Ask the Professor: I Have Pain, Should I Still Train?

Ask the Professor: I Have Pain, Should I Still Train?

Professor Erin Calderone answers this burning question.

I think I may have an injury but am not sure. Should I work out?

If you’ve been training for a while, you’re probably no stranger to the next-day aches and pains you incur from attempting a new lift or hitting a new max. But sometimes pain appears out of nowhere, and in these instances, you should stop and assess your situation. Pain signals — no matter what the severity — are your brain’s way of telling you to put on the brakes to prevent further damage.

Here are some questions to help you determine whether you have an injury, what to do if you have incurred one and what you can do in the meantime to avoid a complete physique meltdown.

How long have I felt the pain, and what does it feel like?

Think back to recent training sessions and try to determine when it started. Was there a specific movement or exercise that may have caused it, or has it been slowly building over time?

A strain such as pulling a muscle often feels like a knot or excessive soreness if you move that joint or stretch that muscle. A sprain — aka a partial tear — feels like a sharp twinge, such as when you roll your ankle, and it may come with swelling and stiffness. With a severe injury like a full tear, you will likely hear and/or feel a pop in the area, which is usually accompanied by swelling. In those cases, it’s time to call the doc. You also should visit your M.D. if you are experiencing numbness, burning or tingling (indicative of nerve pain), pain deep in the joint (as opposed to in an adjacent muscle) or super-severe pain that keeps you from moving that limb or putting weight on it entirely.

When do I feel it?

If you feel pain only when the affected muscle is stretched and/or contracted, you are probably just sore from training or have incurred a minor muscle strain. If the pain persists and is consistently dull, throbbing or sharp — even when you’re not moving — there could be something else going on. Have it looked at to rule out a more severe injury.

How can I heal it?

Obviously, the first thing to do is to avoid the movement pattern that caused the injury until the pain subsides. For minor injuries like strains and sprains, you should rest the area for six to eight weeks and avoid any aggravating movement patterns. You should notice a reduction in pain within the first week. In the meantime, work on strengthening and mobilizing the area to help prevent the injury from reoccurring. For example, many hamstring strains occur when doing a Romanian (stiff-legged) deadlift because the hamstrings are stretched at both the hip and the knee. Here, optimize hip mobility with foam rolling, yoga and dynamic stretches like leg swings or walking lunges. Strengthen your glutes with bridging moves and your hamstrings with stability-ball curls. And, of course, for major injuries, follow the directions of your doc.

What kind of rest does it need?

Minor injuries need three to four days of complete rest and you can use ice or heat or both as needed to reduce pain. But this time frame is absolutely not written in stone, and in reality, you have to listen to your body. Forcing your body to work while injured can cause a change in your muscle activation sequences, which in turn can cause altered joint positioning and movement patterns. This can then then affect other joints or even make the original injury worse. A minor injury can become chronic when you try to push through the pain rather than allowing it time to heal. So if after four days you’re still in pain, by all means give it more rest or go see your doctor.

Can I still exercise?

You can certainly exercise in ways that won’t aggravate the injury or stress that particular joint or muscle group. For instance, if you feel a twinge in your knee, you can still train legs with exercises that emphasize the glutes such as hip thrusts or fire hydrants. Shoulders are trickier because they move in so many directions, so first identify any movements or positions that cause pain, then avoid those moves for a couple of weeks.

Remember, however, that these exercise substitutions and workarounds are not the same as corrective exercises, which help negate muscle imbalances and prevent future injuries. The workaround will definitely keep you active while giving that area time to heal, and once the pain dissipates, you can work on re-establishing your mobility and strengthening the stabilizing muscles to prevent a reoccurrence.

The take-away here is to listen to your body. Even minor aches and pangs are messages from your brain that your body needs a break. If the pain is severe or persists for more than a couple of weeks, pony up the copay and go see your doc. Even superhumans need help sometimes.

Written by NASM Master Trainer for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Oxygen Magazine

Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Home Gym

Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Home Gym

Let’s face it — the gym isn't for everyone, and if you’re not a fan of crowds, packed parking lots or equipment christened by other people’s sweat, training at home could be your dream come true. The good news is that building a decent home gym is easier than ever, and the key to creating the perfect training space is selecting the equipment that best suits your goals, your space and your budget.

Check out these four spatial scenarios and their associated equipment suggestions. Then mix and match the gear from any of them to create a gym perfectly tailored for you. Hello instant workouts, goodbye excuses!

The Tiny House

Whether you literally live in a dollhouse on wheels or a studio apartment, you need to equip your space carefully to ensure that your gear doesn’t double as furniture. Portable, multifunctional equipment is best here so you can set up anywhere and get your sweat on.

Space-Saving Superstars

Suspension Trainer

A suspension trainer leverages your own bodyweight for resistance, and simply changing your angle or body position can modify any exercise to make it harder or easier. And because the trainer is just a simple set of straps and handles, it hardly takes up any square footage in a drawer or cabinet.

Resistance Bands

No room for a rack of dumbbells? Then invest in a set of resistance bands. They are cheap and versatile and can be used in place of dumbbells or barbells for just about every move you can think of. Purchase a few different “weights” to give yoursel options during training.

