The Florida Keys & Key West

If you’re looking for an effortless domestic getaway with international appeal, this southernmost U.S. island chain holds the keys.

Image may contain Water Outdoors Human Person Nature Ocean Sea Animal Sea Life Reef Sport Sports and Diver

Who couldn’t use a little escape these days? Few destinations suit the current moment better than the Florida Keys. Easy to get to by road or air, this uniquely American island paradise offers 365 days of practically perfect subtropical weather, a vast array of outdoor activities on land and water, and a wealth of authentic experiences across five distinct districts—no passport required.

The northernmost island in the Keys, Key Largo may look and feel like the Caribbean, but it’s only about an hour’s drive from South Florida’s two major airports. You might know its name from the classic Humphrey Bogart film, or you may know its reputation as the Diving Capital of the World. Either way, it’s a fitting place to take the plunge into the Keys.

With the only living coral barrier reef in the continental U.S. just off its eastern shores, Key Largo was destined to adopt diving as a way of life. Visitors can become scuba certified in only three days, learning with some of the world’s best instructors—then practice their skills in the brilliant undersea world at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the country’s first underwater nature preserve. More advanced divers will want to explore the wreck of the Spiegel Grove, a U.S. Navy ship that was intentionally scuttled in 2002 to create a new reef system. At 510 feet, it’s larger than any natural reef structure in the Keys and a spectacular introduction to the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail. But if you prefer your adventures on land—or in shallower waters—take heart: Key Largo is also flanked by Everglades National Park, a natural wonderland for hikers, birders, kayakers, and eco-tourists of all stripes.

Image may contain Water Outdoors Human Person Fishing Sunglasses Accessories Accessory Animal Tuna and Sea Life

Islamorada translated from Spanish as “purple isle,” has yet another name among sport fishing enthusiasts: heaven. Its unique location, between the “backcountry” of the Florida Bay and the “front side” of the Atlantic Ocean, provides an unrivaled diversity of fishing opportunities. Seasonal visiting species like sailfish, marlin, and tuna are brought in by the Gulf Stream; tarpon and bonefish are among the treasures to be found in the backcountry, with catch-and-release and other responsible practices fully observed. If you’re an angling newbie or just not sure where to start, you’ll find a host of charters available, with tournament-grade captains and experienced guides ready to show you the way.

Take your catch to any number of local restaurants, like Islamorada Fish Company, where they will be happy to cook it to perfection. Or if you’ve spent the day kiteboarding, paddleboarding, or kayaking, just take your appetite. Grab a seat at a dockside eatery or on an outdoor patio at sunset. You’ll want to sample all of the local delicacies—especially the succulent stone crabs, in season from mid-October through mid-May. (Key lime pie is always in season.)

Image may contain Clothing Apparel Shorts Human Person Boat Vehicle Transportation Vessel Watercraft and Vest

Midway through the Keys and sandwiched between the waters of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, Marathon is a boater’s paradise and a restless family’s dream. Whether you’re cruising in on your own vessel or renting one while you’re here, this is one of the Keys’ most boat-friendly destinations, with a jewel of a marina and a rich seafaring history.

By water or via the historic Seven Mile Bridge, make your way to Pigeon Key, the tiny island that served as home for workers building the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad in the early 20th century; it’s a great spot for picnics, historical tours, and easy snorkeling. Families can also immerse themselves in Marathon’s world-class marine education programs, whether by enjoying close encounters with loggerheads, hawksbills, and their brethren at the Turtle Hospital—the world’s first licensed veterinary center for endangered sea turtles—or swimming and playing with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters is unlike any other aquarium experience, with opportunities for visitors of all ages to engage with the aquatic world through touch tanks, feeding experiences, and snorkeling encounters designed to inspire the next generation of marine conservationists.

Big Pine Key & Florida’s Lower Keys are a string of small islands best known for their abundance of natural wonders, including two national wildlife refuges and a national marine sanctuary. The names of these idyllic keys hint at their quirky, irresistible appeal: Big Pine, Little Duck, Sunshine, Summerland, Sugarloaf—and the list goes on. But charming names are only the beginning. The “Natural Keys” will capture your heart and take your breath away with adventures in the wild, both on land and on (or under) the water.

