Back in The Gym – BionicOldGuy


I have a pretty good home gym setup for both cardio and strength so don’t normally need a gym. But gyms have special machines that are sometimes nice to use as well as classes. This wasn’t enough incentive for me to pay for a gym membership, but if it’s free that’s a different matter.

Some medicare supplemental insurance providers will cover a gym membership at participating gyms. The first program I heard of for this is “silver sneakers“. My provider offered this at my local gym “24-hour fitness”. Then they decided to drop it, and anyway 24-hour fitness went out of business during Covid. Then recently I got a message from my provider about an equivalent new program they offer called “renew active“. A different gym, “Fitness 19“, opened up where 24 hour used to be, and they accept renew active, so I joined back up. I’ve been going about once a week. I like using several of the strength stations. They are the same exercises I do at home, but at the gym, I can check my strength more closely to monitor my progress. I also like the elliptical machines with arms. I use them for a relatively easy and low-impact workout for the lower body, but a more challenging workout for my upper body.

This gym is under three miles away and takes just over 10 minutes by bike, so I like the convenience.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/fitness-19-morgan-hill

I recommend looking into this type of alternative for anyone in the US that has medicare. It is a cost-effective way to keep us Seniors active, which means more likely to stay healthy.





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Is It Normal To Be Unhappy In A Relationship Sometimes?



Now, none of this is to say unhappiness in a relationship should be an accepted status quo, nor should unhappiness be allowed to fester or left unchecked.

The whole point of being in a relationship is adding joy, camaraderie, and support to each other’s lives—and so when that isn’t happening, it’s important to figure out why, and how to get back to that happy place if possible. If not, it’s important to give yourself the freedom to walk away.

The question is, how do you know if a period of unhappiness is just part of the natural ebbs and flows of a relationship, or if the relationship is truly not working?

“If your partner consistently won’t come to the table to work things out so you can both be happy, if they diminish your concerns, if they shame you, if they always turn it back on you, if they show no sign of care and concern for your well-being, that is not a situation where you can likely get what you need,” says Zimmerman.

She recommends starting off with having an open conversation with your partner about how you’re feeling and what’s not working for you, sharing your concerns without blame and with an earnest desire to listen and problem-solve together. From there, you can identify what changes you both are willing to commit to and observe whether things change after time with that mutual effort—or, as Zimmerman notes, if one person proves to be unwilling or unable to do their part.

“Don’t make this decision after one conversation, but if you cannot get their attention over time, it’s a problem,” she says, adding, “And before you end the relationship, it’s worth making sure you’ve done everything well on your side of the court. That have expressed yourself well, without attacking your partner. That you’ve tried repeatedly to express your concerns. That you’re equally interested in your partner’s happiness.”



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How To Make Sugar-Free Holiday Treats That Actually Taste Good



So if you’re choosing a sweetener this holiday season, you might want to opt for pure, organic monk fruit extract. And if you want a chocolaty twist, opt for organic cocoa rather than a chocolate product (or “chocolate” via flavoring agents) with loads of added sugar and oils. 

Finally, you can get the best of both worlds with the mbg chocolate beauty & gut collagen+ powder. It’s ideal for those with a daily sweet craving. Pop a serving (or a few, depending on the recipe) of this powder into your holiday baking recipe for a delicious, rich flavor that’s good and good for you. 

Not sure where to start? Here are a few of our favorite chocolate recipes to help you out. Trust us, you’ll want to lick the bowl clean.



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A Step-By Step Guide To Micro French Nails, From Experts



Imagine your classic French manicure, but instead of painting the entire tip, you trace just a teeny-tiny line. Et voilà: the micro French. “The thin line imparts an elegant and delicate look, making it ideal for the holidays,” says editorial manicurist Jin Soon Choi, founder of JINSoon. Not to mention, it compliments every single nail shape, outfit, and season—simply switch up your base and tip colors to match whatever style you desire. 

“It’s not overpowering, especially if you are wearing a fun, over-the-top, [holiday] themed outfit,” adds Rachel Apfel Glass, founder of GLOSSLAB. “You can rock a bright red or emerald green without looking like ‘too much.’” I’m personally clad in head-to-toe glam as soon as December 1 rolls around (and firmly believe you can never have enough glitter), but for all my minimalists out there, this is a versatile style you can make as subtle as you please. It’s also arguably one of the easiest nail art designs to master at home—promise!  





