4 Sweet Ideas for a Healthier Valentine’s Day Date

Why not try something different this Valentine’s Day ?

There is more to this day of love than expensive gifts, sugar laden chocolates and fancy, overindulgent dinners. Try something more romantic (and healthier) this year to show that special someone just how special they really are. And if you’re spending Valentine’s Day solo, plan something beautiful to shower yourself with love!


healthy valentine's day

 

INSTEAD OF AN EXPENSIVE DINNER…

Cook something fancy and fun at home. Getting busy in the kitchen can be a great way to create some special memories with your lover. What’s more romantic than a home cooked, candle lit dinner?! 

[Pinterest is always great for some recipe inspo]

 

 

STEP UP YOUR CHOCOLATE GAME… 

Forego the ordinary Valentine’s day chocolates in those heart shaped boxes. Give your valentine a healthy, indulgent superfood instead. Yeah, that’s right, these kinds of chocolates are actually good for you.

[Try these options]

 

DINNER AND A MOVIE IS SO ORDINARY…

Do something out of the ordinary! Try a hike or an outdoorsy adventure, instead. It’s a great way to spend quality time together and have some deep conversation. 

Not feeling the nature option? Then go dancing or take a dance class, heyyy! Let loose and have fun showing off those dance moves. 

 

USE YOUR WORDS NOT YOUR WALLET…

Regardless of how much money you spend on these types of holidays, what really matters is the thought and intention behind the act. Spending quality time together or expressing your love through words of affirmation (say.. a sweet note, song or a well-written card) will be treasured by your beloved more than any gift you could buy.

 

DON’T FORGET TO GIVE YOURSELF A LITTLE SOMETHING ON VALENTINE’S DAY (AND EVERY DAY)…

Valentine’s Day is not just about sharing love between couples. Show yourself some love too– not just on V-day, but everyday! #SelfCareisHealthCare  

Think things like… 

  • Decluttering your space
  • Pampering Yourself (Can you say Spa Day!)
  • Take some “Me Time” (maybe with a glass of wine good book)
  • Write Down Positive Affirmations + 5 Things You’re Grateful for
  • Get a Massage
  • Stretch it Out with some Yoga
  • Do Something FUN!
  • and just RELAX.

 

I WANT TO KNOW…

What romantic (and healthy) Valentine’s Day Ideas do you have planned?

 

 

 

sending you lots of love,

signature

 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

How to Make the Most of What’s Left in the Year: Revisit Your Goals

Happy October! Oh my goodness, can you believe there are only 3 months left before the end of the year?! As I think back to January 2016, when it was a brand spanking new year and everything seemed possible, I get a little panicky realizing I’ve fallen short in reaching a few of my goals.  goals

 

Can you recall what kind of resolutions and goals you set for yourself back in January?

Check back in with yourself, have you reached your goals? 

It’s okay if you haven’t! The important thing is that it’s not too late to make the most of 2016. We have a brand new month before us this week, so let’s set some goals.

Ask yourself this..

What were your biggest accomplishments last month?

 

What could have gone better?

 

What are your top 3 “to-achieves” for this month? For the year?

 

What steps will you take each week that will move you closer to achieving these 3 things?

 

Now look at your calendar or planner and put in reminders for yourself each week. Write your top 3 “to-achieves” in there too.

 

Whatever goals you’ve set for yourself DO. NOT. GIVE. UP.    It’s not too late.

Remember that YOU are a #goalgetter! Just do your best and be consistent.

Here are my goals for the end of the year (in no particular order):

  1. Read 1 book a month (because personal development is everything!)
  2. Create a fantastic giveaway for you, my lovely readers, to make healthy living easier
  3. Finish crocheting some Christmas gifts (Yes, I have picked up crocheting as a new hobby– don’t judge me!)

 

YOUR TURN–

>>>> Share your top 3 to-achieves before the end of the year (or for this month).

 

 

xo,

signature

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

How to Stay Healthy on Vacation

While we all love a nice getaway, many of us find ourselves struggling to stay healthy on vacation. It’s challenging to keep up with our weight, healthy eating habits, and exercise routines when you’re away.

