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5 Ways to Feel Good While Getting Fit

(BPT) – Setting intentions is a powerful thing. Then when you have that shiny new gym membership in hand, you feel like nothing stands between you and your goals to get in shape once and for all.

Trouble is, lack of motivation, unpreparedness and busy schedules have a way of interfering with our plans. If you find yourself struggling to stick to your goals, you’re in good company. A whopping 67 percent of people surveyed by Statistic Brain in 2017 said they have gym memberships they never use.

Even after a great start, you may find yourself struggling to find motivation to stay on track. Try one of these tips to make it easier to make your fitness regimen stick and most importantly — feel good while getting fit!

Get a workout buddy: If getting out of bed or off the couch is your biggest challenge, it’s time to use the phone-a-friend solution for some motivation. Find someone you like who’s at a similar fitness level and make plans to meet up for a workout. Psychologically, you’ll be much more likely to show up for the class, the weight session or the morning run when you know someone’s waiting for you. Plus, working out will be a breeze with your buddy!

Streamline your routine: Don’t let your fear of sweat keep you from getting fit. With a few tricks, you can get back to glam in minutes, even when you lack time to shower. First, make smart use of the tools they have on hand at the gym. Grab some extra towels and pound out that treadmill run with the high-powered fan on full blast. In the locker room, hand dryers (and a dab of dry shampoo) are great for getting your tresses looking great again. Cleansing cloths at the ready can also be a lifesaver. Summer’s Eve Cleansing Cloths let you freshen up on the go and are balanced to a woman’s natural pH, so you’ll always leave the gym feeling fresh and ready to take on the world.

Inspire your ears: Let’s face facts: Workouts get tedious. If the thought of sprinting and lifting your way through the next circuit bores you to tears, try uploading your playlist with fast-paced music that gets your heart racing. Don’t worry what others think — this is for your ears only! If it makes you feel good, you’ll be more likely to experience a positive workout.

Be ready for action: As soon as you’re home from your session, re-pack your gym bag as soon as possible so you’ll never waste a moment hunting around the house for your workout gear, such as sneakers, earbuds and products that help you ease back into your day. Stash essentials like Summer’s Eve Cleansing Wash in your bag as well for days that you can fit in a quick shower after your workout. It not only gently cleanses and freshens your skin after a grueling workout, it removes odor-causing bacteria, so you’ll feel fantastic, inside and out.

Update your attire: Ever notice how easy it is to get out of bed when you know you have a new outfit to wear to work? Feeling good about how you look can put a spring in your step and motivate you to get up and out the door. When you notice that your fitness routine is lagging, maybe it’s time to spruce up your workout attire. Bonus: If you’ve lost a few pounds, you’ll get an extra lift from that ego boost!

Go from Vacation Deprivation to Vacation Inspiration

(BPT) – Pop quiz: When was the last time you took a vacation? A real vacation, not one of those staycations where you stuck around town to finish a project at your home? Do you even remember your last vacation? If you don’t, then you are officially vacation deprived.

And you’re not alone.

Research from Expedia’s 2017 Vacation Deprivation report shows that 50 percent of Americans are vacation deprived and that approximately 462 million vacation days will go unused this year. The study also found that millennials are the most vacation-deprived age group and that people who live in urban areas reported being more vacation deprived than those who lived in suburban or rural areas.

What’s causing the vacation deprivation?

Not surprisingly, time and money — or lack thereof — were two of the most common reasons people reported not using their vacation. Another large group of respondents said that even when they find time to go on vacation, they struggle to unplug. A quarter said they still check email and/or voicemails every day while on vacation, with millennials being the most common offenders.

Finding the perfect vacation for you

If you’ve felt vacation deprived for the past year — or longer — then there’s no better time than the present to take the vacation you always wanted and leave your vacation deprivation behind for good. To get you started on the vacation of your dreams, the experts at Expedia offer these tips.

* Back to the beach. Many places throughout the Caribbean and Florida were minimally affected by the recent hurricanes and are welcoming tourists. Destinations like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Aruba and the Bahamas are still the exotic getaways you always dreamed they’d be, and when you visit them, you’ll actually be supporting hurricane recovery efforts for the whole region through your tourist dollars.

