Ann on April 23rd, 2015
water

All water shown in this picture was consumed.

Normally when I write about water I talk about how we need to make sure we stay hydrated as part of being healthy.

Today’s post is about our responsibility as residents and citizens to protect this precious resource.

I grew up in the desert. So I’ve been mindful my whole life about water waste.

And I just left a state that is in now a drought (California).

Whether we live in the desert, a drought-dried state or in Oregon or Washington state we should be mindful of our water usage.

A friend on Facebook posted the other day that EBMUD (East Bay Municipal Utility District) “says you need to use no more than 35 gallons of water per day per person in your house.”

Curt and I got our water/trash/sewer bill the other day and it made me start thinking about our water usage.

According to the EBMUD website, a Stage 4 critical drought has been declared and a community-wide goal has been set to reduce water use 20% compared to 2013.

The EBMUD website lists mandatory restrictions and other information on how to reduce water usage. And as my friend stated, it also asks that customers strive for 35 gallons per person per day indoors.

We all know how big one gallon is, right?

According to ConserveH2O, more than 45% of water use in the average American home occurs in the bathroom, with nearly 27% being used by toilets. … Toilet water use can vary significantly.  Older toilets can use 3.5, 5, or even up to 7 gallons of water with every flush.  Federal plumbing standards now specify that new toilets can only use up to 1.6 gallons per flush.

According to Home Water Works, in an average home, showers are typically the third largest water use after toilets and clothes washers. The average American shower uses 17.2 gallons and lasts for 8.2 minutes at average flow rate of 2.1 gallons per minute.

The average dishwasher uses 6 gallons of water per cycle; the average Energy Star-rated dishwasher uses 4 gallons per cycle, according to Tree Hugger. Home Water Works says an older model dishwasher will use approximately 10 to 15 gallons of water per load.

I looked at our water usage for the month of March. I took into account the time we were out of town. We roughly used 42 gallons a day per person.

When we were still in Oakland we were mindful of the impending drought and looked for ways to reduce water usage, such as putting a brick in our (older) toilet tank, cutting back on watering our garden and the front area of our home, not using our dishwasher (which was old and a pain to use, but the water waste in that thing was insane).

I am not sure how we would have reduced anymore.

Water is precious and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

What are you doing to preserve it?

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Ann on April 21st, 2015
fuel

Our cars and bodies need fuel or some form of energy to keep running.

Like a car we need to fuel our bodies.

I was talking to a friend recently telling her how I am teaching five cycle classes a week (among numerous yoga classes). Her next question was, are you in crazy great shape? (That’s not a quote. But she said something like that.)

I told her I am maintaining my weight and am content. (I like to eat and drink … in moderation, of course.)

But because I am not currently tracking my food I need to be careful and make sure that I am still eating the right things and enough even with my regular cardio workout.

When the cardio increases and/or the exercise gets intense we need to make sure our bodies have enough “fuel,” such as protein, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, fat and even saturated fat, among many other nutrients.

I am a big believer in protein. I can tell when I haven’t had enough of it. And I know that I need a well-balanced diet.

Protein has a lot more functions than repairing and growing muscle tissue. … Protein increases satiety at meals, which can lead to overall decreased calorie consumption, according to an article in Muscle & Fitness.

According to Ben Greenfield Fitness, eating less does not create the need to burn body fat. Instead, it creates the need for the body to slow down. Contrary to popular opinion, the body hangs on to body fat. …

So in other words, we need to make sure we are feeding our body what it needs and not deny it fuel and nutrients.

I practice yoga regularly (and teach at least three times a week, usually more) and teach cycle, which means I do all the cardio with the class with a microphone and instructions, five times a week.

I believe before you exercise you need energy/fuel to do cardio, therefore you should eat before you exercise. Others may disagree. The other side is also explored in an article titled Five Cardio Myths Exposed.  I try to eat at least an hour before so I have the fuel and energy I need, but that I don’t feel sick to my stomach. My normal breakfast is multi-grain toast with peanut butter and banana. Sometimes it’s oatmeal or cereal.

Most bodies need to have glucose to burn as fuel in order to exercise at a high-intensity levels, according to BodyBuilding.com.

