Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ringin' in the New Year

So I was just chatting with my best friend about New Years, and we both suddenly got super excited regarding the fact that 2010 brings an entirely new decade. 
I usually dread New Years, as the drop of the bell usually puts me into a semi depressed state, as yet another year goes by being a single girl, sans kiss at midnight. It's hard not to become just a little bit saddened by all the happy couples smooching, dancing and gallivanting around the room as the clock strikes midnight, as I stand awkwardly on the side in my pretty little dress.
But, NO, this year is going to be different. I've decided New Years isn't anything to fear. Instead, it's something to look forward to, as a new year entails new adventures, experiences, people and opportunities. It's a time to continue on with the goodness in your life, as well as start fresh with all the things you'd rather leave behind in '09. 
Enough of those stupid, cliche, generic New Year's resolutions to lose 10 pounds, exercise more or eat less chocolate. 
Rather, why not make it the year to travel and explore more often, spend more time with friends and family or allow yourself to open your heart up to love and new opportunities? 
Start thinking about what you really, truly want to make of this new year that lays ahead of us in just a few days. 
Here's a toast to new things, and a healthy, happy and wholesome New Year to look forward to for once!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Stop Counting Calories Already: They Are Actually Good For You!

The other day while devouring my large Chicken Schwarma dish with rice and salad from my new favorite Mediterranean restaurant, I got to thinking about calories.
The reason being is that two years ago, I wouldn't be able to consume a large (but, healthy) dish like that without feeling immense guilt, while simultaneously counting how many calories I was consuming. "Ugh, this has 300 calories in it. Now I'll have to work these off immediately!" I used to think to myself. 
Instead, these days I now think as food as something delicious, something I need for energy, considering I am a very active, healthy young woman. 
Too many women these days think as calories as something that will in turn make them fat. We count calories, analyze calories, and curse calories, wrongly believing that they are evil and will pack on the pounds. 
I myself used to go as far as writing down every piece of food I put in my mouth, psychotically counting up the calories, in fear I would gain weight. At one point, during my unhealthy eating phase as a freshman in college, I wouldn't allow myself anything over 1,100 calories. . . 1,000 was pushing it.  Keep in mind: this was also a time I was going to the gym for at least an hour every day. I was being extremely unhealthy. And on top of that, I was actually gaining weight because I wasn't eating enough, so my body was holding onto everything it had, also drastically slowing down my metabolism. 
Yes, now I look back and realize my behavior was crazy, but at the time I thought I was doing the right thing if I wanted to lose weight and look good. 
Yesterday, a good friend of mine and Personal Trainer at my gym said something to me that I think will help a lot of you women out there, who still have that "calories are evil" mindset.
"You know, I think people need to start looking at calories as fuel, rather than something that will make you gain weight." 
Yes, many of us know deep down calories provide energy and fuel, but we never take a second to think about it, and really believe in it. 
I wish so badly that during my unhealthy phase, I could have thought this way, because let me tell you it is much easier. I was destroying my body, and my mindset all at the same time, leading me to believe I was never good enough, never skinny enough. Now I know otherwise.
So take a break from reading the labels on every little thing, and start enjoying life, and eating because it makes you feel good and provides you with the energy you need to get you through the day. 
We read so many diet articles, books and magazines about how we need to "watch our calories, and keep an eye on our portion sizes, but there's never anything about how we need to consume healthy, good, hearty food (yes, with calories-sometimes lots of 'em) to live a healthy lifestyle as an active woman! 
Believe it or not, but from lots of reading and research, I found that an average weight 30 to 45 year old woman who exercises regularly needs up to 2,000 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight. And to think I was eating half of that a few years ago! 
No, I'm not saying dive into everything in sight-french fries, cupcakes, pizza! I'm saying fuel your body with the right foods (most of the time) like lean protein and whole grains, and you won't need to be counting calories, analyzing  what your consuming every friggin' minute. 
Us women need to come together and send out the message that instead of watching our weight, counting calories, and trying to be skinny 24/7, we should be concentrating being and living healthily. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quick Question of the Day: How Often Should I Weigh Myself?

Q: How often should I weigh myself? 
A: 
Well, I actually have two different answers to this common question, since it depends on the type of person you are. 
I say, go ahead and weigh yourself once a day, that is if you do it in a sane manner. If you choose this method, you need to understand that weight fluctuates depending on your hydration level, how much you eat the day before, whether or not you are PMSing, and how active you were the day before. 
For example, if you ate really crappy and are about to start your period, your weight is naturally going to be a little higher than usual. 
So if your weight goes up 2 pounds one day, down 3 the next, you're still staying in your range. However, if suddenly your weight sky-rockets up 5 to 8 pounds one week, you'll know you need to either cut back on those extra sweet treats at night or up your workouts a bit.
So, if you can understand the causes of the ups and downs, you are a candidate to be one who hops on that scale daily. 
For those of you who will drive yourself nuts seeing that darn number fluctuating so much, weigh yourself once a week instead. Your weight should stay around the same number, give or take a pound. If it's not, then you know you need to crack down on the problem.
So take some time to figure out what kind of person you are, and weigh yourself accordingly. Don't drive yourself nuts over it though; it's just a number and a scale is never something to be afraid of. 
I once went through a phase where I was petrified of the scale, and refused to weigh myself, and I hopped on one day a month later to find I had gone up a whopping 10 POUNDS! Therefore, stick to daily or weekly weigh-ins so the number will never creep up on you as it did me. 
One more thing: no matter what method you choose, I recommend hopping on the scale at the same time each day, preferably right upon waking before you eat breakfast. And weigh yourself in the nude, because after all, that's your truest weight. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quit the Jealousy: It's Not Pretty!

