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Spring Training: 5K Run

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

shutterstock_135181724Spring is in the air, making it the perfect time to lace up your jogging shoes. Need a running goal? Sign up for a local 5K race, and maybe convince some friends to do it with you.

Whether you’ve been hitting the gym as a regular this winter or hibernating from the cold, you can follow these suggestions to make training a little easier:

  • Start training early. If you have a 5K already scheduled, start training at least five weeks ahead of time.
  • If you’re getting started after a fairly sedentary winter, start slowly. One effective method is to alternate running and walking. Start with a one-minute run and five-minute walk, and repeat for a total of 30 minutes. Gradually increase the running time until you meet your goals.

Make sure you gear up correctly to avoid unnecessary discomfort and potential injuries:

  • If you’re serious about running, make sure you buy the right shoes. It’s not worth skimping on cheap shoes if you end up with foot pain and possibly even doctor visits to correct foot problems.
  • Spring brings warmer weather, but dressing appropriately for the temperature might still be challenging. Plan your running outfit for 20 degrees warmer than what it actually is—you’ll warm up as you run.

When embarking on a new fitness or running program, your enthusiasm is likely to start high and then dip after a short time. Find your key to success:

  • Some people are motivated by having a running buddy or group. If you’re someone who needs external motivation, enlist a friend to run with you or at least keep you accountable as you approach race day.
  • Know that after you start training, you’re probably going to feel sore and wiped out. Let your body adjust before you decide to hang up your running shoes for good.

Even though getting started might be difficult, keep running. The date of your 5K will be here before you know it, and all your training will pay off with a successful finish and better health.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Flood Insurance

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in U-Tube

FEMA Addresses Flood Insurance Policyholders

Before Buying a Home

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in U-Tube

Insurance Questions Everyone Should Ask

April 2015 Festivals and Events

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

IMG_8613The Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host lots of annual festivals and special events. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the official website or call to confirm information. Please note that most of these events are held each year and the dates are updated as available.

National Cherry Blossom Festival
Through April 12, 2015. See the blossoming of thousands of cherry trees on the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. The capital welcomes spring with this annual tradition begun by the gift of 600 trees to the United States from Japan in 1912. Don’t miss the best events including the parade, kite festival, concerts, fireworks and cultural events.

Passover in Washington, DC
April 3-11, 2015. Find resources for planning and celebrating the Jewish holiday in the Washington DC area, including kosher markets, restaurants, synagogues and more.

Southwest Waterfront Festival and Fireworks
April 4, 2015. Southwest Waterfront, Washington DC.  A highlight of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the free event features music, water-related activities, cultural experiences, live entertainment and fireworks.

Spring Theater in Washington DC
Check out the spring theater scene in Washington DC. With dozens of performances

around the capital region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the 2015 season.

International Pillow Fight Day
April 4, 2015. National Mall. Massive pillow fights breakout in cities around the world.

Easter in Washington, DC
April 5, 2015. See a guide to celebrating the holiday in the nation’s capital including the schedules and suggested venues for Easter brunch, Easter egg hunts, religious services and other special events.

White House Easter Egg Roll
April 6, 2015, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Bring the kids to hunt for Easter Eggs and visit with the Easter Bunny on the White House lawn. See also Easter Egg Hunts in Maryland and Virginia.

African American Family Celebration at the National Zoo
April 6, 2015, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At this year’s multicultural tradition, the Zoo will offer an Easter egg roll/hunt, crafts, live entertainment, a food bazaar, and more family-friendly fun. Talk with Smithsonian scientists, who will share their work with such African animals as the kori bustard, cheetah, gorilla, and gaboon viper.

Easter Egg Hunts
Dates vary. See a schedule of Easter events for children at a variety of venues around the capital region.

Smithsonian Jazz Appreciation Month
Throughout April 2015. Various locations. The Smithsonian celebrates the month with special talks, workshops, concerts and more.

