Posts tagged with "tips"

All Good Just A Week Ago

If you’re feeling a little bit lonely as a single person during quarantine, there might be a perfect book for you.

For both men and women, “All Good Just A Week Ago: Funny Dating Stories to Help You Keep Your Head in the Game” is chock-full of funny, relatable dating stories put together from interviews.

With teachable moments and unimaginable scenarios, “All Good Just A Week Ago” helps single people keep their heads in the game.

Erika McCall and Niesha Forbes, two best friends, wanted to put their quarantine time to good use, so they set up 50 interviews to gather data and stories for the book.

These stories prove that relationships can make you laugh and roll your eyes instead of cry, all while showing us that we’re not alone.

In 1950, only 22% of Americans were without a romantic partner. In 2019, 124 million Americans were without a partner.

Though the percentage of people in relationships has gone down, the desire to find love and companionship has not.

McCall said, “It’s the year of 20/20 vision, and it’s time for a dating and love revolution.”

Both authors agreed that the revolution begins with this book. With a goal to understand romantic communication and expectations, “All Good Just A Week Ago” uses stories to heal relationships and foster close, loving, committed relationships in a generation obsesses with “hook up culture.”

McCall and Forbes even get into a few of their own stories. McCall herself is single and wants to clear the way for her future husband to enter her life while Forbes is on her way to her third wedding anniversary and hopes that sharing her experience can help bring about mutual respect, kindness and traditional courtship in relationships.

McCall said her story is every woman’s story while Forbes said, “It is critical to know that once you get to a certain age, things you did in your early twenties, all those toxic behavior patterns where you’re not putting your worth above your desire to be with someone, if you don’t do the work on yourself, you will find yourself in your thirties, forties and even fifties, having not learned the important lessons or found true love.”

Following the laughs in the beginning of the book, readers will reach a call to action that encourages men and women to think critically about how to move forward with healthier relationship dynamics.

For more information about the book or to order it, you can click right here.

Rita Azar illustrates fashion article for 360 MAGAZINE

Tips For Supporting Ethical Fashion 

There is no time like right now to make the switch to ethical fashion, with the report Future of Consumer Demand showing that the vast majority of Americans place a high importance on buying goods that are ethically produced. When it comes to fashion, the exact definition of ‘ethics’ is difficult to provide, since it extends to a wide array of issues – including fair working conditions, sustainability, support for upcoming creators, animal welfare, and fair trade. A recent Futerra survey showed that around 90% of consumers in the U.S. and the U.K. want to make a positive difference with each purchase they make. They feel that their actions can be part of a big wave that reduces pressing problems such as global warming. If you are ready to start supporting companies that are ‘giving back’, what qualities should you look for in your chosen brands?

Ethical Working Conditions

If you are drafting a list of fashion and accessory companies you would like to start supporting, spend time getting to know their policy on working conditions. For instance, if you are buying luxury gems such as diamonds, ensuring they are conflict-free and ethically sourced is key. More than 99% of accessible diamonds meet Kimberley certificate standards. However, this certificate is a logistic document that states a rough diamond was exported from a specific country under the stipulations of the Kimberley process. It does not tell you if the mine a specific diamond was obtained from provides local jobs or funds opportunities for diverse groups such as women. Therefore, inquiring about these matters can help you make a decision when considering various brands or jewelry houses.

A Passion For Sustainability
It is very easy to see which brands are 100% committed to lowering their carbon footprint. Truly green brands such as Stella McCartney have been raising the bar in terms of the use of organic, recycled and upcycled materials practically since their launch. Brands should do more than release the odd sustainable collection. They should have published policies regarding energy use, water saving, ethical sourcing of materials (i.e. materials should not hail from endangered forests), and the establishment of strict quality and sustainability standards. They should also commit to reducing oil-based synthetics during the manufacturing process.

