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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Review: Nike Women’s 21 Days of Better For It

Hi friends (and total strangers)! About 21 days ago, I told you that I was going to take on Nike Women’s 21 Days of #BetterForIt. Now, I’ve gotta be honest here, I did most of the workouts but during that 21 day period I went on a five day vacation and we had a three-foot blizzard that isolated me in my home for four days. Needless to say, there were some interruptions, but I am here to report back to you all now that I’m finished!

BIG PICTURE:

Each morning, I awoke to reminder message in my iPhone. The reminder took me directly to that day’s workout plan. So seamless! The program gave me a balanced workout that was thoughtfully prepared and included stretching and rest days. Those Nike folks must know a thing or two about fitness.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:

200m sprints: It’s been years since I had a proper track workout and it felt amazing to stretch out my legs with these 200 meter sprints.

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Stretching before sprinting = smart.

Drop Squats: Start in the standing position, drop down to a squat touching one hand to the floor while the other stretches out behind you. Jump back up. I love squats, nuff said.

Lateral bear crawls: This exercise isn’t as difficult, coordination-wise, as it sounds. But it kicks your butt (and back, and core, and hips)!

FullBearCrawls
Bear crawls are the bees’ knees. Or something like that.

Chest press with dead bug: The dead bug may make you look silly in the gym. But combine it with a couple dumbbells and you’ve got yourself a hard-working move.chestpressdeadbug.png

Rear foot elevated single leg squat: Put your back leg up on a box or curb, it doesn’t need to be high. Squat down, similar to a lunge and feel the burrnnnnn!

Diagonal bounds: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. These little jumps (or slides, if you have the proper equipment) are a daily must.

diagonalbounds
Leaps and bounds!

AND YET:

As with any workout, there were a few things I avoided. Burpees, for instance. I fail to see the true benefit of burpees. Without perfect form, you’re much more likely to hurt yourself than do any real good. Burpees = the plague. Keep back! Another activity that I was cautious with was sprinting at the track (surprisingly, this was also my favorite activity). But I am 31, and about 12 years past my last track workout, so in the early morning cold temps, I was pretty nervous about pulling something while trying to prove that I was once a good sprinter.

All in all, I’d say that Nike’s 21 Days of #BetterForIt was a success. I learned a ton of new activities to add to my workout regime, and there was something motivating and exciting about having a little personal trainer in your phone that wakes you up with new workouts each day.

If anybody is interested in doing the 21 day routine, I’ve got all of the workouts saved and would more than happy to send you the details. Comment below if you would like me to share them!

LOVE YOU ALL!
loveB

 

 

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11 Ways to Be Healthy and Active During Snowmageddon

Apparently, the apocalypse is coming to the DMV. So, I figured I would share a couple tips to staying healthy and active while snowed-in.

I could give you eleven different ways to burn major calories in your apartment, but I am not going to do that. The challenge for this weekend, snowed-in or not, is to reframe what healthy means. It’s not about fitting in your workout everyday, no matter what. It’s about keeping a healthy mind, body and soul. It’s taking this time to de-stress from our crazy, everyday routines of exercising, work, family, friends, responsibility and obligations to other people and other things.

Take this time to recommit to self-care, self-love and creating healthy habits.

