Can We Divert Ourselves from Fast Food?

Much has been mentioned recently on the news about the potential to eat better at fast food restaurants. But, is that really true?

A news story last week tried to mention some simple steps to help with this potential, as in creating your own burger and making sure you eat smaller portions. But, how easy is this to do when the standard is the “combo” meal presented at the front counter or in the drive-thru?

Is it really all that easy to simply not eat all of the food that you are provided? Or to drink water instead of the soda for which you are already paying with that meal? We all know that it is much easier to pick up dinner on the nights when there has been a busy day, we’ve been running from the office to appointments, and practices, games, and more, then back to the house where it is already a chaotic mess. However, is there a better answer to creating a simple and fast meal for the whole family?

First thing. Maybe the answer is not the fast food drive through. When using those tips offered up by the reporters on the news, there is potential when placing a pick-up order from a local restaurant. You may be able to order a family-sized platter, some salad, and other items that are a bit healthier without the grease and fried foods.

Next, you may be able to add some healthier snacks to the house. Keep those chips, candy, and other sweets and junk food out of the house. Make sure there are fruits and vegetables. If the kids are going to be home on their own for a while after school, make sure that the options to snack are healthy.

Now, those are just a couple of places to start in the options to bring the entire house up to healthy eating choices. Remember that it takes time, but that as time goes on tastes will adjust and it gets easier to avoid those unhealthy foods that we so often crave.

Advertisements

The Many Benefits of Reading

Benefits of reading (on the brain, health, body, etc.) – We’ve been telling our kids to turn off the TV, and now mobile devices, for so long now, but what should they be doing? Would books be a better, healthier source of entertainment?

So much of our reading today is centered around social media and the computer, but is there something more that could be more beneficial. There is much to be considered about the reading of an actual book, even if it is in the digital format. Something much more to the reading of creative words rather than the arguments and whining of all those so-called friends that we watch daily online.

You may be able to see much more of the news or even something of the creativity in literature and other pieces when the distraction of ads and other content is taken away while reading an actual story or book. There are also long-term benefits to reading, some that have been researched by labs and institutes, including the potential prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions with age.

One major overall benefit is that reading, especially with the turning of paper pages, is a physical and mental activity combined, which helps intellectual stimulation a great deal. In the same way that educational lessons for young children at the interactive level are promoted for greater stimulation and development. While keeping the mind active and developed over time there is much to sustain with age. It can help prevent memory loss, while also maintaining a solid thought process and intelligence. In the same manner, stress is reduced, the daily activity process is maintained and your brain is refreshed in a manner of speaking.

There is nothing to say that reading the same amount as you did in the earlier days of school is necessary, but there are books coming out all the time, along with older books that can be read over and over again for entertainment. I know that I try to pick up a book now and then to help make sure I keep my own mental activity refreshed, especially when I realize I have spent almost all of my time in front of the computer working and then resting in front of the TV. The written word is then able to provide a little brain exercise!

Is obesity honestly a “disease”?

Okay, here is a serious question… especially with so many of the regulatory changes that are about to be made by the White House entering into the new year. If obesity is honestly a disease, and an overwhelming state that has has been taken on by children and adults of our nation, should we really be reinstating unhealthy foods into school cafeterias just to save money? Do we really have a president who believes in the idea of “increase sodium” and “reduce whole grains and vegetables”?

So, we wonder about the idea of obesity being a disease faced by millions of Americans. The answer seems to vary back and forth between the research in some clinics and the advice that is provided by certain doctors. So many medical organizations and doctors alike realize that this is a disease more in realization to psychology than health and well-being. It is recommended to manage weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise, but there are also issues with stress and other mental weaknesses that affect weight.

However, it is hard to understand how obesity is a disease in relation to so many of the others that we have today. It is easy to understand that stress and hormones can have an effect on weight. However, is this really a disease? Is this something that can be genetically passed down from parents to children? Or are we, in fact, more likely to become obese by taking on an unhealthy lifestyle? Is this something that is more likely to become part of our lives as we grow older and spend more time in chairs, working and then laying on the couch on the weekend?

I know that I am guilty of it over the years, and my weight has definitely increased. Does this mean that I have some sort of disease? Or does this mean that I need to motivate myself to eat a little healthier, get just a little more activity, and maybe go to the gym an extra day every week? That could be a little more helpful than whining to my doctor about the possibility of the disease of obesity and asking for some sort of medication that would solve the issues behind it.

Now, I have asked a lot of questions in here… let me know what you think. Even though there has been a lot of research on both sides of the case, we all have our own opinions and we all have the ability to manage our own weight!

What is the easiest form of travel transportation?

Leaving the United States, the most commonly represented option is the airport. With so many new cost-saving options today there is much to consider, based on where you are headed, as to what airline you choose and the different stops that have to be made.

It’s hard to imagine that traveling within the United States is easy if you don’t want to drive, face the challenges of big-city traffic, and facing the horrendous directions provided by GPS and other online maps.