Supporting Innovation

Check out the efforts made by each brand to support the Planet. Some have come up with innovative ways to put an end to problems such as plastics. Pangaia, famed for its über-chic tracksuits, use material obtained from recycled bottles. The fabric obtained is then colored with natural botanical dyes, and ‘freshened up’ with natural peppermint, which battles bacteria. Reformation (which manufactures swimwear) also creates items made with recycled plastic, while Isbjörn of Sweden uses fish trap to create resilient items that are also 100% PFC-free and bluesign certified.

Design For Life

Ethical fashion should also aim to be used by several owners so as to prolong the life cycle of every item and reduce the amount of waste that is overburdening landfills. Essén is one such label; it produces all collections in small batches, moving away from the idea of short-term trends and seasonality. The aim is for every single item to be used throughout the year, with minimalist looks holding sway in the summer and layering being embraced to stay warm and cosy during the winter. Another interesting minimalist brand is Working Title. In order to reduce its carbon footprint, this company only sells made-to-order items, meaning that every single outfit they make is fully desired and cherished. When purchasing items for a new season, go with items you think will stand the test of time. Ensure you have wardrobe essentials such as a ‘little black dress’, a white tailored top, black trousers, and a good coat you can dress up or down. You can still stay in trend, buying a couple of ‘in’ clothing items and accessories but mainly sticking to items you know will look good just as good next year as they do this year.

Choosing Durable Items

Genuinely sustainable items should be able to withstand plenty of wear and tear if it is to stand the test of time and be worn a lifetime or passed down to various users before being thrown away. Isbjörn, mentioned above owing to its innovative spirit, also has a big focus on durability. All items are made with materials built to last, and have sewn-in labels with space for three kids’ names (the aim being that every piece should be used by at least three people). The company goes a step further, offering to replace any items that are broken. Why buy a new coat when your favorite comfy coat can be repaired and look as good as new? Companies should ideally offer customers tips to increase the lifespan of clothing. These can include information on how to repair and wash items. They can also include suggestions on where to donate clothes once customers are done with them. The brand Vaude, for instance, has a free online platform called iFixit, which provides instructions on how to fix various products.

Embracing Diversity

Sustainable companies that truly desire to make a difference should take other ethical considerations into account, one of which involves embracing diversity. The 21st century is arguably the first to embrace different races, body types, and ages in advertising and fashion. Brands should do more than simply market themselves as ethical; they should also put their money where their mouth is, releasing collections in sizes that reflect the diversity of their customer base. Just a few brands that have already done so include Adidas, Apiece Apart, and Diane von Furstenberg. The latter’s iconic wrap dresses are now available in sizes 14 to 24, thanks to its recent partnership with Honoré.

If you are ready to make more eco-conscious fashion choices, a good place to start is by checking out the sustainability policies of your favorite brands. Those that do value ethical working conditions, the environment, and other issues such as animal welfare, will usually share their values with you via their website and social media channels. Be vigilant about shopping for jewelry as well, since truly ethically sourced diamonds have more to them than simply complying with the Kimberley certificate standards. When choosing a brand to support, also think about the extent to which they are truly making an effort to effect change. Efforts can range from choosing innovative materials right through to improving durability and educating customers on how to increase a product’s lifespan. Finally, this millennium is one that is firmly focused on diversity. Ethical companies should support the idea that all human beings have a right to look and feel like their best selves through the clothes they wear. Companies can show their commitment to diversity by employing models with varying ages, races, and body types. They can also make collections in various sizes so that their garments can be worn by a truly representative group of people. One of the best ways to find out more about fashion brands is to check out their websites. If they are truly serious about sustainability and ethics, they will most likely have a sustainability section in which they list the many steps they are taking to change the superficial reputation that fashion can sometimes have.

How to get rid of mosquitoes

Mosquitoes may not transmit COVID-19, but they can carry other dangerous diseases, including West Nile virus and Zika.

Most regions of the U.S. have issues with mosquitoes, but knowing prevention and mitigation measures can stop them from mushrooming into a big problem, says Dr. Craig Stoops (www.mosquito-authority.com), a retired U.S. Navy medical entomologist and chief science officer at Mosquito® Authority, a mosquito control company. 

