Thursday, April 24, 2014

Get things done with Any.DO

This post is in NO way sponsored.  I found and fell for this app all on my own, and want to share the love with you:

As the self-proclaimed Queen of To-Do Lists, I've sampled my share of productivity apps (only to serve as long-term lists. I still use handwritten lists for short-term to-do's!).  I had been using Clear for a while and liked how simple it was, but wanted something new for the New Year.   I downloaded a few and tried out Any.DO and fell. in. love.  Four months later, I'm still in the honeymoon phase. This is the real deal.

Image from http://www.any.do/


Any.DO
"Make thinks happen" with this to-do list app!

The app is simple enough that it can stay super simple, but also has some useful features for those who want an added layer of organization to their list.  You can sort tasks by either due date or by category.

Due date is optional and set by you.  It comes with four built in timelines: today, tomorrow, upcoming, and someday, and you can easily drag and drop an item from one section to the next if you change your mind on when a task should be completed.  You can also choose to set a more specific due date, like "January 17th at 6:45pm," or even a due location by enabling GPS.  What's unique is that, each day, the items shift to where they belong.  "Tomorrow" becomes "Today", and sometimes even "upcoming" becomes "tomorrow", and so on.

To sort by category, you can choose to file each task into a "folder," like "Personal" or "Work."  You can create your own, as well. Those are the only two folders I have right now, because I'm more excited about the timeline feature than the folder feature.  Doesn't matter what category it is, to me.  It all has to get done,  anyway!

And with Any.do, it does.  Each morning, the app reminds you to "Take a moment to plan your day," which is fun.  You can pull this up at any point in the day, too, by clicking the little dots in the lower right corner.  It will present you with each task on your list, one at a time, and you can respond whether it's been completed already, whether it is urgent, or if you need to postpone it to a later date.

You can also make recurring tasks and set a schedule for their repetition.  This is great for establishing new healthy habits!  For example, you could set a daily task to flossWrite Three Good Things, fill up your water bottle, or stretch. You could also set a weekly task and reminder to do something like clean your makeup brushes.

While I do love a good hand-written list (each day, really), it's nice for my long-term task list to be fluid, to let me change the order and update as needed.  It's simply to re-arrange the list to suit your needs.  It's also SO convenient that it's with me on my phone, wherever I go, so the minute something comes up, I can add it to my list.  Then, I can cross off one thing at a time, and move on to what's next.  The joy of swiping a task completed motivates me to get it all done!

When you complete a task, the app keeps track of how many completed tasks you check off, and you can earn "Kiip Rewards" (real coupons/discount codes) for completing tasks! Win!

If you're looking for a good productivity app, I highly recommend Any.DO!  

How do YOU get your "to-do" list done?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Drink Water

As someone who carries around water with her at all moments of the day, I'm surprised I haven't shared this dare sooner.

Dare you to drink (more) water.  Water is, literally, a primary element of life, and proper hydration is the key to health.  Interestingly, this is one piece of advice that seems to be unanimously agreed upon, no matter what type of health professional you ask.  It's almost too obvious; of course you want to drink water!  Of course it's good for you.  Of course it's pretty much all you need to be drinking.


If you're already a water fiend like I am, then ditch this post and go down your bottle.  If you're not a fan of water, or think you could benefit from drinking more water, read on:

Why?  There are plenty of benefits to drinking water:
  • Hydration. Duh.  Our bodies--which are 60% water--are constantly losing that water, so it's important to replace replace replace!
  • Increased energy. Our cells require water to function, and thus so do we. Drink up!
  • Natural detoxification. Water enables our bodies to remove waste via urination, perspiration, and defecation.  Similarly...
  • Improved complexion.  This may be related to the detox factor, but however it works, water helps keep our skin looking great!
  • Digestion. From top to bottom, water makes it all possible, from top (water-based saliva) to bottom (helps digest soluble fiber, which makes stools easier to pass)
  • Weight loss.  This is partially a side effect of all of the other benefits--increased energy, improved digestion, etc.  Plus, there's the bonus of not mistaking thirst for hunger.  
  • FREE. Water is FREE!  How awesome does it feel to not have to pay for a drink (soft, hard, caffeinated, or otherwise)?  Pretty awesome.