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How To Use A Gua Sha To Prevent (Not Cause) Fine Lines



Gua sha is so much more than just a quick way to sculpt the jawline (though they can certainly help with that, too). As traditional Chinese medicine expert Debbie Kung, DAOM, LAc, once told mbg: “Facial gua sha is medicine in your hands. That tool you’re holding in your hands has thousands of years of ancient wisdom.”

And tools with ancient wisdom should be treated with the utmost care—aka, you should take time to figure out what you’re doing. Rule No. 1: Do not drag the gua sha too harshly across your skin. 

“These are great tools; however, when draining the lymphatic systems, the key is a very light and gentle touch. You don’t want to drag the skin, which can create lines or wrinkles,” master esthetician Sarah Akram, owner of Sarah Akram Skincare once told mbg.

Instead, opt for a gentle glide, and always use some face oil to help the tool easily run across the skin. A bit of redness immediately following your gua sha ritual is to be expected, but if it lasts more than a few hours, you may have gone too far. 

You should also keep your strokes to a maximum of 10 in each area of the face. However, “Five is a good middle ground,” holistic esthetician Britta Plug says. Too many strokes and your skin may start to get irritated. If you want a bit more in-depth instruction, check out this step-by-step guide from Plug to get started. 

Of course, smoothing fine lines and wrinkles takes a holistic approach; gua sha can certainly be helpful, but it’s not the only way to prevent those folds from settling in. For example, you may consider smart topicals (like retinol and glycolic acid) or add a collagen supplement to your routine to work from within—age-related wrinkles, after all, are generally caused by a decrease in collagen production1. Here’s a list of the best nine collagen supplements on the market right now, all backed by a nutrition Ph.D.



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6 Ways To Exfoliate Your Legs Naturally + Which Is Best For You



Alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids (commonly referred to as AHAs and BHAs) are two superstar ingredients for exfoliation. While you may be more familiar with them in facial skin care serums, there are plenty of chemical exfoliation body products out there, too. 

You should know that chemical body exfoliators are often way more potent: The skin on the body is thicker than the skin on the face, which is why exfoliating serums generally have a higher percentage of AHAs or BHAs. 

For general exfoliation, AHAs like glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acid will help to gently dissolve dead skin and brighten tone. Salicylic acid, on the other hand (which is oil-soluble), may help manage body breakouts while exfoliating. 

Even though ingredients like glycolic acid and lactic acid may sound intimidating, they can actually be a more gentle form of exfoliation than some body scrubs. In fact, for those with keratosis pilaris (KP) or “strawberry legs,” this form is preferred. “In general, mechanical exfoliation is not the best for KP and can even make it worse,” board-certified dermatologist and founder of MaeiMD Rebecca Marcus, M.D.,FAAD tells mbg. More on KP in a bit. 





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Soft Cut Out Gluten Free Sugar Cookies


Cookie week may be over, but I have a few more recipes that are too perfect for the holidays that I HAD to reshare. I’ll admit, getting a cookie to be absolutely perfect can be frustrating, especially when working with non-traditional flours, but if anyone can do it, it’s this ambitious chick (aka me.) That’s the attitude I like to have about most things anyway, but even more so when it comes to cookies. Heh.

Two years ago after several attempts and different flour ratios, I perfected these glorious gluten free sugar cookies that hold their shape perfectly when baked and taste just like the real deal sugar cookie you know and love. Many AK readers love my paleo-friendly, gluten free or dairy free recipes and continue to request more of them; so I knew I needed to make a SOFT CUT OUT SUGAR COOKIE that was not only gluten free, grain free and paleo-friendly, but also easily dairy free.

Use your favorite cookie cutters, decorate to your hearts desire (the best activity with kiddos) and enjoy!

