Getting Fit And Healthy With Muscle Building

Strong, sustainable muscle building takes time. Long-term dedication and focus is required. Check out this article if you want to get some helpful advice on the best ways to build muscle. Read the expert tips, which you will find below, and apply them to your workouts for successful results.

If you would like to build more muscle mass, try to do fewer repetitions of heavier weights. You will need to increase your weight gradually and strive to lift the heaviest that you possibly can for a minimum of five repetitions. When you can lift for five repetitions, it is time to increase weights.

To increase muscle mass in the most efficient way possible, you need to warm up before each and every workout. As you build muscle and get stronger, you can actually be vulnerable to injury. By warming up, these injuries can be prevented. Prior to serious lifting, try light exercises for around five or ten minutes, then three to four light and medium warm-ups.

You should consider getting a personal trainer. A personal trainer is trained in what specific exercises will help you build muscle. Your personal trainer will also help you with a variety of tips including things like what you should be eating as well as supplement advice. In addition to this, your personal trainer will push you when you need to push to go that extra mile to help you build your muscles.

You need to always use both feet when working out. Even though it has become trendy to do weight training exercises with only one foot, you should not do this if you do not have to. Not having both feet on the ground forces your body to balance itself, which distracts from the muscle that you are trying to focus on.

Try varying your grips. Once you become experienced in working out, your muscles will start to resist any growth on exercises that are familiar to them. Different grips can help to make these familiar exercises different, which can cause additional muscle growth. Examples of exercise where you can change the grip are barbell rows, barbell curls, pull-ups, and bench presses. Try using wide grips, close hand grips, reverse grips, and even mixed grips that include having one hand up and one hand down.

Make use of your own body when you are working out. Bodyweight exercises, which include push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, and dips, can cause you to experience additional muscle and strength gains. Because of this, these types of exercises are a very important component of a solid workout program, and they should be included.

Try the farmer’s walk in order to make your cardio exercise a more productive part of your muscle-building workouts. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides and keep your abdominal muscles sucked in tight while you walk. Start off with a ten-minute walk, and aim to increase this to 20 minutes as you practice.

Don’t fall into the trap that muscles building is all you need to maintain a healthy body. If you are suffering from any type of obesity muscle work is great, but it needs to be combined with a healthy diet as well as a regular cardio exercise in order to guarantee results.

To help in building lean muscle mass, try mixing up your rep counts. If you normally do 6-8 repetitions, try doing 4-6 repetitions. Your muscles will be forced to adapt in a different way, and you will give your routine a fresh kick. In this way, you will build your lean muscle mass faster.

When you want to build up your muscle mass, eat foods that are high in protein before and after exercising. As a good rule of thumb, eat 15 grams of protein about 30 minutes prior to exercising, then another 15 grams when you are finished. An 8-ounce glass of milk has between nine and 11 grams of protein, depending upon the type of milk (skim, whole, etc.).

Make sure you are eating food that supports your workout schedule. If you want to build up your muscles, you will require more protein and less fat. This does not mean you should eat more food; this means you should have a more balanced diet. Protein supplements and vitamins are an essential part of the muscle building process.

Stretching after you do an exercise can be just as important as stretching during a warm-up! Immediately, after you have worked on a muscle group, do a stretch that focuses on that group and holds the stretch position for a good 90 seconds. This will stretch out the fascia (the connective tissue surrounding the muscle) and encourage more muscle growth.

Protein is an extremely important nutrient on the menu of bodybuilders, and tuna is a great source of protein. In addition to being very high in protein, tuna also provides some of the good oils a healthy diet requires. Convenience is also a consideration, and tuna can be eaten alone or mixed in a salad or fill a sandwich.

Continue to challenge your body. When you start lifting weights you will reach a point when the lifting becomes easy. When this happens to add more weight. By continuing to challenge your body you will help to create the level of intensity that most effectively tears down muscle so that your body continues to have the opportunity to build it back up.

Do not allow your forearms to interfere in your goals for muscle growth. Forearms can be built by performing wrist curls, hammer curls, and reverse curls. If you’re striving to increase the size of your forearms, do wrist curls, reverse curls, and hammer curls. However, if you place more emphasis on your total-body gains, then do farmer walks. This can be achieved by picking up heavy dumbbells and taking slow, long steps. This causes your forearms to be overloaded isometrically with a lot of weight.