* Book right. The holidays are a wonderful time to travel because schools and offices are closed. However, many other would-be travelers are thinking the same thing; that’s why knowing when to book and when to fly is key for saving time and money. For Christmas travel, for example, Expedia has found that booking between Dec. 5 and 11 will yield you about 5 percent in savings. Furthermore, avoid the peak holiday travel days by leaving a day early and staying a day later.

* Bundle and save. Another often-overlooked way to save a ton of money on travel is to book your flight and hotel or flight and rental car at the same time as part of a travel package. Booking as a package can save an average of up to $600, and that extra money will come in handy while you’re enjoying your vacation or shopping for holiday gifts.

* Member-only deals. A really simple way to save on hotels and activities is by logging in when you visit When signing in with your account information, you’ll immediately see hotels and activities available at a 10 percent discount. Members also get points for every booking, which can be used to shave dollars off your next trip.

* Precheck, precheck, precheck. Save yourself a lot of time and security line headaches by applying for TSA precheck. You’ll get to skip the longest lines at security and keep your shoes on. It’s absolutely worth the $85 fee, and your application lasts five years.

Start your travel plans today

If you’ve been vacation deprived, don’t continue to settle for being just another statistic. You work hard for your vacation time and you deserve to get away. Pick a destination you want to visit, apply the tips above and start planning. It’s the best way to turn yourself from another case of vacation deprivation into a vacation inspiration.

Today’s Wedding Customs – The Wedding Dance

Many of today’s wedding customs are rooted in past traditions. For example, brides used to toss bouquets of herbs to scare off evil spirits… or to reduce human odor at a time when people didn’t bathe frequently. Dancing continues to be the main event at a wedding reception, and special dances are part of these same long-held traditions. In today’s multi-cultural, extended-family situations, wedding traditions are no longer one-size-fits all, and the bride and groom are free to make the wedding reception reflect who they are.

The First Dance
Dating back to the Victorian era balls, a first dance was used to open a ball by the guest(s) of honor to kick off the festivities. In the days of kings and queens, the first dance would be performed by the royal couple, usually dancing a waltz. Afterward, the ball would begin, and all the guests would join the couple on the dance floor. For today’s weddings, the bride and groom are the “royal couple,” and they begin the celebration with their first dance. Most couples still opt for the simple, swaying slow dance such as a waltz or foxtrot as their first dance. But it is not unusual for the couple to quickly move into or even replace that opening dance with more energetic dances such as salsa and hip-hop.

Choices of the song for the first dance usually have a special meaning for the happy couple. Maybe it was the music playing in the background… at the time of their first kiss… at a favorite restaurant… during the proposal… or on a special date or occasion. The choice of song often guides the dance routine for the “first dance.” In today’s world with so many options, couples often decide to take dance lessons to surprise their guests and to feel more comfortable on the dance floor when the spotlight is on them.

Parent Dances
Brides and grooms have added a number of special dances that follow the first dance. A relatively modern practice, brides usually dance with their fathers or fathers-in-law, and grooms usually dance with their mothers or mothers-in-law. Some couples even choose to honor other family members or parent figures with special dances.

Surprise Dance
One of the hottest trends in dancing today is the “surprise dance.” The bride and groom along with a group of people train to include an unexpected dance routine to the surprise of their guests. The “surprise dance” is one of the events that add to the festivities and leave guests talking for days. It also is not unusual to have the dances recorded and replayed on sites such as YouTube for the enjoyment of a much larger audience.


New Ways Renters Are Becoming Homeowners

(BPT) – Sponsored Content from Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc.

The world that millennials have grown up in is a lot different than the world the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers knew. The digital revolution, widespread use of smartphones and adoption of disruptive technologies such as ride sharing and vacation rental apps are just a few of the factors that have altered the social landscape.

Unfortunately, rising student debt, rising home prices and other economic factors have hit many millennials and left them to believe that they cannot afford a home. Many feel as though they have been priced out of the American dream and they will never be able to buy a home.

