Dave Pflieger Presents: Travel Inspiration

I’ve had the pleasure and oppourtunity to travel to some incredible places and decided to share some of my favorite travel quotes here with photos from my travels to help inspire you guys to get out there!


Dave Pflieger | Travel Inspiration by DavePflieger

10 Natural Sleep Remedies

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Coffee and other caffeinated beverages can be a godsend, but they can only promise to energize one so much. For the restless and sleepless, the central nervous system stimulant will deliver a sufficiently energy boost before concluding with an inevitable crash Fortunately, there are numerous natural remedies to deal with profound exhaustion and restlessness.

Reports show that we’re getting far less sleep than we were just three decades ago, most Americans acquiring an average of about 6.7 hours of sleep during any given weekday. This escalating trend of American being tired seems tireless. National Sleep Foundation has confirmed that the number of people getting eight hours or more is dwindling, leading to stress, which is associated with sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness. December 2013, Gallup communicated that 40 percent of Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep.

Serotonin, melatonin, 5-hydroxy L-Tryptophan (5-HTP), and tryptophan are necessary for the body’s biological clock to run smoothly and for a restful night’s sleep. Interruptions to that conversion of serotonin into melatonin mean less time resting in your cozy bed and more time obsessing over why others are getting more rest than you. The following natural remedies should help with that:

Turn off the Lights: It’s a fact that our bodies are programmed to produce higher levels of melatonin when it is dark, lessening when there is light. So, you’ll be better able to sleep if there are no lights and no screens.

Drink Tart Cherry Juice: Cherry juice is a natural sleep aid that’s filled with tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid. It’s the only amino acid that can convert serotonin into melatonin, which helps prompts drowsiness, lowers the body temperature, and syncs the central nervous system to the biological clock. But remember lights off. This process is inhibited by light.

Valerian: The roots of the Valerian plant can be used as a sleep aid and a sedative. It manages to regulate the action of nerve cells, offering a calming effect by increasing the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid),.

Consider Feng Shui: So much more than rearranging your space to look appealing, rearranging a space maximizes the flow of good energy and it can lead to a restful night’s sleep. The bed should be easily accessible from all sides, the air in the room should be kept pure, natural light should be allowed in, the bed should be positioned so that it faces the door, and the room should be kept clear of clutter.

Acupuncture: The traditional form of Chinese medicine has long been considered an important healing practice in the world. The insertion of thin needs can open up blocked channels, and signal the release of neuroendocrine chemicals, which helps you to fall asleep.

Remove Your T.V. From the Bedroom: Simple as that. Remove your T.V., which distracts you from receiving the luxurious sleep that you absolutely deserve.

Warm Bath: A few drops of aromatic essential oils added to a tube of warm water can help to wash away the day’s stress. So, you may want to relax into a pool of sudsy water to ease your mind ahead of sleep.

Set A Schedule: If you relax into a schedule it will be easier for you to transition from being awake to being asleep because your body craves ritual. Meditate every night, drink tea every night or read a passage from a good book every night.

Chow Down On a Banana: Bananas aren’t only delicious, but they contain tryptophan, and potassium and magnesium as well, which is just excellent. Magnesium helps to relax your muscles.

Eat Healthy Carbs: This doesn’t mean you should run for the pasta with a side of garlic bread. Instead eat apples and veggies loaded with carbs, such as corn, carrots, and apples. Carbs and the release of insulin make it easier for tryptophan to cross the barrier into the cerebrospinal fluid.

Some other tips include making a lavender sleep sachet, sipping chamomile, using lemon balm, drink down some hops (not in the form of beer), sip warm milk, try a sleep mask, and create a sleeping schedule. The Sleep Cycle app, which is an alarm clock that tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you during the light sleep, is yet another response to the sleep deprivation experienced by the public.

Getting Well

Stress usually isn’t a good thing. Excessive stressors can lead to a number of ailments such as heart disease, obesity, and mental health issues. Naturally, employers should be doing the best they can in offering programs or resources to reduce the amount of stress. At the end of the day, what may seem like a waste of money on employees could be what keeps them happy, focused, and productive— all good things for a company.

NPR, in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, released a poll that found 57% of the surveyed who worked 50+ hour weeks felt that “their job had a bad impact on their stress level”. The poll also found high numbers of workers who felt it negatively impacted sleep and eating habits, too. However, there was some good news: just over half (51%) of respondents indicated that their employers had a wellness or health improvement program in place.

