Friday, August 31, 2012

Work out WITHOUT a gym!

No gym? No excuse! 

Today, I bring you ways to work out without a gym.  Yesterday, I guest-blogged a post over at HellaWella.com about different ways to exercise on the road or in your own home.

Using DVDs at home

In the post, I suggest...
  • Walking and Running outside
  • Stair-climbing and jump-roping
  • DVDs and online videos
  • Body-weight movements and Tabata training
  • The "Deck of Cards" workout
  • Inexpensive equipment that you can keep at home
How can these instruct your workout?

Check out Working Out Without A Gym to learn all about these at-home fitness ideas and share your ideas!

And have a fabulous Labor Day weekend :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

join KLUTCHclub


Introducing KLUTCHclub!  A membership program that for a small fee, sends you a monthly box of brand new goodies to taste, try, and test.

Cool, right? A new box of goodies, month after month. KLUTCHclub is full of good-for-you items, too. It is among Greatist's 13 Healthiest Subscription Boxes.  After hearing so much about it, I was excited to learn more.


Each month has a theme (for example, "Spa Month"), and you pay only $16 for over $100 worth of products!  It's a great, convenient way to try out new healthy, green products without much risk.  You get a ton of samples, rather than having to spend on, say, a new supplement bottle.  The boxes come with a range of items, from snacks to online workouts to hygiene products.  Lots to try, lots to learn, lots to love!


The box KLUTCHclub sent me was in July, when the theme was "Healthy Summer Entertaining" and came with...

Summary list

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Items I liked:
  • Mighty Leaf Tea: Three flavors of whole leaf tea! Organic Earl Grey, Green Tea Tropical, and Chamomile Citrus.  Caffeine, light caffeine, and caffeine-free, respectively.  YUM! 

  • Molecule-R: Molecular gastronomy, one of the newest trends in fine dining, cna be a bit intimidating. Give this culinary trend a try by implementing Molecule-R's Soy Lectin, a natural emulsifier that allows liquids to transform into light foam, making your sauces light, voluminous, and incredibly flavorful.
    • Well, this was new.  I confess I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds kind of interesting.  There's an informational packet with recipes, and a little eyedropper and solution to use. Kinda neat. Very different. I'll try this eventually and get back to you. 
    • DEFINITELY the kind of thing you'd never go go find on your own; cool to get a sample!

  • 1st Step Pro-Wellness Vitamin B12 Complex: This is something I was interested to try.  I've taken a B-vitamin supplement since eliminating meat from my diet, although I still get B-vitamins through fish and eggs (and, going forward, meat?), but I continue to take my Bs.  So this one is different from my pills. 
    • It's liquid, unlike my vitamins in pill-form.  The bottle claims that we more readily absorb nutrients from liquids than from solids.
    • It claims to be stimulant free and caffeine free. Not quite sure why it would be either of these things, but what do I know? 
    • Don't love that the ingredients include pure cane sugar (in my supplement?) or "tart sweet cheery juice concentrate" (I'd rather it be flavor-free)
    • My taste: It says to drink a half bottle (aka, 1/2 an ounce) for a standard serving. So I did. Not bad! I admit, I anticipated it tasting like medicine, but it had a subtle enough cherry flavor that didn't overwhelm me or make me throw away the other half.  Tasty way to get B-vitamins.

  • Mineral Hygienics $15 Gift Certificate or "Super Coupon" - Get the "Mini Starter Kit" ($75 value) for only $15. 
    • I went online to look at the Mini Starter Kit, but it said it was only $29.99 (two powders and a brush). The Full Starter Kits (three brushes, four powders) were still only $59.99... so what is my coupon for?!
    • They do have money-back guarantees and color-match guarantees, which is nice. It's hard buying makeup online, so those are good safeguards for the customer. 
    • I'll probably use the gift certificate for something that's about $20 that I'd have to buy anyway (like a brush), paying mostly for shipping. 

  • Nia Online Workouts, Free 30 Days, or 40% off Lifestyle products (clothing, music, DVD workouts, telecourses), OR $500 off 2012 Nia White Belt Training.  Options!
    • I skimmed the clothing but wasn't enthralled, so I signed up for the 30-day online class experience.  Who doesn't love some free workout videos? 

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Items I didn't use:
  • Cascal Fermented Soda: "Fresh Tropical" with Mango, Jasmine, & Kaffir Lime Flavors. 
    • I don't drink soda. Nothing with bubbles for me, so I passed this along to my friend, who really liked it.  She said it was very refreshing. 