But no matter what your age, there are plenty of ways to become a homeowner, you just have to think a little more creatively.

The rise of the rental

Looking at current trends, a recent research study found that more U.S. households are now renting than at any time in the last 50 years. With a rising number of renters, many have worried that we are becoming a nation of renters rather than a nation of homeowners.

This is most evident with the younger generation, people under 30, who the National Multifamily Housing Council have found now account for 50 percent of all renters in the U.S.

They aren’t renting because it’s a more affordable option, either. As many residents know throughout the country, rents are going up and up. Between 2012 and 2015, the median gross rent has gone up 8.24 percent, rising to $959. When you combine that with the utilities, a deposit and first and last month’s rent, it’s a lot of money to spend on something you will never own.

So why do people choose to rent? One reason is that many don’t realize that just like phones, cars and countless other things we use on a daily basis, homes have changed.

New priorities mean a new solution

As demand for housing increases, and prices on new and existing homes continue to rise, manufactured housing has adapted to the standards of today’s first-time homebuyers and provides a solution for a market in short supply of quality, affordable options.

In 2016, the average sales price for a manufactured home without land was around $70,600 — that’s an average of $48.82 per square foot — making them an affordable solution to renters looking to become homeowners.

“We believe manufactured homes offer a great solution for many households seeking affordable housing,” says Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance Inc. President Eric Hamilton. “We work with our customers to help find financing options that fit their needs and circumstances.”

Renters don’t have to continue doling out a monthly check for something they’ll never own. The housing market has changed and with this change, manufactured homes have brought forth new opportunities to become a homeowner.

NMLS Disclosure

Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc., 500 Alcoa Trail, Maryville, TN 37804, 865-380-3000, NMLS #1561, (, AZ Lic. #BK-0902616, Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law license, GA Residential Mortgage (Lic. #6911), Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee, Licensed by the NH Banking Department, MT Lic. #1561, Licensed by PA Dept. of Banking.

More than fun: 5 tips for planning a healthy vacation

(BPT) – Taking a vacation is more than a fun getaway from the daily drudges of life. Turns out, travel has a multitude of benefits that can impact your health and wellness, too.

Beyond stress reduction, vacations can improve heart health, mental health and personal relationships. In fact, men who take annual vacations are 32 percent less likely to die from heart disease, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Women benefit too: Those who take vacations twice or more per year are “less likely to become tense, depressed or tired, and are more satisfied with their marriages,” according to the Wisconsin Medical Journal.

Wellness travel is growing 50 percent faster than travel as a whole, according to a survey from the Global Wellness Summit. This includes spas, adventure and fitness-themed trips. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go on a yoga retreat to get the healthy benefits of travel. Consider these five tips for adding a healthy dose of wellness to your next vacation.

Intentionally disconnect: A whopping 42 percent of employees feel obligated to check email during vacation and 26 percent feel guilty even using all of their vacation time at all, according to Randstad. Make it a point to focus on the present and ignore your phone or limit checking it to once per day. If email or social media is hard to resist, sign out of those apps for the length of your vacation.

Relax by the water: Water is a natural element that inspires relaxation, but also provides lots of opportunity to play. For example, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, offers visitors an incredible 60 miles of ocean to explore, including the famous Intracoastal Waterway. Go to to learn more about how to relax on the sand by day and fall asleep to the calming waves of the ocean by night.

Try a new activity: Trying something new can have positive mental and physical benefits. Never tried kayaking or paddle boarding before? Give it a whirl. Want to take a yoga class? Sign up for an introductory lesson on the beach. Feeling brave? Go skydiving, zip-lining or parasailing. Whether you end up discovering a new hobby or just have a one-time adventure, you’re sure to fully enjoy the experience.

Get into nature: Many health studies show the benefits of being outside, so make sure to plan plenty of time to explore Mother Nature on your trip. In addition to fresh air, take a hike at a local park and explore new scenery. When in Myrtle Beach, for example, you can take a morning jog through Huntington Beach State Park, meditate at Brookgreen Gardens or plan a family bike ride at Myrtle Beach State Park.