“People are unfortunately attractive to mosquitoes,” Dr. Stoops says, “but there are numerous ways we can avoid the irritation and the potential danger of a bite. So much has to do with preparing your property and knowing how mosquitoes thrive.

“Some people are more susceptible to bites than others. Mosquitoes can be attracted to different chemicals found in human skin. But just because mosquitoes are an inevitable part of summer doesn’t mean you’re defenseless.”

Dr. Stoops offers five tips to reduce the appearance of mosquitoes and their biter:

  • Consider a professional service. Sometimes people prefer to do it themselves when it comes to fixing home issues, but they later find that a persistent problem is often better left to trained professionals. “Companies that specialize in mosquito control can effectively address the problem by implementing an entire program over a period of time, including follow-ups,” Dr. Stoops says. “There is a science and strategy to a program, and it requires considerable knowledge of how to treat different types of yards in different regions of the country. A good company in this industry continually educates its people as well as the consumers on how to effectively stay ahead of the problem.”
  • Get rid of standing water. Still water is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Common places of standing water include: clogged drain gutters, corrugated drain pipes, bird baths, pet bowls, planters, trash and recycling bins, children’s toys, and kiddie pools. “It is important to remain vigilant and remove any containers and debris from your yard to lower the habitats available to mosquitoes,” Dr. Stoops says. “A mosquito needs only about a tablespoon of water to lay eggs.”
  • Use safe repellents. Repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency have been reviewed and approved to pose minimal risk when used properly. “Some of the most effective ingredients commonly referred to in a repellent are DEET, Picaridan, and oil of lemon eucalyptus,” Dr. Stoops says. EPA-approved repellents provide up to two hours of protection.
  • Dress appropriately. “Studies have shown that some mosquitoes are more attracted to dark clothing,” Dr. Stoops says. “Avoid wearing lightweight, thin materials, which mosquitoes can bite right through. Instead, opt for tightly woven materials, like cotton, denim, nylon, or windbreaker-type materials, which are more difficult for the bugs to penetrate. Clothing that provides UV protection is typically tightly woven and often protects against insect bites, too.”
  • Keep your landscape clean. “Trimmed trees and shrubs improve a property’s air circulation,” Dr. Stoops says. “The increased air flow will physically push mosquitoes out of that area and remove the environment they thrive in. Also, there are some gardening choices that can deter mosquitoes: basil, lavender, and catnip are all plants that mosquitoes don’t like.”

“Many people just think of bug spray during mosquito season,” Dr. Stoops says. “The main idea should be to keep them out of your yard as much as possible. From there, considering summer is the time to get away, always prepare for your environment, especially if hiking or camping.”

About Dr. Craig Stoops

Dr. Craig Stoops (www.mosquito-authority.com), LCDR (ret.) MSC USN, is a retired U.S. Navy Medical Entomologist and chief science officer at Mosquito® Authority, a mosquito control company. He has conducted mosquito control and research in the United States, South and Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He has a B.S. in biology from Shippensburg University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Entomology from Clemson University. Dr. Stoops is board certified by the Entomological Society of America in Medical and Veterinary Entomology.

Four reasons why Original Medicare is too expensive

By Christian Worstell, licensed insurance agent and Senior Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com.

As the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period approaches (AEP, also called the fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period), some Medicare beneficiaries may think the enrollment period for private Medicare plans is not relevant to them because they can’t afford a private Medicare plan. I’m here to tell you otherwise. It may actually be Original Medicare that you can’t afford.

There are at least four reasons why Original Medicare — Part A and Part B — may actually be harsher on your wallet than private Medicare plans like a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

1. Original Medicare doesn’t have an annual out-of-pocket spending limit

Original Medicare offers a lot of benefits. But one thing you won’t find is an out-of-pocket spending limit for all those benefits.