However, if you plan on traveling internationally there is much more to expect in the ability to use metro/public transportation to get around. So many other nations around the world are more likely to have taxis, shuttles, and buses that are much more reliable than those here in America.

I will admit that I have heard the U.S. is likely the least efficient for national or even inner-city transportation. However, if you were to visit Europe today there have been some updates to their travel methods that could make things more affordable. While it used to be considered a very expensive trip, you may only be looking at the plane ticket overseas as the most expensive piece today.

Some of the travel methods that have come along with the shared economy of Europe include the following:

  • Megabus
  • Busabout
  • FlixBus
  • Budget Airlines
  • By Use of a Eurail Pass
  • Use BlaBlaCar

And by far the cheapest travel method across Europe is the historical style of artists and authors: hitchhiking. Amazingly enough, this is quite common in Europe and it is free. However, it is recommended that you use your common sense and make sure to back out if you feel unsafe at all.

Others recommend to mix and match the methods you use in different locations. You will be able to see the most while also spending as little money as possible. I know that there are many places I want to see in Europe but I doubt I would ever have enough money to see them all in the traditional manner. What do you think?

Do We Have the Ability to Overcome Our Reliance On Fossil Fuels?

So many questions have been asked as to whether renewable energy (i.e. solar, wind, etc.) is reliable enough for a permanent switch. In some instances, there are claims that consumers making a change to solar power in the overall electrical supply of their homes is an overwhelming risk. So, the question remains: Have you heard of the updates that have been made over the past four or five years or so? Do you know much about the photovoltaics and battery storage that have been developed to help add to the life of solar energy? The design of solar power grids that have the ability to generate enough electricity for thousands of homes over the course of a year? Grids that will be able to work in the same way our current power grids do, but without the fossil fuels?

solar 2.jpeg

While much of the GOP has constantly established the need to keep coal mines and other standard fuels moving along in our national economy and workforce. It has been presumed that with the international production of much of the renewable energy products, that it would lead to the loss of jobs here in the United States, but is that really the case? With the tariffs that have been created would we not honestly be able to create American jobs in the solar industry? It has grown so much over the past few decades that there would be a great deal of job development and financial development combined that there is no reason to ignore the potential of solar power right here in the United States.

While we would likely have to work with some other nations where supplies are more easily developed, it would still likely be a great development for Americans if solar development and solar installation were able to move more solidly into the U.S. We have so much to look for in this industry and, yet, it is continually pushed by the wayside for other more ridiculous issues. Do we not need to save our planet in the long run? Should these steps not be taken as soon as possible for environmental protection? There is much more work on solar and other renewables coming, so much more left to see!

Even More Amazing International Places to Visit

Maui

Both history and beauty combined: Whether you’re driving along the Road to Hana, enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the lush coastline from a helicopter or simply relaxing on the island’s honey-colored beaches, you’ll find that Maui is unlike any other tropical destination. Don’t miss a chance to visit Haleakala National Park, home to the world’s largest dormant volcano.

Sydney

Such a beautiful and lively city combined, with such a cultural background to offer everyone: This metropolis offers more than just a dizzying array of landmarks (e.g., the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge). The Australian city boasts a warm, sunny climate ideal for enjoying Sydney’s long list of seasonal festival and events, not to mention its local beaches like Coogee, Bondi, and Manly.

Hong Kong

Would you like to see the history and character available in China? Then take a look here: Hong Kong is a study in contrasts. Alongside its towering skyscrapers and frenzied street markets, there’s the peaceful Nan Lian Garden and the scenic Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. For a mix of both, hop a ferry to Lantau Island, home to a Buddhist monastery, Hong Kong’s longest beach and the territory’s Disneyland outpost.

Macchu Picchu

Possibly the greatest, most historical tourist attraction: A visit to the “lost city of Incas” is not for the faint of heart, but for those who acclimate to the altitude, it’s life-changing. While the four-day hike along the Inca Trail is challenging, arriving at the site during sunrise is well worth it, according to past travelers. If you’re not up for the trek, you can also hop on a tourist train to the mountain base.

Rio de Janeiro

Biblical and historical combined, there is much to see: Christ the Redeemer and the shores of Copacabana and Ipanema provide reason enough to plan a trip to Rio, but there’s much more to the Marvelous City than scenic vistas, tropical rainforests, and cerulean seas. Revel in the sounds of samba in the Lapa neighborhood after strolling along the cobblestone streets of Santa Teresa.

Florence

Oh, beautiful Italy! So much to see from one city to the next, but this is one of the greatest: The historic city of Florence offers plenty of world-famous attractions, including the Duomo, Piazzale Michelangelo, and Piazza Della Signoria. After appreciating the city’s Renaissance architecture and art, sample some of the region’s delectable Tuscan food and wine at the city’s quaint cafes, gelato shops, and ristorantes.