  1. Read this post on 10 healthy snacks to make while snowed-in.
  2. YOGA! There are tons of YouTube videos of challenging yoga practices for all of your goals. You can also download the Yoga Studio app, which lets you tailor your practice to your needs. AmandaBisk.com also has great 30-minute yoga sessions to download.   giphy-3
  3. Meditate. It’s not all about your body. Your mind is just as important. Turn off Netflix, put down the chips and dip and find a meditation to follow online that fits your goals. Trying to sleep better? There’s a meditation for that. Trying to get healthier, get a promotion, change a relationship, increase your self-worth, or just de-stress? There are great guided meditations all over the internet for anything you can think you. I personally like the guided mediations on melisssaambrosini.com, but warning to all the men reading this, you might want to just search Google.
  4. Clean your apartment/house. I don’t mean put away your pile of laundry that has been sitting on your chair for weeks. I mean do a deep clean of your house. Vacuum the carpets, scrub the bathtub, get the ceiling fans. This one is good for the body and the mind!giphy
  5. Dance party. Turn up the jams, turn off the judgment and rock out. Not only does this burn some major calories, it is guaranteed to improve your mood. (Note: If you’re not snowed in alone, check out the Triller app and make some music videos)giphy-5
  6. Make a vision board. Sit for 5 minutes with your eyes closed and think about what you really want. What are your biggest dreams and aspirations. If you couldn’t fail, what would you do? Now take that, and create a vision board that you can look at every day to keep you on track towards your dreams.IMG_3101
  7. Assess your kitchen. Never have time to really get your healthy eating habits started? Well, now is the time. Empty out those cabinets and throw away all the shit you have in there. You’re more likely to reach for refined carbs and sugary food when you’re tired and bored, so why tempt yourself?
  8. Challenge your roommate, significant other or whomever is snowed in with you. Loser does the dishes for a week or shovels the snow. Who can hold a plank the longest? What about a wall sit? Who can do the most push ups in a minute? Can you do a headstand? Who can do the most burpees in a minute? giphy-2
  9. SLEEP. We run our engines pretty hard everyday, and it’s generally inappropriate to nap in the middle of a workday at the office.  Try cutting out the caffeine for a day or two. If you don’t have anywhere you need to be, let your body rest naturally, and maybe this can even decrease your daily caffeine intake when you get back into your routine.
  10. Break out the old workout DVDs. If you’re going to be staring at the TV all weekend, you might as well be burning some calories doing it.giphy-4
  11. Maybe the most important tip of all. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy time with your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, parents, siblings, roommates, friends, pets, etc. Cook together, laugh together, play a board game, go play in the snow. Nothing keeps you healthier than enjoying the small moments in life. Jen-Wheeler-Snow-Man

Start 2016 With More Than A Resolution

This time of year always makes me cringe a little bit, especially when marketers try to capitalize on our insecurities by pushing “fitness resolutions.” Don’t get me wrong, getting healthy should most definitely be a top priority, but not because 2016 is upon us. It should be a priority because you only have one body and you need to treat it right. All year, every year.new-years-resolutions-seinfeld

My “resolution” this year is to recognize that my health, my mind and my body are a constant work in progress and I cannot accomplish everything at once. Just as I did in 2015, I will work on each of them but will not expect any certain results.

My Health: Anybody who knows me knows that I am a pretty unhealthy eater. This is an area where I have a TON of room for improvement. I cannot resolve to give up sugar, because I will fail. But I will consciously work to make more home-cooked dinners with more vegetables. The goal is simply to feed my body more of the nutrients that it needs to meet the demands I put on it.
ThoughSheBeSmall
My Mind: This past March, I made the decision to leave a very toxic work environment. The decision, which was not a New Years resolution, was one of the most important choices I have ever made and has proved to be a very big step in improving my mental health. This year, I will continue to find ways to let go of unnecessary stressors, which will not only impact my mind, but my heart as well. Here are some tips on ways to improve mental health every day.

My Body: The biggest thing I noticed as my twenties passed me by was that my body is different day-by-day. The body I had when I was 21 is very different than the body I have now at 31. I can’t expect the same results, and I cannot make goals for my 31-year-old body that are based on 21-year-old me. These days, I am working on being more aware of how I feel. I am trying to see how my diet and stress may impact my physical output. I am always working on tightening and toning, but I am also thinking about recovery and proper care for my muscles. My roller is one of my best friends these days. RELATED: Have a Body-Positive New YearIMG_9382

Those are my “resolutions.” They’re not really measurable, and they do not have an expiration date. They’re fluid and always changing as I learn more about myself. So instead of a New Years resolution in 2016, I challenge you to take a holistic view of your health, your mind and your body. Self-improvement doesn’t ever end, and it is defined differently by everybody. #YouDoYou.23d45062-b649-4be8-b2d0-348c78b9be46

Happy New Years, see you in 2016!
loveB

 

 

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7 Holiday Workouts

If you’re anything like me, the holidays are a time to eat as if the calories don’t count. Another serving of cheesy rolls? Yes, please! More wine? Duh! Donuts or cinnamon rolls? Both, por favor! But that sort of carefree eating can start to bring you down, so here is the secret to enjoying the holiday feasts without regretting it later.

The Holidays are not an excuse to stop working out!

