Vacation Retreats to Improve Your Health and Fitness

Are you looking for a fresh vacation idea that has more substance than just sightseeing and going to popular attractions? Health and fitness oriented vacation retreats can improve your health, and are fun too. Consider a spa, yoga, weight loss or one of many variations of health improvement retreats for your next vacation.Of all the types of health related retreats, yoga is one of the most popular. And when you look at retreats where yoga is a primary focus, you will find countless flavors for all levels. Some offer a daily yoga class along with other natural activities and exercise, including walks and hikes, boats rides, whale watching, and local tours. All activities are optional and the retreat is open to everyone. Others retreats are more structured with maybe a two hour yoga class in the morning, another in the late afternoon, and meditation in the evening. They may even include periods of the day where silence is required. And, accommodations could actually be in eco-friendly cottages that promote peace and tranquility.Then there are retreats that combine yoga with spa treatments, including massage, a mud bath, sauna and hot tubs. But even retreats that are considered more as a spa or health retreat, also generally have some aspect of yoga. Spa retreats may also focus more on other forms of exercise, such as Pilates and stretching, and include more about nutrition and natural foods. They may also include nature walks and hikes, and perhaps journaling.Health and healing retreats can even go further with a goal of putting balance back in both your physical and mental well-being as well. This may include things like natural herb cleansing drinks, body pH balancing, mineral baths, nutrition classes, and therapy to address emotional issues. The idea is to rid both your mind and body of impurities.Then there are the more serious health related retreats. The goal of these retreats is to help you remove your dependency on alcohol, cigarettes or drugs through a variety of holistic detox techniques. Again, these retreats often use yoga, and promote healthy practices for daily living involving nutrition and mediation. These retreats look at emotional issues as well. The difference with these retreats is that they are intended to address a defined problem, rather then supporting a general enhancement of your well being.Unlike most of the other kinds of health related retreats, weight loss retreats often involve hard work and a good degree of physical activity. Combined with nutritional programs, weight loss retreats aim at changing poor eating habits along with developing more active lifestyles. By preparing meals and controlling what you eat, these retreats can be an important start to lifelong changes. Diabetes management and cardiac rehabilitation can also be an integral part of some weight loss retreats.But even with the hard work, they are fun, and quite rewarding. Outdoor activities, such as hiking, swimming and biking are often combined with instructional sessions. Relaxation and spa activities can be part of the plan. Some mix group activities, along with personal training. Various types of exercise are often used, including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and stretching. And naturally, they tailor the exercises to your specific condition, and understand where you are coming from.Some weight loss retreats also include follow-up services to help keep you on track when you are back in your normal routine. As you would expect, this is actually quite important. A diet of healthy eating and the moderation you initiate at the retreat needs to become part of your life. Maintaining a higher activity level and good eating habits back in your normal routine is a lot easier with some form of follow-up coaching.As with all types of retreats, there are many flavors of weight loss retreats. Some differentiate themselves from “fat farms” as they also address body cleansing, and body and mind connections. Some integrate more spa activities while others consider themselves as more of a “boot camp”. Others focus more on non-class activities, such as walking, hiking, and multiple ways of just being more active. You just need to find the one that fits your needs and personality.So go ahead, take the challenge, improve your health, and enjoy a new experience for your next vacation. You just might come home more fulfilled than from any other vacation you’ve been on!