  • TruviaTruvia is a low-calorie sweetener made from the Stevia Leaf. 
    • As a sugar replacement, it's one of the more popularly "healthy" accepted ones right now, although I'm not 100% convinced.  
      • A lot of people love Truvia. 
    • I don't use artificial sweeteners.  Stevia is supposed to be the best, but I don't know that it's in its purest form in Truvia.  Really, I don't drink coffee, never sweeten my tea (except occasionally with honey if I have a sore throat), and if I'm baking something sweet, I'll use real sugar.  So, because I don't use sweeteners, this sample was simply not for me

  • Zoye Soybean Oil: "a healthy [eh] option low in saturated fat, and rich in Vitamin E and Omega 3 and 6.
    • No, thank you.  Sorry.  No soybean oil for me.  I probably get enough vegetable oils when I eat out, so don't use them at home.



  • The Breton Gourmet Shortbread Cookies: Two shimmery cookies, "with just four natural ingredients. This 100-year-old recipe comes from France and can be the perfect, delicious finish to a summer party." 
    • I prefer to not eat this kind of thing.  I took a taste, and it was alright, but shortbread cookies were never my favorite. And with my dietary preferences, this isn't so appealing to me.

So... those items were given away.  If there are things you don't use but know someone would like, these can make great gift items, too!  Maybe you like to cook with vegetable oil or put truvia in your coffee.  If you do, this box would have made you very happy!  But some of these weren't my thing.

------

There you have it, the good and the bad.  That's just my take.  It's all personal, and depends on the contents.  I'm very picky about what I put into my body, and this month's selection went 50/50 on what I could actually appreciate.  Although I'm not positive I'll stick with it, I am currently waiting on August's box to arrive, to see how I liked a different array of product samples.  I think there are other month's boxes that I would have been better suited to my taste, like April's box which contained a Yoga DVD, a bottle of fish oil, a facial wash, and more.

But that's just picky ole me.  Find magazine reviews here and here, and Kate says "I love it! Can't wait to continue my subscription."  See her full vlog review here.

If you want to receive lots of new goodies in one monthly package, keep up with the latest at KLUTCHclub by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

Check out the KLUTCHclub website to learn more and order your own box for next month.  You can cancel anytime, so there is no commitment. There are a lot of neat products and coupons to try, so see what you like!

Have you joined KLUTCHclub or another subscription box service? What do you think?

Have you tried any of these products? 

Disclaimer: KLUTCHclub provided the box free of charge, and I paid for shipping. The opinions expressed are all my own.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Explore Yoga

Since the June Yoga Challenge, I've been going on and on and on about yoga, so I thought it might be time to go over the basics and (maybe) then I'll shut up about it.  If you're new to fitness, yoga is a great way to start moving your body, and if you're a seasoned athlete, yoga is often just what your body needs to really stretch, reduce injury, and gain extra balance.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice through which a person integrates the body, mind, and spirit in order to be in harmony with himself and his environment.  Exercise, breathing, and meditation are the structures through which one attains balance in life.

source

Namaste is the recognition of others. "I bow to you," is what it means.  It's about two individuals connecting, spiritually.  "The light in me honors the light in you."

Namaste
source

Why Practice Yoga?

There are many health benefits to incorporating yoga into your life.  The most well-known might be increased flexibility.  With every session, you'll find yourself able to reach just a little bit further, and you'll also learn to reach from the right places (your hips) rather than straining your limbs.

Another commonly predictable benefit of practicing yoga is improved posture and balance.  You'll be amazed when, by the end of your first class, you're already sitting straighter than when you started.

What perk you might not have anticipated: Strength and toning.  As you progress from simple moves to more advanced poses, the increased difficulty will challenge your muscles, and you'll watch them grow.

Other benefits include improved circulation, abdominal organ stimulation, better sleep, boosted libido, lessened back pain (through improved posture and strengthened muscles), reduced anxiety, and, according to Harvard Health Publications, improved mood and functioning, even in the face of stress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

source

"But I'm not flexible..."  Do not let this excuse stop you from starting!  Flexibility is NOT a prerequisite for practicing yoga.  You'll never improve if you don't TRY.  My BF is a great example.  He was self-proclaimed completely inflexible, but in January, he began his new year's resolution to do yoga.  He began going once a week, and despite being incredible sore after his first session, he returned over and over.  Everyone can benefit.

If you don't believe his story, take it from SHAPE Magazine: Why Yoga Isn't About Being Flexible.

