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Spiked Vegan Hot Chocolate

The One Thing You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who’s Sick

You might not know Austin Carlile by name, but if you like heavy metal music, you've definitely heard of his band, Of Mice and Men. Carlile has Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects his connective tissues and has forced him to have more than a half-dozen surgeries. Plus, it was the reason Of Mice and Men canceled tour dates this fall. Carlile appreciates the outpouring of support from well-wishers, but he wishes people wouldn't say, “Hurry up and get better!” That’s not a reality when you live with a chronic condition. And that's an important reminder for all of us. Check out Carlile's full explanation below:

How to Celebrate New Year's Eve Without (Too Much) Booze

3-2-1-Happy New Year! Yep, it's just about that time, everyone. If you go into New Year’s Eve dreading the (seemingly) inevitable shots and flutes of cheap champagne—not to mention the stumbly walk home—pull back for a sec. There’s a way to make that blurry night a little more memorable: Host a low- or no-alcohol NYE. Surprisingly, the giddiness that comes from dressing up won’t diminish without a cocktail; your party hat will be just as jaunty without a round of shots. We’ve got 7 tips for how to do New Year’s with little or no alcohol. Turns out, you don’t need to be sloshed to have a kick-ass New Year’s Eve. 1. Snack better-for-you. We’ll admit it: Between the endless cookie swaps and office parties, we’ve been filling up on junk this past month. It feels good in the moment, but after the fourth cup of punch (the boss made it! We *had* to try some!) and too long of a stakeout in front of the baked Brie, all we want is something green. Treat New Year’s Eve like a reset button: Have a hummus station with chopped veg, a make-your-own salad bar, and your favorite frozen veggie burgers piled high. 2. Get active. Some cities and running clubs organize midnight runs on December 31, but if you can’t find one, grab your buddies (and a bunch of reflective vests!) and start a run yourself. If you’re in the mood to sweat without going out in the cold, ask your yoga-loving friend to teach a class. Not super athletic? Go on a walk in a funky city neighborhood with your group—lots of shops have New Year’s sales and pretty light displays outside. Festive outfits are a must, but leave the uncomfortable shoes in your closet. 3. Serve mocktails or low-ABV drinks. It doesn’t have to be shaken-not-stirred to be swanky. Explore no- and lower-alcohol drinks that taste great but won’t make the room start to spin after an hour. Try different flavors of drinking vinegar (available at grocery stores or DIY), or drip a few drops of cocktail bitters into club soda. If you can’t bear to give up the flavor of your go-to drink, just omit the hooch from classic cocktails like Bloody Marys, daiquiris, and mojitos. Turns out, herbs and citrus juice with a little fizzy water is actually pretty tasty. 4. Curate the guest list. We’re not saying to abandon your group, but if you’re hosting a night that’s not all about the drinks, invite friends who won’t turn your dining room table into a game of flip cup or start pouring shots at 6 p.m. Easier said than done, we know. If you want to ring in the new year with your booze-loving buds too, we recommend explicitly stating on the invite that this will be a no/low-alcohol evening—and that there’s no hard feelings if anyone prefers to celebrate elsewhere. 5. Cook something tricky and new. You keep saying you want to try more adventurous recipes but just never have the time. Use your evening off to follow through. The last thing you need while you try to make a pot roast or Boston cream pie for the first time is to be tipsy. This mode of celebration works best with small groups or on a date, so everyone can fit in the kitchen. Whip up a pitcher of mocktails (see #3), turn up your best playlist, and set everyone up with their own cooking station. 6. Have an old-fashioned sleepover party. Party like it’s 1999 (unless you were over 21 then, heh) and recall the NYE ragers you had before you were old enough to pop bottles. Order pizzas, sing into a hairbrush, wear sparkly hats and pajamas, freeze a bra or two—you’ve never had so much fun sober! 7. Literally do the exact same thing—just drink less. *Gasp* it’s still fun to have two or three glasses of champagne throughout the night instead of two bottles. Have a glass of wine or a mocktail to start off the evening, then another at midnight and go about your business as usual. And don't worry if your group lands at a bar; we bet you’ll feel vindicated owning the dance floor while everyone else is still in line for a cocktail.

