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Blow Me (One Last Kiss)

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Just a Kiss

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I Did CrossFit 5 Days a Week For 1 Month and This Is What Happened

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I don’t really want to share half-naked selfies of myself with the world, but I feel compelled to. Because after years and years of working out four to six days a week, running and training for half-marathons, sweating it out in yoga classes, and eating healthy, I have finally caught a glimpse of the kind of transformation I have been wanting ever since I can remember. And it’s only been one month.

Before

This might sound like a PSA, but so what? I really do owe it all to CrossFit. I had been wanting to try it for years but through two pregnancies, working, and taking care of my two young kiddos, I just felt like I couldn’t carve out the time. It was kind of a lame excuse, actually, and I realized it was high time to make the time and do something for me. So on Mother’s Day 2016, I bought myself a $250 On-Ramp course for CrossFit. No it’s not culty, yes the workouts are frickin’ hard, and yes, the community support really is amazing and was the key to my success.

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After completing that course, I decided to go all in and committed to going for one month, five days a week. Here’s what happened.

Weight down: I have been the same weight for years, trying to lose those last pesky pounds that hide my muscles and make me look softer than I’d like. I was amazed when I stepped on the scale and realized I was at the weight that I lied about on my driver’s license. Down five pounds! I mean, that’s huge when you don’t have a ton of weight to lose. CrossFit smacked my weight-loss plateau in the face!
Less to pinch: OK, so the scale isn’t everything. I also lost at least one inch around my waist. It’s not an enormous change, but I can totally tell in the photos because it’s the first area of my body my eyes move to whenever I look in the mirror. I have had a belly my entire life it seems, and I can finally see it slimming down and that little muffin top diminishing. I even noticed a little definition in my obliques!
Arm definition: While brushing my teeth a couple weeks in, I happily noticed my biceps bulging but didn’t think anything of it until the month was up and people commented on my arms. “What have you been doing?” they asked. Someone else said when they hugged me, my arms felt stronger. Even the Comcast guy who came to fix my cable commented on my “guns.” I also noticed more definition in my upper back.

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After

Toned thighs: I’ve always had lean legs, thanks to running and inherited genes from my mom, but they look even more toned and defined. I slipped on a pair of leggings and loved that I could seen my quad muscles popping out a little. Thank you lunges and deadlifts!
Perkier butt: I also inherited a flat butt from my mom, but a month full of squats, wall balls, and kettlebell swings have turned my flat rear into a more shapely, rounder, lifted bum. My husband has noticed, too. Bonus!

More energy: I used to run for an hour in the morning from 6 to 7 a.m., and by late morning/early afternoon, I felt completely drained. My body felt exhausted, my brain felt foggy, and all I wanted was a nap. I craved sugar and chocolate because I thought it’d give me a pick-me-up. Of course, that backfired with an inevitable sugar crash, plus the extra calories didn’t help me lose weight. I didn’t feel tired once during this month-long CrossFit experiment. Even after getting up at 4:50 to make my 5:45 a.m. classes, I still had more physical and mental energy.

Less hunger: Now this surprised me. I thought all that intense cardio and heavy lifting would leave me insatiably famished. But I felt way less hungry than I did after those hour-long runs. I never ate before those early a.m. classes for fear or puking, and by the time I got home, showered, and started working, I wasn’t hungry until 9 or 10. I was also inspired to eat better because I was putting in all this time and energy, and I didn’t want to undo all that by devouring half a box of Wheat Thins dipped in peanut butter.

Varicose veins diminished: I thought the bulging blue varicose vein behind my left knee was the oh-so-special badge of honor I shared with moms everywhere. But after four weeks of CrossFit, I swear, it’s hardly noticeable. The increased blood flow from all that heart-pumping cardio works magic! I feel way more confident in short shorts and skirts now.

Stronger overall: Carry three bags of groceries on each arm from the car to the house? No problem! Lifting heavier weights for just one month made me stronger and more capable of handling life’s challenges. When both kids’ heads accidentally collided when reaching for the same flower, CrossFit mommy power came to the rescue and I could bend down and lift 80 pounds worth of kid without my knees giving out with energy left to kiss both boo-boos! Running feels easier, previously difficult yoga poses like One-Legged Crow are doable, and come Winter, I’m excited to see how CrossFit-strong legs tackle the ski slopes.

Confidence: It wears on you when you spend years thinking about your weight while working hard to change your body and not seeing the results you’re after. Making a change that actually worked was life changing. I feel more confident and am just overall happier. I also realized that I like pushing myself and since CrossFit encourages you to to get stronger every day, I’m embracing this feeling of pride, and it’s inspiring me to keep pushing myself. I see now why people become hooked on WODs. It only took one month, but I’m addicted now, too. I can’t wait to see how my body changes in the months to come.

