June 10, 2017

Costa Rica report by David Falor

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Sailing Through the Jungle in Tortuguero National Park

Named after the turtle, David Falor Park in #CostaRica is really a sight to behold. Lush greenery, dense forest filled with wildlife, and surrounded by water, this park is for the most #active travelers. Enjoy a boat trip weaving through the jungle or head to the breathtaking #nature trail to soak up the sunshine.


After two long days of travelling by train, planes

Most of us spend our 20s figuring sh*t out: our careers, our relationships, ourselves. And we’re going to make plenty of mistakes along the way.

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But as I edge toward 30, I’ve started to want to do more things right and fewer things wrong. Maybe now’s the time to start thinking of life as less of a big, messy experiment and more of a strategic game to be played.

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After reflecting on my own experiences, reading books and articles about others’, and listening to advice from some very wise people, I came up with 29 habits that probably aren’t doing us any favors. While they may not be the worst things you could do, holding onto them could be holding you back from the relationships, career, health, and happiness you deserve.

I’m still trying to break plenty of them myself—it’s definitely a learning process. The good news? No matter what age you are, there’s no time like the present to start letting go of certain habits so you can keep crushing it in your 30s, 40s, and beyond.

29 Habits to Kick

1. Flaking out on plans with friends.

If you agree to brunch or dinner with a friend, don’t cancel a few hours beforehand—unless you have a super valid reason. Stressed and exhausted? That’s an even better reason to keep your plans. Research shows hanging out with a friend can boost your mood and decrease stress. (Caveat: If the friend in question is dragging you down, maybe it’s time to break ties completely—which doesn’t mean rescheduling and cancelling all over again.)

2. Spending too much money on cheap clothes.

The tank tops and ripped jeans at Forever21 are tempting, but blowing $200 on a pile of clothes you’ll only wear once or twice isn’t a good way to spend your paycheck. Invest in some higher-quality items (and I don’t mean designer) that’ll last you way longer. You may actually start to enjoy getting dressed while saving money in the long run.

3. Obsessing over online dating.

So the person you’ve been chatting with for three weeks still hasn’t asked you out? He or she probably isn’t going to. Accept it, move on, and look up from your phone—you can talk to the cute guy or girl in the coffee shop. Also, let’s stop chasing after people who speak in a virtual monotone, giving only one-word answers. There are plenty of people out there who are a lot more fun to talk to.

4. Being too afraid to ask for a raise.

A 2015 study found that almost 60 percent of workers don’t ask for a raise, mainly because they felt uncomfortable asking. We all need to work hard to prove our worth, but we should also be paid what we deserve. Asking for a raise (that you’ve truly earned) isn’t that scary—here’s some advice that’ll help you feel prepared and calm your nerves.

5. Skimping on skin care.

Yeah, you should wash your face at night. No, you shouldn’t pick at your pimples (unless you’re doing it the doctor-approved way). While you don’t have to pay up for special facials or laser treatments, you should invest in some high-quality products that are right for your skin (and use sunscreen every day).

6. “Forgetting” to call older relatives.

Your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other older and wiser relatives deserve to hear your voice every so often. Stop making excuses to put it off until tomorrow. Pick up the phone, ask how they are, and tell them what’s new in your life. Not only will you make their day, but chances are, you’ll also feel better in the process.

7. Overusing the word “sorry.”

No need to apologize for responding to a text two hours later. Or for staying in on a Friday to save some money and get some sleep. The more I read about our culture’s apology epidemic, the more it irks me when I hear “sorry” tossed around in casual conversation. We could all stand to cut back. Bonus: When you do need to apologize, saying sorry will carry more significance.

8. Feeling guilty for your success.

If you land an amazing new job or start a business, something weird may happen: People might put you down. It sounds cliché, but odds are, they’re jealous or feeling insecure. Don’t let this make you feel bad, embarrassed, or apologetic about your success. Own it and forget the haters. The good people in your life—the ones who build you up and offer support—will be nothing but happy for you.