There are many reasons why your body will continue to store fat, even if you have a regular cardio routine:

  • When you get stressed out there are higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, which can cause increased abdominal fat, according to About Health.
  • Excessive amounts of cardio lead to an overproduction of cortisol, which leads to more abdominal fat and numerous health problems, according to Muscle & Fitness.
  • A big myth about exercising is that more is better. This goes hand in hand with thinking that you are burning more fat with more exercise, which is not true. Not too mention the more people workout, the lower they drop their blood sugar and if they go too hard and go into a hypoglycemic state guess what will happen, they will rebound with sugar cravings and most likely end up drinking/eating more calories than they even burned in the first place. Not too mention the increase of cortisol you will get from extended workouts (over 45-60min) that will start to break down and use muscle as fuel, according to The Life.
  • When you’re short on sleep your insulin sensitivity decreases, which means that your body is more likely to store fat, and your cortisol goes up, according to Muscle & Fitness.

There is a recurring word in those bullet points: cortisol. If you want to read more about it you can read a couple of posts I wrote: November 2013 titled Keeping Balanced with Restorative and another March 2014 titled Coffee and adrenaline.

Here’s a really great article/paper titled Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and Weight. A few points from the paper say: Cortisol directly affects fat storage and weight gain in stressed individuals. … Animal and human studies have demonstrated that cortisol injections are associated with increased appetite, cravings for sugar, and weight gain. … High levels of cortisol cause fat stores and excess circulating fat to be relocated and deposited deep in the abdomen, which left unchecked can develop into or enhance obesity.

I’ve talked about protein, weight, cortisol, cardio and a few other things. So lastly, let’s address diet and the fat you consume.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to keep your intake of saturated fats as low as possible. We can’t eliminate saturated fat from our diets completely, because foods that are good sources of healthy fats—olive oil, walnuts, salmon—also contain a little bit of saturated fat. And it would be a mistake to cut back on nuts, oils, and fish to minimize saturated fat, according to The Nutrition Source on Harvard T.H. Chan.

Eating whole non-processed foods are the best way to burn fat and gain muscle. Eat whole food proteins, healthy fats, veggies, fruits, nuts….and skip the breads, cereals and other processed foods. You need amino acids, vitamins, minerals and many other nutrients available in plenty with whole foods for maximum fat burning and muscle building. Eat a diet of whole foods, forget the stuff that is destroying your body (esp sugar!), according to The Life.

This post blossomed and came into something different than I had originally planed. I could continue to do research and write more and more.

But let’s end with this: A balanced life of eating relatively healthy, drinking enough water and being active  is a great way to stay healthy and live a long and happy life.

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Ann on April 18th, 2015
e-mail

Just a peek into my unread items of nonsense e-mails.

I have never been great with keeping my inbox clean, both when I had work e-mail and personal e-mail.

I have made attempts on cleaning up the personal e-mail before. And I am back at it.

The past few weeks I have been tackling my inbox and sent items. Over a three day period I deleted more than 3,000 unread e-mails.

Even though I am terrible at it I think it is a good idea to maintain a clean and organized (folders are a good idea) e-mail inbox.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed at my growing inbox. But as I wittle it down it feels good and healthy.

The other day I had to take a break because my hand was cramping up. But I’m so close. All unread e-mails were taken care of earlier this week. And there were around 4,000 of those …

Then the inbox itself. There were so many e-mails that I didn’t need to keep, so why was I? In my great clean up I accidentally deleted an e-mail with an awesome garlic noodle recipe. But Alicia has already re-emailed it to me and it is now safely saved in a folder. Thanks, Alicia!

After all the e-mails (read and unread) were taken care of in my inbox I tackled the sent items.

Next up is a clean up of the semi-organized folders (they have already gotten some attention, but need more). And my contacts are out of control. There are some really, really old e-mails in there and for some people I have like 6 or 7 e-mail addresses. Gotta get those nice and neat as well.

My goal is to keep up with my e-mails, be better at responding and deleting and maintaining.