As women, we master the word jealousy a long way back, from the first day we begin kindergarten and are introduced to BOYS. It's just innately in our blood. Throughout life, we are jealous of other women's boyfriends, other women's jobs, and other women's lives in general. 
And I don't know if it's just me, but lately I've been observing a lot of women jealous of other women's bodies. It seems everywhere I go I overhear yet another woman complaining about her body, idolizing or wanting to look just like her girlfriend.
"Ahhh. . . if only I could be your size!" "I wish I had your legs," "God I hate that you can eat all that shit and still be a size 2!" 
These comments tend to come up left and right: at the corner coffee shop, on the T, at work, etc etc. My goodness, enough already ladies! These unnecessary negative comments are literally ringing in my ears all day long, giving me a headache.
I'm not going to lie. I myself went through a phase where all I did was compare myself to other girls, wishing I had what they had rather than accepting myself. But I stopped because I was literally driving myself crazy, bringing myself down whenever I couldn't live up to a "beautiful" person. I'd envy, hate, despise and even go as far as saying I wanted to be just like other women, never taking the time to appreciate my own beautiful self. 
I was jealous. And it wasn't pretty. It never is.
I then realized, why not pause for a second to think, why not just be happy with "me?" I know it's cliche to say, but everyone is different, we are all unique in our own ways, and that's what makes each and everyone one of us beautiful. 
Trust me, even if you lost the 10 pounds, trimmed down your legs to look like your personal trainer friend, and got that Barbie dream body, you still wouldn't be completely content because you'd just find something else to complain about. It's in our nature. Us women are simply never completely satisfied.
So quit stressing, let go of that competitive edge that exists inside of you, and start taking a long, hard look at yourself in a positive manner. 
You are beautiful, unique and perfect, despite the cellulite you have on your upper thighs, your arms that may jiggle a little more than you may wish and the fact that your jean size is one size bigger than your best friends. 
Embrace what you are and already have. Life will be much easier and happier once you do!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

BORED? Don't Be a Baby: Change up Your Workout Routine This Holiday Season!

So, yesterday I was bumming around the apartment, contemplating what time to go to the gym, when my roommate suggested we try taking a group fitness class for a change. I immediately thought, 'great idea,' for I knew if I just went to the gym it would turn into yet another run-of-the-mill workout: boorrringgggg
I've always been an advocate for changing up your fitness routine, but lately since I've been pressed for time, I haven't really been following my own advice. I admit it: I'm guilty. I used to be so diverse, taking a challenging step class one day, running 3 miles outside the next day followed by yoga the following day, etc. etc. But lately, I've just been plane old Jane, getting stuck in a rut.
Anyway, I took the hour long spinning class with my friend, and it felt great to do something different for a change, challenging my body in a different way. Granted, the instructor wasn't that great and the music was a mush of horrendous of songs gone wrong, I still had a good time and definitely wasn't as bored as I'd be on the elliptical.
So I challenge you to do something out of the norm today when you're working out! Maybe that's practicing intervals (short bursts of high speed activity) instead of your usual slow jog, or trying something completely new like that Forrest Yoga class offered at your gym.
 If you're normally a read-a-mag ipod gal while you're charging through your cardio drill, try going au naturel (well, with clothes on but you get the point) to really concentrate on your workout at hand. Never dared to go into the "man world" and lift weights? Come out of your shell, and stop being silly: strength training is for women as well and can actually work wonders for toning up your bod!
Come up with your own creative ideas as well to challenge yourself in unique ways! Christmas is just around the corner, and New Year's is shortly after that, so this is the time to make big changes and big moves. 
Trust me on this one, if you aren't bored already with your same old routine you surely will be in no time. Plus, studies show that changing up your workout routine not only helps challenge your body in new, different ways, but it also helps you see results faster!
So get out of that plateau girl, and start changing it up. Maybe your dream jeans you're dying to squeeze into by 2010 will fit before you know it after all! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

There is No Better Day Than Today to Start Living. . .