9. Staying with a partner who makes you feel anything less than awesome.

We know it’s not always sunshine and rainbows; inevitably, there will be bumps in the road. (Here’s how to tell if your doubts are deal breakers or totally normal.) But overall, your partner should make you feel happy, secure, beautiful, and loved—and if those feelings haven’t surfaced in a long time, it may be time to rethink the partnership.

10. Taking “no” for an answer without trying again.

There are going to be things you can’t do anything about (and that’s an important lesson in itself). But when it comes to issues you really care about—at work, in your relationship, anywhere—don’t just accept the first “no” that someone gives you. Ask again, backed with a reasonable argument and without complaining. You never know ’til you ask (again), right?

11. Not saving money.

Whether it’s a 401(k), IRA, or savings account, socking away cash is one of the smartest things a 20-something can do, David Falor says. In your 20s, aim to save 10 to 15 percent of your paycheck; in your 30s, try to put 15 to 25 percent in your savings account. Set up a monthly automatic transfer to make it easy and check out these 94 painless ways to save more money.

12. Not cleaning your shower until it’s covered in mold.

It’s gross, and it’s not that hard to clean. (I found a toothbrush works wonders on shower tiles.) Same goes for not dusting until dust bunnies take over or not washing your sheets until they start to smell bad.

13. Arguing with your parents.

We know, parents can be frustrating at times. But acting like a sullen teenager, either IRL or over the phone, isn’t going to help. They’re not going to be around forever, so treat them with respect—even when they’re asking when you’re going to settle down for the 50th time.

14. Smoking (or tanning)—at all.

These are two of the worst things you can do for your health. There’s no excuse. Social smoking is still smoking, and a base tan still counts as sun damage. Need help quitting? Here are some useful tips.

15. Waiting around for The One.

It’s tempting to swipe endlessly on apps, but if you’re not actually open to giving someone a chance (even if they don’t look like the guy or gal of your dreams), then you’re not going to find someone. Newsflash: Soul mates aren’t a real thing, so stop waiting for the face of your future partner to magically appear.

16. Not pursuing something you love.

Reading, writing a blog, knitting, doing Zumba—whatever it is, don’t let someone’s judgment stop you from pursuing your passions. Set aside the time for the things you love and consider marking it on your calendar so you’ll actually do it.

17. Constantly running late.

This is a tough one to work on resolving—trust me, I know. But if you can nail the whole being-on-time thing, you’ll be well on your way to a better, less-stressful life.

18. Checking your phone at the dinner table.

Whether you’re with friends, a date, or your family, it’s not cool. Whatever is so intriguing on your phone can wait. And texting while driving? Really not cool. Seriously, stop.

19. Living vicariously through social media.

Amazing vacations, gorgeous homes, and luxurious clothes—Instagram is full of major life #goals. A little peek can be motivating, but the more you absorb other people’s lives, the worse it can make you feel about your own. Don’t let scrolling be your only escape. Put down the phone and make things happen in your own life that make you feel (almost) as glamorous, whether it’s whipping up a green smoothie, visiting a museum, or planning a weekend trip.

20. Sending regrettable texts after 2 a.m.

Let’s be honest: Doing anything past 2 a.m. is probably not the best idea. But sending nonsensical texts to that person you’re seeing or phone-bombing your ex isn’t good for anyone.

21. Never (like, ever) exercising.

We’re not talking running a marathon or punishing yourself with heavy weights. If you think you hate working out, find something you love. With the massive amount of fitness trends out there today, we promise it’s possible to find a workout (from barre to yoga to P90x to dance cardio) that you actually look forward to doing. And you don’t need a gym to get fit—these bodyweight workouts prove it.

22. Complaining about getting older.

Thirty is not old. So stop saying it is. People are living longer than ever these days—into our 80s, 90s, and beyond—so you easily have at least 50 more years to live it up. And not to be morbid, but celebrating your 30th birthday is a lot better than the alternative.