Eat well by eating right: Going out to eat is a fundamental part of vacationing for most people, but that doesn’t mean you need overindulge so much that you feel sluggish throughout your trip. To eat well, plan sensible meals that feature fresh local ingredients, such as fruit, vegetables and the daily catch of fish. You’ll enjoy regional flavors that tantalize the palate without the heavy foods that drag you down.

How to find a hotel that can cater to your technology demands

8 questions that ensure technology needs are met while at a hotel

(BPT) – You arrive at your hotel and pull out your smartphone. After an incredibly long sign-in process, you connect to the Internet. It works fine in the hallway but not in your room, so you go to the business center to check email and print tickets to tonight’s show. The center is packed, so you head back to your room to wait. Meanwhile, your kids are trying to stream a movie and the Internet connection is slow.

Both business and leisure travelers rely on technology to stay connected and streamline to-do’s. However, poor Wi-Fi and minimal tech-focused amenities leave many travelers disappointed. That’s why before booking a hotel, you should always ask questions to ensure you get as much out of your technology while travelling as you do while at home.

Ask these eight questions to make sure your technology needs are met while staying at any hotel, no matter how many devices you plan to use.

Is the room suited for technology?

Whether new or remodeled, modern hotels should feature room designs that support technology. For example, ask about easy access to outlets and charging stations while you’re in the room to ensure you can plug in your phone, charge your tablet and use your computer all at the same time.

How reliable is the Internet?

Fast, reliable Internet is critical for anyone traveling for business or pleasure. When you stay at IHG hotels, you can feel confident you get superior Internet service. IHG Connect provides advanced Wi-Fi technology with increased bandwidth to meet the demand and volume needs of guests.

What is the login process?

Lengthy login processes are a hassle, especially if you’re connecting multiple devices. Some hotels offer streamlined methods which is a big time-saver. Want to log in just once? IHG Rewards Club members log in and then they’ll be recognized and automatically connected at every IHG Connect-enabled hotel.

How secure is the Wi-Fi network?

Most hotels today offer Wi-Fi to guests, but it might not be a secure network. To ensure private information stays private, only stay at hotels with a private and secure Internet connection for guests.

Is there an extra cost for Wi-Fi?

Some hotels charge extra for fast Internet access. Ask about costs and look into membership perks that wave these fees. For example, IHG Rewards Club members receive free Wi-Fi at all IHG properties.

What is available at the business center?

A good hotel will have a business center available to all guests. Inquire as to what is included at the center to ensure your needs are met. Printers, fax machines, computers and a variety of outlets should be available.

What are the hours of the business center?

Ask about the hours of the business center so you know you’re covered, whether you need to book a last-minute reservation to the city’s hottest attraction or print out that big report for tomorrow’s presentation.

Are meeting spaces available?

For business travelers, impromptu meeting spaces are great for quick meetups or when you want to get out of your room for a change of scenery. For more formal gatherings, ask the hotel about the availability of meeting planners who can assist in organizing the technology needs of large groups of people and corporate events.

Keep your technology moving as fast as you do by asking these questions now. That way your hotel stay will be that much more enjoyable, comfortable and productive.

Crunching dollars and planning weddings: How to financially plan for the big day

(BPT) – Attending most weddings, with the exception of your creepy uncle’s third marriage, is great. You eat free food, get to dance to music and leave without having to take part in the cleanup or the costs.

It gets a little different when you’re the one footing the bill. Then you’re confronted with 127 different invitation styles, a guest list that keeps growing and awkward phone calls to cousins to tell them they can’t bring their bratty 7-year old twins.

Falling in love might have been easy and making the decision to spend the rest of your life together was probably a no-brainer. However, celebrating your love and funneling all that joy into one beautiful ceremony and one memorable party is where things get a little more complicated.

As a leader in creating credit scoring models and educating consumers on credit, VantageScore Solutions shares how important it is for couples to agree on how to manage their finances.

So let’s get into it and look at some of the financial topics you and your partner should go over.

Paying for your wedding

No doubt how to pay for your dream wedding will be one of the first conversations you’ll have with your loved one. Some people have months, sometimes even more than a year to plan and save up for the big day. Other times you may need to make a deposit or pay for something upfront and you might not have the cash to do it.