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decorated soft gluten free sugar cookies on parchment paper

Ingredients in gluten free sugar cookies

These gluten free sugar cookies are based on my soft almond flour sugar cookies, except with a few modifications to make sure they could be rolled out and still keep their shape upon baking. Of course, they’re much better for you than traditional sugar cookies thanks to a few simple ingredient swaps:

  • Almond flour and coconut flour: Almond flour and coconut flour are both gluten-free flours that happen to be grain free, lower in carbohydrates and higher in fiber compared to regular flour. Plus these two flours also have a nice sweetness to them, meaning we don’t have to use as much sweetener. I recommend using fine blanched almond flour in baking because it bakes up perfectly and has a texture similar to regular flour.
  • Butter: I chose to use butter in this recipe to keep the buttery notes of traditional sugar cookies, however, you are more than welcome to use coconut oil or vegan butter for a dairy free option. I have included substitution notes in the recipe below.
  • Eggs: Make sure your eggs are at room temperature when you make this recipe. I like to do this by running them under warm water for 1 minute. I haven’t yet tried a vegan substitute but let me know if you do!
  • Sweetener: Because these are sugar cookies, I wanted to use real-deal sugar. The entire recipe only calls for 1/2 cup of organic cane sugar, but you can also feel free to sub coconut sugar, although the cookies may come out softer. I also use honey in the recipe to keep a nice soft texture to the cookies plus add additional sweetness. Don’t skip it!
  • Vanilla + almond extract: every good sugar cookie should call for almond extract. It just adds an irresistible sweet cookie flavor. We’re also using vanilla extract for a lovely hint of pure vanilla.
  • For decorating: I love to use an easy vanilla buttercream made with butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Seasonal sprinkles are the perfect touch to make the cookies festive and fun! You can also use these sprinkles that are dye-free, gluten free and vegan — they’re super cute and I’m a huge fan.

Tony decided to help me test these out one Saturday night, and we had such a fun time laughing, playing Christmas music, frosting and decorating them. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for a date night in activity.

gluten free cut out sugar cookie dough rolled out and being cut into shapes

Can I use all purpose flour?

Unfortunately, no, I cannot recommend a substitution for the flour mixture in these healthy sugar cookies as the texture will change drastically.

Make these sugar cookies your own

These gluten free cut out sugar cookies are so good, easy to make, and easy to customize!

  • Make them dairy free. Feel free to use 1/2 cup melted coconut oil or 1/2 cup melted vegan butter in the dough. Then just use vegan butter in the frosting as well.
  • Make them paleo-friendly. Use coconut oil as well as coconut sugar in the dough instead of regular sugar. Note that the dough may come out softer and darker than intended. To decorate you can make the frosting with my paleo powdered sugar, or use a paleo-friendly frosting like Simple Mills.
  • Try a chocolate version. If you’re looking for a chocolate version, try my Gluten Free Almond Flour Chocolate Sugar Cookies!

However you do it, you’re going to LOVE these sugar cookies! I can’t wait to see you make them.

grain free cut out sugar cookies on a baking sheet before baking

How to make the best grain free sugar cookies

  1. Mix the wet ingredients. Start by whisking together all of the wet ingredients until well combined.
  2. Add the dry. Mix in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until your gluten free sugar cookie dough forms. No stand mixer necessary!
  3. Divide & chill. Divide the dough into two discs and wrap them well with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours, or 30-45 minutes in the freezer.
  4. Roll & cut. Take out one of the dough balls, place it between two large sheets of parchment paper, and roll it out with a rolling pin to 1/4 inch thick. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut the sugar cookies into fun shapes and transfer them to a prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake & cool. Bake your sugar cookies until they’re just slightly golden brown on the edges, then let them cool on a cooling rack while you make the frosting. Repeat with your remaining dough!
  6. Frost & enjoy. Beat together the buttercream frosting, then frost your cooled cookies, add decorations and enjoy!

decorated healthy soft cut out sugar cookies made with almond flour

Tips for making soft cut out sugar cookies

  • Pack your almond flour. I like to pack my almond flour just like I would with brown sugar. It makes all the difference! No need to pack the coconut flour though.
  • Chill the dough for at least 1 hour. Store the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour, but preferably 2 hours or more. It makes the dough MUCH easier to work with, plus it helps the cookies to hold their shape.
  • Roll with parchment paper. I recommend rolling the dough between sheets of parchment paper to prevent the dough from sticking to your surface. Add coconut flour to the parchment paper to prevent sticking.
  • Flour your rolling pin. Make sure your rolling pin is well floured with coconut flour, otherwise, the dough is likely to stick to the rolling pin.
  • Roll dough 1/4th inch thick. Yes, we want a thicker dough so that the cut out cookies can actually be cut out. Plus, the thicker dough really allows the cookies to keep their soft middle texture, yet still have crispy edges.
  • Cool before frosting. Be sure that your sugar cookies are completely cooled before frosting them so that the frosting doesn’t soak into the cookie.

