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      activelife USA Blog

      Here's To 2020 And Making Healthier Choices

      Woman wearing IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

      Written By: Bianca T.

      As we ring in the beginning of a new year, one thing always rings true for me. It’s easy to make New Years Resolutions. It’s much harder to stick to them. As January ebbs away, I forget my promises to myself to practice clean eating, drink more water, spend less money, and exercise daily. Instead, I fall back into old habits. And I’m not the only one. In fact, only about 10% of people who make New Year’s Resolutions successfully implement lasting change. The other 90% fail.

      This year, I decided to abandon the idea of New Years Resolutions and instead, concentrate on one big idea: making healthier choices. Instead of getting bogged down in laundry lists of habits I need to change and goals I need to achieve, I’ve decided to start off this new decade with only simple rule to keep in mind: if it makes me feel better in my body, mind or spirit, I’ll do it! I’m happy to report that one week into 2020, I’m still on track with my commitment.

      Woman running wearing IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

      I started small on the first day of the year. Because the weather was mild and the sun was shining, I packed a pair of sneakers and a bagged lunch into my IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro and took it to work with me. When my lunch hour came, instead of turning away from my computer for a quick 20 minutes to gobble down a bag of chips and a soda, I stepped outside for a brisk walk around the block and ate a sandwich on a park bench. Not only did I feel like I had made a positive change on my very first day, this small bit of refreshing exercise stopped me from falling into my usual after-lunch midday slump. I already felt like my new year was off to a positive start!

      Woman buckling front straps of the IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

      This small but important change in activity has continued throughout my entire first week of the new year. My daytime walks and healthy lunch time meals have left me feeling invigorated and more energetic, and the energy boost has even given me more strength and stamina in my gym routine. I’m glad that I didn’t make “healthier lunches” a New Years Resolution, because I’m sure feeling that obligation to a resolution would have made me give up in the first week. The open-ended idea of simply making a healthier choice has given me confidence and has allowed me to find joy in a new routine I hadn’t even planned on.

      If you’re also someone who has already given up on their New Years Resolutions, or is just looking for a new activity to make your days healthier and more enjoyable, this may the approach for you. Thankfully, there a lot of tools out there to make incorporating a healthier choice into your daily routine easy and fun. For me, the IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro was the thing that cemented my new lunch time routine. Having a sleek backpack I could take to work with me on my daily commute made packing my sneakers, my lunch, and my laptop into one place simple and easy. It’s lightweight, so carrying it didn’t feel like a burden. And because it’s roomy and compartmentalized, I’ve even started packing my after-work gym clothes into it, without worrying about them becoming dirty and wrinkled. The materials are sturdy, so I can toss into my backseat and under my desk without worrying about anything inside becoming damaged.

      Items inside the IAMRUNBOX Backpack Pro

      I wish you the best of luck in whatever you decide to do in this new year! If you are also someone who is embarking on a journey of health and happiness, remember that finding one small but significant change may be the thing that propels you through a whole 365 days of healthy living.

      Managing Holiday Stress

      Person - Managing Holiday Stress

      Written by: Jenna M.

      For a lot of us, the holiday season is a whirlwind of activity. Buying gifts, wrapping presents, cooking and baking, holiday parties and spending time with loved ones are joyful, but often daunting, tasks and plans. The season that brings love, cheer and togetherness can also bring a lot of stress.  In fact, over 80% of Americans report feel moderate to high levels of stress during the holidays.

      Most people feel stress in their body as much as their mind. Stress can cause headaches, stomach pains, muscle fatigue and even sleep problems. Fortunately, there’s a lot that can be done to help manage stress and fight the symptoms. Mentally, it’s important to give your busy mind a break from worrying. Although it can be hard to find a few minutes to yourself during this busy time of year, it’s important to set aside time for hobbies you find enriching, like reading or listening to music.  Try mediating for 10 minutes a day and practicing deep breathing exercises when you feel tension mounting. Exercise can serve as an immediate stress reliever, as it allows the tension to leave your body. Yoga and tai chi are great because they’re low impact and emphasize the importance of deep, steady breathing.