What to Expect: Guide to your First Yoga Class

First, what to choose?  Vinyasa, Hatha, Bikram... Need help deciding which type of yoga is for you?  Check out Your Essential Guide to Yoga or learn about the six branches of yoga.  In my personal opinion, I would NOT begin with bikram or hot yoga; they're incredibly intense and you should probably master the basics and get comfortable with your yoga practice before upping the ante.  Hatha is a great place to start for beginners, focusing on holding poses in conjunction with your breathing.  Vinyasa, which goes through series of poses and repeats, is also an excellent yoga practice; that's probably my favorite. 

Whichever form you choose, inform the instructor that you are new.  This way, they can be sure to describe each pose rather than assuming the regulars know it, and can assist you when necessary. Situate yourself in the front of the class so you can see, and so s/he can see and help if you need assistance.  Know that most poses have multiple levels to them, and it's okay to stay at whichever level you're at. You'll work your way up over time.  Also, although feeling a stretch is great, stop if you feel sharp pain. 

source

What to wear?  You'll want comfortable, fitted clothing.  There's a lot of movement and stretching, so you certainly want clothing designed to give in workouts.  You don't want baggy items that will hang down over your face if you're in an inversion, nor do you want too-revealing clothing that might slip and give your mat neighbors a free show.  See FitSugar's advice for What Not To Wear To Yoga Class.

Also, if you plan on sticking with it for a while, definitely invest in your own yoga mat.  Whether you're at a gym or a studio, those shared mats are covered in germs.  Many different parts of your body--including, potentially, your face--will be touching that mat, so be aware and get your own. I recommend something a little thicker (1/4-inch thick) so your joints (for me, it's my knees) get enough cushioning.

Check out The Well Daily's guide to your first class 

First-time testimonials:

Hot Yoga testimonials:
Once you're ready to take your practice to the next level, consider trying 
Hot Yoga!  I'm a fan, but it's not for everyone, and, as always the case with group classes, it depends on the instructor.  

Other tips:

Already an old pro?  If you ever find yourself in a yoga rut, try these tips from FitSugar to get your yoga groove back.

You can also take your yoga to new levels with Greatist's "Yoga on the Road" infographic on integrating yoga poses into your airtime.

As always, consult your doctor before engaging in physical activity, and alert your instructor to any injuries you have.  Yoga, like all forms of exercise, comes with risk of injury, so be careful: use proper form, ask for help when you need it, and revert to downward dog or child's pose when you need a rest or can't quite make it.  No pressure.  You'll improve with time.

Yoga at Home: I'd personally recommend starting off in a class, so you can see how the poses are properly done and an instructor can help get you there, but if you're shy, already experienced, or don't belong to a gym or studio, there are also many great resources to guide your yoga practice at home.

That's all she wrote!  Any questions?  Comments?  I dare you to give yoga a try.  Even if you don't love it, you'll likely see benefits after a bit of practice.  One class won't change your life, but regular yoga just might.

Do you do yoga?  How did you get started?  
What websites and DVDs do you recommend for at-home yoga?

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

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Recap: HLS12 Day 3


Last weekend, I attended the Healthy Living Summit, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  For the many of you who want to know how it went, I'm sharing!  In stages.

This is Day 3.  
       Click here for Day 1.
               Click here for Day 2.

For those of you who are not interested in my blogger-fest activities, today you can set S.M.A.R.T. goals or make fluffy quinoa.  
Oh, you want a NEW dare?  Dare you to follow on Google+ and find me on Facebook to stay up to date with posts, see exclusive shares, and browse my instagram feed. 

healthylivingsummit.com

After the fun night before, I was in a great mood waking up for the 8:00am 5k run!

Ready to go!

The 5k Fun Run/Walk


This was the lobby gathering.
Bright colors and workout gear, unite!

The weather was perfect - it was nice and cool, in the 60s maybe.  A nice relief from the past few days' heat!
Off we go!

Nice sights on the run :) Love the water views!


 Also some nice Boston views, pretty areas, beautiful homes, greenery...


Sometimes we waited for a stoplight. Necessary when running in a giant herd of girls (and Jon)!

Me & Alex



The sights and chatter kept me entertained, so before I knew it, the run was done!  I didn't bring my Garmin or track distance; this run was for FUN.  The group did keep a pace I was very comfortable with, probably hovering around a 10-minute mile, so I was able to run the whole thing (minus red lights!) and keep up, as well as enjoy conversation.

Post-run sweaty pic!

After the run, breakfast was served!  I ran upstairs to shower off quickly before heading down to the beauuuuutiful spread that awaited us.

Clare's ready to dig in!