Neither Medicare Part A nor Part B contain an annual out-of-pocket spending limit. That means there is no limit to the amount of money you can spend on Medicare deductibles, copayments and coinsurance over the course of the year. Depending on what types of health care services you need, these costs can add up quickly. Meanwhile, privately sold Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to include an annual out-of-pocket spending limit. For 2021, this limit is $7,550 for the year. And due to market competition, some plans may feature limits that are less than that amount. 

Once you spend $7,500 on deductibles, copayments and coinsurance for qualified care, your plan pays for 100% of your out-of-pocket costs for covered care for the remainder of the year. 

2. Many Medicare Advantage plans feature $0 premiums

90% of Medicare Advantage plans in 2020 include prescription drug coverage. These plans are called Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MA-PD) plans. In 2020, nearly half (49%) of all MA-PD plans came with no monthly premium. If you have a $0 premium Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, the only monthly premium you likely have to pay is your Medicare Part B premium, which you would still have to pay anyway if you stick with Original Medicare. (Most beneficiaries aren’t required to pay a Part A premium. If you are, you’d still have to pay those premiums if you have a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan). 

So with a $0 premium MA-PD plan, there’s no extra monthly premium for you to pay. Your premiums are the same as they would be in Original Medicare.

3. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits 

For as much as Original Medicare covers, it has several glaring holes: it doesn’t typically cover routine dental or vision coverage, and it doesn’t typically offer prescription drug coverage. 

But dental, vision and prescription drug coverage are three extra benefits that some Medicare Advantage plans may offer. As mentioned above, 9 in 10 Medicare Advantage plans covered prescription drugs in 2020. If you are enrolled only in Original Medicare, how — and how much — are you paying for things like routine dental care, vision care and prescriptions? 

A Medicare Advantage plan that bundles these benefits into one plan may be more cost effective for you.

4. Medicare drug coverage can help you save money

I mentioned drug coverage above, but given the skyrocketing cost of medications, it’s worth repeating. Paying for your prescription drugs entirely out of pocket can put you at a substantial financial risk. Medicare beneficiaries have two choices for Medicare drug coverage: enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage, or enroll in a standalone Medicare Part D plan. Both offer prescription drug coverage with typically low copayments for generic drugs. 

Depending on the plans available where you live, you may be able to find a plan that offers more benefits at the same monthly premium cost with annual spending protection. If you think the Annual Enrollment Period doesn’t apply to you because Original Medicare is all you can afford, you may want to think again.

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a Dental Health Article for 360 MAGAZINE

COVID Stress x Teeth

By Justin Lyons

Coronavirus obviously affects all-around health, but it’s also taking a toll on mental health.

With a pandemic, a recession, social injustice and a majorly impactful presidential election coming in just over a month, who isn’t stressed and tense?

Dr. Cathy Hung says headaches, jaw pain or severe discomfort near the ears can all be connected to TMJ disorders. These symptoms can be brought upon by stress and tension at a time during which either of those would be easily forgiven, if not already expected.

TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is the joint connecting the jaw to the skull. There is one on each side of the head, and they’re used extensively for everything we open our jaws for. They’re incredibly important, but that importance can make them severe sources of pain when something goes wrong.

Hung, oral surgeon and author of Pulling Wisdom: Filling Gaps of Cross-Cultural Communication for Healthcare Providers, said there are many causes of TMJ disorders, but stress is one of the biggest.

“I have seen patients with TMJ due to stress from the pandemic. When people are tense, they often clench or grind their teeth, tightening their jaw muscles and putting stress on the TM joints. Sometimes severe clenching also can lead to a cracked tooth or cracked dental crown,” Hung said.

She also offers some tips for those with TMJ disorder-causing habits.

Teeth grinding: Known as bruxism, this can be grinding, gnashing or clenching of teeth. Hung said these can all happen unconsciously while awake or even while asleep. Grinding can lead to TMJ, headaches and damage to teeth, and the best treatments are stress relievers or doctor-prescribed relaxants. Dentists and oral surgeons can also fit teeth grinders for a protective mouthpiece to wear while sleeping.