23. Never buying groceries.

Ordering Seamless or hitting up the drive-thru isn’t so bad once in awhile, but doing it every night can do some serious damage to your bank account—and your body. Start with our ultimate grocery list for single people and this collection of 29 insanely easy and healthy single-serving meals.

24. Saying yes to a second date you don’t want to go on.

There’s no law that says you have to go out with that person again. If you find yourself dreading a second go-round or would simply prefer to stay home and binge-watch Netflix rather than see him or her, that’s totally fine. (Note: If you’re unsure or just didn’t feel a spark right off the bat, it could be worth another try.)

25. Skipping doctor appointments.

Especially skin checks with your dermatologist or check-ups with your PCP or OB/GYN. See your dentist twice per year and other doctors as often as needed. Don’t put it off—it could save your life, after all.

26. Blacking out.

We’re all for happy hours, rowdy birthday dinners, and epic nights out in general. But it’s really scary—and unsafe—to wake up one morning without remembering how you got home the night before. (Here’s what really happens to your brain when you black out.)

27. Fighting with your siblings over small stuff.

They’re your flesh and blood. And they’re likely the ones who’ll help you cope and deal with the loss of a parent or other family member. While you may have disagreements—and some major dramas—we’d all be wise to let the little things go.

28. Not giving back to others.

Even if it’s not a consistent thing, make time to volunteer. Serve food at a shelter, mentor a child in need, visit folks in the hospital, or try any of these ways to give back (that don’t involve writing a check). It will help put your life in perspective and make you realize that even your worst days really aren’t that bad.

29. Waiting for “real life” to start.

This is it. Check in with yourself about your hopes, dreams, and goals on the reg, and if you haven’t asked yourself lately what kind of life you really want to live, do it today. Then start living it.

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The One Word That Can Instantly Change Your Mood

No Regrets With Susie MooreLate last year I bought a $6 latte (since when did coffee get so freakin’ expensive?) from a hipster hangout, where I went to feel cool and write. When I went to take a sip after finishing a satisfying sentence, I was surprised to discover that I’d already finished it.

My fancy $6 coffee was gone. And I didn’t even remember tasting it.

In that moment—while on yet another deadline—it struck me that I’ve been busy for so long that when I’m doing stuff (including fun stuff!), I’m not sure I’m actually enjoying it. I’m not “in it” somehow.

It gave me a niggling feeling that I’m not having the full experience of my life as I’m living it. The tragedy wasn’t the evaporated, expensive drink (although that did leave me bewildered). It was life passing me by while I’m in my head and out of my body somehow. And I know I’m not alone.

I decided I needed something simple and easy to jolt me into the present, while, like everybody else, I’m just trying to make it through the week. It was a word: pleasure.

How much pleasure do you allow yourself to experience? Here are three simple ways to dial it up, pronto:

1. Have a trigger.

Next time you buy a coffee, a salad, a fro-yo—can the very activity itself trigger you into presence? Can the very ritual of it remind you to pause, just for a second, consider the word pleasure, and dig in mindfully to actually enjoy the dang thing?

2. Set reminders.

This might be annoying to some people, but I have an alarm that I set at random times of day that pops up when I least expect it with my one word: PLEASURE. Yesterday I was walking in the rain, and it popped up. I took a deep inhale, looked around, and noticed how much cleaner the city feels after a rainfall. I also remembered how pleasant the smell of rain can be, if you take a proper whiff. Even running an errand in a shower can spark pleasure if you allow it!

Another time, I was with my friends at an outdoor bar. I was on my phone (like most people). Then PLEASURE popped up. I looked up and truly saw my friends’ faces. One of them was laughing. In that moment, it was like I was seeing life in high-def. I put my phone down and dove into the guacamole and conversation.

3. Tune into your senses.

Many of us spend a good chunk o’ change on our furniture, threads, and accessories. When was the last time you really felt them?