One of the most remarkable creatures you’ll encounter here is the Key deer, a diminutive subspecies of whitetail found nowhere else on earth. These carefully protected beauties roam free throughout Lower Keys, but especially on Big Pine—home to the National Key Deer Refuge, where you can spot them on guided walks, bike rides, and kayak excursions. Just east of Big Pine Key lies Bahia Honda State Park, one of the most beloved beach destinations in the country. The park encompasses more than 500 pristine acres, including an offshore island, and snorkelers can explore the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, one of the most glorious reefs in the Keys. Just before you hit Key West, pay a visit to Stock Island, an up-and-coming resort destination with a colorful history as the hub of the Keys’ shrimping industry and a vibrant community of young artists.

Image may contain Human Person Porch Patio Furniture Chair Railing and Pergola

Celebrated for its flamboyant personality and anything-goes spirit, Key West also has a softer side. Those who come for the party scene and colorful characters won’t be disappointed—but history buffs, nature lovers, and sporty types should prepare to fall in love, too. This island has captured the imaginations of countless artists and writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and Winslow Homer. And if it seems unlikely that the same small patch of land could provide inspiration for “Margaritaville” balladeer Jimmy Buffett and poet laureate Robert Frost, just wait. Once you get to know Key West, it won’t seem surprising at all.

Image may contain Human Person Outdoors Transportation Vehicle Boat Water Rowboat Oars Paddle and Nature

In addition to literary landmarks like the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West’s historical sites include Harry S. Truman’s Little White House, where the 33rd President took respite during the winter months. Who could blame him, when the sea beckons from every direction, and water and air temperatures are nothing short of perfect? Do what Truman would do: hop a charter for some of the best sportfishing you’ll find anywhere. Leisurely cruising is always an option, too, whether on a catamaran charter or paddling a kayak along one of the island’s peaceful waterways. And when you’ve worked up an appetite, take your pick from a feast of outdoor dining venues, from spacious porches to candlelit seaside lawns.

Dedicate a day—or more—to shopping; from antiques to handcrafted jewelry, clothing, and works of art, Key West is brimming with one-of-a-kind boutiques reflecting its irrepressible personality. Now more than ever, it feels great to support small local businesses, and you’ll find no shortage of eclectic mom-and-pop stores and enterprises throughout the Florida Keys & Key West. From signature, Cuban coffee shops to family-run eco-tours to distinctive home goods and so much more, shopping mom-and-pop in the Keys is a lot like exploring the reefs and nature preserves: you get to discover all sorts of treasures while doing your part to support the ecosystem.

Image may contain Outdoors Nature Land Shoreline Water Ocean Sea Human Person Transportation Vehicle and Boat

Think of the Florida Keys as the world-class destination that happens to be right in your own backyard—with all of the superb accommodations you would expect to find there. From family-run properties to luxurious resort hotels and rentals, all are observing stringent cleanliness protocols to ensure travelers’ health and safety during this time of Covid-19. Always a pioneer in the realm of sustainability, the Keys continue to lead in another area of responsible tourism: social distancing and masks are respectfully enforced throughout the destination. And dining establishments throughout the region—now more than ever—offer outdoor seating, waterfront dining, and convenient takeout options.

Source: https://www.cntraveler.com/sponsored/story/timeless-and-timelier-than-ever-the-florida-keys?mvt=i&mvn=e171f4ee6fb64cd0817a4f6812a2ad76&mvp=NA-ARCHDIGE-11238832&mvl=Key-river%20%5BVerso%20Homepage%20River%5D

What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Coffee

Reader’s Digest article by Brooke Nelson 

Slide 1 of 10: Depending on how you like your coffee, your regular Starbucks run could be doing a number on your waistline; giving up those cups of joe could save you money as well as calories. A study published in 2017 in Public Health found that roughly two-thirds of coffee drinkers load their cup of joe with sugar, cream, flavorings, or other calorie-rich additives. Not surprisingly, the researchers discovered that those who drink their coffee black consume about 69 fewer total calories per day, on average, than those who add sweeteners, cream or other additives to their coffee. Our sister site, Taste of Home, tried seven brands of coffee—and this one was the best.