*From PostSecret.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

6 Ways to a Happier, Healthier YOU

Today I got to thinking about the little things in life that simply make you a happier, healthier, more content person. You know, the little things in life we sometimes forget to make time for. The best part is, none of these things are very time demanding at all.  If you take a few extra moments a day, you'll be on your way to a more fulfilling life! 
1. Friends: Yup, surrounding yourself with lots of friends actually benefits more than your social life. Studies show that the more friends and social networks you have, the happier you are... and happiness ultimately leads to a healthier YOU. I've always been a firm believer in this, because my great grandmother lived to be 99, and had more friends than anyone I know. Up until the day she passed away, she had visits left and right from close friends and family. So, embrace the social butterfly in you and it can benefit your health in more ways than you may think!
2. Making lists: Not only can lists motivate you to accomplish daily tasks and goals, but they can also make you feel a lot better about yourself! Lists don't always have to be monotonous "to do" notes left on the refrigerator door to make you feel stressed about your life. Lists can also be an outlet for you to write down little thoughts throughout the day. For instance, I often make little lists of things that make me happy, or things that I love and appreciate about myself/my life for an extra feel-good booster!
3. "Me" Time: "Me time" used to be something I cherished so greatly, as I've always been one to appreciate my alone time to catch up on Rachel. However, since I've moved to Boston, I've been super busy and not making enough time for "me," something I'm definitely going to work on. Whether it's taking yourself on a mini shopping spree, meditating in your room alone or making time for the gym, "me" time can work wonders for your mind and overall health! Take your "me" time to do the things that you love, things that make you feel absolutely fabulous. For example, my favorites include going to the gym, browsing endlessly on the web and walking around the city!
4. Play time: Just as importantly as "me time" is play time. As we get older, we often forget to make time to do the things we loved a a kid, or just let loose altogether. Don't be afraid to let out that inner youth, whether that's booking a fun getaway trip with a friend, or baking cookies all day long (and eating the batter too!) Just this past weekend, I hopped on a bus to NYC to visit some friends, and it felt great to just get away, have fun and not think about anything other than the moment!
5. Listening to Your Body: Sometimes, life gets so crazy that we forget to listen to our own body, something we all need to make more time for. Make a personal note of how certain foods make you feel after you eat them i.e. tired/bloated/energized/moody, etc. By listening to my own body, I found out that I'm extremely sensitive to dairy and wheat products. I used to get such bad stomach aches growing up, sometimes to the point where I was so bloated and uncomfortable I'd have to lay down, but I ignored the symptoms. Then, I recently found out that I have a sensitivity to wheat and dairy, and ever since I cut them out of my diet (or eat them extremely sparingly) I've felt  better than ever, and have lost a few pounds in the process! Listening to your body also means when you feel something is "off," don't be afraid to go to the doctor to get it checked out. Most of the time, it's nothing, but it's much better to be safe than sorry! Too many women ignore what their body is telling them, and it may hurt them in the long run. So stay on top of your personal health!
6. Love: It amazed me what a simple hug can do for your mood! Seriously, a hug from a friend can lift my mood up to the highest of highs. Make more time to be intimate with your husband or boyfriend, snuggle with your kids or just plain give more hugs. Try it out today and see what a difference it can make!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Confidence Boosters: In Your Lowest of Low Times