Can I make them into drop cookies?

Sure! If you don’t want to roll these cookies out and cut them into shapes, feel free to make regular gluten free sugar cookies by scooping the dough with a cookie scoop, rolling it into a bowl and adding it to your baking sheet. You’ll want to flatten the dough a bit with your palm before baking so that they end up like round cookies.

Make them ahead of time

You can actually make the dough the night before, store it in the fridge overnight, and make the cut out sugar cookies the next day!

two gluten free sugar cookies next to a cup of hot chocolate

Storing tips

  • In the fridge: store these gluten free and grain free sugar cookies in an airtight container at room temp for up to 5 days.
  • In the freezer: you can actually freeze the entire sugar cookie dough ball, the dough after cutting out shapes, or the baked cookies! Check out my full tutorial here to learn exactly how to freeze them.

More cookie recipes you’ll love

Get all of my delicious cookie recipes here!

If you make these gluten free sugar cookies, please leave a comment and rate the recipe. I appreciate your feedback and know the AK community does too! Thank you — xo!

Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookies (gluten free, grain free, paleo friendly)

soft cut out sugar cookies decorated on a baking sheet

Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Gluten free cut out sugar cookies made with almond flour for a healthier version! This delicious, easy gluten free sugar cookie recipe is paleo-friendly, easily dairy free and perfect to make during the holiday season. Everyone loves these soft sugar cookies with tender middles.

Ingredients

  • Wet ingredients:
  • ½
    cup
    butter, melted*
  • ½
    cup
    organic cane sugar**
  • 2
    tablespoons
    honey
  • 2
    eggs, at room temperature
  • 2
    teaspoons
    vanilla extract
  • 1/4
    teaspoon
    almond extract
  • Dry ingredients:
  • 3
    cups
    packed fine blanched almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2
    cup
    coconut flour (do not pack), plus more for rolling out the dough
  • 1/4
    teaspoon
    baking soda
  • 1/4
    teaspoon
    salt
  • For the vanilla buttercream:
  • ½
    cup
    butter, at room temperature (optional to use vegan butter stick)
  • 1
    cup
    powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2
    teaspoons
    vanilla extract
  • To decorate cookies:
  • Sprinkles of choice

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add the melted butter, sugar, honey, eggs, vanilla and almond extract; whisk until well combined and smooth.

  2. Next, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon (not a whisk) until dough comes together.

  3. Divide dough into two balls or discs and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (preferably 2) or 30-45 minutes in the freezer. Also optional to chill overnight if you want to save time.

  4. Once ready to bake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  5. Take one of the dough balls (leaving the other in the fridge, as you’ll need to work in batches) and place it on a large sheet of parchment paper that’s been dusted with a good amount of coconut flour. Add another large sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough ball and then begin to roll out into a large rectangle until the dough is about 1/4th inch thick. The dough is soft, so you need to work quickly so that it doesn’t warm up too much! This is also the best method to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes, then use a spatula to help you transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet.

  6. Bake cookies for 9-13 minutes or until just slightly golden brown on the edges. If you want slightly crispier cookies along the edges, just bake for a minute or two longer. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes roughly 30 sugar cookies, depending on the size of your cutouts.

  7. For the vanilla buttercream: Beat butter, powdered sugar and vanilla on high until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Frost each cookie, then decorate however your heart desires!

  8. Cookies will stay good for up to 5 days at room temperature if kept in an airtight container. Cookies can also be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes

Cookies will stay good for up to 5 days at room temperature if covered well, or they can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

*To make sugar cookies dairy free: use 1/2 melted coconut oil or 1/2 cup melted vegan butter in the dough. You’ll also need to use vegan butter in the frosting.

**Instead of sugar, you can use coconut sugar, but the dough may come out softer than intended and also much darker. I recommend sticking with regular sugar.

Feel free to use my paleo powdered sugar recipe in the frosting. Or you can use a dairy free/paleo-friendly frosting such as Simple Mills.

Nutrition

Servings: 30 cookies

Serving size: 1 cookies (with icing)

Calories: 163kcal

Fat: 12.2g

Saturated fat: 4.3g

Carbohydrates: 12.1g

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 8.6g

Protein: 3.1g

Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats

This post was originally published on December 2, 2019, republished on December 15, 2021, and republished on December 8th, 2022.



