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When Back Pain is a Just a Pain in the Butt!

Back pain is extremely common. Experts suggest that around 80% of the population will experience debilitating back pain at some point in their lives. One of the more ominous signs of serious back pain is the dreaded leg pain often referred to as “Sciatica”. The biggest concern when leg pain is present is a disc herniation, but statistically, disc herniations are not as common as other problems that can cause sciatica. One of the most common problems that can cause low back, gluteal (butt) and leg pain is dysfunction of a muscle known as the piriformis. The piriformis runs deep under the gluteal muscles. Although the piriformis is rather small, it is important because it travels directly over the sciatic nerve. When the piriformis gets tight and/or irritated it can disturb the sciatic nerve causing pain, numbness, tingling and in some cases, weakness down the leg.

Occasionally some people’s sciatic nerve actually travels through the fibers of the piriformis muscle. This is usually due to a developmental anomaly. When this happens, the sciatic nerve is that much more susceptible to getting irritated or pinched. Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate pain caused by the piriformis. One simple way to tell if your piriformis is causing the problems is to stretch it, which will be shown coming up.

What Causes Tight Piriformis Muscles?

There are a number of factors that can contribute to overly tight piriformis muscles. It could be as simple as forgetting to properly stretch after exercises that involve this area. It could be from poor posture while sitting. With men often times the piriformis gets irritated when sitting on a wallet in the back pocket. Dr. Chad Woolner is a Boise Chiropractor. He finds that a lot of patients’ piriformis problems are a result of a misalignment in their Sacroiliac joint (or pelvis). When the SI joint gets misaligned it can lead to abnormal tension in the piriformis on one or both sides. This is because the piriformis muscle attaches to the SI joint and is directly affected by the alignment of this region.

3 Simple, Yet Effective Steps to Ending the Pain in the Butt

Step 1-Stretching

Stretching the piriformis muscle can help to alleviate a lot of pain and symptoms. In the following video, Dr. Woolner outlines two simple but very effective stretches that you can do at home to help loosen your piriformis muscle. Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjEQ39bvEJo

Step 2-Chiropractic Care

Numerous studies have shown how effective Chiropractic care can be for a wide range of problems. Among those problems that Chiropractic care can help with is problems with the piriformis muscle. As stated earlier, one of the most common causes behind over-tight and/or irritated piriformis muscles is misalignment of the SI joint. If this is one of the factors causing your problem, stretching alone often won’t cut it. Having your SI joint adjusted by a trusted Chiropractic Physician can make all the difference in the world. If you have never been to a Chiropractor or need recommendations you can contact Dr. Woolner’s clinic for recommendations by visiting www.BoiseChiropracticGroup.com.

Step 3-Magnesium, Nature’s Muscle Relaxer

Oftentimes one cause behind tight muscles is a deficiency in Magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that is critical for a variety of different processes including proper muscle function. The average person only gets around 250mg from diet alone, this is about 100mg less than the RDA, which many experts agree is still 300-400mg lower than it should be. Supplementing with around 600-700mg of Magnesium per day can help to ease tension on overly tight muscles. Also, eating a diet high in magnesium can also be a good idea. Nuts and grains are good sources of magnesium. Beans, dark green vegetables, fish, and meat also contain significant amounts.

If you’re suffering from problems with your piriformis muscle, or think you might be, these steps are a great place to start. This is the same advice that Dr. Woolner gives to his own patients. Piriformis problems don’t need to be such a pain in the butt.

*This article and image was provided by Dr. Chad Woolner of www.BoiseChiropracticGroup.com.*

Tuning Up Muscles and Mind

Health Benefits of Music Education

By Laura Yeh

My husband is a very fine musician, and as our business has grown, he has had less time to devote to practicing the violin. When he was able to start regularly practicing again recently, he soon found he had lost several pounds.

How could that be? Violin is a very physical instrument. He wasn’t doing any other exercise or diet, so we know his weight loss was from the extra activity of playing.

One of the often-overlooked benefits of playing a musical instrument is how it helps improve overall fitness and health. In my experience teaching music at the St. Louis School of Music, this is one of the wonderful side benefits I see kids getting from music education.