Last night, I was laying in bed watching the annual wintertime Victoria's Secret fashion show with my friend, something probably millions of other women were taking part in as well. Every year, come December, the Victoria's Secret angels walk the runways in gorgeous, glimmering bras, ginormous wings and tiny undies, rocking their hot skinny bods to the beat of the music. 
Before the fashion show even began, my friend looked at me and said "It's hard not to hate your body a little bit when it's over." 
The funny thing is, while I'm sure many women feel the same way, the VS fashion show shockingly makes me feel better about myself, exploding all of this positive energy. You see, before the show started, I was having a terrible day, and when I have a bad day I inevitably get down on myself, setting my confidence level at an ultimate low. 
But hearing the Black Eyed Peas sing "Boom Boom Pow" as the little skinny bitches walked down the runway pumped me up, well that along with a text from a good friend saying: "Rachel, you're amazing and everything about you is amazing. And you're beautiful. And tomorrow is another day, and you never know what good things it may bring."
She was right. It wasn't worth getting so down on myself, and letting my confidence go down with me. 
So, while for some of you, seeing skinny, little models in underwear may make you feel fat and ugly, for me it's having a bad day that onsets negative thoughts, and ultimately brings me down.
But, no matter what triggers those negative thoughts, here are 13 surefire ways to cheer you up and bring back that inner sexy confidence I know you all have.
1. Smiling-There's nothing like a frown that can bring your day down even more. Put on a smile, and people will perceive you as a happier, more confident person, and soon enough you'll feel that way yourself. 
2. Look in the mirror and find something you absolutely love about yourself. If it helps, put up motivational quotes around your bedroom mirror like "You are beautiful" or "You are healthy and strong." I know for me, I have my "ugly days", but taking a long look at myself and appreciating my strong legs that allow me to run 5ks, or my hazel eyes that vary from brown to green usually brightens me up just a tad.
3. Go on the web and get inspired by other people's words and ideas. A friend recently sent me a website she thought I'd enjoy with inspirational quotes of the day. Check it out, and explore some other sites while you're at it! Share your favorites below.
4. Put on some bright red lipstick or pretty pink lip gloss. It instantly makes you feel prettier.
5. Join a club, or sign up for a race with a friend. Being a part of a social network and looking forward to things will make you much happier altogether. Plus, you'll feel more productive, giving you a confidence boost like no other!
6. Surround yourself with a happy, confident friend. When your having a down-in-the-dumps day, steer clear of that Negative Nancy pal of yours, 'cause trust me-that's not gonna help the situation much. Instead, call up a family member or that positive go-to pal who never fails to make you smile!
7. Embrace Your Body-You know that episode on Sex and the City, where Charlotte is afraid to take her towel off in the steam room, 'cause she thinks her thighs are big? Then, she finally gets brave enough to let it go, and someone compliments her "great breasts." Well, even though that's fictional, it holds true in real life. When I was on Spring Break in Acapulco with my girlfriends a few years ago, a few of us were covering up our bikini's with shorts, towels or cover ups. But by day 2, we saw that people of all shapes and sizes were walking around the beach and pool, strutting their stuff, so we decided to "embrace our bods" and the confidence naturally came with it.
8. Take a long, steamy shower, shave and then cover your arms and legs with your favorite lotion. How could you not feel sexy afterward?
9. Pump up the music! Blast some feel good tunes that never fail to put you in a good  mood. Some of my favorites are "Video" by India Arie, "My Girl" by The Temptations, and anything by Beyonce or Fergie when I'm at the gym working out.
10. Get energized with a long, sweaty gym session in clothes that flatter your body. Too many people cover themselves up in big baggy sweats and over-sized Tee's. Instead, put something on that hugs your curves, and you'll feel much sexier. I love Victoria's Secret cropped yoga pants and a fitted tank.
11. Get inspired by other beautiful people-Don't let beautiful women intimidate you. Instead, let them motivate you and inspire you! Know that women of all shapes, colors and sizes are beautiful in their own way. Once you see the beauty in others, you will consequently find it in yourself. 
12. Finish a project-Clean out your closet, finish a book or paint your room once and for all. You'll feel wonderful knowing you got something done!
13. Put down the weight loss mags and read a feel-good article. Pick up a healthy cooking magazine or a women's running issue. Enough of that "Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days" crap in all those diet mags. Indulge in something that's going to make you think out of the box and feel good about yourself instead. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tips for a Thinner Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving is coming in just 2 days, and I'm already getting all giddy about it, as it's hands down my favorite holiday. For one day a year, all my family comes together to eat good food, drink good wine and be merry! But just 'cause Turkey Day is known to make you overindulge and feel the need to unbutton those pants, doesn't mean it has to be a day of gluttony. Here, 7 tips to make this years Thanksgiving just a tad healthier. 
1. Go for a morning run! Sign up for a Turkey Trot in your neighborhood, take a morning spin class at your gym, or just go for a light jog with your family. Starting your day off on the right track will make you feel much better throughout the day!
2. Eat breakfast! Many people fast before the big meal because they know how much food they are going to be eating. However, that's actually counterproductive. Instead, go for a healthy, light breakfast like fresh fruit with toast and nut butter, or an egg white omelet. This will keep you satisfied until Thanksgiving meal is served, and you'll be much less likely to overindulge.
3. Fill up on protein. Turkey is actually a healthy, lean protein that's super good for you so don't be shy on the meat! Pack on lots of turkey, and then several of your favorite side dishes. If your a vegetarian, make a good portion of your plate healthy veggies, like roasted butternut squash and broccoli and then pack on some of your favorite treats!
4. Do indulge in what you love...just not the whole darn dish! Don't be afraid to treat yourself. After all, it is Thanksgiving and this grand holiday only comes once a year. I like to fill my plate with lotsa healthy stuff, and then take a few good-sized scoops of my annual favorites, like my aunt's broccoli casserole (so cheesy and delish), grandma's stuffing and my mom's mashed potatoes with homemade gravy!
5. When dessert time rolls around, pick one dessert, like a slice of homemade cheesecake or apple pie. If your a try-all kinda gal, take a tiny sliver of each dessert that hits your eye, such as a small chocolate chip cookie, a corner of grandma's chocolate cream pie, and a scoop of pudding. Just don't overdue it and you'll feel good as new!
6. Share leftovers! If you host Thanksgiving at your household, give out doggie-bags to all your guests so your not eating Thanksgiving dinner again and again for the next week. If you travel for Thanksgiving, take a small to-go bag of your favorites if the host tries to hand out food at the end! Maybe you loved that cranberry sauce or string bean casserole, so feel free to take what you enjoyed most!
7. Walk it off! My family likes to take a 20 minute stroll after the big meal to digest a bit, that is if the weather holds up. Go for a quick walk to get all that food moving, and your tummy will feel a lot better afterward!

Monday, November 23, 2009

30 (More) "Happy Things"

I received so much positive, cheerful feedback from the post 2 weeks ago-"The Simple Things"-that I decided to post an additional 30 things that make me smile. Enjoy! : ) And please, add your own at the end!
1. English accents (or any accent for that matter)
2. Sitting by the TV on a rainy day and watching episode after episode of your favorite sitcom
3. S'mores by the campfire
4. Christmas CARDS
5. Colorful scarves
6. The smell of bacon upon waking
7. The first snowfall
8. Family vacations
9. Thanksgiving dinner
10. Summer BBQ's
11. Dressing up
12. Carving pumpkins+then roasting the seeds afterward
13. Couple's first dance at weddings
14. Sentimental toasts
15. Fancy hats on fancy ladies
16. Tea parties
17. Sleepover parties
18. Family dinners
19. Awkward people who aren't afraid to laugh at themselves
20. The color purple
21. Looking for beach glass and coming across that perfect shade of blue or purple
22. Listening to waves crashing at the beach
23. Decorating the Christmas tree...in PJ's...with Christmas music in the background
24. Little kids saying blunt things (ya just gotta laugh!)
25. Walking in the city for hours
26. Fresh flower bouquets
27. Naps
28. Warm laundry
29. Clean flannel sheets for the winter(especially warm socks and underwear)
30. Making homemade cookies all day long for loved ones. . . and licking the batter!





Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Healthy Low fat Fall Recipes

So, I was perusing through the web, when I came across these Top 10 Low fat Fall Recipes by About.com, and knowing me, I just HAD to click on the link. 
While browsing through some of the "top 10," all of the recipes looked absolutely delicious but I was especially compelled to test out the Stuffed Acorn Squash, Pumpkin Pancakes (though I'll have to substitute brown rice flour and soy milk to make them gluten/dairy free), and Baked Apples
Those three in particular were screaming "fall," and envisioning the scents and comfort while cooking these foods put me in a cozy, put-on-some-PJ's and hit the kitchen mindset.
I can't wait to try these recipes out throughout the next week, and other fall favorites I come across.
Please, I urge you to share your own healthy fall dishes for others to try in their own kitchen! 
Ok, time to hit the kitchen and whoop up some breakfast-all this food talk is making me hungryyy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Healthy Quote of the Day

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book."  ~Irish Proverb

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Question of the Week: Food On the Go!