Washington Nationals Baseball
Nationals Park. Opening Day is April 6, 2015. The team will play against the New York Mets. The Nationals 2015 schedule includes 81 home dates. The major league baseball team plays through September.

Washington Capitals
The NHL Hockey team plays at the Verizon Center through April. Find information on tickets, schedules and more.

Frederick County Bell and History Day
April 11-12, 2015. Across the Maryland county, participating museums and historic sites offer free admission along with special events, tours, music, living history programs, and various bell-themed activities.

Parade of the National Cherry Blossom Festival
April 11, 2015, 10 a.m. See wonderful entertainment for the whole family including decorated floats, gigantic colorful helium balloons, marching bands, clowns, horses, antique cars, military and celebrity performances, and more.

Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival
April 11, 2015, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. The huge Japanese street party includes live entertainment, food, arts, games and a Ginza Marketplace.

DC Design House Tours
April 11 – May 10, 2015. Washington, DC’s premiere residential design showcase features a home renovated by the region’s top interior designers. Tours are available and raise funds for Children’s National Medical Center.

Anacostia River Festival
April 12, 2015. Anacostia Park, SE Washington DC. The festival concludes the National Cherry Blossom Festival with a wide variety of activities including outdoor recreation, musical performances,  a photography exhibition, a bike parade and more.

Thomas Jefferson Birthday
April 13, 2015, 11 a.m. Visit the Jefferson Memorial and attend the wreath-laying ceremony to mark the birthday of our third president. The event will feature a military color guard, patriotic wreath tributes and the sounding of “Taps”.

150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination
April 14, 2015 marks 150 years since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC. Commemorative programming will be held throughout the month at a variety of venues throughout the city including theatrical performances, commemorative ceremonies, an overnight candlelight vigil, walking tours; free panel discussions and much more. Don’t miss the main events on April 14-15.

DC Emancipation Day
April 16, 2015. The anniversary of the Emancipation Act, when Lincoln granted freedom to 3,100 enslaved persons in the District of Columbia is celebrated with educational and cultural events throughout the city.

Filmfest DC
April 16-26, 2015. Multiple venues around Washington DC. The city’s oldest film festival returns this year featuring a wide range of films from around the globe including features, documentaries, comedies, shorts and award winners.

Bethesda Literary Festival
April 17-19, 2015. Dozens of authors and writers conduct readings, talks and other activities at galleries, bookstores and other sites in downtown Bethesda.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
April 17-19, 2015. Montgomery County Fairgrounds, Gaithersburg, MD. Enjoy a wide selection of contemporary crafts and fine art at this popular festival.

Bay Bridge Boat Show
April 17-19, 2015. Kent Island, Maryland. The show kicks off the boating season each spring with a display of hundreds of new and late model brokerage boats and boat equipment displays.

National Math Festival
April 18, 2015. Washington DC. A brand new event celebrates the power of mathematics with performances, interactive exhibits, lectures and activities for all ages at a variety of venues on the National Mall.

Arlington Festival of the Arts
April 18-19, 2015. Clarendon, VA. The new arts festival features vibrant paintings, contemporary and whimsical art, life-size sculptures, photography, handcrafted jewelry and much more.

Earth Day
Throughout the month of April, celebrate Earth Day with special activities that make caring for the planet fun for all ages. Find activities in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

National Park Week
April 18-26, 2015. The National Park Service encourages everyone to enjoy the natural wonders found in parks across the country. Special activities will take place around the region.

Virginia Historic Garden Week
April 18-25, 2015. A garden-lovers paradise! This annual event features tours of the gardens at Virginia’s most prestigious private homes and public attractions. See lush gardens, stunning architecture, and historic furnishings.

Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival
April 18-19, 2015. Historic Leesburg, Virginia. The family friendly event displays landscape designs, gardening supplies, outdoor living items, plants, flowers, herbs and much more!

Smithsonian Craft Show
April 23-25, 2015. This is your chance to buy unique crafts from the most prestigious exhibition of contemporary American arts in the nation.

