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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Ann on March 21st, 2015
rib eye

Curt and I had a delicious dinner one night at Wolfgang Puck’s. I had a nice cab with my rib-eye steak.

Since the end of 2006 I have been a fairly healthy person.

In October 2006 I joined Weight Watchers and started on the venture to lose about 30 pounds.

In March of 2007 I started regularly exercising, which still continues to this day. (And now I teach other people to exercise and practice yoga.)

I work hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes it is easy. And sometimes it is a struggle.

Since I am healthy the majority of the time I allow myself to be unhealthy (or go off plan in the WW world) from time to time.

When I travel I want to enjoy food and drinks without having to worry about my caloric intake. Sometimes I am great with the exercise and other times it suffers. (I have been getting my yoga practice in every day since we have been here.)

But here’s the thing, I have fun while on vacation and then when I get home things get back to normal and healthy again.

Curt and I are in Las Vegas with friends for a long fun March Madness weekend.

yoga on balcony

Morning yoga on the balcony of our room.

There is sports watching, a little gambling, lots of eating and drinking (especially the cheap brewed beer at Ellis Island), sun worshipping, laughing, yelling and just lots and lots of fun.

Sometimes me slipping off the wagon is intentional, like this weekend. Other times things just happen.

We have to remember that tomorrow is another day and we get a do over whenever we want and whenever we are ready.

And we can’t be so hard on ourselves. I have to remind myself of this from time to time as well.

And hey, life happens.

I will enjoy my drinks by the pool and Italian dinner out tonight and be OK with it.

And tomorrow is another day …

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Ann on March 17th, 2015
guinness

A lovely day for a … Guinness?

A couple of years ago I wrote a post on St. Patrick’s Day after doing some research on Guinness.

I have heard rumors that Guinness is high in iron and better for you than most beers. I also heard that pregnant women have been advised to drink Guinness because of the high iron and low alcohol.

Is any of this true? Is Guinness good for you?

As I am researching there is no real clear answer to whether or not Guinness is in fact actually good for you. Though leaning toward no seems better than leaning toward yes.

The calories and alcohol content tend to be a little lower than other beers.

According to Realbeer.com, a 12-ounce Guinness draft has 4% alcohol, 125 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates. (Just a reminder that a pint is 16 ounces.) I looked up a few other beers for comparison, all for 12 ounces: Blue Moon White: 5.4% alcohol, 171 calories and 12.9 grams of carbs; Budweiser: 5% alcohol, 143 calories and 10.6 grams of carbs; Heineken: 5.4% alcohol, 166 calories and 9.8 grams of carbs; Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: 5.7% alcohol, 171 calories and 14.1 grams of carbs; and last, a beer Curt and I used to drink a lot in Oregon when we were here years ago, Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve: 4.5% alcohol, 128  calories and 9.2 grams of carbs.

According to a Men’s Health article, (and many other articles I read) said Guinness has a high-iron content and that pregnant women and nursing mothers are urged to drink a pint. The stout contains “antioxidant compounds” similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables. These compounds slow down the deposit of cholesterol on artery walls.

I have heard that Guinness contains iron and women, pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to drink it. But everything I researched for this post doesn’t really support that. According to Mail Online (and many other sources), a pint of Guinness contains 0.3mg of iron, less than three percent of daily adult needs.

So whether you are having a Guinness, another beer or any alcohol, make sure to drink in moderation. And hell, in between drinks have a glass of water.

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I don't own a regular bike. I would never ride it. But I sure can ride that stationary bike. (This is bike parking in Amsterdam.)

I don’t own a regular bike. I would never ride it. But I sure can ride that stationary bike. (This is bike parking in Amsterdam.)

I am currently working at LA Fitness (and soon another gym) as a cycle and yoga teacher. Click for my schedule here.

I have taken indoor cycling classes as a student for seven to eight years.

Indoor cycling is a cardio workout on a stationary bike where the students are guided by an instructor to ride hills, sprints, jumps, etc.