Tension headaches: Hung said tension headaches feel like a band wrapped around the temples. These can come from clenching, but they can also be associated with pain in the jaw. Hung says over-the-counter medication can help, but it isn’t fail-proof. If they don’t work, you should schedule a visit with a medical professional.

Other TMJ symptoms: Hung says there are a few ways to tell if a person is suffering from a TMJ disorder.

“You may have a misaligned bite, or pain and a clicking or grating noise when you open your mouth,” Hung said. “Or, you may have trouble opening your mouth wide.”

Again, stress relief and mouth guards can help in these scenarios. Physical therapy can also help. Hung says surgery can be needed in the most severe cases.

It’s a stressful time in the world, but Hung offers some hope to those who have acquired TMJ disorders through stress.

“Certainly, treatment can take time to be effective,” Hung said. “But you’ll be glad to know that problems associated with TMJ disorder are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past.”

For more information or to contact Dr. Cathy Hung, you can click right here.

Mosquito illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Preventing Mosquito Bites Around Your Home

By Dr. Craig Stoops

For many people, mosquitoes are a part of life in the summer. Their presence is annoying and can even threaten the health of people and pets.  

Fortunately, there are ways people can protect themselves against mosquito bites. Three effective ways to control mosquitoes around a house and limit exposure to their bites are: 1) Source reduction, 2) EPA-approved repellents, and 3) Hiring a professional.

Source reduction

Many mosquito species like to use water found in unattended bird baths or discarded items such as buckets, tarps, and children’s toys as locations to lay their eggs and continue the next generation. By emptying and cleaning bird baths and discarding items that can hold water (often called “tip and toss”) one can greatly diminish the mosquito population around their house and protect themselves from mosquito bites.

It is important to get your neighbors involved as well. What they do will impact you because mosquitoes will easily go from one property to the one next door seeking a blood meal.

EPA-approved repellents

There are numerous safe and effective insect repellents available on the market in a variety of formulations such as sprays, creams and wipes. The best and longest-lasting repellents contain the active ingredient DEET, but there are other active ingredients available such as picaridin, IR3535 and several botanical ingredients such as lemongrass oil and others. Visit the U.S. CDC website on mosquito bite prevention for additional information: https://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/about/prevent-bites.html

Researchers are always looking for additional “tools for the repellent toolkit” and new effective active ingredients have been recently found. One example is nootkatone. The EPA has recently provided approval for this active ingredient developed by scientists and the U.S. CDC from the Alaska yellow cedar tree. It has shown in the laboratory to be effective at repelling both mosquitoes and ticks and is available for development by a company into a commercially available product. 

Not everyone will be comfortable using a repellent that contains DEET. And repellents are only effective if people use them, so having ingredients like nootkatone available is important in protecting people from mosquito bites. Here is the U.S. CDC webpage on nootkatone: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0810-nootkatone-registered-epa.html

Hire a professional

While people can do a lot to control the mosquitoes around their house by discarding and emptying containers that breed mosquitoes, there may be times that getting advice from a professional is necessary to effectively control the problem. Pest control operators specifically trained in identifying the mosquitoes in your yard and recommending an integrated control program can be a great way to provide season-long relief from mosquito bites.  

When considering using a pest control company, be sure to do your homework and make certain you are hiring certified professionals who understand the methods and limitations of mosquito control. These professionals will be able to identify problem areas and use both non-chemical and EPA-approved insecticides to control the problem.

Dr. Craig Stoops (www.mosquito-authority.com), LCDR (ret.) MSC USN, is a retired U.S. Navy medical entomologist and chief science officer at Mosquito® Authority, a mosquito control company. He has conducted mosquito control and research in the United States, South and Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He has a B.S. in biology from Shippensburg University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in entomology from Clemson University. Dr. Stoops is board certified by the Entomological Society of America in medical and veterinary entomology.