. Oxygen Magazine

Jump Rope

Not everyone has the space (or the money) for a treadmill or elliptical trainer, but truth be told, you don’t need a machine to get your sweat on. Jumping rope is one of the most time- and space-efficient ways to burn a ton of calories while building endurance and cardiovascular fortitude.

Sample Tiny House Setup

Total Investment: $400-500*

* All prices are estimates; cost will vary by brand.

Mobility/Strength Mash-Up

Either perform this workout using straight sets to build strength or create a heart-pumping circuit by doing the moves back-to-back with no rest in between for two to three rounds.

. Oxygen Magazine

The Suburbanite Setup

Out in the ’burbs, you have a little more room to kick around, and here a guest room or den can easily double as your workout space. In addition to being able to house all the suggested Tiny House gear, you are more at liberty to expand your equipment horizons. However, your space still needs to be multifunctional and neat with equipment that can be collapsed or hidden away when company calls.

Hideaway Heroes

Foldable Bench

Unless you’re planning on using your flat bench for extra seating at the dinner table, you’ll want to be able to stash it when your in-laws are in town. Most foldable benches collapse completely flat and can be rolled underneath a bed or hidden in the back of a closet.

. Oxygen Magazine

Parallel Training Bars

Though they look simple, a set of parallel bars can be used for hundreds of strength moves, and they are appropriate for exercisers of all levels. Perform moves such as dips, push-ups, L-sits and leg raises, as well as stretches and mobility training.


If you don’t have the wall space to house a bulky rack of weights, then an adjustable dumbbell set is a must-have. This system allows you to change your weight up or down in increments, and when not in use, it can be stashed in the corner without

Sample Suburbanite Setup

Total Investment: $1,375

At-Home HIIT

Perform as many reps as you can of each move in 30 seconds and rest minimally between exercises. Cycle (or do another form of cardio) for five minutes at a moderately intense pace, then rest one minute. Complete two to three rounds.

Garage Girl

Let’s face it — no one uses their garage for cars anymore, and besides, who doesn’t want the kind of fitness space that spills out into the driveway and makes the neighbors jealous? With this setup, you bring some of the niceties of a commercial facility into your own domain and will never have to share a chalk-crusted power rack again.

Great Garage Gear

CrossFit Home Gym Package

Even if you’re not into CrossFit WODs, a setup such as this delivers all the equipment bells and whistles in a single package, and usually at a lower price point than if you were to purchase all the items separately. Depending on the company, a package might include barbells, a rack, bumper plates, a rowing machine, a climbing rope, rings, medicine ball(s) and more.

. Oxygen Magazine


Whether you used to have cars in there or not, most garage floors are less than pristine, with oil stains, outdoor grime and (yipe!) spiders. A puzzle-piece rubberized floor is easy to install, allowing you to rise above the grit while also giving you the option of easy removal if you decide your car indeed needs shelter.

Plyometric Box

A solid plyo box is an incredible in-home tool and can be used to train your whole body with or without weight. Step-ups, dips, box jumps and endless plyometric drills are at your fingertips.

Vision Bored

When choosing a large piece of equipment such as a stationary bike, treadmill or rowing machine, consider the footprint (how much space it will take up), whether it can be easily accessed for maintenance or adjustments, and what is in your line of sight when you use it. Because it won't matter how many bells and whistles it has if all you have to look at is a blank wall.

Sample Garage Girl Setup

Total Investment: $5,230 – $5,730


After a thorough warm-up, complete as many rounds and reps as possible (AMRAP) of the following workout in 25 minutes. Record your score and try to beat it next time.

. Oxygen Magazine

The She Shed

If you’re lucky enough to have a no-limit budget, get your gym out of the house and into its own space. This custom setup includes state-of-the-art equipment that collects all your metrics, integrating on-demand boutique studio classes (such as those offered by Peloton and Technogym) and your own biostats to help you maintain motivation and track your progress.

The Bells and Whistles

. Oxygen Magazine

Peloton Bike

Enjoy the intensity and camaraderie of a group fitness class — without leaving your home. Peloton offers more than 90 live weekly classes that range from five to 90 minutes and that are led by some of the most popular instructors around. See your realtime metrics, such as heart rate, cadence and output, and then compare them with others who are virtually working out with you.

Multifunction Machine

There are a bevy of options (and price points) for this kind of equipment, so look for a product that allows you to perform a multitude of your favorite exercises. If you can see the machine in person, test it out and make sure everything locks securely and that all moving parts glide smoothly.

Skillrun Treadmill

This incredible piece of equipment gives you a treadmill, a sled and a parachute trainer all in one. It provides guided workouts and a large touch screen, and an easy-to-reach toggle makes increasing and decreasing speed and intensity a snap.

Sample She Shed Setup

Total Cost: $22,395 – $23,515

Killer Conditioning

Choose a light to moderate weight for the strength moves, and work at 70 to 75 percent max effort during the cardio intervals. Rest 30 to 60 seconds between strength moves, and complete the workout two times through.

Urban Outfitter

Want to outfit your home gym like a pro? Come to the IDEA World Convention July 8-12, 2020, in Anaheim, California, to test-drive the latest and greatest in fitness equipment on the expo floor!

