Tag Archives: Health

Top Five Fruits To Eat Now

By Siddiqu “The Personal Trainer”

We all know the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well it turns out its not just an apple, its fruit in general that keeps one healthy, energized, and fit 4 life.

How much fruit are you getting daily? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that last year about one-third of U.S. adults consumed fruit or fruit juice at least twice a day. That’s down slightly from more than 34% in 2000 and is also less than half of what is recommended.  Here is just a short list of the benefits of fruit so you can get a sense of what you’re missing out on if you’re not eating fruit regularly:

1. Slows down aging process, 2. Weight loss, 3. Increases energy, 4. Lowers cholesterol, 5. Lowers blood pressure

Best Way to Eat Fruit

The best way 2 eat fruit is raw.  The way fruit grows is the way it should be eaten. When ripe, fruit is at its height of potency providing the most benefits.  Fruit juice is high in sugar and true it does provide vitamins and minerals but you miss out on the skin and pulp, which helps every body function.  Diced fruit is usually not as fresh as whole fruit.  Always remember this when it comes to any kind of food, “the fresher the better!”

Top Five Fruits

All fruits are good for. But I compiled a short list of the best fruits and what they do specifically, so you can go shopping today!

1. Wild Mixed Berries – (blue, rasp, straw, black, cran, goji, coffee, noni, acai, etc.) Berries as a whole are nutritional powerhouses. They can help joint health, heart health, cancer prevention, muscular degeneration along with a host of other benefits from their plethora of antioxidants and nutrients.

2. Kiwifruit – Kiwis are an often an overlooked fruit, as they almost taste too good to be so healthy!  They have twice the vitamin C of oranges, and are one of the most nutrient dense fruits on the planet.  They are very high in fiber and potassium for a healthy heart.  Kiwis have been shown to not only prevent oxidative DNA damage, but they have been shown to help stimulate the repair of the cellular damage that has occurred.

3. Cherries – Cherries are loaded with antioxidant compounds that are anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-cancer. They contain a wonderful ingredient called quercetin, an anti-cancer compound.  They also contain ellagic acid, like raspberries, a powerful anti-tumor compound that causes cell death (apoptosis) of cancer cells, with no change to healthy cells. It is also anti-viral and anti-bacterial.

4. Pomegranates – Enjoy either the fresh seeds and pulp, or even indulge in a few ounces of juice everyday as this will help lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and help slow aging.  Pomegranates are also shown to help prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation, help prevent blood clotting, slow the growth of prostate cancer, and improve erectile dysfunction.

5. Red Delicious Apple – This apple has the most antioxidants of any apple, mainly due to its deep red color.  Apples, like cherries, also contain quercetin, which is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory that may help prevent Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Apples are also high in pectin, a great soluble shown to help lower LDL cholesterol.  Apples are also high in boron, which may help prevent osteoporosis and arthritis.

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Emotional Eating: Break the Cycle

By Siddiqu “The Personal Trainer”

Having an emotional connection to food is not uncommon. Some of us have a greater connection than others and you, Ms. Emotional Eater, are the reason for this article. The emotions that cause you to over-eat the most are stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Generally, these emotions are triggered by the everyday pressures of living, for example: unemployment, financial woes, health problems, work stress, fatigue and the dreaded relationship conflicts.  Emotional eaters tend to not be aware of the connection between their over eating and their emotions and will often say things like, “This is just my favorite food and that is why I always eat it” or “I only eat this on special occasions” or even “My job/co-worker brings this food in and I don’t want to be rude.”

Everyone has a favorite food and you can eat your favorite food all you want, but why do you always eat your favorite food when you’re home alone? Could it be that you feel lonely? Acknowledging the emotion that is attached to the “favorite food” binge is the first step in avoiding it. Don’t give yourself an easy out. Really confront what’s going on with you.

Special occasion/holiday overeating is a huge excuse (pun intended) often used by emotional eaters. The weekend isn’t a special occasion, someone’s wedding who you don’t really know isn’t a special occasion, and Martin Luther’s King birthday isn’t a special occasion, to over indulge. I once had a client use the late great MLK as an excuse for ordering a huge desert. The holidays and special occasions bring with it a flurry of emotions. Dealing with your holiday/special occasion emotions in a constructive way (e.g. via therapy/counseling) can mean the difference between 50lbs gained or 50lbs loss.

