Category Archives: Health

Five Things I’m Loving Friday: Christmas Edition!

Happy Friday everyone! Isn’t Friday the best? Although I actually prefer Saturdays since there’s no work involved on Saturdays 🙂

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This Friday I decided to do a Christmas gifts edition of ‘Five Things I’m Loving Friday’ to share some of my favorite things I got for Christmas this year – and that I think would make great gifts for other people! I tried to do a wide variety of both fitness and health related items, as well as just some unique gifts – it was hard to pick only five!

1. Gaiam “Everything Fits” Gym Bag

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I first read about this bag on PB Fingers and I’m so glad that she recommended it! It’s a good size bag – with a nice wide strap, lots of pockets and neat features like a separate vented compartment for your shoes and a strap on the bottom for a yoga mat (or I discovered my foam roller fits there too!). You can buy this bag in black or purple from Gaiam at this link. I’m super excited about this gift since before I was carrying my gym stuff in a free drawstring bag I got at the Run or Dye race last year. Also with GRIT starting I definitely needed more space to tote stuff around! 🙂

2. Salt Cellar

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This seems like such a simple thing but it was one of the gifts I was the most excited about! This particular salt cellar is from Crate and Barrel and I love the natural wood with the sliding magnetic lid. It’s perfect for keeping kosher salt out near the stove and being able to grab a pinch to add into dishes. Prior to this, I was just pouring the salt into my hand from the big kosher salt container which was a less than ideal situation.

3. Cookbooks – ‘Super Natural Every Day’ and ‘Tidewater Table’

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I’m always excited for new cookbooks! You can see a few others in my collection lined up next to the new ones. My mom gave me a copy of ‘Tidewater Table’ which is a new cookbook written all about the cuisine of my hometown – the Tidewater area of Virginia! I’m really excited to try out some of these classic recipes – just flipping through it I noticed tons of seafood! The other book was given to me by my best friend that I’ve known for 12+ years – ‘Super Natural Every Day.’ I cannot express how much I love this book. I’ve already read it cover to cover and there are dozens of recipes I can’t wait to try! The cookbook is vegetarian and features some of my all-time favorite ingredients – like coconut oil, chia seeds, and quinoa! I can’t wait to try these recipes and share the results with you on this blog 🙂

4. Origami Owl Necklace

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My mom gave me this necklace and I am absolutely in love with it. I had heard Origami Owl mentioned a few times in passing, but I had never really seen one before – it’s a really neat concept. It’s sort of a clear locket/pendent that you can buy and add charms to for your individual personality. My mom gave me three with the necklace – a cat paw, a running shoe, and a blue sapphire. So pretty! I don’t think I’ll add too much more than that – I think the simplicity is nice. I also love that the length of the necklace is a little longer so it sits really well on top of higher V-neck sweaters or crew neck sweaters. I’ve been wearing it a lot! 🙂

5. Fitness Gear!

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So I cheated a little on this one – it’s more than one item! I told you choosing just five was hard! My best friend Heather gave me an awesome pairing for Christmas – a “Strong is the New Skinny” shirt from the Strong Girl Clothing Etsy shop. I’ve been coveting this tank-top for a while and I have to say that it’s just as nice in person as it looks in her shop! I know with “homemade” stuff you can really be taking a chance on quality but I love everything about this shirt – the fit, the color, and the fabric! Definitely check out her shop because there’s lots of other awesome fitness apparel! Heather also got me a water bottle with a built-in infuser for fruit/herbs and a built in core to keep the water cold! I’ve been wanting one of these since water with lemon is one of my favorite things! I’m excited to try it with other combinations too – like cucumber and mint!

Goals for the New Year

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to making 2014 a year filled with health and happiness! 🙂

And how are we going to do that? By setting goals! I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions because I feel like they have the connotation of being some vague goal like “get healthier” or “lose weight” that’s forgotten a few short weeks into the year. So instead of making resolutions, I’m going to set some goals for 2014.