. Oxygen Magazine

Making the Grade

Fitness equipment comes in different “grades” based on how much it is going to be used, and most large companies make multiple versions of the same piece: home, light commercial and full commercial. Home-grade equipment is typically the cheapest and will withstand consistent use by one or two people, at most. The light commercial version is more reliable and will have the sturdier feel of a piece you’d find at your local gym or box. A full commercial piece is an absolute necessity for anyone planning on having multiple people use it throughout the day — for example, if you’re setting up a small studio to train clients or have a number of friends chipping in on it.

Also, beware of the crappy stuff. “The biggest mistake people make when buying equipment online is not knowing the quality of the source,” says Ron Martin, sales manager at FitOne Fitness. Purchase from companies with a reputable name in the commercial and studio gym settings, even if you’re buying the home version of their gear. If you already train at a gym, you will recognize the more reputable names such as Precor, Life Fitness, Freemotion, Hammer Strength, York, Rogue, Perform Better and TRX. If it’s been a while since you had a membership and you’re unsure what is best at present, consult a specialized fitness equipment store and sales staff (steer clear of big chains) to steer you in the right direction, or attend a fitness conference expo and try

Written by NASM Master Trainer for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Oxygen Magazine

Williamstown Lake – Flatwater Paddling

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Mist rises off the rose-hued waters as the sun breaks over the lush green treetops. Paddles dip into glass-smooth waters, only broken by the rising of the fish and possibly the anglers that are stalking/after them. In the spring, the haunting calls of loons float through the air. Welcome to early mornings on Williamstown Lake.

The largest lake in northern Kentucky, Williamstown Lake is a public, 330-acre recreational lake and water reservoir. It was created in 1955 by impounding the South Fork of Grassy Creek and opened for boating, fishing, and swimming in 1957. It’s the main water supply for Grant County residents.

What Makes It Great

Nestled into the almost 20 miles of tree-lined shores surrounding Williamstown Lake are over 450 homes and rentals, making this a perfect destination to get a little taste of ‘summer camp’ with all the amenities of home. Launch a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard right from your temporary front yard. There is also a free public ramp and many boat docks that provide supplies and boat rentals. Wake up early for some bird watching while exploring the various coves.

Every August, the lake hosts an annual “Paddle Williamstown” event to encourage paddlers to discover this northern gem. For several hours they restrict the motorized boat traffic on the lake so that canoes, kayaks, and SUPs can have the water all to themselves.

If small craft fishing sounds appealing, the local fish population includes a wide variety of species including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, sunfish, channel catfish, bullhead, and redhorse sucker. The area’s marinas and fishing shops can provide detailed local beta and bait.

Just two miles away is the lake’s namesake, the charming city of Williamstown. Plan an afternoon to wander the craft shops downtown and stop for lunch at Shem’s Snack Shack for one of the best hot dogs in Kentucky. Also be sure to check out the old time soda fountain atmosphere at Elmer's General Store.

Who is Going to Love It

These flat, calm waters are the perfect place for active families who want to venture out for a day of canoeing, picnicking, and swimming. Kids can learn the ropes in an environment with no tricky maneuvers, but then practice their new skills of turning and paddle strokes in a fun, wooded cove. It’s also good for kayakers training for multi-day or distance events but want all the amenities nearby, or for any paddlers who want to rent a cabin with easy access to the water right out the front door.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The lake is just two miles east of Williamstown, and parking near the boat ramp is free. To get to the public boat ramp, take Highway 22 E out of Williamstown, then turn left on KY 489 (Fairview Road). From here, take a left on Summer Drive.

All Kentucky state regulations for boating and fishing are applicable.

Written by Lisa Collard for RootsRated in partnership with Kentucky Tourism and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by sabrynx

BOSU Circuit Workout: Balance, Burn and Build

BOSU Circuit Workout: Balance, Burn and Build

Bored with your routine? Throw your core a curveball (literally) with this 20-minute total-body BOSU circuit.

At the inception of functional fitness, there was the BOSU — a large, blue pimple composed of half a stability ball secured to a flat rubber platform. But unlike many “fad” training tools, the BOSU still holds its own, providing an unstable surface on which to train, thereby engaging more muscles and increasing the difficulty and inherent value of each exercise.

“The BOSU’s added layer of instability really forces you to engage your core and activate all your muscles,” says Danielle Natoni, AFAA personal trainer and ACE group fitness instructor based in Frisco, Texas, who created this total-body workoutexclusively for Oxygen. “It’s a great tool for quick workouts, building muscle and elevating your heart rate to burn max calories.”

. Oxygen Magazine

Lunge to Knee Drive

Dome side up

Place your left foot in the center of the BOSU dome and extend your right leg behind you, balancing on your toes. Lower into a lunge, reaching your left arm forward and your right arm back. Quickly extend your left leg to stand up on top of the BOSU, driving your right knee through to hip height while swinging your left arm back and your right arm forward. Balance briefly, then return to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Make it easier: Do a toe tap instead of a knee drive.

Make it harder: As you drive your knee forward, add a small jump.