My eyes were all over these mini-frittatas.  Eggs, with.. was it goat cheese? and.. tomatos? and maybe green onions?  Who knows. It was delish!  (These were like a larger version of my muffin-shaped Egg Bites!)


Another favorite of mine was in attendance...

Love Grown Foods

So I made myself a plate and went to dine with some of my favorite ladies.

Friends <3
Alex, Rachael, Alex, Me, Juliette, JocelynKaitlyn

My breakfast


And I also went back for seconds of the egg frittata. YUM.


Below, Rachael discovers the magic that is Love Grown.

It was love at first bite!

Sadly, it was already time for goodbyes.  When did that happen?  The weekend breeezed right past us.

So long, Meg

And to my dinner crew. <3

Thank you to the Healthy Living Summit team, the sponsors, and the wonderful friends who all made this weekend so memorable!  I had a blast, came away with a billion ideas, and look forward to staying in touch and seeing you again soon!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Recap: HLS12 Day 2

This weekend, I attended the Healthy Living Summit, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  For the many of you who want to know how it went, I'm going to share!  In stages.

This is Day 2.  Click here for Day 1.

For those of you who are not interested in my blogger-fest activities, today you can cook this or try this workout.  
Oh, you want a NEW dare?  Dare you to follow on Google+ and find me on Facebook to stay up to date with posts, see exclusive shares, and browse my instagram feed. 

healthylivingsummit.com

Where were we?

Saturday morning wakeup.  A bunch of running groups got up and out super early, but I hadn't slept much at all the night before, so I slept straight until my 7:45 alarm. 8am breakfast, folks!

Nice view to wake up to

On my way to the breakfast room, I walked through a hall of our sponsors, who had information and samples to share with us.  First stop: Reebok.


Of course, I'm still crushing on Reebok after all the CrossFit fun last Thursday.


They had sneakers for us to try on for size, and we each got a pair of the ReelFlex Fusion TR with our swag!



The folks from DailyFeats were there, too, to introduce us to their website, which I loved.  The idea is to track and accomplish "feats" you set for yourself.  A "feat" is every good thing you do toward your goals, whether it be exercising, eating right, drinking water, saving money, or making the bed.


Yessss--It's all about dares! Dare you to go over there and choose some "feats" to go after!  (Heads up: They're about to make some big changes to the site, so it'll be even better in two weeks. Keep an eye on DailyFeats.com.)

Another table had everything you need to know about Energybits and Skinnybits, (and Vitalitybits and Recoverybits), which are little, well, bits of algae. A calorie a pop, with a major protein boost.  


Although I'm skeptical of things with such names like 'energy' and 'skinny', I do like seaweed.  I tried a few before the workout (keep reading) but didn't notice a big difference. If nothing else, I got protein out of it. I've got another sample pack so I'll keep you posted.

At the cocktail party, I'd met Ronni (below, right) of Drink Chia, an "Omega 3 Superfood Drink infused with organic chia seeds, For the active lifestyle and those mindful of their health."  Chia and Omega-3s have definitely been popular lately, so it's no wonder this drink is here to make getting those nutrients easier.


The drink comes in four different flavors ("B Meyer" Lemon, Honeysuckle Pear, Strawberry Citrus, and Mango Tangerine) and contains real, whole chia seeds inside.  For those who want chia but don't want the crunch that often comes with them (I like Chia's crunch in my Greek yogurt), the drink makes the seeds go down nice and smooth.

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Finally--Breakfast!  Breakfast was sponsored by Wild Harvest, and an egg recipe by Kelly won their Breakfast Showdown contest and was featured among the other dishes!  I had some for breakfast and it was delicious.



Now, this is the day with all the sessions.  This is the summit.  This is where I learned to be a better blogger for you. (You're welcome.)




The planning team was comprised of Meghann, Heather, and Julie, who did an incredible job with the weekend.  It was my first time at the conference, but I thought it all went so smoothly and had something for everyone.  Wonderful job, girls, and thanks for a good time!


I sipped my tea while they made announcements.


First up: "Teams of Awesome: Introduction Ice Breakers".  The sticker on the back of our namecard divided us into groups of about a dozen, so we gathered around and introduced ourselves, and answered the question posed on our individual card:


The questions were cute and some yielded very funny answers.  This was a good time! And a few bloggers that I've known online for some time were in my group, which was great.  Love "meeting" all these friends!

After that morning chat time, we gathered in the pavillion for our CrossFit WOD with Reebok.


Look at those colors!  On the way down, a hotel guest stepped into the elevator and commented, "Oh, it's a Diva elevator!"

#getafterit!