You spend the last few weeks before a trip trying to get “bikini ready” by dieting and exercising like a maniac. Then, when you’re finally on vacation, all thoughts of calorie restrictions and workouts go out the window. After the getaway, you come back home to find you’ve regained all the weight you worked so hard to shed. You either stay in a funk for a while or go back to the excessive dieting and exercising in yet another attempt to lose those pounds. Up and down go the numbers on the scale, the cycle never ends, and thus is life. This is a completely unsustainable way to maintain your health.

 

Surely there must be a better way to stay healthy on vacation and maintain it even afterward.. right? Right!!

 

healthyonvacation

 

It’s been an exciting, travel-filled summer for me, with both domestic and international trips. I was sure I would be gaining plenty of weight because I was eating some delicious, rich foods. But hooray I maintained my weight and habits (actually even lost 2lbs!) without having to restrict myself.

I admit that I’ve faced these challenges time and time again when I am away from my home and my typical routine.  Through trial and error, I’ve figured out a simple, realistic approach to keeping my wellness level up before, during, and after a getaway. I hope this helps you stay on track and understand how to stay healthy on your next vacation.

Let’s dig into this, shall we?

 

MAKING CHOICES THAT ALIGN WITH YOUR WELLNESS PRIORITIES

Without structure and a routine when on vacation, it’s easy to lose sight of your wellness priorities.  For me, these priorities include honoring my body and maintaining a spiritual practice, among other things. I disregard these priorities by not resting enough (I get too excited and try to see and do as much as possible), throwing caution to the wind with food and beverage choices, and not making time for exercise, prayer, my thoughts. But there just isn’t enough time for everything, am I right?

So we’ve got to be intentional and creative to make the best choices for optimal results.

First, you have to release the mindset of feeling like you must to stick to a specific diet/exercise regimen while you’re on vacation.  Stop worrying about gaining weight. It’s times like these that the whole “have balance” philosophy comes into play. While you might be great at staying disciplined in your usual day-to-day schedule, when you’re on vacation it’s OKAY to indulge a LITTLE and relax. Now, on the other hand, you shouldn’t throw caution to the window and completely overindulge.

Well of course treating yourself is okay, but sometimes we overdo it and cross that fine line where treating yourself TOO much actually ends of hurting you.

Try your best to uphold your wellness priorities and healthy lifestyle without making it feel like a duty. Be intentional with your actions and choices.

 

EXERCISE WITHOUT EXERCISING?

I must applaud those of you that get up early and workout on vacation.  If you’re like me, working out just isn’t too appealing when you’re away. Some challenges that occur are lack of facilities, not enough space, or you’re too tired from staying out late the night before.  Not all is lost, however, because there are still plenty of ways to stay active, and in turn stay healthy on vacation!

Prevent yourself from gaining weight and getting out of shape by staying active as much as possible.

Some easy ways to get a little exercise without actually exercising can include: Walking, swimming, jogging, hiking, bike tours, stretching, local/ free yoga 

healthyonvacation

A kayaking tour in Portugal was a fantastic form of exercise with a view

 

DIET AND NUTRITION

When it comes to food, it’s a little more challenging but here’s my strategy. Stick to simple breakfast options like nutrition shake, smoothie, or fruit and nuts so you are sure to start the day off nuritionally strong. I loovveee brunching, but limit it to just once or twice a week.

For lunch and dinner, whatever you choose to eat think about the option to share your dish. You are less likely to overeat this way.  I recommend checking out Yelp to review restaurant menus in advance.  Also consider visiting the nearest farmers market to try out local snacks and produce.

healthyonvacation

A yummy meal in Costa Rica, with plenty of veggies

You know how much I love vegetables and plant based foods so it should not be surprising to you when I suggest focusing on getting vegetables into your meals. I know this can be difficult to do on vacation, but start small and try to aim for vegetables in AT LEAST one meal a day. That is the bare minimum you should strive for.

 

Limit dessert and decadent treats. Don’t make it a daily habit to have these.  In all honesty, desserts are my weakness ESPECIALLY on vacations. I’m tempted to try the best ice cream shops and all the famous desserts. A few strategies for this: share the sweet treat, make the rest of your meals healthy and load up on veggies, limit sugar in your diet with all other meals.

And most importantly, carry your own snacks with you because you never know when you’ll be stuck at an airport or in a position where you’re hAngry and the only options are fast food.  Coming up this week I will share with you some of my favorite healthy travel snacks. 