Learning to play violin is not like running a marathon, but it helps kids stay active as they move and use their muscles. Learning a musical instrument requires good posture and the ability to keep certain muscles relaxed while controlling others. Music students strengthen muscles and gain flexibility, both of which contribute to overall health.

With childhood obesity rampant, the added activity kids can get in music lessons can help counteract all that time they spend sitting around eating, playing computer games and watching TV.

Learning an instrument is also great for fine helping students, especially little ones, improve their fine motor skills. As young violin students learn to isolate the muscles to move their fingers independently, for instance, they are building strength that can help protect their hands and fingers from injury.

Another key benefit of playing an instrument is learning how to relax the muscles. I have had several violin students come in with their arms so tense they have been unable to correctly use their bow. We have worked and worked until they are able to relax and loosen up.

Playing a musical instrument won’t do much good for fitness if kids only practice a few minutes a day. But an hour spent playing music every day will help kids stay healthy. At our school we teach group classes along with the private lessons and after two hours of playing, the kids are pretty tired. It has been a workout for them.

Following are some of the health benefits associated with various instruments:

  • Stringed instruments: Violin and viola are particularly physical instruments as students stand and bow, often moving their bodies a great deal as they play. Even instruments such as cello that are played sitting down help kids to hone their fine motor skills and strengthen their arm and back muscles.
  • Piano: Although it is played sitting down, the piano can be a very physical instrument as players stretch and move from one end of the keyboard to the other. Learning to play the piano also greatly improves arm strength, dexterity and fine motor skills.
  • Wind instruments: The main benefit of these instruments is how they improve children’s ability to control their breathing, in addition to improved finger dexterity. Kids who play in a marching band get the added benefit of physical exertion as they play.

I teach and write instruction books for the ocarina, a palm-sized wind instrument that is easy to learn and well-suited for young children. Even though it is usually small, lightweight and can be played anywhere, the ocarina has shown me some surprising health benefits.

With ocarina you have to be able to control your breathing. Lower notes require lighter air flow and higher notes require harder air flow. The lower notes actually require more strength. Just being able to change the air flow takes a lot of control and helps develop your stomach and core muscle groups. In playing the ocarina I definitely can feel those muscles working even though I am not moving around much.

I also find when I am playing ocarina my hands get tired if I play for a really long time. But the more I play the more I build up stamina, enabling me to play longer without fatigue. That to me is proof the muscles are getting stronger.

Learning to move fingers independently of each other, strengthening and relaxing muscles and improving posture are a few ways playing music regularly can help improve health and fitness. There are many other health benefits, including relieving stress and improving memory and concentration.

Playing music is not strenuous exercise and won’t by itself make an overweight adult or child lose a lot of weight. But it is a great way to enjoy regular physical activity that can help improve posture, breathing, dexterity, muscle tone and overall fitness. Those are big added benefits for an activity that is fun, stimulating and enjoyable for life.

About the Author

Laura Yeh is a performer and music educator trained in the Suzuki method of instruction who teaches violin and ocarina at the St. Louis School of Music to children as young as 3 and adults. Laura and her husband Dennis have collaborated with ocarina makers around the world to produce new models of the ocarina, an easy-to-learn wind instrument with ancient roots. They have designed and produced many unique and innovative ocarinas sold by STL Ocarina. For more information, visit http://www.stlocarina.com.

For soothing tiny timmies, the Organic B.R.A.T.™ Feel Better Drink is a dream come true! Combining mother’s wisdom when little ones are sick by giving Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast, and turning it into a nourishing, hydrating, and delicious drink for when nothing else will go down easily, is just what the doctor ordered. For settling upset stomachs due to diarrhea and/or vomiting, the Organic B.R.A.T.™ Feel Better Drink helps to restore electrolyte balance and lost nutrients.

The Organic B.R.A.T.™ Feel Better Drink features Organic Brown Rice, Organic Banana Puree, and Organic Apple Puree – all blended into a refreshing and delightfully creamy non-dairy drink. It is available in 4 mild, pleasant-tasting flavors, including Original, Vanilla, Cinnamon Toast, and Chocolate Honey.