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My first, and largest, goal is hard to put into words – but I’m going to try. This year I’m going to find out what I can do with my life that is going to make me happy. I’m going to “figure out what I want to be when I grow up.” Whether this means leaving my current job entirely, transitioning to a part-time position so that I can pursue other interests, or sticking with my current job but adding in more meaningful extra activities – I’m not sure. But I’m going to take this year to figure it out. I think a big part of this will involve me moving back to my hometown this summer. My lease is up at the end of July and I’m hoping to finally make the move back home (this is VERY contingent on me finding a job in that area, so it sort of dovetails nicely with my search for work-life happiness). I also hope to train to become a Body Pump instructor early this year, which I think could lead to a “job” that I definitely enjoy more than my current one.

More specifically, I want to actually make time to read this year. I have a HUGE collection of books – it’s legitimately out of control – and books have always been a joy and a passion for me. I probably easily own a hundred books that I haven’t even read. So I stole my mother’s idea to read one chapter every night before bed. So far, I’ve already finished ‘Orange is the New Black’ doing this (which is already more progress than the rest of the year!). This allows me to set aside time to do something I truly enjoy – reading – as well as breaking my terrible habit of falling asleep to Netflix. Both of which will add health and happiness to my life! 🙂

What about you? What are your goals and/or resolutions?

Thinking About A Whole30 Program

Hello everyone and Happy Holidays! 🙂

It has been a VERY busy month for me, as I’m sure it has for everyone. This is “busy season” at work which is a hell unto itself – but I’ve also been trying to get ready for the holidays. I’m sure you all can relate. Thankfully, this past week was probably the worst of the work stuff, and I managed to finish up my Christmas shopping AND wrapping on Saturday which means I’m officially ready for the holiday!

I’m going to try to put up a few posts (including a new Featured Foxy Foodie next Friday!) between now and the holidays but the week of Christmas I’m going to unplug and just enjoy the time with family and friends – and I hope you get an opportunity to do the same. Then, we’ll be able to start off 2014 fresh and ready to go!

Speaking of 2014, I’m so excited to start the GRIT program during the second week of January. I’m really looking forward to the team atmosphere, as well as the workouts that thoroughly kick my butt! I think it’ll be a great way to jump-start 2014 and really help bring my fitness to the next level. I started working out for the first time (like, seriously – EVER) this past March and this year has been filled with fun and exciting changes. I know that I’m stronger and healthier – although I don’t feel like I look much different. My primary motivation isn’t to change the way I look, it is to increase strength, but I still feel like I should have made more progress by now. The GRIT program is supposed to be life changing (and I believe it based on what I’ve seen so far) and I think it’ll be just what I need to jump-start the new year.

And speaking of jump starting the new year, I’m toying with the idea of doing a Whole30 challenge for the month of January. I have never been one for restricting my diet, I prefer to just make healthy choices on a daily basis and pretty much eat what I want. But here’s a few reasons I’m considering a Whole30 (check out the link for information on the program):

1. It’s only for 30 days – and it works on an “elimination diet” principle of getting rid of typically “inflammatory” foods to “reset” the body and see how those foods may be affecting you. This idea appeals to me, as I originally started cutting out processed foods to deal with severe stomach issues, as well as migraines. I’m happy to report that both of those things have been reduced significantly, and I’m curious if other foods could be affecting me without me even realizing it.

2. I’m a bit of a “carb-oholic.” A lot of my go-to meals (and even some snacks) rely on bread, pasta, rice, and other carby foods. While I will never give up carbs (and I don’t have any urge to! They’re so delicious…), I think having a diet for 30 days that eliminates them and focuses on vegetables (and non-starchy vegetables too!) will help me re-focus my “go-to” meals and therefore I will naturally incorporate more vegetables in the future.

3. I plan on returning to my normal diet after this program. I’m not eliminating dairy, wheat, and legumes permanently. In fact, some of my favorite healthy foods fall into these categories (Greek yogurt, whole wheats, and beans/chickpeas) and I think it’s important to add them back in. Once again, my focus would be to re-orient my thinking when it comes to other healthy foods.

There are several things that I don’t like about the Whole30 program. Mainly, that it makes me give up Greek yogurt (which is a go-to snack and is very healthy) and legumes (which are also a go-to for me and are great for you). I’m worried that leaving me with just meat, fruits and vegetables will lead me to eating a lot more meat than I usually would (I’m going to need the protein with GRIT!) which cutting out other healthy alternatives. I’m still a little on the fence.

