Wednesday, May 30, 2012

SlimKicker Challenge and Kitchen Scale GIVEAWAY

Create a SlimKicker Challenge and WIN a kitchen scale!

SlimKicker motivates you to stay healthy by turning your diet and fitness goals into a game with points, rewards, and lots of health & fitness challenges.

Here at Dare You To, we're all about the CHALLENGES!  Dare yourself to take on some of these short-term and long-term goals.  Examples of SlimKicker challenges include replacing soda, drinking 8 cups of water per day, forgoing after-dinner snacks for a week, performing 100 planks, moving during commercials, eating 3 different veggies each day, and even meditating.  Check out countless others on the SlimKicker Challenges page for more ideas!!

In addition to challenges, the site has tools to track what you eat, tips for successfully completing challenges, and forums for users to write, read, and respond to others' questions.  SlimKicker turns healthy actions into a motivational game.

Since the folks at SlimKicker contacted me about their website, I've been playing around to learn more, and I've got to say: I'm impressed.  The challenges all come with helpful tips for achieving your goals, such as video demos for some fitness challenges (eg: Planks) and advice for making certain challenges (eg: not eating after dinner) easier, mentally.  When you log food information, you get instant feedback on your food choices, as well as "SlimPoints" just for logging--extra points for healthy eats.  With the points, you can either reward yourself when you accumulate enough points to "Level Up" to the next level, OR some challenges actually come with real prizes!  Fortunately, you can also get prizes right here... (read on)

Excited by the prospect of new ideas for challenges, I joined up.  I won't be logging my every bite and move, but I look forward to participating in challenges to get in all my veggies, to lace up my sneakers daily, and even to eat one meal per day paleo!  (Paleo? Piece of cake!--without the cake.)  I can always use  extra motivation and reminders to keep up with my goals.  You can find ME here: My SlimKicker Profile.
What are your personal goals?  Have a CHALLENGE that you'd like to share with others?  Dare them to accept?  Share it below! 

It's YOUR chance to create a new challenge for SlimKicker members!  The winner's idea will be used on the site, and he or she will be rewarded with an Ozeri Touch Professional Digital Kitchen Scale.


To enter, please leave a comment with your suggestion for a fun, creative fitness or diet challenge.  One to two sentences will suffice.  The SlimKicker team will select their favorite challenge to be featured as a challenge on the SlimKicker website, and that winner will receive a digital kitchen scale.  Contest is open from May 30 through end of day June 7.  Winner will be announced in a DYT blog post.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Join the RW Summer Running Streak

Happy Memorial Day (weekend) !! 

Sooo.... I won't even sugar coat it: My running has lagged.  Miles dropped.  Motivation waned.

It's been a mix of being busy, getting some curveballs, some less than ideal weather, and then back to being busy.  I've continued to prioritize my gym classes over outdoor runs (thank you, belated April showers), running mostly just for the 15-30 minutes before a yoga class, once or twice a week.

Time to get back to my running!  Enter: Runner's World Summer Running Streak 2012

Source: Join here!

It's simple: Run (at least) one mile, every day, from Memorial Day to Independence Day.  That makes 38 days of consecutive running--more than the 21 said to be necessary to break or entrench a habit.  If I want to get back into my running habits of the fall and winter, then this is my chance.  I accept the RW challenge and commit to running one hour, every day, no matter how busy or hectic life becomes.

Can I do it?  I sure hope so.  I dare myself.

And I dare you.  Are you up for the challenge?  Just one mile, each day, 38 days.  I encourage you to run the mile, and walkers are welcome, too!

Remember: It's easier to do something every day than do it some days.  Make it habit.

Join me :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Take a look at Technogym

It was a dreary, rainy evening in New York City...

But after class, I hoofed it to Soho for a special event at Technogym's new location

What is Technogym
" Technogym USA is part of Technogym, a global leader in the development and manufacture of premier, high quality fitness equipment, supplying many of the most prestigious hotels, resort locations, fitness facilities and individual homes worldwide.  Offering cutting edge fitness equipment such as its Run Personal treadmill with a touchscreen multimedia interface, Technogym USA is internationally recognized for its stunning design and innovative delivery of wellness solutions that result in a better ownership experience and return on its user's time, financial and health investments.  " (Press materials)


...Basically, Technogym is a wellness company, the "manufacturer of uniquely designed, innovative, and extraordinarily beautiful fitness equipment," as you'll see below.  The company is based in Milan, Italy, and has expanded into the US.  Their Wellness Lifestyle is based upon putting people at the center of things, "where exercise, healthy eating, and a positive mental attitude are the essential factors for living life with complete psychophysical wellbeing."
Sounds good to me!

Click to continue...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Sunday, I spent the day outside, enjoying the beautiful weather, the company of some good friends, and the aromas and tastes at the Great GoogaMooga food festival in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.  