One final tip is to never have two unhealthy meals in a row. Always follow an unhealthy meal with a healthy one. This keeps me accountable to making sure that next meal will be nutritious and nourishing.

 

Whatever you do, don’t be miserable on vacation because you’re worried about getting “fat.” Check in with yourself to ensure your not overindulging. Don’t completely abandon the good stuff- fruits and veggies; And find creative ways to stay active.

Enjoy your trip, #treatyoself, and honor your wellness priorities. 

 

healthyonvacation

A delicious dulce de leche donut at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn

YOUR TURN

What are your wellness priorities and how do you stay healthy on vacation?

Have you had a bad travel experience because you were worried about dieting and weight gain? Share your story or any advice.

 

 

Cheers,

signature

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Favorite Healthy Living Tips & News of The Week- 4/20/16

Welcome to my weekly wellness roundup of interesting things to know related to health living, there is so much information out there but so little time to take it all in. Now you can get the top tips and news related to healthy living all in one spot!

healthy living tips

10 Tips for Stunningly Gorgeous Skin –  via KrisCarr blog

It’s not just the food we eat that affects our health. The products we use on our skin are easily absorbed into our bloodstream, thus have an impact on our well-being. Kris Carr shares her natural skincare and beauty tips in this week’s blog post. She even includes a link to the EWP’s database where you can look up some of your favorite beauty products and see what their toxicity rating is!

“Beauty isn’t shallow when it comes from the inside out.”~Kris Carr

 

Why You Should Instagram Every Meal – via ThriveMarket blog

New research is indicating that posting food pics actually makes your food taste better! Steve Holt writes that “consumers who took photos of foods they perceived to be healthier before eating them rated those foods higher than consumers who didn’t take a photo.” So maybe if you’re not a fan of a certain “health food”, say broccoli for example, taking a beautiful photo of it on a plate may make you more likely to enjoy eating it, maybeee? What do you think?

 

Silent Killers of your Metabolism—via Infographic Journal

This is a pretty cool infographic on how factors like stress, sleep deprivation, toxins, and excess of sugars are not only slowing down our metabolisms, but contributing to this country’s increasing obesity trend. Check it out to increase your awareness and learn about the simple steps you can take to revive your metabolism and revitalize your health.

 

Plyo Circuit Workout– via Popsugar

This is a challenging set of plyo circuits you can do at home with no equipment. My current workout routine is mostly weight lifting with some yoga. I was looking to do something different at least one day a week. That’s when I stumbled across this gem of a workout. I encourage you to try it out. It’s tougher than it looks, but definitely a great workout to incorporate into your usual routine.

 

I hope you enjoyed this week’s weekly wellness roundup of my favorite healthy living tips and news.

What was your favorite article?

What else did you learn this week related to healthy living?

#KnowledgeisPower

 

Happy Hump Day,

signature

 

 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Costa Rica: Living la Pura Vida

When I started this blog my focus was on health related topics like food, fitness, and overall wellness. As I’ve grown this past year I have realized just how comprehensive health is. It is not simply defined by the fuel we put into our bodies or the exercises that shapes us. Healthy living is more than the number on a scale or even the positive mindset we work so hard to foster. To live in good health, to live well, is to live freely, simply, and with optimism. I was really able to comprehend this on my recent visit to Costa Rica. The “Pura Vida” lifestyle is easy to embrace as it reminds me to take it easy.

I was in Costa Rica for about a week visiting my husband who was there finishing up a project with his graduate program. He had lived there for several years when he was younger, but this was my first time stepping foot in this country. I was excited to see where he spent his childhood and experience the Costa Rican culture. We had a rental car, making easy to travel between cities and explore.

costa rica

La Selva Biological Station 

I spent the first night in La Selva Biological Station, in Sarapiqui, where I got to experience Costa Rica’s beautiful wildlife and forests. In just 24 hours I saw monkeys, all types of loud and colorful birds, two sloths (plus a baby sloth), a poisonous red and blue frog, and wild pigs. Everywhere I walked I had to be vigilant or I might easily miss some wonderful creature! The weather was hot and humid, with some rain (even though this was dry season). This area is secluded from much else so all our meals were provided by the Station, buffet style. This was my first introduction to the fruit in Costa Rica. The papaya, pineapple and watermelon were the best I have ever tasted.  During the day there are hikes offered with a tour guide, or you can go on your own. In the evenings there are night tours where you are sure to see all kinds of crazy looking insects, amphibians, and reptiles (think NatGeo type of creatures!).  After a day, I was pretty much done oo-ing and aw-ing at the wildlife and was ready to pack it up and move on to our next destination. It’s a fun place to see and explore, but after a day or two there isn’t much else to do.