Questions!
Has anyone tried a Whole30 or similar program? Please share your experiences!

Winter Fitness Hibernation

Is it just me or does winter weather make you want to hide inside under the covers and not go anywhere until spring?

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I know some people are winter people, so even though I may not understand you I have to accept that some people actually like the cold weather. But I seriously can’t handle it. I’m more of a baby about it than most people, as the minute the temperature drops below 60 I’m complaining pretty much constantly. I could be bundled up in a coat, gloves, warm socks (double-layered), boots and a scarf and I’m still cold when I go outside. I don’t like it – and therefore I stay inside until it goes away.

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Yep, pretty much my winter
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A bad side effect of the cold (and the fact that it starts getting dark at like 4 in the afternoon) is that my motivation to get to the gym is waning. Fortunately, my undying love for Les Mills Body Pump (and my badass instructor) gets me out of the house twice a week but the other days I’m seriously struggling. Does this happen to anyone else? What do you do to stay active in the winter months?

My plan (so far) is to find some ways to keep active without leaving my apartment. I’m usually pretty terrible at working out at home, because it just feels awkward to me. The weird stares my cats give me when I’m doing burpees don’t help at all. But I’ve downloaded a few fitness apps that came highly recommended (Sworkit Pro, Blogilates, Popsugar ACTIVE, and the Nike Training Club – all free except for Sworkit) and I’m still working on my Hundred Pushups challenge (another app). I’ve tried out the Sworkit Pro app so far and I’m really liking it – and don’t worry, I’m planning on sharing a full review once I use all the apps! 🙂

In addition, I borrowed the ’30 Day Shred’ DVD by Jillian Michaels from a friend of mine. I’ve heard great things about this DVD so I’m hoping it’ll keep me motivated (at least for a month) to work out at home, on those days when I just can’t pry myself out of the comfort of my house. Also, the next round of GRIT training starts in January and I am definitely signing up this time! I really enjoyed the demo of GRIT that I tried out a few weeks ago and I wanted to sign up for the last round but finances and a busy work schedule just wouldn’t allow it. I’m super excited for it to start up again in January, and I think this program will be just what I need to stay active this winter and to help get my fitness to the next level!

Question of the Day Season:
So seriously, what do you do to stay motivated and fit during the winter months?

Quest & Ignite Naturals

I hope everyone has been having a great week so far! This is “busy season” at work for me, so I’ve been working longer hours, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is look at a computer screen. Although I haven’t been posting as much, I’ve been sticking with my routine of Body Pump classes, yoga, and lots of home-cooked meals! With the change in weather, I’ve become more of a hermit than usual and I’ve spent much of the past few weekends hanging out at home, watching some shows/movies, and working on going through stuff around the house to find stuff to donate to the Salvation Army.

A few times a year, I like to dig through my clothes, shoes, purses, etc and donate things that I’m not using to the local Salvation Army. It’s a habit my mom instilled in me when I was younger and it continues to this day. Lately, I’ve taken this habit to a new level as I’m trying to declutter and simplify my entire life. I’m making a conscious effort to cut down on the material stuff around me in favor of more important things. Basically, if something isn’t being used around my house then it’s getting kicked to the curb (literally, in some cases). I’ve made some ruthless cuts to my movie and book collections, and I’ve steadily copied all my CDs into iTunes and gotten rid of the hard copies (seriously – when was the last time I played a CD?!). Some of the CDs are being donated, but a good chunk I was able to sell on the website Music Magpie which I have had a very positive experience with. I didn’t get much for the CDs (about $.50 each) but it’s better than nothing! My next big step is to get rid of my stereo. I’ve had the stereo since high school, and probably haven’t turned it on in 4 years. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just sort of outdated in our MP3 and Bluetooth culture. I haven’t decided yet if I should try to sell it or just donate it to the Salvation Army. I have a feeling selling it would be more trouble than it’s worth – does anyone buy stereos anymore? Thoughts?

Stereo Issues

On a completely different note, I wanted to share my thoughts on two companies with you: Quest, and Ignite Naturals.

Recently, through my affiliation with Sweat Pink Ambassadors, I got a chance to try a free sample of Quest bars.

