Why You Need a Vacation

A few reasons why you should make time to get away from the office and vacate to a different locale.

Your life is busy, and you don’t need anyone to remind you of it. If only you could afford to get away and spend some time at the beach, in the mountains, or walking the streets of the big city where you’ve always wanted to go.

Well…what’s stopping you? Though your over-achieving mindset may think vacation is for the weak and is a hindrance to productivity, the benefits of vacation are alluring enough to get even the biggest workaholic to take off the work clothes and slip into something more comfortable.

Perk #1: Better Health

Ever wondered why your back is hurting, you constantly have the sniffles, and you always want to go to sleep? It may be due to your never-ending work schedule. Catch up some rest and relaxation, and you may find yourself feeling better than you have in years. Taking a vacation can also help lower your blood pressure and make you better prepared to deal with the everyday stresses that come your way. Not worried about your blood pressure levels? People who cut out of work for an annual vacation have also been found to live longer. Interested now?

Warning: Vacations Should Not Be Overdone. If a little vacation is good, a ton of it is great, right? Not necessarily. Spend more time vacationing than you spend at work, and you may wind up feeling worthless and lazy. Avoid this by using vacations to re-energize yourself for your life work, not to avoid it altogether!

Perk #2: Boost Productivity

It may seem counterintuitive, but getting away from the office helps you spend your time more wisely when you’re in the office. Feel your brain or body is beat down and cant’ handle much more work? Schedule a vacation and view your time off as a reward for working hard in the coming weeks. Additionally, when you return to work, you’ll be refreshed and more capable of tackling complex and simple problems.

Perk #3: Bigger Perspective

After being stuck in one environment for day after day, week after week, month after month, your creativity can suffer immensely. Give it a boost by exposing yourself to a new environment. Your trip doesn’t have to be somewhere exotic or even exciting. Just going somewhere different will be enough to help you remember that there is a big world outside your workplace. With this mindset, you’ll give yourself a broader perspective that will pay off when you’re trying to think creatively.

Perk #4: Belong Again

When you’re at home, do you feel like an outsider looking in? Use your vacation to change that. Reconnect with your spouse and children in ways that will help you stay connected for the long run. These people are the reason you’re working so hard, and if you aren’t able to enjoy their company and know them intimately, you’ve missed the mark with your hardworking ways. So put down the office key, pack up your swimsuit, and get ready to be reintroduced to your loved ones.

Don’t Take It With You

No matter how tempted you may be, you should never take work with you on vacation. In today’s world, completely getting away from work may seem impossible, but you can do it. Before leaving for vacation, disconnect yourself from the business world. That means turning off your cell phone, leaving your laptop at home, and doing whatever else is necessary to leave work at work.

Feel some sort of pressure to stay connected to work while on vacation? Talk with your boss about your mixed feelings. More than likely, he or she will understand and will give you the thumbs up on a disconnected week away. It may take a couple days to get over the need to stay in contact, but once you stop worrying about e-mail and phone messages, you’ll reap refreshing benefits!

Summer’s Worst Foods

They may be tempting, but you’ll be better off saying “No thanks” to these summertime favorites.

As summer shows up and the temperature rises, your taste buds begin to go crazy. With so many delicious foods available, summer is a verifiable festival for your mouth. But before you gorge yourself on everything the hot months have to offer, take a little time to consider which summertime foods are best left on the shelf or the serving platter.
Which summer foods would you be better off avoiding?

Fatty Meats: While it may be true that tossing meat on the barbecue is a much better alternative than deep-frying it, some meat is best left alone regardless of how it is cooked. If you find yourself in the midst of a fat-laden hamburger cookout, bring your own lean ground beef or turkey to add to the mix. This way, you can have your burger and eat it, too – without shoving extra fat and calories onto your waist.

Chips: While heading out for a day in the sun, few snacks are as portable and tasty as a bag of potato chips. Unfortunately, as easy as they are to transport from one place to the next, potato chips are even easier to eat a lot of. They may be thin and seem innocent enough, but a day of potato chips will put you back in basic training for swimsuit shape.

Fried Chicken: No matter if you make it yourself using Grandma’s famous recipe or pick up a box of it at a restaurant, fried chicken is never a good option – even in the warm summer months when it tastes so good. Do your arteries, your heart, and your belly a favor by picking up a few organic chicken breasts and grilling them instead. Then toss your favorite barbecue sauce on, and enjoy!