This is when you reach for your credit card.

Even if you don’t plan to use a credit card, it’s more than likely you’ll have to put some things on credit. This might include just about anything you purchase online, from the cute decorations you find on Etsy or novelty gifts you find on Amazon. In addition, many venues require you to have a credit card on file.

The point is, it’s likely that at some point you’ll use credit to pay for your wedding. When you do this, both you and your partner need to be aware of the potential perils of racking up debt. Provided you can responsibly manage the debt and have a plan to do so, your credit score won’t decline, which can lead to more purchasing opportunities in the future.

But first, you need to talk about credit with your partner.

The talk

Talking about credit might not exactly be a champagne and strawberries moment, but it is probably one of the most important discussions you can have.

Because it might be hard to get started on this topic, many couples find it’s easier to start by taking The Credit Score Quiz. This 12-question quiz is easy to take and can do a lot to reveal the knowledge gaps you and your partner may need to fill.

While the quiz is a great way to get started, resources like The Score, a monthly newsletter from VantageScore Solutions that covers all things credit, can help you continue on your conversation and guide you on your journey.

So while you’re debating what shade of off-white is right for your invitations, take the time to talk and use these credit-related resources. After the big day has come and gone, you’ll be glad that together, both of you were smart about your finances.

The Perfect Blend… DIY Eastern Shore Style

DIY Eastern shore style isn’t just all about seafood and beaches, although those do make us Shore Birds feel at home. Eastern Shore style is all about hospitality. What says hospitality better than a fresh brewed, steaming cup of hot coffee on a chilly day? Our DIY coffee station does!

Whether you’re serving coffee as guests arrive for a beautiful, outdoor fall ceremony or you set coffee out at the end of the festivities for your guests to enjoy as they prepare to leave, be sure to pay attention to all the details and your guests will feel your warmth.
Think outside the bean when preparing your DIY coffee station:
Be sure to offer decaf and hot chocolate or tea for your non-coffee drinkers. For a fall or winter wedding, it’s also nice to have a seasonal blend brewing.
Think fixins! Guests love DIY stations when they get to make their own drink. Set out marshmallows, cinnamon, peppermint, chocolate syrup, caramel, a variety of sweeteners, and whipped topping. Consider tying the display into your wedding theme: Use mason jars with matching ribbons to hold the add-ins for a farmhouse style wedding or make custom cups sleeves for high-quality paper cups.
You have the coffee set, but what about the doughnuts? Unless you’re using your coffee station in conjunction with your wedding cake/desserts, whole doughnuts might be a bit much. Instead, pierce coffee stirrer sticks with doughnut holes and guests can enjoy a small treat while stirring their toasty drink.
Leave a basket of packaged coffee for guests to take to prepare in the morning. Purchase small craft bags, fill with enough coffee for a single pot and then get creative! Match bag ties to your wedding theme, print “the Perfect Blend” stickers for each bag with directions and your names and wedding date.
Every idea here can be custom ordered from various web sites… but they can also be made quite simply with a little DIY heart.

Dance the Night Away with a Little Help from Arthury Murray® Dance Studio

Arthur Murray® Dance Studio

1517 Ritchie Highway, Suite 101

Arnold, MD 21012

443-458-5516 or

Students from 18 to 80 have learned to dance in a fun and easy way using the world famous Arthur Murray® teaching method. Dancing opens doors at social events and private functions. The Arthur Murray® Dance Centers offer a fun, comfortable learning environment. Many students have reported improved physical results such as increased flexibility, better posture, increased energy and endurance, and a more positive mood.

Autumn, owner of the Arthur Murray® Dance Studio. Autumn knew since she was a little girl and her mom put her in dance lessons that she wanted to own her own dance studio when she grew up. Autumn offers, “I feel very blessed and grateful that I was able to do what I love as a career. It fulfills me and makes my heart happy to be able to bring joy, laughter and people together through dancing.”

