Kick the Fall Allergy Crud, Stay in the Game with #MinuteClinic

Living in warm climate has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to running and exercising outdoors. I really love the fact that it’s nearly November and it’s in the 80s, sunny and breezy– but with that beautiful weather comes an extended fall allergy season. Fall is the worst season for allergies sufferers; there are more allergy triggers than any other time of the year. Typically, weed pollens (like the 17 varieties of ragweed) and mold spores peak in the autumn months as do other irritants like dust mites (yuck). This pesky problem is nothing to sneeze – or, actually it is!  Austin Sunset in October / Middle School Football

Sniffing and snuffing in the stands puts a damper on watching my kid’s football games, and I know my boys don’t like to be out there on the gridiron feeling all gunked up.    Thank goodness we have a MinuteClinic at the corner of our neighborhood to help make a quick diagnosis between cold, flu and allergies and to provide the treatments needed to stay in the game.

text to mom about allergies and minuteclinic

Seasonal fall allergies can even take a toll on my indoor workouts – for example, we open the garage doors on both sides of my CrossFit gym to get the air circulating. When the air starts circulating, the allergens get their groove on. But, it’s too hot to close the doors with no gym air-conditioning, so we all suffer and #UseAllTheTissues until swinging by MinuteClinic for relief. minute-clinic-allergy-gym

Practical tips can help reduce allergies, as well. For example, at home (unlike my gym!) don’t leave windows open during the day and avoid the use of a window fan – both will fast track unwanted pollens and mold spores into your home.  Be mindful to clean and change air filters every three months to lessen the amount of dirt, debris, and allergens that invade your space. Also, shake out pillows, blankets and other bedding between frequent washes and don’t go to sleep after being outdoors without washing your hair (allergens get trapped in there too).

minute clinic waiting room 2

If you or your kids need over-the-counter or prescription medications in your allergy-fighting “toolkit,” MinuteClinic is a convenient solution to get you feeling like a champ again. This walk-in clinic located inside select CVS Pharmacies and Target Stores across the U.S. and the District of Columbia has nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can give you a good look over and recommend the right over-the-counter medications and even write prescriptions when medically appropriate.  Minute Clinic is open 7 days a week with both weekday and evening hours – and, most health care insurance is accepted. Find a MinuteClinic near you!  Also visit Twitter feed or Facebook page.

Also, pick up a J&J coupon book when you visit your nearest MinuteClinic and save up to $40 on brands you can trust!

Do you or your kids have seasonal allergies? Do you have any tips? Do you have a box of tissues in your car right now? Haha! Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

Hate to Wait? Skip the Line at Doctor + Squeeze in a Workout

This post is sponsored by MinuteClinic® , however all opinions, experiences and enthusiasm are my own.

minute clinic waiting room 2Waiting in line, I hate it. Just spent an hour on hold with the Department of Motor Vehicles and found out that there is a 3 month wait to get a “scheduled” behind the wheel driving test for my son . . . or we can come in and wait all day with no guarantees. Uh, that makes me want to scream and punch someone – I’m a busy working mom, who doesn’t have time to sit around in a waiting room all day. Same sentiments for the doctor’s office, I’m not a big fan of wasting my precious time reading stale magazines and digging through my purse for mints to fuel an hour plus wait.

When I have a simple medical need, like need a flu shot, allergy relief, or basic physical exam I’ve already been going to the MinuteClinic® that’s located in my neighborhood CVS for treatment. This is so much easier than trekking into downtown to see my primary caregiver (if I can even get lucky enough to score a same day appointment with him) and they take most insurances.  MinuteClinic® has always made it easy to just walk right in and get an appointment – sometimes there is no wait, other times it’s been a bit longer but not bad. But now, MinuteClinic® has come up with a genius solution that benefits everyone — a new digital tool from that allows me to view wait times at my local MinuteClinic® and hold a place in line from the convenience of my computer or smartphone.

cure for the common wait graphic minuteclinic

This means my “waiting room” isn’t the clinic; it can be wherever location I desire – a nearby coffee shop, the park, the grocery store. It totally appeals to my multi-tasking gene – Even if I don’t have other errands to do, knowing I have a spot in “line” allows me to linger at home just a little bit longer and knock off some work on my computer, in the garden, or routine household chores – or, better yet, score a little extra time in my yoga practice.

