions of meat and fish.

7) Mexican Takeout: Hunnes puts Mexican takeout here, but notes that its place on our ranking is questionable, in part because Mexican food, perhaps more than any other, can come in so many shapes and forms, ranging from fast food to street vendors to upscale restaurants, all of which clock in at vastly different levels of healthiness. Still, in many cases, Mexican meals come laden with added sodium and saturated fat, largely because of the fried tortillas, sour cream, cheese (in Tex-Mex, at least) and the frequently zealous use of lard. As such, Hunnes recommends sticking with bean-heavy and vegetarian options when you order Mexican takeout (and I recommend getting margaritas, too, because takeout booze is a thing now).

8) Italian Takeout: Because we have pizza living in a category of its own, this section is largely devoted to pasta, and Hunnes says, “There can be several healthy, plant-based options, but pastas tend to be made of white flour.” White flour is essentially straight carbohydrates without any nutritional value, which means all calories, no nutrition. So even if you do go for, say, a veg-heavy ratatouille pasta, the noodles themselves will still be largely unhealthy. On the plus side, pastas often come in large quantities, so if you have more willpower than I do, you might be able to pack some away for later.

9) Pizza and Burger Takeout (tied): “I lump these together because meat and dairy are not so healthy,” Hunnes says (red meat in particular is a heart destroyer). Now, pizza certainly has the potential to be healthy, much healthier than burgers do. In fact, several dietitians have taught me how to make a pizza healthy enough to eat every single day. But the day I order a takeout pizza made of cauliflower and egg whites is the day that my mind has officially entered some alternate reality where all sense has been lost.

So there you have it. Again, before I get any death threats for ranking your favorite takeout low on this list, remember that this ranking is based on generalizations and assumptions of what you may or may not order, and takes into account that there are healthy and unhealthy options within just about every cuisine. And again, as I just explained, even the lowest foods on our list have the potential to be somewhat healthy if you order in a certain way.

Nonetheless, order what you want, and even if that means a massive burger, hell, you certainly deserve it for having to live in a cruddy time like this.

Read more from this author here.

The Best Local Gym Is Your Home’s Stairwell.

Check out this article from dollarshaveclub.com about how to get your exercise on around your apartment.

Stairwell_Gym

One of the few bright spots of being in isolation this long has gotta be watching regular people suddenly discover that the thing they’ve been using one way can, in quarantine, be used in a completely different way than originally intended. Video chat is a perfect example — what was once a tool exclusively used in the office by telecommuters and “sick” employees is suddenly Friday night’s hottest club in town.

The stairs in your apartment building or multi-story home are another good example. Because what you once used to traverse between floors can now double as a home gym.

In fact, there’s a metric ton of exercises you could be doing on your stairwell that work all different parts of your body, right freaking now. “If you’ve got stairs at home, you can basically get a full-body workout without ever leaving your house,” says Damien Brown, a personal trainer in L.A. “Cardio is obviously no problem on stairs, but it’s the body-weight exercises you can do that people don’t think about.”

Let’s start with the cardio, though. If you’ve got 15 steps or more in your home or building, you’ve got what you need to get your heart going — and going good — and Brown says there are multiple ways to keep things interesting beyond simply running up/walking down ad nauseam. “You could skip one or multiple steps, hop up on two feet or do crossovers all the way up, and that’s just the start,” he explains. “Try picking three different moves, and then do three sets of each as fast as you can for three rounds, walking or jogging down in between.”

But again, cardio only scratches the surface of what you can do on a good set of stairs. “There are tons of great stair exercises you can do instead of what you might normally do in the weight room,” Brown says. “For example, you could do incline and decline push-ups to replace what you’d normally do on the bench. Another good one is doing split squats — reverse and regular — instead of using a squat rack or a leg press. And if you’re hoping to get in some good core work, try crab-walking up and crocodile-walking down a flight of stairs five times.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “If I’m doing this at home, am I just going to be sweating all over everything?”

Assuming you’re a sweater, the answer is probably, “yes.” Sorry, can’t be helped.

That said, you could get creative, like leaving towels around the handrails at the top and bottom of the stairs for a quick dry-off between sets. Also, you might want to consider running stairs barefoot — the thinking here is, if you do sweat, you’re more likely to prevent dirt and grime from getting the stairs nasty if you’re not in your outside sneakers. Just remember to clean off your feet first, and the stairwell afterward with soap and water.

After all that, if you’re still missing your weights, instead of adding some expensive dumbbells to the mix, buy a couple of gallons of milk — almost nine pounds, each. Not only will you have some DIY weights to curl, press and squat on your way up and down your stairs, but you can always join the GOMAD gang when you’re done.

Now that’s quarantine innovation.

Read more from this author here.

Riding Out COVID-19 Part 2

This is part two of the two-part series on coping with this whole COVID-19 virus. Watch this as Jessica gives you tips on how to continue to stay on top of your game as we deal with all that goes with this pandemic.

Riding Out COVID-19

This is part one of a two-part series about coping with this whole COVID-19 virus. Watch this as Jessica gives you tips on how to stay on top of your game as we deal with all that goes with this pandemic.

So, Is Hand Sanitizer Better Than Soap & Water?

Hand sanitizer was invented to clean industrial-grade grime from the hands of mechanics, which makes it a great germ killer — what about soap and water?

One of life’s cruel ironies is that the occasions when we most desperately want to wash our hands—e.g., after shaking hands with a runny-nosed colleague after a meeting—water and soap are nowhere to be found. Hand-sanitizing gel is sometimes offered as a substitute, but can you really trust a cold lump of goo to prevent nasty germs from passing along infectious particles?

The experts say yes. “Hand-sanitizing gels that contain at least 60-percent alcohol or other proven antiseptic agents are very effective against most bacteria and many types of viruses,” says Christine Pearson of the CDC. While washing your hands with soap and water is more effective in some instances, when applied correctly—don’t use too little or wash it off too quickly—hand-sanitizing gel eliminates most of the germs that will make you sick.

And if a little squirt of gel still seems suspiciously weak to you, remember that one of the most popular brands of hand sanitizer was invented to clean industrial-grade grime from the hands of mechanics, which makes your angst about grazing the door handle of the men’s room look pretty weak by comparison.

You can check out this original article written by dollarshaveclub.com here.

Organize, Assign, Clean… Cleaning Chart Magic!

Sometimes your idea of “clean” isn’t the same as others you are living with. Watch this quick tip to keep you and your roommates organized and on task when it comes to cleaning. Jessica shows you how to create a cleaning chart to keep you organized and your apartment clean.