Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Afternoon Links ~ 4/30/12

Here are the links that have my mind and body buzzing this week:

10 Ways to Keep Your Workouts Exciting
This is really great, especially since heading to the gym can certainly get boring and repetitive after awhile.

12 Processed Foods with More Than 25 Ingredients
Checking the ingredients list on packaged food is one of the smartest things you can do.

14 Foods I'm Loving Lately!
Vegan Angela Liddon has an amazing blog called Oh She Glows. In this entry, she features some of her favorite foods that look delicious, satisfying, and très healthy.

6 Dieting Rules You'll Love to Follow
Healthy eating doesn't have to be painful!

7 Foods with More Vitamin C Than an Orange
There are so many ways to get enough Vitamin C - check these out!

73 Cheap and Healthy Recipes from the Greatist Cookbook
I'm always in search of new healthy recipes - tons of great ideas here!

Believe That You Are Strong
A fact that many of us often forget.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
We live in a competitive society.  This article helps deal with some of the problems that can emerge as a result.

Know Before You Go: Spin Class
A great primer on spin class!  Confession - I've never been, but I'm determined to change this fact, ASAP.

Laughing Your Way to Good Health
Just another excuse to watch The Simpsons on the treadmill.

Mother's Day: Gifts for the Healthy-Minded Mom
Some wonderful ideas for a healthy mama!

Music Can Boost Your Running Performance by 15 Percent
Grab that iPod before you head out for your workout!

Regular Exercise Leads to a Healthier, Smarter Brain
And the benefits of exercising continue!

Simple Tips on How to Stay Healthy All Day Long
FitSugar has compiled a ton of awesome tips on living a healthy day-to-day.  Very informative!

Surprisingly Calcium-Rich Foods That Aren't Milk
A great guide for people who are limiting their dairy intake.

Top 10 Superfoods
Bracks sent me this one - I'm equally excited about how into healthy food he is now as I am about how informative and helpful this article is!


Musical Monday #4 - The Dance Edition

Here are the jams that are keeping my legs pumping and my mind occupied in the gym this week:

Winner of the Week:

Dance Again - Jennifer Lopez (featuring Pitbull)
It's a great, energetic, catchy jam that'll keep you motivated and bopping your head to the beat.  And it has Pitbull.  I love, love, love me some Pitbull.

The Contenders:

Lights - Ellie Goulding
Great beat, great tune - moderately paced, addictive, and energetic!  Plus, any jam that would be just as much fun dancing to in a club as dancing to on a cardio machine is cool with me!

The Motto - Drake
I went through a phase where Drake really rubbed me the wrong way, but I'm digging this jam.  The beat is steady, the flow is groovy, and it's perfect for staying on track on a long cardio workout.  Plus Lil Wayne is in it, and he's great.

Good Girl - Carrie Underwood
The ultimate fitness inspiration.  Love this girl, and this song is catchy and will keep you interested all the way through.  I just envision those crazy legs of hers, and get going!

Wild Ones - Flo Rida
I tried not to like this song.  I really did.  I failed.  Once Flo Rida comes in on the verse, I get a spring in my step that carries me all the way through the jam.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Get Fizzy Living water.

Sparkling water just might be one of my most favoritest things ever.  Yes, favoritest.  It's fun, it's fizzy, it's what's happening.  I never get tired of it because there are so many flavors to choose from, it's readily available almost anywhere, and it works wonderfully at keeping me hydrated.

First, let's go through the definitions of different kinds of bubbly water as I've come to understand them (gathered from both my own knowledge as well as confirmation from some sources - here and here):
  • Carbonated Water: An umbrella name for all kinds of fizzy water.  Usually has the carbonation (CO2) added artificially.
  • Club Soda: Essentially just carbonated water, but usually has more sodium added to give it flavor. 
  • Seltzer Water:  As far as I can tell, it's just artificially-carbonated water.  
  • Soda Water:  Basically interchangeable with club soda.  
  • Sparkling Water: Naturally sourced carbonated spring water is how the FDA defines it, but  colloquially, it is often used interchangeably with carbonated water as well.  
It is important to note that all of these terms are often used interchangeably with each other, but it is interesting to see that there are little differences among the many names/types of fizzies, isn't it?