Arenal Volcano National Park

Our next stop was Arenal Volcano National Park. The terrain noticeably changed as we drove further away from Sarapiqui, from green lush landscapes, to dry sparse lands.  Towards the end of our two hour drive, we saw a sloth in the most random of places. He was hanging off barbed wire on the side of the highway. We turned around and pulled over to see if our eyes were deceiving us. Hanging so still and looking a bit stiff, we wondered if this sloth was dead?! A tour guide, along with two tourists happened to pull over as well. The guide told us the sloth was indeed alive and sleeps for up to 16 hours a day. Talk about getting some beauty sleep! Usually, these animals are found in wet, rainy areas sleeping high up in trees so I was surprised to find him here of all places.  Why he settled upon the most uncomfortable of napping spots I don’t understand. I really wanted to touch him, but the guide scared me when he mentioned sloths can bite. Seeing the sloth was a big highlight for me. I can’t get over what an interesting animal they are.

costa rica

After this brief, but exciting slot spotting, we continued on our way to Arenal. It’s a pretty small town, but loaded with restaurants and shops (for tourists, that is). The small park in the center of town is a great place to stop for a rest, as you can see the top of the arenal volcano from here on a clear day. There are hotels after hotels here advertising all kinds of tours and hikes (zip lining is quite popular). And all of the hotels have hot springs, too. We enjoyed the hot springs at our hotel, especially the natural pool with the wet bar. We were told the best days to hike up the volcano were sunrise or sunset, as this is when you get the best views of the volcano. Unfortunately, most of the time the volcano was barely visible due to the thick blanket of clouds hiding it. I mean you almost wouldn’t even know there was a massive volcano there because of how well the clouds covered it up. We did catch a breathtaking view here and there allowing us to snap some photos, especially just before sunset. I wouldn’t recommend hiking to the volcano if it’s an especially cloudy day because you won’t see much. Instead, Karim and I went to La Fortuna waterfalls. It was a short hike, down several flights of steps, but delightful and worth the $12 entrance fee.  Once we reached the waterfall we were able to swim in it. While the water is incredibly cold, it was so refreshing and our bodies seemed to get used to the temperature pretty quickly. A little ways down from the waterfall is a stream/run-off that’s shallow, calmer, and warmer so we spent more time in this area. I’d recommend bringing drinking water, bug spray, towel, your bathing suit of course, and maybe swimming shoes because there are a lot of rocks at the water’s edge.

costa rica

Two days in Arenal was sufficient. There isn’t much of a night life so take full advantage of all the day time excursions. As far as food goes, our favorite by far was Chifa La Familia Feliz. This place served Peruvian/Asian influenced food.  We loved this place so much we ate here twice. The chef is friendly and warm, coming out to shake your hand and welcome you personally. All of the food is fresh and flavorful. You can tell by the plating and type of cuisine that this chef definitely has professional culinary training. And best of all, it’s totally affordable. So if you visit Arenal, don’t leave without eating here.

Tamarindo Area & Playa Langosta 

Our next,last, and most anticipated stop was Tamarindo, Langosta beach. We spent the bulk of our time here mostly surfing, laying out by the beach, watching sunsets, enjoying the main street’s shops and restaurants. The beach area was so laid back and relaxing. Having rented an AirB&B near Barcelo hotels, we were able to cook some of our meals at home. There were plenty of nearby grocery stores but the AutoMercado had the best selection and prices. When we did eat out, we found many places did not accept credit cards, so carry around some cash. U.S. Dollars were accepted, but at a slightly worse exchange rate. Prices in this area are similar to U.S. prices.

Some of the food spots we checked out and would recommend are: Green Papaya, Patagonia, Sharky’s, and Falafel. As you might know, I don’t eat meat but to my surprise, eating plant based was pretty easy in Costa Rica. Most of the restaurants always offered some sort of vegan option.

