First Step is Admission: I’m a Grazer

Anybody who knows me knows that I am not always the most healthy eater, and much like a cow, I am a grazer. I am on a lifelong mission to give my body the fuel it needs, while maintaining my snacking ways, without denying myself delicious foods (sadly, I did not inherit my mom’s ability to enjoy raw veggies as much as tortilla chips). The struggle is real, kiddos.

But I have great news! Summertime is the best time for finding healthier snacking alternatives. Here are a few of my favorites:

1229903_10101794142535873_1323238134_n.jpgFrozen grapes –
They’re like delicious little popsicles. Buy grapes (I prefer red, seedless), wash grapes, freeze grapes, enjoy grapes. While sometimes a little pricey, and not a great source of protein, grapes prove to be a great source for vitamin K, vitamin C and potassium. So they’re working hard for your bones, heart, muscles and immune system.

Veggies and dip –
Not all dips are totally bad, and if they’re the vehicle to getting veggies in your body, then don’t totally count them out. Everything in moderation, right? My favorite dipping utensils are: carrots, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Tip: buy fresh, whole veggies and clean/cut them yourself. They’re both healthier and MUCH cheaper.

My fave dips include:

  • Tzatziki – This heavenly white dip is made with a Greek yogurt base, shredded cucumbers, fresh dill, salt and garlic. The brand that I eat (Cava) has just 35 calories in 2 TBSP. It’s a much healthier alternative to ranch.
  • Hummus – Hummus is made from mashed garbanzo beans, ground sesame seeds, olive oil, garlic and spices. This dip is a significant source of fiber, which supports heart health and weight management. It’s also a great source of protein. Tip: Some people are getting real into the soy bean version of hummus… but beware of soy beans as they, like corn, are rarely non-GMO.
  • Fresh salsa – Homemade or fresh salsa is both delicious and an excellent source of vitamin C. Most contain about 10 calories in 2 TBSP, and boast 0g of fat.

Air popped popcorn –
This stuff’s the shit. You save money, you save your body from weird chemicals and you reserve the right to season it as you please. I season mine with pink Himalayan sea salt and a little bit of butter. But for reference, let me just quickly list the ingredients in a standard “Butter” flavor of microwave popcorn:giphy-downsized

  • whole grain popcorn, palm oil, salt, natural and artificial flavors [milk], color added, TBHQ (which is a preservative). Ew.

Great, so scratch out the fake crap and you’ve got what I make at home for WAY cheaper. My ingredients are: organic whole grain popcorn, sea salt, butter. Tip: Americans have an unhealthy fear of butter. Real butter, in moderation, is not bad for you. It’s certainly better for you than whatever the “natural and artificial” flavors are they’re putting in your microwave bag.

Let’s be honest, I’m not cutting out the occasional Twix bar and don’t you dare ask me to give up pretzels, but it’s good to look for some healthy snacking alternatives. Want to determine if something is “healthy?” Here’s a checklist that can help you decide:

  • Is it whole?
  • Is it fresh?
  • Can you read the ingredients and do you know what each of them is?
  • What type of fats are in it? Don’t hate on all fats, but try to stay away from saturated fats and run for your life if something has trans fat.

loveB

 

 

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Out of the Comfort Zone

Recently two kick ass dudes (@pdiddypics and @dturbeville) reached out about participating in a photoshoot for a gym in D.C.. Although I post workout pics all the time and write blog posts that sometimes get deeply personal, working out in front of somebody else’s camera was SUPER terrifying for me. But I did it, and I’m so glad I didn’t let fear stop me. I stepped out of my comfort zone and am happy to share some of their amazing work with you all.