22 Minutes. 11 High-Intensity Moves. One Kick-Ass Total-Body Workout.

Between the travel and the turkey and a few days off from your regular routine, it's easy to fall off the health wagon during the holidays. But the next few weeks give you a chance to get back on track (before you have to do it all over again, of course). This short, high-intensity workout is the kick in the butt you need to get started. You don't need any equipment, but you do need to be ready to push yourself to the limit. The exercises are plyometric, moves in which the muscles exert maximum force in short periods of time, with the goal of increasing speed and strength. So if you have any injuries or issues with high-impact moves, you'll want to skip this one. Otherwise, press play to get started. To recap: Warm-Up: Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. Side Shuffle With Mini Bounce Standing Knee to Chest Hip Open Open Hip to Front Glute Kneeling Hip Hamstring Reach Workout: Perform each exercise for 60 seconds. Air Squat to Pulse 180 Jump Kneel Lunge Jump Plank Hold Prisoner Pose Lateral Lunge to Lunge Jump Side Plank Hold Diagonal Burpee to Squat Jump Side Plank Hold Diagonal Jump Lateral Jump to High Skip Reverse Plank Hold 2x Short Lunge Walk to 2x Split Jump Basketball Shoot to Lateral Skip Dynamic Push-Up Cool-Down: Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. Side Lunge Reach Over Pigeon Wide Leg Hold

How to Eliminate Muscle Cramps

There are two kinds of people in this world: People who have had muscle cramps and people who will experience them sooner or later. Muscle cramps happen to almost everyone, and for a lot of different reasons. Vigorous exercise can certainly make you susceptible to muscle cramps, but it’s not the only cause. In fact, regular exercise (when done properly) can make muscle cramping less frequent and less painful. So What Exactly Is a Muscle Cramp? A muscle cramp is simply an involuntary contraction (spasm) of the muscle fibers. It can happen to any muscle, but is most common in the calves, thighs, and hands and feet. It can affect a small part of a muscle, the whole thing, or even a whole group of muscles that typically work together (e.g., writer’s cramp).  A cramp can last anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes or more, or come and go multiple times over an extended period. Sometimes, a muscle will cramp in response to a certain kind of movement (usually one that shortens the muscle, such as when your calf muscle cramps when you point your toes), or during/after a particularly ambitious exercise session or activity you’re not accustomed to. But it can also happen when you’re not using the muscle at all. For example, some people often experience a ''charley horse'' (calf muscle cramp) while sitting still, or even while lying in bed at night. This is especially common in the elderly, but young people can experience it, too. Medical professionals have identified several different kinds of muscle cramps. Some, like tetany and contractures, are associated with various medical conditions or medications, and you may need medical help to deal with those specific types. Other muscle problems can masquerade as cramps. For example, if you experience leg pain during moderate walking but goes away after you stop walking, you may be suffering from ''intermittent claudication,'' a symptom of  circulation problems (not a cramp) that warrants a trip to your doctor.  

Related Note: If you have severe and/or persistent problems with muscle cramps that don’t seem to be related to any of the common situations described below, or if your cramps don’t respond to the basic suggestions offered here, you should see a medical professional to get to the root of the problem.