. Oxygen Magazine

Prone Superman Twist

Dome side up

Lie facedown with your abdomen centered on the BOSU dome and your feet spread wide for stability. Place your fingertips behind your head, elbows flared, and allow your upper body to relax over the curve of the dome. Lift your torso and simultaneously twist to the right, opening your chest to the side as far as you can while reaching your right elbow toward the sky. Pause, then lower to the start. Repeat, alternating sides.

Make it easier: Eliminate the twist and perform hyperextensions instead.

Make it harder: Between each twist, perform a hyperextension.

. Oxygen Magazine

Alternating One-Legged Push-Up

Dome side down

Get into plank with your hands on the edges of the BOSU platform and your head, hips and heels aligned. Lift one leg off the floor, and keep your hips square as you bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the BOSU until it’s nearly touching. Return to the start. Continue, alternating legs.

Make it easier: Keep both feet on the floor and focus solely on the push-up.

Make it harder: Pause for a count of two at the bottom of the push-up.

. Oxygen Magazine

Chair Squat

Dome side down

Stand on the BOSU platform with your feet hip-width apart, toes forward. Kick your hips back and bend your knees to squat down as you raise your arms overhead, aiming to get your elbows by your ears. Pause briefly, then stand back up to the start.

Make it easier: Do a half-squat in the same manner, or place your hands on your hips and do a full squat.

Make it harder: Pause for a count of two at the bottom.

. Oxygen Magazine

Alternating Spider Lunge

Dome side down

Place your hands on the edges of the BOSU platform and extend your legs behind you. Bring your right leg forward, bend your knee and place your foot next to the BOSU. Quickly hop and switch feet, keeping your hips low as you land with your left leg forward and your right leg back. Continue at an even, yet brisk, pace.

Make it easier: Eliminate the hop and bring your legs back together in plank before switching sides.

Make it harder: Increase your speed.

. Oxygen Magazine

Bird Dog Hold

Dome side up

Get on all fours with your knees on the BOSU, hands on the floor. Extend your right leg behind you and reach your left arm forward so both limbs are parallel to the floor, hips level. Hold here and breathe for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Make it easier: Place the toes of the extended leg on the ground.

Make it harder: Reach your arm and leg out to the side.

Written by Lara McGlashan for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Oxygen Magazine

8 Reasons the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a Must-Visit Destination (for the Bold at Heart).

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If you dream of treading untouched wilderness, watching caribou stream across pristine tundra, and viewing polar bears prowling the coast, there's one place on Earth with your name on it: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Although the refuge often makes headlines for the decades-old battle against oil drilling that would disrupt its delicate ecological balance, this 19.2-million-acre wildlife sanctuary is truly remarkable for its immaculate wildness. It is a life-changing, otherworldly experience for the few hundreds of people who are bold enough to visit in any given year. Here are eight reasons why you should be one of them:

1. The Dramatic Landscape

Explore the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s stunning dramatic landscapes. Micah Baird/Sierra Club

The refuge's broad, flat, arctic coastal plain suddenly erupting into the 9,000-foot-tall peaks of the Brooks Range is one of the most majestic displays of geography on the planet. But this is just one of its dramatic landscapes. It's also home to river-carved valleys in the Brooks Range, hundreds of miles of leafy boreal forest, and the windswept coast. Along the rugged beaches polar bears search bone piles left by whalers from the only human settlement in the refuge, the tiny 240-person village of Kaktovik.

2. Endless Sun on the Horizon

From late April to mid-August, the sun never dips below the horizon in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "Where else can you enjoy twenty-four hours of sunshine?" says Michael Wald, co-owner of Arctic Wild. "The lack of darkness means a lack of time constraints. You can hike out over the curving horizon at 2 a.m." When you pair that with seemingly endless wilderness and vistas, Wald says, your imagination becomes one of the few limits to what is possible—and it means the so-called "golden hour" for photographers (when lighting is at its best) seems to go on forever.

3. Hundreds of Thousands of Caribou

Nearly 200,000 Porcupine Caribou Herd arrive on the refuge's coastal plains to birth their calves. Micah Baird/Sierra Club

Nomadic caribou may wander more than 3,000 miles every year in search of food and safety. But there's one place you can count on seeing them. Every spring, nearly 200,000 of them—members of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, the largest herd in Alaska—arrive on the refuge's coastal plains to birth their calves. They will forage until mosquitoes hatch and drive them along the coast and toward the mountains in search of relief, usually in late June or early July.

4. Polar Bears

Bear-viewing is one of Alaska's biggest adventures. It doesn't come any bigger than setting out from Kaktovik to search for polar bears. This is one adventure that you definitely won't want to undertake on your own. Polar bears see humans as potential prey, so it's best to search for them from the comfort and warmth of a secure vehicle, with the company of a guide that knows how to deal with one of the largest land predators in the world.

5. That's Just the Start of the Wildlife

Grizzly bears and black bears also call this land home. Micah Baird/Sierra Club

Caribou and polar bears may be the most famous animals in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but every summer the refuge teems with wildlife. Muskoxen, wolves, lynx, arctic fox, grizzly bears, and black bears also call this land home, along with some forty species of fish. Snow geese swoop in by the tens of thousands. Roughly two hundred other species of birds migrate here to mate, breed, and raise their young under the midnight sun.