Fizzy water has helped me through interesting challenges in my life - getting rid of caffeine, recognizing the importance of hydration and trying to make daily hydration a viable goal, balancing what to drink on a night on the town.  I could go on and on about it, but for easier readability, I have packed my reasons for loving the bubbly (not champagne - though, let's be honest, I love that too) into ten concise points:

Here are the top ten reasons why I think carbonated water is the greatest thing since... regular water:

10.  It comes in all sorts of great flavors like raspberry-lime, cranberry, pomegranate, grapefruit, orange, lemon, and more!
9.  It gives off a similar vibe to soda, so it's a worthy substitute that replaces the problems caused by the sugar and assorted chemicals in soft drinks with smiles.
8.  I can make my own at home using my SodaStream, saving me both moolah and a field trip anytime I want a bottle of my favorite fizz.
7.  It's a good way to settle your stomach when you're feeling under the weather.
6.  It's a great non-alcoholic substitute when you're out on the town.  I love to alternate drinks with club soda and lime.  It tastes great and refreshing, and it keeps me hydrated, too!
5.  Speaking of alcohol, club soda is an excellent substitute for tonic water as a mixer, since the taste is almost identical but it doesn't have the 120+ calories, 30g+ carbs, and 30g+ sugars of tonic water (source).  Go figure that the one that is more like water is called "soda" and the one that is more like soda is called "water."  Throw into the mix that club soda is also sometimes called "soda water," and all heck breaks loose.
4.  Some brands, like Perrier, are naturally carbonated - straight from a naturally  bubbling spring!  Sparkling water exists in nature!  How organic is that?!
3.  It's linked to all sorts of cool health benefits, like strengthening bones, lowering bad cholesterol, and decreasing instances of heart disease.  Check it out!
2.  It's fun to drink, so I drink more of it, meaning I'm that much more hydrated.
1.  Zero calories.  Zero sugars.  Zero carbs.  One hundred percent awesome.

So, as you can see, I'm a big fan and proponent of fizzy water.  I drink it a lot.  Bizzy loves the fizzy.

I do have one little disclaimer, though - it's important to alternate carbonated water with regular water to ensure complete hydration.  Yes, carbonated water does hydrate, and most studies claim that it does just as good a job as regular water, but it gets tricky when one eliminates regular water from their diet in favor of 100% carbonated water all of the time (acid reflux, kidney issues, dehydration from the bubbles making you feel more full than you are).  Carbonated water shouldn't completely take over as a water substitute, but it's a great change of pace from flat water, not to mention a stellar replacement for soft drinks, alcohol, and other less-than-ideal liquids.

So keep it moderate, drink that regular water too, and get Bizzy hydrating with me!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chronicles of Him and Her

The "her" of Chronicles of Him and Her!
One of my best friends in the whole world has an amazing blog that I'd love for you all to check out!  Her name is Valerie and her blog is called chronicles of him and her.

She originally hails from Virginia (holler!), but now she's living it up Texas-style with her hubby in the great city of Houston.  

Her blog is full of fashion tips, healthy advice, and day-to-day on what it's like to live an adorable Texas life.  For example:

She makes amazing healthy recipes, like salmon, chipotle shrimp tacoschicken souvlakimarinated shrimp, and white chicken chili.

She finds fun ways to keep her body in shape, like doing crossfit and taking plenty of long walks.

She offers inspiration to keep your mind in tip-top shape, like these warm and fuzzies and these sayings to live by.

She appreciates the little things.

She gives great body-care tips, like her skin care routine and revealing her favorite hair products.

She is an amazing hostess, and Bracks and I had the best time visiting her and her hubby.

Oh, and she has the most darling little puppy named Charlotte.  

She's an amazing woman, and I'm proud to call her one of my besties.  Please check out her website, and give her some love! 
love for valgal!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

K&K Come to Town!

This past weekend was wonderful - a mini-reunion with some of my best friends in the entire world!
The two lovely brunettes on the left, Kimberly and Katie, came down from New York City to visit Kerry, Blair (remember them?), and me.  All of us met when we were in the same sorority at UVA, and we love each other dearly.  We definitely missed our sixth counterpart, Valerie (she's getting some blog love of her own tomorrow - stay tuned!).

We made a lot of healthy weekend decisions that I was very happy about.  For starters, we were active!  So important for fitness maintenance.
Ready for some hardcore walking!
We took a 3.5 mile walk on Saturday, bopping down the footpaths along I-66, crossing over the Key Bridge into Georgetown, and walking along the canal, all while enjoying each other's company and what was absolutely a perfect spring day.
map calculated with my Pedometer app - the avg speed & time are off because I forgot to turn it off when we returned from the walk, oops!
We even headed back to Georgetown later that day to do some store exploration - another two hours of walking around from store to store can really be an effective way in which to get your daily step requirement. It's amazing to watch them all add up!