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The 7 Best Water Flossers + Expert Tips On How & When To Use Them



Our experts agree that pretty much everyone could benefit from using a water flosser daily, before dental flossing and brushing—especially those who have gingivitis, wear braces, aligners, or other hardware, or struggle to maneuver string floss efficiently. “Water flossers are especially great for those with arthritis or limited dexterity, and they are an excellent way to target hard-to-reach spots when you have braces, implants, crowns, bridges, or extensive dental equipment in your mouth. The stream of water is able to work around wires and hardware that string floss is unable to wiggle into and remove pieces of food and plaque,” Sweeney adds.

Water flossers are also often gentler on gums than dental floss, especially if you tend to floss aggressively, or aren’t using the proper technique, which experts say can cause damage to delicate gingival tissues.

“The con of water flossers is that they cannot clean under the gums as adequately as string floss when using a proper technique, and won’t remove all the plaque from the tooth’s surface”, she says. So, it’s important that water flossing is an addition to your oral care routine, not a replacement for dental flossing and brushing.

Sarmento reaffirms this, saying, “Dentists do recommend water flossers, but not as a replacement to regular flossing! Water flossing does not replace regular string flossing or brushing but is a great way to remove food debris and plaque.”

While everyone can benefit from a water flosser, both Sweeney and Sarmento warn that water flossing can be a little messy (hello, splash zone!) and require a little time to get used to.



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The 10 Best Shoes For Arch Support, With Podiatrist-Recommended Pairs



“The arch of the foot functions to absorb shock, store it, and then convert that energy into propulsion during the gait cycle,” explains Austin-based podiatrist, Anne Sharkey, DPM. “Arch supports in shoes can help by improving shock absorption, posture, and stability.”  

Janine Ferrigno-Taddeo, DPM, agrees. “Arch support is important for keeping your feet and body aligned to help prevent injury,” she adds. “Proper arch support helps reduce overpronation and absorb shock, and orthotics help create an equal distribution of pressure as we walk or run.” 

It’s also important to understand that some degree of pronation is normal and necessary for efficient gait dynamics. Your shoes should provide just the right amount of arch support for your foot shape specifically. Podiatrists say a common sign of too much arch support is if your shoes cause discomfort or you notice existing symptoms worsening with wear. 

So, how do you know how much lift you need? Sharkey confirms that both flat-footed people and those with high arches will benefit from the right level of arch support. What this means will depend on your foot type—but as a general rule, you should seek a shoe that aims to bring the ground up to meet your arch. If you’re unable to find that in an orthopedic off-the-shelf model, your best bet is to consult with a podiatrist for a customized evaluation and, possibly, custom orthotic inserts. “High arches tend to do best with custom or semi-custom orthotics, due to the need to have devices that conform well to the foot,” Sharkey explains.



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Cardiologist PSA: Don’t Ignore This Heart Disease Risk Factor



When you sleep, you give your body a chance to repair itself. In the hours we spend snoozing, our brains clear out abnormal proteins, our heart rates gradually slow, and we undergo cellular repair and rejuvenation. Our mitochondria—our body’s energy generators—also recover from the day. If these mitochondria aren’t given adequate time to recharge, board-certified cardiologist Michael Twyman, M.D. explained on a recent episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, our risk of heart disease skyrockets.

“If you don’t heal your mitochondria at night, it almost doesn’t matter how well you eat or how much you exercise; your body has broken mitochondrial engines, and you’re not going to make energy as efficiently,” Twyman said.

Getting a solid night’s sleep can also reduce other cardiovascular risk factors such as chronic inflammation3, high blood pressure4, and blood sugar disturbance5, according to the AHA. It brings mental health benefits too, and mental health disorders can also contribute to heart disease6.

One study conducted on nearly 7,000 U.S. adults earlier this year found that those who reported poor sleep had a higher risk of developing heart disease7, regardless of race or sex. In another 2022 study, older people with insomnia were significantly more likely to have had a heart attack or undergone a procedure to open blocked arteries in the past 16 months than those who did not have the sleep disorder. The only other risk factors that were more significant than insomnia in this research were smoking and low physical activity. As lead study author Lars Frojd writes in a news release8, “16% of recurrent major adverse cardiovascular events might have been avoided if none of the participants had insomnia.”



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