That’s right. You heard me. Holiday vacation is a vacation from work or school… not from your health and wellness. But this is part of a larger shift in your attitude toward exercise. It’s time to stop thinking of it as “work,” and start to think of it as “me time” or “play time” or “the best damn 30 minutes of my day!” Ok, that last one might be pushing it.

Once you make this shift, you’ll find yourself looking forward to working out, even when you’re on vacation. So, this holiday season, maybe try one of these fun ways to keep yourself and your family members active in between feasting!

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Snowshoeing at Beaver Creek in Avon, CO
  1. Take a hike!: Hiking is an activity that all family members can enjoy, including our furry friends. Depending on the hike you choose, it can be a quiet nature walk, or it can be more rigorous, like mountain climbing. Get the family outside to enjoy a healthy activity together! Tip: If it’s really snowy, find someplace to rent snowshoes!
  2. Make a cameo!: Visiting a relative who has a membership to a gym? Find out their policy on guests and have a gym-date. One of my favorite things to do when I visit my mom, is to go to the gym with her. We take turns picking a workout or weight machine and we both come away with new activities to try and very sore muscles!
  3. 15-minute jam!: Busy holiday schedule? Lazy family members? Not a problem. The Nike Training Club app has tons of 15-minute workouts that are perfect for getting in a quick, but effective workout without needing any equipment. Tell mom to stop complaining about her knees; tell your sister so stop worrying about her kids’ meal schedule. All you need is 15-minutes and a good attitude. More on Nike Training Club.
  4. Run like the wind!: Gather up
    IMG_3754
    Snowshoeing at Beaver Creek in Avon, CO

    your fitness-minded friends and family and take them on a group run. One of my favorite, recent Christmas memories is of running around my boyfriend’s hometown when we were visiting his family. We ended up at his high school and spent a while roaming the halls while he shared some pretty cool memories with me. Check out my post about running while on the road.

  5. Grab and go!: If you’re road-tripping to your holiday destination, there is no excuse not to bring some exercise equipment with you. A couple of easy-to-pack items include TRX gear, a jump rope, resistance bands, a yoga mat, or P90X dvds. In addition, you could always pack a set up dumbbells, a medicine ball or a kettlebell.
  6. Lend a helping hand!: What if you could win Daughter/Son-of-the-Year status AND get in a great workout? All you’ve gotta do is offer to help rake leaves or shovel for your parents, grandparents or their neighbors. Seriously, put in 1 good hour of raking leaves and then try to tell me your obliques aren’t on fire.
  7. Go sledding!: If you’re going sledding with friends and family, try running up the hill after each turn. The snow, coupled with heavy boots and bulky layers will prove to be a great leg workout. You’ll quickly feel it in your calves and quads. For an EXTRA good workout, take a lazy friend or a young kid with you and PULL them up the hill. I did this with my nephew last year and let’s just say that I was pretty embarrassed how sore I was the next day. But he had a blast and so did I!

So there you have it. Don’t stop enjoying the home-cooked goodness of a holiday meal. Don’t turn down a refill of a great Malbec. Just find some time to enjoy a bit of exercise while on break, and avoid having to play catch-up when you’re back to reality.
loveB

iPhones can be Personal Trainers Too

Hmmm… what to say about the Nike Training Club app? Well, for starters, it’s Nike. Fuelband aside, name me a product or program that Nike has launched in the past five years that hasn’t been amazing.

I take a lot of pictures of my feet...
I take a lot of pictures of my feet…

I had heard about the NTC app before, but I kind of stuck my nose up at the idea of an iPhone app being able to provide me with a good workout. I had a gym membership, I was running a ton, I was participating in November Project and the occasional yoga class. What else could the app do for me?

It all happened one rainy morning. I had recently quit my job, and had been FUNemployed for about a month, and was already tired of running. The rain was coming down in buckets, and there was no way that I was going to go outside. Hesitantly, I opened the app, which I had downloaded months before. I selected a 15-minute workout led by pop star Ellie Goulding, which was supposed to be a total body tightening and toning workout. Riggghhhhhttttt, a musician is going to lead me through a grueling exercise. But much to my surprise, when I completed the 15 minutes I found myself short of breath and completely drenched in sweat. The following days, I could feel the muscles that I had worked. I was actually sore!