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
April 24–May 3, 2015, Winchester, VA. The annual celebration of spring showcases the blooming apple trees in the Shenandoah Valley with more than 45 events including the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah, the Grand Feature Parade, band competitions, dances, a carnival, a 10K run, Firefighters events and more.

Georgetown French Market
April 24-25, 2015. The spring shopping extravaganza features fashion, French fare, quaint home and antique shops, galleries and live music.

Loudoun Bed & Breakfast Open House and Self-Guided Tours
April 26, 2015, 1–5 p.m. Explore the scenic roads of Loudoun County, Virginia and visit a variety of charming and historic B&Bs and event venues. Local wineries, restaurants, and caterers provide tastings at the various destinations.

White House Spring Garden Tours
2015 Dates to Be Announced. Visit the White House grounds and explore the beautiful gardens. Tickets are required.

Source: dc.about.com

How to Survive Potholes

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

pothole-1

The brutal winter cold has wreaked havoc on our roads, creating the likes of crater-sized potholes that we haven’t seen in years. Your car will probably take some hard shots and bring on mounting car repairs. In fact, a survey conducted by Trusted Choice and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America found that half of car owners from 2009 to 2014 experienced vehicle damage due to potholes.

Driving into a pothole puts enormous strain on your tires, wheels, and suspension. The shape and depth of the road hole and the speed you travel all play into the severity of potential damage, but there are other considerations as well. A lot of cars, for example, now come with performance tires, which come with short sidewalls that provide responsive cornering but with less area to flex and conform to a pothole edge compared to a taller conventional tire. As a result, performance tires are also more prone to sidewall cutting and blistering.

Any direct hit in a pothole could bring about near instant air loss and will require immediate replacement. Any tire that survives a pothole and has sidewall damage should also be replaced in short order. Wheels also take a beating; drive into a really deep pothole and you may be replacing the tire and the wheel. And just think of what that pothole shock does to your car’s suspension.

It’s always a good civic duty to report potholes to your local municipality. Many major cities and states now have apps for sharing pothole locations. This time of year, town and city officials should be repairing the holes to thwart any further road degradation and curb vehicle damage and accidents.

Should the worst happen and you experience pothole damage to your vehicle, most auto insurances will cover the damage, but may not cover normal wear and tear items such as tires. In the Trusted Choice survey, 31 percent of respondents who experienced pothole damage filed an insurance claim. The majority paid out of pocket for repairs.

How to survive pothole-ravaged roads

  1. Slow down and pay attention to the road conditions. Don’t be fooled, thinking that some potholes are small. If they are filled with water they can be more than you bargained for. Also, keep some distance between you and car you are following—that will give you time to react should there be a pothole hazard up ahead.
  2. Avoiding potholes is the best bet, but if the impact is inevitable, try to at least partly slow down before entering, and drive straight into it. Turning into a pothole exposes more tire sidewall to potential damage.
  3. Be diligent after a pothole encounter. Any shake or shimmy in your car’s ride can mean something was damaged. Stop the car, check for visible signs of tire and wheel damage. Keep in mind that if the front tire ran over the hole, the rear tire probably did as well—check both. Also, if no damage is visible, it could mean the car threw a balance weight off a wheel or possibly suffered suspension damage. Have everything checked by your mechanic.
  4. Keeping your tires inflated to the recommended inflation pressure is one of the best guards for minimizing pothole damage to your tires and wheels. Under- or overinflated tires can affect a tires’ or wheel’s resistance to pothole damage. Most cars now have a tire pressure monitoring system to alert the driver if a tire is losing air pressure. If your car does not have a tire pressure monitoring system, check the tire pressure when the tire has cooled to ambient temperature to be sure it’s not losing air from the pothole encounter.

Source: consumerreports.org

‘Treats’ Aren’t Frivolous

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

The author of Better Than Before shows us how kind indulgences can keep us on track with our goals.