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Ann on April 15th, 2015
Turtles

Apparently teaching yoga at Turtles Yoga & Wellness is where I should really be. I had forgotten about my mini turtle obsession until I needed a photo for this post.

About two weeks after moving to Portland I subbed my first yoga class at the fitness center in our town home community (free yoga classes where we live!) and a couple of days after that at a gym near me called The Xtreme Edge.

Six weeks after moving to Portland I started teaching at LA Fitness for both yoga and indoor cycling.

I teach six regular classes a week at LA Fitness and one at 24 Hour Fitness with sub classes (mostly yoga) sprinkled in just about every week.

On Saturday I am teaching a special class at Turtles Yoga & Wellness, which opens at the end of this month. My class on Saturday is from 11 a.m.-noon.

At the end of this month I will start teaching two regular yoga classes at Turtles and have one shift a week at the front desk … to learn the business.

I will be teaching Wednesday mornings from 10-11:15 a.m. and Thursday evenings from 7-8:15 p.m.

My bio (scroll down a bit) has been posted. And the full Turtles class schedule should be posted very soon.

To view a schedule of all my classes, go to GFG’s my classes tab.

I am really excited to start teaching in this beautiful space with the other awesome instructors and amazing staff.

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Ann on April 10th, 2015
glasses

Proper eye care is important to me. I have worn glasses since I was 4 and contacts for the past 7 or so years.

I have been wearing glasses since I was 4.

When I was in high school my eyes actually started to improve and I only had to wear glasses when I read, drove or was in school. That didn’t last long.

In my early to mid-20s I decided to try contacts for the first time. I wore them for a couple of years. Between not having a great eye doctor and not taking care of my contacts appropriately I gave up on them after about two years and went back to glasses.

In my early 30s I started regularly exercising and practicing yoga. I found glasses to be in the way with cardio while sweating and they would fog up and whenever I needed to towel my face those dang glasses were in the way. In yoga they move around and make it difficult to see. Removing my glasses doesn’t help because I actually need them to see.

At this point I started with a new eye doctor in my old Rockridge neighborhood. (If any of my readers in the Bay Area and are looking for an eye doctor, I recommend Dr. Yokoi at Rockridge Optometry.)

Dr. Yokoi thought I was a good candidate for gas permeable (hard contacts). It took a few months, but we got the right fit. And for about seven years I have been wearing them.

Dr. Yokoi told me that the life expectancy of hard contacts is about two years or so. (Soft contacts are cheaper initially but last a much shorter time period.)

My last pair of hard contacts lasted somewhere around six years … which is way longer than most people will ever do. Apparently I take very good care of them.

Well, my lengthy life of contacts ended on Sunday … when I accidentally broke one of them.

It broke on a sunny Sunday in Portland. Of course.

I thought my biggest issue in the temporary (until I got an appointment with a new eye doctor and new contacts) was sunglasses.

Nope, it’s trying to teach (and take) indoor cycling with the sweat, foggy glasses and the microphone and glasses battling it out.

In the meantime, it really is just a minor inconvenience. But I didn’t realize how much I relied on them until they were gone.

I lucked out and got an appointment with my new eye doctor (who I already think is great) on Wednesday.

She felt gas permeable was still a good way to go. She ordered me new contacts with a new prescription, which should be in next week.

The best news … she told me she could give me a temporary soft contact for my right eye and still wear my left hard contact until my new contacts come in.

So far so good. So much easier to teach and take cycle and teach and practice yoga.

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Ann on April 8th, 2015
feet

These days I am rarely shove my feet into high heels or “stupid” but pretty shoes. I am more about the comfort and my feet are thanking me for it.

As a yoga teacher I teach and practice the same sequence for a week (as many of my yoga teachers do).

The sequence I teach my students is the sequence I practice at home over the same week.

And I usually like to have a theme each week, whether it is an anatomical focus or types of poses, such as twists, low back, balancing poses, feet …

This week my focus is feet. Feet are the roots of our body.

As one of my yoga teachers says, you have to go down to go up. To me that means we have to feel strong and grounded in our feet and legs to grow in our standing poses, such as Tadasana (Mountain Pose).