The British Virgin Islands

Amazing beaches and views, there is much to see along this gorgeous land: If picturesque beaches and warm weather are what you’re after, look no further than the British Virgin Islands. For easy access to Smuggler’s Cove, Brewers Bay and other top-notch BVI beaches, consider booking your hotel room on Tortola, the area’s largest island. Plus, you can easily hop between the smaller islands on a boat tour.

Costa Rica

Not what you would expect, but worth a visit: From volcanic mountains to verdant rainforests to stunning shorelines, Costa Rica is one of the best-kept secrets in Central America – but not for long. Explore the beaches along the Nicoya Peninsula before heading to the remote Tortuguero National Park to spot exotic wildlife. Just make sure you plan a visit during the country’s dry season (mid-December to April).

Bali

See temples and volcanoes from centuries past: Serene temples and beautiful beaches are the biggest draws to this lush paradise. And we do mean lush – the region’s notoriously soggy wet season is best avoided by planning a visit between April and October. Break up your beach time with a visit to Kintamani, home to a towering (and active) volcano and a large lake.

Great Barrier Reef

The globe’s largest coral reef system – and one of the original Seven Natural Wonders of the World – touts incredible scenery, whether you view it underwater, from the air or by boat. Though plenty of diving and snorkeling spots can be found along Queensland’s coast, to escape the crowds, take an excursion to Hamilton Island.

Prague

With its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture adorning top attractions like Old Town Square, Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral and the Prague Astronomical Clock, Prague makes travelers feel like they’re in a fairy tale. Make sure to visit the popular Charles Bridge and touch one of the 30 saint statues for luck.

San Francisco

Home to some of America’s most recognizable landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz Island, San Francisco has the ability to satisfy outdoorsy types, foodies and curious wanderers of all ages. If you don’t have time to hit all the top spots, a scenic ride on one of the city’s historic cable cars is a must.

RV Traveling and Camping

With about 50% of the American population living only a few miles from a camping location there is much to be said for the RV and camping options in the family vacation today.  RV traveling 2.jpeg

Yellowstone

With extraordinary dramatic peaks and pristine lakes, Yellowstone National Park has multicolored pools swirl around hot springs where verdant forests weave past expansive meadows. Additionally, volatile geysers launch streams of steaming water toward the sky. With such unspoiled natural beauty, it’s easy to believe that John Colter (a scout for explorers Lewis and Clark) and his first descriptions of Yellowstone’s geothermal curiosities in 1807. Among its 3,000-plus square miles of mountains, canyons, geysers, and waterfalls, the trails include residents like buffalo, elk, and grizzly bears.

With over 4 million visitors every year, most of them still spend most of their time at Old Faithful. Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres range from northwest Wyoming into Idaho and Montana. Several days are needed to see even a decent amount of the park, like Yellowstone Lake and Mammoth Hot Springs. The trails are amazing too, like the hot springs of the West Thumb Geyser Basin and the untamed wildlife dotting the Lewis River Channel and Dogshead Loop. While the sheer number of trails and wildlife-watching opportunities may seem daunting at first, remember: You can always come back.

Grand Canyon

“Grand” doesn’t begin to do this canyon justice. Measuring approximately 277 river miles in length, up to 18 miles in width and a mile deep, this massive chasm in northern Arizona is truly a natural wonder. For six million years, the Grand Canyon has expanded with the help of the mighty Colorado River, and for centuries, people from all over the globe have traveled to gaze out over its red and orange grandeur. Managed by the National Park Service and officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Grand Canyon leaves its approximately 6 million visitors per year awestruck.

But if you’re seeking a secluded escape to Mother Nature, you should be prepared: The Grand Canyon can be very crowded. The South Rim – home to the Grand Canyon Village and the well-worn Bright Angel Trail – is particularly popular for sightseers and hikers. It is on this side that you’ll find the most amenities. For a break from the crowds, head to the North Rim. This is the place for backwoods camping and hardcore hiking.

Yosemite

One of California’s most formidable natural landscapes, Yosemite National Park features nearly 1,200 square miles of sheer awe: towering waterfalls, millennia-old Sequoia trees, striking, daunting cliff faces and some of the most unique rock formations in the United States. But despite its enormous size, most of the tourist activity takes place within the 8-square-mile area of Yosemite Valley. Here you’ll find the park’s most famous landmarks – Half Dome and El Capitan – as well as excellent hiking trails through the natural monuments. Even inexperienced hikers can enjoy Yosemite: Guided tours and climbing lessons are available from local adventure outfitters. Just don’t expect to experience it by yourself. Like so many other American tourist destinations, crowds are the biggest obstacles to an enjoyable Yosemite vacation.

 

With these and many other locations where you are able to rent that RV or other camper and head across the United States to one of these beautiful locations there is much to gain in that family vacation. If you are a family on the west side of the country there is something to be said for the easy trip to one of these beautiful locations without the cost of plane tickets and hotel rooms, things like that. Natural beauty is right there in front of you without the tickets for those many different parks and entertainment that are built by men. Enjoy one of these rides across the country!