Apartment hacks illustration inside 360 MAGAZINE

Picking the Best Printer for Your Business

Starting a graphics and design business is easy as long as you do your market research properly beforehand. Besides knowing the legal requirements and other expected requirements, gathering the right tools for your business to run successfully is crucial. One of the most important items you need is a good printer. How do you settle for one when many of these items are being advertised in the market? Check out a few pointers to ensure that you choose the right printer to support your growing business.

Consider What Materials You Will Be Printing

You are likely going to be printing specific things on your printer. For instance, a black-only laser printer is excellent for when you need high quality black and white monochrome output for text proofing. On the other hand, when working with colors, you need something with color output offers. You can opt for an inkjet device or laser printer, and in other cases, a solid ink printer may work. If you print a lot of media and images, ink jet will still be the best option.

Gauge Output Resolutions

Whenever you print the final output, you will most likely need the results to be clean and crisp. A high-resolution device is what most professional graphics design businesses will need, especially if the goal is to end up with a proofing device that shows the design’s overall look. Always exercise caution when checking the resolution stats and specifications. Laser and inkjet printers may appear similar but have differ in their diverse technological functions.

Consider Your Output Usage

Have a list of all the things you intend to use the printer for when purchasing it. For instance, any heat-based lamination processes will require printers that are not inkjet. If you insist on using inkjets, then you should prepare for poor quality printouts. Any printer with a low melting point means that they are vulnerable to high temperatures. The last thing you want is a printout that is not moisture resistant.

Consider Page Sizes

Your printer choice should factor in the size of your output. For a letter or tabloid-sized pages, you should consider choosing broad-range devices. Always have the page size in mind when you are selecting a printer. Consider the specifications of the printer to know how much space it will print on paper.

Speeds Matter

Printer output speeds are crucial, especially if you choose a printer that will serve you in the workspace. Select a printer whose speeds match the work schedule you intend to handle once you are operating at optimum level. You should be prepared to pay more for extra fast speeds too. Choose a faster processor that can power heavy use proofer with the ability to print multiple page layouts with complex graphics. You can compare a catalog of office printers from Konica Minolta to choose the one that works best for you.

Many factors need to be considered when you are choosing a commercial printer. Make a point to go through this list, note the details, and check its boxes before making your decision. This way, you will be sure to find one that matches all of your needs.

360 Magazine, Business

COVID-19 Shifted Modern Business

COVID-19 and the global pandemic has presented a significant and unforeseen challenge to many businesses. The government and public health restrictions have meant closures for some, and the economic impacts have meant customers are more nervous than ever before. As a business, managing through this pandemic means shifting the fundamental way you see your business. To better understand how COVID-19 has shifted the perspective of modern business, consider these points.

Managing the books

Prior to the pandemic, businesses could be excused for not being across the minutia of detail when it came to their day to day finances. Managing inventories, purchasing and other key accounting tasks may have been considered handled in a lot of circumstances. With the pandemic taking force, it’s been crucial to shift that perspective and consider online accounting software. As businesses shift operations away from bricks and mortar style offices, to working from home, online software is key. Businesses need to be able to manage and keep an eye on all finances in real-time. Making critical accounting decisions remotely could make or break the business, so your business needs to be agile in the way it operates. Traditional businesses could get away with quarterly reporting or even monthly, but the modern business will need to be much more focused on the numbers week to week or even day-to-day. Online software can keep you up-to-date with the accounting details you need to make smarter decisions.

Smart tooling

Previously, businesses considered tools which would allow their employees, customers and competitors to connect a nice service to have. Since COVID took hold, it’s been crucial for the modern business to adapt and offer a range of tools to help create those connections. In lieu of seeing people face-to-face, businesses needed to find ways to create virtual collaboration and avoid an over-reliance on traditional communication methods, like email. 

The modern business has shifted its perspective on these tools and some are now even seeking to find ways to create these virtual connections, similar to the water cooler type conversations you’d see in a physical office. This pandemic has created a divide in project teams, product teams and many other teams where close collaboration was a key to success. Modern businesses, rather than abandoning these ways of working, have adapted and found tools that help them connect better in a separated world.

