Saturday, May 16, 2015

Make Your Gym Habit Stick (Three Tips)

I used to be a gym rat.  I didn't go every day, but I went several times a week and I stuck to my routine.  After a summer spent outside, dedicated to my running goal, and a fall spent getting and getting over a respiratory infection.... I fell out my gym habit, hard.

My schedule no longer had regular gym days built in, and I lost interest in some of the classes I used to attend religiously.  In December, I was finally able to re-instate my healthy habits, and--so far--I'm meeting my January goal of three workouts weekly.  For this reason, I thought it's the perfect time to discuss ways that I manage to stick to my gym habit, and how you can, too.

Maybe YOU set a new year's resolution to go to the gym more often, try a new type of exercise class, or become a runner.  Whatever your commitment is, here are some tried and true ways to ensure you meet your fitness goals:

Make Your Gym Habit Stick 
with These 3 Tricks:

1. Schedule Your Workouts in your Calendar.  

Treat your workouts--whether it's a solo run, a group fitness class, or a buddy gym session--like any other appointment: Write it in your calendar.  This changes your gym trip from an optional leisure-time activity to a no-excuses commitment.  If someone wants to make plans at that time, don't feel bad about asking for a different date or time.  If your exhaustion or sniffles wouldn't have been enough to keep you home from a work meeting or a date, then they shouldn't keep you home from the gym, either.

2. Prepare Your Bag Ahead of Time 

For many, the hardest part of getting to the gym is simply getting ready.  Although it's not difficult to put clothes and sneakers on, it's often the biggest thing that prevents me from simply getting up and getting out the door.

If you work out in the morning straight from home, prepare the night before: lay out one complete gym outfit, visible and ready to wear.  That way, in the morning, you'll get up and before you're even aware of it, you'll be dressed and ready to go.

If you're like me and need to pack a bag to hit the gym after work, prepare that bag the night before, too.  Pack your complete gym outfit, your sneakers, a lock, headband, water bottle, and any other supplies you need for the gym.  Have the bag all set and ready to go and leave it right by your front door.  When you head out in the morning and bring it with you, that's your commitment gears in motion.

After carrying around the bag all day, you're bound to follow through and go, right?

3. Create Accountability

This one's huge. Don't just commit to yourself to go; make your commitment known to others!  By letting others know about--or having others rely on--your intention to hit the gym, you'll feel compelled to follow through!  Even if it's late after a long day of work, there are several ways to create accountability that will get you into the gym:

  • Find a Gym Buddy: Make plans with a friend to go to the gym together.  You'll be counting on each other, so you'll think twice before backing out on your fitness plan. 
  • Make Your Intention Known: Let others know that you're planning to go to the gym today. Tell your spouse, roommate, coworker... whoever will listen! Make it known that you intend to go, so that when the time comes to either head to the gym or head home, you head to the gym. 
  • Sign Up for Something: By signing up for either group fitness classes or personal training sessions, you'll be creating the same sense of commitment -- and often an actual commitment -- that will ensure you make it to the gym. 
Like these tips? Share them!

Those are three tricks that have worked for me -- have they worked for you?  What advice might you add for gym newbies?  

If you're starting up or reviving YOUR gym habit, dare you to give these tricks a try and let me know how it goes!! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

WIAW: Quick Meals in Disguise

WIAW... it's been a long time since my last "What I Ate Weduesday" post!  See my previous WIAW posts here, and check out other folks' WIAW over at Peas & Crayons.

Yesterday's meals were all simple, although they'd look like they took quite a bit of time.

I was so tired that I slept through/snoozed my first alarm--very rare!  Got myself up eventually, showered, got dressed, and made eggs. The eggs caused a rude awakening, because the smoke from the frying pan--after I was done cooking, set off the alarm.  That shook me to consciousness.

Thus, breakfast was simple: eggs over lox. Lox, courtesy of my grandmother, who brought them for me when we celebrated Mother's Day on Sunday. She knows I love them but don't buy them often.  Thank you, Grandma!

Lunch was Turnip Noodles with Toasted Walnut Pesto.  Sounds fancy, right?  It's actually a "7-minute meal" by Hungry Root.  They have a variety of vegetable-noodle dishes that are pre-portioned and come with clear instructions to cook in no time at all.  I just began trying it out, and will write a full review post when I've tried all four varieties that I ordered.