During the day we spent our time at the beach. Neptuno’s Surf Shop offered great deals on surfing. For $35 they provide semi-private 2 hour lessons and for $10 you can use the surfboard all day long. If you’re not into surfing, you can beach hop. While Langosta beach is beautiful, Playa Conchal was it’s own kind of beauty. The sand was made from an infinite number of crushed seashells (many of which were still whole). No surfing is allowed at this beach so it’s calm and quiet aside from locals selling drinks like pipa fria (cold coconut) and Imperial (the national beer). There are a lot of other beaches to check out all along this western pacific coast of Costa Rica. If you don’t have a rental car, shuttle buses are offered that will take you to these places.  

costa rica

Just because you’re in the beach area, don’t think you won’t see wild life. I was standing in the back porch of our airbnb near the main pool area when suddenly I see a black furry creature walking towards me. I don’t know why, but I thought it was a cat at first only to realize it was a lonely little monkey!  During my stay in Playa Langosta, I also saw a baby skunk and a racoon– different type of “wildlife” but still! Haha.

Costa Rica was a great place to visit. If, and when, you go there be sure to check out more than one area of this diverse country. You’ll find that each place has something wonderful and totally different to offer than the next.  The people are friendly and laid back with their “pura vida” attitude. The food is fresh and delicious, especially my favorites- the fruit (pineapple, papaya and watermelon) and the traditional gallo pinto breakfast. The simple beauty and optimistic way of life here was soothing to my soul. I’ll definitely be back. So if you want the relaxation of the beach, exploration of wildlife and nature, and adventures like hiking and ziplining Costa Rica is a THE place to visit. 

 

If you’ve been to Costa Rica too, I’d love to hear some of your favorite experiences and places to check out because there is so much I didn’t get to see and do (maybe next time!).

costa rica

 

Pura Vida,

signature

 

 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Stress and Your Heart: Is there a link?

Welcome to part II of our Matters of the Heart Series. Last week was all about heart healthy living for disease prevention and today we’re talking stress. Can stress really cause high blood pressure or give you a heart attack? Read on to find out..

stress

We all have a lot on our plates, constantly balancing our day to day responsibilities with jam packed social calendars, extracurriculars, and personal hobbies. People are really busy! When we get a little too busy though, stress sets in with a death grip. Now I know sometimes a little stress can be a good thing, in that it lights that fire under you to check things off your long to-do list, but there is another side to that coin.

The consistent presence of stress in your life, can contribute to physical health issues.

Managing your stress appropriately can help reduce your risk of heart disease and chronic illness. When we embrace a positive mindset, we are more likely to eliminate destructive habits and find better alternatives to deal with our worry. This is why a healthy lifestyle is more than just eating clean and working out. It’s about the holistic approach– understanding the importance of health in all areas of life, including mentally and emotionally. If these areas are not taken care of, they can translate into physical illness.  

When in a state of stress, a chemical and hormonal chain reaction takes place within the body triggering inflammation.  While research has not yet proven that this directly affects risk of heart disease, there is evidence that stress influences your heart (and your health) in other ways. Stress can cause some people to behave in ways that increase their risk of heart disease. Think about it..  We don’t always handle stress in the best ways. Some folks eat to calm down (I could argue peanut butter cures all your problems…just kidding!). Other people throw themselves into their work.  What unhealthy choices do you fall back on when you’re under stress? When experience stress, we tend to make less than favorable lifestyle choices especially surrounding diet, exercise, and habits like smoking or drinking.

6 ways to manage stress and help your heart

Want to turn your stress around and help your heart in the process? Try these six simple tips.

  1. Listen to your body. Your body’s response to stress may be a headache, back strain, or stomach pains. Stress can also zap your energy, wreak havoc on your sleep and make you feel cranky, forgetful and out of control. If you find yourself with strange symptoms like these, your body may be telling you to slow it down. So pay attention.
  2. Stay positive. Laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol. Overall, embracing a positive mindset and practicing gratitude can help you handle stress appropriately. 
  3. Meditate. Traditional meditation focusing on inward thoughts and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors (like high blood pressure). You can also sit quietly, close your eyes and listen to relaxing music. Yoga, prayer and even journaling can also prove to be relaxing for the mind and body.
  4. Exercise. Every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only melts away stress, but it also protects against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helping you maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Unplug. Avoid emails, TV news, and sometimes even social media.  It’s impossible to escape stress when it follows you everywhere. Take time each day—even if it’s for just 10 or 15 minutes—to escape from the world by doing something else with your time. Find an activity that is restorative and allows you to forget your burdens for a moment, such as reading, sports, adult coloring books, or any other activity you enjoy.
  6. Create a Self Care ritual. Take a bubble bath, listen to music, or get a massage. Any technique is effective if it works for you.

