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What Motivates You to Exercise?

8 Ways To Fend Off Holiday Weight Gain

Gaining weight during the holidays is an expected seasonal hazard for many individuals. Holiday indulgences are everywhere, and fending off the temptations can be a serious discipline.

The countless rounds of holiday parties make weight maintenance at this time of year a must. Take in the following 8 strategies to greet the New Year without an expanded waistline.

1. Plan Eating and Exercise
Experts suggest creating a plan for eating and exercise, as well as a reminder system to ensure that you follow through. Put notes or pictures in strategic places where you'll be sure to see them.

2. Small Servings
You need not be deprived of the holiday treats that you're sure to be bombarded with during the holidays. The trick is to have just a little of everything. Portion control is key to minimize weight gain during the holidays.

3. Choose Your Treats
Before partying, plan ahead which holiday food you're going to indulge in. There'll be a lot of temptations like rich dishes, sweet treats, and extra drinks. Just choose wisely and enjoy it. 

4. Get Moving
Lack of activity and rich holiday food make the perfect combination for weight gain. Short 10 to 15 minute sessions of activity, like walking, shoveling snow, or lifting weights, three times a day works just as well as a 45 minute workout. Think of these as a way to combat holiday stress and to make up for the extra calories you consumed.

5. Take Control
You certainly cannot control the type of food at any event, but you can bring your discipline to the table. To fend off those urges and temptations, try these tips:

  • Stay away from the buffet table.
  • Wear form fitting clothes to remind you that you've eaten enough.
  • Chew sugarless gum after you've finished eating.

6. Be Prepared
Don't go to an event hungry, thirsty, or tired. It sets you up for over-indulgence and poor judgment. Eat a healthy snack like whole grains, fresh fruit or low fat yogurt before hitting the event. In addition, thirst is often confused with hunger, so stay hydrated. 

7. Avoid Grazing
Often, we think that food eaten standing up or picked out from a tray doesn’t count, but it does. It is best to sit down and savor the food you've decided to enjoy rather than grazing continuously the whole time. Use a smaller plate if you want to control portions better. 

8. Limit Alcohol
Liquid calories are still calories. Besides, alcohol reduces willpower and can later stimulate appetite. Establish your limits and make you can stick with it.

You can avoid holiday weight gain if you really put your mind to it. Enjoy the delights of the season but stay committed to your weight maintenance plan.

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Somatics For Healing

If you suffer from chronic pain and are looking for relief, you may want to consider Somatics for healing. Somatics is a field of study that deals with the individual from the inside. For this, self awareness is a very important part of Somatics.

Somatics is a gentle, easy form of voluntary movements that can be done in 5 to 10 minutes each day. These are very simple movements that are similar to stretching, but are more breathing intensive and focus on the internal sensation one feels through different movements and postures.

A Bit About Somatics

Somatics for healing the body involves sensory motor training that relieves stress and reduces pain. It also encourages healing of many types of injuries. The sensory motor capacities of the body are at the core to Somatics. Our sensory motor functions can be controlled by learning a conscious voluntary way of movement, coupled with sensory awareness. Our reflexes are both sensory and motive but, in many cases, they have become involuntary. We automatically react to the stimulus, and that is an involuntary reaction. The goal of Somatics for healing is to teach us to be aware of and in control of our movement by voluntarily responding to our own sensory functions. As a result, we can achieve greater posture, health and well being.

Benefits of Somatics

A host of conditions are improved by Somatics. Engaging in Somatics for healing will give your body optimal flexibility and improved balance which, in of its self, is a major boost to your well being. In addition, Somatics can provide relief from pain caused by conditions such as stress, arthritis, brusitus, planter fasciitis, pulled tendons, sciatica, carpel tunnel syndrome and many other painful conditions.

Some of the other fantastic benefits of practicing Somatics for healing the body are the improvements found in breathing, better joint flexibility, and greater range of motion. Overall, this helps facilitate better posture which enables your body to function more efficiently. One may also find increased strength and coordination is also part of the great results of reconditioning your muscle control.

Discovering Somatics

The exercises of Somatics are based entirely on conventional neurophysiology. The movements are fun, smooth and easy to learn. There are classes available where you can learn and practice Somatics, or you can have individual lessons. If you would rather learn in the comfort of your own home, there are videos to be purchased that will take you through each movement step by step. Whichever way you choose to learn Somatics for healing, you will be retraining your muscles and mind to work together in a way that will provide optimal results.