This one was good enough. I liked it better than the first. The Turnip flavor didn't entirely do it for me, but the pesto sauce was able to help cover that up.  It also tasted much better fresh off the stove, I think, than it did when I had to heat it up the next day for lunch at work.

I did toss in that bit of avocado, for good measure :)

I stayed at work late yesterday, not leaving until close to six (late for a teacher whose school officially ends at 2:41).  Got back home and tossed some laundry in the machine.  Then, I walked on the treadmill during the first wash, listening to the StartUp podcast, which I highly recommend! (Read about other podcasts here.)

Exciting night, right?  Moved the laundry, took a shower, and settled down to eat dinner, also leftovers.

So yesterday's meals... really, none of them I can take full credit for, but I enjoyed them all! 

What did you eat Weduesday?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Find a Wine Tour

Going to Napa Valley would be a dream.  I've never been!! (Insert distressed emoji here.)

I figured that, here in NYC, my opportunities for a Napa-like experience would be limited.  Sure, there are wine stores that offer tastings (done that!), but the concrete jungle is otherwise nothing like Napa.

Then, my friend Alyssa signed us up for a "Wine and Music Tour" out in Long Island!

It's made just for Manhattanites: a Hampton Luxury Liner charter bus departs from Midtown and drives wine-lovers to three different wineries on the North Fork of Long Island.  Alyssa and I always have a great time together, plus we both love wine.  The day was topped off by the perfect weather--low 70s and clear skies. Couldn't have asked for anything better!

We met up on the corner, chatted our way through the two-hour ride, and stepped out into the sunshine of North Fork.  We'd spend an hour each at the first two wineries, and two hours at the last.

First stop: Osprey's Dominion

We both loved the open feel--large windows looking out over nothingness--just the vineyard!  It was such a nice change of pace from the busy, crowded city, where the sky is hidden by buildings.

Osprey's provided a set list of taste offerings for us.  Some white, some red.  The list is below, if you're interested.

The first wine we tasted was our absolute favorite.  The others at Osprey's were good, too, but the first sip was uncontested. Even after the other vineyards, the first wine remained our favorite. Good thing we each bought a bottle to take home!

Our favorite: Osprey's Dominion 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

The second vineyard we stopped at--Duckwalk Vineyards--was just a minute's drive away.

As we got off the bus, they gave each of us tickets to use per tasting.  This way, we got to choose for ourselves from their large selection of tastings.

Picking for ourselves was nice, but the wines were so-so. We didn't love any of them.  We did like the little dark chocolates that came with the blueberry wine, their specialty.

Jason's Vineyards was our final vineyard stop, where we'd rest for two hours enjoying our wine, some live music, and a late lunch.  We each brought our own lunch, but purchased some cheese on site to pair with our wine.

Jason's was by far our favorite place of the day.  They also gave out tickets and had the perfect amount of options (not as overwhelming as the previous place, but enough that we had some flexibility).

The servers were exceptionally more friendly and engaging than the first two places, who seemed overwhelmed by the number of people and impersonally poured our glasses. At Jason's we got personalized attention and recommendations based on how well we liked each previous taste.

(Jason's was also the only part of the tour that also included the live music aspect, which was nice but definitely not the main draw.)


Returning home, we were tiiired.  The bus was far more quiet as everyone began to doze off after the long day.

Interested in a similar tour??  Spring and summer -- perfect time to hit the road.  Scout out your options on the Hampton Luxury Liner website, or keep an eye out for special coupon/discount deals. Alyssa bought our tickets on a deal through pulsd New York City. Maybe you can find something similar!

Not from NYC?  See what your area has to offer!  Google is your friend.  "Wine tour near _____." Go. Dare you to.

Then you can be this happy, too...

If you enjoy wine and the great outdoors, I highly suggest this little city escape! 

Thank you, Alyssa, for making this happen! To next year, in Napa ;) 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Features

It's been a wonky week. Amazing weekend last weekend (I'll recap soon) followed by an exhausting exhausting/sickly couple days. I'm zonked!  TGIF -- time to catch up on some ZZZs.

It's also FRIDAY Features! Here's some old and some new news and interesting reads!  I saved the best for last, too, so don't miss out:

Personal and Social

Want to understand introverts better--for a friend or for yourself?
This infographic totally made me go "this is me!"
For the why and how of interacting with introvertsclick here to learn more.

Want to sound smarter in your writing?
Skim these 15 Words to Eliminate From Your Vocabulary.