There will always be stress in your life but it’s your choice how you let it affect you. You may not be able to control the stress that comes into your life, but you can control your reaction to it and that makes a world of a difference.

Is your stress leading to destructive, unhealthy habits? How are you planning to take control of it and help improve your health? 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

signature

 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Health is where the Heart is

This month I’m sharing a series called “Matters of the Heart,” where you will find weekly posts about all things related to heart health, on both physical and emotional topics. I am doing this not in honor of Valentine’s day, but really because it’s American Heart Month. Bringing awareness to heart disease should be important to all of us because aside from being the leading cause of serious illness and disability in the U.S., it is also the number 1 killer of Americans. Even more tragic, is that many of the deaths related to heart disease are preventable and treatable.

heart health

 

Imagine if disease could be prevented, reversed, or even eliminated… What if you could avoid “inheriting” the high cholesterol that runs in your family, the uncontrolled blood pressure, or obesity gene? Can you actually have a say in how long and how strong  your heart will beat on? Envision yourself having a hand in living a longer, energized life that allows you to partake in celebrations and enjoy family & friends…. I’m not here to tell you I’ve found the secret to  longevity or immortality, sorry! But I AM here to share with you that prevention is key to fighting disease and embracing life. You CAN make huge impacts to your quality of life with small, consistent changes.

So how can we fight the battle against disease, especially heart disease?

Focus on health rather than weight. The number on the scale may fool you into a false sense of satisfaction, like thinking you’re “skinny” but it does not give you immunity to illness. Let’s not fall victim to crash diets and endless cardio.  Instead, change your mindset around health and wellness. Strive to eat and exercise with the intent of strengthening your heart and protecting your body from disease.  It’s important to take care of our health, get regular check ups, and listen to our bodies.  Make disease prevention your main focus and motivation for being healthy. You absolutely can prevent/heal/fight disease by living a healthier lifestyle.

You may already know what changes you must make to maintain optimal heart health and live your best life, now it comes down to remembering WHY these changes matter.

You may feel amazing right now, but think about those bad habits you can’t seem to shake and the consequences they could be causing you in 5 to 10 years from now. Is it worth it? Having worked closely with patients suffering from heart disease for a little over two years, I have seen first hand how disabling and fatal this disease is. On the other hand, I’ve been given the privilege of seeing many reverse their disease or preventing it from worsening by embracing a heart healthy lifestyle; in doing so, these folks have changed the entire trajectory of their lives.  That’s what I want for you, too! Take control of your life by committing to healthy changes.

Ditch the excuses and bad habits. It’s time to make some real changes.

This is your season to adopt simple, healthy practices that can positively affect the course of your life. Know that I am here to help you along the way.  This American Heart Month, please consider what you and your loved ones can do to promote a heart healthy lifestyle.

Here are just a few things you can do to set yourself up for success in health.

  • Eating whole, balanced, nutrition-dense foods
  • Exercising daily
  • Obtaining regular physicals and blood work
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing/ preventing any chronic diseases

Start by committing to doing just 2 to 3 of these at a time and pay attention to the huge impacts you’ll experience from such small, but consistent changes. What greater benefit could there be than living healthfully and actively into old age with no dependence on medications and almost no risk of heart disease or other chronic conditions.

 

How will you protect your heart?

 

What habits are you implementing into your lifestyle to maintain top-notch heart health?

 

 

Until next time,

signature

 

** Learn more about American Heart Month here **


Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Eating Healthy while Eating Out

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

eating healthy

We all know we should be “eating clean” and making better food choices as much as possible, but why is it so difficult to actually DO? If I am preparing my own meals at home, then it’s not much of a challenge at all. When I’m traveling, don’t have control over my food or there are too many options, however, that’s when I fall into poor eating habits. One of my biggest struggles with eating healthy was when it came to dining out.  This was especially difficult for me because I love love love trying new restaurants and different types of cuisines.