Here are my top three ways to help you begin to break the cycle of your Emotional Eating:

1. Keep a food diary – Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you’re feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. Over time, you may see patterns emerge that reveal the connection between mood and food. One client told me she didn’t write down a day of what she ate because she felt ashamed. My response: “Well maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t have been eating it!”

2. Take away temptation– Do not keep supplies of comfort foods in your home if they’re hard for you to resist. If you feel angry or blue, postpone your trip to the grocery store until you’re sure that you have your emotions in check. I visited a client at work one day and caught her with cake all over her face, she didn’t look happy and neither did I. But the cake was in her office and she ordered it for the staff. (I didn’t see anyone else around though, smh)

3. Get enough sleep – If you’re constantly tired, you might snack to try to give yourself an energy boost. Take a nap or go to bed earlier instead. I had a client ask me recently what she should do when she gets home late and she hasn’t eaten anything. My response: “Go to bed! I promise you won’t wake up starved”


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Let Nature Take Its Course

Chances are, everyone at some point in their adult life, has felt drained for one reason or another. You know that feeling you get when you’re just not on your “A” game? Maybe your job is really busting your hump or perhaps you’re in a relationship that is stressful or maybe your personal “to-do list” is just not getting done. Whatever it is that takes you off balance, getting back on can often be a difficult thing to do.  Generally when it happens to me I use a variety of techniques to counteract it and last weekend I discovered another, less obvious but equally effective, way to get refueled.

It only took a trip to Longwood Botanical Gardens with a few great girlfriends to recharge my battery. If you’re thinking “how can walking through a massive garden recharge anyone’s battery” trust me, it can. We started out by having a yummy brunch at a local diner, then we proceeded to the botanical garden. The weather was magnificent, sunny and not a cloud in the sky. We walked and talked and walked some more. But what really made the experience a “battery recharger” was the stimulation of all our senses.

Our sight was stimulated by the vibrant colors of all the unusual flowers in the garden and the sound of the wind blowing through the trees coupled with the running waterfall, instantly put us all in a place of calm. As we walked we found ourselves taking in the texture of our environment by touching the petals of these beautiful plants. When we entered the conservatory we were treated to a display of the most fragrant plants and flowers that contribute to modern day perfumery. And finally we indulged our taste buds by stopping in the café nestled quietly above a field of playful waterfalls and treating ourselves to peach and raspberry ice cream.

By the time we hopped back in the car to start our journey back home it was obvious that the trip rejuvenated all of us. Something about breathing in that fresh air and stimulating all our senses brought about a feeling of balance and newfound energy. It was a dose of aromatherapy, color therapy and aerobic exercise all in one. We all couldn’t stop talking about what projects and unfinished tasks we were going to tackle once we got back home.

So the next time you’re feeling drained and off your “A” game, try taking a time out to walk a botanical garden and let nature naturally take it’s course….

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Fake Out Foods

Getting in shape is not just about getting plenty of exercise, its also about choosing the right foods to eat. But what happens when you have a hankering for chocolate because it’s that time of the month or a taste for something salty that only chips will satisfy? You can easily sabotage all of your workout efforts by giving in to your cravings. Never fear, we’ve prepared a list of “fake out foods” to satisfy your cravings without sabotaging your workout efforts.

Chocolate AttackChocolate Cheerios are fantastic for satisfying the chocolate attack. They even make the milk chocolaty!

Meal Replacement – If you’re looking for a quick “meal” during the day and you don’t want to get tempted by co-workers to pig out, just find your local Starbuck’s and order the Vivanno Chocolate Banana Smoothie. It has a whole banana, cocoa, 2% milk and 17g of Protein. You can even ask for an extra scoop of protein. They have strawberry banana as well but the chocolate banana is our favorite. Another meal replacement we like is AdvantEdge Carb Control Protein Shake in Vanilla or Chocolate Fudge.