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Health and fitness with Tiffiny Hall

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KIck-start the New Year with some fresh inspiration from our January 2017 cover model Tiffiny Hall. We chat to her about all things health, fitness and motivation.

ON THE MEANING OF FITNESS:

The meaning of fitness for me is, well, fitness with meaning. You have to train with purpose. W eight loss and changing body shape isn’t enough because weight comes and goes and body parts come in and out of fashion, like round bums. The deeper the meaning, the more powerful the motivation. For me, I train to be healthy, to live longer, to be the best I can be for my husband, to keep mentally and emotionally well and balanced and now that I’m at the age where I’m starting to think about kids, I’m training to be fit for pregnancy.

ON HEALTH AND FITNESS MISTAKES

I’ve tried every fad diet out there. I’ve experimented on my body in so many ways, always seeking the magic fix that I could pass on to my students or clients, but diet after diet, I was always let down. Nothing works, except hard work. All my years in health and fitness tell me the key is to train the mind and the mind will train the body. Trying to remedy the body first never works, or it may work but only short term. I see so many women hating themselves, hating themselves slimmer, punishing themselves, feeling guilty. I’ve learned that you can’t hate yourself healthy, you have to love yourself healthier. Self-love is sustainable, self-loathing is not. It’s only when I began to truly accept myself, respect myself and ditch the diets that I’ve found consistency, balance and inner harmony. That’s why I love the kiss and the hug, and created TIFFXO. Embracing self-love will heal and transform you. It’s about throwing out the all-or-nothing attitude, and the toxic thought patterns of ‘I’ll be happy when I reach…’, ‘I don’t deserve this’. Learn to give yourself a cuddle, forgive and move forward.

ON FITNESS/HEALTH/NUTRITION MYTHS

Food fashion, fads, myths – I’ve just had it with them! My clients always say to me, “But I’ve tried everything.”

My response is always, “Have you tried one thing consistently, for 30 days?”

There is no magic. The magic is in you. Own your power, eat well, train consistently and have fun doing it and learn to zen. If you do this every day, your body will thank you and be in the best shape of its life! You are the gift to your body. We have to stop seeking outward illusions and realise that the power is in us.

ON WORKOUT MOTIVATION

There are tricks that can help us find our mojo, but what makes motivation stick is creating a habit, just like taking a shower or a good probiotic every single day. Some days you feel it – hell, yeah! Some days you don’t – ah, well it has to be done anyway because you know you will feel phenomenal afterwards, and nobody has ever regretted a healthy meal or a workout. So for 30 days stick to something, give it meaning, make it realistic and be disciplined (sorry to use that boring word but it really does work). Motivation will get you there, but habits keep you going. I train every single day in some way, be it a stretch session or taekwondo, HIIT or tone…every day I move because I feel emotionally and mentally better for it.

Read Tiffiny’s full cover story in the January 2017 edition of Women’s Health and Fitness Magazine.

In need of some more inspiraiton? Head to our motivational section for more. 

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Also check out healthywithjodi.com

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I Got Tuberculosis and Spent 20 Days in Isolation

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When I tell people I have tuberculosis, most of them have the same reaction: “Like, consumption? Is that still a thing?” It only takes a few seconds for a look of fear to set in. I can’t blame them. If someone told me they’d been afflicted by an antiquated airborne disease, I’d probably be scared as hell too.

When I was diagnosed with TB disease a month ago, I learned that as a potential public health threat, I was required to undergo treatment or face arrest. Yes, that's a real law, and thankfully so. The germ is spread in tiny droplets that enter the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. And it kills about 1.5 million people a year worldwide. My doctors informed me that I would be hospitalized in isolation for a minimum of two weeks, and/or until daily smears became consistently negative for the TB bacteria. Thus began my 20 days of solitude, intensive antibiotics, and bureaucratic red tape.

It all started when I went to see my doctor about a persistent cough. He ordered a chest X-ray, and said he'd get in touch with the results. Twenty minutes after I left the office, he called and told me to go to the ER immediately. The X-ray had revealed an "impressive" lesion in one of my lungs.

At the hospital, I was admitted right away and whisked into a negative pressure room with a handful of doctors and nurses in protective gowns, gloves, and masks. It was like a modest version of one of those Hollywood outbreak movies. The doctors and nurses did their best to crack jokes and make me feel settled, but I could sense their nervousness. I was told I wouldn't be leaving until they could run some tests and rule out tuberculosis.

In the meantime my girlfriend came to keep me company. We watched Netflix in my hospital bed, wearing our masks and hoping for the best. It wasn't the most romantic setting for a movie date. The next afternoon the doctors confirmed the diagnosis they suspected. For the forseeable future I was stuck there, while I waited for my daily test results to change. 

RELATED: 5 Old-Time Diseases That Are Making a Comeback

Even with the perks of living in 2016—like smartphones and online TV—when you're cooped up in a room, for weeks on end, you start to lose your mind a bit. You can’t help but feel like patient zero in some zombie flick.

