Monday, August 31, 2009

Live Like the City Gals

So, for those of you that don't know, I will be moving to Boston this Wednesday to start the next chapter of my life i.e. "the real world." While I am a little bit nervous and anxious, I am ultimately ecstatic about the whole situation of starting something new, and am looking forward to the many experiences I will have.

But, that's merely background information. The real reason for this post is that while moving some of my stuff into my apartment yesterday in Boston, I noticed how active and healthy everyone seemed to be around there. Seriously, the majority of people I passed on the street were either walking, biking or running along the sidewalks.

Immediately, I got a jolt of excitement. After all, healthy people inspire me and it made me all the more excited to move there in two days!

While city-life sometimes gets a bad rap, most of the time it's the city people who know how to do things right. Look at  New-Yorkers for example. Every time I go to New York, I admire the healthy, strong woman I see walking down the street. Even in business attire and heels, they all just seem so confident, healthy and content with their life. 

Also in New York, there are healthy restaurants lining the streets, made up of little cafes left and right serving up phenomenal options like gourmet salads and grilled chicken and fish entrees. When I visited the city last week, I ordered a phenomenal salad of spinach, grilled chicken, mangoes and avocados with a light raspberry vinegarette, which was absolutely to-die-for!

Anyway, enough about my delicious salad. The point is that everytime I visit these bigger cities (I'm from a smaller farm town by the way), I instantly become jealous, asking myself "Why can't everyone live like that?"

Well, the question is, why can't we? Just because many of us aren't from a fun, hip exercise-aholics filled city doesn't mean we can't learn from them and incorporate little things into our lifestyle.

Here, alas, is a list of things you can do (no matter where you're from) to live like a true city gal:

1. Walk, as much as you can, whenever you can. This includes walking to class, the grocery store, or to a local restaurant in your town. Walking doesn't always have to be just for exercise. It's actually a great way to incorporate into your everyday lifestyle, and you won't even realize you are exercising. If it's impossible to walk somewhere, drive and park your car farther away to get that extra stride in. Be creative!

2. Check out local cafes: Do some research online or ask around. There are plenty of restaurants that are now "going green," "going organic," or "going vegan." It just takes a little time and research to find out which ones are actually worthwhile. I love the cute, off the main drag, antique-looking cafes that always have a fun crowd in them 24/7! You know, the one's that serve up little apps like hummus and pitta or bruschetta. Those types are my absolute favorite places to dine! Once I get up to Boston, I'll point some yummy ones out for you to check out!

3. Hit up Your Local Farmers Market: This is a great way to support your local community, and at the same time get some fresh, delicious veggies and fruits for the week!

4. Be confident: From my observations, "city chicks" always seem more confident, or at least carry themselves that way. I know it's semi-stereotypical but it's also semi-true. So smile more, walk standing up straight and talk like you mean it. Don't be afraid to share your opinion, state your mind or even ask for that cute guys phone number at the bar!

5. Keep Yourself Busy: City people are always busy, busy, busy! And just because you live in a rural area doesn't mean there isn't city-qualities to pick up on. Get out and explore what your town or neighboring towns has to offer! Check out local museums, hiking trails or anything to keep you busy. Because trust me on this one: when you are busy, you don't have time to think and being occupied makes you a whole lot happier. 

So go out there and give it a try: Live like a city girl for a day, maybe a week or the whole year if ya feel up to it! Really, it's easier to do than you may think. 

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Question of the Day

So, today I got to thinking about what makes me feel good, you know gets me going and boosts up my mood. Some of my favorite things that make me feel good about myself are writing (obviously), going for a nice looooong walk (with no ipod, cell or anything), and making a hot cup of green tea. What are some of your fav pick me ups or things that make you feel absolutely fabulous?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Healthy Tip of the Day: De-stress Your Bod

Don't let stress get ya down! Rather, use it to your advantage. If you're having one of those PMS-enduced, want-to-punch-something kind of days, do something about it! Don't sit there and sulk, even if you had a huge blowout fight with an employee or your boyfriend dumped you or you're just plain pissed off. Trust me, sitting there and thinking about it isn't going to help the situation one bit. 
Instead, make use of this steamed energy! Get outside for some fresh air, go for a swim, or a nice, long run on the treadmill. Trust me, you'll feel great afterwards!
Take my sister for example. Last week, she came home from work in one of those moods. You know, steaming with anger and nothing anyone said could help the situation. But, instead of sobbing and complaining, she went to the gym and was able to run 30 straight minutes on the treadmill, harder than she ever had before. And when she came home, she was glowing with happiness (and healthiness), as if nothing had ever happened.
So, go out and get some good endorphins and you'll feel so much better instantly. Trust me : )

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Healthy Tip of the Day: Love Yourself!