We went not knowing quite what to expect, given that it was the inaugural weekend of this new event.  What we found were restaurant and truck vendors spread out over the sprawling greens of the park, along with two music stages, grand beverage tents, food and marketing panels in Restaurant 101, and food prep demos.  The food itself was the star of the show, with stands lined up, organized by type of food:  burgers, pizzas, baked goods, ethnic foods, seafood, desserts, etc.  Click below to see the fun, foodie day in photos!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Get Spinning Shoes

A few weeks ago, I gushed about my love of Spinning (aka Cycling, Flywheel, etc.) and dared you to give it a try.  For those of you who were already spinning or accepted my challenge, I now encourage you to take your cycling to the next level, by using the right shoes.

Spin Shoes: Yes, it is possible to do spinning without the right shoes by buckling your sneaker into the pedal cage (below), but it's simply not the same.  My instructor had been on me to get spin shoes for some time, and I finally got around to it when I noticed that my performance was suffering because my feet felt loose or I was unable to sprint in standing positions.

^This is what the pedal looks like on a Spinning bike.  You can either turn it over to slide your regular sneaker into the little cage there, and pull the strap to tighten, OR you can clip your spin shoe directly onto the top of the pedal, and they move, connected.

I spin once or twice each week.  My sneakers were no longer cutting it.  They were limiting the effectiveness of my workout.  It was time to upgrade and act like the spinner I've become.

Meredith Gets Spinning Shoes:
Off I went to my local cycling store, recommended by my instructor.  I love browsing specialty athletics stores; you really learn how every domain has such depth to its tools, apparel, and technique.

First, my salesman Isaac (Hi, Isaac!) had me step on this square that would show the arch of my feet.  Turns out, I've got medium arch feet.

He described a couple of the shoes to me and then got a pair from the back for me to try on.  He checked the fit, and...

A perfect fit!

That was easy.  WAY quicker and easier than I anticipated, based on my experience getting running shoes.


Snazzy black, right?  They're from the company Specialized, specifically the "Body Geometry" shoe--"Riata Mtb Women"... from what I can tell :)  This is not my area of specialty.  Among the many other products they seem to offer, they make these spinning shoes. That is all I know.

Also had to get this Shimano clip to attach to the bottom of the shoe.  This is what will, well, clip the shoe into the spin bike's pedals, so that my feet become one with the pedals, rather than my regular sneaker sliding in and out of the cage.

(This was further proof that I knew nothing about cycling.  The shoe alone was for real bicycles.  Who knew that outdoor cyclists use special shoes for their bikes??  I have much to learn.)

And that was that!  I was now a proud owner of spin shoes.  
Mission accomplished.

At home, I tried them on again before packing them up to take to spin.  Although I'm able to walk around in them (the clip does NOT get in the way, as is the case with some other shoes), but I don't see a need to use them for anything other than on the spin bike, or around the cycling studio. 

To the gym I went!  It took me a few tries to slide my foot forward and down onto the pedal, but eventually I got it and then rehearsed it a few times until I got used to it. 

To detach, you simply slide your heel out to the side, et voila!  You're free. 

So how'd they work?  They were GREAT! I noticed the difference immediately.  It became more evident that my legs could both push AND pull the pedals, working my muscles in different ways, and touching on new muscles that weren't strongly activated before.  It was also so much easier to sprint or do double- or triple-time out of the saddle.  Before, standing and going fast was an issue, because my feet weren't entirely secure, so neither was I.  Now, my feet and the pedals are one, and so I can pedal my heart out and not worry about my feet sliding loose. 

Not the first, but the second or third time I wore them, I had an issue: my foot cramped up.  It happened immediately as soon as the class started, so I tried to pedal through it but couldn't.  Instead, I took my shoes and loosened the velcroe straps a little bit.  This helped; maybe I made them too tight?  I also made the mistake of wearing my athletic/running socks, which my instructor said is not necessary. My K-Bells will do just fine, and they're thin so the shoe will be less tight.  

Be aware of this, and also be sure that your shoes are not too tight.  Also be sure to keep your heels down (easier in spin shoes than in sneakers!) so that you don't put your entire weight on your toes.  That would hurt them, and we don't want to do that. 

The issue's since been resolved, and I've been enjoying use of my spinning shoes so far!  The improvement in my workout is definitely worth the splurge.  They're not cheap--The shoes were $90, and the clips another $20 or so.  I used my birthday money toward these (thanks Grandma & Grandpa!), and am definitely happy with the investment.

New spinning shoes in action!
Sorry for the lack of smile -- struggling to balance and photograph

So there you have it!  That's the story of Meredith's First Spinning Shoes.  Any questions?  comments?  Suggestions?  