The plans themselves vary. Forbes published a list of the 10 most and least common health and wellness programs that employers provide, and there seems to be a divide between resource-based initiative and material help. For instance, the most common programs include wellness resources and info, access to a wellness publication, and the vague “wellness programs” general. Other programs— like subsidized gym equipment nap rooms, and vegetable gardens,—are far less traditional, although a small number of companies do offer them.

But even though more companies are offering these health programs, less than 40 percent of individuals are actually enrolled in them. That shouldn’t stop employers from offering the programs because these measures do save companies money. Those higher stress levels can translate into illness, and at the end of the day those rising healthcare costs become the employer’s issue.

Another simple measure companies can take to improve employee wellness is keeping better tabs on workloads and expectations. Downsizing may make a company feel like it is becoming more efficient, but the extra workload employees receive can have stress-related consequences. Part of the reason that so much paid time off goes on used is because employees feel that their workload won’t allow them to step away from the desk.

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Making sure employees can use their vacation days should be a priority. After time away, you feel refreshed and can approach work with a renewed vim and vigor. If that weren’t enough of a reason, all that unused vacation time costs American businesses billions of dollars.

Is Breakfast Overrated?

Aaron E. Carroll, MD has a problem with breakfast. Not the food, but the idea. That is, he doesn’t believe that a designated period each morning should be set aside for eating, especially when he isn’t hungry anyway. Or rather, the science doesn’t back it up.

At first, this seems to fly in the face of modern dietary convention. For years, we’ve been reassured that breakfast keeps us at a healthy weight, alert at school and work, and in overall good shape. But Carroll argues that these studies suffer from confirmation bias— that is, they supported what the researchers want to see proven in their studies. He speaks to two popular studies: one which shows an inverse correlation between skipping breakfast and obesity and another that reveals a link between a lack of breakfast and coronary heart disease. These studies are widely cited, but often times the causation/correlation line is blurred, confusing readers.

Carroll then cites several other studies that contradict common breakfast-time beliefs. One that found getting breakfast eaters to skip breakfast while having breakfast skippers eat it makes no discernible difference in weight loss efforts.

Of great importance is the fact that many studies praising breakfast are funded by manufacturers of breakfast foods. Of course, he says, Quaker oats will fund a study that suggests eating oatmeal will reduce cholesterol and weight… when certain conditions are met.

It’s not that breakfast is bad for you or a waste of time. Instead, Carroll says that we overestimate its importance; for better or for worse, its consumption is not a panacea for the ills that come as a consequence for unhealthy habits. If you’re hungry in the morning, satisfy yourself. But if not, don’t break your back trying to whip something up. The evidence that it will make that much of a difference is scant, at best.

The Other Superfoods

“Superfoods”. The word itself conjures up images of overhyped foods that somehow deliver enough nutrients in a single package to make your life instantly better. But we already know that a balanced diet is only one component of a healthier and better life; it should also be combined with good exercise and sleep habits, as well as good mental health.

However, that doesn’t mean that some foods aren’t worth adding to your diet. If you find that you are lacking in a certain nutrient, some superfoods can give your body the boost that it so desperately needs. Other foods may reduce certain cravings for unhealthy victuals, or may help keep you feeling fuller for longer— which means fewer unhealthy snacks!

While some “superfoods” are already embedded in our minds (think salmon and almonds, for instance), others are a bit more obscure. Fortunately for all, Real Simple recently decided to compile an awesome list of some of the lesser-known superfoods. Below are the profiles of several foods of note.

Açai Berries

It’s pronounced “a-SIGH-ee”. Now that the tricky part is out of the way, we can get into what this fruit can do for your system. These berries are full of antioxidants, which can help fight various cancers. It also contains oleic acid, which is a rarity for fruit— olives are one of the only other fruits that have it. The unfortunate catch is that açai berries are rare in supermarkets, and the açai that is most available is usually found in the form of sugary drinks. So, if you can find it, opt for the unsweetened frozen açai that you can blend into your own homemade shakes and smoothies.

Cacao

Yes, chocolate can be good for you, especially when it’s in its purest form— cocoa powder. Cacao is heavy in flavonoids, which can aid in lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to vital organs. Like açai, you must be wary when you buy it. Many products labeled “cacao” may be quite high in sugar. Avoid labels that read “Dutch” or “alkalized” cacao. These products contain cacao, but are missing a lot of the antioxidants that make it so healthy in the first place.