After reading this article, you should have plenty of information that can help you build muscle. Hopefully. this article has you prepared to reach your muscle building goals safely and without injury. Keep on track, and you will see the progress.

PWIs–predominantly white institutions

Several weeks ago, I wrote about an encounter with white supremacy when I announced to my white friend and her family that I was accepted into Penn State University and like a bad game of telephone, what they heard was that I had unfairly “taken” a spot presumably reserved for a deserving white acquaintance of theirs because–say it with me now: affirmative action. It would be so nice to say that I defended myself and walked off into the sunset never to have to deal with racism again…but we all know as a black person anywhere in this world, this dream has yet to materialize. In fact, my time at Penn State was its own case study of white supremacy and privilege in academia, so much so that the culmination of my undergraduate career was marred by racial intimidation and violence.Verysmartbrothas recently published an article suggesting helpful books for students preparing or returning to PWIs–predominantly white institutions–to “prepare them for the challenges that come along with the reality of life at a PWI as a student of color.” I would like to add my practical two cents to this endeavor as well because, for as many things that have changed in the 20 years since I set foot on campus as a freshman, too many things have stayed the same.


NOTE: Some of these suggestions may not extend to students at PWIs in major metropolitan cities and are more geared towards schools that are cities unto themselves in suburban/rural areas.


  1.    Find out quickly where you can get your hair done or cut: Never trust chains like Supercuts who say they do “black” hair–it never ends well.  If there are no black hair dressers or barbers in town or within a reasonable trip outside of town, there are usually fellow students who are gifted with follicle care and styling who can hold you down until you can manage a trip home to your regular stylist/barber.  


  1.    Do not go into the local towns alone: My friends and I would often joke that the names of two towns close to Penn State—Tyrone and Lamar–were named after black men that were lynched for being in the wrong place alone. Wikipedia refutes this, but it’s just safer to travel in groups to have protection and witnesses in case anything off-color happens. With the NAACP recently issuing a travel advisory for black visiting the entire state of Missouri, limiting or avoiding travel alone into small, lesser known towns just seems like common sense.


  1.    Stock up on your shade of makeup when you’re at home: Granted, I am woefully out of touch with the makeup renaissance that is currently sweeping the world. I still don’t know what BB cream is and why you need it, so there’s a chance that these new houses of worship like Sephora and Ulta stock more encompassing range of makeup shades at most of their stores. But just in case, if you find yourself living in an area where you are in the minority, chances are they won’t have your shade in stock, so it’s best to stock up when at home.  


  1.    Prepare yourself for racism in ALL of its various forms: Since 2011, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has maintained a blog of alleged campus racial incidents and reports of discrimination, including the horrifying and senseless murder of a Bowie State University student on the campus of the University of Maryland in May. In addition to blatant, intentional and violent instances of racism, black students report feeling the most “drained” from repeated incidents of covert racism or micro aggressions, such as being excluded from study groups or being called on in class to be the “voice” of your race. In addition to the option of interrupting and confronting instances of prejudice, the next three suggestions can profoundly impact your ability to thrive in the face of racism.


  1.    Cultivate a support group: Having a support group, either informal (friends) or formal (Black Student Union) will go along way in buffering the impact of racism. Informally, it’s great to have someone who you can vent to who understands or participating in group self-care like watching Black TV shows together. Formally, Black and POC groups are critical to the expansion of racial justice dialogue across campus among students, faculty, administration, and donors. Make sure to attend and support events on campus sponsored by POC students to increase visibility.


  1.    Connect with a faculty/administrator of color for support: Professors of color are dealing with similar issues and micro aggressions related to racism, including “alienation and isolation, job satisfaction, competing demands associated with tenure and/or promotion, systemic oppression, institutional fit, and the history and legacies of injustice”. Despite this, their presence and support are crucial to black student retention and persistence through graduate education. My black thesis advisor was instrumental in supporting me to competitively persist and graduate from Penn State’s rigorous honors college. In addition to advisors and professors, diversity and inclusion program administrators are often great advocates.


  1.    Take cultural studies courses: I feel like this is imperative and wish someone would have encouraged me to do the same. I did take one African studies class that just so happened to be taught by a white woman, which is not a rarity and to her credit, she spent many years studying and living on the continent. But that one class was not enough to begin to gain the essential knowledge of the African/African-American and global south diaspora that is often misleading at best and absent at worst from most secondary and undergraduate education.       Shanna K Houser Contributor;  

Tips And Tricks For Landing The Job You Truly Want

If you are currently searching for a job – and we’re assuming you are, given that you’ve read this far! – you likely are feeling a variety of emotions. Excited, nervous, overwhelmed…these are all common emotions when we’re on the job market. The more you know about strategies that work, the better of a position you’ll be in.