Q: "First of all, I LOVE your blog... you have so many great ideas and I love reading about them. I have a problem that you might be able to help me out with...I just moved into my first apartment a few months ago after living in dorms the past few years and i'm loving it, but my one issue is making food for myself. I like cooking my own meals (so much cheaper and healthier than eating out) but with my crazy class schedule I just dont have the time to cook during the week. Do you have any suggestions/recipes that are good to make over the weekend then freeze to eat later in the week?"-Kristen, 20

A: Kristen, I feel your pain. Transitioning from the dorm life to an apartment for the first time can be difficult when it comes to eating healthy in the kitchen. But, good news you aren't doomed and there are plenty of quick meals you can make ahead of time or even the day of (yes, even on those extra hectic days!) 
For breakfast:
>whip up a quick smoothie with soy or skim milk, a slightly mushy banana, and frozen berries of your choice. Add cinnamon, flaxseed oil or peanut butter for an extra healthy boost to get you going during the day! Seriously, smoothies are my savior when I'm in a rush to get somewhere!
>breakfast burrito: scramble up 2 eggs or egg whites, and top with low fat cheese and some salsa. Add black beans if you have 'em! Wrap it up in a whole wheat wrap and take it to go while your heading out the door!
>Make healthy muffins ahead of time, and pop 'em in the fridge or freezer to stay fresh, so you can grab one whenever you're in a rush!
For lunch:
>cut up fruits and veggies ahead of time during the weekend, so you can throw together a quick salad when you're on the go. Add hummus, tuna or a hard-boiled egg for some extra protein! 
*Tip: I hard-boil several eggs at the beginning of the week so I can have them on hand whenever I'm in a rush!
>Whole grain wrap: Throw together turkey, tuna or any other lean meat, and wrap it up in tin foil to head out the door for your busy day. Be creative-add on chopped apples, raisins or vidalia onions for some extra flavor!
>Take rice cakes, unsalted nuts 'n' fresh fruit with you whenever your out of the apartment for a long day. You never know when those munchies are going to hit and this is a much better option than settling for the vending machine or a burger from your cafeteria!
>tuna melt: make tuna ahead of time if you want and just pop it in the toaster with some light cheese on a piece of whole grain bread or wheat wrap! Top with lettuce and veggies : )
For dinner:
>Pop a sweet potato in the mic for about 6 minutes, and sprinkle with cinnamon 'n' sugar, or spices and a light buttery spread like Smart Balance. Serve with a large salad or some chicken you had precooked in the freezer ahead of time. Seriously-quickest, yummiest meal!
>Buy Boil-in-a-Bag brown rice by Success, which cooks in 8 minutes. Meanwhile thaw out your chicken and frozen veggies to throw in. Add a dash of low-sodium soy sauce and you've got yourself a 10 minute meal!
>Make a chili, lentil or chicken soup ahead of time and freeze it for those times your schedule is extra crazy! Take it out the day of and put it in the fridge so it will be thawed out by the time your ready for din! Try these healthy chicken soup recipes from Woman's Day; substitute extra veggies and veggie stock for the chicken to make these comforting soups vegetarian-friendly! 
>Make meat sauce ahead of time with some fresh marinara, tomatoes, garlic and lean turkey burger. Freeze and use it whenever your craving a yummy pasta dish. It'll take 10 min to make the pasta, and you can forget about the whole sauce schpeel! Use brown rice or whole grain pasta for ultimate health benefits!
>Have store bought veggie burgers and turkey burgers on hand for when you seriously have ZERO time. I love Dr. Praeger's Veggie Burgers-in the California flavor-and the original Bahama Rice Burgers.
>Marinate chicken with some light italian dressing, lemon, garlic and spices of choice and freeze to add to any dish during the week! You can even use it for a Mexi night and make fajitas-just have all the veggies precut and top with salsa or light sour cream!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Simple Things in Life