BTW, if you live in D.C. and are looking for a gym with personalized training programs and a very holistic, hands-on approach to fitness, I’d definitely recommend Ambitious Athletics. Also, if you love beautiful pics of people and places and enjoy following along with two strangers’ bromance, definitely give Paul and Dennis a follow on IG.
loveB

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All the Small Things

Ok, so not everybody has time to work out, and not everybody has the drive to workout. That’s cool. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t extremely simple things you can do each day to help with overall health. Here are just a few things to consider as you go about your day:

  • Stairs, Stairs, Stairs: While you’re young enough and you don’t have seriously achey knees, take the stairs every single chance you get. I got into this habit because I like to cruise through the airport, so instead of waiting for crowded elevators or escalators, I started taking the stairs. Honestly, give me one reason this isn’t a good idea?
  • Walk This Way: Try to make the time to walk either aimlessly or as a method of transportation. After I adopted my dog, I saw a noticeable difference in my body just from walking her a handful of times a day. We were given two legs with an incredibly complex structure of bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons that we should probably put to use, if we can, no?
  • Clean(er) Eating: I am not one for denying myself the things that I love. No fad diets for this chick. However, if there are things in your diet that are terrible for you that you could totally live without, drop ’em. One day, I decided to stop drinking Coke, and for the most part, I don’t miss it, and neither does my body. Coke, bye.
  • Water, Water, Everywhere:  Our body is 60% water (the heart and brain are about 73% water and the lungs are 83%!!!). I don’t have time to type it all, nor do you have time to read it all, but water does a gazillion things for you. Drink up, thirsty warriors.
  • Down to the Core: The jury is still out on standing desks vs. Swiss balls as chairs. But nobody believes that slouching all day long is any good for you. As you sit (for hours and hours and hours and hours) at work, activate your core in order to hold your shoulders up and your stomach in. This will actually be hard at first, but good posture leads to a stronger core and vice versa. It’s really a win-win.
  • Zzzzzzz: Get the sleep your body needs and deserves. Treating yourself right isn’t just about exercise and diet, it’s about allowing your body to relax and recover. It’s likely talking to you and you’re just not listening, yo.

Side note: If you’re young and just entering the workforce and you are at a company that glorifies a “work hard play hard” lifestyle, remember that it’s fun. Super fun, actually. But it’s not healthy or sustainable. Remember to put your FOMO aside once in a while to get a good night sleep.
loveB

 

 

Checking In

Oh hey there. I’ve been missing you all. I took a short break from blogging, not intentionally but because life has been busy in all the right ways recently. But I am back, and figured that a good place to start would be to check in on how I am doing with my 2017 Goals. We’re one quarter of the way through the year. Here’s my progress and the completely ambiguous score that I’ve given myself.

The Ones Who Matter

  • Current Status: In just three months, I have already made some amazing memories. I also had my first Galentine’s Day trip with two of the most beautiful souls I know.
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: A few friends are getting married this year and I hope to be able to celebrate with them! I’ve also got a killer 4th of July road trip planned.
  • Score: 7. I can do better, particularly with the long-distance friends.

My Best Friend is a Pit Bull

  • Current Status: I remain painfully aware that Annie won’t live forever, and it’s almost debilitating. I’m super fortunate to have people in my life who understand how important Annie is and include her whenever possible. We have spent very few nights apart this year, aside from some travel. And my saint of a mom came up from South Carolina to dog-sit while I was in Ghana!
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: Annie is coming on the epic 4th of July road trip. I am also excited to continue a fun tradition that we started last summer. We skateboard to a nearby park where I work out. Then we skateboard home. It’s a great way for us to both get exercise and spend quality time together.
  • Score: 8. I still think I could do more. I specifically should hire a dog walker, as my work days are long.

Selfie

  • Current Status: Feeling good. In a steady workout routine, eating pretty well at home. But most importantly, I am not letting the stress of life hold me back from doing adventurous and exciting things. Like my recent, spontaneous, trip to Ghana. I’m surrounding myself with beautiful people who raise me up and bring out the best in me.
  • What I’m Looking Forward To: Continuing this trajectory of happiness, knowing good and well that I will encounter a few potholes, but feeling confident that I’m armed with everything I need to get past them.
  • Score: 9. Nobody should ever get a 10 when it comes to self-improvement.

I am still becoming who I’ll be. And if you ask me in a year, I’ll tell you the same thing. If you ask me when I am 100, I’ll repeat myself once again.

loveB

 

 

 

Biz Trip Health Tips

Hi. I’ve missed you all! Work took me on an awesome, but exhausting trip to the Super Bowl. My business trips are usually jam-packed, high-stress and complete with a lot of fun, late nights. In order to keep up (both mentally and physically), I’ve learned a few routines that I stick to diligently. Check /em out, and let me know what you do to stay sane on business travel.