Black Garlic

Imagine garlic that is not off white in color, but instead black. Black garlic has long been used in some cuisines throughout Asia, but the West is just now coming around to appreciating its particular benefits. The garlic is blackened through a fermentation process that involves high heat and humidity and, like Acai berries, it is loaded with antioxidants, so you would do well to use it in your next sauce or dip!

3 Ways to Improve Sleep Quality

It goes without saying that sleep is super-connected to wellness.  Well, no— it’s more than super-connected, the two are interdependent.

dave-pflieger-man-909049_960_720More interestingly, when you think about it, it is quite amazing that the simple act of doing nothing is one of, it not the most important, things you can do during your day-to-day. So, if you’re finding your waking hours suffering and constantly in need of a pickup, there’s a good chance that sleep quality is something you need to improve. Given that fact, here are three things you can do to improve the quality of your virtually invaluable sleep.

During the Day, DO.

Have you ever been totally exhausted and finally lie down to rest, only to be amazed at how well you slept? It’s just easier for us to fall asleep when we’re actually tired. Making yourself tired by the end of the day is as simple as getting active. Make it a habit to exercise. You’ll get a mood boost when you finish, but when you expend all that energy in a healthy way, your body just can’t wait to get it back. Sleep will fall over you in an instant!

Meditate

It can be pretty tough to sleep when you’re stressed about work, relationships, or even what you’re going to cook for dinner in the evening. Going to bed with a heavy mind can really impact your sleep quality, and when you awake those thoughts may still be there. Remember to take it one day at a time, and try some form of meditation to clear your mind. From reflecting on everything you’re thankful for, to focusing on your breath, there are countless ways to practice meditation and many resources available to help you get started.

Start an Evening Routine

Yes, it’s elementary, but sticking to an evening routine that works for you can be relaxing and will condition your body to know when sleep is coming. Better still, your evening routine can involve something you actually enjoy. Maybe it can even be a part of a longtime goal. Want to read more? Nestle in with a book for an hour every night. Trying to refine your writing skills? Start a journal! The only thing I’d avoid is anything that has to do with screens. Electronic light before bed can have negative effects on sleep, and that would defeat the point of starting a routine in the first place!

Sedentary Steps

It seems that for the last year or more, article after article in the news has espoused the benefits of the standing desk. Staying on your feet, writers suggest, is a direct counter to the sedentary lifestyle that has been so pervasive in the American workplace since the mid 20th century.dave-pflieger-barefoot-1149848_960_720

Separately, other articles have touted activity monitoring devices like Fitbit which have only helped these little tracking devices become more and more popular. At their most simple, these devices monitor your steps to make sure you’re getting enough activity throughout the day.

Some people may prefer one of these over the other. Or perhaps, they may enthusiastically use both!  After all, they both seem to contribute to an active lifestyle and should prevent you from being sedentary, right?

Wrong. Or rather, the answer is not that straightforward.

In the New York Times’s Wellness Blog, Gretchen Reynolds writes that activity is very different from simply not being sedentary. To illustrate this point, she puts the 5000 steps/day principle under the proverbial microscope. 5000 steps is typically presented as the threshold between a sedentary and active lifestyle. But the facts are not quite so clear.

She argues that if you concentrate all of those steps— whether 5,000 or 10,000— into one single “step session,” but are otherwise sedentary throughout the day— lounging on the couch or in front of a desk for instance, you are still susceptible to the long-term risks associated with sedentary lifestyles.

Her solution? Intersperse your steps throughout your day. Get up to chat with a coworker or walk around the neighborhood. The trick isn’t to get active. It’s to stay active.

Easy HIIT

The benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT) are well known. But as beneficial as it may be for your overall level of fitness, there is no denying that it is, well, hard!

It’s particularly grueling for beginners, or people in poor physical condition. So what if there were a way to replicate all the benefits of HIIT in an easy manner; in a schedule anyone can stick to?

Turns out that a team of researchers in Denmark may have the answer: They call it 30-20-10 training. It’s a type of interval dave-pflieger-runners-373099_960_720training that is as simple as it sounds. But beware: it can really wear you out!

Here’s how it works. After a warmup, jog at your leisurely pace for 30 seconds. Next, kick it up to a run for 20 seconds. Finally, in the 50th second of the minute, do an all-out sprint for 10 seconds. That final sprint is truly what this workout it all about, so don’t skimp on it. Really, everything hinges on how fast you can go in those ten seconds.