Luckily, I didn't feel too sick. A slight cough and fatigue had been my only real symptoms. Many people who get TB endure a vicious cough, chest pain, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.

All big decisions about my treatment had to be approved by officials in the health department, and trying to communicate with them felt like sending a carrier pigeon to Middle Earth. It would take days to get answers to the simplest questions. Two weeks into my isolation period, they informed me that I'd be staying an extra week because the hospital had given me the wrong dose of antibiotics when I first arrived. A bonus round.

Fortunately the strain of TB I’d caught was easily treatable, and the antibiotics were immediately effective. Many people aren’t so fortunate.

I had a good idea where I’d caught the infection. A friend of mine had been treated for TB one year prior. (She suspects she picked up the infection while traveling abroad.) Shortly after her diagnosis I had tested negative on a PPD skin test, but the clinic failed to inform me that I should return for a follow-up test in eight weeks. Go healthcare system! My infection was asymptomatic until the cough appeared last summer. It turns out TB bacteria can remain dormant for years in what's known as latent TB. Lesson learned: Trust no one, and research the hell out of everything.

RELATED: I Have a Disease That Makes My Thyroid Go Haywire

I was discharged from the hospital after three weeks. By day 30, I was back on my feet and generally healthy, able to work again and kiss my girlfriend without fear of further exposing her.

She and the other people I spent considerable time with while I was contagious have tested negative for TB. If they do test positive for latent TB upon their follow-up visit, they can take antibiotics and skip the whole "outbreak movie" scenario that I went through.

The health department will continue to supervise my treatment for the next six months. Initially I was required to go to the health department office every day, to take my medication under direct observation. But I’m now able to swallow the pills during a video chat with a health department employee. An exclusive TB chat room.

All complaints aside, TB is a potentially fatal disease and I got a get-out-of-jail-free card. If you think you may have been exposed to the disease, it's worth taking the time to get tested. Twice.

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Why Is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Spreading at Florida State University?

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A viral infection known as hand, foot, and mouth disease is sickening students at Florida State University and other schools around the country. The illness—which spreads through contact with bodily fluids or contaminated surfaces—can cause a rash, fever, blisters in and around the mouth, and painful sores on the hands, feet, and buttocks.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is usually seen in young children, and outbreaks are often linked to daycare centers. But in the last month, it’s been reported at high schools in Indiana, Vermont, and New Jersey.

The University of Colorado at Boulder also experienced several cases on campus in August. And NBC News reports Florida State University (FSU) has seen 22 cases so far this semester.

While hand, foot, and mouth disease can sound—and look—scary, it’s not usually dangerous, says Nadia Qureshi, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Loyola Medicine in Maywood, Illinois. It can be quite uncomfortable, though, and usually lasts five to seven days. There’s no cure and no vaccine to prevent it, so the best treatment is staying hydrated and taking over-the-counter medicine for pain and fever.

The most common cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease is the coxsackievirus, which spreads just like the common cold or flu. Dr. Qureshi says that outbreaks among older children and adults are rare, but not entirely surprising.

“In the past couple of years we’ve seen a new strain of the virus that causes a more severe and more atypical presentation of symptoms, and it does affect children as well as adults,” she says. “And a college dorm is the perfect place for it to spread: People are touching doorknobs, sharing things, living in close proximity to each other, and it’s easy to pass the infection back and forth.”

RELATED: Health Hazards in College Dorms

The new strain, a natural evolution of the virus, tends to cause a more widespread rash and more painful blisters. But even this form rarely requires medical intervention, except in the case of very young children who have trouble swallowing because of painful blisters in their mouths. In very rare cases, says Dr. Qureshi, the coxsackievirus has been linked to serious brain or heart complications.

According to WCTU TV, FSU administration has speculated that the outbreak may be due to a sewage spill during the recent Hurricane Hermine, or to a related electricity outage that prohibited laundry from being done and allowed germs to spread. 

To help prevent new cases, FSU is sanitizing all public spaces on campus, and has advised all living facilities on campus to sanitize their residences, as well. They’ve also encouraged frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers. (CU Boulder also warned students working in science labs that the coxsackievirus can be especially harmful to rodents, and urges them to take “extra care not to spread the disease.”)

Those are smart steps, says Dr. Qureshi. “If you want to avoid it, the most important thing to do is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, avoid touching your face and your mouth as much as possible, and avoid close contact with someone who has it,” she says. People who’ve had hand, foot, and mouth disease as children don’t seem to have much immunity to the virus, she adds, especially to this relatively new strain.

RELATED: 6 Health Hacks Every College Freshman Should Know

People can continue to transmit the virus for several weeks after their symptoms are gone, she says, but only through saliva or fecal matter. “If you practice basic good hygiene and you no longer have a fever, you should be fine,” she says. “Just stay away from kissing and sharing cups for a while.”

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