Food-wise, we ate tons of veggies, oatmeal, egg white omelettes, and turkey sandwiches with cranberries.  We got substantial amounts of sleep (which is always an accomplishment when five ladies are cramming into a two-person apartment), and drank plenty of water.
Healthy snacks, courtesy of Kerry!
We were healthy for the most part, but... I got distracted.

Maybe it was the excitement of all of us being together, maybe it was the non-stop fun we were having, but I found myself straying from the healthy ideals I am striving to attain and getting caught up in the moment.  I made a lot of healthy decisions that weekend, yes.  But I made some unhealthy ones, too.

I had an extra glass (or two... or three...) of wine when we were out together that I probably did not need.  I inhaled junk food, most notably the lethal combination at a party of melted processed cheese product and hamburger meat (which - for the record - was incredible.  I am determined to devise a healthy version of it ASAP).  Once the girls headed home on Sunday, I avoided any form of physical activity, preferring to lay down watching TV and reading books instead.
This is what happens whenever I lie down.  So you can see why once I was lying down, I was kind of stuck.
My body is really starting to become used to my healthy lifestyle changes, and it reacted very adversely to those negative health decisions I had made.  I felt achy and a bit nauseous.  And it wasn't just physical - I was getting irritable and feeling anxious for no reason.  Not the best way to feel going into Monday, knowing that you still have a full week of work and responsibility ahead of you.
I stated in my recap of my weekend with my mom last week that it's okay to indulge every once in a while because it keeps you from becoming resentful of having to avoid things that you really enjoy.  But I also stated the importance of keeping the indulgence in check - that moderation is the key.  I overindulged, and I paid the price for it.

At first I was really angry with myself.  I had been doing so well and I had regressed.  It took some self-reflecting, but I finally had to come to these ultimate truths:

I'm human.

I make mistakes.

And sometimes I slip and make unhealthy decisions.

I'm not going to let my slip-ups keep me from becoming 
the healthy and fun person I ultimately want to be.  

I'm back on track now, filling up on nutrients, getting plenty of exercise, and staying hydrated.

Please don't let slip-ups discourage you from your health goals, either!  If we were all perfect at making healthy decisions, the mission of this blog would be irrelevant, wouldn't it?  So while my blog's purpose is still relevant, let's keep on working together to find optimal ways to treat our bodies and minds.

I had an amazing time and so much fun with my girls this weekend. I let my fun tip the scale a bit too much, and I'm okay with it now.  Heck, sometimes I probably tip the scale a bit too much on the healthy side too!  It's all part of the journey to discover the perfect balance between a fun and healthy life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Afternoon Links ~ 4.23.12

Here are the links that have my mind and body buzzing this week:

10 Foods That Should Be Banned from Food Courts
This is both enlightening and depressing.  I always thought I was making a healthy choice when I went for the bourbon chicken.  Boooo.  But hey, on the bright side, the article does mention Louis CK.  And he is the man.

10 Foods to Avoid Before Bed
Guilty of almost of all of these, oops.

10 Health Mistakes You're Making Right Now Because You Think You're Too Busy
Eerily accurate, but motivating at the same time.

45 Healthy Foods to Make and Never Buy Again
I'm super excited to make my own salsa and oatmeal.  Lots of great ideas on here!

5 Common Nutrient Deficiencies
Do any apply to you?  I take a vitamin B12 supplement every morning since I'm prone to anxiety/stress, but I need to concentrate on these others as well.  A very good read!

5 Supernutritious Superfoods
I need to get some chia seeds stat.  Woohoo, chocolate, by the way!

The Art of Sleeping
A Tory Burch guest post on the Huffington Post.  Love her, love the article.

The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise
It's finally that time of year!  Head outdoors for some beneficial body boosting!

Fitness Any Way You Can
A ton of great tips on how to make your daily routine packed with more fitness.

Get on the Ball: Crunches
I've been wanting to take advantage of the exercise ball for crunches in my gym for a while.  With this handy-dandy little guide, I think I'll finally have the guts to do it!

Getting a Tax Refund?  Healthy Ways to Spend It
If you're one of the lucky ones who received a tax refund this year, here are some great tips on investing that extra cash on something beneficial for your body and mind.

What Americans Fear vs. What Americans SHOULD Fear [Infographic]
A new approach on rationalizing fear.  It brings up a bunch of interesting health-related issues - for example, why we should be focusing on keeping our hearts healthy, instead of not swimming in the ocean because we're afraid of shark attacks.

What You Do Matters
Tiny Buddha tells us why we're all important!  An ego booster and inspiring, as well.