Hotdogs: Yes, they look great on the grill, and if you’re good you won’t lose more than three when transporting them from the grill to your plate, but that doesn’t give you a free pass to eat all the hotdogs you want. In fact, you should probably stay clear of any and all products that are hotdog shaped, as they nearly all are jam-packed with high levels of fat, calories, and sodium. And no, you don’t need any of those in excess.

Cool Fats: You need something to go along with all those delicious foods that come piping hot off the grill. In steps potato salad, coleslaw, and pasta salad to bring a nice change of temperature and a large amount of fat. Want to enjoy these colder delights with less regret? Use light mayonnaise, use more vegetables in your salads, or try substituting low-fat yogurt for some of the mayonnaise. These changes won’t make them fat-free, but they’ll make your favorite summer salads a bit healthier.

Frozen Goodies: Every time the ice cream truck circles your neighborhood, you feel the call. It’s hard to turn away from the allure of ice cream on a stick, especially when it’s being sold out of a van with seductive music blaring out of a speaker mounted on the roof. But be strong. If you simply must delight your sense of taste, go to the ice cream truck and ask for a fruit bar or head to the store and pick up some low-calorie sherbet.

Drink Healthy, Too.

Summer is full of unhealthy choices, including what you have the opportunity to drink. To help your body stay in good health and maintain your summer shape, drink mostly water during the hot months. To give your taste buds something exciting, it’s okay to occasionally sip on sweet tea, soda, energy drinks, or those fruity alcoholic beverages. Just don’t make it a habit, as they can fill you up with useless sugars and calories.

The Power of Pull-Ups

Getting a grip on one of the least utilized and most needed parts of your exercise routine.

Maybe you fell out of love with pull-ups because they didn’t require any fancy gym equipment to perform. Or maybe you prefer to stay on the treadmill. Then again, you may have left pull-ups behind because they’re so stinking difficult to perform.

Whatever your reason for not getting any pull-ups in your regimen, it’s time to put excuses away and lift yourself to a stronger, healthier you.

Building Strength

There are plenty of ways to bulk up. You can drink protein shakes and lift lots and lots of weights. But sometimes, you can beef up without ever increasing your strength very much. This is very evident if you consider yourself to be fairly buff, but find your body balking at the pull-up bar.

By working to do one, two, five, 10, and eventually 25 pull-ups, you give your body an incredible amount of strength that simply doesn’t come through other exercises. With a single pull-up, you work a variety of muscles. From the biceps to your forearms, to all sorts of muscles running through your back, pull-ups work them all. But that’s not all. Do pull-ups frequently enough and you can enjoy stronger grip with your hands and improved cardio.

A Helping Hand

Are pull-ups too difficult for you to pull off? These days, you have an option. At your local gym, there is likely a machine that reduces the amount of weight you have to pull in order to complete a pull-up. So you may want to start with these.

But before you go with the pull-up machine, take heed! Get used to using the machine, and your goal of doing pull-ups on your own may never be accomplished. If you want to do pull-ups to increase your strength, there is no substitute for working at full-fledged pull-ups – even if you fail time and again. Keep trying despite your failures, and you’ll soon be knocking out pull-ups like a pro.

Diverse Options

If you think pull-ups are one size fits all, you’ve not been paying attention. Just like with push-ups, pull-ups work different muscles depending on where you put your hands.

Parallel Grip: Grab a parallel pull-up bar and you’ll work your back and arms in the safest, most ergonomically correct manner possible. Face your palms toward one another and get going!

Close Grip: By placing your hands no farther than a fist apart on a straight pull-up bar, you can grow and strengthen your back muscles by your armpits, your forearm muscles, and the muscles under your biceps. Flip your palms over and do the same thing in the chin-up position, and you’ll work different back and arm muscles.

Shoulder Width: Known as the standard for increasing upper body strength, pull-ups performed with your hands shoulder-width apart feel more natural than other positions and give you an incredible workout. Flip your hands over for a chin-up position, and continue your routine.

Wide Grip: If you’re looking for a stronger upper back, look no further than wide-grip pull-ups. By holding the bar with your hands far apart, your back gets an intense workout, while your other muscles are almost entirely left out of the picture.

Technique

While you may want to begin your first pull-up with your chin already on the bar, that’s not the way to get the full benefit of your pull-ups. Instead, start your pull-up routine at a dead hang. And between each pull-up, don’t jerk your body back up to the bar immediately after leaving. Allow your body to return to the dead-hang position.

Doing these two steps makes your pull-ups much more difficult, but they’ll also ensure you maintain full range of motion in your muscles. Ultimately, these little steps allow your body to be its strongest before, during, and after your pull-up routine!