Based on my personal experience, water keeps things working and helps relieve whatever isn't.  
There's a reason that any cold or flu diagnosis is followed by "drink plenty of fluids."  Similarly, whenever I feel a headache coming on, my first line of defense is to drink more water.  It's that simple.  My headaches usually only come when I haven't had any water for an extended period of time.  You may notice that drinking water helps relieve some of your trouble spots, no medication needed!

Water can also provide a boost of energy.  When you're feeling sluggish, try reaching for a glass of water!  Instant energy, sans caffeine or sugar.

How much water?  What's the sweet spot for water consumption?

Most sources seem to recommend eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but more folks are beginning to advise a more personalized approach.  If you're already eating tons of water-dense foods, then maybe you won't be so thirsty.  If you're working out intensely on a daily basis, then you may be need more water to replace what you sweat out.  We're all unique, and so are our water needs.

So test it out and don't worry about easing in.  Drink when thirsty, and don't when full.  If you're like my father who barely drank any water at all, follow his lead and ease in with a single glass at a time.  Swap just one soda for one water.  Take it one glass and one day at a time.




How?  Tips for increasing your daily intake of water:
  • Keep a glass by your desk
  • Keep a filtered water bottle in your bag (I love [this one by Camelbak]) -- a filter makes it easy to refill anywhere, anytime
  • Set reminders in your phone to refill that glass/bottle and drink up!
  • Keep a glass on your nightstand to drink first thing in the morning
  • Make a rule to have a glass of water before any other drink (before, say, an alcoholic beverage or a soda with lunch) 

Are you one of those people who "doesn't like the taste of water"?  (Which I always found ridiculous, because those same people often claim water has no taste...)

More Tricks: If you're NOT a big fan of water, try these ways to consume water in disguise:
  • Tea (hot or cold) 
  • Infused water, or simply sprinkled with a fruit of some kind 
  • Carbonated water.  You can make your own at home with this. 
  • Water/ice in a smoothie 
  • Fruits and vegetables have high water content; yes, that counts! 
Women's Health Magazine has other tips--10 Ways to Drink More Water--to help you up your water intake, including recommendations for useful reminder apps and cool filters.


So go ahead!  Pour yourself a glass!  




How do YOU maintain proper hydration? 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Features

Ah, as I forewarned at New Year's, this would be a stressful, BUSY spring for me!  Still popping in to share some things that have caught my attention, and I dare you to read:

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This break-up letter to Trader Joe's expresses exactly the same reasons
I stopped shopping there.  I used to love the adventure, but really can't
justify eating most of their products anymore.


The MS Society broadens its scope by investing $29 million
in new research regarding nutrition and lifestyle factors
in MS development.  Learn more [here].

Carla Birnberg asks, "When is okay to lie to your child?"
As always, Carla's parenting inspires me. [Read here]

Are YOU a healthy woman?
Stefani Ruper offers "10 Signs You're a Healthy Woman".
Dare you to see if you pass the test - and consider what to
improve if something seems off!

I've been eyeing this "100 Happy Days" website and challenge, 
and I'm totally into it. Dare you to. 

Jim Gaffigan's rant on health trends on Conan is pretty hilarious.
He picks on kale first, but then I especially like the cyclical
milk-rant he goes on beginning at 2:42.
Click here to watch in full or just watch the milk bit below:




Cannot wait for this movie to come out:



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In other news, I've been doing BODYPUMP (click for full review) a few times over the past couple weeks, and I still really like it! As always, the instructors vary, but I always walk away having fatigued my muscles with a full-body workout.  Doing this once or twice each week will keep me going for a while, after taking most of the Jan-March season off from intense strength training.  BODYPUMP is the perfect way to get back to it!

And... what else?  I've been reading; follow along on GoodReads.  Been oil cleansing.  Been oil pulling.  Been getting outside.

Happy almost-sorta-back-and-forth-spring!  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Visit Friends in Columbus!

FIRST UP!  The winner of a 30-day gym pass to New York Sports Club is Evann!! Congratulations, Evann; enjoy your BODYPUMP makeover!