Why Religion is Linked with Better Health and Well-Being
A very interesting examination.  Worth a read.


Musical Monday #3 - The Time Edition

Here are the jams that are keeping my legs pumping and my mind occupied in the gym this week:

Winner of the Week:

Back in Time - Pitbull
Gosh, I love Pitbull.  This song has it all - a strong beat, a good pace, and high energy to keep you pushing all the way through.  Really fun, and worthy of any cardio machine.

The Contenders:

Brokenhearted - Karmin
My go-to elliptical song at the moment.

Learnalilgivinandlovin - Gotye
Excellent beat, oldies feel.  Gotye is tearing it up these days, but this is one of his older school jams.  Great for a warm up/cool down on the treadmill or elliptical.

Hungry Like the Wolf / Rio - Glee Cast
Eep, the first Glee song to make it onto the blog.  This is a really fun one with high energy and a good beat.  I think it works especially great on the elliptical.

Everybody Talks - Neon Trees
A fast one for a intensely-paced workout on any cardio machine.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Get Bizzy Reading


A good friend of mine recently pointed out to me that she was surprised that I hadn't mentioned any books on my blog yet.  I am an avid reader, and I usually have five or six going at once (nerd alert!).  It's been (and continues to be) a big part of my intellectual development, and since we're all about health and wellness of the body and mind here, it certainly fits the bill!

There is now a tab at the top of this blog that will lead you to an ever-expanding list of my favorite recommendations.  Check it out!

On a related note, what do you all think about having an online book club via this blog?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pizza Muffins

There are multiple foods that I truly miss now that I'm on this health kick.

There are the aforementioned buffalo wings.

There is macaroni and cheese.

And there is pizza.  Sweet, gooey, delicious, wonderful pizza.

Give me pepperoni or give me death!  

Now, as you all hopefully know by now, I figured out a way to "healthify" buffalo wings that works for me so that I can still enjoy the taste of one of my favorite "bad" foods without drowning myself in the calories and fat.

It's pizza's turn.

My elation was tangible when I stumbled across a community recipe on Weight Watchers for pepperoni pizza muffins.  Fresh dough, yummy sauce, pepperoni, and cheese and all for 8 points+.

8 points?, you say. That doesn't seem like a very good value.

But what if I told you it meant that you got to chow down on SIX of these little puppies?  That's right.  Six little pizzas.  Enough to sate any pizza craving, and tasty enough to make over and over again.

It's almost unsettling how easy and good these are.  


They're awesome.

This recipe is adapted from a community recipe on Weight Watchers that you can access here.

Pizza Muffins

Printable recipe.

1/4 cup fat-free tomato sauce (the original recipe calls for Trader Joe's fat free pizza sauce, but you can use whichever tomato sauce you want, provided it's fat free)
24 tsp shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (I purchased the Trader Joe's kind since I was already there)
1/3 bag of Trader Joe's Ready to Bake Garlic & Herb Pizza Dough
12 slices turkey pepperoni
Non-fat cooking spray (I like the Smart Balance Omega Non-Stick Cooking Spray)

1.  Preheat the oven to 325.
2.  Spray a muffin tin with the cooking spray.
3.  Use a knife to cut the dough into 3 equal parts - set two parts aside (I put them in sandwich-sized ziplock bags and put them in the freezer.  Trader Joe's pizza dough freezes like a dream).
4.  Use the same knife to divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
5.  Put a piece of dough into each space in the muffin tin. Use your fingers to spread out the dough so that it covers the bottom of the pan.
6.  Use a 1/2 tsp spoon to scoop a heaping amount of sauce on top of each morsel of dough.
7.  Put a piece of pepperoni on top of each piece of dough.
8.  Sprinkle each piece of dough with approx 2 tsp of cheese.
9.  Bake for 10 minutes.
10.  Eat them while they're hot!  They easily slip out of the muffin tin thanks to the cooking spray.
This recipes makes 12 pizza muffins, but the serving size is half of that - so make them with a buddy!

When I make them with Michael, I use olive oil instead of tomato sauce for his half because he's not a fan of the red stuff.  If you do substitute olive oil for tomato sauce (1/2 tsp for example), be prepared for a couple more WW points+ - for a total of about 10.5 points a serving.

Ahhhh, what a great way to get your pizza fix.

There is hope for the healthy pizza lover after all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bye, Bye, Caffeine

I used to be a complete Diet Coke junkie.  I drank it daily - at least one with lunch (Cherry Coke Zero to be exact), and then sometimes on especially tiring days, one or two when I got home from work.  The soda wasn't working well with my body or my mind, but I wasn't paying attention to the correlation.  