Arthur Murray Dance Studios offer a variety of wedding packages to accommodate brides, grooms, parents of the happy couple and even entire wedding parties and to fit any budget. For a wedding couple to feel comfortable for their first dance, they should expect to spend on average between $500-$1000 on a wedding package. The determining factors can be how much time the couple has to commit to their dancing, what their abilities are and how good they want to become.

If a couple is considering taking dance lessons for their wedding, How should they prepare?

It’s helpful to know the size of the dance floor. Other useful information… if there is going to be a band or DJ… style of the bride’s dress… their wedding song.

How should those taking dance lessons dress for their lessons?

The bridal party should wear comfortable clothing. They also should bring the shoes they will be wearing the day of the wedding. The ladies should consider wearing a dress or skirt that is similar to what they are wearing on the wedding day. For the bride… the length and flow of the wedding dress.

How many lessons does it take to be well-prepared for that wedding dance, and when should lessons?

The simple answer is… the sooner the better. The closer you get to the wedding, the more things tend to come up that have to be taken care of. The bride and groom have just a short time during their first dance to impress the guests and look good. I would recommend starting lessons a minimum of 12 weeks prior to the wedding.

A wedding dance success story.

It’s great to see a couple come in and prepare for their wedding. Sometimes, they enjoy the dancing so much that it becomes their hobby… something they do together on perhaps their “date night.” After they start a family, the “date night” becomes even more important because it means spending time together and getting exercise and stress relief as well. It’s a time couples can come together after a busy week and be in each other’s arms. We become their home away from home!

Other tips for the bride and groom when learning a new dance routine:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Dance instructors recommend starting four to six months earlier to allow more time for practice, especially if students are newcomers to dancing.
  • The very first lesson is an introduction for you of the main dances most couples use. Don’t worry if you don’t have a song this early on, dance studios can offer suggestions. If you already have a song chosen, let the instructor know so the dance lesson can be tailored to the song.
  • Be patient when learning. Dancing is a great stress reliever, and it can be a fun date night. Don’t put too much pressure on each other.
  • Let your instructor do the teaching… don’t try to teach each other.
  • Practice in the right shoes. Wear shoes to your lessons that are similar to the ones you’ll be wearing on the big day.
  • Be consistent with your appointments. Plan at least once a week to get the most from your lessons.
  • Use the classes and practices when possible. You may feel more comfortable with a private lesson, but classes and parties more closely resemble what your reception will be like.

Staying Healthy While Traveling Overseas

(BPT) – Each year, travelers from the United States (U.S.) head to popular destinations. And while many have Zika on their mind while traveling, and are aware of the need to bring sunscreen, bug repellant and other travel necessities, many don’t know that cholera may be a bigger threat than they thought and most don’t take the necessary measures to protect themselves from it.

Cholera – an infection that affects the intestinal tract and can cause severe watery diarrhea is currently estimated to be present in over 60 countries, mostly in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Of the top 20 international travel destinations for U.S. travelers, five are to cholera-endemic countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, China, India and the Philippines. Mild forms of cholera can be mistaken for traveler’s diarrhea, which can leave travelers in an uncomfortable state due to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and mild to severe dehydration and ruin travel plans. You can get cholera by eating or drinking contaminated food and water.

Every year, millions of people around the world become ill due to cholera. However, fewer cases are reported to health authorities than the global estimates. There are more than 8 million U.S. travelers per year going to countries where cholera is endemic. In recent years, there has also been a re-emergence of cholera in Ecuador, Haiti, Cuba and Mexico. However, despite the recent re-emergence, cholera remains underreported.

Still, plans to go abroad don’t need to be canceled or changed to avoid getting sick. You can protect yourself from cholera (and other food and waterborne illnesses) by drinking clean (filtered or bottled) water, washing hands frequently and eating foods that are from sealed packages or cooked well. However, almost 98 percent of travelers do not comply with these guidelines.

Getting a vaccine before travel may also help to ensure that your travel plans are not inconvenienced by illness. The CDC recommends that adult travelers (ages 18-64) who are going to areas of active cholera transmission get vaccinated for cholera.

If you are traveling abroad to an area where cholera is present, make sure you are prepared by talking to your doctor or pharmacist at least two weeks in advance about getting vaccinated for cholera.

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