By Gretchen Rubin

shutterstock_233522656Unlike a reward, which must be earned or justified, a “treat” is a small pleasure or indulgence that we give to ourselves just because we want it. We don’t have to be “good” to get it, we don’t earn it or justify it.

“Treats” may sound like a self-indulgent, frivolous strategy, but they’re not. Because forming good habits can be draining, treats can play an important role. When we give ourselves treats, we feel energized, cared for and contented, which boosts our self-command — and self-command helps us maintain our healthy habits. Studies show that people who got a little treat, in the form of receiving a surprise gift or watching a funny video, gained in self-control. It’s a Secret of Adulthood: If I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself. Self-regard isn’t selfish.

By contrast, when we don’t get any treats, we feel depleted, resentful and angry and justified in self-indulgence. We start to crave comfort — and we’ll grab that comfort wherever we can, even if it means breaking good habits.

To strengthen my good habits, I decided to create a menu of healthy treats — but that can be more challenging than it sounds. So many popular treats come at a cost: the museum visit requires a long trip across town, the new shoes are expensive, the martini tonight will make the morning tougher. My favorite treat is reading, and reading requires time and concentration, which aren’t always easy to muster. A reader of my blog noted, “I love to play the piano, but it takes focus, and some days I’ve already spent out my focus quota.”

I began by collecting examples of other people’s inventive treats: browsing through art books, cookbooks and travel guides; taking photographs on a walk; napping; having a session of “fur therapy” (petting a dog or cat); wandering through a camping store; looking at family photo albums; keeping art postcards in the car visor for a quick diversion in stalled traffic; going to comedy clubs; going to baseball games; listening to podcasts; coloring in coloring books; visiting amusement parks; learning new magic tricks.

It’s important to have some treat options that aren’t very demanding. A friend told me, “Every day after I get my kids off to school, I go back to bed for 20 minutes. I may go to sleep, or just lie there. I’m still at work by 9:00 a.m., and that little indulgence makes me so happy.” A friend living in London told me his treat: “My calendar is packed, but twice a day, for 15 minutes, I sit and drink an espresso and read the International Herald Tribune. I don’t check email, I don’t do work. I don’t want any additional breaks, but I’m furious if I don’t get those two in.” Another friend said, “I wonder if there’s something a person could do with this sexually. Depending on their situation,” he laughed. “I don’t even want to say out loud what I’m thinking.”

“No, don’t spell it out!” I protested. “But it’s true that treats that come through the body seem to have special powers.” Sometimes treats might not look like treats. Writer Jan Struther observed, “Constructive destruction is one of the most delightful employments in the world.” I find that true, and tasks like shredding mail, emptying out files or even peeling hard-boiled eggs can feel like a treat. Funnily enough, clearing clutter is also a treat for me, when I’m in a certain mood. On my blog, people wrote about their own untreatlike treats: ironing, writing code, doing Latin translation.

As a treat for herself, for her birthday, one of Jamie’s colleagues walked to work — six miles. “Did she do it to prove to herself she could do it?” I asked. “Or as a treat?”

“Oh, she wanted to do it,” Jamie assured me. “For fun.”

Although I love hearing what other people consider treats, I remind myself to “Be Gretchen.” Just because an activity is a treat for someone else doesn’t mean it’s a treat for me — and vice versa. A friend said, “I love CrossFit, that’s a treat for me.” Maybe I could reframe my yoga class, or exercise generally, as my “treat,” I thought. Then I realized — nope. I do enjoy it, in a way, but it’s not a treat. A friend told me that her favorite treat was to shop for gifts — a task that for me is arduous. I wish my bank of fun included activities like sketching, playing tennis, cooking, doing puzzles or playing a musical instrument, but they’re not treats for me.

I made a list of my own treats. One of my favorites is a visit to the library. I love keeping a log of books I want to read, looking up the call numbers and wandering through the stacks to pick them out. Returning library books is an odd little treat, too (perhaps that’s my Finisher nature). I love copying out my favorite passages from books and adding them to my various collections of quotations. I view sleep as a big treat, which is why I don’t resent the idea of going to bed earlier, the way some people do. For me, it feels like a luxurious indulgence.