Ice Cream Hankering – Sometimes a girl just wants to curl up on the couch with a pint of Haagen Dazs and watch a movie. But since it’s so incredibly tasty…I mean fattening…here’s an alternative: Real frozen Yogurt! And we’re not talking TCBY. We mean the all natural, cream yumminess of real frozen yogurt that you can get from Red Mango (multiple locations), Phileo (in Philadelphia), Sweet Endings (in Philadelphia), Pinkberry (multiple locations), Berry Berry (Dallas). We prefer it more creamy than icy and Red Mango seems to have the creamiest version. You can also add all types of fun toppings like fresh fruit, granola, cereal, etc.

Sweet Tooth – If you have a sweet tooth, try eating Sensible Foods crunchy dried fruit. It’s simply pieces of berries, apples, apricots, etc. dried until their crunchy. They’re super sweet and will quickly satisfy your sweet tooth.

Cookie Monster – If you love a good cookie every now and then you should really try the 100 Calorie pack version of Lorna Doones cookies and Oreo cookies. They’re almost as good as the real thing with way less fat and none of the guilt!

Salt/Savory – We’re not really into potato chips but when ever we do have a taste for something salty we like to go old school. Simply pop some popcorn in a pot on the stove (yes on the stove!) with olive oil instead of butter or regular oil. Then finish it off with a sprinkle of kosher salt. For a fancier touch, you can add a couple drops of truffle oil.

Flavored Water – Sometimes, plain old water just doesn’t sound thirst quenching enough. Instead of reaching for something artificially flavored, try filling a pitcher with slices of oranges and lemons; add water and place in the fridge. Don’t peel the fruit before slicing it as the oil from the skins of the fruit will help to flavor the water. What you end up with is mildly flavored, refreshing water and it looks great in a clear glass pitcher for serving to guests.

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Dropping Some “L-Bs” With P90X

By Keesha Boyd

Probably the only positive thing about the weird weather we’ve been having this year is the fact that the lack of sustaining high temperatures has bought us all some time to still get “beach body ready”. While there are a lot of ways to do this, I tend to enjoy doing activities that are challenging and have a clear goal at the end. Recently my big brother and his best friend decided to tackle the increasingly popular P90X. You’ve seen the infomercials, they’re usually sandwiched somewhere in between Hip Hop Abs and some miracle juicer. My brother’s results have inspired me and given that I’m never one to back down from a challenge, I’ve decided to give it a try.

I’m only on day two of ninety and I’m embarrassed to say that P90X is kicking my rump all up and down my condo!!!! It was as if I was an 800lb woman trying to enter a fitness contest!! I kept thinking to myself, between huffs and puffs, “Keesha, you’re an athlete! Get it together girl!” But my body was saying, “Keesha, you USED to be an athlete! Sit your behind down somewhere!”

Despite my privately humiliating first day of working out with P90X, I’m going to keep it up and here’s why, once you get past the pain, it’s actually an engaging and comprehensive workout plan that really gets results. The box set comes with 12 DVDs, resistance band, complete nutrition guide and a complete fitness guide to record progress, learn moves and explain the 90-day workout plan. Better still, each day you’re doing a different routine so the workout doesn’t get boring and you’re body won’t get a chance to plateau. And when you start feeling like you want to quick, just flip through the book to see all of the insanely inspiring before and after pictures from others who successfully completed the program.

Okay Vyne Readers…if you’re ready to drop some “L-Bs”, step up to the P90X challenge. Purchase your DVDs and join me on this 90-day journey. If you’re already doing it, let us know how it’s going for you. With a program like this, it’s always helpful to have a community of support. Let’s get “beach body” ready Vyne Readers!


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PMS in Your 30’s…a Doozy!

Somewhere around “version 2.8” of myself and the current “version 3.4” of myself, I noticed something. It only took numerous “out of the blue” attitudes, senseless arguments with that “special person in my life” and several of my “last nerves” to realize….I have raging PMS!