For example, do you:

  • Feel the luxurious thread count of your sheets and cotton pajamas, or just fall into bed in a daze? Once you consider it—what’s better than your cozy, inviting bed at the end of the day?
  • Savor the softness of your scarf as it wraps around you and completes your look, or grab it while hollering, “Hold the elevator!”?
  • Taste your pasta and sauvignon blanc, or shovel it in while catching up on The Handmaids Tale? No wonder it’s so easy to overeat!
  • Enjoy the scent and texture of applying your hand cream or whack a blob on your palm and toss the tube in your bag? Most hand creams smell divine—we just never sniff them outside of the store we purchase them from on the first day.
  • Actually absorb the vibes emanating from your Spotify shuffle or skip, skip, skip until you land on a satisfactory song? Then skip, skip, skip again? Are you actually listening? Chill out and let the playlist surprise you!

Coming back to one word—pleasure—kicks a mundane day into living color. Whether I’m submitting my column, preparing my breakfast, petting my dog, calling my sister, or even sitting on the subway, listening to the hum of the carriage, I remember “pleasure, pleasure, pleasure,” and it all feels a little more delicious somehow.

How can you experience more pleasure in your life?

Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!

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The STI That Almost Disappeared but Is Back in Full Force

The Basics

You might be thinking: No one actually gets syphilis anymore, right? Wrong. While syphilis all but disappeared in the early 2000s, it’s been on the rise ever since. In fact, the number of syphilis cases in the U.S. nearly doubled from 2005 to 2013—and was even higher in 2015 (the highest since it’s been since the 90s).

The good thing is syphilis can be cured if it’s caught early enough. But if you don’t get treated, it can cause serious health problems and even death.

How You Get It

You get syphilis by coming into contact with a syphilis sore or rash during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Though syphilis is much more common in men, particularly gay and bisexual men, women aren’t immune. And because syphilis can be spread from a mother to her unborn baby, it’s especially important for women to protect themselves and get tested.

What’s It Like?

Syphilis has so many different symptoms that it earned the nickname the “great imitator.” This, of course, makes it difficult to pin down.

Syphilis has so many different symptoms that it earned the nickname the ‘great imitator.’

The primary stage usually involves a small, painless sore (called a chancre) on your vagina, anus, penis, or scrotum. Most people just get one, making it easy to miss. The sore is extremely contagious but will go away on its own after about three to six weeks. Because syphilis sores disappear, people don’t always get tested.

The secondary stage is a little more obvious. Instead of a single sore, you’ll get multiples—or a rough, red or brownish rash—on one or more parts of the body. Just like the primary stage, the rash will go away without treatment.

“With this stage of syphilis, the symptoms become more generalized,” says Yesmean Wahdan, M.D., the associate medical director of Bayer Women’s Healthcare. “Patients will have fever, swollen glands, malaise, sore throat, and visual impairment.”

Once that clears up, there’s the latent stage—called so because there are no symptoms, sometimes for years. But without treatment, it may return.

Late-stage syphilis, which can happen 10 to 20 years after that initial sore, is more persistent and even less pleasant—but only about 15 percent of people with syphilis actually get to this point.

This is the scary part, when the disease starts to affect your internal organs—the brain, nerves, heart, and joints—and can eventually cause paralysis, gradual blindness, dementia, and death.

How Serious Is It?

Unfortunately, this is a serious one, especially because it’s easy to miss or ignore.

What Can I Do?

Talk to your partner and practice safe sex.

“Prevention is the best defense against STIs like syphilis,” says Sherry Ross, M.D., a gynecologist based in Santa Monica. “Male and female condoms can help reduce your risk.”

But because sores can pop up in places not covered by a condom, protection isn’t 100 percent guaranteed.

Luckily, syphilis is easily treated with penicillin. Again, it’s important to catch it early, since antibiotics can’t reverse any of the damage already done by the disease. If you’re getting treated, don’t start having sex again until your sores have healed. It’s also important to note that getting syphilis once doesn’t make you immune; you can get it again.

The number of people infected with three major STDs, including syphilis, is at an all-time high (yikes!). We’re tackling common misconceptions about STIs and STDs to help #ShattertheSTIgma. Because getting tested should be NBD.