Do you spinning shoes for your cycling--indoor or outdoor, or do you stick with sneakers

If you're into spinning and still using sneaks, I dare you to consider getting the proper shoes.  They're worth it.  (As are YOU!) 

--- Like what you see here?  Follow along on Twitter and Facebook! ---

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Dear Readers,


Alright, it may actually be kinda summer already. Who can keep track anymore??

Spring rushed in...and out...and in again this year, which is both exciting and terrifying in my opinion.   (The sky is falling! The sky is falling!)  Either way, it reminds us that the year is speeding right along, and so we should take some time to prepare for summer, to clean out our lives, to remove any burdens holding us down from enjoying the warmer weather.

You may notice I've already begun spring cleaning my blog!  To lighten up a bit, I'm toying with new colors, new backgrounds, a new section on the bottom, and new "pages" for food and fitness roundups!  I would love your thoughts, suggestions, and comments.  I'm not saying you should judge a blog by its cover, but it's important to me that you like the look of what you're reading :)

So let's talk about cleaning up.  This doesn't just mean your home; spring cleaning can apply to your house, your body, your work life, your mental clutter.  It can be overwhelming, but baby steps make it so much simpler than you realize.

Let's start today with the HOME.

This is the most obvious part of "spring cleaning," and the one that likely gets the most press and attention.  It's also essential not only so that your house looks nice for guests, but a clean, organized home really improves your own peace of mind, too.  As Gretchen Rubin explains about making the bed: "Outer order contributes to inner calm."  So true.  So Make your Bed!!

I say, do one thing at a time.  Unless you're on some kind of vacation and have a week or longer to tear apart your entire home (which would be faaabulous!), then better to keep your tasks simple and focused.  Start with a single closet.  One kitchen cabinet.  A messy junk drawer.  You'll soon realize how refreshing it is to open that closet/cabinet/drawer once everything is in its place and tangential items are no longer wasting space.  Plus, as Gretchen Rubin also points out in her book The Happiness Project , "By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished."

Earlier in April, I began this process, just one little area at a time.  It doesn't need to take longer than an hour or two, depending on the task and how much you are focusing.  You'll get it done in far less time if you are focused rather than multitasking.  You can start with one room, or even one little drawer.  Every little bit makes a difference.

One morning, I emptied the Tupperwear cabinet.

Match every item to a lid.  Label pairs (and identical pairs!) with a letter or number, so it's easy to match later.  Don't be fooled by look-a-likes or lids of similar sizes.  If there is an unmatched item, recycle it.  Do not let it waste space or, worse, your time spent looking for its partner.

Even made room for my ice cream machine!
(I forgot to photograph the 'before', but trust me--this is a vast improvement.)

One afternoon, I tacked the spice cabinet.

Cooking, simplified. 

Take everything off the shelf or rack or out of the drawer.  Toss anything that you don't even remember buying (like those exotic spice blends that may be more than a decade old) and don't foresee using (since you haven't noticed it in the back of the cabinet for so many years).  Look for duplicates of the same items, and store the "extras" in the top shelf or a special place in your kitchen where you can go when you are out of the spice.  Keep the spices you use most regularly right in front for easy access.

I have to say, the spice cabinet overhaul had the most amazing results.  It was SO easy to grab what I needed after, without having to search.  Do it.  I dare you.

In shifting and moving things around the spice cabinet, the PANTRY also got a head-to-toe organizational makeover:

Look at all that space! Wheeee.

One evening, I tore through my bedroom closet.

This is always a work in progress for me, but I was quite pleased with how it turned out.  I re-arranged the clothing which was refreshing for change's sake alone, but also proved functional.  (I switched from long-sleeves on top and short-sleeves on bottom, to full shirts on bottom and zip-ups/button-downs/vests/cardigans/etc. on top.  I tried on things that I haven't worn in too long, and if it didn't fit at all, it went into a donation bag.

You can also do similar clean-outs for other closets, cabinets, even the 'junk drawer' in any given room.  Just take an hour to dump it out, separate what's useful and what's not, and remove the rest. It feels SO good after!  I'm still working on cleaning everything out, one area at a time, keeping, tossing, etc.  It's weird, but I actually enjoy it once I'm doing it.  Just get started, and think about how nice it will be to have extra space in that closet, to see the color of the floor, or to actually have an empty shelf or drawer.

For more tips and tricks for spring cleaning your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and more, check out my Spring Cleaning Pinterest Board!  I'm an organizational queen, but have a lot to learn regarding the disinfecting part.  For that reason, I've been collecting some useful checklists, tips, and ideas on Pinterest for really cleansing and refreshing your entire home.

So pick a room, an area, a single shelf, and get organizing!  You'll feel so much better after.  I dare you!