When my husband and I first moved to Portland,OR in 2013, we  were excited to experience the amazing food scene (especially brunch). We basically made it our hobby to dine out and try new foods. We still, however were eating healthy whenever we ate at home and continued working out. After several weeks of enjoying our new hobby together we noticed a standstill when it came to our fitness progress. Our love for eating out and attending many social events was not loving us back.  We learned that the saying “you can’t outwork a healthy diet” was all too true.

I chose to address this situation with a simple solution of simply not eating at all anymore.  But can I tell you how sad this made me feel!  Dining out is often a common way of celebrating, socializing and networking. I experienced major FOMO (fear of missing out), but I kept telling myself if I went out to eat I would not find anything healthy on the menu. On one occasion, I tried meeting friends at a restaurant but ate at home before going. Well that was awkward..just watching them eat was not a fun experience. Another time, I just ordered the house salad which was boring and did not fill me up. I proceeded to go home and stuff my face because I was still so hungry. Another fail! I’m pretty sure people were getting annoyed by my healthy eating obsession. I needed to find balance!

After much trial and error, and I wish I could say it happened over night but it didn’t, I created a plan & guidelines for myself to stick to whenever I dined out. They’ve helped me maintain balance so that I can enjoy new restaurants, celebrate with friends, and still try new, delicious cuisines guilt-free.

 

 

eating healthy

 

 

ALWAYS LEAVE LEFTOVERS 

With my new strategy in place I can eat out and eat healthy but still enjoy foods I love. How I do this is by first, choosing healthy options from the menu. But what if I see something that sounds absolutely delicious or that I’ll never get a chance to try again? What if I really want pizza? Ok, in this case rather than deprive myself completely I will order that dish, enjoy it, but leave half of it!

Restaurants often serve super sized portions and we don’t even realize how much we are eating. We think we are enjoying a normal amount of food, but often the servings sizes are double and triple what they should be.  This is called portion distortion.  I leave half of my meal and it’s actually a treat because then I have left overs for the next day’s lunch or for my husband to enjoy.

 

SHARING IS CARING

Another option for enjoying great food without the guilt, is to share! Yes, share with your friends. This way you’re automatically having a smaller portion size.

 

DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO EAT & CHECK THE MENU IN ADVANCE

This is my biggest tip to you when it comes to eating healthy while dining out. If you can have a hand in deciding what restaurant to eat at, you stand a better chance at finding a place with somewhat healthier options on their menu. The good news is that nowadays more and more restaurants are including healthier meal options (and in some cases even the nutrition facts) onto their menus. I love Yelp! Try this app out when researching places to eat.  It’s an easy way to see food photos, read tips and reviews before showing up to a place. Whether you have a hand in choosing the restaurant or not, always try to take a peek at the menu beforehand and decide what you’ll be ordering in advance.

 

THINGS TO AVOID

The first thing to avoid is that warm, irresistible complimentary bread they bring to the table at most places.  I would advise don’t have any, but if we are being more realistic let’s settle on limiting yourself to just one piece.  If you’re like me, though, and lack a bit of control, just politely ask the bread not be served at your table altogether.

Something else I watch out for when dining out are those lovely adjectives that make the food sound oh so delicious. Words like crispy or smothered are red flags for me! I do my best to steer clear of anything fried or covered in any creamy, oil-based sauce. This includes salad dressings (ask for it on the side).

Sometimes I find the chef is willing to prepare a dish without oil or butter, or make it grilled instead of fried. You never know if you don’t ask. Which bring me to my next tip…

 

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK

Just because there is seemingly nothing on the menu that meets my criteria for eating healthy, it doesn’t mean it’s not possible. There have been quite a few times where I ordered few of the side dishes and voilà, I had a complete meal.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for an alternative to those french fries.  More than likely, there is a salad or steamed veggie option available.

 

DON’T GO TO DINNER HANGRY

Ok remember this one and plan ahead! Do not ever go out to eat when you are full on hangry, because you never know how long the wait might be and add to that the length of time it takes for your food to get to your table. When you are super hungry, you’re less likely to think about portion control or make good food choices.

Speaking of good choices…

 

ALCOHOL WEAKENS YOUR WILLPOWER

Slow down on the cocktails. Not only are you drinking unnecessary calories and sugar, but alcohol diminishes your willpower. You’re more likely to make poor choices and eat more than you intended when under the influence.

 

 

More and more restaurants are becoming aware of the need for improved nutrition and are offering healthier options on their menu, making it easier for you and me to dine out stress-free.