6. True Wilderness Fishing

The mighty rivers that flow out of the Brooks Range to the north hold Dolly Varden trout, grayling, arctic char, arctic cisco, and lake trout. You'll also find grayling south of the mountains, along with burbot, whitefish, northern pike, and several species of salmon. Fishing is allowed year-round, but the waters are only ice-free during the summer.

7. The Challenge and the Space

Many feel you haven't felt the true power of being alone in nature until you've been surrounded by 19.2 million acres of untouched wilderness. Micah Baird/Sierra Club

The refuge's remoteness makes even entering the refuge is a thrilling challenge. Your options are to walk in from the Dalton Highway, which is close to the western edge of the refuge, or to take a bush plane into the refuge from the tiny communities of Arctic Village or Kaktovik. Because there are no official checkpoints for entering the refuge, there are no exact visitor numbers. Estimates range between 1,200 and 1,500 people every year. You can easily spend a week or ten days here without encountering another human. Many feel you haven't felt the true power of being alone in nature until you've been surrounded by 19.2 million acres of untouched wilderness.

8. It's a World Apart

At this point, almost every ecosystem on the planet has been touched and changed by man. But the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has quite rightly been described as America's Serengeti, is one of the few intact, undisturbed, ecosystems left. "The refuge is the quintessential exhibit of Earth's perfect biome," says Daniel Oberlatz, owner/guide for Alaska Alpine Adventures. "There are very few places left on our planet where you can immerse yourself in something as captivating. Being able to touch and feel a landscape, and the wildlife within it, along a continuum that is simultaneously both ancient and present. The wilderness of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge isn't bound to the hands of human time, and is thus completely and perpetually alive."

For more information on what the Sierra Club is doing to protect this national treasure, click here.

Written by Lisa Maloney for RootsRated in partnership with Sierra Club and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by U.S. Department of the Interior/David Payer

Adventure Photography in America’s Last Great Wilderness: What to Know, Where to Go

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Wilderness doesn't come any bigger or better than the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If you dream of photographing caribou as they flood through mountain passes, polar bears haunting piles of old whale bones, and dramatic landscapes that swoop from broad coastal plains to craggy 9,000-foot peaks and back down to boreal forest, this is your target.

Traveling and photographing in the refuge is also the challenge of a lifetime. It's a 19.2-million-acre wilderness the likes of which very few people ever experience. Here are a few things you should know about photo trips inside the refuge:

What Photo Gear to Bring

The wide angle is the only way to capture the immensity of the land around you in the Arctic Refuge.Micah Baird/Sierra Club

When you have to carry every piece of gear yourself, that giant telephoto lens starts looking a lot less attractive. We spoke to Michael Wald, co-owner of the guiding company Arctic Wild about how to shoot without breaking your back carrying the lenses.

"If you're after wildlife photography of course it's great to have a monster lens. But a 70-200mm lens will do a decent job," says Wald. "As long as you bring a tripod to keep it stable when you're zoomed way in."

The other piece of equipment many people overlook, Wald said, is a wide-angle lens.

Even if you're heading to the Arctic Refuge specifically for the wildlife, that wide angle is the only way to capture the immensity of the land around you. "What I generally pack is a 35-50mm, and that covers the big spaces," Wald said.

One thing Wald doesn't recommend bringing is a big, hard, plastic case for your camera gear. Boxy cases are hard to pack and don't fly well. Instead, he recommends a truly waterproof bag—like a dry bag or a roll-top paddling pack—with padding inside. Last but not least, make sure you bring plenty of camera batteries and memory cards.

The Logistics of getting to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Prepare for complete isolation in this wilderness.Micah Baird/Sierra Club

There are no roads, checkpoints, or established trails in the Arctic refuge—you can come and go anywhere you like. For most people, there are two ways of accessing the refuge. Most will take a small plane from Fairbanks to the tiny communities of Arctic Village or Kaktovik, and from there ride bush plane into the refuge. A few rough it on foot from the Dalton Highway, which runs near the western edge of the park.

Give yourself at least a day before leaving Fairbanks to account for any luggage issues and leave at least one free day between your return date and your flight out. That's because not only can the weather delay the bush plane that's coming to pick you up, it can also delay you on the ground thanks to poor visibility, high winds, or high water at stream and river crossings.

There is no cell phone coverage in the refuge. Satellite phones work in many parts of the refuge, though satellite positioning and your proximity to massive peaks in the Brooks Range can make that coverage spotty. If ever there were a place to practice extreme self-reliance, this is it.

When to Go

The refuge has endless summer nights where the golden hour can last all night long.Micah Baird/Sierra Club

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the winter is a brutal environment. It's breathlessly cold and dark and for a few weeks the sun doesn't rise at all—obviously not ideal conditions for photographers. But in June, July, and August, the waters thaw and the land comes alive as the sun circles the horizon, staying up all night to make up for its winter break.

Although summer temperatures in the Arctic refuge can reach as high as the 80s, you're more likely to encounter mild temperatures in the 40s and freezing temperatures can happen any time of the year. After all, this is Alaska.