 © Dougal Waters/Getty Images

You could lose weight

Depending on how you like your coffee, your regular Starbucks run could be doing a number on your waistline; giving up those cups of joe could save you money as well as calories. A study published in 2017 in Public Health found that roughly two-thirds of coffee drinkers load their cup of joe with sugar, cream, flavorings, or other calorie-rich additives. Not surprisingly, the researchers discovered that those who drink their coffee black consume about 69 fewer total calories per day, on average, than those who add sweeteners, cream or other additives to their coffee.

You could gain weight

Have you ever experienced strange cravings if you happen to forgo your caffeine dose one morning? Since coffee can temporarily suppress your appetite, you might find yourself reaching for fat- or sugar-loaded replacements more often than usual once you stop drinking your daily cup of joe. This is especially true when your caffeine withdrawal kicks in and your body starts searching for a quick sugar fix, boosting your blood sugar and daily caloric consumption.

You could sleep better

Even though you’ll feel tired as your body adjusts to the lack of stimulants it’s become used to, in the long run, you could get a better night’s sleep once you start living caffeine-free, especially if you were an afternoon or evening coffee drinker.  A study published in 2013 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that caffeine intake even six hours before bedtime can disrupt a person’s sleep cycle that night.

You could have more frequent headaches

Every coffee lover recognizes the telltale signs of the dreaded caffeine headache that hits when your body doesn’t get its morning jolt. When you stop drinking coffee, you deprive your body of adrenaline and dopamine, hormones that act as natural stimulants and keep you awake. Instead, a flood of adenosine—a hormone responsible for rest and tiredness—rushes to your head, causing a change to your brain chemistry that results in a headache. To minimize the pain, don’t quit cold turkey. Instead, cut your intake just a little bit every two or three days. Eliminating a half cup of coffee, replacing coffee with tea, or even mixing normal coffee with decaf can help to avoid withdrawal symptoms, and you’ll be well on your way to weaning off your caffeine dependency. 

You could feel sick (but not for long)

Headaches aren’t the only painful symptom of quitting coffee. Those who stop consuming coffee have reported side effects like depression, anxiety, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, irritability, mood swings, and sluggishness. Here’s the good news: you won’t feel this way forever. Experts say that most of the physical symptoms of caffeine withdrawal will pass after the first two days, while the rest of the side effects won’t last beyond a week or two. 

You could have a healthier smile

Coffee is highly acidic, which means it erodes your tooth enamel and stains your teeth with every sip. Cut the caffeine and you’ll protect your teeth from a lifetime of erosion, leading to pearlier whites. Your teeth won’t get stained as much, which people often don’t think about.

You could miss out on antioxidants

Plenty of research, including a study published in 2015 in PLoS One, found that coffee can act as an antioxidant. And other studies point to the potential for a reduced risk of certain diseases seen in coffee drinkers. One published in 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, for instance, suggests that coffee drinkers have a lower risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s than non-coffee drinkers. So, unfortunately, if you’re cutting back on coffee, you’ll be losing the health benefits, too. Thankfully, it’s not hard to make up for your regular coffee intake by replacing it with antioxidant-rich tea, fruits, and veggies. 

You could have difficulty concentrating

Quitting coffee can make you feel fatigued and irritable, which can contribute to a lack of concentration, thanks to caffeine withdrawal. Blame it on the lack of stimulants you get from a dose of coffee, as well as the increase in adenosine, that pesky hormone that makes you feel tired. To counteract the loss of concentration, try chewing minty gum to keep your brain alert and on task. When participants did so in a study published in 2014 in the British Journal of Psychology, they had quicker reaction times and more accurate results on their tasks, especially toward the end of the session. Plus, after just a week without caffeine, you’ll find that your productivity has increased because you no longer experience the inevitable afternoon crash after a morning cup of coffee. 