The Education System in France

Napoleon is known for his creation of the lycée, but Jules Ferry wins all the honors for being reputed as the father of the French modern school. The school he established was free, secular and compulsory, even to this day, until the age of 13 (now increased to 16). This has been the profile of French education since 1882.An overview of education in FranceIt was widely believed in the past that France’s education system was the best in the world. Now, the claim needs to be clearly proven in the face of better education systems elsewhere. France’s education system has been rated as the 25th best in the world by the OEDC coordinated Programme for International Student Assessment. The system’s achievements are neither very much higher nor lower than the average results of the OECD.
The education system is divided mainly into primary, secondary and tertiary with the first two predominantly public as they are run by the Ministry of National Education.
Elementary educationEducation in France begins with daycare centers known locally as crèches. The centers care for babies from 2 months to 3 years until they are able to attend Ecole Maternelle, the next level up the ladder. Several types of these care centers offer different services, sizes and management assistance to as many as 10 to 60 children but they all require parents to help them. More than 11,000 Crèches operate in France today but even with the numbers.
It is advised to apply for slots in the centers as soon as couples become pregnant.
Primary and secondary educationPrimary education in France is no different from other countries where literacy and numeracy are given, supplemented with French, arithmetic, geography, history, the arts and now, a foreign language, usually English. Classes here take place Monday to Saturday morning but from September 2008, the class on Saturday morning was discontinued. Classes average 28 hours in duration each week and are divided into five different sections – the CP, CE1, CE1, CM1 and CM2. In French, CP means “Cours préparatoire” or preparatory class; CE refers to “Cours élémentaire” or elementary class while CM signifies Cours moven, or middle school. The two CM sections prepare students for the middle school.College or middle school educationThe college level is divided into 4 divisions and caters for students aged 11-15. It is the core foundation of the French education system. All students enter the college at the age of 11 but sometimes attend at an older age if a student repeated a year at primary level. The goal of the college is to provide a foundation of secondary education to students and thereafter, some degree of specialization in specific areas of interest. From college, students then progress to the lycée level upon passing an examination called the “brevet” after which they either stop their education or continue to the “lycée professionnel” level or vocational high school. Subjects offered at this level includes French, mathematics, history, geography, technical education, art/music, physical education, civic education, some science and one foreign language.The lycée or vocational educationThis is the equivalent of High School and embodies the last 3 years of secondary education. There are two main types – the lycée general and the lycée technique – and both are found in the larger towns and cities. In the smaller towns the latter school may be absent. The goal of the lycée level is to prepare students to sit the bacclaurét examination which is equivalent to the British A levels. The subjects offered are similar to those in the college or middle schools but with the addition of philosophy in the final year.Higher education The academic institutions of higher learning in France are divided into two main camps of the public universities and the renowned but selective and prestigious Grandes écoles the most notable being the Science Po Paris established for political studies; the HEC Paris with its corridors of economic learning; the École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris for high quality engineers or the Ecole nationale d’administration for government positions. Elitism has filtered into the halls of the Gandes ecoles for which it has been criticized but it has proven its value in creating many of France’s high profile civil servants, CEOs and politicians.—

Warning: Excess Protein is Hazardous to Your Health and Fitness!

Wait a minute! We know that fat and cholesterol are hazardous to our health. You mean to tell me that too much protein is also hazardous to our health?Yes, absolutely! That is exactly what I am saying. I know that this may come as a complete surprise to you, but the truth is that many experts think that too much protein, particularly animal protein, is hazardous to your health!If a person consumes over 15% protein in his diet (beef typically has 26% protein – the rest is fat – and chicken has 61% protein – the rest is fat), then the body must get rid of that protein.In other words, the body stores very little protein. Certain organs are responsible for getting rid of the protein–namely the kidneys and liver. The more protein we eat, the harder the kidneys and liver have to work to excrete the protein. The result of overuse of these organs is obvious–premature wear and tear.Most Americans eat an over-abundance of animal protein from their foods every day, and then they load themselves up even more with protein powders and drinks and bars. We are protein crazy in this country! And it is to our demise, not to our benefit.So along with the wear and tear of the kidneys and the liver which is bad enough, why else is excess animal protein hazardous to your health?Excess protein makes the body more acidic, and these acids accumulate in the joints causing arthritis and gout.Animal protein is hard to digest so it is hard on the digestive system causing digestive problems.Animal protein is strongly associated with heart disease; no, not just the fat and cholesterol, but also the animal protein itself.Animal protein is associated with many kinds of cancers, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer.In a huge study conducted in China by T. Colin Campbell, PhD., it was found that the groups of people who ate the most animal protein had, by far, the most heart disease and certain cancers. And the amount of animal protein did not have to go up very high in order for the disease numbers to go up also.And because the animal protein makes the body more acidic, the body has to neutralize the acid. It does so by pulling calcium out of the bones, and then we pee out the calcium.Why is this significant?It is believed that animal protein just happens to be one of the major contributors to osteoporosis in this country. This excess protein leaches the calcium out of our bones.So one of the best things you can do for yourself is to cut back, way back, on your consumption of meat protein and protein artificially loaded into other foods and pseudo-foods. In fact, your best bet for maximum health and fitness is to completely eliminate animal sources of protein.Load up on plant foods and get away from animal products–it just makes sense!