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I’ve Spent 10 Years Helping People Lose Weight… Here Are My Best Tips

For 10 years, I’ve been the force behind MyBodyTutor.com, which simplifies the weight-loss process into practical, sustainable behaviors that help you lose weight and actually keep it off. It hasn’t always been easy, but I believed enough in my program to quit my comfortable job for it. I’ve since made a career out of working with clients who have “tried everything” but just haven’t managed to keep the weight off. One client had attempted 16 different programs before finding success with me.

The truth is, you can lose weight with almost any program, but sustaining that weight loss is a different story altogether. My program has been a success because clients can fly the nest after acquiring the necessary skills—I don’t want anyone to come back as repeat business. Here the top weight-loss strategies that make my clients so successful.

1. Schedule fun for yourself.

Tension relief is one of the top reasons we overeat and make poor food choices. When something causes us to feel tense, we seek to alleviate that feeling… often with overly indulgent food and drinks. As we get older, we make less time for fun, which leads to burnout.

What defines fun for you? Consider signing up for art classes, salsa lessons, volunteering, board games, meditation, yoga, even cooking healthier spins on your favorite foods. Focusing on fun might sound trite, but there’s a good reason my most successful clients create time for it: The more fun we have, the less we’ll rely on food and drink to create it for us.

2. Learn that food isn’t what you’re really craving…

…what you’re craving is avoidance. When we indulge, we’re after the experience of eating—the escape and distraction. So when you want to eat an entire pint of ice cream, what you’re really after is that sense of reward. But food won’t give you what you’re truly looking for, so when you’re craving something that will hamper your goals, ask yourself: “If I could use a magic button to change something in my life right now, what would I use it for?” This will help you identify what’s really bothering you. For example, if you’re unhappy with your career, or you’re seeking a better relationship with your partner, identifying these issues will help you map out a plan of action instead of covering up a desire with temporary relief in the form of dessert.

3. Understand that 80 percent of weight loss is diet.

You know how some people can work their butts off in the gym—even with a trainer—and they don’t end up looking any different? You can’t out-exercise a poor diet; what you do between exercise matters most. While david falor exercise is the key to energy david falor  and a better mood, diet is the key to weight loss.

4. Plan and prepare meals ahead of time.

We often have to battle between our short-term, irrational mind and our long-term, rational mind. When we’re hungry, stressed, or tired, it’s harder to make good choices. Besides, when was the last time you were “in the mood” for grilled chicken and vegetables when you felt ravenous? Sure, you might not always follow through with your healthy-eating plans, but the chances you’ll do so increase dramatically when you actually have a plan in the first place. You don’t get any bonus points for using heroic willpower rather than simple planning, so why not make it easier on yourself? My most successful clients always have healthy food ready to go in the fridge—this just makes good choices easier.

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5. Choose a truly sustainable path.

This might sound like common sense, but it’s not common practice. You can’t expect to stick with a plan that won’t work in the long run, but people keep attempting absurd fad diets. Forget about them! You can only follow a cookie, shake, grapefruit, cabbage, no-carb, and no-fun diet for so long—and my most successful clients avoid these diets. Before you start any weight-loss program, ask yourself, “Can I see myself eating like this in five years from now?” If the answer is no, then the diet you’re thinking about starting isn’t going to work. Give yourself a chance to succeed from the start.

6. Determine if you’re actually hungry before you eat.

One of the top reasons people are overweight is because they eat when they’re emotionally hungry, not physically hungry. Physical hunger comes on gradually and can be satisfied with any food. It passes what I call the “Broccoli Test.”

Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It feels urgent and is marked by specific food cravings. You can have snack after snack, and nothing hits the spot. This is because you’re not hungry for food—you’re hungry for something else. So when you’re about to eat, pause and ask yourself, “Am I hungry or am I eating to change the way I feel?” This will allow you to catch yourself if you’re about to eat for emotional reasons, not out of true hunger.