The trainers showed us how to properly squat (which I'd learned at Reebok NYC), and also showed a simple jump, arms in the air. 


WOD: 7 Squats, 15 jumps, AMRAP for 5 minutes.  Okayyyy so we did it. Not so bad!  The trainers came around correcting form, helping us out, showing how it's done. I thought I'd be sore but wasn't, but a lot of girls noted their thighs were burning the rest of the weekend.  Not surprising--that's a lot of squats!!

Post-WOD with Kristin

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At last, the SESSIONS!

First: Hosting a Virtual Challenge with Amanda of Run To The Finish



She talked all about how to host a group "Challenge" on your website, and the amount of time it takes and where that time goes.  Amanda hosts these amazing month-long challenges every month, and she sends out helpful newsletters and has great prizes in the end.  I'm glad this was my first session; I feel like I learned a LOT about the steps involved and the tools that help, so I'm ready to roll!


Next up was Blogging With Brands: a panel hosted by Lauren Podolsky with Kelly Olexa, Ashley, Theodora, and Anne.


These bloggers, along with brand reps, gave us the low-down on working with brands, sharing insights and advice from both sides of the blogger-brand relationship.  It was standing-room only in this session!  Everyone had something to learn.

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Had lunch with Caitlin, Meg, Heather, Sara, Lisa, and Brittany.


Hey Brittany!

And then with a little time back at the room, I dug into the swag bag and found this:


Had a taste, and discovered that I really like pistachios!  Thanks, Oh! Nuts!! 

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For the Afternoon SessionsCourtney led a Newbie Q&A, which I followed closely on Twitter while I learned about getting involved in community events.


I am the Blogger in Your Neighborhood: a panel hosted by Holly, The Healthy Everythingtarian with Meghann and Clare.

Clare, telling us how she does it

With Heather, who ran this whole weekend. Thank you!!

Between sessions, we had some snacks - Thank you Driscoll's!

I could NOT get enough of these walnuts!

Driscoll's Berries!

The final panel I had so much trouble choosing, again.  I followed on Twitter to learn about Social Media: Keeping Up With Online Trends with Heather, while I took notes on ethics in The Fuzzy Grey Areas of Blogging, a panel hosted by Rachel with Dori and Teri.  Here, I learned what's ethical and fair to myself and to my readers.  Very helpful advice from experienced bloggers.

-----

Then, Closing Remarks were suddenly being made.  The planning team and volunteers were all thanked and applauded, as were the many sponsors.


Thank you, Reebok and CrossFit Boston!
Thank you to all the sponsors - lots to discover!Excited for coupons from Chobani and Love Grown Foods.
A match made in heaven <3

-----

DINNATIME


Friends from Greatist and DailyFeats invited me to join them for dinner (yay!), so a group of us walked across the bridge to a restaurant.  The view was so beautiful, and the weather made for a pleasant walk.

Laura, Alex, Sara

The girls were beautiful, too!



We ate at Harvard Gardens, which turned out to be fantastic.  The place was just the right amount of crowded for a Saturday night, with young people everywhere.  The waitress was helpful and the food?  All satisfying!

But the best part was the company:

Derek, Me, Laura

Sara, Alex, Jon

I got a delicious drink called Raspberry Sangrita (thank you, DailyFeats!), which was basically white wine sangria with raspberry vodka.  It was perfect.  For food?  The whole menu looked delicious, but one item kept calling my name:

Tuna Tartar 
with wasabi tabiko, seaweed salad, avocado, spicy mayo

Thought it would be slices of fish beside a seaweed salad and sliced avocado, like this.  But instead, a fancy plate came out, with all those fresh ingredients in one block of...


Wow.  All the plates that came out were delicious, but I was so happy with my choice.  The combination of flavors was perfect, and every bite was better than the last.  Really, with the soft, mixed consistency, this was essentially the same thing at my go-to lunch, except made with more fresh, gourmet ingredients and beautifully plated.


I know it looks like mush, but trust me. 
YUM

And then, shuttle-less, we walked across the bridge and all the way back to the hotel, which was nice. Extra time for conversation and more fun!

Mindy and Alex

I think there was general consensus that this was just about the most fun night ever. A great group of people, some silly shenanigans, and a general good time.  I'm glad for the memories, but even more glad to stay in touch!

Sara, Jon, Alex, Monique, Rachael, Laura, Shannon, Me, Derek, Mindy
Photo by Mindy

What are your favorite Boston restaurants?

Would you be interested in joining a month-long challenge on Dare You To?  What kinds of challenges would you like to see?