Productive home workers

Prior to the pandemic taking hold, a lot of traditional business managers held the belief that working from home was unproductive. With public health advice all but demanding businesses have employees work from home, this perspective has certainly changed. Many businesses experienced a changing of the guard, albeit through a transition period. But as time goes by, the modern business is realising that expensive leases and large tenancy are simply not necessary. Employees have proven that productivity will go on, and that business output doesn’t suffer simply because staff are at home. 

Without commutes, some staff even prefer to work longer hours. The pandemic has offered the modern business an advantage to be taken. Allowing staff to become flexible with work arrangements both now and into the future can help build a more engaged and focused workforce. The caveat to this is ensuring staff have the appropriate setups and systems access to do their jobs effectively.

~

COVID-19 has challenged many widely held beliefs about the way a traditional business needs to run. From managing the day to day to allowing staff the freedom to work from wherever they are most productive. Modern business perspectives have changed and a lot of managers would argue it’s about time too.

Banana illustration by Mina Tocalini

3 Quarantine Nutrition Hacks

Are your clothes fitting more tightly on you than what you are comfortable with these days? If you indulged in “The Quarantine Diet” of added sugar, refined carbohydrates and more sugar, you are not alone. There isn’t a person on the planet who hasn’t been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. There are memes about Zoom meetings in pajamas. We’ve seen the jokes about annoyed pets who are ready for their owners to get back into the office. The most popular subject…drum roll, please… has been COVID weight gain, or “The Quarantine 15.” With some of us gaining upwards of 10 to 15 pounds at this point, these particular memes aren’t quite so funny anymore.

While some things are more difficult to control, like job loss, financial dips or getting sick, take advantage of the variables you do have control over. One of the easiest things you can master right now is your nutritional health. Making healthier food choices is more important than ever as we are collectively less active these days. Many places in the U.S. still have closed gyms and workout facilities, and home workouts aren’t for everyone. That leaves a lot of us with a perfect storm of weight gain, too little movement and too much snacking at home.

Life has disrupted us in a major way, and yet, there are still things we can do to reverse some of the damage. At 360 Magazine, we have rounded up 3 strategies from Los Angeles Nutrition Coach Natasha Maxwell to help get you back on track if the quarantine weight gain has claimed you as a victim. Nobody knows when COVID-19 lockdowns will end. If this is going to be the “new normal,” you will have to reincorporate the healthy habits from your old life into this new one. If you are totally new to nutritional habit building (the food choices practiced consistently in your daily life), these tips are still a great help. Stick with us through the end for a bonus summer recipe!

How to Reclaim Your Body during Quarantine:

  1. Drink More Water!: This one is often overlooked as a weight management tool although it is as equally as important as the food choices we make. According to Natasha, “As a nutrition coach, I cannot express the number of times I encounter new clients who scoff at the amount of water I suggest. That number should be at least half of your body weight; in the summer I recommend upwards of 100 ounces. Yes, that’s right, 100 ounces minimum. The lack of sufficient water is harmful to your body and can affect it in a number of ways including salty food cravings, waste buildup and digestion problems. That waste buildup can mimic true weight gain, also known as “water weight”. Bloating from dehydration is no fun either and is likely the reason that it’s sometimes hard to button your pants.” As Natasha stated: Drink your water, please!
  2. Be mindful of your sugar intake this summer!: What comes to mind when you envision summertime treats? Maybe it’s popsicles, banana pudding or key lime pie. These are all fine in moderation, but too much sugar can lead to weight gain and excess puffiness. For those looking to lose weight from our extended stay indoors, we will have to keep track of our sugar intake, even when lounging happily by the pool. Some ways around overindulging in sweets include substituting fruits for other sweets, avoiding sodas and packaged fruit juice and being more mindful of limiting foods with labels listing corn syrup, glucose, sucrose, etc.
  3.  Seek out new and healthier recipes!: The likelihood of entertaining guests during summer or being invited to someone else’s party or backyard BBQ is relatively high. Either way, food will be high on the list of priorities. Think produce, lean meats and fewer refined snacks when debating over a menu. Natasha especially urges the consumption of produce. Fresh vegetables and fruit are higher in water content, and an ample water supply can come in handy when you’re feeling a little dehydrated from the heat! Sliced cucumbers and carrots with a homemade dip are a win. Seafood and lean poultry options on the grill with veggies are also a great combo. For plant-based options, think stuffed pepper recipes, veggie hummus wraps and rainbow-colored salads with incredible ingredients and flavor. Who said healthy recipes can’t be tasty, too?