You could become constipated

Caffeine keeps things moving through your intestines, which is why you may feel backed up when you stop drinking your usual cup of java. But never fear, there are plenty of other ways to help prevent constipation: eat lots of fiber (found in whole grains, vegetables, and beans), drink plenty of water, and exercise regularly. Your digestive system will thank you. 

You could feel calmer

If too much caffeine has ever left you squirming in your chair or jiggling your leg, it’s time to say goodbye to your double espresso shots. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it naturally raises levels of adrenaline and stress hormones in your body. No wonder drinking too much joe can make you jittery and irritable, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine, says Sonya Angelone, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, in San Francisco. 

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/nutrition/10-things-that-happen-to-your-body-when-you-quit-coffee/ss-BB1agi9E?ocid=msedgntp#image=10

 

How to Get Rid of Unwanted Medications

Whatever the reason, you open your medicine cabinet and reach for a bottle of ibuprofen. But as you’re twisting off the cap, you notice it expired last year.

Ordinarily you’d run out to the store for a new one, but you’ve been cutting down on shopping trips due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Is it OK to take that over-the-counter (OTC) med past its “use by” date, or could doing so be harmful?

See the source image

https://www.goodrx.com/

To find out, we looked at research addressing exactly this question — and talked to experts who live and breathe this stuff. Their insight might surprise you.

First, Consider the Safety Risks

Taking expired medicine can be risky, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The issues include:

  • It may not actually work: “If a drug has degraded, it might not provide the patient with the intended benefit because it has a lower strength than intended,” according to the FDA. That is, expired medication may not be effective. That’s particularly problematic with prescription medications; if they’re not effective, you could be in danger.
  • There could be side effects: That’s due to the medication “yield[ing] toxic compounds,” per the FDA.

It’s best to safely dispose of all out-of-date medication, per the FDA.

How to Get Rid of Unwanted Medications

Don’t throw expired or unused medications in the trash. Instead, follow these guidelines from the FDA.

  • Bring the unwanted medications to a drop-off site or program.
  • If medications are OK to flush down the toilet, go ahead and do so.
  • For meds that shouldn’t be flushed, crush the pills and mix them with unappealing garbage (like coffee grounds or cat litter), then place the mixture in the sealed plastic bag. Place that bag in the trash.
  • For prescription medicine, remove any identifying information (such as your address) before disposing of the packaging.

Despite the risks, studies show that many meds, when carefully stored, remain potent well beyond their expiration date. Still, depending on what the drugs are and how they were stored, old pills might not give you the results you want.

“Mild painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meds (NSAIDs) or antihistamines for nasal allergies can easily be monitored for efficacy,” Dr. Tavel says.

In other words, if your skull is still throbbing after taking circa-2010 ibuprofen, it’s probably time to stock up on a new supply. If your headache vanishes, then you’re good to go.

Article by Molly Triffin for:

https://www.livestrong.com/article/13727406-expired-over-the-counter-medicine-effects/

How to Paint a Staircase

Article and photo’s by Debbie @ Painted Therapy

How To Paint a Staircase

As the times changed, so did my design style. When it became clear that my stairs needed an upgrade, and I was unable to find an affordable runner carpet that I liked, I went for the full-on painted stairs. Although there were a few glitches along the way, it was a pretty easy project to do.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS 
– Paint
– Primer
– Tape measure
– Painter’s tape
– Carpenter’s square

How to Paint Stairs - Midpoint

STEP 1: Prime and tape

I decided to go with a low-luster enamel paint. I chose the Porch and Patio Floor paint from Behr and had it color-matched to go with my furniture. After first priming and painting the stairs in my base color (which happens to be the same color as the house’s trim), I went to work on taping. I used a tape measure and decided how wide I wanted my center “runner” to be, used the angle to get a straight line, and then used painter’s tape to create a line on each step. It definitely gets tricky going over the lip and trim pieces, so you want to make sure you seal the edges well.

How to Paint Stairs - Taping Stage

Photo: Painted Therapy

STEP 2: Measure

After getting the first piece of tape on, I marked the width of my trusty DVD case (we were watching The Lion King, so why not?), made a straight line with the angle, and applied this next line of tape parallel to the first (making sure again to seal the edges well). Then I did it all over again on the other side of the stairs.