At the beginning of December, I finally came to terms with how icky it was making me feel.  After having a Diet Coke early in the afternoon of that fateful chilly Sunday, I finally made the connection between the soft drink consumption and my physical reactions - my stomach was tossing, my heart was pounding, my eyes were heavy, and my muscles felt like they were trembling.  My mind was undergoing a similar panic - I was very anxious and distracted.  This had happened before when I had been drinking caffeine, but I would find ways to justify it or do my best to ignore it.

This day was different, though.  In a burst of frustration and honestly, fear about the way I was feeling, I decided to remove soda from my life.  Consequentially, all caffeine went along with it.  I've never been a big coffee person and my brief bout with 5 hour energy had already gone by the wayside, so giving up soda meant giving up the whole kit and caboodle.

I didn't go about giving up caffeine in the best way.  I was so freaked out by the way my body responded to that day's soda consumption that I decided to just go cold turkey and give up all caffeine at once.

Then came the headaches.

It was a bad week and a half.  Caffeine withdrawal is a real thing.  I had no idea that I had been consuming enough to affect my body chemistry, but I clearly was.  I figured it would be easy for me since I wasn't drinking six sodas a day or downing cup after cup of joe while at work.  But I felt awful.  Exhausted.  Irritable.  And the headaches, oh, the headaches.

But I was stubborn about it.  I remembered how awful and helpless I felt, and I refused to cave.  Every day, it got a little bit easier (aspirin was a big help too, let's be honest), until eventually, I didn't feel like I needed it anymore.  

Now, more than four months later, I'm caffeine free, and the effect it has had on my body and mind so far has been tremendous.  I'm more alert, I have more energy, the uneasy physical and mental feelings have abated, and my body just feels better.

Here is the short guide of how I went about kicking the caffeine habit and transitioning into a caffeine-free lifestyle (and you may notice that they all have a common theme [now just water you talking about??] ):
#1 - Carbonated Water.  I quickly discovered that I wasn't in love with soda as much as I was with the carbonation.  I could go on and on about my love affair with sparkling water, but I think I will instead devote it to a future posting - so stay tuned!  The short story is - sparkling water, seltzer, carbonated water, club soda - I love it all, and it has saved me from cravings multiple times since my break-up with soda.
#2 - When I started to feel that unforgiving level of tiredness, I drank a glass of water instead. This is a trick one of my TAs in college taught my class shortly before we headed off to the library to cram all night for an exam.  Good and proper hydration is a much better way to restore energy and keep fatigue levels at bay than via caffeine.  It's important to note that caffeine gives you artificial energy, while water prevents you from becoming fatigued.  So one gives, and one takes.  I'm siding with the taker on this one.
#3 - I stayed hydrated.  It is basically what I started to say in point #2.  Hydration is so, so, so important.  And it prevents the kind of fatigue that could have really made me want to grab for a soda during the tough withdrawal period.  8 glasses a day is what you should be aiming for (and these days, I usually try to go for about twice that, when I can help it)!  Read more about the importance of hydration here.

So, there you have it - my personal examination of something that was affecting me negatively and how I subsequently decided to deal with it.  My physical and mental reactions to caffeine were affecting me terribly, and it was the right choice for me.  This is not to say that this is the right choice for everyone - many people are totally fine downing multiple cups of coffee a day with no issue.  If that's the case, awesome - there are definitely benefits to drinking caffeine in moderate (that word again!) amounts.

But if you do decide to give up caffeine, I am by no means suggesting you take the cold-turkey route.  Weaning yourself off of it gradually is much less painful and a much safer means to the goal.

Regardless of what you do choose, please feel free to check out the reading material below.  Many of these texts outline plans for quitting caffeine, but also share with you some of the upsides of the substance as well.  Caffeine intake really comes down to personal choice.  We have to do what feels best for our bodies and minds, whether that means a life full of - or free from - caffeine.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Girls Weekend

This past weekend, my mama and I took advantage of the gorgeous April weather and awesome spring travel deals by getting out of dodge for a ladies weekend.  

It was filled with long walks, lots of wine, sporadic mini-workouts, plenty of delicious food, and some classic goober hanging out.

Me: [as I climb into the car at the start of our road trip]  Mama, you're my BFF.
Mama:  Biz, you're my BFD.
Me: ...
Mama:  Best... Friend... Daughter...?!

That, ladies and gents, is how our weekend began.

We had a great time, and since we're both trying to get healthier, it was a very interesting challenge for us.  We tried our best to follow our pre-determined mission:  How to balance having fun on vacation while still being responsible about your health.  