If you are confused as to what you should wear on your interview, always err on the side of caution. This means that you should always dress to impress, with professional attire. Not only will you look more presentable, but you will feel more in tune and confident when you meet your interviewer.

Even if the job you’re applying for is a casual one, show the interview and employer respect by dressing impressively and professionally. You will still impress the interview if you dress to impress.

Before you even apply for a job, be sure that your resume is as up-to-date as possible. List any past job that you can think of, as trivial as a job may seem The more experience you have in a specific industry, the more likely you are to land a job.

Always make sure that the job that you are applying for is feasible from a location perspective. Often, you may want to just take the first job that is available to you, but you do not want to drive 100 miles to get to and from your job each day.

Remember that a resume is only a stepping stone to finding employment. You must keep it updated to remain current. Your resume is not the only factor when it comes to hiring. Employers are seeking confident and positive individuals to fill their positions. Take the time to think about your strengths and skills so you can draw attention to these things.

You can get the job you desire if you have a good resume. Use your resume to inform potential employers of who you are and the background you have. Provide concise, relevant information regarding your education, professional history, and assets. Also, be sure that you add contact information and any experience you have with volunteering.

Make sure that the voicemail on your phone sounds professional if you are giving your number to potential employers. Avoid loud background music and distracting noises. You should be clear about who you are and politely ask the caller to leave a message. Make sure that you return every call you receive promptly.

Be very clear about what kind of job you’re looking for before you begin job hunting. Many people get too caught up in looking for “a job” instead of for their dream job, and that causes them to apply for jobs that don’t fit them well. If you restrict your job hunt to jobs you would be excited about taking, you are more likely to find the right job for you.

If you are an older job seeker, understand that you do not have to include the dates of your high school and college graduation or dates of courses you may have taken early in your career. Additionally, you do not have to list high school at all if you graduated from college. It is understood that you also have a high school diploma.

When looking for a job in your niche, try embracing social forums. You need to stay current with the latest news and information in your desired field. It is easy to become a part of these discussions via websites like Twitter and LinkedIn. Social forums are often overlooked, however, engaging in conversations like these can help build connections with other professionals in your niche, including some prospective employers.

Don’t be dishonest during an interview. The interviewer is likely to run a background check and find out that you’re not telling the truth. Claiming to have work experience, skills or knowledge that you really don’t have can get you into trouble. Rather than lying about your job experience, focus instead on your strengths.

One of the things to understand when you are job hunting is that there will be a lot of disappointments. If you understand this, you will be in a good position to get back on your feet and stay persistent if you do not land the job. Eventually, your dedication and drive will pay off.

Never use a generic cover letter when you are applying for a job at a specific company. If a potential employer believes you have given them a generic letter, they will toss it and they will not contact you. Your cover letter should be relevant to the job industry and company if you expect to receive a reply.

If you are having a hard time landing a job, try expanding on your skill set. There are quick and economical courses available on line you could take from the comfort of your own home that can increase your value to any potential employer. Include the accomplishment on your resume and keep trying!

Know the name of the person you are sending your resume to. Don’t simply put “to whom it may concern”. That shows lazy thinking. It is much better to call the company and ask them who is going to be receiving your resume. This little touch can be what gets you that interview.

Keep your resume to one page. For the majority of people, a resume one page long is enough to get your story across. Longer resumes have a tendency of getting trashed before ever getting considered. So unless you’ve got a wealth of experience that just can’t fit on a single page, aim for brevity.

The quest to find meaningful and fulfilling employment can be a daunting one. But by reading this article, you are now in a much better position to achieve your employment goal! Your job in the next little bit will be to find a job – you’re on the road to having the tools you need to accomplish this feat!


I remember watching an old Chris Rock interview where he stated as a black man; he need always to be on guard and in fact expect that a white person will drop the “N-word” at any time. That in fact, the blame was not to be placed on the white person for saying it, but on Rock for not anticipating it. While I will not dare to make myself the spokesperson for all black people, I’m sure many can commiserate that the danger of both overt and covert racism is a constant threat. The recent announcement that the man currently vacationing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is looking to “redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants” reminded me of a particularly hurtful experience.


