Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Celebrate National Running Day with Charity Miles

Happy National Running Day!  Did you know that today was the day?  Fortunately, here in NYC the rain has stopped but cooled everything down.  Perfect for a run!  Dare you to hit the road with me.


Last year, I celebrated #NationalRunningDay by signing up for my first 10k!  That summer, I rocked my running goals and the 10k race.  However, it's been an uphill battle since then...  After another recent month sans run, I finally hit the road again last week.

First, on Memorial Day, I laced up in the morning before it was too hot. I hadn't been running in over a month--and even that was a lot of stop-and-go--I wanted to really kick back into gear!  I set my Nike+ app for a full 3.11 miles and told myself that I would run the whole thing. And I did!  I kept slow and steady and finished my 5k in about 33 minutes, and since then vowed that I'll get back to covering a 3-mile jog at least once per week for the summer. That's the plan!



Then, this past Saturday, I hit the road again in the summer heat.  I ran two miles at about a 10-min pace before the heat got to me and I had to slow to a walk. The last mile, I alternated walking and running to finish out in 36 minutes.  Alright, I'll take it.

Today, I took advantage of this cool June morning to cover three miles with a new partner:



I've finally started using Charity Miles--an app that logs your distance and donates to a charity of your choice for every mile you run, walk, or bike! How cool is that? You don't have to pay a thing; the app's sponsors take care of the donations (the sponsor for my run today was Johnson & Johnson, so their image appeared in the background for the duration of my run.

You can choose from a huge array of charities, and then stick with the same one OR switch up your beneficiary for each workout.

Scroll through the many, many options!


It tracks your distance throughout the run (whether you're outside OR inside on a treadmill) and, if you swipe down, lets you see how much you've raised so far.  Maybe that'll give you extra motivation to keep on moving!


During this morning's run, I raised 75 cents for Feeding America.  I chose that charity because, on Running Day last year, I ran for the FEED Foundation.  Thought I'd keep the theme going.  Of course, a few cents isn't all that much, but can you imagine how much it adds up with every workout you do?  and with the thousands of people using the app?? It adds up, so why not play your part? 



Dare you to make your miles count!! Whether you walk, run, or bike, dare you to use the Charity Miles app to contribute your workout to a meaningful charity. 

And with that, I wish you a happy National Running Day!  Go get moving on your own, or, if you want to find a group run near you, check out RunningDay.org on Facebook and find a group for you.

How are you celebrating National Running Day?
Have you been logging Charity Miles?  

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!! 

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


Nutrition

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.

***CHIPOTLE REVEALED THEIR GUAC RECIPE.
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

Good evening!! IT'S FINALLY SO SPRING AND I'M LOVING IT.

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!!

Hooray!


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!




Read more to see how the first opening went:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Re-evaluate the Research

Earlier this year, NPR published an article entitled:


Dare you to give it a read, and more importantly, take note of its message.

The title really says it all: Research studies are often based on people reporting what they remember eating and doing, but people aren't really all that accurate or honest when answering such questions. The author summarizes a paper from the International Journal of Obesity that asserts that self-reported data are so poor "that they no longer have a justifiable place in the scientific research."

Flawed data leads to flawed conclusions!  Our "conventional wisdom" about what prevents heart disease, cancer, or diabetes may be wrong.  How can we trust articles claiming "Research finds that..." when the finding is based on faulty self-reported data?

The problem is serious, because it's not just misinforming people who read health news; it's misinforming our policy advisers and our doctors. This flawed data is what directs governmental health policies, as well as doctors' and nutritionists' recommendations.

What's needed are better-designed research studies with more accurate measures of dietary intake and energy balance.  There's a lot to learn from well-done research, but in the meantime, be skeptical of what you read and pay attention to how the data was collected.

"Research finds..." may be flawed, so keep reading and keep an open mind! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sweeten with Honey

In my efforts to eat more real foods and rely less on sugar, I've been using honey in my baking!  Honey is known primarily for its sweetness and can replace white sugar in almost anything.  In fact, honey is so sweet (25 - 50% sweeter than white sugar), that you need less of it to enjoy the same flavor!

Image courtesy of artur84 at freedigitalphotos.net

More than sugar: However, unlike white sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and other such man-made, refined sweeteners, honey is a more naturally-occurring substance containing over a hundred different compounds, including plenty of vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. When you consume honey, you're getting so much more than just a hit of sugar, and, for that, honey is a much healthier sweetener than refined sugars!

The best kind of honey you can use is raw honey, which can be found in most farmer's markets (bonus points for local!) and health food stores today.  Or, if you're so inclined, visit a local bee farm or raise your own!  That's another dare for another day...

[Sidenote: I've also used a lot of maple syrup in my baking, but that's actually less sweet than regular sugar and so comes with different benefits.]


Next time you are baking or sweetening your tea, dare you to swap out the sugar for a bit of raw honey! 

According to AllRecipes.com, you can adjust a recipe as follows: 
"Use ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey in place of 1 cup sugar, and reduce the other liquid ingredients by 2 tablespoons."
Other sources say you can do a 1:1 swap, but I'd simply experiment with your favorite recipe until you find the sweet spot. :)



Some of my fellow FitFluential Ambassadors kindly shared their favorite honey-sweetened recipes!! Check them out below:

Gluten-Free Recipes
- Honey Sesame Almonds and Spiced Roasted Almonds by Rachel at Little Chef Big Appetite
- Matcha Chia Pudding with Sweet Dukkah by Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
- Cranberry Swirly Snack (yogurt and fruit snack) by Be Mindful, You're Creative
- Honey Dijon Daikon Radish Fries by Healthy Helper
- Slow Cooker Honey Turkey Breast with Butternut Squash also by Healthy Helper
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Nut Granola by Almost Getting It Together
- Pumpkin Cacao Brownies by Running Girl Maiah Miller
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls (Vegan and Gluten-Free!) also by Running Girl Maiah Miller

For the Non-GF folks:
- Whole-Wheat Apple Honey Muffins by Rachel at Little Chef Big Appetite
- WW Pumpkin Muffins and Blueberry Muffins by A Mindful Mom

Some of my favorite paleo cookbook authors also have some great honey-sweetened recipes for you!
Chocoholic's Chocolate Mousse by Primal Palate
- Apple Pie Tartlets by PaleOMG
- Chicken Thighs with Honey-Mustard Sauce by Diane Sanfilippo
- Gingersnap Cookies by Danielle Walker

Last but not least, my own Apple Crisp recipe! (Gluten-free and paleo-friendly)


Paleo Apple Crisp

So go! Enjoy! Dare you to indulge your sweet tooth with nature's sweetener.

What's your favorite way to use honey?  


Sources: LiveStrongMark's Daily Apple, AllRecipes