Even though I have started to teach regularly I still try to take a class occasionally from another instructor. I like to just be a student sometimes. And I can also get ideas from other teachers and maybe even hear a new song.

My philosophy as a cycle teacher is very similar to my philosophy as a yoga teacher. I believe you take care of your students in a loving manner. You remind your students to honor their bodies. You encourage, support and challenge but never humiliate or make them feel bad. Things, of course, can be misinterpreted at times. We are human beings. I try to be careful as a teacher to never make my students feel bad when I ask them to make adjustments (whether in yoga or cycle).

Before I moved to Portland I was a fairly regular indoor cycler with two teachers I enjoyed attending their classes.

A few months back my schedule was a little wonky and I couldn’t make one of my regular teachers’ classes. So I decided to attend another teacher’s class.

Like yoga teachers, there are a variety of cycle teachers out there to fit everyone’s needs and style.

This out of the ordinary class I took, well, the teacher’s style was not one that I was a fan of as I had taken her class once before. But I decided to give it another try.

I reminded myself that there are different styles of teachers and teaching for students. We all like the variety.

I went to that class and when I left I vowed to never go again.

I am all for a teacher pushing you to work harder, to a point …

This particular teacher seemed obsessed with watts on the stationary bike. Watts are a way of measuring a rider’s power output while turning the pedals during a stationary bike workout, according to Livestrong. (The faster the speed and higher the resistance on the bike the higher the watts will read.)

She walked around many times checking on watts. She called me out twice telling me that my watts weren’t high enough. Now I was panty, sweating and riding hard. Gimme a break!

The bikes also measure Kcalories. I did some reading online about Kcalories and I seriously still don’t understand what they are. Even with Livestrong’s pretty good explanation: A kilocalorie, on the other hand, contains enough energy to increase the temperature of a kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius.

The teacher’s second obsession on the bike were the Kcalories. Numerous times she told us what our number should be. Mine never was what I was told it should be. And I was working hard.

A fellow cycle friend told me when she took class from this particular teacher and the teacher announced how high her own watts and/or kcals were my friend compared her bike readings and felt like a loser.

That’s not how anyone should feel in any exercise class.

During this particular class I never felt that it was OK to slow down and take care of me.

I cycle regularly and know how to work hard on the bike. I have been indoor cycling for years and it is still so hard!

One of her quotes to the class really bugged me: “I know how it feels in the body.” Yea, but you don’t know how it feels in MY body.

I know how to take care of myself and back off when I need to. My concern is that other people will think they need to work that hard and if they just can’t then they are losers, no good, lame, might as well give up, etc.

As a teacher I never want to make my students feel that way.

Some of the students seemed to enjoy the class and being pushed to hit whatever watts she recommended. I was not one of those.

Even today after my cycle class ended two people came in to ride on their own. One of them was an elderly gentleman. I told him class was over but he was welcome to ride on his own.

I asked him if he knew how to do bike set up. He said he did. But he still asked for help. And I gladly helped him as I wanted him to be safe and have a fulfilling workout. And hey, maybe he will come back one day and take my class.

I like to ask my students occasionally for feedback. And many times I don’t ask for it and I still get it. I love to hear good things about my class and how I teach. But I also need to know if something didn’t work or if my students have suggestions or even questions.

As I continue on my quest as a teacher I learn and become better … for myself and my students.

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Ann on March 10th, 2015
"pregnant" belly

In my yoga teacher training we learned about women’s issues, such as being pregnant. We did a yoga practice with a “pregnant” belly strapped on.

I had a student recently ask me what poses she should not be doing while pregnant.

I told her what I knew off hand. But I told her I would do some research and let her know the next time I saw her.

So this, of course, has prompted a post.

If you are pregnant you should check in with your doctor and discuss any form of exercise, yoga included. Please make sure to discuss with your doctor since I am not a doctor and I am not your doctor.