All in all, I can confidently say that our weekend combo of health and fun was a raging success...

...despite the fact that we made a pit stop at a potato chip factory not two hours after heading out of town.
It was Route 11!  Any native Virginian could tell you that you can't just bypass a Route 11 factory sign.
My mama and I came up with a list of fun ways to keep health a priority when you're on vacation, and I have compiled them here for your pleasure (and hopefully for some healthy future vacation inspiration - or as I like to call it, future vacayspiration).

So without further ado, Mama T & Bizzy B present...

The Queen & Bizzy Bees' Guide to 
Having Healthy Fun on Vacay:

#1 - B.Y.O.S. (Bring Your Own Snacks).  We stuffed a big cooler to the gills with fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, bottled water, Vita Coco, tomatillo salsa (zero points!!), seltzer, and more.  In addition, we brought some veggie crisps and multigrain tortilla chips.  It was great to have healthy options while we were on the road, and once we were in the hotel room we moved the perishables to the minibar - voila! - healthy (and cold!) snack options all weekend long!
Yes, that is 3 buck chuck.  My mum and I keep it classy.
#2 - Take the stairs.  I know that this is not always an option, but if your room is on the second or third floor of your hotel, use the stairwell instead of the elevator.  It's a super easy way to get some extra cardio in without having to go crazily out of your way.  Our room was on the second floor, and we promised each other when we arrived that we would not use the elevator for our entire stay - and we didn't!  And wouldn't you know it, we consistently arrived on our desired floor at the same time as those who took the elevator.  More than once, as my mama and I skipped out of the stairwell, we heard our elevator counterparts remark: "Oh, darnit, we should've taken the stairs."  Let's replace those "we shoulds" with "we dos!"

#3 - Walk it out.  You all probably know by now that I'm a big proponent of walking for fitness.  One of the great things about being on vacation in a new place is that there is so much to explore!  Which means there are plenty of opportunities to walk around!  Our hotel had plenty of foot paths and trails surrounding it, and we took full advantage.  Like good little walker bees, we brought our pedometers and had a great time watching our steps add up as we explored our surroundings.  So make sure you pack a pair of walking shoes or sneaks, grab your pedometer (or your pedometer app), and make like Dora!
#4 - Your Hotel Room = Mini Gym.  My mama and I would start each day off by doing a quick under-10-minute ab workout, and a series of stretches.  Hotel rooms aren't the most spacious of places, but there is usually enough to stretch out and get your muscles warmed up for the day.  I definitely recommend making a habit of doing it before you head down to that breakfast buffet.  It was amazing how good we felt after starting off our days with little strength training routines!
Work it out!
#5 - It's okay to indulge every once in a while.  After all, you're on vacation!  Though I'm not suggesting that means we should all throw caution to the wind and take a bath in a giant tub filled with macaroni and cheese (though let's be honest - it would be awesome), vacation is about stepping away from the norm and having fun doing it, isn't it!?  We don't always have to deprive ourselves.  So, for example, when the lobster mashed potatoes were calling our name at our restaurant on Friday night, we ordered them (to share).  I think I've dreamed about them every night since.  Totally worth it.
Whoops, forgot to take a pic of the lobster mash.  But this is the place.  Isn't my mama the cutest?

So there you have it - just how my mama and I were able to have an indulgent weekend full of lobster mash, potato chip factories, wine, and the like, while still eating (mostly) healthy, staying active, and feeling good all the while!

Since vacation season is fast approaching, I encourage you all to brainstorm your own tips and strategies for how to balance fun and healthiness while out of town.  Both are possible and work wonderfully well together!!  It goes without saying that when you're on vacation, sticking to your typical health regiment is more difficult.  But what is wonderful about this type of challenge is that it offers you the opportunity to get creative- to find new ways to have fun while still being good to your body and mind.
Queen Bee & Bizzy Bee
Especially when you get to stop at a potato chip factory along the way.


If you want to read a bit more on how other health-focused peeps handle being on the road, here are some great links:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Afternoon Links ~ 4.16.12

Here are the links that have my mind and body buzzing this week:

5 Places to Find Cute, Cheap Workout Clothes
Sure, Lululemon is nice for the occasional splurge, but for the rest of us - these places kick butt.  I'd also recommend checking out Amazon - they have tons of stuff and many items qualify for Prime, if you have it.

5 Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling (That You Haven't Heard Before)
Staying healthy while away from the routine of the day-to-day can be tough, but these tips seem like really great suggestions.