Wald pointed out another perk of the refuge's endless summer night: the so-called golden hour can last all night long.

"In temperate latitudes, you've got to rush around for the half an hour just before, just after sunset," he said. "But in the far north in the summertime, we've got that rich, low-angle light all night."

Where to Go

Find wildlife all over this entire wilderness area.Micah Baird/Sierra Club

Even Wald struggled to choose just one favorite place in the entire refuge. It's not hyperbole to say that this entire wilderness area is spectacular. Ultimately, he settled on what he described as one of the most iconic, and in some ways, photogenic parts of the refuge: where the mighty peaks of the Brooks Range sweep down to meet the broad Arctic coastal plain.

These mountain passes are a great place for spotting caribou as they migrate to and from their calving grounds on the plains, along with predators that are busy hunting to feed their own young. However, if you're looking for polar bears, your destination should be Kaktovik. This tiny, 240-person Iñupiat community is the only human settlement in the refuge, and its proximity to the coast and piles of old whale bones both contribute to frequent sightings of this land mammal.

Are You Ready?

A visit to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge really is the opportunity of a lifetime—and as long as you plan ahead (most people, hire a guide) you'll come away with jaw-dropping photos and stories to match. And if you need inspiration in the meantime, browse through the photos of professional photographers like David Shaw, who guides for Wald and has provided a number of the photos on the Arctic Wild website.

For more information on what the Sierra Club is doing to protect this national treasure, click here.

Written by Lisa Maloney for RootsRated in partnership with Sierra Club and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Bob Clarke

An Insider’s Guide to Seeing the Northern Lights in Alaska


One of the arctic’s most unforgettable outdoor experiences takes place in the dead of night, when the air is frigid and the ground frozen. But while the earth remains locked in winter’s grip, the sky comes alive in the vivid greens and reds of the aurora borealis. Known more commonly as the Northern Lights, these natural marvels top many travelers’ bucket lists. While northern Europe is a popular destination to catch a glimpse of this otherworldly phenomenon, it’s possible for U.S.-based travelers to see them without digging out the passport. In fact, a growing winter economy has cropped up in Alaska around tracking down the elusive aurora. And with that, here’s an insider’s guide to seeing the northern lights in Alaska.

A Bit of Background

A quick science lesson on how the Northern Lights are formed will enhance your appreciation of them. Some aspects of exactly how they happen are up for debate, but in the simplest terms, the phenomenon is created by the interaction between the sun’s solar winds and the earth’s magnetosphere. When the magnetosphere is disturbed by these winds, particles of protons and electrons are released and move into the upper atmosphere. They then discharge their energy and the resulting reaction creates the aurora. While green is the most common color, reds and blues can also be seen.

Planning Your Northern Lights Tour

The middle of winter may seem like the obvious time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska. However, the most dramatic activity occurs around the equinox in September and March. The cycle of the moon can also play a part. New moons—and the week preceding and following them—are an ideal time to see the Northern Lights, since the sky is darker.

On individual nights, the ideal time fluctuates. The highest levels of activity generally falls between 10pm and 2am, so if you’re not planning to stay up during that time, you can set an alarm every hour or two for a cursory check of the night sky. In addition, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks has an excellent online tool that offers aurora forecasts up to four weeks in advance. Bear in mind that, like the weather, aurora forecasts are not always 100 percent predictive.

A growing number of adventure-minded tourists are traveling north to see the Northern Lights in Alaska.NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Where to Go

The Northern Lights can be seen in September as far south as southeast Alaska. While the aurora is consistently present in the southeast region of the state throughout the winter, its propensity for precipitation means the sky is often blanketed in clouds. The capital of Anchorage in south-central Alaska is the easiest access point in the state. But there are street lights north and south of town for many miles that can make finding great displays challenging.

Located almost in the dead center of the state, Fairbanks is an old gold boom town that has persevered as Alaska’s second-largest city. A 45-minute flight from Anchorage, Fairbanks has the best combination of consistent auroras with reasonably easy access (at least by Alaskan standards). Because it has only a few outlying communities, it’s easier to get away from the lights of the city, which is critical for ideal aurora viewing.

Ambitious types willing to rough it a bit more can also consider several harder-to-reach destinations. The town of Barrow, located on the coast of the Arctic Ocean, receives year-round service from Alaska Airlines and has outdoor winter tours. For those who want to combine a wilderness experience with their aurora chasing, consider Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, the largest wilderness area in the United States at 13.2 million acres. Lodging is scarce but possible in the winter, and all ranger stations and visitor centers are closed. Accessibility is limited and motorists should be prepared with a well-equipped winter vehicle.

Where to Stay

As the aurora industry has grown, numerous lodges, tours, and resorts have sprung up to cater to the demand. For the independent traveler, it’s certainly possible to do it on your own. All you need is a solid aurora forecast and clear skies. For overall ambience, it’s tough to beat a pair of natural hot springs near Fairbanks. About 60 miles from town, Chena Hot Springs is the most popular and includes lodging options and nightly tours. Manly Hot Springs is four hours to the west and is well-suited for those who don’t need to be pampered with high-end amenities.

