Where will you ‘goal’ on your summer vacation? Forget about ‘lazy days of summer,’ get active and be bold.

Where%20will%20you%20%27goal%27%20on%20your%20summer%20vacation%3FCompetitive events flourish during the summer. If you run, mountain bike, water ski, swim, rock climb or otherwise enjoy outdoor activities, you have the opportunity to do something bold this season. Why not plan your summer vacation around a goal instead of a destination?
Michelle Jezycki, owner of Tri the World, an endurance and multi-sport travel agency based in Washington, D.C., helps people do just that. She’s seen her business grow in the last six years as, she says, “more and more people add marathons and triathlons to their bucket lists.”
Considering the way the sport of triathlon has grown over the last decade – from less than 20,000 USA Triathlon annual memberships in 2000 to a record high of more than 150,000 last year – many people have added finishing a triathlon to their bucket list and are returning to the outdoor fun they had in their youth by swimming, biking and running during their summer vacation. John Martin, spokesperson for USA Triathlon, says that last year’s annual membership peaked in the summer with the highest numbers recorded in June, July, August and September.
After four consecutive years volunteering for the Life Time Minneapolis Triathlon, Christine Strohmeyer, 44, of Shakopee, Minn., decided she wanted to do more than assist triathletes; she wanted to become one. “I was inspired by all the different athletes over the years,” she says. In years past her summer activity included jogging a few miles several times a week and biking with her kids to the park. Last year she bumped up her activity and finished her first triathlon.
“Going from outdoor play to triathlon start line isn’t too much of a stretch,” says Troy Jacobson, head multisport coach for Life Time Fitness, The Healthy Way of Life Company. “Anyone can finish a sprint triathlon with minimal training.”He says would-be triathletes can prepare for a sprint race in as little as six to eight weeks, training in each sport two to three times each week. This translates to anywhere from six to 10 hours of activity a week.
Strohmeyer felt so emboldened after finishing her first triathlon that she went on to finish another. “Even after both tris, I participated in a trail run and 5K,” she says. “Definitely a highlight of the summer.”
Jacobson added that preparing for an athletic event doesn’t need to take over your life. “Training doesn’t have to be super intense and uncomfortable,” he says, adding that athletes can maintain an aerobic intensity, or a level of exertion in which you can still hold a conversation. “You can enjoy the social aspects of training without suffering,” he comments.
The social aspects of training with others who have similar goals adds another layer of fun to summer. So does including your family in the pursuit of your goals.
“Getting the entire family involved in exercising and then attending a race to watch Mom or Dad do their thing or join them in competition is a great bonding experience,” Jacobson says.
Mark and Sharon Fowler who moved from Chicago to Charlotte, N.C., use the summers to set goals together as well as separately. “We’ve got great weather here nine months out of the year, but we still have the Chicago mentality of being locked up till spring time. In summer we’re definitely more active.”
Last summer, Mark, 50, set a goal to climb Mt. Rainier. He spent several months training – many hours on a stair climber with a 40 pound weighted vest – before flying to Washington state that June. “I got to say, I climbed the tallest mountain in the United States, what did you do?” he proudly states.
What will you do over the summer? If you’re looking for inspiration, check out one of Life Time Athletic Events, which offers finisher’s medals at more than 60 events in locations across the country from mountain bike races to triathlons. And as Mark Fowler points out, bragging rights are pretty satisfying too.

Courtesy of BPT

Home improvement tips that instantly lower your energy bill

(BPT) – It’s one piece of mail homeowners dread every month: the utility bill. Considering the average annual utility bill is $2,200, according to energystar.gov, it’s no wonder homeowners cringe every time it arrives. What if you opened your bill and, to your surprise, it was lower than expected? With a few simple steps, that is possible, even when the temperature drops.

Heating, cooling and water heating are the top three energy drains in a home, accounting for 60 percent of a home’s energy bill according to ENERGY STAR, so it’s wise to focus your home improvement efforts on those areas. A few simple steps and some strategic investments can lower your monthly bill significantly, plus you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. Here are some tips for giving your home an energy-efficient facelift:

Change your home’s air filter regularly

Smart homeowners will check their home’s air filter every month to see if it needs replacing. How can you tell if it’s time to swap in a new one? Look at the color – if it appears gray or brown, or you can visibly see particles or pet fur, it’s time for a fresh one. A filter helps keep air flowing in your home and takes out dust, dander and other microscopic debris floating in the air. A dirty filter slows air flow, making your heating and cooling system work harder, costing you more money. Air filters should be replaced every one to three months.

Go beyond tankless: consider an integrated heating and water heating system

Many homeowners have heard about the advantages of tankless water heaters, but now there’s a way to be even more efficient by using the Rheem Integrated Heating & Water Heating System, which uses a Rheem tankless water heater to heat both the air and water in your home with maximum efficiency. How does it work? The system matches a hydronic air handler with a tankless gas water heater.- When there’s a demand for heat, hot water is circulated through the air handler to produce heat and is then re-circulated back to the tankless water heater to ensure that no water is wasted. This pairing of products provides a soft, comfortable heat to the home while maintaining comfortable humidity levels regardless of the climate. Also, the heating function of the system operates at the same efficiency as the tankless water heater – which could be as high as 94 percent efficient.

Lower the temperature on your water heater

To lower energy costs, consider lowering your water heater’s temperature setting. Try somewhere around 120 degrees Fahrenheit and see if that is sufficient in supplying your home with hot water for showers, laundry, dishes, etc. Each 10 degree reduction in water temperature can save 3 to 5 percent, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. If you go on vacation, remember you can turn your water heater down to the lowest setting to save even more while you’re gone and it’s not in use.

Install a programmable thermostat

Adjusting your thermostat a few degrees during the day can have a big impact on your utility bill. For example, during cold months, turn your thermostat down when you’re away from the house, such as during work. Programmable thermostats work perfectly for this – you can set your preferred temperatures throughout the week to fit your schedule and it adjusts automatically. About one-third of American homes have programmable thermostats, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. If you turn back your thermostat 10 or 15 degrees for periods of 8 hours or more, such as when you’re at work, you can save 5 to 15 percent a year on your heating bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

From changing your air filter on a regular basis to selecting an integrated system to heat your home’s water and air supply, these changes can have a big impact on your utility bill, plus they’re environmentally friendly too.

Courtesy of BPT