Beautiful smells are also a reliable treat for me and can be enjoyed in an instant, with no cost, no effort and no planning. In a flash, I get pleasure from the fresh smell of a grapefruit, or the comforting fragrance of clean towels or the promising smell of a hardware store. I remind myself to notice such treats, to register the fact that I’m experiencing a scent that I love.

After all, we make something a treat by calling it a “treat.” It’s all too easy to overlook how much we enjoy something. When we notice our pleasure, and relish it, the experience becomes much more of a treat. Even something as humble as herbal tea or a box of freshly sharpened pencils can qualify as a treat. “Look,” I tell myself as I light a scented candle, “I’m giving myself a treat.” Sometimes we can even reframe a challenging habit as a treat, which makes it much easier to keep. A reader observed, “When I thought of exercise as something I ‘should’ do, it was hard to get into a routine. Eventually, I decided to count my daily walk or cross-country ski as a treat — my time for myself in a day otherwise filled with responsibilities. Somehow, that made it much easier to make it a priority.”

The treats of childhood retain a special power. As a child, I was rarely allowed to drink soda or to buy a book instead of checking it out from the library. What do I do now, with abandon? Drink diet soda and buy books (the book-buying treat is wholly separate from the library-visiting treat). So, perhaps we parents need to think hard about what we identify as treats for our children.

A friend thought she should renounce her treat. “I really love coffee, but I know I should stop drinking it,” she told me.

“Why?” I pressed. “Does it keep you up at night? Does it make your stomach hurt?”

“No, it doesn’t affect me.”

I couldn’t resist launching into a defense of coffee. “You need some treats, and as treats go, coffee is great. Even if you buy very expensive coffee, it’s not that expensive, in absolute terms. It boosts your energy and focus. If you don’t add anything crazy, it doesn’t have any sugar, carbs, fat or calories, but it does have antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and even fiber, weird as that sounds. Caffeine is fine if you’re drinking it in the human range. Plus, there’s a pleasant ritual connected with it — you can go out for coffee with a friend.”

“But I drink so much. I should at least cut back.”

“But why?” I pressed. “Enjoy it! Samuel Johnson said, ‘All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.’ A habit isn’t bad unless it causes some kind of problem.”

I don’t think I convinced her.

Not everyone is attracted by the idea of having each day ordered, but I love the monkish horarium, or “table of hours,” the highly specific routine that runs on an annual cycle, with variations for the days of the week and the seasons. Every part of the day has its own character and purpose, with time set aside for prayer, manual work, rest, eating, sleeping. Few decisions, no hurry, time for everything.

I am particularly intrigued by the hours that monks set aside for lectio divina, or spiritual reading. This is another kind of treat. To be happy, even we nonmonks need to make time for transcendent matters — such as beauty, creativity, service, faith — but too often these get pushed aside for more urgent demands, and life begins to feel empty and purposeless. Scheduling lectio divina is a way to make sure that the spiritual gets attention — whether a person decides to read holy books and attend religious services, as a monk would do, or adapts this habit to make regular time to leaf through art books, read biographies of great figures, spend time in nature, go to concerts, volunteer or meditate. For some people, politics is a spiritual concern, tied to transcendent values, such as justice, opportunity and freedom. And from what I’ve observed, sports seems to have a spiritual value for some people — with its aspects of devotion, loyalty, hope and perseverance.

Once we’ve truly adopted a habit, it comes easily, without decision-making. But until that point — and even established habits, alas, can never be completely taken for granted — giving ourselves a little boost with treats helps us maintain our self-command. Goethe pointed out, “Whatever liberates our spirit without giving us mastery over ourselves is destructive.” And whatever liberates our spirit while giving us mastery over ourselves is constructive.

The excerpt was reprinted from Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives Copyright © 2015 by Gretchen Rubin. To be published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, on March 17.

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Over or Under?

April 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

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