Side note: I have a sweet reader who reminded me of a very special tip (that I forgot until AFTER the stairs were painted). Paint over your tape edges with your base color. If you do so, you will seal the tape with the base color, and the next color (in my case gray) cannot get under that pesky tape. BRILLIANT!

STEP 3: Paint.

Once I had finished the stripes, I then painted the tread of the stairs. You may want to paint every other step, giving yourself a dry place to step up and down, but I chose not to do that, since there was enough dry room on the sides. Let it be noted that I did use a paint additive to give the stairs a little rough texture and create traction. I didn’t want my little girl to wake up one January morning, socks on feet, and slipping down the stairs to me. Additive can easily be found in the paint section of your paint store.

How to Paint Stairs - Mission Accomplished

Photo: Painted Therapy

And there she is! I’ve decided I like the stairs. They are much easier to clean too, as I just sweep down and vacuum up. I chose not to put poly on the stairs, but I have no problem with them looking “worn” over time. By then, I’m sure my decorating style will have changed again anyway.

This guide comes to us from Debbie—wife, mother of two, and the creative force behind the popular DIY blog Painted Therapy. Eager to try anything, from painting stairs to making art from old shipping pallets, Debbie is on a mission to prove that home improvement can be both fun and therapeutic.

Source: https://www.bobvila.com/articles/29359-dream-it-do-it-how-to-paint-a-staircase/#.VXHkqs9VhBc

Will Yellowstone Be Back for Season 4?

The drama-filled show is set to return for another season in 2021.


                            ‘Yellowstone’: Did you know John Dutton's ranch is real? Here's where it is located and how you can live there
(Paramount Network)

With all of the twists and turns, it’s no surprise that Yellowstone has become one of the hit TV shows of the summer. The story of the drama-filled Dutton family’s Montana ranch is filled with cliffhangers, making it perfect for binge-watching. Kevin Costner stars as patriarch John Dutton, who, along with his children Kayce (Luke Grimes), Beth (Kelly Reilly), and Jamie (Wes Bentley), does whatever it takes to protect his ranch and fortune. Season 3 came to a head during the eventful finale, which ended with a bomb and gunfire, leaving viewers wondering who would survive to see season 4.

HOW CAN I WATCH SEASON 3?

If you haven’t watched past seasons of Yellowstone, you have time to catch up! The show is not on Netflix or Hulu, but seasons 1 and 2 are available to watch on the new Peacock streaming service. Season 3 has not launched on Peacock yet, but you don’t have to wait long! Season 3 will be available on Peacock on November 22, 2020. If you have cable TV service, you can sign in to watch all episodes through the Paramount Network. If you just can’t wait, individual episodes are also available to purchase through Amazon.

When will season 4 premiere?

Well, don’t worry. There will be a season 4. According to Deadline, “Paramount Network has ordered a fourth season of its flagship series Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner, ahead of its Season 3 premiere on the summer.” Filming for season 4 was delayed by a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic but picked up shortly before the season 3 finale aired.

Chief Joseph Ranch, where Yellowstone is filmed, confirmed on August 21 that filming for season 4 had begun, and Forrie Smith, Jr., who portrays cowboy Lloyd, reported from his first day of shooting. No release date for season 4 has been announced, but the past three seasons all began in June, so we expect season 4 to air in June 2021, as long as the delay in filming hasn’t put production behind schedule.

Source: https://www.countryliving.com/life/entertainment/a33768227/yellowstone-season-4/

9 Things That Might Be Affecting Your Libido

Source: @eberjey

We know the drill. You come home late after a long day, cook dinner, and basically just melt right into bed. Your partner, of course, was wishing for other plans. While most of us shrug this off to stress or exhaustion (which it can be!), there are other reasons you might not get as excited to get down to business tonight. It’s normal to not be in the mood every now and then (I mean, sometimes we just want to sleep!); however, when it becomes a consistent occurrence, there could be something deeper going on.