Not just for children, adults can benefit from the Organic B.R.A.T.™ Feel Better Drink, as well! It is perfect for those suffering from the following ailments and illnesses:

  • Digestive Disorders
  • Flu Virus
  • Chemotherapy Side Effects
  • Food Allergies
  • Morning Sickness
  • Dehydration

Founded by Ilsa and Greg Toepfer, the Organic B.R.A.T.™ Feel Better Drink was created by two parents who know what little ones need – comfort combined with sound nutrition when sick. Following their pediatrician’s recommendation of the Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast diet for calming the stomach when ill with the flu, they created the Organic B.R.A.T.™ Feel Better Drink – and the result is pure genius!

To learn more about the Organic B.R.A.T.™ Feel Better Drink, to locate a retailer near you, or to order, please visit www.bratdietdrink.com.

*Company generously provided images and samples for this review.*

Are You an Emotional Overeater?

By Andrea Metcalf, Author of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body

Take this short quiz to find out!

I turn to food when I’m sad, disappointed, or lonely. Yes ___ No ___

I often eat past the point of fullness. Yes ___ No ___

When I’m upset, I crave sweets or salty snack foods. Yes ___ No ___

When I go to parties or dine out with friends, I tend to overeat. Yes ___ No ___

If I eat too much, I feel guilty afterwards. Yes ___ No ___

I eat more than I should when I’m home alone or bored. Yes ___ No ___

My moods have the biggest influence on when and how I eat. Yes ___ No ___

I like to nurture family and friends with food. Yes ___ No ___

I think about food a lot. Yes ___ No ___

I am unhappy with my weight, but I overeat anyway. Yes ___ No ___

Eating is my favorite activity. Yes ___ No ___

I tend to clean my plate; I don’t like to waste food. Yes ___ No ___

I binge habitually. Yes ___ No ___

The large amount of food I eat embarrasses me. Yes ___ No ___

Sugary foods tend to calm me down. Yes ___ No ___

SCORING

Count up your yes and your no answers.

If you answered yes to eight or more questions:

Your feelings of anger, frustration, loneliness, sadness, boredom, or even happiness might be causing you to overeat. And you are probably an emotional overeater. You may be eating too much or eating chaotically, but what you are really feeding is something in your life: relationship problems, broken dreams, financial worries, or problems at work. Try the strategies in this chapter, but don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

If you answered yes to four to seven questions:

You may be struggling with some emotions from time to time. You are a borderline emotional overeater. At this point, it will be easier to get your eating habits under control by applying some of the strategies in this chapter.

If you circled three or fewer yeses:

You probably aren’t an emotional overeater. You may occasionally use food to cope, but for the most part, it doesn’t interfere with your ability to manage your weight.

The above is an excerpt from the book Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body by Andrea Metcalf. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

© 2010 Andrea Metcalf, author of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Days Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body.

5 Ways to Lose Stubborn Belly Fat

By Andrea Metcalf, Author of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body

Move it to Lose — You have to get that blood circulating in order to burn calories and utilize fat for fuel. Walking is a great way to get into shape and the American Heart Association’s recommended way to START exercising. Make every effort count by using a core balancing shoe like the Skechers Shape Ups. To really lose those inches fast try for 2 hours of walking a day. Break it up into 10 minute increments.

Eat This Not That — You have to make choices and most of the time you probably know which ones are the right or healthier way to go. To get those pounds on the scale to fall off your body try a no label diet. Eat only foods that do not require a label to tell you the nutrition or ingredients. That’s fruits, veggies, meats and water. Skip the rest for two weeks and you can lose up to 10 pounds as many of my clients have.

Tea Totaling — That’s right to really whittle that waistline, you need to give up alcoholic beverages. Before you start to whine, realize that if you have a goal in mind to lose a few inches in a few weeks, then you are going to have to skip those empty calories. Opt for club soda with a slice of fruit.

Hydratation Sensation — Water is key to keeping your muscles working optimally and your metabolic one too. So drink water as your beverage of choice even over diet sodas. You’ll reduce the amount of chemicals that you are putting into your body that may be holding onto to that waistline.