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I was super excited for the opportunity because I had seen Quest bars before, but never stopped to read the label and realize that they are some pretty clean bars! These protein bars are made from real ingredients, with the addition of protein powder (which I think of as processed). I tried the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough one after Body Pump on Tuesday night and really enjoyed the flavor. The texture was a little on the chewy side, but it wasn’t unpleasant – just not what I was expecting. I prefer to get my protein from whole-food sources, but these bars could be a great (portable!) addition in a pinch!

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Now, onto Ignite Naturals. A while back (like 6 months ago), Ignite Naturals contacted me and offered me a free sample of their product Ignite Naturals Refresh in exchange for me filling out a survey about the product. I fell in love with both Refresh and Ignite Naturals, and have been buying their products ever since! The company is dedicated to whole food, non-GMO, healthy nutrition for active lifestyles. I love them so much, I also joined Team Ignite – which basically means that I get to share an awesome coupon code with all of you! Using code IN0690 will get you 10% off any Ignite Naturals purchase. Disclaimer: while my first sample of Refresh was free, I received no compensation for this post, I wasn’t required to write it as a part of my partnership with Team Ignite, and all opinions are my own! I just truly love these products!

Ignite Naturals Refresh is an electrolytes powder meant to help refresh and rehydrate your bodies. The best part is – it’s made from real food ingredients! I’ve tried the Tangerine Passion Fruit and Prickly Pear flavors and really enjoyed them both although Prickly Pear is more my speed since it’s not sweet at all. It easily dissolves in water, and is perfect for those super-long sweat sessions like Body Pump or Cycling class where you just need something a little more than water. In addition, the company makes gels, protein powders, and other nutritional aids so definitely check them out! 🙂

Don’t forget: coupon code IN0690 gets you 10% off any Ignite Naturals purchase.

Healthy Hobbies Beyond Fitness

A few years ago, had a goal written on my yearly Goals List to “develop an active hobby.”

I had long ago decided that I was not, and never would be, the kind of person who would work out at the gym. Lo and behold how things change. But back then, I knew the only way I was going to increase my fitness was to find something that I truly loved doing – a hobby, that just so happened to be active.

Up to this point, my hobbies included reading and watching movies, both decidedly inactive. And while I did eventually become the kind of person who runs and goes to the gym (thanks to an obsessive love for Body Pump classes), it’s still important to have healthy hobbies beyond your workouts.

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For the Sports Enthusiast

Love sports? I happen to be a huge sports fan – with a heavy emphasis on the FAN. I’ve never played a sport in my life and actually find the idea kind of terrifying. Stand up in front of everyone and try to hit a moving ball with a bat? That’s pretty much my worst nightmare. But I know there are other (arguably more normal) people out there who love playing sports – and joining a “fun league” for softball, basketball, even dodgeball is a great way to get to know new people and to incorporate activity at the same time. I know a lot of companies sponsor teams for their employees so that’s a great option to get fit and network with co-workers.

If you’re looking for something a little less competitive (which is where I usually land), practicing tennis with a friend, hitting up a driving range, or going bowling are all wonderful active alternatives to sitting on the couch, or embarrassing yourself (read: myself) with a bat.

For the Adventure-Seeker

I feel like there I no shortage of new fitness crazes these days to satisfy everyone’s tastes. The latest one that I’m really excited to try is Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUPing – awesome abbreviation). I think SUP classes are popping up in most places that have any sort of water nearby – and here in DC they even have yoga and fitness classes that are held on a SUP board. I also recently saw on another blog (based in California) that they took a class at a trampoline gym. Seriously – a gym filled with trampolines. It looked incredible, and as soon as I find one nearby I definitely want to try it!

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There is also no shortage of fun runs to choose from. Fun runs (specifically the Color Run) are what first started me towards running. I also recently ran a 5k called The Electric Run which is like a club/rave effect throughout the course. I swear I can’t go the week without seeing 5 different fun runs, mud runs, obstacle runs, or other themed events pop up on Facebook, Groupon, and Living Social. If charity events are more your speed, there are tons of great events that can help you support the causes you believe in – and if running isn’t your thing there are lots of charity walks as well. Form a team and raise money together – it’s another great chance to spend time with friends, family or co-workers. My favorite search engine for events is Running in the USA.