One minute completes one cycle. After five minutes of this training, take a two minute rest and do it again. The whole workout should only be about 20 minutes, including warmup and cool down. Not bad!

Of course, you should check with your doctor before starting a new program. Don’t be fooled by its short time. Just like any other HIIT circuit, this one is intense!

Bike Shares— Safer than You Think

It’s a fine assumption that Bike Share programs are a win-win for all parties involved, sentient and otherwise. The people participating in them are able to stay active, while the planet gets a break from the carbon emissions we’ve come to expect from passenger vehicles. That narrative— that Bike Shares are good for the environment and keep people active in the face of rising rates of obesity and weight-related chronic illnesses— has long been championed by advocates of such programs.

And now, as if there were need for another good reason to participate, there is another justification for this kind of program. Bike Shares, it turns out, are safer than other means of transportation. Not in the sense that they’re necessarily safer than walking, or driving, or using public transit; but in that bike shares are safer than the bike you have in your garage (though, if we’re being honest, garages and Bike Shares really aren’t found in the same city).

Aarian Marshall of City Lab set out to explore why Bike Share programs are safer, and came across several interesting studies and data. The first reason may be the most obvious: design. When you first looked at a Bike Share bicycle, were you no doubt taken aback by how, well, bulky the thing was? It’s thick, heavy, and some would say unwieldy. And they have to be— with programs like Washington, D.C.’s exceeding 5 million riders, the bicycles need to be able to take a beating. All that extra weight slows down the bike, and the reduced speeds associated with them may an added safety bonus. Also, there’s an idea that bike share riders may be more careful than when they ride their own personal bikes. After all we tend to (or should!) be more careful when using a piece of equipment that isn’t ours.

Another reason Aarian highlighted was that the bikes in Bike Share programs are usually painted with easy-to-see bright colors and they light up at night.

Marshall’s article also pointed out the irony inherent in bike helmet laws – these laws don’t result in lower hospitalization rates for helmet users. Put simply, while bike helmets are great to be wearing if you find yourself in a collision, they don’t actually prevent collisions. But I’m sure you knew that already. What is much more interesting, though, is that mandatory helmet laws do reduce the number of bike trips taken. It’s easy to see how a city can hype up fewer bike collisions because of their helmet laws. Yeah, there aren’t as many crashes… because fewer people are riding. How do you make cycling truly safe? By creating bike lanes and other bicycle friendly infrastructure.

Bike helmet laws aside, the bottom line with Bike Share programs is that hey are a huge leap forward in the journey towards sustainable and cleaner living. It’s also keeping us safer in more ways than one,

5 Healthy Resolutions for the New Year

It’s the new year and that means that it’s time for the new year’s resolutions to be made and then broken within the span of a few weeks. The sad truth is that many people don’t follow through with their resolutions, regardless of how well-meaning they may be. That being said, here are 5 of the healthiest resolutions for men out there. Good luck sticking to them!health and wellness

  1. Get fit and in shape: This is the standard new year’s resolution — the nebulous and esoteric “get in better shape”. That being said, this is a great one to work towards and everyone should try to be healthier. Don’t just focus on weights though; make sure that you include cardio into your exercise routine for a balanced workout.
  2. Watch what you eat: Instead of eating just meat and potatoes (probably the most stereotypical “manly” food there is), try to eat a balanced diet. Not only will this help you lose weight and look better, but you’ll also just be healthier and happier. I bet there are nutrients you’re currently missing out on that you didn’t even know about.
  3. Go to the doctor: There is no pride to be gained from getting sick just because you didn’t feel like you needed to go to the doctor. If you feel as though something is wrong, don’t try to just shake it off. Go to a professional and make sure that it is taken care of.
  4. Quit smoking: While it’s common knowledge that smoking is bad for you, addiction doesn’t pay attention to logic. Quitting smoking is the first step towards a healthier you and you’ll see the benefits across all aspects of your life, especially when you’re able to breath easier.
  5. Ease your stress: Stress is a killer and a leading cause of both unhappiness and unhealthiness. One of the first things you can do to get yourself on the right health track is to find ways to healthily mitigate and get rid of the stress in your life.

All of these resolutions are obviously easier said than done. That being said, once you get started on them you’ll notice an active difference in your quality of life and health. That will make it even easier to continue! If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

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