Muffin Movers — Strength training is key to building calorie burning muscles, so try these great strength moves to tone, not bulk up, your total body. Try on a pair of Shape Up Resistance trainers to get a little more out of this workout.

© 2010 Andrea Metcalf, author of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Weight Loss Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body.

One overlooked area during the holidays is how common it is to contract a stomach bug due to the foods consumed at this time of year, from undercooked meats & poultry to dairy-based dips that have been left out too long at the office party! Annie Pryor, of Stop the Stomach Flu, offers these timely tips to follow as we start preparing for our Thanksgiving feast and the upcoming holidays.

Tips to Avoid Food Borne Illness this Thanksgiving

By Annie Pryor Ph.D. (Biochemistry)

  1. Cook the turkey to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Always use a meat thermometer.
  2. Wash your hands and ANYTHING that touches raw meat, poultry, or eggs. Don’t let one drop of raw turkey juice find its way to the whipped cream.
  3. Do not eat perishable food that has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Throw it away. Food must be kept cold (below 40 degrees F) or hot (above 140 degrees F). Put the food in the fridge right after the meal so you can really enjoy your turkey sandwich the next day. Of course, if your mayonnaise has been around since last Thanksgiving, it is time to purchase a new jar!
  4. Do not prepare food for other people if you have had an intestinal illness (vomiting and/or diarrhea) within the past 3 days. If Aunt Betty was recently sick with a stomach bug, do not eat the mashed potatoes that she brought.
  5. If you are storing food outside because your fridge is full, it must be less than 40 degrees F outside. Do not set the food in the sun, and put the food in air-tight containers. Mold spores blow around outside and will land on your food and grow if it is just loosely covered in foil. Watch out for neighborhood dogs. (and other animals, such as raccoons!)

*This article was provided by Annie Pryor, Ph.D. (Biochemistry) of www.stopthestomachflu.com and www.mommygenius.com.

In today’s go-go-go world, everything has to be bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, and sexier than whatever we thought was big, strong, fast, smart, or sexy before. The media and society in general seem to tell us that we have to keep moving and pushing to be number one in everything and that if we stop to take a break we’re going to get fat, ugly, and stupid and then we’ll die. But if you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, all that pushing and constant movement can actually be detrimental—both physically and mentally. What we need to do is find time to stop, rest, and reflect. It is in those pauses that we will become stronger and better able to face the world head on.

The Key to Gaining Strength Through Rest

Physical Rest

Any good athlete will tell you that the days that you rest are just as important to your training as they days that you work hard. The muscles in our bodies need time to recover from the stress we put on them during an intense workout at the gym or just running to work, school, taking the kids to soccer practice, and making dinner. When we work out, our bodies are not building muscle—they are tearing it down. Exercising is the act of physically pushing our bodies to their limit.

When we are done with a workout, our bodies need time to recover and rebuild the muscle that we’ve torn down during the workout. The amazing thing about our bodies is that when we tear down our muscles, given the right amount of rest and nutrients, our bodies build them back up even stronger than before. So, if you are trying to lose weight and be healthier, taking time off actually makes you stronger. If you push harder everyday, all the time, with no rest, then your body will stay in a constant state of weakness. Resting makes our bodies stronger.

Mental Rest

Our minds work in a similar way to our muscles. In order to keep functioning at optimal levels, out minds need time to rest and reflect. That’s one of the reasons sleep is so important. As we sleep, we dream, and dreams are our minds’ way of shutting off external stimuli, evaluating our experiences through the day, making connections, and clearing out room for the next day’s experiences. If you’ve ever had the feeling of waking up and suddenly being able to solve a problem you couldn’t the night before, this is why.

As we rest our minds, we strengthen them and prepare them for the challenges that await them in the future. Similar to the way our bodies need rest, if you are constantly working your mind all day without any rest and little sleep, you will be in a constant state of mental fatigue, unable to focus on the things that really matter.