So, today, I checked in on the wait times of the two closest locations and reserved my spot at the one showing the shortest wait – it was only estimated at 30 minutes and honestly my drive time was going to use up 20 minute.  Thanks to this new appointment scheduling procedure, I determined I had 10 minutes “free” to knock out the easy-sounding (but actually sneaky-tough) body weight workout below. Heck, you could even do this 10 minute workout in an actual waiting room and use the chair for the step-ups.

You Got "Mad Ups" Body Weight Workout -- knock out these exercises in about 10 minutes and be done for the day!

So, I had might have headed off to my MinuteClinic® a little tired and sweaty. When I got there, I checking in on the touch-screen computer and saw that I just had a few more minutes of wait time. minute clinic waiting room 3

minute clinic waiting roomHowever, I hardly had time to peruse the huge display of greeting cards CVS had displayed right by the clinic sign-in area.

My check-up was awesome, the nurse practitioner was very friendly yet professional and did a thorough job – I learned my BMI and got all my vitals checked (she determined I’m healthy – haha)!  Additionally, I got the results of my blood work (cholesterol, blood glucose, etc.) right there in the exam room with her – at my primary caregiver I have to wait a week for the results!

This new sign-in tool is going to make my life so much easier; you need to give it a try! It’s the #CureForTheCommonWait

What would you do with your spare time if you weren’t waiting in andoctor’s office? What’s the longest “wait time” you’ve had for an appointment?  Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

10 Tips to Stop Exercise Acne from Winning #GoBackHealthy

This post is sponsored by MinuteClinic but all opinions and enthusiasm are my own.

Keeping a clean face pre and post workout is the best way to stay breakout free.

Keeping a clean face pre and post workout is the best way to stay breakout free.

Are your runs, workouts and other sweat sessions making you break out? Do you have a pre-teen or teenager who plays sports and struggles with acne?  If so, then I have some great tips to help you put a halt to (or at least lessen) those pesky and often confidence-shaking pimples.

Follow these 10 Tips for the Athlete – How to Stop Acne from Winning and, in no time, get your best game face on!

10 Tips for the Athlete - How to Stop Exercise Acne from Wnning

1) Keep Clean: Start every workout with a clean face and remove make-up if normally worn. Sweating while wearing “long-lasting” make-ups, heavy foundations and other similar products clogs and obstructs pores, trapping in dirt and preventing sweat from breaking out.

2) Sun Savvy:  If you are on an acne medication that requires limited or no sun exposure, follow the directions. If you are able to exercise outdoors, wear a non-comedogenic moisturizer that contains SPF or a sunscreen labeled “oil-free” and designed specifically for the face.

3) Tame Hair: Either keep hair cut short or pull back with a hair band so that it doesn’t sweep across the face. Oils from your hair, along with the various clogging chemicals in hair products, can trigger acne flare ups.

4) Ditch Hats: If acne on the forehead is a problem, avoid wearing a hat or visor which will continuously rub the skin and aggravate or create acne.

5) Hands Down: Avoid touching your face while exercising. Everything hands come in contact with (from barbells to the football) is dirty and ripe with bacteria that can be transferred to your face.

6) Sweat Towel Softly: Using a small towel to wipe away sweat during a workout or breaks in a sporting event makes sense.  However, rubbing aggressively can cause inflammation and can exacerbate pimples, so gently pat or blot away sweat instead.