Dinner with some girlfriends a few weeks ago celebrating April birthdays, revealed that thankfully, I’m not alone. Turns out that each of us well dressed, smart, sensible women have at least three days out of the month when the simple things can get on, in, around and basically all up and through our last nerve. Causing us to have a decreased ability to filter virtually anything we say during this time period. Likewise, patience seems to take a complete hiatus, as does anything reminiscent of a calm, reasonable reaction. You know what I’m talking about ladies. Those instances when that co-worker of yours who usually jokes with you suddenly ticks you off with their humor? Or when you’ve decided that now is the time for you to tell that man friend of yours how mad you are about what he did a month ago? Or maybe you’re on your couch, curled up with some Haagen  Dazs crying for the “fifty-leventh” time over “fill in the blank” movie.

What ever your story is, if you haven’t yet made the connection between your wild mood swings and your menstrual cycle, let this serve as your wake up call. PMS is real and according to WebMD, 3 out of 4 women suffer from it. A total of 8% of women have the severe form of PMS known as PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder). Generally, PMS flares up during the time of ovulation. As if breaking into your 30’s isn’t traumatic enough, PMS is said to be at it’s highest in your late 20’s to early 30’s (oh joy).

Well, we’re all about solutions here at The Vyne and while we can’t “solve” PMS, we did do a little research to compile a few tips to at least help you manage your PMS better.

Tips For Managing Your PMS

1)  iPeriod – Shout out to my aunt for telling me about the iPhone app called  iPeriod. You enter the days when your cycle starts and after two cycles it actually keeps track of your cycle, ovulation, potential PMS days, etc. If you know it’s coming, perhaps you can be more prepared…or at least let others know to be prepared!

2)   Radio Silence – Okay, so completely disconnecting from people is clearly not a healthy option, however, there’s nothing wrong with making a conscious decision to limit your amount of general conversations for a few days.

3)   Calcium and B6 – According to WebMD, calcium and vitamin B6 are helpful in curbing the symptoms of PMS.

4)   Workout – Getting your heart pumping releases endorphins, which make your mind/body feel naturally happy.

5)   Table Your Decisions – It’s usually a good idea not to make major decisions when you’re emotional. Since PMS is all about emotions, try to avoid scheduling meetings during this time that may require you to make major decisions and definitely refrain from having “the talk” with your man while you’re in the throws of PMS….outcome will not be good ladies.

6)   Aromatherapy – I’m a huge fan of aromatherapy. Lavender is a great scent for evoking calmness and tranquility. Try keeping some lavender room spray handy in your office at work and in your home. Spray it in the air and take deep cleansing breaths.

If you have other effective tips for managing PMS, do share with us!


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Get Healthy With Superfoods

It’s time to get serious about our health ladies. With the rise of Type II diabetes, the unrelenting prevalence of cancer and growing numbers of black women with heart disease, it’s no longer an option to wait until you feel sick before you start to take your health seriously. One of the easiest ways to defend against Type II diabetes, cancer and a myriad of other diseases plaguing black women is to eat healthy. We’ve been experimenting with some healthy superfoods lately and want to encourage you to do the same. So next time you head to your grocery store, bring this list with you and see what a real difference healthy food makes.

1. Brazil Nuts – This nut is rich in the mineral selenium.  Brazil nuts provide antioxidant protection and can help fight against cancer, heart disease and promote a healthy thyroid. Eating a few a day (too many can be toxic) will protect your body as well as help it recycle vitamin C and recharge vitamin E for overall optimal health.

2. GoodBelly Probiotic Fruit Drink – Approximately 70% of the body’s immune system is located in the digestive tract. So in order to maintain optimal health, it’s vital that your digestive system is healthy too. Keeping a healthy digestive system is a matter of balancing the good (microflora) bacteria and bad bacteria in your body. One way to do this is by consuming probiotics. They’ve been found to improve your core digestive health and strengthen your immune system. You can purchase this drink in your local health food store. They come in great flavors (my fav flavor is Black Currant). Have it in the morning with your multi-vitamin!

3. Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are not just for Thanksgiving anymore. They contain phytonutrients which not only promote heart and eye health but they also boost immunity. They’re packed with beta-carotene, which is thought to lower breast cancer risk. Additionally, they contain significant quantities of vitamin A which may reduce the effects of smoking. Fresh produce is always best but I recently discovered frozen sweet potato fries at Whole Foods, they taste great baked. *Courtesy of O, The Oprah Magazine

4. Avoid Produce Pesticides – If you’re wondering if it makes any difference to buy/eat organic food, we’ve got one word for you, pesticides. Some produce is so riddled with pesticides it’s scary. So if nothing else, try to at least buy these foods organically as they generally have the highest amounts of pesticides if not grown organically: Peaches, Apples, Bell Pepper, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Kale, Lettuce, Grapes (imported), Carrots and Pears. *Courtesy of Oprah.com

5. Blueberries —  Blueberries are the ultimate superfood as they are chock full of antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium and Vitamin C. The combination of these nutrients helps reduce inflammation and lower your risk for heart disease and cancer. “Inflammation is a key driver of all chronic diseases, so blueberries have a host of benefits,” says Ann Kulze, MD, of Charleston, S.C., author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet, A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong Vitality. When selecting berries, note that the darker they are, the more anti-oxidants they have. “I tell everyone to have a serving (about 1/2 cup) every day,” Dr. Kulze says. “Frozen are just as good as fresh.”

6. Broccoli – Ahhh broccoli…life’s little edible trees. Add more of them to your diet to help fight certain types of cancer and increase your vitamin C intake. Likewise, broccoli is one of the best nondairy sources of calcium and is better absorbed by the body than spinach. So if you’re lactose intolerant, try munching on some broccoli to boost your Calcium intake for strong bones and teeth.

7. Tomatoes – This incredible fruit is loaded with micronutrients, vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants like lycopene that work together to ward off breast cancer, heart disease and other ailments. Scientific studies have shown that the more tomatoes you eat, the better. Cool fact about tomatoes is that cooking them in a little bit of healthy oil makes it easier for the body to absorb all of the beneficial nutrients.

8. Salmon – We’ve all heard that salmon is good for us because of the high Omega-3 fatty acid content. But in case you were wondering, the reason it’s important to incorporate Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet is because it helps promote healthy skin, joints and protects against heart disease. Likewise, studies have shown Omega-3 fatty acids also contribute to mood stability. When purchasing salmon look for the ocean farmed or wild varieties as they have the lowest amount of contaminants and highest amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids.

9. Steel Cut Oatmeal– Consider this the “grown up” oatmeal. Time to let go of the sugary packets of oatmeal you’ve been eating since you were young. According to Dr. Oz, “[Steel cut oatmeal] doesn’t have a lot of calories, and it drags the food [you eat] along so it can’t become like putty—until it gets to the very end,” He also says, “whole grains are an insoluble fiber, so it pulls water with it and it binds to all the other stuff you’re eating that may not be so good for you. It gets the whole bolus moving on.” Steel cut oats can lower cholesterol and high blood pressure and even help prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Add this food to your breakfast with some chopped apples, cinnamon and honey to help you stay healthier, look younger and live longer.

10. Kiwi Fruit– This yummy little fruit contains high amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A and Fiber. Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that has been proven to protect the body from free radicals and dramatically improve the health of individuals who consumed it regularly against all kinds of disease, from cardiovascular problems to cancer and obesity. Vitamin E has been proven to have similar effects, but is fat-soluble and thus is complimentary to Vitamin C in its functions.


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Smell Your Way to Health and Happiness

What if you could reduce your stress, sleep better at night, increase your mental alertness and balance your energy and moods all at the same time? According to Ayurvedic doctors and Aromatherapists, you can…just by inhaling the pure fragrance of essential oils. The impact of aroma on the brain’s limbic system has been studied for ages. Scientific research and studies continue to grow and in several cases have shown significant results linking the aroma of essential oils to positive impacts on the mind and body.

Here are a few easy ways to introduce the benefits of aromatherapy into your daily life:

1)      Chakra Spray – Loving these seven chakra sprays by Aveda. They are infused with pure essential oils blended specially to balance the energy centers associated with each of the seven chakras. Mist them on and around yourself any time of the day (I particularly like to do this before going to bed—helps relax me after a long day)

2)      Bath Time – Try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bath water for a relaxing experience that sure to help you sleep better and de-stress.