Learn to love and appreciate your bod just the way it is! We're so used to dishin' out compliments to others, but what about the most important person: Y-O-U? Build your confidence today by acknowledging something you love about yourself, whether it's your strong, sexy arms or the fact that you finally hit your 5-mile running goal.Trust me, it'll feel great 'n' boost your mood to give yourself a little credit every now and then!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Diet Over Exercise?

I read an article in TIME Magazine the other day called "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin," and it really got me thinking. 

Wait a minute, won't make me thin? Exercise won't make me thin? Then why do people, including myself, spend hours and hours at the gym each week, running our butts off? 

Sceptical at first, I continued reading the article to find out more. After all, this article came from TIME magazine, not some no-name magazine known for beauty and weight loss scams. 

And after reading the article word for word, I couldn't agree more with the fact that diet plays a much larger role in weight loss/weight maintenance than exercise in the grand scheme of things. 

I immediately started going through everyone I know, examining their exercise routines. Take my dad, for instance. He runs 5 to 10 miles a day, even more sometimes, and comes back in a full blown sweat, and he isn't losing weight. Now, if my dad, who works out much harder and much more than the average human being isn't even losing weight, how is someone supposed to lose weight by just going to the gym a few times a week? 

It's all diet, strictly DIET. No, I'm not talking about going on a diet, like one of those fad no-carb, no-fat crazy, impossible endeavors. I'm talking about incorporating a healthy diet into your lifestyle. 

I thought about it for a second. If my dad ate like me (a rarely any meat, high protein, high veggie, low sugar, whole grain diet), he'd be dropping pounds by the day! But, he doesn't eat like me. He's a typical man, who loves his steak, beer and ribs!

It's just so crazy to how much diet can do for your weight loss, and how few people know how vital diet is, as they waste their days away on the elliptical for hours.

I mean, think about it: Say you work your butt off running on the treadmill for 30 minutes as hard as you can, and burn maybe 300 calories, 500 even. You come home, starving and say to yourself, "Well, I worked out hard, now I can have just a little more food," or "I worked out today. I can have one of mom's homemade chocolate chip cookies. I deserve it after all." Well, maybe you deserve a treat now and then, but what many don't realize is the fact that just one cookie that most of us can demolish in seconds just added back on those hard worked calories you burned off at the gym, PLUS some. 

It's a shame how exercise-obsessed our culture has become. Don't get me wrong: I exercise every day and still will after reading this article because it makes me feel good, and I know it will tone me up and rev up my metabolism. However, there came a time where I realized if I didn't eat healthy as well (and I mean super healthy) all those hours I put in at the gym weren't going to do squat for me. 

I look back to when I went to Italy two years ago, and didn't work out at all, other than leisurely walking the streets to class and local markets. I ate a healthy Mediterranean diet while abroad (lots of fish, fresh vegetables, olive oil and fruit) with an occasional gelato (well maybe more than an occasional gelato) and came back 5 pounds less than when I went, feeling the best I had felt in years! Why? Because I didn't obsess over exercise, or food for that matter, and I maintained a healthy diet for the most part.

So, in conclusion, we all need to realize that eating right should be #1 in your mind if you're trying to lose weight. Exercise, it's just a healthy bonus on top to keep our hearts healthy, our minds sane and our metabolisms (and moods) up! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


It’s happened again. You’ve let yourself slip, whether it was taking a way-too-long “vacation” from the gym, or eating just that one extra French fry or chocolate chip cookie…every day for the past two months.

While it may seem like you’ve fallen off the deep end and that it’s nearly impossible to go back, you absolutely CAN! And all you need is a large dose of some good ol’ motivation!

Yup, that’s right. Motivation is the one surefire way to keep you going and bring you one step closer to your goals, because when you’re motivated (and I mean truly motivated) you won’t want to give up!

So, here is a list of ideas to ingrain in your head that will help you keep going and stay motivated throughout the day. If you follow this positive mindset, you’ll never even have to think about getting to that low point ever again.

