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Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts That Will Keep You Out of the Doghouse

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts That Will Keep You Out of the Doghouse

    Nothing says “I forgot about Valentine’s Day” or “I don’t care” like a box of Whitman’s chocolates, a stuffed animal, and a Hallmark card bought from the closest drug store. If you have indeed left things to the last minute, resist the urge to pick out your Valentine’s Day gift at CVS or Walgreens. You’ll thank me later. Instead, look over this list of gift ideas that you could give your loved one this February 14th. They don’t take much time to purchase or plan, but still make it look like you actually gave it at least some forethought.

    For the Technology Lover

    Microsoft Zune + Zune Pass

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    If your loved one doesn’t yet have a portable music player, or is in need of an upgrade, this is a perfect gift. Instead of going for the now somewhat clichéd engraved iPod, I recommend looking to Apple’s rival, Microsoft, and their Zune player. While the Zune initially failed to impress the masses as the Apple iPod has, it’s grown up and matured and become a very quality device as Microsoft has paid more attention to fine-tuning things and making it a better experience. The Zune Marketplace, Microsoft’s equivalent of iTunes, is pretty cool. If you really want to go all out, pair your new Zune purchase with 12-month Zune Pass. This will allow the recipient to have access to pretty much all the music the Zune Marketplace offers on rental basis. While you don’t get to keep all of the music, you do get 10 downloads per month included with the Zune pass, and these are yours to keep. The Zune will run you anywhere from $120 to $300+, depending on the model and storage options you choose. The 12-month Zune Pass will run you $150. Customize your purchase and choose your recipient’s favorite color, or pick out a nice cover or case to go along with it, and if you have time install the Zune software on their computer and start downloading all the sappy love songs you want to pre-load for their immediate listening pleasure.

    For the Movie Lover

    Netflix  Subscription

    A subscription to Netflix will allow you to watch an unlimited number of movies and television shows on your TV using a Netflix-enabled device (such as Google TV, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Roku, Apple TV, etc.). You can also watch them on any computer, your phone (with a Netflix app), and other mobile internet devices. If you pay a little extra, you can also get the standard Netflix by mail service and get DVDs and Blu-Ray discs mailed to your home. You can purchase a Netflix subscription online for a minimum of 3 months or more, and have the option of e-mailing your gift subscription or printing out a certificate. I’d recommend printing out the certificate and including it in a nice card.  It starts at about $8.99 per month. If your recipient does not have a Netflix enabled device, pairing the Netflix subscription with one would be even nicer. Your cheapest option would be a Roku device, which starts at just $59. Best Buy has you covered.

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      For the Foodie

      Gourmet Station

      Scoring dinner reservations at that ultra cool restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t gotten around to checking out might be a bit tricky on Valentine’s Day. Restaurants are notoriously packed on February 14th, and even take-out can be a painful ordeal. Instead of promising to take your love out for a nice meal at another less busy time, point your web browser to www.gourmetstation.com. Had you thought about Valentine’s Day in advance you could have ordered an awesome meal and prepared it on the actual holiday, but you did not so your option at this point is to purchase one for the future. You could select the meal yourself, but why not just purchase a certificate and let your partner decide what they’d like to order. They’ll have fun visiting the website and selecting a delectable meal.

      I actually got the classic beef wellington Christmas dinner from Gourmet Station a couple years ago and was extremely impressed. The beef wellington was to die for, and the tomato bisque soup was heavenly. The dessert put the meal over the top. They really make amazing food, and all you have to do is set the table and pop the food in the oven to warm it up. You could opt to order a meal from a similar service, but because I’ve tried Gourmet Station in the past, I highly recommend them.

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      For the Sports Fan

      Opening Day Tickets

      Baseball season is just around the corner and Spring Training is about to kick off. Delight the sports fan in your life with tickets to opening day. To acquire the tickets, just head out to your team’s local team shop, usually at a mall or near the ballpark. They’ll print them out for you, and all you have to do is pick up a V-Day card to put them in. If you want to give your gift a little extra punch, you could purchase a new t-shirt, hat, or jacket to pair with the tickets.

      For the Romantic

      The Old Stand-Bys

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      If your lover is the romantic type, you can pull off the chocolates and flowers. Please though, skip the drug store and at least go to the grocery store where you can likely find something a little higher quality than Whitman’s. Make them swoon even more with a nice poem or a heart-felt message written in your carefully selected card. Later, hit up Redbox to pick out a romantic comedy and order in Chinese and you’ll be set for the evening. Guys, if you’re not yet married or engaged and want to pop the question, doing it in a romantic way could get you out of getting a gift that day entirely.  You’ll just have to promise to take her ring shopping.

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      Last Updated on August 15, 2018

      7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

      7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

      Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

      Video Summary

      Why is it important to train up our core strength?

      There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

      This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

      Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

      In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

      One Exercise, multiple benefits

      There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

      By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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      When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

      Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

      In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

      What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

      What will happen when you start doing planks every day

        1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

        Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

        • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
        • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
        • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
        • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

        2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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          Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

          Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

          3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

            Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

            4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

              Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

              A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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              A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

              On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

              5. You’ll improve overall balance

                Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                  Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                  7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                    Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                    How to hold a plank position

                    1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                    2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                    3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                    4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                    5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                    6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                    7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                    Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                    Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                      How to improve your plank time gradually

                      1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                      2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                      3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                      Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                      Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                      You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                      • Prolapse
                      • After prolapse surgery
                      • Pelvic pain conditions
                      • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                      • Previous childbirth
                      • Overweight

                      Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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