A case study in social media's failure to tell the whole truth,
and the possible implications...
Madison Hollerand's Split Story


This HuffPo piece isn't new news anymore, but worth repeating until people get it:
Eggs Don't Cause Heart Attacks -- Sugar Does by Dr. Mark Hyman

NPR explains why sooo much research on health and diet is based on flawed evidence:
We Lie About What We Eat, and It's Messing Up Science

Study provides evidence that non-Celiac gluten sensitivity is real.
They compared giving less than 5 grams of gluten to giving a placebo,
and the symptoms resurfaced. Click here for the details.

News You Can Use

"Whole Paycheck" no more!  Whole Foods to launch a
lower-priced chain. Woohoo!

This week, FitFluential is sharing 21 Smoothie Recipes,
with a Blendtec blender giveaway, too!
Time is running out --> Check it out here.

Need I say more?

Happy Friday, and Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

April BirchBox: Unboxing and Review


It's already May, I know, but I really wanted to share with you how excited I am about finally signing up for BirchBox last month!!


What is BirchBox?  It's an NYC-based company that curates monthly boxes just for you!  For just $10, you get a few small or sample-size beauty/self-care related items to try out, and if you find something you love, you can order directly through BirchBox. They've got a whole store online with occasional sales and holiday/themed collections. Plus, by shopping through them, you get points (read: credit!) back that you can use toward your future monthly boxes. Win-win.

I've wanted to subscribe for a while now.  I've seen others' boxes and admire all the information and video tutorials that BirchBox puts out online and in social media; I've learned a lot from them!  I have a pretty simple daily routine (some blush and maybe mascara usually suffice), so learning how to use more fancy tools and techniques for special occasions is something I am thankful to BirchBox for.  Also, I rarely buy my own makeup (I'm a sucker for freebies so have long simply taken what was given to me and made it work), so I've been interested to learn more about what's out there and what might work even better for me.

Recently, after seeing Juliette's Mad Men premiere prep video, I really wanted the Mad Men box (in honor of the final season's premier).  So, it was time!  I went online, answered a few questions about my style, my personal care preferences and concerns, and my current routine, and then they sent me a box, just like that!

Here's how the first opening went:

It's been a few weeks, and I can now fully report back on how I like these products:

12 Benefits Instant Healthy Hair Treatment:  LIKE
I followed the instructions by spritzing my damp hair from mid-lenths to ends... and then "Style as usual", but for me "styling as usual" is just letting my hair air-dry.  Sometimes I blow it out straight, but not often anymore. I found that, while this did leave my hair looking naturally frizz-free, it also ended up somewhat tangly by the end of the day/the next day, especially if I had to put it in a ponytail at any point.  This was exacerbated after a few days of use.  So while I like it--especially for summer where I want to just let it dry curly/wavy/free... I don't think I'll use it daily.

Clean Original Eau de Parfum: LIKE
As you saw in the video, I was surprised how much I like this scent.  Flowery, fruity scents aren't for me, but I love this subtle, fresh, soapy scent!!  Wish I had more than just the small sample.

Cynthia Rowly Beauty Brightening Illuminator: LOVE
I've never used an "illuminator" before, but I dared to give it a try.  Thankfully, the sample came with a small card showing you where/how to apply it.  Immediately, I was impressed how fresh and dewy my skin looked!  It's a small sample container, but you only need a tiny drop per use, so I think it'll last me a while. Win!

LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil in Honeypot: OKAY
Okay, I like the pencil, itself--very soft, not sticky, feels natural, but I don't love the color. It's a little too pink for me. (Eric asked: "What's on your lips???")  I'll still wear it on occasion, but I'm interested in exploring their other color/neutral options.

Not Soap, Radio Body Wash in Bathing with sharks: OKAY
It's a body wash. I enjoyed it. Worked for me, no complaints, but nothing outstandingly special, either.

And that's all!  I'm glad I got this box; I'm pretty happy with the products and am continuing to use each and every one of them.

The most exciting part, I think, is the anticipation of the box and seeing what's inside!  BirchBox makes sure to keep you eager by letting you pick out one or two of the items in advance, and sometimes you can choose between the regular monthly box or a special edition box (like this Mad Men box, or next month's collaboration with Cupcakes and Cashmere).

Happy Customer

Interested in joining?  Check out BirchBox here.  Men, they've got you covered, too! Check out BirchBox Men.

Can't wait to see what's in May's BirchBox!! 

Do you subscribe to BirchBox or any other monthly boxes?  Let me know in the comments what your experience has been!