Pace Yourself: I’m lucky that many of my work trips are complete with cool parties and late-night events. But if I am going on a four-day trip, I know that I can’t stay up until 2 a.m. every night. I’m not 23 anymore. Pick and choose when to stay up late. Maybe go to the evening event, but skip the lobby party later.

Hydrate!: Hydration is always important and I am the WORST at it. But I drink water on the plane, and if there is not a big bottle of water in my hotel room, I’ll make sure to buy one first thing. Drink water throughout the day, the evening and then a TON before bed. When you change timezones, temperatures, schedules, etc. it is easy to get sick. Water is like a miracle drug, acting to both prevent and cure.

Keep Your Routine: Packing is easier when you don’t have to consider workout clothes. But if daily workouts are part of your regular routine, DO NOT STOP when you’re on the road. Making time for myself is the best way to handle stress. I wake up by 6 a.m. each day and by the time I’m done with my workout and coffee, everyone else is just rising. Here are some of my favorite parts about working out on the road:

  • Exploration: Running around a new city is a great way to learn your way, scope out restaurants, or have yourself a fun adventure. Be careful though. If you don’t know the city at all, ask the concierge. I typically look at Google Maps to locate a nearby park or river running trail. Some of my favorite cities to run in are places I went for work, like Austin, TX and Columbus, OH.
  • Creativity: Some hotels have incredible gyms. Others offer a very limited selection of machines and weights. But get creative in there. No matter what they have, you can figure out a kick-ass workout that will leave you feeling energized for the day.
  • Resourcefulness: If your hotel doesn’t have a gym and you aren’t into running, no problem. Find a nearby park with open space and maybe some benches and do a quick bodyweight workout (see below for a list of things you can do with no equipment). No time to leave the room? Move some furniture aside and do something to get the blood flowing and your heart rate up.

No gym, limited space, no problem! Here are some of my favorite activities that require no equipment:

Legs:

  • Squats
  • Lunges (many variations)
  • Single-leg deadlift
  • Hip lifts
  • Leg lifts

Arms:

  • Push-ups (a few variations)
  • Bear crawl (a few variations)
  • Tricep dips
  • Inchworm (also stretches your hammies!)
  • Plank jacks

Core:

  • Crunches
  • Plank (many variations)
  • Side plank
  • Russian twists
  • Toe touches
  • Bicycles
  • Dead bug
  • Crazy Ivans

I hope you get a little more out of your next business trip, and feel healthier when it’s all over. Thanks for reading. Love you all!

loveB

 

 

 

Why I March

I have never been political on this blog, for fear of being impolite. But this week, I’ve been constantly reminded of just how lucky we’ve all been the past eight years, and I find myself saying “Rebecca (I call myself by my full name), YES YOU CAN.”

It’s a fitness blog, yes. But my end goal is to empower those reading along while staying true to my voice, my opinions and my character.

I am proud to be joining upwards of 200,000 people, on January 21, to descend upon D.C. with a singular voice and one key demand of our new President: EQUALITY. The Women’s March on Washington has a focus on the rights of women, but the broader message is one of human rights. If you live in the area, I encourage you to join us. If you do not, look for the Women’s March in your city here.

I will not stand on this soap box and pretend the discrimination I’ve felt, as a woman, is greater than what you’ve been through. Who can say, and does it matter? I march because sitting quietly will get me nowhere and I have two important messages that I want everybody to consider:

  • Pride and Self-Worth – I could never say it as eloquently as the most inspiring and gracious First Lady in history, so in the words of Michelle Obama, “I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don’t be afraid—you hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered.”
  • Talk it Out – Don’t be afraid to start conversations with friends, family, those you agree with and even more importantly, those you disagree with. Do not use the arguments around equality as a platform to be hateful or angry toward others. Find out where their opinions come from. Share with them stories of who you are, and introduce them to things that matter to you. Perhaps the only thing more terrifying than inequality is realizing that hate stems from a lack of education and a fear of the unknown. One cannot make a friend if they do not open up, but prejudice is a tricky vine that grows without boundaries and must constantly be cut back.

These two asks are no small thing. They both involve a leap of faith, and likely a great amount of introspection that may uncover some nasty truths. But please, I beg that you try to love yourself and to love your neighbor. Remember that their struggle is as real as yours, whatever it may be.