      Woman stretching on yoga mat with BLACKROLL Duoball

      Bodily self-care during the holidays is the number one way to relieve the symptoms of stress. While it may be difficult to find time in between shopping and visiting loved ones, massages are shown to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, relax your muscles and increased the production of endorphins, your body natural “feel good” chemical. Fortunately, you don’t have to book an appointment at an expensive massage clinic to experience these benefits. There are a lot of great at-home massage tools to try this year.

      If your feet and calves are worn out from marathon shopping trips, the HighHealer is perfect for you. It allows for both hot and cold massage using a special soap stone roller that immediately soothes overworked muscles. Created by a podiatrist, the HighHealer is specially formulated to bring relief and relaxation to tired, achy feet and calves.

      HighHealer Foot Care Trainer

      If you’re someone who handles stress by unconsciously clenching your jaw, neck and shoulders, the HighBaller will be just what you’re looking for to provide an at-home upper body massage. Featuring two width-adjustable balls, the HighBaller can be used on the floor or mounted on the wall. It will instantly release stress from painful trigger points in your back and neck. If you’re looking for something more light weight that can be carried in your purse or luggage, try the BLACKROLL Micro Roll. This foam roller is handheld and is exactly the right size and shape to use on your neck or jaw for a quick, 10 minute massage in your car or at your desk.

       Using the BLACKROLL Micro on jaw / TMJ for face pain relief

      Finally, remember that stress can cause your sleep to go completely off-schedule. If you’re someone who lies awake at night tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep, the solution to this might be found right where you rest your weary head. Having the perfect pillow can be the simplest solution to insomnia caused by stress. The ActiveLife Pure Sleep Orthopedic Pillow has anatomical shape that supports the bend of the cervical spine. It has a "memory effect" that takes the individual form of the head and neck to gently and evenly distribute the pressure of the body while reducing tension in the muscles of the neck and back. It’s even infused with aloe to help you drift off to sleep peacefully.

      Woman sleeping on the Active Life Pure Sleep Orthopedic Pillow

      It can be easy to get bogged down in stress during the holidays. But remember that it truly is the season of happiness and hope. Along with your self-care routine, try to maximize the moments that bring you joy this season, whether it’s spending time with loved ones, eating delicious foods, or caroling and volunteering.  Maintaining your health will be the final step to truly enjoying and relaxing during the holiday season. Eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising when you can, and taking time for yourself will make your season complete.

      ActiveLife Activist: Lindsey Ann Szakacs

      Clothing - ActiveLife Activist: Lindsey Ann Szakacs

      Group Fitness Instructor & Health Coach

      "Helping other anxy-introverts get their fit on!"

      1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your fitness background.

      I am a group fitness instructor in San Diego, CA. I specialize in a class format called Core De Force which is a high intensity, butt-kicking MMA style workout! I have also been certified through the ISSA as a personal trainer for the past 4 years.

      Lindsey Ann Szakacs training.

      2) What has been your biggest client success story? Why do you think it was a success?

      While I don’t have one huge success, I get excited for those clients who were afraid to start in the beginning and end up making those long term habits. I’ve had clients from when I first started still hanging with me today! I couldn’t be more grateful!

      Lindsey Ann Szakacs teaching and training her client.

      3) What would you do differently if you were starting in your industry now?

      I would just tell myself to loosen up a little! Fitness doesn’t have to be so rigid. Just have fun with it

      4) Which people or books have had the most influence on in your life and why?

      The book The Slight Edge was an absolute game changer for me. It’s all about how the small things we do can create massive change as it’s compounded over time.
      I also love books by Gabby Bernstein, which have helped me learn to dig into meditation.

      Lindsey Ann Szakacs

      5) What weekend hobbies do you enjoy? 

      I love going to walk by the beach on Saturday mornings with my husband and getting coffee together. I also love getting together with some of our friends for a Saturday morning brunch that we make ourselves. 

      Lindsey Ann Szakacs and husband.

       

      6) Whats your favorite movie?

      Deadpool! I’m a huge Ryan Reynolds fan, so really, anything with him in it is my favorite! But if I had to choose, definitely Deadpool!

      7) Whats your favorite food?

      Tough one! But lately, I’ve been digging Ramen from a local sushi restaurant called Sushi Exchange! If you’re ever in San Diego, give it a try!

      Lindsey Ann szakacs 
      8) What's your favorite part about being an ActiveLife Activist? 