7) Loose Clothes: If you are experiencing body breakouts (like on your back, chest and/or arms) make sure you are not wearing too-tight clothing – choose a looser cut that is designed to whisk away sweat and dry quickly.

8) Finish and Freshen Up: Within a few minutes of cooling down, get face as clean as possible while on site. Either spritz and blot with fresh water or gently wipe with non-comedogenic disposable cleansing cloth kept stashed in your sports bag.

9) End Clean: When back to the locker room or home, get out of sweaty clothes and take a shower to remove any remaining impurities, dead skin cells and excess oil from the day.

10) Treat as Needed: Apply over-the-counter acne products or medically prescribed treatments as directed. Even OTC products contain strong ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid. While these ingredients can curb bacteria and improve acne, they also dry skin – so use sparingly, increasing a little a time, until you have figured out the balance best for your skin.

If you’ve followed these steps and acne is still getting out of control or you would like to stay ahead with preventative measures, it’s a smart idea to schedule a medical appointment for a personalized consultation and treatment recommendation with your physician (for yourself) or pediatrician (for your child).However, it’s always a hassle to get in at a doctor’s office this time of year when everyone is flooding the phone line with last minute requests for immunizations, well checks, and sports physicals. My go-to solution for all these non-emergency type medical situations is to swing by MinuteClinic®, conveniently located inside neighborhood CVS.  

Minute Clinic lobbyMinuteClinic® can diagnose and treat acne and the nurse practitioner on-site can provide prescriptions deemed medically necessary to heal your acne or help you select the appropriate over-the-counter treatment. Please note that MinuteClinic® does not evaluate patients currently taking Accutane and cannot provide prescriptions for Accutane. Additionally, patients with abscesses, unusual swelling, or severe cases of cystic acne may be directed to another health care provider.

With my three fresh-faced teen boys who I taught to take care of their skin!

With my three fresh-faced teen boys who I taught to take care of their skin!

In addition to the friendly help from a medical professional located near to home, love the fact that no appointment is necessary at MinuteClinic®–I walk right in at your convenience! I’ve never experienced any sort of unusual wait and most often I’m seen immediately. They have also been a lifesaver at last-minute sports pre-participation physicals or getting the kids caught up on their immunizations. I also really appreciate how they are open 7 days per week, including evenings, and accept most insurances (please double check with yours before going).

 Are you and your kids ready to start the new school year and #GoBackHealthy ? What sports do they play . . or do you play? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

How to Lessen Seasonal Allergies for a Sneeze-free Trail Run

This post was sponsored by MinuteClinic, however all opinions and enthusiasm are my own.The Maze Trail Run Jennifer Fisher solo

Even though I’m smiling, my seasonal allergies were in overdrive at my first trail race of the spring season. Really, it’s quite ironic. After persevering through the fickle winter weather in Texas, rescheduling and rerouting many runs while wishing for green trees and wildflower-lined trails to return, all I wanted to do during this trail run was run inside on a treadmill. Comfort for my watering eyes and sneezing was trumping the beauty of nature.  My eyes were watering so bad, I was having trouble seeing the nooks, crannies and tree roots on the trail – that’s dangerous!  

If you don’t know what seasonal allergies are, lucky you – you must not be suffering. Or, you’re sneezing, coughing and rubbing itchy eyes, but blaming it all on the common cold. However, a common cold should only last 3 – 14 days, while seasonal allergies go on as long as there is contact with the offending substance, typically February through September. Find out more on colds vs. allergies here. Ugh. So, what are these offending substances that torture us so? Well, seasonal allergies are caused by airborne proteins, molds and fungi that come from the onset of plant grow.

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • More tears than normal
  • Post nasal drip
  • Runny nose
  • Scratchy throat
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose

How to Lessen Seasonal Allergies for a Sneeze Free Trail Run

If you want to get outside and enjoy a trail run or walk through the park, there just seems no way to avoid these nasty little allergy creators that float around in the air – but there are some ways to lessen your reaction to them and make exercise more pleasant. Here are some things to consider:

Is it a bad day? Check the pollen and mold counts before you plan your run, or decided to skip. You can get this info from the local weather forecast or go to a website like the National Allergy Bureau and type in your zip code.  You may want to take your runs indoors on the days with super-high counts.