Today was one of those days where my morning started off so well that I just knew it was going to be a good day. I woke up at 7 a.m., got some cleaning done and then trekked off to Shaw's to buy some waffles 'n' turkey bacon for breakfast-which was so delish, by the way. Anyway, while at Shaw's, as I walked by the deli, an older man and middle-aged woman began humming and singing to "What a Night," with huge smiles on their faces. Then, the older man looked at the woman and said, "Ya gotta be happy in the morning. . . sometimes, ya just gotta smile." That made my day, as odd as that is. Really, it's the little, simple things in life that get me.
So, it got me thinking of some of the little things in life that always make me smile, no matter what I'm dealing with. I put together a list of 30 of my personal "happy" things...
1. Breakfast buffets, especially at nice hotels or on vacation
2. Reading a book by the fireplace on a cold, cold night
3. Used Bookstores, or any bookstore for that matter
4. Beatles music
5. My funny, sometimes odd, loving family 
6. Buying a new dress
7. Victoria's Secret Underwear-can't beat 5 for 25
8. Older couple's smiling and holding hands with their spouse-when you can tell their love hasn't changed an inch
9. Peanut butter...on anything
10. Thanksgiving dinner (pre-bloat/stomachache)
11. When the cups at Starbucks dress up for the winter
12. Seeing people with good hearts do a random act of kindness to a stranger
13. Brewing a fresh pot of coffee early in the morning
14. Laughing...hysterically...so hard until your stomach hurts
15. Making mysterious sexy eyes at a stranger, and then looking back to see they did a double take as well
16. Love letters or cute little notes left on scrap paper or napkins
17. Fall/Winter-y scented candles, like warm apple crisp, pumpkin pie and cupcake
18. Getting butterflies
19. Those little after dinner mints they give you at fancy restaurants
20. Having a crush
21. Dressing up for a fancy girls night out/dinner date
22. Getting unexpected good news
23. Receiving an unexpected letter in the mail
24. A spontaneous adventure 
25. Surprises, or having someone turn out different(good different)than you at first thought
26. Romance, and hearing love stories of how people met. . . 
27. Long, hot showers
28. The first snowfall 
29. When you go to check out at a store and everything is miraculously on SALE
30. Having a dream + people with ambitions
Now, feel free to share your own "happy" things. . . 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Instead of That, Try This. . .

There are plenty times in life when we have the utter urge to do something bad, wrong, regretful, etc. but catch ourselves with a better, healthier alternative. Here, 7 simple BETTER choices for those tricky times...

When you feel like you could punch something/one-------->go for a long run 'n' sweat it out.
Instead of going overboard and binging on brownie batter----->eat a piece of dark chocolate or order a small soy latte.
Instead of sobbing over a bad day----->phone a great friend and talk it out!
Instead of stressing over your overly hectic life----->sip on a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea.
Instead of settling for the vending machine during your midday munchies--->bring an apple with peanut butter to work!
Instead of bitching someone out in an argument---->listen and try to understand their side of the story for once.
Instead of spending a zillion bucks on take out yet again--->make a healthy din at home. Go here for some ideas! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

5 Simple Yet Satisfying Things to Do Right Now

1. Watch a feel good holiday-esque movie, such as Love Actually, The Holiday or even Elf. Hey, it is actually November now, so it's kinda OK to get into holiday spirit, right?
2. Make a delish, comforting warm fall dessert like hot apple cider with pumpkin pie or apple crisp. (Try Maiann's low-sugar healthy apple crisp recipe!
3. Go to your local grocery store and buy some butternut squash-it's the perfect time of year to get it on sale! Carve out the seeds, then chop it up into small pieces and drizzle with cinnamon and a few TB of agave syrup or light  maple syrup. Bake on 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. 
4. Clean out your closet. Get all those summer tanks 'n' dresses out of there and make way for fall fashion!
5. Walk around your city and take snapshots of anything and everything: the pretty leaves, a cute older couple or an antique building. Find the beauty in everything.

Monday, November 2, 2009

EEEK! WHAT DID I JUST EAT??!: Detoxifying After a Rough Night

Ok, I have to admit-between me and my best friend together, we utterly, completely let ourselves go the other night. It all started when we went out to a Halloween party and the first thing we saw (unfortunately) was the snack table, filled with loads of candy, donuts, cookies and anything 'n' everything sweet. 
Grazing over the snacks, we both acted as though we were never going to get the chance to eat again. I frantically shoved everything in my mouth as if I were in a race-1/2 a gingersnap cookie, a chocolate chip cookie, the top part (aka the good part) of two chocolate Funfetti cupcakes, a chunk of a Reese's cup that was on top of the cupcake. I think it's safe to say that I went crazy and lost sight of all senses. 
As my friend smuggled a handful of Reese's and butterfingers into her purse, struggling to zip it shut, I knew we had gone a bit over the top. Five minutes later, I felt a stomachache coming on as I glanced over at my friend who was hunched over by a bench, saying she felt nauseous and had to sit down for a bit. 
My God. How did we let this happen?
Yes, our inhibitions were a a tad off because we had a few cocktails, but YEESH. We could have at least stopped it at one cupcake or a cookie and called it a night, but instead we acted as if it was Thanksgiving dinner (gone desserts). 
Of course, it's great to treat ourselves once in a while, but is it really worth it when it causes this much pain?
The next morning, we both woke up feeling blah, as we pathetically attempted to feel better by nibbling on toast smeared with peanut butter. 
Ugh.
Well I'm not writing this post to shame those who have a little too much fun sometimes (aka overindulge). I'm writing this because I'm sure many of you have had nights like this as well, or times where you just let yourself go, just a little too much.
But, no worries! I'm here to tell you what to do to patch up last nights mistakes!

1. Guzzle lots of H20: As soon as you realize the damage being done, grab water immediately. As soon as I got home that unfortunate Halloween night, I guzzled two large glasses of water before bed, and fortunately felt a little better in the a.m. Water will help flush out the toxins and make you feel brand new again!
2. Steer Clear of the Sodium: Salt will make you feel bloated, and most definitely will not get rid of that blah feeling. Keep your food choices simple and fresh the next day i.e. no processed crap.
3. Eat a balanced, healthy breakfast: Just because you're feeling like a fatty doesn't mean you should fast! Believe it or not, eating will actually help you feel better. But this doesn't mean pancakes, bacon and greasy goodness! Instead, chose a healthy breakfast like egg whites with veggies or fresh fruit and some yogurt.
4. Load up on Fruit: Fruit, especially anything with high water content like melon, grapefruit and berries, helps clean your system out. Try to incorporate fruit into each meal that day, or snack on some between meals to cure the bloat.
5. Get Movin'!: Get off your butt to help move things along and sweat out the toxins! Go for a loooong walk, run, bike ride or anything to get yourself off the couch. Even though you feel like a big blob and just want to sit all day long by the tube, getting out will make you feel much, much better-trust me!
Feel free to add any more tips you find help cure things after one of  those days!