1.  “I can look like that again”:

So many people I know reveal pictures from months, or even years, ago, saying that they’d only wish they could look like that again. Well you can, that is if you think you can and really, truly believe in it. By looking at pictures of yourself at time when you were in shape and healthy, you will be more motivated to keep going!

Try pinning up a picture in your room or on the fridge of what you desire to look like, and then get moving.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a picture of you, either. If there’s a celebrity or athlete who motivates you, by all means let them be your role model to get in shape! Just be careful of setting too high expectations, and know your own body type and what your capable of.

2. “I will be more active throughout the day”           

When you’re in shape, you’re more apt to stay active all day long. Whether that’s playing outside more with your kids, or going on a hiking trip with your friends that you’d normally skip out on. Getting involved more and setting a good example for your friends or kids is a great reason to stay motivated!

Also, you’ll be less bored because you now have something to work for: being healthy and getting your body back the way you want it to be! This will make you more excited to get up in the morning and go for that jog, rather than your usual routine of setting the alarm on snooze and going back to bed.

3. “I am getting closer to my goals”

Tracking your progress is a great way to keep you going! When you see the results of all that you have accomplished already, you’ll be more likely to continue. After all, if whatever you’re doing is working, you won’t want to stop!

Keep a record of whatever your working toward, whether that be weighing yourself once or twice a week, or timing your run. When you see the scale or stopwatch time go down, you’re goal will seem more realistic and you’ll want to go, go, go!

4. “I can throw out my ‘fat clothes’.”

            Those jeans you keep just in case your weight creeps up again embarrass you. Well, good news my friend: you can finally throw those out or pass them on to someone in need! If you stay motivated and keep working toward your goals, you’ll never have to squeeze into your fat jeans ever again.

            And that’s not the only thing to look forward to. You’ll also get to buy a whole new wardrobe full of flattering clothes to fit your new figure. (Now, that’s a good excuse to have to go shopping!)

5. “I will gain confidence”

            It’s a known fact that when you feel better about yourself and your body, your confidence will boost as well! Seeing how great you look in the mirror, or how wonderful you feel after a long, sweaty workout will make your confidence level peak!

6. “My social life will beam”

            Have you ever opted out of a fun evening with friends because you were embarrassed of how you looked, or worried that you wouldn’t look good in any of your outfits?

            Once you get motivated, you’ll no longer have the urge to stay in. Instead, to opposite will happen and you’ll want to go out, socialize and show off your new, improved look! Trust me, having confidence works wonders on your social life.

7. “Life is too short to bed sad or depressed. I can be happy again.”

            When your overweight or feeling that you’re working toward absolutely nothing, you are bound to feel sad and even depressed at times.

But, if you start braving the gym again (or even just put on your walking sneakers), you are one step closer to reaching your goals. Knowing that your working for something, rather than doing it all for nothing, will encourage you to keep working at it! Plus, those endorphins you’ll get from working out are an instant mood-booster!

8. “I will look and feel beautiful (and others will notice)”

            Of course working out is about you and how you feel, and when you stay motivated you’ll feel a heck of a lot healthier and more beautiful.

But, those wonderful compliments here and there from family members or friends don’t hurt either! When others commend you on your amazing results and tell you how great you look, you’re confidence level will soar to the roof and you’ll want to keep at your routine even more.

9. “I can be a role model for others”

            Once you get back into shape, this should motivate you to want to help others. You can show a close friend, sibling or coworker what worked for you, and help them to feel great about their body as well! Seeing others look up to you as a role model should make you feel absolutely wonderful about your achievements, and you’ll want to keep up with all your hard work because now the eyes are on Y-O-U!

10. “I will be in charge of my own life”

            Forget all the boxes of donuts and negative thoughts that used to run your life. You and only you are now in charge of your life, and it will feel darn good to say so! After all, it was you and a little bit of motivation that got you to where you are today, so congratulate yourself and let that be an example to keep up with all the hard work. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Healthy Tip Of the Day: Power up with Protein!

Everyone puts so much emphasis on eating something quick and carb-filled before a workout toh have enough energy. But it's also just as (if not more) important to eat post-workout! 