Is it a bad hour? Consider running later in the day when pollen counts are lower and molds have had a chance to dry up a bit. Also, a nice rain tends to wash away allergens temporarily – so, running in a light rain or after a gully washer is always optimal.

What about OTC medication?  Sometimes, there is no leeway to “plan” a run – especially if it’s at a race (typically at the highest-count time of day) or you have a busy work and family schedule.  Over-the-counter medications are a viable option when used according to direction. However, traditional antihistamine products like Benadryl can leave you feeling dried out and sleepy – groggy and dehydrated is no way to start a run! An article at Runner’s World says that the second generation of over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtec are better for runners because they are non-sedating and non-drying. You can be assured, I’ve stockpiled for the season at my neighborhood CVS Pharmacy.

Is it time to visit a medical professional? If seasonal allergies are really interfering with quality of life, stop suffering. Head over to MinuteClinic (found inside your neighborhood CVS) and get checked out. You don’t need an appointment, and on-site nurse practitioners and physicians assistants are ready to recommend the right over-the-counter medications and write prescriptions when medically appropriate.

Are you cleaning up post-run?  Remember that trail running and being outdoors this time of year leaves everything on you exposed to allergens – your shoes, your clothes, your hair and skin. That’s why you should leave your running shoes in the garage and head to the bathroom to remove clothing and take a post-run shower ASAP – otherwise the allergens will be nagging at you all day. You might even want to consider bringing wipees if you are driving to and from your running location. Also, it’s a good idea to wash your sheets at least once a week during peak count times to get rid of any lingering pollen, mold and such that you may have picked up just walking back outside to check the mail.

Minute Clinic lobby

Find out more on how to #BeatSpringAllergies at @MinuteClinic and on their Facebook and Twitter feeds too. Check out their Clinic Locator to find the location nearest you! Happy (sneeze-free) running!

Are you bothered by seasonal allergies? Does it keep you from exercising outdoors? Do you trail run or hike? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

How To Fight Off Fall Allergies with Yoga & More

How to Fight off Fall Season AllergiesIf you like to run, workout and enjoy the outdoors, or even just want to relax inside without itchy eyes and incessant sneezing, seasonal fall allergies can be a more-than-pesky problem. Fall is the worst season for allergies sufferers; there are more allergy triggers than any other time of the year. Typically, weed pollens (like the 17 varieties of ragweed) and mold spores peak in the autumn months as do other irritants like dust mites. Ewww.

Don’t let fall allergies kick you in the butt without fighting back. Allergy relief comes in many forms, and usually a multi-faceted approach is what works best. There are many over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines that can help reduce symptoms (I head to MinuteClinic inside CVS Pharmacy to take care of this). Some even say that eating locally-sourced honey and natural remedies can help you build up your defenses.

How to Fight Fall Allergies so You can Run

Don’t let seasonal fall allergies keep you off the running trails.

Practical tips can help reduce allergies, as well. For example, don’t leave windows open during the day and avoid the use of a window fan – both will fast track unwanted pollens and mold spores into your home.  Remember to clean and change air filters every three months to reduce the amount of dirt, debris, and allergens you come into contact with daily. Shake out bedding and wash it often and don’t go to sleep after being outdoors without washing your hair (allergens get trapped in there).

Practicing yoga can also be a good way to help alleviate allergies and boost your overall immune system. Plus, spending even just 10 or 15 minutes a day practicing yoga can reduce overall stress and create a calming effect which, in turn, makes it easier to deal with seasonal fall allergies. Today, I’m sharing Four Yoga Poses to Alleviate Fall Allergies to help you start feeling less clobbered and optimize your overall health. Remember, yoga isn’t a cure-all, although it can aid in your overall allergy-fighting plan. Please seek medical attention for serious allergy symptoms, if you have a fever or think you could have the flu.