Friday, October 30, 2009

"Beauty is acceptance. It's being kind to other people and accepting yourself." -Whitney Thompson, plus size model

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fearing Food? Give Yourself a Break!

I recently read that in a study of several countries and cultures, Americans were most likely to attribute chocolate cake with guilt. 
Other cultures, like the French and Italians thought of words like celebration, happiness or tasty. But we said guilt. That was our word. 
That's sad to me. It's sad that we oh so often fear food, while other cultures embrace it, savor it and think of it as something to enjoy.
When I traveled to Italy a few years ago, I saw first hand how celebratory and communal the act of eating is to them. They don't think about the calories, fat, or "diet-destructing" factor of food. And when they sit down to enjoy a meal, they sit down to enjoy it, and I mean really enjoy it. 
It felt so nice to take a step away from reality in Italy, and actually allow myself to enjoy my meals, eating slowly and not thinking about it for the first time in a looong time. 
Rather than thinking, "Shit, this is going to destroy my diet," I was thinking, "This seafood risotto is absolutely decadent." 
Why can't we think like that more often over here? Where did this whole food-fear thing come about, anyway? Suddenly, our culture has become so dramatically diet/fat/calorie-obsessed that we can't even look at a piece of chocolate cake without feeling guilty about it. 
What ever happened to food making people happy? Geesh.
I think we need to take a step back, watch just a tad fewer reality weight-loss TV shows and read a little less into those "miracle" diet tips. 
Of course, it's good to have a healthy mindset and be conscious about your food choices, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. 
Yes, you're never going to catch me chowing away mindlessly on Pringles or chocolate cake, bite after bite. But that's not because I fear them. It's because I don't like the way they make my stomach feel, and would rather go for something more satisfying to me like fresh fruit or a big handful of dark chocolate chips. Yes, there was a time that I too feared food, but thank god that is over and done with because that simply wasn't the way to be. It was way too stressful.
All in all, we need to learn to look at food with a more open perspective and learn not to be so afraid of it. Let's not be so hard on ourselves, OK? 
So, go ahead and have a sliver of that chocolate fudge cake, for happy, celebratory reasons only of course!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

5 Good for Ya Things to Do In the Kitchen Today

1. Clean out your fridge. It's time. You know it is. Organize all your fruits, veggies, meats and dairy. Throw out anything that's old, rotting or just plain in the way. And get rid of that last bite of chocolate cake that's been in there all week. Do ya really need it?
2. Make my healthy brown rice "pita chips."  Have fun with them and dip 'em in fresh salsa, yummy hummus or just snack on 'em by themselves.
3. Make a cup o' coffee with your coffee-maker ya rarely use, and drink it black or with just a dash of skim or soy milk. After all, do ya reallllly need all that cream and sugar? Skip 'em and get more health benefits from the natural coffee beans, without disguising the flavor in loads of sugary crap.
4. Blast some feel-good music (I looove the good ol' oldies like Beatles or Tempations) and go to town in your kitchen, cleaning every nook and cranny. That dust that's been there all month needs to go! You'll feel great and much healthier after your kitchen is shiny and  new!
5. Once your kitchen is all spankin' clean, cook something you never have before, like a vegetarian chili or some low fat corn muffins. Search up some fun recipes in your old cookbooks or online, then head out to the store to buy all the ingredients. You'll have a blast trying out a new recipe, and who knows, maybe it'll become a new fav?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Skinny Jeans Have Finally Seen the Light (And So Have I)

So, while this may sound shocking for many of you live-in-your-denim type folks, today was the first time in about 4 years that I actually wore jeans out during the day and felt good in them. 
It's not that I hate jeans, per say. In fact, there are more than 15 pairs of the damn things shoved in my drawer, most of them never even worn.
No, it's not that i hate jeans at all. It's that I hated them on me. I loathed them, detested them, cursed them for "making me look fat." Seriously, I went through the majority of my college nights out wearing dresses, leggings or anything else just to avoid putting on jeans. 
"But that outfit would look great if you wore jeans with it," friends would constantly say to me, as I shied away in my room, chickening out and slipping into yet another dress. 
But today I braved my fear and slipped into my new pair of Forever 21 skinny jeans and actually felt good. "Wow, OK, not so scary at all," I thought to myself as I zipped them up and got a glimpse of myself in my full-length closet mirror.
No, I didn't necessarily look "skinny" in my skinny jeans; I'm a curvy girl and I've accepted that. However, I looked healthy and good in them, and most importantly I felt good. I actually for once liked the way they hugged my body, and the way my butt looked in them, and that's a lot to say for a gal who doesn't like jeans, nor anything really that's too formfitting on my legs.
So today has been a huge stepping stone for me in my life: embracing my skinny jeans and my body all in one.
So now I challenge you to love your bod for what you've got as well (skinny, curvy, voluptuous, whatever) and put on a bold outfit tonight that you feel absolutely fabulous in. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seven Things to Do Today to Make You S.M.I.L.E