3)      Calm Your Road Rage – If you commute to and from work try these vent sticks by Car-ma. Although they are not pure essential oils they do have great relaxing and energizing fragrances to turn your car into your own private moment of Zen. I particularly like the lavender scent.

4)      Love Potion #9 – It’s quite possible that love potion number nine contained the essential oil ylang-ylang as it has been shown to appeal to men due to its deep scent. Note to self ladies!

5)      In the Office – Keep a few aromatherapy air fresheners made with pure essential oils at your desk and spray throughout the day when you need a boost or a moment of relaxation after a tough meeting.

For more information about essential oils and their proper use/benefits, check out this site

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Holiday Health Tips

By Siddiqu “The Personal Trainer”

Ok so we are embarking on yet another Thanksgiving holiday. This is the time of the year where all my clients seem to fall completely off! But this year can be different for you if you follow the Chicago Fit 4 Life holiday health tips. I gave you the secret to getting a six pack   so trust me when I say you can still enjoy this time of year without putting on 5-10lbs that will take you all next year to work off.

CF4L Holiday Health Tips 

Tip #1:  Fasting – Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is usually eaten earlier in the day because we typically are not going into work on these days. Why not just take the day completely off? By that I mean, no eating the entire day until you sit down for your holiday meal. Drink a lot of water during the day. The body can process about 700 calories at once. Excess calories tend to be stored and can turn to fat rather quickly.

Tip #2: Alcohol – Most of the time holidays fall on a weekday and we don’t have to work the next day, so we tend to indulge ourselves with that extra glass of wine or a cocktail. Wrong! Alcohol consumption quickly adds extra calories, offers little health benefits, and will leave you with unwanted pounds that will take all year to get off. Alcohol suppresses the central nervous system. When alcohol is added to a meal, less fat is burned on average which causes more fat to be stored by the body.

Tip #3: Be Active – Be active on the holiday. Start the day off with a 30 min. walk, then after dinner do another 30 min walk. This will give you one hour of cardio which can burn anywhere from 200-500 calories. It will help you offset at least your dessert for that day.

Tip #4: Holiday not Holi-month! – Just eat one dinner, one day and move on. Too many times we try to re-live Thanksgiving all the way up until Christmas. We bring Thanksgiving dinner for lunch, then go home and eat the dinner again and do this day after day until all the food has been consumed. What we don’t realize is the effect this has on our body. Thanksgiving dinner is on average 3,000 calories and 300 grams of fat. So consider cooking less food this year to cut down on the obligatory “left over” eating.

Siddiqu is a personal trainer & founder of Chicago Fit 4 Life


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Stay Healthy Travel and Office Tips

doctorIf you’re a woman on the go, chances are your busy travel schedule can’t stop for the outbreak of H1N1. So in the interest of promoting health and wellness we’ve compiled a few tips we’ve come across to help you avoid those pesky travel and office germs:

1. Sit towards the front of the airplane. Ventilation systems on most commercial aircraft provide better airflow at the front of the plane.

2. Avoid drinking coffee or tea on airplanes. Monitoring by the Environmental Protection Agency has shown that water in airplanes water tanks is not always clean. Coffee and tea is usually made from this water as opposed to bottled. So stick to ordering single serve beverages.

3. Moisturize the inside of your nostrils with saline nasal gel or a good antibacterial (alcohol free) moisturizing cream. It keeps your nose from drying out on the plane and can help trap dust particals and pollutants before they enter your airway.

4. Check out these tips from Dr. Oz on how to keep your pocketbook and make-up santized and nearly germ free.

5. Stack up on your travel size hand sanitizer and use it generously. Keep a bottle on your desk at the office too!

6. Know the facts about H1N1. Learn more here on WebMD

7. This goes without saying, but pack your vitamins and herbs in your carry-on luggage or keep in your desk at work. This time of year we’re loving Airborne and a variety of great teas with plenty of health benefits like Echinacea tea with honey.

Do you have some “stay healthy travel tips” that you use? If so, share them with us! Let’s all stay healthy!

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