If you suffer from chronic headaches, neck and shoulder pain, back pain, sciatica, tension and stress or any other similar conditions, it is worth your time to educate yourself about this unique practice that can and will provide so many benefits to your overall health and well being.

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6 Tips for a Healthier Holiday Season

It’s that time of the year when you want a break from your routines. You are in a festive mood, and with a little vacation time, it’s difficult to maintain discipline. And with all the holiday temptations, finding time to exercise is even more essential.

How can you make the most of your healthy endeavors during the busy holiday season?

It is important to understand and accept that the holiday season makes it hard to stick to healthy food and a regular exercise program. While it is hard, it is definitely not impossible to find discipline and techniques to stay in shape and choose healthy food options wherever possible.

Below are 6 tips for a healthier holiday season

  1. Combine exercise with family time on a holiday vacations. Go on a backpacking trip, skiing, sledding trip, or some kind of fun thing which involves physical activity with the family. Aside from exercise, your family gets quality time together with loved ones.
  2. Bring to mind that poster or image of your favorite celebrity or aspiring icon whose sexy body that you dream to possess. Each time you see unhealthy foods, this will be a conscious reminder to stop yourself from going overboard.
  3. Make few adjustments and find alternative physical activities to keep you fit. For example, The day you find yourself making excuses of avoiding your routine workouts, get creative with an at home exercise plan. You could do some jogging around the house, do stretching exercises or yoga, crunches and push-ups, or use a fitness DVD to do guided workouts to help you through.
  4. If you go shopping, make a plan to walk as much as possible. This includes taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and parking your car far from the exit of the mall.
  5. High sugar and high fat temptations will present themselves at almost every holiday season party. Consciously say aloud “no” each time you try to reach out for second helpings. This can help you fend off holiday weight gain.
  6. Getting up an hour earlier than usual to exercise or go running is a great idea during the holiday season. Not only will this help you ignite your metabolism, but the feeling of an early morning accomplishment can leave your feeling great all day.

The busy holiday season is bound to be fought with temptations. There may be a slip between the lip and the mind, but don’t beat yourself up over it. It is alright to allow yourself to ‘cheat’ at times when you get a little slack. However what is most important is to have the right attitude towards your health, your diet, and your exercise program.

Do not give up if you falter on your diet or exercise temporarily. Stay positive. Be aware that if you do fall off the exercise bandwagon, there's no reason not to climb back aboard once your holidays are over.

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Yoga for Health & Wellness

As we live our busy lives, we often need to find a form of exercise that will help us un-wind. One of the most rejuvenating and good-health promoting activities is Yoga. 

Yoga is a perfect retreat for relaxation as well as physical benefit. By practicing yoga for health and relaxation, you are engaging technique to optimize your time and physical benefits while enjoying the mental and emotional relaxation that practicing yoga provides.

Better Self-Awareness Through Yoga

When practicing yoga for health benefits, you may realize many things about yourself, such as your degree of flexibility and strength. This may help you better understand bodily issues that you can focus and improve upon.

Also a self-awareness aspect of Yoga derives from the deep breathing involved with the practice. Beginner yogis can immediately start unlocking a much greater lung capacity upon a commencing a consistent Yoga practice.  More breathing means your body will better oxygenated, helping to nourish every cell in the body.

Yoga in Many Forms

There are many different styles or forms of Yoga. When deciding on the style of Yoga, it is important take into consideration what your ultimate goals are from your practice.

Some forms of Yoga are more relaxing and breathing intensive, such as Hatha or Restorative Yoga. On the other hand, some styles of Yoga are more aerobic with more movements and postural transitions, such as Vinyasa.

If you are getting into Yoga for health reasons, then the outlets may seem vast and overwhelming. You will want to talk to an experienced Yoga instructor about the various options. In addition, there are a number of different Yoga resources online that can help lead you in the right direction.

Whether you seeking ways to alleviate stress in your life, or simply want to explore a new road to better strength and flexibility, Yoga can be a solution for many things in life.

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The Expense and Pain of Obesity

In the previous century, cases of obesity were uncommon and not many people suffered from obesity as compared today. Cases have rapidly increased and a lot of factors have contributed to this situation.

Obesity can cause pain and stress in many ways: physically, emotionally, financially, and socially. Although it is difficult to attribute factors of obesity to pain, there is scientific research that shows some correlation in being overweight and having to cope with certain stressors.