Now - recap time!  Just a weekend in pictures, today:

Recently, I spent a marvelous weekend with two of my best friends, not only reuniting and having the best time ever giggling about nothing and having serious heart-to-hearts, but also celebrating D's passing of her boards AND her upcoming wedding!  The bridal shower was a ball and I am so so happy that SHE is so happy.

Here are a few scenes from the weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Although a good amount of the time was spent in PJs at D's house (good catch-up sessions, adorable kitten, and excellent home cooking!), we also ventured out into Columbus.  We brunched at Tasi Cafe and dined at Level, shopped around the boutiques in Short North, and scoured the shelves at my new favorite place in the country: The Book Loft.  The weekend concluded with the bridal shower: The sweetest tea party I've ever been to!  Much of the food was actually gluten-free, so I was glad to taste test the hors d'oeurves, desserts, and cute triangular tea!  Pinky up!

With so much to celebrate, the weekend kicked off with ice cream at Graeter's, followed by wine at home.  Cheers to so many happy occasions!



Now, I'm not usually a cat person, but D's adorable kitten won me over. The problem was, HE was tough to win over!  Cats are not as friendly as dogs, are they... 

Kitty likes computers...
...and wine!

Flowers!

Out and about in Columbus:

Tasi 

The Book Loft!




A Bridal Shower Tea Party!





Have you been to Columbus?  TO THE BOOK LOFT? 

How was your weekend?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

BODYPUMP! {Review and 30-Day NYSC Gym Pass Giveaway!}

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Les Mills.  As always, the opinions reflected below are entirely my own.

Senior year of college, I was a regular at the student gym's "BODY COMBAT" class.  This is where I fell in love with martial arts-style classes.  It was all about moving to the music, harnessing your inner strength, and kicking butt.   That class is still one of my favorites; I loved every minute and have missed it ever since.  Turns out, the folks that created the Body Combat classes have a slew of other group fitness programs that are offered at various locations throughout the country.  The company, Les Mills, has created 13 global group training programs, which now have millions of participants in over 15,000 gyms in 90 countries.

Their weights class, BODYPUMP®, debuted in New York Sports Clubs across NYC this week.  They moved in with a bang; they are now offering an average of 130 classes every week at 36 NYSC locations... WOW.  There's gotta be something that fits into your schedule, right?

Not yet sold on group fitness classes?  Learn why they're awesome and how to rock your first group class in this post.  Once you've got that settled, head to nysc.com to sign up for BODYPUMP!


What is BODYPUMP?  Straight from the Les Mills:
"The original LES MILLS barbell class will sculpt, tone, and strengthen your entire body fast - with THE REP EFFECT - by leading participants in 70-100 repetitions per body part totaling up to 800 repetitions in a single workout.  The weight training movements in BODYPUMP give gym-goers a feeling of confidence through hard-core moves like tricep push-ups, clean-and-presses and hang cleans.  After all, strong is the new skinny!
BODYPUMP is one of the world's fastest ways to get in shape as it challenges all of your major muscle groups while you squat, press, lift and curl.  The cutting-edge BODYPUMP choreography, and chart-topping music is refreshed every three months, so with your choice of weight and highly-trained instructors you can get the group effect and the results you've been working for!  
Working out in a group gives you the confidence and support you need to create a highly addictive experience!"

When I was offered the opportunity to sample and review one of these new NYSC BODYPUMP classes, I jumped at the chance!  Welcome to NYSC, Body Pump.  I've been waiting for you.

Recap: My First Class

After showing up just one minute late to Monday's class and not being able to set up a station, I went to NYSC last night, where we did BODYPUMP release #89.  As soon as the previous class (yoga) let out, the BODYPUMP crew flooded in and began to set up their stations in a flurry.  I simply observed the equipment they took and followed their lead.

First, everyone sets up their station with a bench, a mat, a barbell, and an assortment of weight plates both for the bar and to hold as free weights.  Not knowing what to expect, I took four 5s, two 10s, and two 2.5s, and ended up using a combination of them all at different points.  The class was packed, but we each had space for exactly what we needed, so it worked out alright.