A low libido seriously sucks, but it’s something most of us will go through at some point. Instead of causing yourself more stress, we looked into all the reasons you’re not too keen on doing much in the bedroom right now — besides sleep.

1. Stress

We all know how it feels to get home and still have a to-do list. Whether you’re experiencing work, school, or personal stress, it’s easy to let that get into your head and discourage you from engaging in time with your partner.

Try one of these — might I add, wonderful — ways to reduce your day to day stress, so you and your partner can get back to it. You could also start adding some self-care to your routine, or if you’re feeling ~spicy~, treat yourself with a little me time. We promise you’ll feel renewed.

2. Certain medications

Antidepressants, some anti-anxiety medications, blood pressure medications, and more can have a low sex drive as a side effect. If you’ve started taking a new medication recently, look back at the list of side effects your pharmacist gave you (that you probably wanted to throw out and thought again that it might be important). If you think it’s impacting your life or your relationships, you can talk to your doctor about another option.  

3. Pregnancy or breastfeeding

Pregnancy and breastfeeding cause a lot of changes to occur within your body. Your hormones are raging, which can cause fluctuations in your sex drive. One day you might want to go at it like rabbits, and another, you’re not interested at all. Understand that this is just a change in your body, and it won’t last forever.

Aside from your hormones, the other side effects of pregnancy can turn you off from sex. Nausea and fatigue in the first trimester just make sex uncomfortable — who wants to go at it when they feel sick!? Then, as your body grows and changes (woohoo! A baby!), traditional sex positions can feel kinda awkward, and women can sometimes be self-conscious about their pregnant bodies. Be kind to yourself, you’re about to birth another human into the world!

4. Lack of sleep

Along with stress, we completely understand. Whether you had a work report due at 8am, you had a scary dream (I watch too much AHS), or you stayed up reading (#guilty), you didn’t get your full eight hours last night. And that’s okay! It’s when you continuously forgo sleep that you start to notice a consistent decrease in your libido.

Try some lavender oil in your diffuser, turn off your electronics an hour before bed, or my personal favorite, give yourself a good Saturday morning to sleep until noon.

5. Negative body image

When you don’t feel comfortable or accepting of your body, it’s hard to want someone else to see you naked. Continued fear and self-consciousness when having sex is enough to make you never want to do it again. Yoga, meditation, or buying a cute new set of lingerie are all examples of ways you can start to gain a little confidence (and maybe feel a little sexier, too!).

6. Mental health issues

If you’re struggling with depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder included) or anxiety, it can significantly impact your sex drive. This can have to do with medication, issues with trust, anxiety and worry about your partner — the list goes on. Because there are so many ways mental illness can affect your libido, reach out to your doctor to discuss ways in which you can either bring it back or make it easier on yourself.

7. Relationship issues

You and your partner might have gotten in a fight recently, or you feel as though you can’t trust him or her. There are many different issues that you and your partner can experience that might lower your libido. If you’re experiencing conflict, talk with your partner openly and honestly. The conflict might be stressful and hard to deal with at first, but you’ll be grateful when it’s over and you and your partner feel closer than ever.

8. Conditions that make sex painful

Vulvodynia and endometriosis are known to cause painful sex, which can not really make you super excited to get in the sack, right? If you suffer with these conditions, talk to your doctor about treatments. You can also talk to your partner about different positions that might reduce or avoid pain. You deserve to feel good during sex, not uncomfortable!

9. Birth control

Again with the hormones! Birth control pills can sometimes lower the hormones in your body — like testosterone — that make you want to have sex. Luckily, there are alternatives, such as non-hormonal IUDs, condoms, and diaphragms. You could also talk with your doctor about trying a different birth control pill or option, like the NuvaRing.

Source: https://theeverygirl.com/9-things-that-might-be-affecting-your-libido/

3 Fall Pitfalls That Can Lead to Weight Gain and How to Nip Them in the Bud

By By Brierley Horton, MS, RD for LiveStrong.com

Even if you love fall, you have to admit that it’s a strange sort of in-between season. It’s not the carefree days of summer spent in shorts and flip-flops, and it’s also not quite the cozy months of winter that call for wrapping up in scarves and sweaters.