I was at my friend’s house when my mother called to tell me I had been accepted to Penn State, University Park (i.e., “Main” campus). I got off the phone a little shaken – it was my first college acceptance so far, and I was happy, but it was not my first choice. It was the one in-state school to which I applied to appease my parents, and I was anxious that they would coerce me to attend before finding out what the other schools I applied you had to say. Still heady, I went back into the living room (yes, cell phones did exist at this time, but not everyone had one yet) and told my friend and her family the good news.  I don’t remember if there was ever an actual congratulation offered, but what I will never forget is the conversation that happened next. With stunned faces, my friend and her family chose to focus on a family friend’s white child who was rejected from the same university and that my admission was indeed evidence that affirmative action was at play because according to their presumed nonbiased opinion, this girl ran academic and extracurricular circles me. While I was never privy to this girl’s curriculum vitae, I was just under the top 10 in my class (and I know for a fact that several in the top 10 cheated regularly, but that’s another story), was an officer of the National Honor Society, a two-year varsity sport letter earner, Key Club Officer, etcetera, etcetera, but that didn’t matter in the face of this clear travesty of justice.


I will never forget sitting in the middle crevice of their sunken V-shaped couch as their words faded in the background, my heart beating wildly in my ears. I didn’t speak up. By this time, I had lived in this predominately white community for almost the entirety of my elementary and secondary education. While I was never comfortable with these microaggressions, I was used to them, and like Chris Rock said, it was my fault for relaxing in the face of the constant threat. But it’s still upsetting after all these years because I am much more aware of the insidiousness of white supremacy and its confusion with overt racism and racial intimidation. White supremacy allowed my personhood to be conveniently erased by these people who knew me and seemed to care about me as they reduced me and my hard work to an erroneous stereotype without an iota of self-awareness or compunction on my behalf. This is a perfect illustration of why the justification of having “black friends” means nothing. Not only is it patronizing but having black or other non-white friends does not exempt white people from maintaining racist beliefs towards those friends and their race as a whole.


The false narrative of meritocracy in college admissions helps no one. In fact, it often carries the stink of white supremacy precisely because of many white people’s insistence that their spots are being “taken.” The presumption is that students of color couldn’t possibly meet admission criteria and that the persistent education gap that exists between students of color (with the exception of Asian students) and their white peers is the unfortunate reality of generally lower levels of intelligence rather than the result of systematic educational disenfranchisement. We tell all kids regardless of their background that if they work hard enough to excel inside and outside the classroom, they can get into pretty much any school they want. But that’s simply not true. Guidance counselors and admissions officers try as best they can to temper prospective students expectations, but it’s mostly too late.  Adrienne K., a Native American college grad whose college acceptance was met  by her white peers with the same cries of affirmative action, highlights the factors that actually give students a leg up , including legacy admissions, student athletes, students from underrepresented states (I was told by an admissions officer that getting students from the Dakotas to attend a school in the northeast was a crowning achievement!), students with disabilities, women interested in STEM majors, general diversity of student majors, etc. And those factors alone don’t even begin to consider things like necessary admissions caps. Like any good 80’s movie, you need ALL the cliques (jocks, nerds, etc.) represented to make a well-rounded class and create the vibrant, diverse campus with cool, cultural classes and the black and brown tokens white students can’t wait to claim as their “friends.”

Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to re-educate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.

~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here, 1967


Fifty years later, Dr. King’s words remain achingly relevant. Casual racism, combined with willful ignorance and a dash of conservative media propaganda ensures that the myth of affirmative action overwhelmingly benefiting “unqualified” racial minorities will continue despite evidence to the contrary. In fact, not only do people of color need to dispute the idea that they have an unfair advantage when it comes to admission, but also tuition and aid. And over 15 years later, despite having graduated from Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College with an award winning undergraduate thesis and eventually earning a Master of Arts degree, the prejudiced beliefs of my former friend and her family and their ilk continue to antagonize not only me but the next generation.