Four Yoga Poses to Alleviate Fall Allergies

Downward Facing Dog along with other more advanced inversions can help to release drained mucus trapped in nasal passages. However, experts suggest remaining upside down no longer than one minute.

Plow Pose helps to relieve the pressure of allergies by relaxing and opening up muscles at the base of the neck.

Bridge Pose helps to open the chest and lungs and improve breathing. Backbends and leaning backward over a large exercise ball are other alternatives.

Mindful Breathing helps to increase lung capacity, expel toxins and alleviate allergy-related congestion. Attention to deep, relaxed breathing also helps to relieve stress and create an overall calming effect.

minute clinicIf you’re going to include over-the-counter or prescription medications in your allergy-fighting arsenal, MinuteClinic is a convenient solution to get you feeling better quickly. This walk-in clinic located inside CVS Pharmacies has nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can give you a good look over and recommend the right over-the-counter medications and write prescriptions when medically appropriate.

RSVP here.

Do you have any allergy-fighting tips? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

This post is sponsored by MinuteClinic, however all opinions and yoga suggestions are my own.

Pre Season Tips for Student Athletes #HealthyStart

taking kids to the gym

I’ve always kept my boys ready for fall season sports by taking them to the gym during the summer.

School is starting in a few weeks and, in addition to academics, my family with three teen boys is gearing up for a jam-packed fall season of sports. For the last several years, my husband and I have been switching gym memberships in the summer to one that will allow children over 10 to come in and workout alongside their parents.  This has offered us a chance to keep everyone in decent shape during the hot, hot summers here where, out of necessity, spend too much time indoors in the air-conditioning reading and playing video games.

Remember to have children hydrate properly for sports played in hot weather.It’s not a good idea to let your child go from reduced activity in the summer to hard-core training in the late summer sun once school starts. While bodies do benefit from a little extra rest in the off-season, athletes who ignore working out in the summer will not only be huffing and puffing during sprints but are putting their bodies at risk for muscles strains, tendonitis and heat exhaustion or worse.  Experts say that most sports injuries that happen in the early weeks of a sports season are from a lack of pre-season training.

Here are some Pre Season Sports Tips I’ve put together to make sure that your student athlete (middle school, high school and college) is taking measures to have a safe and successful season.

Follow these pre season tips for student athletes to ensure a safe and successful sports career.

In addition to pre-season training, it’s also important to ensure your student athlete has been given a clean bill of health before stepping onto the playing field  — in fact, most school-sponsored teams and league sports required that parents bring in signed paperwork as proof that their child has had a recent physical. Even if your child’s sports organization doesn’t require a check-up, it’s still a good idea to be seen by a medical professional before the season start to review immunization records, discuss any health and safety concerns, and be proactive about any unexpected problems.

Stepping up to the start line at a fall cross country meet takes months of pre-season training.

On your mark, get set, go! Get ready for fall season sports with pre-season training and a physical.

MinuteClinic at CVS Pharmacy is a convenient way to take care of kids’ sports physicals without the hassle and wait time of trying to make a last-minute appointment with a pediatrician. No appointment is needed to see a medical professional – the young athlete is in and out quickly, seen by a qualified medical professional, and supplied with everything needed to ensure practice starts on day one (trust me, it’s so embarrassing to sit on the bench for the first week of school while mom gets the paperwork thing sorted out).

MinuteClinic can also get students current on their vaccines and immunizations. I figured my oldest son who is 18 years old and heading off to college later this month was long done with vaccinations – but I found out that most colleges now require meningitis and pertussis (whooping cough) shots before the first day of class.  Click on the links to find out your state’s requirements for meningitis and pertussis immunizations.

