All posts by Guest Writer

The 10,000 Steps Goal

Fitness trackers abound these days along with pages of advice encouraging us to walk 10,000 steps. We faithfully don our wristbands and watches hoping to achieve the magical distance of five miles per day. But have you ever stopped to think about why we need those steps? Are 10,000 steps necessary or is it an arbitrary number conjured up to make us obsessive compulsive about walking the last 103 steps needed to reach 10,000 before getting into bed?

Let’s go back a few decades, to say, the 1970’s. If you were alive (and if you weren’t, use your imagination), think of all the things you did throughout the day that involved taking steps. To open the garage door, you had to get out of your car, walk to the garage door, open it, walk back to your car, pull in, then walk back and close the garage door before entering your house. Hmm…maybe 50 steps involved? In order to change the channel on the television (which only had 4 channels to begin with), you had to walk to the TV, change the channel, then walk back to the couch. Another 20 steps. To fill a prescription, you had to get out of your car, walk into the pharmacy, wait for the prescription to be filled (during which time you probably walked around the store because they didn’t have convenient chairs to sit in while you waited), get your prescription, and walk back to your car. Log another 150 steps, at least. We were naturally walking roughly five miles just to accomplish the tasks needed for daily living.

Now, welcome to the 21st century. We use the drive thru at coffee shops for our daily cup of joe. We use riding lawn mowers to cut our grass. We use an elevator to take us up two flights of stairs! These “activities” require no steps. We simply do not have to walk like we used to. We have to schedule time and add “taking steps” to our daily agenda.

Five miles, or 10,000 steps, is a sweet spot for health. When comparing the population at large, individuals that average 10,000 steps per day tend to be healthier than individuals that walk less. You can, however, stop short of berating yourself if you are a few steps shy of your daily goal. Some days your sneakers will pound the pavement with more than 10,000 steps. Some days your shoes will have a little less wear. Look at the bigger picture and see how your steps average out for a week. Remember, life does allow a day or two of leisure on occasion.

Earth Girl’s recommendation is to keep your fitness trackers on, your shoes tied, and your ambition ready to tackle every step of your day!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher

The Art of Avoiding the Scam

As technology evolves to secure our identities, so has scammers’ creativity and resourcefulness to steal it. While we may think we’re savvy enough to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud, the reality is that we’re all susceptible to the threat. Secure yourself with these helpful tips.

Don’t give out personal information unless you’ve initiated contact. Scammers will contact you by phone, mail, and even email requesting personal information. Never give out that information unless you’ve initiated contact or know exactly whom you’re dealing with.

Avoid logging on to personal accounts on public computers. This can make your information accessible to the next person who uses it. Additionally, accessing your checking account via public Wi-Fi puts your information at risk. Only use your personal computer on a private, trusted Wi-Fi signal to access any information that people could use to do you harm.

Create strong passwords. Make it something challenging for others to guess by interchanging E with 3, switching between upper and lowercase, and adding special characters. For example, if you wanted to make your password “animal”, a better alternative might be @N!mA1. That’s much harder to guess and still easy to remember.

Check your credit report annually to look for any discrepancies. The three major credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required by law to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months. To request a free copy, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228. Be cautious of websites that advertise a “free” credit report. They often require you to sign up for a monthly subscription fee in order to receive your report.

Secure your debit and credit cards. You can sign up for digital wallets, which help add a layer of security to your debit and credit cards by encrypting the card information. You can also sign up for purchase alerts where you’re notified via phone and/or email if a certain parameter, such as a dollar amount on a transaction, is hit. It’s also a good idea to let your financial institution know if you’ll be traveling to prevent your card from becoming locked due to unfamiliar transactions.

Being proactive and staying on top of your credit and finances goes a long way toward protecting yourself from scammers; however, if you find you’re already a victim, visit https://www.ready.gov/cyber-attack to learn what your next steps should be.

 

Article provided by Member One

Focus: Chocolate or Checkbooks?

Typically, the short month of February is a blur due to our focus for the perfect Valentine’s Day plans. Whether or not we are in a relationship, we succumb to the pressure of buying or planning something for someone we know. Doused in reds and pinks, we forget to realize that this is a capitalist holiday which causes us to empty our wallets on a dime.

In a relationship, both parties should love one another, and celebrate that love when it is felt. It should not be feasted upon by some day on a calendar that claims that waxy chocolates and overly priced dinner reservations will portray a perfect relationship. The US News Forum reports that annual spending for the holiday is approaching $19 billion dollars. Most of the money is typically spent between candy, flowers, and eating out. As the second biggest “Hallmark Holiday,” it is not surprising that greeting cards follow. If you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t need the stigma of the day to remind you of why you are in a relationship with someone.

Single people? They are targeting you too. You don’t need that “singles mixer” that is dragging every person you could find on Tinder out of their house, only for the venue to serve you overpriced drinks. It’s unfair to push yourself into a toxic or ill-fitting relationship to meet a “standard.” It’s easy to think that you are alone at this time of year, but think about how buying and receiving affects us as everyday consumers. Buying and receiving things makes us feel better, makes us feel like we ARE more when we HAVE more. Just think, you are saving money, saving calories, and keeping out the clutter of oversized teddy bears.