We treat our feet so badly. We shove them into shoes that are too small, too narrow, too high, too flat, too pointy … We stand on them too long and not properly. We wear the wrong shoes while exercising. We wear shoes that don’t give us enough support or the right support.

About 77% of Americans have experienced some sort of foot pain, according to a survey done by the American Podiatric Medical Association.

In a Yoga Journal article, Robert Kornfeld, a holistic podiatrist, says “I recommend that all my patients start yoga immediately. When you treat foot problems with yoga, you end up treating back pain, hip pain, all kinds of structural problems. …”

In another Yoga Journal article, Sherry Brourman, a physical therapist and yoga therapist, says yoga can help you develop balanced alignment in your feet, which can pay off with better alignment throughout your body. It can also prevent and heal foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, and shin splints.

My sequence this week has us really focusing on grounding the four corners of our feet into the mat, stretching the feet and muscles, flexing and scrunching the toes.

Years ago I did what I called Feet Week on Go Fit Girl! In October 2011 I did a few posts all about feet.

The first post was an introduction to Feet Week and talked briefly about how we treat out feet: So many of us abuse our feet. We wear bad, unsafe, uncomfortable shoes. We stand for too long with bad or good shoes. We don’t wear the right shoes when we exercise. We don’t realize the care we really need to give our feet, which I think includes pedicures and massages.

The second post during Feet Week talked about shoes: Heels definitely create an unnatural position for your foot. Think Barbie feet. Stress and hairline fractures … Ouch! … Lower heels are better for your feet. This article states that going no higher than 2 inches is best and even that should be in moderation.

The conclusion of Feet Week posted a picture of an X-Ray of a foot in a high heel showing the physical stress of having your foot in this awkward and unnatural position.

In my yoga teacher training we focused on standing poses and feet for part of a Saturday session. This post really focused on feeling grounded and what can happen in our yoga practice and life when we aren’t.

Being grounded in our feet also helps us feel balanced (physically and mentally).

As we age (and we are all aging) we want to focus on feeling balanced in our core and feet to help us not fall. As we get older we start falling and then we are in jeopardy of breaking bones. And then life really sucks. We don’t want life to suck.

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Ann on April 3rd, 2015
vinegar

A combination of vinegar and water gets my yoga mats clean and smelling fresh.

Vinegar is an amazing ingredient.

I love it with my balsamic over my salads, in my Tabasco to spice things up, a dash of it in a family salsa recipe …

Vinegar can also be used as a household helper.

I have used it to kill weeds, when I was in college I worked at Petsmart we would mix water and vinegar in a spray bottle and clean the outside of the fish tanks with the mix because it wouldn’t harm the fish, it works with cleaning my Keurig coffeemaker (and yes, I know there are issues with ownership of this coffeemaker) and even clean my yoga mats.

As I was cleaning all of my yoga mats this week I started thinking about how amazing and versatile vinegar is. (All yoga mats … as in five [I have six. But since I haven’t used that one since the last time I cleaned I let it be.])

If you want to read about all the miraculous things vinegar does you can read here and here and here.

From a video I watched and some stuff I have read it also seems that vinegar (sometimes in combination with other things) can unclog drains; make smells go away; “scrub” pots and pans; capturing pesky bugs … and so many more things.

You can click on the links above to read more about the wonderment of vinegar.

The other great thing is that vinegar is inexpensive and come come in bulk and it isn’t harsh.

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Ann on April 1st, 2015
mirroring

I am not technically mirroring in this photo. (Well, I could be if I had a student in front of me.) I took this self-portrait while in Vrksasana (Tree Pose) when I noticed my reflection in the sliding glass door of the hotel room patio in Las Vegas where I recently stayed.

I learned a lot of great things in my yoga teacher training.

Mirroring your students as a yoga teacher was highly advised.

I get why that is a good idea. It makes it easier for your students to follow you in something, especially if the pose or action is complex and/or has a lot of moving parts and language just isn’t enough.

But for the teacher it can be quite challenging.

I already have issues with right and left. Yes, I know they are basic and we all learned that in kindergarten.

The first time I tried mirroring with a student was a home yoga practice with my mom a little more than a year ago when I was still in school.