This pandemic is stressful and has affected us in a multitude of ways. Emotional eating is understandable, given our current circumstances. We don’t have to be rigid around everything we eat, but being more aware of what we are indulging in and how often is the key to weight maintenance and weight loss. Make a plan for your nutritional habits and find the balance that works best for you. We wish you luck!

As promised, here’s that bonus recipe you’ve been waiting on. It’s Summer Ceviche!

Let us know what you think with a comment down below!

Miyagi – Japan’s Most Relaxing Vacation

Geothermal wonders that rejuvenate the body and mind, Japan’s onsens (naturally occuring hot springs) are a must for any traveler, and Miyagi Prefecture has no shortage of them. With many dotted throughout Miyagi’s diverse terrain, each onsen provides a unique experience with different water sources producing baths of different temperatures, mineral content, texture and more. As these onsens are often located in the mountains, by the ocean and in forests, they provide a great place for travelers to practice the tradition of toji, extended stays at onsens to recuperate from illness or overexertion. Below is a sample of Miyagi’s best onsens for travelers to dream of relaxing in once travel restrictions are lifted.

Reflective pond at Tenshukaku Gardens (©Visit Miyagi)

One of the more popular onsen towns due to its proximity to Miyagi Prefecture’s capital Sendai, Akiu Onsen is tucked in the region’s mountains. The town features about a dozen hot spring hotels located along the scenic Natorigawa River with many offering day use of their hot spring baths. Nearby, Tenshukaku Gardens is home to its own onsen, known as Ichitaro no Yu. After strolling through the traditional Edo-style garden, guests can warm up in the hot spring with a view of Mount Osawa. Lucky bathers may even get to catch a glimpse of kamoshika, a rare Japanese goat-antelope often seen roaming on the mountainside. While the onsen’s water will leave skin soft and silky, Akiu Onsen water is also said to improve quality of sleep, circulation and reduce stress levels.

Sakunami Onsen is located deeper into the mountains and the train ride to this town passes through thick pine and maple tree forests with views of the Hirosegawa River below. This onsen town was often visited by weary monks, members of the shogunate and the shogun himself centuries ago as the water was said to treat a variety of illnesses. After cleansing their mind and body at the onsens on the rocky banks of the river, travelers can opt to hike one of the many trails or take a day trip to the Nikka Whiskey Miyagikyo Distillery.

Naruko Onsen’s diverse hot spring water makes for a rich experience (© JNTO)

Known as one of the “Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan,” Matsushima Bay has its own onsens facing towards the bay with views of countless small islands

Several hotels near the bay have their own natural onsen facilities and staying the night is highly recommended. Guests should make their way out to the open-air baths during the night to see thousands of stars light up the bay. For early birds, the baths are also an ideal spot to watch the sunrise. While Naruko Onsen can be a little hard to get to as it’s hidden away in the hills of northwestern Miyagi, the trip is worth it. Naruko Onsen boasts one of the richest onsen experiences anywhere as the town has eight of the ten types of hot spring water found in Japan. Additionally, the town has more than 400 different springs providing an almost endless variety of bathing facilities. Naruko Onsen also has a wide range of ryokans from traditional inns to luxurious private baths.

The Miyagi Onsen Experience: Watch HERE

For more information on Miyagi Prefecture’s onsens, travelers are encouraged to use the website’s Trip Organizer which has plenty of resources and travel tips. Travelers can also watch this short video highlighting experiences at onsen towns in the prefecture.