The Pain of Living With Obesity

The Scientific Research Society (SIGMA 11)1 conducted a six month research on nine hundred children at seven different U.S. headache centers. They found that the more obese a kid is, the more he or she complained about headaches. Additionally, the Scientific Research Society discovered that the more a kid lost weight, the lesser he or she noted issues about headaches.

Also an issue with obese individuals is the pain linked to other physical stressors on the body. Carrying around extra weight is hard on limbs and joints, making them more receptive to injury. This is common turning point when people begin to realize their need to change their lifestyle.

Obesity can also bring emotional pain, and in more ways then one. Being overweight can not only affect the individual but to also the people close to him or her.

Emotional pain and social pain are directly related. Obese individuals typically have lower self-esteem and often times have a negative perception about themselves. This can directly affected one's social life, because the individual may be less outgoing and unwilling to socialize and mingle with peers.

Other than emotional, physical, or social pain, obesity can cause also induce financial pain. This may come in two forms: the financial pain associated with excess spending and consumption on food, as well as investing in medical intervention to treat obesity. Treating the medical condition alone is not cheap and may lead to additional medical cost down the road.

Pulling the Root of the Cause

So what causes obesity? There are two major influences that have contributed to this epidemic.

One of the most prominent causes of obesity is that food has become so available and cheap for certain societies, enabling behaviors of overconsumption. In addition, the marketing and promotion of such food is so overwhelming that individuals are further tempted (and misled) into eating poor quality food.

The second cause of obesity is the depreciating level of exercise many people get. With the convenience of automobiles and other forms of transportation, the simple act of walking has become a chore for many individuals.

The risks and negative effects of obesity should be clearly relayed to everybody, from the elderly to youngsters. And measures to counteract obesity should be laid out as simple as possible:

  • Keep on moving - whether stretching, walking, running, or riding a bike, a body in motion is body burning calories
  • Know when you're hungry - don't be so quick to eat. Eat only when you really feel an empty stomach, and trying drinking water first - hungry is often confused with thirst.
  • Eat real food - most food that comes in a box has been process and manufactured. Start filling your shopping cart with the foods you love from the produce section.

If we can all keep these three points in mind, we can start to diminish the level of obesity that is plaguing our planet.

(citation1"Obesity is a Headache." American Scientist 96.6 (2008): 465. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 31 Jan. 2012. - www.sigmaxi.org)

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5 Benefits of Barefoot Running

More and more runners are going shoeless and embracing the barefoot running culture. Although barefoot running is not new, it has recently came in to spotlight after lot of research and exploration on the concept.

According to a study on barefoot running by Daniel E. Lieberman, a Harvard Professor, it was found that people wearing running shoes are more prone to strike the ground with their heel first. This results in tremendous impact on knee and ankle joints. Whereas in barefoot runners, they are more prone to strike the ground with mid-foot or front foot, which avoids forceful impacts on the joints.

Check out Lieberman's video on the science of barefoot running below:

Shoes a Modern Day Menace to Runners?

With the invention of running shoes, millions of heel strikers have evolved. This has lead to a high potential of getting injured from running.

In barefoot running, strides not only become more efficient (and less impactful), but barefoot runners tend to use tiny muscles of the legs and feet, which helps in keeping critical running muscles well-toned and well-shaped.

Advantages of Barefoot Running

For those considering making the switch from sneakers to barefoot running, there are many advantages that can be gained. Below are 5 benefits of barefoot running.

Increase running efficiency

Research has shown that running efficiency is increased by 4% when you run barefoot. This is due to the unrestricted function of the foot without wearing supportive footwear. Running barefoot allows you to expand your foot and toes naturally, making your foot a strong base that can sustain all of your movements.

Today's modern running shoes consist of thick, padded base that cause a unnatural stride resulting in heel strike movement. Barefoot running shoes are available that can help you in running barefoot.

Minimize the chances of injury

While you are running without your shoes, you have greater awareness of your foot position on the ground and increased leverage, which reduces the risk of getting ankle sprains and injuries. For example, while you are running barefoot on hard surfaces, your feet automatically give the response of plantar-flexing, which gives a softer landing. This helps in preventing shin splints. It also reduces the risk of getting bunions that occur when the big toe is trapped in tight, padded shoes.

Improve stability and balance

Barefoot running improves balance and coordination by activating smaller muscles in your ankles, feet and legs. You can feel the texture, the irregularities and the temperature of the ground and your feet suits itself to the circumstances, which makes them strong and agile.