It was a complete disaster. But it was just the two of us and at least we got a good laugh at it.

When teaching (especially a twist, which is the ultimate challenge) I look at … say my right arm and tell myself it is the right so I should say left. I tell them to bring their left arm and hug the right knee for a seated twist while I bring my right arm to hug my left knee.

Yea, see why that can be a challenge?

The more I do it with my students the better I get at it.

And still sometimes I tell them to go the wrong way. And usually when I mess it up the class gets a laugh out of it. So no harm. Humor in yoga is important. And I don’t mind laughing at myself and getting my class to laugh.

Even as a cycle teacher I mirror my students when we stretch.

Funny thing is now when I am in a class and the teacher tells us to go to the right or use the right foot I go to the left …

You could be on the same side as your students. But I don’t think that is as beneficial to the students and some will think you are mirroring and go the opposite way you want them to.

And frankly, me mirroring keeps me more present as I have to be really there with my language with my students. It keeps a mind-body connection.

You could be on the same side as your students and have your back to them. I personally don’t think that is a good idea. First, your back is to them. You can’t observe your students and see what they are doing. Plus, I would feel disengaged. Plus whatever is going on with the front of the body, they are missing out on.

Sometimes I need to show my students something specific and if I need to show at different angles I will. So that may mean I have my back to them. But only briefly. Like if I want them to see where the shoulder blades are. I turn around and poke around my shoulder blades to show them. Then I have them poke around their shoulder blades.

When I teach a yoga class I do some of the poses with the class. Other times I walk around and just use my language and observe my students while making adjustments and suggestions.

Someone wrote into the Yoga Journal website asking about mirroring while teaching. For some reason only the answer appears. What the answer really comes down to is what are you observing in your students when looking at them. The more you teach and observe the more natural it will be to notice your class is on their right side (or left).

In my research on mirroring the majority seem to agree that mirroring is a good idea. Some don’t think it is necessary. And that is their right to think that.

I will continue mirroring as a teacher. As a student, I prefer the teacher to mirror the class. But it’s not a deal breaker for me.

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Ann on March 27th, 2015
nail kit

My nice blue toes posing with my newly owned nail kit.

I had my nails done recently, probably for the first time ever in Oregon. (When I lived in Oregon right after college I didn’t have a lot of money and rarely had a manicure and at that point had never had a pedicure.)

Last week as I was getting ready to dip my toes in the warm water I was asked if I had my nail kit. I had no idea what I was being asked.

It was explained to me that it is Oregon law to have my own nail kit, which consists of nail file, toe separators, foot scrubby cleaning thing (yup, that’s an official name for it–kidding!), aka pumice, and a nail buffer. It cost me just 2 bucks and I need to bring it with me every time (or pay 2 bucks every time).

After I got home I started the research on being the owner of my own nail kit.

From what I read I believe the law went into effect in Oregon in 2007.

Oregon.gov Board of Cosmetology website, which states that Oregon launched a public education campaign called Safe Salons, says, in other states, bacterial skin infection outbreaks — due to improper cleaning and disinfection of foot spas — harmed hundreds of nail salon clients, notably in northern California.  The Oregon Health Licensing Office, however, has received only four complaints related to similar bacterial infections since 2003.

From the Oregon Health Licensing Office, Safe Salons goal is to raise consumer awareness of salon health and safety issues and to reinforce in Oregon’s more than 29,000 individual practitioners (in barbering, esthetics, hair design and nail technology) at nearly 5,000 salons statewide the necessity of following state safety and health requirements meant to protect both consumers and practitioners.

I am all for safety when it comes to salon health, especially at the nail salon.

But what I am a little confused by is that I have understood infections to mostly come from unclean tubs/foot spas and tools, which cut, trim and clean the nails and cuticles. (Oh, but I am learning more as I research and read. So read on.)

From U.S. News Health article, I found online, Robert Spalding, a Tennessee podiatrist and author of “Death by Pedicure,” says about 75 percent of salons in the U.S. don’t follow state protocol for disinfection. While it’s impossible to be completely sterile, salons should sterilize their tools using an autoclave –  a machine used in medical environments, which produces ​steam and pressure for disinfecting equipment.