      I get to hear about innovative tools for fitness and general health that most have never heard of before and I get to guide others towards them!

      Lindsey Ann Szakacs using the BLACKROLL BOOSTER SET MED.

      9) Tell us about your favorite AL product and why you enjoy it so much.

      I am loving the black roll and booster! It is the thing you didn’t know you needed until you have it. Going back to a standard roller is just NO WHERE NEAR the the same!
      Check out Lindseys Facebook to learn more about her, here!: 

      A Gift Guide That Suits Everyone On My List

      Pc - A Gift Guide That Suits Everyone On My List

      Written By: Marissa Q.

      IAMRUNBOX Doublepack being wrapped as a holiday gift.

      It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year! I love the holidays. Celebrating with friends and family, enjoying delicious food and relaxing before it’s time to get to work on those New Years Resolutions is something I look forward to all year! But something I don’t look forward to: figuring out what to get my friends and family as gifts. Shopping can be stressful, especially this time of year with long checkout lines and heavy traffic. I try to accomplish most of my gift buying online, but that comes with its own problems. Mainly, what to choose from! And when I can’t decide what to buy, I always end up making last minute decisions and blowing right through my shopping budget! 

      So, every year I look for Gift Guides. Gift Guides take the guesswork out of picking out of the perfect present for my loved ones. This year, I am happy to announce that I found a Gift Guide that suits everyone on my shopping list: activelife’s Pain Relief Gift Guide! Pain relief isn’t something I normally associate with the holidays, but then I got to thinking…it’s the end of a long year, everyone on my list seems to struggle with their own little pain point, and it’s bound to be a gift that they’ll actually get some use out of after the holidays end!

      So, I started my shopping at the top of my list (and at the top of the body) with their Upper Body Pain Guide. I immediately thought of my sister, who always seems to be suffering from an achy neck and shoulders. She loves to work out and lift weights, but she complains that her tight shoulders hold her back. activelife sells the HighBaller, which seems perfect for her! It’s a massage tool she can use on the floor or mount to the wall, and its guaranteed to release her trigger points in her neck and upper back. Bingo! One person done.

       Woman using the HighBaller Adjustable Massage Ball on her neck

      Moving down my list (and down the body), I got to my dad. My dad spends a lot of time on his feet, at work and at home. He loves to garden and work in the garage, and he’s not a big fan of sitting still. But, he tells me that he always seems to suffer from Charley Horses, especially after he goes to bed at night. Looking through the Lower Body Pain Gift Guide, I immediately land on the BLACKROLL BOOSTER Set. I know my dad is going to be impressed by this, because it’s a foam roller AND a massage tool that’s the perfect size for his calves. One more perfect gift picked out…

      Man rolling his calves out with the BLACKROLL Booster Set

      Which brings me to my best friend. She’s a true globetrotter. She loves to travel and every year I seem to be buying her a new piece of luggage as a gift. This year I wanted to do something different! She always tells me that her least favorite part of travelling is sleeping on airplanes and in hotel beds because they leave her with an aching neck and back. The Back Pain Guide leads me to the BLACKROLL Recovery Pillow and I know it’s perfect for her! It’s an ergonomic travel pillow that’s a million times better than her old airplane neck pillow.

      Woman sleeping on the BLACKROLL Recovery Pillow

      activelife’s Pain Relief Gift Guide has made this the most painless year of shopping yet! But I still have one person left to buy for, and it’s the toughest person on my list: my mother. What do you get for the person who deserves the best gift ever? This year, I finally have an answer, and it comes from the Foot Pain Relief Guide! It’s called the HighHealer, and it’s the solution to my mom’s high heel addiction. My mom wears high heels to the office every day and she loves them, but they leave her with blisters, heel pain and a bad case of planter fasciitis. I know she is going to LOVE the HighHealer, because it promises to relieve her foot pain in only 10 minutes a day!

      Woman using the HighHealer Foot Care Trainer, a 10-Minute Solution for Plantar Fasciitis

      I can’t believe how much easier this year’s holiday shopping has been after using the Pain Relief Gift Guide. I didn’t even have to leave my house! No fighting through traffic, checkout lines, and wandering around the mall wondering what to buy each person on my list. My shopping is done, I got the perfect gifts, and I stayed within my budget. Now, I can truly look forward to spending the rest of the season relaxing and enjoying the company of my loved ones! 