5 Tips for Running with the Mind of Meditation
Applying mindfulness techniques to an intense cardio workout - such an amazing idea!  Love this.

50 Things to Love About Life That Are Free
Tiny Buddha is one of my favorite go-to sites for inspiration.  Whether or not you practice Buddhism (I personally consider myself to be a Christian who draws additional inspiration from Buddhist thoughts and ideas), these posts are enlightening, personal, and most importantly, completely inspiring.

Alcohol 'Sharpens Men's Minds' Claim Scientists
The benefits of (moderate) beer drinking continue!

Comparison is the Thief of Joy:  Thoughts on Social Media
A very honest and interesting look into the negative effects that Facebook and other venues like it can have on our self esteem and morale.

Leaning Out for Summer
Some excellent general tips on how to get your body and mind in tip-top shape for the warmer months.

Low-Fat Diet and Exercise Trump Food Fads and Supplements for Weight Loss: Study
And there you have it, folks.  If we want to lose weight, we gotta do it the old-fashioned way.

No Act of Kindness is Too Small
Another excellent Tiny Buddha post.

Zumba:  What to Expect at Your First Class
A neat primer on zumba classes.  Since my experience with zumba is solely based on the xbox game, this was very helpful.  Does anyone want to go to an actual class with me?

Musical Monday #2 - The Starship Edition

And we're back with week two!  

Here are the jams that are keeping my legs pumping and my mind occupied in the gym this week:

Winner of the Week:

Starships - Nicki Minaj
The beat is fun, the song is catchy, and there is a club-style section directly after the chorus that gives me a burst of renewed energy every time.  Good for any cardio machine.


Mercy - Kanye West (feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz)

WARNING: Language.  The song has a steady beat that works very well with the elliptical.  Kanye West's part comes in just in time to really give me the push I need to keep going in my workout.

What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction
I don't know what it is about sugary bubblegum pop, but it sure is energizing.  I was grooving along to this on the elliptical last week and it kept me alert and pumping.

Somebody That I Used to Know - Gotye
It's definitely a slower jam.  But it works surprisingly well for a cool-down on any cardio machine.  Plus, the beat is rhythmic and the chorus picks up to a decent energy level, so it will keep your mind occupied.

Turn Up the Music - Chris Brown
This jam is a great cardio-bumper.  High energy, fast beat, catchy tune.  Good especially for the treadmill and elliptical.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Smoking = Shark Attacks

So we all know that smoking is bad for you, but did you know that THIS could happen?

Okay, so maybe smoking doesn't lead to shark attacks.  Maybe, just maybe, I saw a comic about sharks that had a somewhat relevant note regarding health and decided it belonged on this blog.  I'm a sucker for sharks.  What can I say?

I'm not here to give you a diatribe about smoking - more likely than not, if you're a smoker, you already know the dangers!  But I for one am staying away from cigarettes because, among other reasons,  I don't want to get gobbled up by Jaws.      

Seriously, though - can you imagine how much healthier our lifestyles would be if we were at risk of being attacked by a shark every time we did something detrimental to our bodies?  

Glug, glug, beer - CHOMP!
"I'd rather sit on the couch than go to the gym today" - CHOMP!
Nom, nom, mac & cheese - CHOMP!
"A whole package of bacon to myself?  Don't mind if I do!" - CHOMP!
Slurp, slurp, ice cream sundae - CHOMP!

Could it be that sharks have the potential to be a healthy lifestyle's most convincing advocate?!  

I like it.  I like it a lot.

Have a great weekend, everyone!  See you on Monday.

Check out more of Mr. Lovenstein's Left+Right comic strip here.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Silliness

On Tuesday night, I got together with two of my closest friends, Blair and Kerry, for a night of catch-up and yummy eats, all while partaking in some good old fashioned healthifying (as far as I'm concerned, this is a real word now).

Cuties - and I'm apparently a giant now?
Like many of my friends, Blair and Kerry have been very health-oriented for as long as I've known them.  Blair is a rock star at working out and eating healthy, and Kerry is a physical therapist, so it comes with the territory that she is in terrific shape and eats well.  Not to mention they are both hilarious and two of the nicest people you will ever meet.

We headed off to the grocery store to pick out stuff to make a healthy meal, and decided on the following:
  • White Wine Spritzers with Fresh Mango
  • Spaghetti Squash with Tomato & Meat Sauce 
  • Asparagus, Tomato & Feta Salad (a concoction courtesy of Kerry's mom)  
We started our initial food prep (getting the squashes ready and putting them in the oven), then headed off on a leisurely two mile walk (approx 3800 steps according to my pedometer) around the neighborhoods of Georgetown.  The walk was easy-going and took about 40 minutes - such an easy and fun way to hit almost half of our 10k steps for the day!