There was a BODYPUMP instructor, Jenn, and a trainee, Anna, to lead the class.  They each had bright red "Body Pump" shirts on, reflecting their radiating energy that kept us going for the 55-minute workout.  BODYPUMP began with the instructor reviewing "set position", so participants knew how to balance and hold the bar to set up for different movements.  You can learn the basics for each move by clicking here

To start, we were led in a warm-up with our lightest weight bar through a series deadlifts, clean-and-presses, and squats to warm the muscles.  Once we were warm (quickly), the true PUMP began.  Each music track focuses on a different muscle group, so it'd be three-to-four minutes of various squats followed by three-to-four minutes of shoulder work, and so on.  So many reps means the muscle really burns by the time the song's over.

And burn, it did!  Fortunately, the moves are put into combinations that sync with the music.  Not quite the almost-dancing effect of my old Body Combat classes, but had the same effect: I didn't get bored.  To keep us from surrendering to the burn, the instructors continually shout out motivational phrases and cheering us on.  "You are strong!"  And so, we were.

It's now 24 hours later, and man am I sore!  It'd been a while since my last serious training, so I was due.  This has inspired me to dive in again, and my muscles are already thanking me.

Watch the video below to see what a BODYPUMP workout looks like:



My Overall Assessment:

Likes
- An all-encompassing full-body workout.  No muscle left behind!
- It also definitely got the heart-rate up at certain points; my heart could've mistaken it for a "cardio" workout.  Lifting weights faster with the beat does that!
- The class has a fun group mentality, where everyone's feeling it but everyone gets through it together.
- Our energetic instructors helped us out, cheered us on, and coached us along.
- The music was also great and made each rep easier, because I wanted to keep pace.
- The variety of weights made for variation and choice in the workout. We choose the weight, we adjust as needed, and we can get stronger each time.
- The instructors performed the whole routine with us, and they did do a great job of providing visual examples and verbal cues for proper form.

Suggestions:
- I'd like to see the instructors move about the room more, physically helping participants with form.  They did well given the space (typical of NYC), instead serving as models (see last "like" above).
- It may be because they snuck an extra track in the middle, but the cool-down track at the end felt short, and even though we did stretch each muscle after its track, I had to really stretch it out on my own after.

On a personal note: 55 minutes is a long time.  I've gotten used to doing 30-45 minute workouts, myself (or even shorter), so this was a stretch, but some people prefer the longer strength workouts, so to each his own.  The class length facilitates the low-weight, high-rep effect that it was designed for, and it definitely made the muscles burn!  I'll be going back, for sure.

This is how I felt during BODYPUMP. :D 

I enjoyed last night's BODYPUMP class SO much... that I've already scoured the class schedules for sessions I can attend again (and again).  I'm hoping to work BODYPUMP into my weekly routine!  I dare myself to...

And I dare YOU to!!  You can now find Body Pump classes at New York Sports Club gyms all over the city.  Learn more about BODYPUMP at New York Sports Clubs and find a class at a NYSC near you by clicking HERE. 


This could be YOU!

BODY PUMP MAKEOVER CONTEST
**GIVEAWAY!**
I'm excited to make over my body with BODYPUMP,
and now you have a chance to win your own BODYPUMP Makeover!
Enter to win a one-month pass to NYSC!

Not a NYSC member, but want to give BODYPUMP a try?   
Simply leave a comment below to enter. 

One lucky randomly selected winner will win a month-long pass to NYSC (valued at $125) to try out BODYPUMP and all the other other great classes and facilities at NYSC!!! 

The Rules: Must be a US resident and local to a NYSC location to be eligible for prize.  
Entries are via comment only and entries will be accepted until 11:59pm on Monday, April 14, 2014.  
Winner will be announced at www.dareyoutoblog.com in 10 days' time.  
Winner is responsible for contacting DareYouToBlog after announcement and claiming prize. 


Again, tips for acing your first group exercise class can be found here.
More information on Town Sports International Holdings can be found here
Learn more about Les Mills and their 13 global group training programs here.

Have you participated in BODYPUMP or other similar classes?
What motivates YOU to work out?