Find Time to Rest

At first it may seem that resting is counter intuitive to achieving your goals, but it is not. In fact, you’ll reach your goals easier and with more energy if you take the time to rest your body and mind properly. Take some time each day to turn off the TV and the radio, close down the computer, and sit in a comfortable chair reflecting on the day. These moments of stillness will help you focus your thoughts on the things that really matter to you. It may take some practice to clear your mind—especially if you’re used to living a frenetic lifestyle—but once you can learn to calm your thoughts and your body, you’ll be on the path to bringing more peace and more strength into your life.

*Gunter Jameson writes about several topics including travel, minimalism and online classes.*

An Act of Eco Consciousness

By Kori Bubnack

“In other environmental issues we tell people to stop something, reduce their impact, reduce their damage,states US Ecologist Gary Nabhan in a recent interview. Nabhan is a ethnobotanist/gardener whose promotion of biodiversity has caught the attention of many over the years. He is known for his work in biodiversity as an ethnobotanist. Since Coming Home to Eat was published in 2001, igniting the local food movement, causing a worldwide green epidemic.

The dramatic rise in the number of organizations and businesses that have contributed to the promotion of sustainability through conservation has been very impressive. The Earth Day Network has been playing a large part in bringing conservationist and green enthusiasts together, sharing ideas and discussing new ways to support the planet. Other large organizations and non-profits like Doug Band and the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) have been working on successful emission reduction projects in the San Francisco Bay area. While climate control has continued to worsen, collaborative and individual acts are vital for any successful green campaign. As human beings, we’re constantly told to reduce our carbon footprint, consume less unhealthy foods, and spend less time in the shower! But let’s take a minute to step back and look at this from a different perspective; one that Gary Nabhan strongly suggests.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization states that only about a quarter of crop diversity is left and that a dozen species now gives 90% of the animal protein eaten globally. In accordance, just 4 crop species supply half of plant based calories in the human diet.

By eating home-grown foods, Nabhan suggests, you will have a greater impact on sustainability for our planet as a whole. Otherwise known as “eat what you conserve,” is a well-established theory in that by eating the fruits and vegetables that we are attempting to conserve/save, we’re promoting the granular dissemination of various plant species.

Agriculturist Marco Contiero also mentions that “biodiversity is an essential characteristic of any sustainable agricultural system, especially in the context of climate change.”[1] According to Conterio’s theory, individuals should tend their own crops/plants and purchase localized farm products at supermarkets and groceries. There for condensing export/import reliance, thus reducing our carbon footprint.

Nabhan and Contiero’s theories heavily are dependent on an action oriented approach at conservation and sustainability. With an abundance of green movements following Earth Day 2010, organizations and individuals have taken a stronger following to expert opinions like the ones demonstrated by both of these highly influential agriculturalists. So remember, as the fall season approaches, be sure to visit your local farmers markets to purchase your fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, as eco-conscious individuals, don’t hesitate to stop the next time you drive by a yard stand with fresh crops. Promoting biodiversity and localized farming is a crucial piece of the conservation puzzle.

Should You Vaccinate Your Child? The Shocking Truth Revealed…

Dr. Marvin Kunikiyo

When it comes to the subject of vaccinating your child, there is no quote more appropriate than a line from Stevie Wonder’s song, “Superstition”—“When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer. Superstition is a waste.”

I say this for a couple of reasons:

First, probably 90% of Americans do not understand the nature of vaccines, and yet believe in them wholeheartedly.

Secondly, vaccinations have their beginnings in a very superstitious time, “when live frogs were swallowed for the cure of worms; when cow dung and human excreta were mixed with milk and butter for diphtheria; when the brains of a man who had died a violent death were given in teaspoonful doses for the cure of smallpox.”

In fact, the “Father of Vaccinations”, Edward Jenner, simply started promoting a Gloucestershire dairy maids superstition that said “if you contract cowpox, then you can’t get smallpox”. What’s even more incredible is that Mr. Jenner was not even a medical doctor. He did not sit for a single medical exam, but merely apprenticed with a surgeon for two years, then hung up a shingle that said “Edward Jenner, Surgeon and Apothecary”.
So, Do Vaccinations Really Work?