Moral of the story is, a cheaper restaurant is still as good as any restaurant. Netflix and RedBox are a lot less expensive than movie tickets, and it is just another day.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the US

We all need a vacation sometimes, and that’s inevitable. What better time to start planning a romantic getaway than in the month of love? Whether that means a getaway accessible by car, or by hopping on a plane for a few hours, I have a few beautiful trips that don’t even require a passport.

#10 Indianapolis, IN
If the city is your cup of tea for a vacation, this city does it all. Many of the hotels here celebrate their love of art, sports, or both. A short walk leads to museums, restaurants, shopping, monuments, and sports arenas. At night, a lighted Canal Walk gives a tour of the city and sinks you into sweet dreams.

#9 Ketchum, ID
With a “small town” and European blend, this vacation was meant for keeping a packed schedule while relaxing. Breathtaking mountains offer stunning views that are also known for skiing. Music and art play a large role in the community, and day trips to the nearby Sun Valley offer many outdoor adventures.

#8 Portland, OR
This location truly has something for everyone. Contemporary art tends to be a common theme throughout the city with modern inventions making their way into society. City life sits right on the water, and you are always a short ride to mountains and hiking. Music and museums reign, night life is bustling, and a good restaurant is always in reach.

#7 Gatlinburg, TN
Maintaining timeless beauty for years, the mountains in Gatlinburg are a second home that call to you once you’ve begun to return home. With plenty of dining and shows to see within 30 minutes of anywhere, there is a guarantee to never be bored. Horse and buggy and skyline rides offer an insider’s view that can never be forgotten.

#6 Napa Valley, CA
Modern cottages are nestled in acres of wine country in this part of California. With elaborate pools, 4 and 5 star restaurants, and plenty of shopping, Napa Valley will make for an unforgettable experience and some great pictures. If hotels aren’t your thing, there are many camping sites that allow hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

holding-hands-1599054_1920#5 Pittsboro, NC
Writers, authors, and musicians have all been bred from this area due to the luscious landscapes and the love for the arts. Bed and breakfasts and small inns are popular in this neck of the woods, and the Fearrington House is your perfect destination for a place to stay and a full blown spa.

#4 Barnard, VT
Many writers and journalists have passed through this area of Vermont, and have described the crisp air and clean spirit that it holds. This vacation would be perfect in the fall; leaves changing with the background of cottages, barns, and old farms. Silver Lake State Park provides beauty through the seasons, and peace and quiet are sure to help you wind down in this small town.

#3 Newport, RI
Many mansions serve as hotels in this little town, and they sit quietly on the coast. Despite how warm or cold the weather, the sound of water lapping the rocks and views of sailboats always cleanse the soul. Downtown, you can explore small, privately owned shops and great food. If you’re looking for a tan, small stretches of beach can be found all around town.

#2 Savannah, GA
Historic buildings and cobblestones bring many people to this location for their vacations. Southern hospitality keeps shops and sidewalks full, and meal times aren’t ever set in stone because deciding on a restaurant is far too difficult. Scary ghost stories don’t keep people from going out at night and even going on ghost tours. Music, water sports, and theaters are also large parts of the community.

#1: Little Torch Key, FL
It’s as close to the Caribbean as you can get without leaving the country. Little Torch Key is a small town in Florida that is right off the coast, accessible by boat or small plane. Tiki themed barbecues and thatched roofs throughout the small island provide the lasting impression of a friendly Caribbean town, and the white sand and crystal waters don’t hurt either.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Go Red and Be Healthy

February is also known as National Heart Health Month. It’s a hard truth, but heart disease is not picky, so men and women are both at risk. About 1 in 4 deaths are linked to heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. With that in mind, we’d like to take some time to discuss a few ways to eat and exercise in order to achieve a better lifestyle.

Track what you put into your body. Add color to your plate and make sure to get two servings of fruits and vegetables, but avoid the extra salt and sugar that is sometimes present in canned fruits and vegetables. Whole grains are a better option when faced with multiple choices. Fish and poultry products should be your first choices due to the omega 3 fatty acids within them, prepared without the skin and leaning towards salmon and trout when preparing fish. When wanting red meat, always check for the leaner cuts. Skim and 1% dairy products get you a step closer to a fat-free and low-fat diet. Sugary drinks are extremely bad for you, and you should ultimately try to cut them from your diet. You really want to rid yourself of saturated and trans fats, in order to replace them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Paying attention to serving sizes or cooking meals at home will help  keep you from overeating and not paying attention to your calorie intake.

push-ups-888024_1280Walking, stair climbing, swimming, and biking are all ways to increase heart health.
A good week of activity should typically include 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least five days per week or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days a week. Of course, it is very important to speak to your doctor to create a routine that is safe and right for your body, health, and age.

Remember that everyone has to start somewhere, so if you can’t make each workout when you first start out, you’ll get there! Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Visit www.heart.org for more tips.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Give a Gift They’ll Really Love

Don’t wait until the last minute to do your gift shopping, especially when you’re on a budget. Here are a few ideas to help you out:

For your leading lady: 

Kate Spade Tumbler
With a multitude of patterns and colors, you can keep their drinks cold and stylish!