Make sure you eat a protein-rich snack after those long hours working hard at the gym. This not only will refuel your energy but also helps to repair muscle tissue. Eat something quick 'n' easy like a banana with peanut butter, tuna on a whole grain wrap or a hard boiled egg for ultra benefits. And remember to drink lots of water too!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Intervals: An Exercise-Lover's New Best Friend

The other day, a family friend came up to me in distress because he had hit a weight-loss plateau. “ I just can’t seem to lose weight or body fat anymore,” he said. “I work out hard every day. What could I possibly be doing wrong?” After I went over the basic checklist for maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, I asked him if he incorporates interval training into his workouts. “Inter-what?” he replied, not having a clue what they were, which is a shame because intervals may very well be the missing ingredient into many peoples efforts to lose weight or tone up.

As it turns out, this friend of mine isn’t alone in his lack of interval knowledge. Many people I’ve spoken with either have no idea what intervals are, don’t know how to execute them the right way, or have never even tried. Let’s just say, if any of these apply to you, you are missing out on one of the best workout secrets out there!

Don’t worry; it’s not too late to get started. I’m here to inform you what exactly intervals are, why they are so good for you, and how to incorporate them into your workout regimen now.

What are Intervals, anyway?

            Simply put, intervals are moderate level workouts with high intensity bursts of energy added for short periods of time (hence the name intervals). Because the high intensity bursts don’t last very long, it makes it possible for your body to recover before you increase speed again.

These intervals, rotating between high and low intensity, makes interval training suitable for anybody, no matter what your workout level is. That’s because it’s up to you to control how much speed is added during the exercise and after all, you know your own limits best.

            Interval training is different than your regular run of the mill cardio routine because the rest periods incorporated into the routine allow you to work much harder during the short, fast-paced bursts that follow. This also results in burning more calories than you normally would. Also, studies have shown that interval training leads to an extended calorie burn throughout the day, more so than a typical steady-paced cardio workout.

Benefits of Intervals

            As I already mentioned above, most often people who practice interval training burn more calories during and after their exercise, working up a nice sweat! But burning calories isn’t the only benefit of interval training. It has also been known to conquer weight-loss plateaus, tone up the body all over, blast fat and increase your metabolism throughout the day! Sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it?

And the benefits don’t end there. By incorporating intervals into your weekly routine, you’ll be less likely to get bored of your workouts, and have much more fun while working out. Instead of counting down those long, dreadful 30 minutes of steady running on the treadmill that you normally do, you’ll be constantly engaged in your exercise routine, making it go by much faster!

Add Them To Your Routine Today

            As I mentioned before, intervals are for anyone, and that means you can get started today. With just a few, short tips, you’ll be on your way to being an interval-expert in no time!

§  Choose Your Terrain:

One of the best things about interval training is that you can do it almost anywhere! Whether it be your favorite cardio machine at the gym or running around your neighborhood, intervals can be modified for whatever environment you’re in.

Actually, most cardio machines at the gym, like the elliptical, have a set interval program that you can choose before you start your workout. It will automatically change the machine’s levels for you to challenge your body and blast that fat off quickly. If you’d like to change your own levels manually, just keep an eye on the time and change speeds accordingly.

If you’re running or biking outside, go at your normal, steady pace for a minute or two, adding short bursts of 30-second speed intervals.

§  Know Your Level:

While all of this may seem intense, interval training doesn’t have to be an extreme, out-of-breath experience. You can alter your intervals based on your personal fitness level. For instance, if you’re used to walking lightly on the treadmill at a steady 3.5 for half an hour a day, try walking at a 3.5 for one minute, with 30 seconds at a 4.0, or even lightly jogging at a 4.5. Once you get comfortable doing that, you can increase the speeds gradually during your next workout.

However, maybe you’re already a fitness guru, who can run 10 miles like it’s a piece of cake. If that’s the case, try running at your normal, steady speed for 2 to 5 minutes at a time, with bursts of 30 second to 1-minute sprints.

§  Change it Up

Just like any other workout, you don’t want to do the same exact thing every time. If you bike one day, try swimming or running the next. This will keep your body guessing what’s next and blast away even more calories!

Also, you don’t need to practice interval training every day. Give your body a rest, and simply incorporate intervals into your routine two to three days a week at first.

Now that you’ve read all about intervals, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Why didn’t I start doing this before?” Well, forget about the past and start living in the present, adding them to your routine today!

Interval training really is a no brainer to get in shape and get that dial on the scale moving down again. After a few sessions, it’s sure to become your new best friend and greatest workout buddy yet!