We returned and the food prep began in earnest.

With the wine spritzers in hand, of course.  Cooking is always more fun when you have a wine spritzer in hand.
The meal was ridiculously good.  On almost every healthy food blog I follow, they rave about the idea of using spaghetti squash in place of regular pasta to eliminate unnecessary carbs and sugars and to in their place fit in another serving (or two, or three!) of veggies.  I had been jonesing to finally try it, and I am so glad we did - though the texture is nothing like pasta (it's crunchy!), the stringy quality is very similar to spaghetti noodles, and when covered in sauce, it's a fun, revamped version of the classic meal.  YUM!

The finished product, sans spritzer.

Without further ado, here is our Tuesday night menu:

White Wine Spritzers with Fresh Mango  

Printable recipe
1 glass = 0 WW points+

Inspired by this recipe from LaaLoosh.

1 cup dry white wine
4 cups flavored seltzer water
Fresh mango (peeled,  cored and cubed)
Ice cubes

We divvied out the wine and flavored seltzer water (in our case, we used grapefruit flavored Perrier) among three wine glasses, dropped in 5-6 pieces of mango into each glass, and then added the ice cubes last.  Light, refreshing, and very reminiscent of white sangria.  I think I'll be pulling this one out over and over again this summer.  Feel free to use a different flavor seltzer water if grapefruit isn't your thing.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato & Meat Sauce

Printable recipe 
2 cups squash + a little more than 1/2 cup of sauce (with meat) = 4 WW points+ 
If you use olive oil to brown the meat, add 1 WW point+


2 spaghetti squashes (each slightly smaller than a football)
1 jar Classico Fire-Roasted Tomato & Garlic Sauce
1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
Olive oil or cooking spray

1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F
2.  Cut the spaghetti squashes in half, length-wise
Yes, Kerry.  Just like that.
3.  Scoop out the seeds
Scoop Scoop!
4.  Brush the halves with olive oil (or cooking spray)
5.  Fill a baking dish with an inch of water, and place the halves pulp-side-up in the dish
6.  Bake the squashes for one hour
7.  Remove the squashes from the oven, and use a fork to shred the pulp
 (it should have the consistency of spaghetti)
8.  Put the shredded squash in a bowl, serve hot!
Blair is ready for spaghetti!

Meanwhile, for the sauce: 
1.  Drizzle some olive oil or cooking spray in a skillet
2.  Add the ground turkey to the skillet, brown it
3.  Add the pasta sauce, stir until well combined and heated
4.  Serve over the shredded squash, as you would normal spaghetti sauce!

Asparagus, Tomato & Feta Salad

(1 cup = 2 WW points+ - and only if you're liberal with your feta intake)


1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 cluster of tomatoes on the vine
4 Tbsp reduced fat feta cheese (we used Athenos)

1.  Use hands to break off the tough ends of the asparagus stalks
2.  Cut asparagus in half, put in large pot and boil for 10 minutes
3.  Chop up tomatoes into large chunks, put into a large bowl
4.  Add the hot asparagus to the bowl
4.  Add the feta cheese
5.  Stir to combine
6.  Serve warm!

This is a real rock star meal - and it's super low in WW points+.  My entire meal (and I was stuffed!) only cost me 10 WW points+ (and only because I got second helpings of the spaghetti squash/sauce). 

A win-win all around.  I hope you enjoy it as much Blair, Kerry and I did! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012



I've mentioned before that I want this blog to be as much about mental health as it is about physical health.  I think a good way to jump-start that aspect of this endeavor is to share with you one of my favorite poems.  I keep it hanging on my wall at work, and whenever I get stressed, downtrodden, or generally unhappy, I re-read it and find peace.

It is a 1927 American prose poem that became widely known after a Baltimore rector used it in a series of devotional materials in the 1960s.  It has since snowballed in popularity, and thanks to that rector (Baltimore has given me some truly wonderful gifts, huh?), it is available for us to reflect on today (source).

Here it is.  I hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired me:


Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul. 
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. 
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. 

Ahhh, I feel better already.  Do you?  

I definitely recommend printing this out and putting it somewhere where you can refer to it whenever times get tough, or just when you need a burst of inspiration.  

Keep an eye out for inspirational quotes that speak to you.  It is a wonder how much a good mantra can improve your morale and center you, and Desiderata is a great starting point for finding one that works for you.