Shanna K Houser Contributor


Black Family Reunions

One of my favorite things about inhabiting a brown body is the shared cultural heritage, connection, and celebration.  Sharing stories of all too familiar (good) experiences of being black in America is one of my favorite pastimes. Recently, I had a hilariously side-splitting conversation with two black co-workers about our similar experiences at black churches of differing denominations that were each in entirely different corners of the country. The continuity and sweet familiarity is a great binding agent amongst a widely and wonderfully diverse group of people. As it is summer, I would be remiss not to give a shout-out to the cherished and time honored communal celebration that is the black family reunion. Keep reading and see if you can fill up your black family reunion Bingo card:

  • Your reunion is a weekend-long event with a reception/fish fry/crab boil on Friday, the cookout on Saturday, and church on Sunday with an optional early dinner (of Saturday’s leftovers)
  • Your family reunion was the only vacation your family could afford some years
  • One reason it was affordable is that your bed was the floor of a relative’s home or hotel room
  • Reunion t-shirts prominently featuring some species of tree
  • Babies are passed around like church collection plates all weekend
  • The one (or more–sugary drinks are aplenty)youngin’ wilding out all day finally getting dragged to the bathroom by his grandmother who “don’t play that” and sits sniffling in the corner until he/she “knows how to act.”
  • One or more relatives sporting a monitoring device…that’s not a Fitbit
  • Random military cousins who haven’t been in attendance since ’83 show up with their European or Asian wife and kids
  • Impromptu liquor runs…this includes the actual liquor store or just to your uncle’s trunk because the liquor license was not purchased for the pavilion
  • Mandatory uniform for the grill cook: an XXXL shirt t-shirt (white or a vintage reunion shirt), a sweat towel draped over his shoulder, man-capris (i.e., oversized mid-calf skimming jean shorts), white kicks (because he’s never one to spill the BBQ), a fitted cap and a Bluetooth
  • Cookout starts at 10 AM, and the pavilion reaches a critical mass by 3 PM, but y’all can’t eat because the grilled meat ain’t ready until 6 PM.
  • Family business meetings where someone always has an irrelevant and ancient bone to pick
  • Your entré into adolescence was marked by aunties looking you up and down and saying “Ain’t you cute/handsome?”
  • Showing up extra fly the year you’re finally old enough to hang with your older cousins after the cookout
  • Being quizzed and preached to about your marital status despite the fact that we all just accept that Uncle Kenneth has been shacking up with Ms. Deloris for 30 years despite technically still being married to Auntie Karen
  • Going to bed on Saturday night (or Sunday morning) dreaming about digging into your take-home plate.  Shanna K Houser Contributor

Summer activities for teenagers

It’s finally summer! While your younger kids are begging to go the pool, your older kids may be wondering how to fill their time. It’s important for teens to stay busy. Help your teens fill their time by suggesting fun activities. The following activities are teen-approved.


First, try to encourage your child to get outdoors. Have them throw a frisbee around with their friends or a younger sibling. Let them ride their bike downtown to a movie or to get ice cream. Purchase kites at the local hobby shop, taking them to a park and flying the kites as a family. Participate in a sport together as a family. Go to a park that has tennis courts or basketball courts, for instance, or set up your own baseball game in your backyard. Teach your child how to swim in your backyard pool or build a sandcastle with them.


Another fun activity is to go camping. In most communities, there are local parks that allow camping. You can camp at most national and state parks. It all depends on what activities your family wants to do while there. If you want to fish or go hiking, for instance, this may take some research. Also, you have to decide if you’re tent camping or will have a camper. There are different amenities than if you are simply putting up a tent. There are electric and water hookups, for instance, as well as options for wifi.


When it gets too hot, it may be a great day to stay inside and play games. This may be board games or video games, but it’s important the teen spends time with their family. They are well on their way to growing up. Soon they will be out of the house and off to college. (Sorry, Mom). Spending the day with the family is going to create memories that last a lifetime. Turn on the air conditioner and eat simple foods. Have a turkey and cheese wrap for lunch instead of a hot sandwich. Pair it with chips or fruit. This helps your family beat the heat and have fun at the same time.


Teens may also have activities they enjoy just by themselves. They may enjoy writing in a journal or drawing, for instance. They may enjoy exercising, baking or studying a religious text. Respect that they enjoy this activity on their own. If you try to crowd their space, it may either spark their interest (and they’ll let you join them) or it could backfire. Alternatively, some teens may enjoy working on crafts. Help them invest their time in a home improvement project, such as flipping an item that you purchase at a second-hand store. There are several places you can sell these items after just adding a coat of paint.


Finally, encourage your teen to use the summer in order to learn a new skill. Are they off to college soon? Allow them to start their summer courses by taking a class or two at the local junior college. If they have a passion, drive that passion by enrolling them in workshops or seminars that further their knowledge or skills. This is going to be fuel for your child to love learning. They are going to be more willing to love school and keep learning than had they simply stayed home and watched reruns of their favorite sitcoms. It may be summer, but it doesn’t have to be the dog days of summer. Keep your child active and they’re going to thank you for it.