Strengthen muscles, ligaments and tendons

Running bare foot will stretch and strengthen the calf muscle and Achilles tendon, which further reduces the risk of Achilles tendonitis and calf pulls.

Feel free and primitive

Apart from the physical health benefits that you get by running barefoot, you can also experience the fun and feel of every step you make on the ground. You can feel dew, sand, asphalt on your feet and enjoy the nature in its best form. 

Nowadays, many shoe companies are manufacturing barefoot style running shoes that enable the function and experience of running barefoot, while also protect your feet from outside harmful elements. It is a new alternative for those who want to avoid high impact injuries.

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Cross Training for Endurance Athletes

When it comes to becoming the best athlete that you can be, it is crucial that you focus on more than just your normal exercises. Most endurance sports like running or swimming require an ideal combination of stamina and strength. This is why it is crucial that you focus on cross training and exploit other sources of exercise to help you improve your abilities.

There are some forms of cross training that offer endurance athletes amazing cardio and strength workouts, and are apart from their more focal form of exercise. Below are some ideas for cross training that you can consider when you are looking to change things up a bit.

TRX

These are suspension straps that are made for body weight workouts and they are certainly made for any type of athlete out there. TRX, however, will not just have you fighting your body weight but also gravity. This is the added resistance that you will be using to help you get stronger.

When it comes to endurance training, it is important that you are able to control your body for a long period of time. TRX training is something that any athlete can benefit from and it is certainly a a cross training technique that you can try. TRX targets functional strength for performance, and offers a wide range of options to get enhance your endurance sport of choice.

Yoga

Yoga is something that you can do to help you relax and get your body back into alignment. With intense training of your particular sport, yoga can help to relax your mind and body. However, you cannot expect yoga to be a walk in the park as people will be surprised at how tough it can be. Getting your body in some of the more technical poses can is not only a strength and balance workout, but also a cardio workout as well.

CrossFit

CrossFit is the ultimate cross training program that you should really consider. This is the hybrid between endurance and strength and it is slowly becoming the main form of exercise for athletes that want to gain muscle and more endurance. Athletes who try CrossFit will admit that it is the best form exercise that should be done by any athlete. It has been called the "perfect exercise" because every type of athlete will benefit from it. IN addition, each CrossFit "workout of the day" is different, offering greater flexibility.

When it comes to becoming the best athlete possible, you will need to learn how to get out of your comfort zone and to try new things. These are only some of the better options out there but you do not need to limit yourself to just these. Cross training is a great way to improve in your particular sport and to also improve your overall health. With the help of cross training, you will see that you can get so much better without having to always practice your own sport.

What types of cross training do you advocate? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

 

 

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Essential Foods for Optimal Muscle Recovery

Foods for Muscle RecoveryExercising is great but sometimes, heavy workouts can end up stressing your muscles. In order for your muscles to recover, you should get some rest and also proper nutrition. The right foods will do wonders for your muscles. They not only enhance muscle growth and repair but also facilitate a quick and optimal muscle recovery. Below is useful information to help you select a proper diet after exercising.

When you are engaging in heavy exercises, a lot of blood glucose and glycogen is used up. When this happens, you will feel fatigued. The fatigue is as a result of lost carbohydrates. The carbohydrates have been broken down to create glycogen and glucose used up during exercise. Since all the carbohydrates have been broken down, you must replenish them by taking up the right foods. There are many foods which are rich in carbohydrates but not all of them are ideal for muscle recovery.

A great recommendation of foods, which are rich in carbohydrates and perfect for muscle recovery are foods which are highly glycemic. High glycemic foods are rich in carbohydrates which are needed after exercise. It is recommended that, after taking part in heavy exercise, you should take high glycemic foods for carbohydrates. This is because high glycemic foods enter the bloodstream faster making the muscles restore the glycogen at a faster rate. Good examples of foods which are rich in carbohydrates needed for muscle recovery are baked potatoes, cereals, breads and bagels.

Protein is extremely essentail for optimal muscle recovery. Proteins are excellent due to their healing and body building properties. Proteins promote muscle growth after they have been broken down after heavy exercise. The right amount of protein to include in your diet after a workout should be a quarter of your consumption of carbohydrates. In simple terms, the ratio of carbohydrates to proteins consumed should be 4 to 1.