After you tell your doctor and partner that you are pregnant you should tell your yoga teacher that you are pregnant. Sometimes we can’t tell because you are so early and/or aren’t showing. And if you are showing, we can’t assume you are pregnant because … what if you’re not …

From my own knowledge, what I have learned from my teachers and the research I have done online, here is some basic information.

Yoga poses you should avoid when pregnant:

  • deep twists
  • lying (flat) on your back (once into your second trimester)
  • lying on your belly (first trimester is likely OK, after that it should be avoided)
  • poses that work your abs
  • deep forward folds
  • extreme backbends

Yoga poses (and other things) to be mindful of when pregnant:

  • you need to take it easy–you’ve got a baby growing inside of you
  • inversions (there is a debate on whether or not this is OK to do when pregnant, especially if you practiced inversions before you were pregnant)–see the first item in this list (take it easy)
  • hot yoga is a bad idea when pregnant (or in my opinion, anytime)
  • if your gym/yoga studio offers gentle yoga classes or classes designed for pregnant women you should take those

When women are pregnant they become much more “flexible” because of the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which allows the uterus to expand, and also softens connective tissue. Which means a pregnant woman can go too deep into a pose.

I mentioned earlier that I did some research online. I read through articles on PopSugar, Baby Center, About.com and Livestrong.

There’s a lot of information out there. What I read through seems pretty good. But be careful what you read. My blog included. It’s always best to talk to your doctor.

Being pregnant and caring for another human being is important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Take care of yourself and your baby and honor your body.

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Ann on March 6th, 2015
spring forward

On Sunday at 2 a.m. we Spring Forward in most states.

Twice a year I write about time change. (Read last year’s Spring Forward post here.)

It’s that time again to Spring Forward (Sunday at 2 a.m.). I am not a fan of time change.

I seriously don’t get the point of it. I grew up somewhere (Arizona) where time change doesn’t occur.

So to my Arizona family members who can never quite get the time difference: Starting Sunday we will be on the same time.

This is the advice I like to give on how to deal with time change:

  • Don’t go to bed too late tomorrow and Sunday night.
  • Make sure you have breakfast Sunday morning (and every morning).
  • Try not to eat a lot of crap. Stick to fruits and veggies as snacks instead of sugary or salty foods.
  • Drinks lots of water tomorrow and Sunday (and every day).
  • Exercise. (At least a walk sometime Sunday and maybe even tomorrow.) I’ll be doing my own yoga home practice as I am teaching a yoga class tomorrow morning.
  • Keep up the exercise throughout the week, especially on Monday. It will be tough, but well worth it.
  • If you do nap Sunday (I love my weekend naps), don’t nap too late.
  • If caffeine really affects you, maybe cut back Sunday and definitely don’t have it too late in the day.
  • Try to start winding your day down an hour before you go to bed on Sunday. If you normally go to bed around 10, then at 9 make sure you are done for the day and ready for Monday’s workday. Do something relaxing for that hour: read a book, knit, lounge, take a bath, do the next item on the list.
  • Maybe try a cup of warm tea, cider or even hot cocoa to get you warm and cozy before bed.
  • Perhaps take Melatonin (a natural supplement). I wouldn’t take this for the first time Sunday night. And you should discuss this with your doctor first. You want to make sure it doesn’t make you groggy the next morning. So maybe try it tonight or tomorrow night if this will be a first time for you.
  • Do a gentle yoga practice. Anytime is nice. But later in the afternoon or soon before bed can help with your sleep. This week I am teaching a sequence for insomnia, stress, anxiety and even sadness. Try a couple of simple poses: Lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest; Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog); Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold); Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall). (I wrote a post sharing a yoga sequence for sadness, which I think benefits many things, including calming the body for rest. Feel free to try it out.)

Any of my readers have any other suggestions or things they do?

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Ann on March 3rd, 2015
family friend wedding tucson

I attended a family friend wedding with my mom and stepdad. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding.

I was born, bred and educated (Bear Down!) in Tucson, Ariz.

I was recently in Tucson to attend a family friend wedding and to visit my own family.