Lastly, I just wanted to give a little bit of public love back to the people who have shaped me. I feel blessed to have a family who sees beyond skin color, sexual orientation, or religion. Thank you all for teaching love in place of hate…

Mom, You’re the definition of kindness. From your lengthy conversations with total strangers to the way you have always welcomed friends and family into our home, you have been a constant reminder that there’s no limit to love. I love you to the end of the numbers.

Dad, I am so proud of your journey. You’ve taught me to feel important without feeling entitled. You’ve shown me that leadership is about loyalty, and that you cannot get ahead by climbing on the backs of others. Your generosity is without bounds, and I hope you know I do not take for granted the life that you’ve allowed me. I love you.

Ashley, There just aren’t words. I’ve learned, and continue to learn, so much from you. You’re beautiful and forgiving, you’re selfless and strong. I hope to be every bit as amazing of a mom as you are, and I’ll be coming to you for advice at every step along the way. You’re my best friend and a true confidant. I love you.

Peace and love, y’all!

loveB

 

 

 

Cold Day Layers

We got our first snow of the year in D.C., today, and I could not be more excited! I was born during a blizzard, and that’s my best guess as to why I love the snow so much. It’s always been my favorite weather.

Anyway, I digress. I decided to hit the streets for a long(er) snowy run and realized that layering can be tough. So here are a few layering tips for you outdoor enthusiasts:

Up Top: They used to say you lost half your body heat through your head. That’s silly, and totally base-less. HOWEVER, any exposed part of your body is a place for heat to escape, so it doesn’t hurt to wear a hat. Plus cold ears are the WORST!

Face It: Wind burn blows (ha! I’m lame). I recently got into wearing a Buff, thanks to my friend Tricia. I use my Buff as a neck gaitor, but they can also be used as a headband, ponytail holder, scarf and much much more. I like to keep my nose warm!

That Core: Here’s where things get interesting. I tend to be cold, but HATE feeling suffocated or too warm on a run, so I have a rule of 3 (not counting a sports bra). For instance, in the 23/feels like 11 temps today, I opted for:

  1. A tight t-shirt that I could tuck into my tights to avoid any cold air getting through at my waist.
  2. A fleece-lined running sweatshirt. It’s thick and wooly inside but the zipper allows me to control the temp a bit.
  3. Finally, a vest. They keep your core and chest warm, while allowing your arms to be free. If your chest stays warm, your arms are not going to be cold.

Gloves vs. Mittens vs. Nada: I just can’t get down with mittens. But I know they’re warm and if you don’t mind them, I’d suggest mittens all day long. Recently, however, I’ve decided that gloves do not keep my hands warm. Instead, they separate all of my fingers, leaving them on tiny cold islands of despair. So today was the first truly cold day in which I tested my new theory, and it worked! I simply pull my sleeves around my hands and I’d venture to say my hands almost get too HOT!

Stems: I hate bunching, and I’m pretty neurotic about it. So I don’t wear multiple layers on my legs. I simply shop for the right tights for the season. I have a pair of fleece-lined tights that I wear when it’s below 20 degrees out. And I also have an INCREDIBLE pair of tights that feature a wind/waterproof layer that surrounds your quad, which is genius for those blistering days. But anything above 20 and I am usually good with regular tights. If I stop, my legs start to freeze, so it’s just motivation to keep my ass moving!

The Double-Sock Myth: No matter what anybody tells you, it is not, I repeat NOT smart to wear multiple layers of socks. Foot warmth is all based on circulation. Your heart has to pump blood down to your feet, and if you have multiple layers of socks, you’re constricting the flow. Instead, buy socks for all weather. I wear thicker and higher socks in the winter, tucking my tights into the bottom. Wool socks are definitely the warmest. But make sure your shoes aren’t too tight with thick socks on, otherwise you’re back to the circulation issue. If you feel your feet start to get cold, use the downhills to open up your stride and wiggle your toes with each step. PS The same rule applies for skiing. Don’t double up!

And now, you have no excuse not to #optoutside, and kick some cold-weather butt! Have any other tips for layering? I’d love to hear them, share in the comments below!

loveB