So this is me, apologizing to the NTC app creators. I should never have been such a #workoutsnob about your product. And now this is me, telling all of you fine people to get moving and download the app now and be my Nike+ friend! Here’s why:

Benefits of the NTC app:

Russian twists with Christen Press and Nike Training Club
Russian twists with Christen Press and Nike Training Club
  • No purchase necessary  – The app is free, and very few of the workouts require much more than a pair of dumbbells, medicine ball or a step. You can improvise, like I do, with a pair of beer cans, a soccer ball, and a coffee table or park bench.
  • Time equals money – The workouts range from 5-minute stretching/warming up drills to 45-minute total body sculpting drills. There are plenty of 12, 15, 18-minute workouts that I recommend (below).
  • It’s everywhere you want to be (yeah, I stole that from Visa, so what?) – Most of the workouts can be completed in a very tight space. Put out your arms, spin in a circle. If you didn’t hit anything, then you’ve got yourself plenty of room.
  • One size does not fit all – Luckily, you can take what you want and leave what you don’t. Like star jumps. No me gusta star jumps. When I am given an activity that I don’t want to do, I either modify it or choose something else in its place. Plank, sit-ups, push-ups and squats are all easy and effective options.
  • Tips of the trade – The entire workout is narrated and tips for safety and success are given throughout.

My favorite NTC workouts:

Hip lifts hurt so good!
Hip lifts hurt so good!
  • Goal Getter with Christen Press (yay soccer!): 18 minutes – strength moves to sculpt your core and lower body. Keeps your heart rate up, while you tone. Favorite activity: diagonal bounds. 
  • Butt Buster: 15 minutes – tone your tush in 15 minutes? Yes, please! All girls have that one area of their body that they’re super self-conscious about. Mine are my legs and butt. Favorite activity: hip lifts. 
  • Ab Burner: 15 minutes – abs on abs on abs. Keep crunching! Nobody every complained that their stomach was too flat, or that their six pack was just too prominent. Nobody. Ever. Favorite activity: Russian twists.

So, I’ve done my best to leave you with no excuses not to try the NTC app. It’s not meant to replace all of your workouts, but it is a great option for days when you’re crunched for time or it’s raining and you can’t bring yourself to leave the house. You can also bring your phone to the gym and try these workouts there! Now get out there and get toned, you beautiful people!
loveB

Taking my Newtons on the Road

If you run back and forth across the Red Rocks stairs, it equals a 5K!
If you run back and forth across the Red Rocks stairs, it equals a 5K!

This might sound strange, but my favorite part of traveling, whether for work or vacation, is finding new and beautiful places to workout. It is pretty interesting that, like many other sports, fitness is a universal language.

I find that running is the easiest workout to plan. You don’t have to rely on hotel gyms, or bring any extra equipment. Do you have any big trips planned? If so, here are some running tips to keep in mind:

  • Bring your runners. My choice of running shoes are Newtons. Don’t just run in your regular walking shoes, that’s a good way to get hurt.
  • Running is the best way to navigate a new city. While you’re out, keep your head on a swivel (soccer term, sorry) and look for restaurants, bars, stores, cafes, parks, and museums that you may want to try.
  • Check a map before you head out, or use Nike+ Running App‘s built in map, there may be a park or running trail nearby that you can easily hop on.
  • Always bring your phone and the address of the place you’re staying with you, you don’t want to get lost!
  • Don’t feel bad if you want to stop to take a picture, or in my case, too many pictures. Those are memories, CHERISH THEM!
  • Wave to other runners. Or give them a friendly smile. One thing that I’ve found is that in every place I’ve run, including foreign countries, this is pretty standard etiquette.
  • Document those miles using a GPS-based app, like Nike+. It’s a souvenir that costs you nothing.
  • Stretching on my balcony in Cancun, Mexico.
    Stretching on my balcony in Cancun, Mexico.

    Always remember to take care of your body. On the road and at home. Hydrate and stretch really well after every run. You don’t want any injuries to put a damper on your trip.

  • Have a blast and love yourself for getting out there. You’re #betterforit.

If you’re thinking that I am crazy for wanting to work out while I am on vacation, just try it and you’ll see. It doesn’t feel like a chore, it feels amazing and will probably help create some of your favorite travel memories. Plus, you won’t have to feel guilty for indulging in incredible local cuisine the whole time.

If you haven’t already, check out more running tips from Paige, and more tips on getting creative with your vacation workouts from Molly!

loveB