Cupid Bath Bomb 
A blend of rose and bergamot will fizz away the stress of the day as it melts in warm bath water.

il_340x270.1041904003_gaajAmethyst Air Plant
If she loves foliage around the house, this is a great gift for her! A fully functional plant resides in the amethyst and only needs a little water and a little sunlight once a week to thrive. There are a variety of plants and colors available.

 

For your #ManCrushMonday:

asos-trunks-in-gift-box-with-heart-print-3-pack-black-1481669215ASOS Heart Print Boxers (3 pack, ASOS) 
Keep him comfortable and festive with this mix of black, red, and heart adorned cotton boxers.

Sugarfina Single Malt Scotch Cordials 
With a dark chocolate shell on the outside and a Scotch filled center, it is sure to shock the tastebuds off of your man. The perfect blend of the ingredients is sure to mean they wont stick around long.

Tile Finder
Never lose your keys again! You can attach the tile to just about anything, and when you don’t know where you’ve left it, use the Tile App to locate it.

For the little ones:

Free People Heart Sparklers (Free People)
Eyes wides and hearts aglow, these sparklers are sure to keep the little ones involved in the festivities.

recycled-conversation-heart-crayonsHeart Shaped Message Crayons
Sets of 5 crayons that reminisce on conversation hearts are the perfect gift for the artists in your family. Packaged in cupcake liners, they look almost good enough to eat!

Don’t forget–regardless of your recipient–ChocolatePaper has the cutest array of greeting cards ranging from sentimental to hilarious! Check out their website here.

 

Written by Zoe Pierson

Extraordinary Women: Alice Allison Dunnigan

Now more than ever we need to be reminded how diversity should be celebrated instead of ignored. Without the many contributions of every race and gender, our country would never have reached the feats that we know today. Black history month provides the opportunity to remember the influence that African Americans have had on the past and will have in the future.

Alice_Allison_DunniganOne of the most important careers in communications has always been reserved for a journalist. They must tell a story transforming it from reality to paper, which can be very testing. However, Alice Allison Dunnigan communicated the country’s information while creating history along the way. Dunnigan was the first African American female correspondent at the White House and the first female member of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries. In 1925, she was a teacher in a segregated school house and attended a college for journalism. Alice created fact sheets of historical African American’s in Kentucky while she was a teacher called, The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Tradition.

As her dreams of becoming a journalist grew, she began to write freelance. America was still highly segregated during her era, and her road to success very challenging. Dunnigan started writing for the American Negro Press full-time and gained the opportunity to have a capitol press pass. Her experience gave her the access to Congress news events, which was never given to women or African Americans. Dunnigan made her dream a reality when she began to write for Lyndon B. Johnson’s Administration in 1966.

Even as a correspondent in the White House, she still suffered through prejudiced actions. Alice fought for equality of women and African Americans in every aspect while a correspondent. She often asked questions about the growing civil right movement. Dunnigan made many pushes and achievements for women and African Americans. It’s important to appreciate that without women like Alice, we might not have accomplished the feat of black women in the White House. During February, take the moment to remember these forgotten heroes and share the stories of strong women to inspire an even greater future for the next generation.

Written by Stacy Shrader

Women’s March on Washington 2017

As most may have seen, the Women’s March on Washington received a huge turnout on January 21. The aura overflowed with joy and hopefulness for the future. From the moment I stepped off of the buses with my classmates, I knew this march of unity was going to be one of the biggest caliber that we had seen so far in our lifetimes.

During our two hour wait to purchase a metro card, the group surrounding me had a little contest to see who could spot the most creative signs, and there were many! The array consisted of witty, smart, and intricately detailed posters and diagrams. Once on the metro, I had the joy of being with some of the most passionate, joyous people. We broke into our own renditions of “I Will Survive”, “Irreplaceable”, and other empowering songs and chants. People even broke out their instruments like tubas and tambourines. Upon getting to Capitol South, we were so full of excitement that we would’ve liked to move through the crowd quickly to get closer and closer to the stage on Independence Avenue, but it was impossible to fit anyone else in the city. As much room as we would’ve liked to have, we didn’t mind becoming close friends with our neighbors. It was nice to see all types of women coming together in solidarity to better the future for their families and others.

When I first planned on attending the march, I never thought of anyone but women I didn’t know going to support the same causes and necessary changes as I. As the speakers began to filter to the stage, I realized that I was in the presence of not only friends and strangers, but a list of celebrities who came from all over to shed light on the meaning of the day. Scarlett Johansson, Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Madonna, and corporate CEOS of businesses dedicated to women’s wellbeing lifted us up as the rally and march charged on.

Going to this march was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Being a part of the biggest political protest in history was an amazing honor, but won’t be half as great as when our marches turn into too much to ignore, the day a definite change occurs to support the health and well-being of all women, everywhere. I have never felt so full and proud to be a woman in a time like this. It is truly revolutionary.

Again, I extend gratitude to my wonderful school for giving me the opportunity and helping hand in getting to Washington and making a difference.

Written by Zoë Pierson