I come from a decent-sized Mexican-American family (both sides).

I haven’t lived in Tucson for about 17 years. Wow! I left at the end of 1997.

But most of my family has always lived in Tucson.

In the past when I would come home for visits I would run all over town trying to visit “everyone.”

At some point I had to stop doing that. Visiting family is already stressful and exhausting (and wonderful) and I was wearing myself out.

My priorities had to adjust during my visits and they are my parents and my grandparents (my mom’s mom and my dad’s dad). Anyone after that is icing on the cake.

cousins Bear Down!

I lucked out and got to hang with my cousin Alex and see our Wildcats Bear Down!

My parents are divorced. So that adds another dynamic to the mix.

I know some family members (and even friends) may be offended if I can’t visit or don’t even contact them. I am sorry for that. But I just can’t. It’s too much for me.

How do I say this nicely? I don’t think there is a way … if you have never left home you have no idea what it is like to come back and have to try and cram everything and everyone in and still enjoy your time.

So the next time I am in town you may get a Facebook message, text, e-mail or call that I want to try to get together. And you may not. That is not a reflection on you. It’s me. Know that I love you and would love to see you. But it just can’t always happen.

And hey, planes go in both directions!

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Ann on March 1st, 2015
obamacare

My healthcare is pretty basic, with a few extras thrown in, such as osteoarthritis of the jaw and exercise-induced asthma.

I have always believed that everyone should have access to affordable healthcare. I praise countries that provide healthcare to all of their citizens and visitors.

Healthcare should not be a privilege to those who can afford it. I believe it is a human right and should be accessible to everyone.

With that being said, today Curt and I become recipients of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

This doesn’t mean we are getting free healthcare. We still have to pay. But it is much more reasonable than paying out of pocket without the ACA option.

It was easy to sign up. And we had many options for our medical and dental.

I have been a tax paying citizen since I was 15. My first “real” job (besides babysitting) was scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins for 2 bucks an hour. Yup, you still pay taxes even when you make that little.

I don’t really want to get into the whole argument about whether or not the ACA should exist. I believe it should. AND there are many things my tax money goes toward that I don’t agree with. But that is part of being a citizen of the United States.

And the ACA isn’t perfect. But as time goes on adjustments will be made to make it better.

I am at ease knowing Curt and I are both covered. Thanks a lot, Obama!

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Ann on February 27th, 2015
cycling

This was from my last indoor cycling class at InShape City right before I moved to Portland.

After returning from a visit with the family in Tucson I jumped into my teaching gig at LA Fitness.

On Wednesday night I taught a yoga class.

Usually right before I teach a new class I get a little nervous. My students were kind and welcoming and the nerves went away rather quickly.

I felt good about the sequence I taught them and how the class went.

Afterward three students came up to chat with me and tell me they enjoyed the class. I received comments such as: I am going to sleep really well tonight; I liked the class because it wasn’t too gentle and it wasn’t too aggressive (I’m gonna take that as a Goldilocks and say it was just right).

I also gave them some tips on a pose to help with insomnia. So many women I know have problems with their sleep.

Yesterday morning I taught a cycle class. I wasn’t sure how that class was gonna go because I was using a playlist I wasn’t 100% sure of. But I know I will get in the groove with the music and playlists. As I do I will feel more

One of my yoga teachers told me that I am bossy and will make a great yoga teacher. Thanks, Richard!

One of my yoga teachers told me that I am bossy and will make a great yoga teacher. Thanks, Richard!

comfortable and confident.

No one stormed out so I take that as a good sign.

I got some thank yous and smiles at the end. One woman chatted me up after and told me she liked the class and was glad I was taking it over.

I was also told by her and another student that my volume on the mike was perfect. They could clearly hear me and I wasn’t too loud. (Some cycle teachers scream into the microphone.)

Next week I will be on my current full class schedule at LA Fitness. A total of five classes. Wowza!

I am working to get in at other gyms/places as well. So keep checking My classes page for updates.

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