For the ‘Couch Potato’

This is pretty much where I fell (or fall, depending on what day it is) – so I use the phrase ‘couch potato’ with nothing but love. When you’re in a couch potato state – the most important thing you can do is start incorporating little bits of activity wherever you can. I started by parking further away from work/stores so I have to walk a little extra, or walking to the grocery store instead of driving when I don’t have a ton of things to buy. I also like to incorporate extra walking into things I already love – like going to concerts. During the summer months, I usually end up going to between 6 and 8 concerts. Concerts just equal summer to me. So while I’m there, I try to take a few laps around the venue to check out the merchandise booths and people watch. You can apply this same principle to all kinds of outdoor events!

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For the Fashionista

Do you love shopping? If you’re already at the mall, the outlets, or a market – take the opportunity to appreciate the free cardio you’re sneaking in! Before making an impulse purchase, take a lap around the store or mall to think it over – it’s good for your health and your wallet! 🙂 In a similar fashion, take time to compare prices for items that can be found in multiple stores. The extra walking you get in allows you to window-shop, and up your step-count for the day. Not to mention hauling those heavy bags gets in an arm workout! Warning: this tip may not be as healthy for your wallet as it is for your body!

For the Nature Lover

Love being outdoors? There are so many healthy things to do outside that take advantage of beautiful weather. The first one that comes to mind is hiking. And you don’t have to hike a huge, intimidating mountain to get the benefits. Just the other night during my usual run around my neighborhood, I discovered that a local park’s trail/bike path connects to my neighborhood so I have a whole new running path to explore! Walking, running or biking with friends is a great way to catch up other than meeting for Happy Hour. Although there’s nothing wrong with Happy Hour! 🙂 I think another great option is to meet at your local Happy Hour joint, take a quick out-and-back run/walk and then enjoy drinks afterwards! 🙂

Walking a dog is another great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors while taking in some cardio. Personally, I don’t have a dog because my apartment doesn’t allow them but I want one really badly so I’m constantly stealing borrowing friend’s dogs. If you have a good friend with a pooch, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind including you on their daily walks!

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Seriously, I just want all dogs to let me pet them.

I think the moral of the story is that finding any way to get up and moving – while doing something you love is a big step towards a healthy lifestyle! 🙂

Some Things I’d Like to Share

I hope everyone is having a great week! The weather has been beautiful here in DC, it’s cooling off but it’s still warm and sunny out. Even though I am a summer child, I think I’m ready for fall. Especially with so much race training coming up! Yesterday evening I went for my first official training run – a slow, and short (but solid) two miles around my neighborhood. It felt great to be out there again, although I think I have lost quite a bit of running stamina over the past month which will certainly make this Saturday’s Electric Run 5k a challenge! But I think another 5k is the perfect way to celebrate being back in the running scene.

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Speaking of running, a former manager of mine experienced a terrible tragedy earlier this year – his house burned down and he lost two of his young daughters in the fire. In the wake of this tragedy, they have started a charity to build a playground in their honor. You can check out their Facebook page for Sophie and Madigan’s Playground and tag any posts about your running mileage with the hashtag #runningforsophieandmadigan . Also, they have an Official webpage. Running with those little girls in mind helped me get back out there and on the road.

On a lighter topic, I recently discovered Nature Box. Nature Box is a service that provides monthly healthy snack boxes to it’s members. I discovered the company through their Facebook page and I ordered my first box! It hasn’t come in the mail yet, but I’m pretty excited about the variety of snack options that they ship. And the box is only $19.98! I feel like I would definitely spend more than that at the grocery store so I figured this was worth a try. I’ll report back when my box comes in the mail! Also, since I ordered a box, Nature Box offers a discount to people who I refer! 🙂 My personal link for Nature Box is: http://fbuy.me/ibPE. If you use this link, you get $10 off your first box! 🙂 And I get $10 for referring you. I’m not working with Nature Box, and I didn’t receive anything from the company – I just thought I’d spread the word! 🙂

I was also happy to see my Chai Tea Concentrate recipe featured on Healthy Living Blog’s Recipe Wednesday! Check it out, and click over to the original recipe if you missed it. It’s one of my favorites!