Best summer road trips to the west coast

Where do you want to travel this summer? The West coast offers a bit of everything. It offers you a historic remembrance of the Wild west where outlaws and tough cowboys once called home. National and state parks are spread from Washington to Arizona and New Mexico, not to mention wineries and tours that you can’t see anywhere else. But wherever you go should be as unique as your family. All of these places have a great deal of attractions, no matter the interest of any family member.

Let’s start up north and work our way down. Seattle, Washington is probably most well-known for the Space Needle. It’s quite similar to Willis Tower in Chicago. You ride an elevator to the top and there’s an observation deck where you can take pictures. Seattle, too, has the Museum of Flight and the Museum of pop cultures. There are several parks to sit and relax after a busy day of sight seeing. Or, arrange to take the 3-hour Seattle tour around the city. You’ll explore Seattle’s neighborhoods and see where the Seattle Mariners (a Major League Team) play baseball.

Portland, Oregon is another place to visit. Portland has many attractions centric to those who love the arts or gardening. There is the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden, for instance, each of which offer unique plants and flowers relevant to their garden theme. In addition, there is the Portland Classical Chinese Garden. Take a stroll through the Portland Art Museum or the Pittock Mansion. Don’t also forget to check out the outdoors. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area offers waterfalls and hiking trails for those seeking adventure. Another fantastic perk about Portland: any shopping that you do will be tax free. This is a huge benefit if you hit any shopping malls.

Moving down the coast, San Francisco is a fantastic place to visit. Here you will see the Golden Gate Bridge, which may be the location’s most famous landmark. It’s also home to the infamous Alcatraz Island. Once a prison, it’s since been made into a museum and attracts millions of visitors each year. Also, don’t forget to check out Lombard Street. It’s known to be the crookedest street in the world due to its zig-zag formation. You’re going nowhere fast on this road; just follow the cars in front of you and take in the scenery. Chances are that you’re never going to be on a street quite like this again! Likewise, don’t forget to check out San Francisco Zoo. It’s home to over a thousand endangered species and nearly 100 acres of gardens.

The American Wild west may only live in history books, but this summer take your kids to get a glimpse of what life was like in the 1880s. Tombstone, Arizona takes you back to the day of gambling halls and saloons. While it may have the appearance of a ghost town, there are museums of the courthouse and the gunfighter hall of fame. Visit the Boothill Graveyard where the real outlaws and cowboys lie. There is a lot to keep you busy here. Try to only stay the afternoon and leave before the sun sets, however; it is the dessert and it does get chilly.

Finally, visit Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you want a cultural vacation, this is the place to visit. Make sure to check out the Sandia Peak Tramway, which runs over 10,000 feet above sea level. It runs to the top of Sandia Peak and has its own observation deck. You’re able to see the city of Albuquerque below you, which is a stunning view. Another spot to hit is old town Albuquerque. This is a tribute to Spanish and Native American culture, both of which are prominent within the area.

Traveling out west can be really fun. Add these cities to your road trip destinations and you’re sure to have a great time.