Several state and federal agencies provide and maintain a large number of cabins as far north as Fairbanks. These low-budget options start at around $45 a night and are generally accessible by hiking trails, though some are located along the road system. These rustic backcountry cabins are a solid option for visitors with some experience in winter travel. Be prepared to ski or snowshoe to reach them, and check the appropriate websites beforehand to see what is and isn’t offered, amenity-wise, during winter. But if you can deal with some rustic digs for a few days, these cabins, which are often available in winter, are just the spot to call home base for an unforgettable experience—and almost guaranteed sightings of these mesmerizing Northern Lights.

Greens are the most common colors in the aurora borealis, but reds and blues can be seen, too.Bureau of Land Management

Traveling in Alaska in Winter

Alaska in winter is a gorgeous and dynamic landscape, and coupled with the midnight auroras, it can make it easy to forget that this is a land and climate not to be trifled with. Even experienced Alaskans can be vexed by slippery roads peppered with black ice and snow drifts, so it’s even more crucial that visitors come prepared. When traveling on snowy roads, take it slow or wait it out until a plow truck can come through. Monitor the weather forecast whenever possible. Bring blankets, hats, gloves, fluorescent flagging, water, and food. In the event you need to dig your car out of a snow berm, bring shovels and a bag of sand or gravel to give your tires (which should be studded) all the assistance possible. Bear in mind that cell phone service is not always reliable outside of towns. Leave a travel plan with someone and remember that some highways are sparsely traveled in winter; you may be waiting a long time for someone to drive by.

Lastly, keep your fuel tank more than half full whenever possible. If you’re stranded for the evening, you’ll want every drop of fuel to keep the heater going.

Written by David Cannamore for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Bureau of Land Management

Sugar-Free Grape “Spookyrita”

Get ready for Halloween with this delicious spooky take on the classic Margarita! 👻

Leave out the tequila for a great mocktail version!


  • Tequila
  • Sweet and Sour Mix (Sugar free option)
  • Lime soda water (we used Lime Perrier)
  • Everly Grape Hydration
  • 1 Lime
  • Stevia (optional)


  1. Make 16 oz of concentrated Everly Grape Hydration mix (2 TSP to 16oz of water). Freeze half in an ice tray and leave the other half to chill in the fridge. You’ll need to allow 2 hours for the Grape to fully freeze in the ice cube tray.
  2. Prepare purple sugar for the glass rim. Combine 2 TBS of stevia (we used Zsweet) and ½ TSP of Grape Everly in a shallow bowl and mix with a ¼ TSP of water until fully combined. The finished product should be a bright purple.
  3. Cut lime into thin slices and use one slice per glass to moisten the rim of the glass with lime juice. Now that the rim of the glass is prepared, dip the glass into purple sugar until the rim is fully coated.
  4. In a separate glass or pitcher (a spouted pitcher will work best) combine 4 oz of Tequila, 6 oz of Sweet and Sour mix and 12 oz of Lime soda water. This will make 2-3 servings depending of what sized glass you want to use.
  5. Pour half of the mixture into each glass, careful not to disturb the sugar on the rim.
  6. Top each glass with 2 frozen Grape ice cubes and 1-2 oz of the chilled concentrated Grape mix. Pour slowly to get the 2 toned effect.
  7. Enjoy!

Written by Everly for Everly and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Everly

Your TDEE : A Tool for Weight Loss That Trumps ALL Else

Your TDEE : A Tool for Weight Loss That Trumps ALL Else

Despite there being more information on health and fitness today than ever before, I've found myself getting confused and frustrated by all the mixed messages.

After what feels like 100's of hours of research (I'm a geek), I've found a few principles that seem to be the "keys" to effective and sustainable weight loss. One of them is the importance of building healthy habits into your life. Another one is having the belief you can actually do it.

In this brief post we'll talk about what I feel is the most important one of all.

TDEE – The Science Behind Weight Loss

Everyday your body burns a specific number of calories just by existing. This is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate. The BMR is based on your weight, height and age. (Calculate your BMR here)

When you exercise or simply expend energy through physical activity, you burn additional calories. When you combine your BMR with the calories you burn through physical activity, you get your Total Daily Energy Expenditure. (Calculate your TDEE here).

This is what is known as your maintenance calories. If you eat this amount of calories you will maintain your weight. 

So How Do I Lose Weight?

You lose weight by having a calorie deficit.

A calorie deficit is eating less than your body needs to maintain itself and thus creating a deficit. Ever had more bills than you had money? You had a financial deficit. A calorie deficit is having less energy than you need to stay the same weight.

Let's say that based on your age, weight, and height your BMR is 1700 calories and through some physical activity you end up with a TDEE of 2300 calories. To maintain weight you simply eat 2300 calories every day.

To gain weight you eat more than your TDEE and to lose weight you eat less.

Of course, you can also achieve a deficit through burning more calories through exercise.

Every effective diet I've come across, whether it's high fat, low fat, high carb, low carb, uses a calorie deficit to achieve weight loss.

how many calories to eat

Healthy Eater

How Many Calories Are We Talking?

Technically you can eat nothing all day and achieve weight loss through having a calorie deficit.