What part of your home tends to get the messiest?  
How do you deal with cleaning--baby steps or all at once?
Do you find that organization improves productivity? 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Recap: The Skinny Rules book launch

Last night, I had the honor of joining Bob Harper to celebrate the launch of his new book, The Skinny Rules

In keeping with his expertise demonstrated on "The Biggest Loser," Bob wrote a book to help people lose weight.  It includes the "simple, nonnegotiable principles for getting to THIN."  I was interested to see what sort of 'rules' Bob would include, so the opportunity to attend the launch and learn more about the book could not be passed up.

Bake: Apple Crisp

There is something so tasty and sweet about baked apples. 

Add in cinnamon, honey, walnuts, and you get a deliiicious dessert, paleo/gluten-free to boot!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Eat: 16 Handles

I love froyo.  Anyone who knows me can confirm this statement, and I'm sure froyo has made its way into my blog once or twice.  It's my special treat, my pick-me-up, my happiness in a cup.  It's not the healthiest, most natural thing out there, but there are worse indulgences.  Plus, treats can be part of a healthy diet, too.  As Bob Harper explains in his new book The Skinny Rules (more to come!), splurges are an "ingredient in your diet.  When you plan something, you are in control."

To stay FitFluential, I'll take this moment to remind you to eat your vegetables, try a SPINNING class, and write down a goal. =D

Now, back to my personal vice treat: oh, and for those of my readers who are not teens or twenty-somethings living in or near a city, "froyo" is frozen yogurt.  Just wanted to make sure that was clear before we move on.

Read more for my favorites, taste-testing, fruit toppings, and the dare...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

FitBlogNYC Day part II

After the incredible day at #FitBlogNYC hosted by Fitness Magazine (click for part I), Amber and I packed up all our goodies and headed up to Times Square for another event!

Amber, booking it :)
Read more for Oakley, Tone It Up, and a blogger Mexican dinner!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

FITNESS Blogger Meet & Tweet

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending Fitness Magazine's "Blogger Meet & Tweet" event in New York City.
Please bear with me while I recap the day's events; I chose to include the entire event in this post rather than splitting it up.  This way, you've got all the details and PHOTOS all in one place, and you can see exactly how the event progressed!

You may have noticed my excessive use of the hashtag #FitBlogNYC on Twitter while I was learning, meeting, and sharing info along with many other highly influential fitness bloggers in (and visiting from afar!) the area.  It was a day filled with fun activities, speakers, samples, and, of course, bloggers!  Lots of FitFluential love going on, from morning til night.
Read on to see the samples, what I learned, and the kick-butt Tabura workout...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Get Motivated by Music

Monday + Music + Motivation.  .... + Me, Meredith! 

Who wants to work out in silence?  Hmm... Who wants to listen to others around them panting, grunting, chatting, sniffling, etc.?   Ummm.... Who wants to listen to music that provides a steady beat as well as physical and emotional motivation? Me Me Me Me!  Now, I know there are some people who prefer to go without headphones, to listen to their breath, to focus on the road, and that's great for them!  I'm just not one of them.  Yes, I've tried it.  It's doable.  But I much prefer music; it keeps me going in ways that my huffing and puffing just can't.

My #1 workout buddy: my iPod shuffle

This weekend, a friend asked me what's on my playlist? -- do I have a post for running music?  Good news, Cait: This one's for you!

Continue reading for tips on choosing songs, as well as what's on my list...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


In honor of my Wednesday morning spinning class (eee can't wait! It's been a whole week!), today we're talking about...

Spinning: the infamous, high-intensity, indoor cycling class.  Saddle up in a dark room, blast the music, and get your heart pumping.

I shared my love for group exercise--including Spinning--before.
I also showed you how my heart rate soars during my Spin classes; such a great interval workout!
I've also shared how fantastic it felt to get back to spinning after a couple weeks under the weather.

So, basically, since September, I've completely fallen for Spinning.  It's about time I share the details with you, and dare you to get into a class ASAP!  It builds muscles, works cardio, and serves as a great cross-training workout for runners, too.  Easier on the knees than running, so good thing to try when you've got an injury that prevents you from running. (Consult your doctor, of course.)  OR... just do it because it's a great workout and SO MUCH FUN.

(...If you think peddling your heart out and dripping in sweat is fun.  I do.  And stretching or yoga feels SO good after!!)


First, note that Spinning is not the only name that this type of exercise goes by nowadays.  You'll also see classes with the word "cycle," and there are some other well-known branded versions of Spin-like workouts, such as Soul Cycle and Flywheel.

Too many people are afraid of Spinning.  Yes, it's intense. Yes, they play loud music. Yes, you'll sweat, but what are you scared of?  The worst that happens is you don't keep up with others; so what?  No one's watching you.  The best that happens is you get a great workout.  Give it a try; you just might fall in love with spinning, like I and so many others have.  (And we were all newbies once, right?)