1. Send an email to a friend you haven't spoken with in a while. Make it long, fascinating, humorous and witty, catching him/her up with your life and also making sure to ask about theirs. Maybe attach a few pics or a funny video to add some extra pizazz! 
2. Lay in the grass...on a blanket, get in your "comfy" position and finally finish that book you "never have time to read."
3. Make soup 'n' grilled cheese for lunch (use low-fat cheese 'n' whole grain bread...hey, we're also tryin' to be healthy, right?)
4. Go for a longggg run for mental clarity. Put your ipod on shuffle or a slow playlist instead of your usual rap...and don't stop 'til your head is clear and your dripping in sweat.
5. Take a bubble bath. Light candles if you want to. Then clip 'n' paint your nails afterward and maybe do an oatmeal facial (mix oatmeal with lukewarm water and let dry on face for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off-it feels AMAZING, I swear)
6. Jump in, stomp, crunch, catch or take a picture of leaves. It's only gonna be fall for so much longer...
7. Do something daring today, like approaching that guy you've been dying to talk to or finally allowing yourself to follow your h. e. a. r. t. <3

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Notable Healthy Chick Lit

No, I'm not talkin' girly drama infested literature. I'm talking healthy reads for healthy women (aka you!) Here, 6 books to buy at the bookstore A.S.A.P to make you feel enlightened, refreshed or just altogether happy:
1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert-very insightful, when you're in the mood for a thought-provoking, honest read. 
2. Succulent Wild Women by SARK-motivational, feel good positive joy of a book that will make you go to bed smiling and feeling good about yourself!
3. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella- "This book just takes your mind off your body and other issues you may have," says reader Carla Michele. "I own the whole series...the books just make you laugh!"
4. Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel-"I love this book because Bethenny doesn't preach dieting, restricting foods," says fan Kiley Johnston. "Instead she tries to teach you to listen to your body, find what it needs and treat it. She understands that you can't live your life to the fullest by restricting yourself."
5. The Blue Day Book by Bradley Trevor Greive-"It's definitely the best of the series," says Krista Chemerynski. "The animals are just so cute and they make you laugh and be happy."
6. Va Va Voom! Purify by Elizabeth Wilson-Great to read when you need a fresh start on healthy living or life in general; this book has cool, unique tips 'n' ideas to live a better, happier, healthier life!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Whoaaaa Baby, What a Deal!: Keep Your Grocery Bill Down, Down, Down...

So, today I went to do my weekly grocery shopping at Shaw's, and as I waited in the checkout line, I was secretly praying I wouldn't rack up too much of a bill. Even though I did go for the deals as much as possible, I also got lots of healthy picks, some being organic, so I was kind of expecting the price to be pretty steep. But, to my pleasant surprise, after my Shaw's savings card sweep, the cashier told me it was $21.27. Yep, you heard that right: a mere 21 bucks for everything. 
"Wow, girl! How did you do that?" the cashier said, shocked of my low price. "And it's all healthy! I guess now we don't have an excuse to say that it's impossible to eat healthy for a cheap price."
And she is exactly right.
Now I feel inclined to share with you what I bought today for 21 dollar bills and some change....
2 bananas
+
1 large cucumber
+
1 large zucchini
+
1 medium sweet potato
+
1 package of lactose free American Cheese (Veggie Cheese)
+
2 lb. bag of baby carrots (on sale for 2.50 from 3.50)
+
One large bag of a dozen macintosh apples (on sale for 1.99 from 3.99)
+
1/4 lb. Sara Lee Chicken Breast
+
One box of Gluten Free, Wheat Free Buckwheat Waffles
+
One dozen large white eggs
=one sweet price of 21.27


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So Beautiful: Loving This Right Now

                                   (>>from PostSecret Society. . .)

Live a Lil: Have a Cupcake Party!

When I was younger, well into high school even, my motto for life was "Live a Little!" especially when it came to food.
I remember one time after a winter ball in 9th grade, a big group of us went to Friendly's afterward with our dates; classy, I know. 
Anyway, as all the little pretty girls in their pretty little dresses contemplated whether to eat or not, a friend and I each ordered a HUGE ice cream sundae, decked out with all of the toppings.
"Hey, Whatever...let's just live a little!" I remember my friend saying to me with a huge grin.
Back then, it was easy to allow ourselves to live a little, whether it be with food, boys or life in general.
But now we have obligations, obligations to "keep it classy," hold ourselves together, make it on time to work or meetings, and somehow, in the midst of it all, also manage a healthy diet and weight.
I'm not going to lie. It's pretty darn hard. 
But that doesn't mean we all can't take some time to "live a little" once in a while, or even every day.
I forgot all about that easy, carefree childhood mindset for a while, that is until today when I came into work.
It was raining and my day was going so-so, actually worse than so-so because I had just tripped in the middle of the road...in the rain...in flip flops...in front of a car. Then my work buddy Carla said something to me that changed it all.
"I'm going to have a cupcake party soon and you're coming to it!"
Smiling brightly, her face lighting up, she continued...
"And we can have tea and make healthy snacks like fresh watermelon salsa, and then just decorate cupcakes to take home for the 'goodie bag.'" 
Right when she said goodie bag, my eyes lit up and I felt all warm and fuzzy inside.
That right there made my day, and made me wonder, why don't we all live a little, just a little more often?
Go ahead, take a bite of that freshly made bread, dig into the brownie mix and pretend you're a kid again for a day. You know you want to. And hey, it's just one day and we only live once.