Things I miss about Pittsburgh Summers

I will have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for four years this fall. It’s great except for the fact that most of its inhabitants–myself included–actually can’t afford to live here. But there are loads of advantages and unique flavor, like being able to claim an NBA franchise and an official city instrument (the accordion). But I’d be remiss not to mention the things I really miss during the summer months in Pittsburgh:
1. Actual humidity: I know it sounds crazy to miss humidity, but there is nothing worse than stepping out into what you think is a beautifully sunny day, only to be smacked in the face by defiant, inland winds. It was erroneously documented that Mark Twain once said “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Regardless of who actually said it, it’s not necessarily far from the truth. What’s the point of summer if you still have to wear layers? I now appreciate that summers in Pittsburgh require packing away winter clothes.
2. Cool, finished basements: The BEST way to recover when it’s a little too humid. Many of the houses in the surrounding SF suburbs are ranch-style, so basements are hard to come by. There’s nothing like leaving the arid humidity and blistering sun to descend into a cool, subterranean bunker with a perfectly worn-in old couch. Even better is that most of these refreshing oases feature refrigerators filled with Pittsburgh’s own summer sugar-water trifecta: pop, Hugs (a.k.a. Huggies) and popsicles.
3. Islay’s chip-chopped BBQ: This rivals Primanti’s as Pittsburgh’s most famous sandwich in my humble opinion. Even though I’ve recently stopped eating meat, I dream of lifting the top of a steamy crock pot and inhaling the sweet, bubbling goodness that is BBQ ham and slathering it on fresh Mancini’s italian bread. I have yet to find this delicacy outside of Pittsburgh.
4. Kennywood: Growing up in Pittsburgh will ruin you for multi-site amusement parks like Six Flags. There’s nothing like an amusement park that personally invites you 2-3 times per summer between school picnics, neighborhood days and ethnic celebrations. Selecting pre- and post-Raging Rapids/Log Jammer outfits and mapping the best food sequence are memories that span generations. Insider information (i.e., the Jack Rabbit “jumps” the track and you get squished going around the bend of the Thunder Bolt when you sit on the left side), oral histories (e.g., Garfield’s Nightmare used to be The Old Mill and Phantom’s Revenge used to be the Steel Phantom which used to be the Laser Loop) and urban myths (e.g., The skull and crossbones warning is on the Racers because a child stood up and subsequently died), are passed down among families and communities like ham BBQ recipes.
5. Ethnic/Church festivals: What’s summer without a sun-drenched celebration at the local Sons of Italy, Greek Orthodox Church, or Insert-your-catholic-saint here Church? So hot that you expect the delightful seniors citizens who wait all year to cook and serve thousands of people to slump over from heat stroke but praise Saint _______ they never do. So hot that everyone fans themselves with the stiffest piece of paper they can find until night fall when the winner of the 50/50 raffle is finally announced, they can grab their take-home dessert and go.
6. Dairy Queen: I watched the Pittsburgh Dad “Little League” video because I was 1000% sure DQ would be mentioned; I wasn’t disappointed. Its an after-sport tradition for children who engage in intramural sports and the parents forced to watch. While DQ is a national chain, out here in health conscious and wealthy SF, the fast food places I grew up with are few and far between. Sure, I can get a hot fudge sundae with peanuts elsewhere, but it’s a sad excuse for the real deal–the one and only Peanut Buster Parfait.

Shanna K Houser Contributor/Freelance Writer

Be the King of the Backyard Barbecue – Tips for Crafting the Perfect Burger

by beconrad


Summer is the perfect time to grill the perfect burger. If you are getting ready to fire up the grill and invite your friends for a barbecue, proper planning and execution are important. The perfect burger does not just happen – it is the result of painstaking preparation. Here are some tips you can use to create a burger that will have everyone at the party asking for seconds.


.   Fresh is Best – A pack of frozen hamburgers will do in a pinch, but if you have time to plan fresh is always best. Pack your cooler with ice, stop at your favorite meat market and ask for a fresh ground burger.


.   A Little Fat is Fine – While we all want to eat better, a little extra fat is good for grilling burgers. The additional fat will provide a juicier burger, while leaner cuts tend to dry out on the grill.


.   Let Your Thumb Do the Work – When crafting those delicious burgers, use your thumb to place an indent in the center of each patty. That indent will help the burger cook more evenly and allow it to get done in the center without burning along the edges or on the sides.


.   Experiment with Different Cheeses – Swiss and cheddar are fine, but you do not have to settle for the same old thing. Provide your guests with something different this year, with an assortment of provolone, pepper jack, blue cheese and even brie.


.   Keep a close eye on the grill. The high heat gas and charcoal grills emit mean food can burn in an instant. Pay close attention to your grilling duties – and never leave the grill unattended.


.   Set Out a Bun Bar – The serving table at most backyard barbecues starts with a back of store-bought hamburger buns. You can do better than that. Set out a bun bar with sourdough bread, Texas toast, pita bread and other options. Pick up your favorites at the grocery store, or invite each of your guests to bring their favorites.


.   Provide Unusual Condiments — You will want to provide plenty of mustard, ketchup and relish for your guests, but do not be afraid to set out some more unusual choices. From barbecue sauce and mayonnaise to steak sauce and horseradish, there are plenty of ways to top off the perfect burger.


There is an art to grilling, and artistry to creating the perfect burger. Whether you are grilling in your own backyard or manning the grill at a friend’s barbecue, the tips listed above can help you craft the perfect burger and keep the guests coming back for more.


Change Your Life And Become More Fit!