Over a two hundred year period, the statistics invariably show a distinct pattern: First, vaccinations were made mandatory, and shortly afterwards the death rate shot up. Next, the people rebelled, and finally, vaccinations once again became voluntary, and the death rate dropped. This has happened repeatedly throughout the world over the last two centuries. Drops in the death rate had nothing to do with an increase in vaccinations, and everything to do with better hygiene, and no mandatory vaccinations.

How Your Body Is Built Like a Castle with Levels of Defense – and How Vaccines Let Unwanted Invaders In
A large open field usually surrounds the castle, so that invaders can be seen coming “from a mile away.” Next, there is usually a water obstacle—a moat with a drawbridge. Then there is the outer wall of the castle, with guards patrolling the perimeter. If the outer wall is breached, the defenders retreat to the inner sanctum. This makes castles very hard to penetrate and overthrow. However, if the enemy knew of a secret underground passageway into the heart of the castle, the defenders could easily be surprised and overwhelmed before they even knew what hit them.
Similarly, there are normally only two ways for invaders to penetrate into the body: through the nose (respiratory tract), or the mouth (digestive tract). Like the outer castle walls, both the digestive and respiratory tracts have immune system defenders patrolling the area. This is the first line of defense. Even if bacteria or viruses are successful in maintaining a stronghold there, they still will be unable to get deeper into the “fortress”—the bloodstream if you react fast enough.

That’s why doctors would rather amputate the limb rather than allow the infection to spread into the bloodstream—and rightfully so—they know that if it does get into the bloodstream, it would kill the patient. Yet, they will go and stick a needle filled with filthy, infectious poison directly into the bloodstream. Am I the only one astounded by this logic?Talk about letting the enemy in through the back door!
A Dose of Your Own Medicine

More than 100 different additives, chemicals, preservatives, and antibiotics are added to different vaccines, including known toxins such as formaldehyde, aluminum hydroxide, and mercury (thimerosal). The use of all these additives in vaccines for children has been challenged by Jack Doubleday, CEO of the California non-profit, Natural Woman, Natural Man, Inc. In January of 2001, he “offered $20,000 to the first U.S.-licensed medical doctor or pharmaceutical company CEO who would publicly drink a standard mixture of vaccine additive ingredients. On August 1, 2007, the offer was increased to $90,000, and will increase in perpetuity, until a medical doctor or pharmaceutical company executive, or any of the 15 current members of the ACIP agrees to drink a dose of chemicals that would be the dose given to an infant.”

All I can say is “Wow!”

Now, knowing this information do you really want to vaccinate your child?

About the Author:

Dr. Marvin Kunikiyo’s own personal health experiences, along with his 24-year observations as a chiropractic physician have led him to an uncommon clarity and insight into the nature of health and disease. Now, with his new book, Revolutionizing Your Health, you will discover a natural way to keep you and your children healthy with natural cures. Get his free chapter downloads at: http://www.revolutionizingyourhealth.com.

Incorporating healthier options into your daily meal plan can be tricky if you are unsure of where to start. The younger you introduce your children to making nutritious choices in eating – whether snacking or at meal time – the faster the entire family will be on their way to wellness for life! Whole Foods Market offers 4 great tips on how to create “nutrient-dense” meals that help fuel the body and brain.

How to Create Healthier Meals at Home or While On-The-Go

TIP #1: Serve whole foods. Avoid artificial ingredients and processed foods with high fructose corn syrup and preservatives and opt for fresh, whole foods.

TIP #2: Choose healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocado. Minimize extracted oils and processed fats.

TIP #3: Focus on plant-strong foods. Think more veggies, fruits, grains, beans and legumes at every meal.

TIP #4: Choose nutrient dense foods. Choose foods with higher ANDI* scores since they have more micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants) per calorie.

Here’s a terrific nutrient-dense lunch that is kid-approved and won’t break the bank: a whole wheat tortilla wrap with almond or peanut butter, sliced strawberries and fruit-sweetened jelly; carrot sticks and sugar snap peas; Lemon Treats and a bottle of water.

*Image and tips courtesy of Whole Foods Market.*