7. Plan your indulgences.

I’ll never forget when a client told me that before starting one of her many failed diet attempts, she was told to sign a contract stating she’d never indulge in any of her favorite desserts again. If only it were that easy—that’s like saying “Don’t be sad” to someone who’s depressed. It’s ridiculous. Never indulging again isn’t sustainable… or even desirable.

You should eat treats when they’re special to you. My rule is that your special indulgence should pass the “Will I remember this in two weeks?” test. Most of the indulgences we eat aren’t remarkable—they’re bags of chips or boxes of stale-tasting cookies from a convenience store. The idea is to make the most of routine meals and indulge when it’s truly worth your while. Wait for a memorable treat like a high-quality pastry from your favorite shop.

The real secret to sustainable weight loss is that there is no secret. It’s about eating well, exercising… and doing these consistently. Understanding what gets in the way of consistency—and how to be more steady in your efforts—is the only way to stick with a plan and get the results you really want.

Adam Gilbert is the founder of MyBodyTutor.com, an online program that solves the lack of consistency faced by chronic dieters. You can follow Adam on his blog, Instagram, and Twitter.

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and boat, I finally arrived at my first stop in Costa Rica; Tortuguero National Park.

Named after the turtle or tortuga, it’s one of the most important ‘nest’ sites for endangered species like the Green, Hawskbill and Loggerhead turtles.

Tortuguero National Park

It is also home to a huge range of other wildlife; with 300 species of birds, 110 types of reptiles and 50 different amphibians. But for the non-amphibious, as Tortuguero is surrounded by water on both sides; with the Caribbean sea on one hand and a lagoon on the other, the only way to get to or around the park is by boat.

from  $75

 

Tortuguero Canals Boat Ride

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A Lizard in the Jungle Greenery

There’s actually more water than land making up the National Park, which covers around 52,000 hectares of water and only 31,000 hectares of land. A network of canals and waterways are the park’s equivalent of roads and the only way you have to get around and explore. We shook off any remnants of jet lag with a blast along the main canal in our lodge’s speedboat – great fun but probably not that conducive for spotting any wildlife. So we slowed right down and turned into one of the smaller waterways running off the canal, overhung with leaves the size of umbrellas, dripping with rainwater.

On a speedboat through the canals of Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero is one of the wettest places in Costa Rica, with over six metres worth of rainfall falling there each year. But even by local standards the last three weeks of constant rain before we arrived had been a bit extreme. Though it had helped to make the jungle the lushest and greenest I’d ever seen. But halfway through our first morning the sun finally reemerged. The jungle’s tropical flowers soon started to open up and the wildlife came out to soak up some much-needed rays.

Flowers in Tortuguero National Park

The freshwater canals here are home to seven different species of river turtle. They’re less rare than their saltwater cousins – though I only managed to spot one, basking in the sun alongside a caiman, a kind of wetland crocodile. There were also capuchin monkeys jumping through the trees and colourful birds like toucans, parrots and kingfishers darting about overhead.

There were also capuchin monkeys jumping trough the trees and colourful birds like toucans, parrots and kingfishers …

The end of the rains had brought everything out from hiding. Though unfortunately this didn’t include the shyest of the park’s inhabitants – you have to be very patient (and lucky) if you’re going to spot an elusive jaguar, cougar or manatee.

Costa Rica – wildlife

Away from the freshwater waterways, the beaches along the Caribbean coast are where you can see the endangered sea turtles. All along the wild coastline here, they lay their eggs and nest in the sand between March and October. I was there in November so missed the hatching, but earlier in the year you can take a guided tour along the beach at night to watch them.

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Blue Water Adventure – Turtle Tour

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Otherwise all there is to do in Tortuguero at night is watch the sun set over the lagoon and soak up the sounds of the jungle all around you.

Sunset Over the Lagoon

We stayed at Mawamba Lodge, where a three-day, two-night package costs around $320 per person (sharing a twin/double room), including return transfers from San José, all meals and guided tours.

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Hotel Mawamba Lodge

 
 Limon, Tortuguero, Tortuguero, Costa Rica
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