Getting in shape has tons of benefits, such as preventing illness and injury, but it can also help you gain strength, gain confidence, and look better. In fact, most people have no idea how to get started on a program to become fit. The following article will give you some tips on how to start a fitness program.

Set up your weightlifting routine around your fitness goals. If you are trying to create large, bulky muscle you’ll want to do more weight, but with longer rest periods between sets and between workouts. If you are trying to develop lean muscles with high endurance, you want to lift less weight, but do it more often and with shorter rest times.

When looking for another way to improve fitness sometimes one needs to look no further than their pet dog. By taking the dog on walks around the neighborhood or specific trails an individual can increase the amount of exercise they and their pet get. Apart from all the extra exercise and the benefits from that one will strengthen the bond between owner and their pet.

To become more fit, you need only put one foot in front of the other. Walking is an excellent way to improve your aerobic fitness level. You will get your heart pumping and muscles working. You can start small, walking a little bit more every day. Your body will adapt, and soon you will be able to walk miles and miles.

Do not think of the process of getting fit as a short-term exercise with a cut-off date. Fitness is a long-term commitment. In fact, it should be a permanent one. When building a fitness routine consider not just the immediate benefits but whether or not the routine is one that can be sustained indefinitely. Fitness is for life, not just for bikini season.

To stay fit it’s important to break bad food habits. While a healthy diet contributes greatly to overall fitness, it can be one of the hardest goals to achieve. Most people enter a fitness program accustomed to eating unhealthy foods. This is a habit that can be broken. The quicker the fitness enthusiast acclimates to a healthy diet the faster cravings for junk food will disappear.

A good tip to help you lose weight is to exercise moderately. A lot of people make the mistake of going too hard at first. They’ll do over two hours of cardio in one session and pretty soon they’ll burn themselves out. It’s best to go with a more moderate workout routine.

It’s important to replenish your body’s sodium levels when you exercise, so make sure you aren’t letting them dip too low. Most sports drinks contain plenty of sodium, or you can add an electrolyte supplement to water. Keep an eye out for any symptoms of low sodium, such as headaches, muscle cramps, and disorientation.

A good nutritional tip is to keep eating healthy even when you’re trying to put on muscle. A lot of people think they can eat whatever they want when they try to gain muscle, but that kind of reckless eating will only result in fat gain. Instead, keep eating healthy as you normally would.

Use your workout equipment in an order to see maximum results. The order should be dumbbells first, regular barbells second and machines last. Doing exercises in this order will ensure that you don’t get fatigued too early in your workout, by engaging in the more labor-intensive equipment first. This also works your muscles out, from smaller to larger.

You can prevent illness if it is really difficult for you to exercise during the week or if you just don’t do it at all by adding two 20 minute aerobic or weight workout sessions to your weekly schedule. This small amount of exercise can help you avoid sick days.

When shopping for shoes for your fitness workouts, try going at the latter part of the day. This is because, at the end of the day, your feet swell and are at their largest. You should leave at least half an inch between your toe and the end of the shoe.

Giving a part of your home or your car a deep cleaning will not only improve the look of your house or vehicle but burn a lot of calories. Going to the gym or setting a time to exercise is not always necessary when you keep active and do high-intensity activities.

Before you begin squatting heavy weight, you must practice squatting with proper form. First, you should stand in front of a bench. Then, as you squat down, you should imagine that you are about to sit down. As your butt touches the bench, push back up. Attempt this with a light bar and as you improve gradually increase your weight.

When you are doing your working routine, try not to use a weight belt. Constantly using a weight belt can actually weaken the muscles in your lower back and abdominal muscles. Use it only when you are going to do maximal lifts in exercises including the overhead press, deadlifts, and squats.

A great fitness tip that can help you lift more weight is to start developing your weaker muscles. Sometimes it’s your weaker muscles that are preventing you from increasing the weight you can lift. By developing these weak muscles, you’ll be surprised at how much more you can lift.

The fitness of your chest if very important when dealing with structure and form while working out. If you want to achieve a balanced workout, you must work your chest as well as your other muscle groups. If you only work out your chest, these muscles will grow stronger disproportional to the rest of your muscles.

Walking is one of the best ways to maintain good fitness. It is a low impact exercise so it is easy for people of all ages. You can incorporate it easily by walking to the places you frequent that are near you. Walking provides a fantastic aerobic workout if you maintain an appropriate pace.

As a fit individual, you enjoy a world of benefits for both your mind and body. Use the information shared here. By following these tips, you will soon see your fitness level start to improve.