The most ideal source of protein for muscle recovery is milk. You can also get proteins from other dairy products like yoghurt and cottage cheese. Both have carbohydrates as well as proteins needed for muscle recovery. Other than dairy products, protein sources like tuna, soy and turkey are also ideal for muscle recovery.

Your body must remain properly hydrated after carrying out moderate to heavy exercise. Hydration is important since it allows your muscles to recover from the stress of conducting heavy exercise. Bear in mind that the body consumes lots of water during exercise and this water needs to be replaced.

Loss of water during exercise can lead to tiredness and weakness. This is why people end up fainting since water is lost and has not been replenished. The most common sign of dehydration is urine that is too dark. If you lose a kg of fluid, it needs to be replenished by a liter of clean water. Bear in mind that, for proper hydration to take place, it is recommended that water is consumed in its original form. However, you can take a few sports drinks, fruit and milk since they are also sources of water which will hydrate the body.

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5 Rules to Make You a Successful Runner

Successful RunnerCongratulations if you’re reading this because that means you’ve made it past the New Year’s resolution phase. Most people who put on their trainers and turned up their iPod on January 1st have long given up. Generally speaking however, running has never been more popular; it attracts people looking to lose a bit of weight or who just to improve their general fitness. But recently I’ve started to notice that people are going about their running regime in completely the wrong way. So without further ado let’s get cracking on five rules to make running a success for you.

Good Equipment

Running is just like any other activity, you need the correct equipment to do it safely; you wouldn’t go scuba diving without oxygen would you? The most important piece of equipment for any runner is undoubtedly a good pair of running shoes. Just running in standard sports shoes will put your feet and legs under too much strain which can lead to shin splints (learnt that the hard way) and other conditions.

Unfortunately a good pair of running shoes will set you back quite a lot of money but think of it as a long term investment. The more you run the more use you get out of them, if that’s not an incentive to carry on running I don’t know what is. Be sure to do your research before purchasing anything, use customer reviews and ask shop assistants to get a good idea of what will work for you.

Get Organised

It is so important to keep your running regime organised so you can maximise the positive effects of exercise. I find it helps to write up a schedule to keep track of when I’m meant to go running so I don’t make any excuses. I’d also recommend recording the distance you went, the time it took and any other pieces of information you think will be useful. That way you know what your targets are and you can chart your progress from a measly 500metres on day 1 to 10km a few months down the line.

If you can’t be bothered to spend five minutes drawing a chart on an old fashioned piece of paper then use your smartphone. There are loads of apps that automatically keep track of your progress without any hassle or effort.

Fuel Up

It’s incredibly important for people about to undertake any form of exercise to ensure that their body has fuel to burn. The say same is true of running, if you don’t eat a nutritious meal around 45 minutes before you start you’ll find you can’t push yourself further and faster because there is nothing left in the tank. Obviously you shouldn’t eat too near to running because this can result in you sitting on the side of the road/treadmill throwing up.

In terms of food types I’d suggest complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, wholegrain pasta and oats all count. They provide your body with a sustained level of energy throughout exercise; the recipes are numerous when you include rice and pasta but I’d avoid throwing in anything excessively fatty or sweet.

Run Alone

This might make me sound very antisocial but I believe it is an essential for people to run alone in order to get the most out of it. There a few reasons for this; firstly it takes awawy the temptation to talk whilst running which obviously screws up your breathing. Secondly you may end being forced to rely on someone else to motivate you to run or it may go the other way and you may find your running partner is always late/making excuses. Lastly, it can make you push yourself too hard (that is actually a thing) or not push yourself hard enough because your partner has to stop every 5 minutes because they’re so unfit. At the end of the day it’s your decision but make sure you’re aware of the potential problems running with someone can cause.

Get a Soundtrack

Now for a slightly light hearted tip; I’ve found music gives me that little bit of encouragement to push myself further than I otherwise would. So before embarking on your Chariots of Fireesque run load up your iPod with power songs to push you harder.

You can’t go wrong with the classic Eye of the Tiger but don’t be embarrassed to listen to rubbish songs. As long as it has a good beat it doesn’t matter, plus who can hear it anyway?

Disclaimer: I’m not a qualified medical or sports professional in anyway; this article is entirely based on my opinion and experience. If you have any concerns please seek advice from your doctor.

About the Author Josh writes for XXPress PCR an innovative biotechnology firm based in the UK. XXPress specialises in pcr machines and have pioneered pcr technology.

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