Many "miracle diets" claim incredible results through eating specific magical foods or using unique protocols. Unfortunately many diets out there are nothing more than glorified Crash Diets. These diets put you into severe caloric deficit resulting in, yes weight loss (usually short term), but they can also cause health complications and damage to your metabolism.

To avoid doing damage, the general recommendation I've found and used is 500 calories less than your TDEE. Some people advise more, but I've found that to be unnecessary.

Also, having any more than a 500 calorie deficit makes it likely that along with losing fat you will lose lean muscle , which is not ideal as lean muscle helps burn additional calories.

There are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, so at 500 calories a day you will lose a pound in a week. (See how much exercise burns a pound of fat here.)

Note that your body can become conditioned to the same repeated exercise. This can affect your TDEE (see more about this).

Red Engine Start button

Healthy Eater

How Do I Get Started?

I suggest that you use flexible dieting to accomplish the goal of creating a calorie deficit in order to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way.

Flexible dieting is non-restrictive and allows you to eat all of your favorite foods as long as they fit within your TDEE and macro goals.

You could eat unhealthy foods and still achieve weight loss (as demonstrated by The Twinkie Diet). but weight loss and health are not mutually exclusive. My advice would be to fill the majority of your diet with fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean meats. This way you can feel great AND achieve weight loss.

Don't get bogged down by the latest and greatest research coming out of universities you've never heard of. All the conflicting diets and controversial advice from health gurus are enough to give anyone a headache.

Focus on your TDEE, which has proven time and time again, to be the most important tool for weight loss and getting healthier.

Just remember that whatever you decide to eat – the above information is enough for the majority of the population to get started losing weight. 

Written by Dan Bolton for Healthy Eater and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Jonathan Borba

Keto-Friendly Collagen Gummies with Everly


Beauty bloggers and gut health experts agree: We all need more collagen! Collagen plays a critical role in helping our bones, joints, hair, and connective tissues stay strong and healthy. It’s the most abundant protein in the human body – you can think of it as the glue that keeps everything together. Supplementing with collagen – at all ages – is a natural way to promote gut health, boost immunity, and keep our hair, skin, and nails strong and healthy.

Today I’m sharing a ridiculously fun way to get more collagen into your diet – with these fruity, all-natural, keto-friendly collagen gummies, flavored with Everly powdered drink mix! Everly is a delicious way to help you drink more water. It uses 100% real ingredients like stevia leaf and red radish to create colorful, fruity flavors that your whole family will love – with 0g sugar! In addition to drinking it in my water, I love adding Everly to recipes as a way to add a burst of flavor.

This recipe combines the gut-healing power of collagen with the hydrating, fruity goodness of Everly. All you have to do to promote a healthier, more balanced body is eat a handful of these gummies every day! Don’t mind if I do.

Why We All Need More Collagen

Almost all of us could benefit from a collagen supplement. Here’s why: The most obvious reason is that our body’s natural collagen production declines as we get older. This is why our hair, skin, and nails lose their luster and strength over time. Supplementing with collagen can improve the look and health of our hair, skin, and nails, helping us look and feel our best.

The second reason is a product of our modern lifestyles: We actually used to consume a lot more collagen in our diets than we do now. In an effort to use every part of the animals they were eating, our grandparents’ generation ate a lot of collagen in the form of home-cooked soups, stews, gravies, and broths. Since our generation tends to cook less, we have far less access to the collagen naturally occurring in the animal-based foods we eat.

The third reason to supplement with collagen is also due to lifestyle: Taking collagen regularly can help counteract the damage to our gut caused by processed foods, sugar, excessive caffeine, smoking, stress, etc. Having an imbalance in your gut can cause all sorts of problems, from anxiety and mood swings to heightened food sensitivities and weakened immunity.

How to Get More Collagen Into Your Diet

There are three ways to get more collagen into your diet. One way is to add collagen peptide powder into virtually any liquid you consume – smoothies, juices, soups, etc. This powder dissolves in hot and cold liquids. You can also cook meals from scratch using ingredients high in collagen – such as bone-in chicken thighs, and soups made from knuckle and marrow bones – to draw out the naturally occurring collagen.

Or, you can eat (keto-friendly) candy. With three simple ingredients and a fun gummy bear mold, you can make these magical, sugar-free gummies and eat them by the handful.



Note on ingredients: This recipe calls for gelatin powder, which is made of collagen that has been heated. Gelatin forms a gel when combined with warm liquid, while collagen does not. I’d recommend keeping both gelatin and collagen on hand, as they serve different purposes.

Note on tools: Although it adds a fun touch, a gummy bear mold is not essential to making this recipe. Pour your gummy mixture into a flat, square or rectangular container and cut into cubes for easy, basic gummies without the fuss.

Everly Collagen Gummies


3.5 tbsp Great Lakes or Vital Proteins Gelatin

1 tbsp Everly (flavor of choice)

1 cup hot water


Combine collagen and Everly in a bowl or a large glass measuring cup (such as Pyrex). While whisking or stirring rapidly, add the hot water and stir until dissolved. Pour into silicone molds (or see note above) and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

Recipe Credit: Maja Majewski for Everly

Written by Everly for Everly and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Everly