Also from the U.S. News Health article, Dennis Shavelson,​ a podiatrist in New York City​, says infections can stem from dull nail files, but sharp instruments are especially concerning​.

From How Stuff Works: If a spa doesn’t regularly clean its foot tubs between each client, the odds of leaving the spa with a fungal infection you didn’t walk in with increase.

From my research it sounds like all tools can cause an infection. Dull nail files can cause infections. Pumice stones can spread warts. Ewww! Uncleaned or not well-cleaned tubs can spread infection as can tools that aren’t cleaned properly.

If the nail salon you go to reuses tools, such as nail clippers, cuticle trimmers and tubs, make sure they clean them properly and well. With my own nail kit I am not endangering myself or others with reuse of some of the tools.

And I am aware of my regular salons and how they clean and disinfect.

That being said I have gotten cut before. And one time I did get a skin infection on my thumb. I am not certain I got it at my previous regular nail salon (and they use an autoclave and clean their tubs properly). But the nurse and doctor at my doctor’s office both asked me if I got manicures …

The best we can do is be educated, pay attention to how our salons clean and go to licensed salons. I am all for a cheap mani/pedi but not if it causes me risk of infection. (In rare cases, those infections can cause death.)

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Ann on March 24th, 2015
allergies

My purchase of Benadryl at the airport has helped with my allergy attack over the past 28 hours or so.

When I was 15 I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. I have an emergency inhaler and a daily inhaler and my asthma is under control.

Many people who have asthma have allergies or vice versa.

When I was 19 I was diagnosed with environmental allergies. (That was a tough semester in school as I couldn’t stay up past 9 most nights. I saw the beginning of a lot of movies but missed the end of most.)

For many years I have taken Zyrtec, which for the most part has kept my allergies manageable.

I was 23 when I left Tucson (Arizona) where I was born and raised.

After leaving I went back regularly to visit home.

One visit I had about three years after leaving Arizona was the worst allergy attack I’ve ever had … still to this day. I had a terrible cough, I could hardly breathe, my head felt 10 times as big as it actually was, I could hardly hear, I was so congested. It was awful. I was miserable.

Allergies regularly make me tired and wear me out. Most of the time I have a little congestion, some sneezing …

When living in Arizona (I moved back a second time for 3 1/2 years in my late 20s), summer was the worst time for allergies. For many, it is the best time. But for some reason it was the worst for me.

I was in Arizona last month and had a minor allergy attack. I had some congestion and a super dry nose. My nose was dry for a month.

Things finally got back to normal and then we went to Las Vegas.

At first it was just the sneezing, congestion and super dry nose, which sucks, but I can handle. Well, the allergies got worse and by Sunday I had a little bit of a cough, a scratchy throat, I could feel it in my eyes and was just wiped out.

Ugh. By Sunday evening I was actually looking forward to the cold and rain again. I can’t believe that. But if it means these allergies will clear up soon, then great.

I have known people who have had asthma attacks in drier climates when they visit from other places.

I feel a lot better this afternoon.

Years ago my doctor at the time told me that when we live somewhere for a period of time your body becomes immune to the allergies to a point. If you leave and come back … well, that’s when the attacks can happen.

I tried to see if I could find something specifically to that online and didn’t.

But I did find a transcript of an interview with Dr. Pramod Kelkar, a board-certified, practicing allergist from Minnesota St. Paul and founder of the National Cough Clinic and chair of the Metro Asthma Coalition, that mentions adults developing allergies to dogs and cats later in life, which happened to a friend of mine.

Dr. Kelkar said, scientifically speaking, there are some things we do understand and some things that are still unclear. This is one that is not yet completely clear. One of things we understand scientifically is that allergies can manifest at any point in life. Also, there are quite a few people in whom allergies may have started early in life, but the symptoms may not have been bad enough that they noticed them or they remember them.

At the airport yesterday I decided I needed some Benadryl to help with this attack.

I woke up this morning pretty tired. But I’m slowly starting to feel better.

Next time I will be better prepared for an allergy attack, especially when visiting the desert.

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