      Charley Horses: AKA Nocturnal Leg Cramps

      Person - Charley Horses: AKA Nocturnal Leg Cramps

      Written By: Jake Polly

       Man holding his calf in pain.

      It’s 2 AM and I’ve just been jolted out of a deep, restful sleep by what feels like a knife sinking into my calf. After lying there for a few minutes in agonizing pain, rubbing and massaging my aching muscle, the sensation finally subsides. I’ve been visited by and nursed myself through yet another charley horse.

      These nocturnal leg cramps don’t just affect me. In fact, over 60% of Americans reports having nighttime leg cramps or muscle spasms. It doesn’t always happen at night, either. You can be struck with these sometimes painful, but always annoying, leg cramps after exercise or while simply sitting at your desk. So what causes these dreadful involuntary spasms?

      The pain in your calf, commonly referred to as a charley horse, is actually triggered by the spasm and balling up of your muscles. It can last from a few minutes to several hours and can leave lingering soreness and discomfort for two to three days! Unfortunately, while most of us are very familiar with the symptoms of a charley horse, doctors know little about what the exact root cause of them may be. Thankfully, we do know that there is much that can be done to prevent them.

      Dehydration is a major causer of charley horses, as is electrolyte imbalance caused by exercise. Chalk this up to another reason to drink your water during the day and rehydrate your body after exercising! But there are other causes for charley horses that shouldn’t be ignored too, and sometimes guzzling H2O just won’t do it.

      Man and woman drinking a bottle of water while on a run.

      If you experience charley horses while being seated at your desk or on the couch, it may be your body’s way of warning you that you’ve been sitting for too long. Prolonged sitting can cause the circulation throughout your legs to go a little haywire , leading to the aforementioned balling up and spasming of your calf muscle. To alleviate charley horses from sitting, get up as often as you can and take a short walk around your living room or office to stretch your legs and get your blood circulating smoothly again.

      Finally, the most effective way to alleviate and prevent nighttime charley horses has to do with daytime stretching. Taking the time to stretch your leg and foot muscles each day, including before and after exercise, can drastically reduce your chances of being visited by a nocturnal leg cramp. You can even try stretching after showering, when your muscles are most relaxed, or right before bed. There are several ways to achieve a great stretch, but the most fool proof and effective involves a foam roller.

      BLACKROLL Pro Foam Roller in grey

      Foam rollers help you to achieve the perfect amount of pressure and exertion when stretching your calves and feet. While foam rolling helps your muscles to loosen and relieve tightness, it’s also extremely effective in increasing your blood circulation in a nice, even manner. Remember that blood circulation is one of the major causes of charley horses. I like the BLACKROLL PRO foam roller for massaging my tight calves, because of its increased hardness and density. It ensures that the calf muscles keep their elasticity, even while your body is resting in a prone position. 

      To get the best use out of the BLACKROLL PRO foam roller, try the following simple stretch after your daily exercise, and again before bed. Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Place the roller under your calf. You can allow your other foot to rest on the floor, or for added pressure, try crossing the right ankle over your left foot. This can be tricky if you don’t have great balance or aren’t familiar with foam rolling, so try to work your way up to it. Then use your hands to lift your hips off the floor, just enough for you to roll from the ankle to below the knee. Rest whenever you feel your arms begin to tire. Then switch to foam rolling your opposite calf. You should feel pressure in your calf muscle, but stop rolling if you feel any sudden pain (and remember to never begin any exercise or stretching program without consulting your physician first!) Once you’ve rolled out your calf muscles, try sitting with your knee bent at a 90 degree angle and using the BLACKROLL PRO foam roller under your feet. Stopping the muscles in the soles of your feet from tightening may also help in alleviating and preventing charley horses. 

      Man rolling out his charley horse and calf with the BLACKROLL Pro Foam Roller

      Hopefully, with the right hydration, exercise and stretching, these simple tricks will be enough to prevent those occasional charley horses. If they continue to be persistent, or are frequent or severe, you should always talk with your doctor. While most charley horses are common enough, they can be indicative of a more serious medical problem.