MinuteClinic is offering $10 off a sports physical from now until 9/7/15 and a FREE Johnson & Johnson coupon book with $29 worth of savings! Check the store locator to find the nearest MinuteClinic in your area.

What sports do your kids play . .. or what were your athletic endeavors as a child?  I was on the gymnastics team until 10th grade! Please share in the comments below – XOXO Jennifer 

I have received promotional consideration from MinuteClinic and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. All opinions are my own.

#ReadySetCamp – Avoid Pesky Summer Camp Problems

Sunburn, poisonous plants and insect bites can all be pesky problems of camping -- MinuteClinic and CVS Pharmacy can help you out summer!

I’ve relied on MinuteClinic (at CVS Pharmacy) to give my kids the requisite check-over that is required for camp physicals. It’s just so easy to drop into one of the many CVS Pharmacy locations to secure a camp physical without the wait and ordeal of scheduling with your regular pediatrician.  Without an appointment, the nurse practitioners and/or physicians assistants will review your child’s health and immunization history, perform a through physical, and complete and stamp paperwork – just remember to bring relevant health information and requisite forms required by the camp. These medical professionals can also recommend the right over-the-counter treatments and, if appropriate, write prescriptions to help treat many of the common woes of summer.

william archer camp

Speaking of summer woes, there are some little minor medical issues that can happen to your child while away at camp. Don’t fret, there will be trained medical personnel on hand at camp to handle these pesky summer problems – however, it’s still a good idea to educate your child before he or she heads off to camp.

poison oak

Poison Ivy & Oak: Show your children how to spot this nasty rash-making plant. Poison ivy has three pointed leaves that can grow as a bush or vine and changes colors with the season – in the summer, the leaves are green! Poison Oak also grows as a bush or vine and has three leaves shaped in lobes that resemble the leaves on a traditional oak tree. Sumac is also a poisonous plant, it has seven to 12 leaves per stem and grows on a small tree in wet, wooded areas. Teach preventative measures – instruct your children to cover up with long sleeves, pants, socks and closed-toe shoes when out in overgrown, brushy areas. If contact is made with a poisonous plant, exposed skin, hands and under fingernails should be washed with soap and water or rubbing alcohol immediately. If a rash is going to happen, it will usually start in about 10 minutes.

Bug Bites and Stings: Bees, wasps, mosquitos and no-see-ums, along with a host of other flying, crawling critters are just waiting to take a little bite of your sweetie if he or she isn’t properly protected. Before leaving for camp, show your child how to safely apply insect repellent (please use organic or 50% DEET or less) by avoiding eyes, mouth, scrapes and irritated skin. When applying to the face and neck, it’s best to spray a bit into palms of hands and then carefully rub in – remembering to wash hands afterward.

Sunburn: This is always the biggest issue for my kids who hate to use sunscreen – but I insist, not only because of the painful redness and possible blistering, but also the long-term health consequences.  Remind your kids before they go to camp to “grease up” before any and all outdoor activities.  I’ve found that bringing them along to CVS Pharmacy and letting them help pick out the sunscreen type (like lotion or spray) while educating them in the process has been a pretty effective way to get them to follow through with application. Also, I teach them the general measure of UV exposure – a shadow longer than body means exposure low while a shadow shorter means exposure is high.  Pack enough full-coverage clothing for them, along with a brimmed hat and UV-proof swim shirt to minimize exposure.

minute clinicSo, head on over to the walk-in MinuteClinic at your neighborhood CVS pharmacy for those last-minute camp physicals. You’ll be in and out in no time and you can pick up all those last-minute camp essentials (repellant, sunscreen, bandages, lip balm, flashlights and more).  And, after camp or anytime through the summer, swing in to have those minor summer problems checked out — bug bites, sunburns, poison ivy and more.

So are where are your kids heading to camp this summer?  I loved horseback riding – do you remember your favorite activity from camp?  Please share in the comments! XOXO Jennifer