The most common type of cramp is called a ''true'' cramp. Symptoms may include sharp, sudden pain, inability to use the muscle, visible bulging, twitching or firmness, and sensitivity to pressure. Unlike strains and sprains, true cramps aren’t the product of damaged muscle tissue; and the cramp itself doesn’t injure the muscle beyond making it a little sore for a while. True cramps are typically caused by a temporary situation such as dehydration, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or muscle fatigue brought on by too much exercise--problems you can correct and/or avoid on your own. Knowing what causes a cramp isn't much consolation when you’re in the middle of a painful episode of cramping. Therefore, it pays to know how to stop the cramp quickly or, better yet, head it off before it happens. How to Stop a Cramp Many simple muscle cramps can be stopped quickly by moderately stretching the cramped muscle. If you have cramps in your feet or toes, you can often ''walk it off'' by simply standing up and/or walking around in bare or stocking feet. For hand cramps, try pressing your hand against a flat surface. For a calf cramp, straighten your leg in the air while lying on your back and pull your toes toward your head using a towel. Alternatively, lean into a wall with your heels flat on the floor and your feet 2-3 feet from the wall—just far enough to produce a light stretch. For other muscles, you can learn specific stretches for the muscle that is affected. Sometimes, massaging a cramped muscle will help release it. If you suffer from rest cramps (e.g., cramps that happen while sleeping or during extended sitting), lightly stretching those muscles before sleeping or sitting may help prevent the cramps. When a cramp comes on during a workout session, stop the exercise long enough to stretch the muscle. You can further help a cramped muscle relax by contracting the opposing muscle group (e.g., contract your quads to help relax a cramp in your hamstrings). Massage the muscle for a little while while you get yourself rehydrated, consuming a sports drink with electrolytes if possible, then resume your activity. If the cramping continues, then overuse or fatigue is the likely cause--and the only thing that may stop that is stopping your workout session completely.  How to Prevent Muscle Cramps Upset nerves are a primary cause of common muscle cramps. There are three very common and preventable problems that can make your nerves unhappy: dehydration, vitamin deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances, and overdoing your activity without appropriate preparation. Luckily, you can prevent all of these situations. Here's how.

  • Stay well hydrated. Being dehydrated, whether from heavy sweating during physical activity, overall poor fluid intake, or use of certain medications, can make you especially vulnerable to muscle cramps during or after physical activity. If you live in a hot, humid area and/or sweat a lot during your exercise, or you’re restricting your food and beverage intake for weight loss, you’ll need to take extra precaution to make sure you’re well-hydrated before you start your activity.   Dehydration problems can start to set in when you lose more than 2% of your body weight through sweating or inadequate fluid intake. If you’re not sure whether you need to worry about this, try weighing yourself before and after a typical workout or activity. If you do lose more than 2% of your weight, you’ll want to drink enough water (on an ounce-for-ounce basis) during your activity to keep your weight loss under that 2% target. And even if you don’t lose that much, make sure you take in enough fluids after your activity to get back to your pre-exercise weight. Typically, drinking a half-liter of ordinary water per pound of lost weight should do the trick. Learn more about your fluid needs during exercise.
  • Eat your vitamins and minerals. There’s some evidence that being deficient in vitamins B-1, B-5 and/or B-6 can increase the likelihood of muscle cramps in some people, so keep an eye on your diet to make sure you’re not shorting yourself on your B vitamins. Likewise, a diet that is     too low in sodium, potassium or magnesium can cause muscle cramp problems, because your body also loses these electrolytes in sweat. If necessary, you can replenish these minerals during or after extended exercise by using sports drinks with added electrolytes; but unless you do more than an hour of high-intensity exercise, it’s usually better to get these vitamins and minerals from the food you eat, especially if you’re trying to keep your calorie count down.
  • Always warm-up and cool-down properly. Muscle fatigue is a major contributor to muscle cramping, and it can be brought on if you skimp on your exercise prepartion and cool down periods. To minimize this problem, follow these simple principles:
    • Always include 5-10 minutes of a lower intensity warm-up before using a muscle for high-intensity activity, and allow for a similar cool-down period afterwards.
    • Avoid over-stretching cold muscles, which can irritate them and reduce performance; save intense stretching for after the exercise or activity, or after your warm-up. Remember: Stretching is not the same thing as a warm-up.
    • Start slowly with any activity that uses different muscles than your typical workouts, uses your muscles in a different way (e.g., cycling instead of jogging), or involves significantly longer periods of activity. Build up your time, intensity, and frequency gradually over time.

Muscle cramps are a normal part of life for many exercisers, but they don't have to be. Start using these tips to minimize your cramps in no time.

Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=225
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