Likewise, when it comes to weight loss, you may expect the challenges of summer — barbecues, ice cream and alcohol, oh my! — and the holiday season, while autumn’s pitfalls might not be so obvious. But the season comes with a few unique barriers that can trip you up.

See the source image
http://www.top10.com/Programs/WeightLoss

Here are some common habits we adopt or activities we choose to do (or not) that could make the number on the scale grow.

1. Increased Stress

With long sunny weekends and vacations behind us, it can feel good to get back into a regular routine — aka that “back-to-school” feeling. But this time of year also typically comes with more deadlines, appointments and (if you have kids) shuttling to school, activities, etc. Put another way, stress ticks up when the dog days of summer are behind us.

And here’s the thing about stress: We’re more likely to overeat and choose less-healthy foods when we’re feeling overextended, per a study in the Journal of Molecular Biochemistry published October 2018.

How to Dial Down Your Stress

Double down on your stress management. When obese adults participated in a stress management program (think: learning progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing and guided visualization), they lost more weight over an eight-week period than their counterparts who didn’t take stress-reduction classes, according to that same Journal of Molecular Biochemistry study.

Try These Tricks

2. Cooler Weather

Sure, those colder temps help you get a better night’s rest, but they also may make you less likely to want to be active or exercise outdoors. Unfortunately, dialing back on your activity level means you’ll burn fewer calories.

How to Stay Active During Colder Months

Planning ahead is key.

“If you’re an outdoor exercise fiend, consider the right clothing so you can continue your journey,” Chris Mohr, PhD, RD, of MohrResults.com, tells LIVESTRONG.com. “There’s a saying I learned when I was in Norway and it’s stuck with me since — there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

If that doesn’t appeal to you, what are your indoor options?

“Many gyms offer virtual classes, and there is certainly no shortage of apps that offer a great variety of workouts,” Mohr says.

Crunched for Time?

Choose one of these 20-minute workouts that torch calories and build muscle.

3. The Urge for Comfort Food

It’s fall, y’all — and that means pumpkin spice lattes, cider donuts, game-day snacks and warm casseroles that might be slightly less than healthy. Add in the fact that you’ve probably put away your swimsuit for the season and have dug out your cozy oversized sweaters, and it can be tough to resist these cool-weather treats.

How to Still Enjoy Your Favorite Fall Eats

The age-old advice of “everything in moderation” absolutely still applies. You don’t have to skip that PSL altogether, but maybe order a tall instead of a venti. And try pairing that ooey-gooey mac and cheese with a big leafy green salad.

And here’s another trick: Dial back the portion sizes at your other meals. When a small group of adults cut down their main meal portions to “smaller than normal,” they didn’t end up eating more (and making up for those calories lost) at other meals or snacks, found a study published February 2020 in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Point being: You can enjoy your comfort food faves in all their glory and compensate for your indulgence at another meal, if you so desire.

Source: https://www.livestrong.com/article/13729021-avoid-fall-weight-gain/

Smoky Chicken and Rice Skillet

Smoky Chicken and Rice Skillet - Food & Nutrition Magazine - Stone Soup
Article and photo by Jen Plaggemars

This one pot meal is packed with so much flavor and nutrition! This recipe is a great combo of carbs and protein and it reheats well, making it a nice option for lunch too.Smoky Chicken and Rice Skillet -

Smoky Chicken and Rice Skillet

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breast, halved
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 4 cups bone broth or chicken stock
  • Green onion, sliced (for garnish)

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In a large bowl, combine chicken, paprika, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook for 4 minutes, or until nicely golden brown. Flip and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate.

Add the carrots, celery and shallot to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, or until lightly softened. Add thyme, oregano, lemon zest/juice, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir in rice and cook for 1 minute. Add broth and the chicken and bring to a boil; cover the pan and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Remove pan from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with green onion and serve.

Jen Plaggemars is a registered dietitian and private chef based in Holland, MI, and owner of Chef Jen LLC. She blogs at chefjen.com.

Source: https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/smoky-chicken-and-rice-skillet/