Fast forward 2.5 years, my husband and I now live in North Carolina and are exploring a brand new food scene. I’m now much more comfortable with dining out and feel confident that I’ll be able to make healthy choices. I still, however, limit the amount of times I eat out to once or twice per week. This is what I have found the best balance with. I encourage you to find your own balance when it comes to living healthy and eating better. Try out the strategies that have helped my husband and I stay healthy without sacrificing our social life and love for good food.

eating healthy

 

So now you know my biggest obstacle when it comes to eating healthy,

WHAT IS YOURS? 

 

Health & Happiness, 

signature

 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

Why I don’t have a Christmas Tree this Year + Beating Holiday Stress

holiday stress

It’s a busy time of year for all of us with holiday events, commitments, traveling, deadlines at work, too much spending, shopping for gifts, cooking, and overall a whole lot of holiday stress. Oh wait, but isn’t it also supposed to be the most happiest time of year?

My husband is finishing up finals while I basically work two jobs– as a pharmacist and wellness coach 😉 In the past three weeks alone, we have driven to Florida, attended various holiday parties, been to a potluck, celebrated my husband’s birthday, my best friend visited for a weekend, we drove to Atlanta, GA andddd today we will be driving to Florida again.  When am I supposed to finish my Christmas shopping?! Bah Humbug!

Despite all the hustle and bustle that goes on, this really is my favorite time of year. The issue is that we all too often forget to take a minute to enjoy what’s really important.

My life seems pretty FULL, but I want to make sure it is  FULLfilling.

I decided not to decorate this year simply because I’ve been too busy and well, honestly, it’s just not worth it since I will only be home for two weeks, then off to Florida until after the New Year. Instead I will focus my energy on intentional and fulfilling activities like making plans to spend time with family and friends while in Florida, or working on my wellness business, staying on track with my nutrition and fitness, and reading books that feed my mind and spirit. These are things that help me grow, help me be a better person to others and strengthen my inner peace so that I can stand up tall when stress strikes. 

Instead of being overwhelmed by the holiday stress, why not allow yourself to embrace the happiest time of year?  It’s not about the perfect dress for the holiday party, getting the most expensive gift to give, or spending all of your time worrying about this or that. Focus on fulfilling, life-giving actions that are not just going to help you be your best self, but allow you to be so much more to others too.  

holiday stress

Here are a few of my simple tips to avoiding holiday stress:

  1. When buying gifts, set a budget – if you tend to overspend, then pay for all of your purchases with cash
  2. Don’t worry about finding the perfect gift– You should love the giver more than the gift.  After all, it’s the thought that matters and if they really don’t like it, most gifts can be returned or exchanged.
  3. Make the holidays more low key– if you don’t get around to decorating or to sending out your annual christmas cards, don’t sweat it. Life WILL go on.
  4. Stay away from toxic people– spending time with some of your family or friends may not be the most relaxing part of your holiday so limit your time with these people into bite-sized portions so they don’t kill your happy holiday vibes.
  5. Express Gratitude– every single day, take a moment to think of all of your blessings and see how much life anxiety is alleviated with this practice.
  6. Stick to your regular diet – Yes, all of the food around the holidays is delicious, but if you find yourself skipping meals just to be ready for big dinners, you might actually find yourself eating more. Enjoy the good food and decadent desserts,go for it, but in moderation.
  7. If you do eat too much, don’t beat yourself up about it – It is the holidays, after all, and only comes once a year. Forgive yourself an indulgence and do better the next day 🙂

 

Less stress, more joy!  Ask yourself, if your holiday season is FULL or FULL-filling? What can you do to avoid stress, and instead, be more intentional about enjoying this Christmas? 

 

Happy Holidays,

signature

 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram

My Favorite Must-Have Fitness Gift Ideas

merry christmas

‘Tis the season of gift giving! With Christmas less than two weeks away you may be procrastinating panicking (like me), shopping for those last minute gifts. If you’re wondering what on earth you can get your friend or family member who is a health and fitness enthusiast, I’ve got you! I have compiled a list of some of my personal favorite fitness gift ideas that any wellness warrior will be sure to love.  

 


BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES: Totu wireless  $19.99 

I recently purchased these and love them. It’s nice not fighting with my tangled headphone cords anymore or worrying about the earbuds constantly falling out.

 

fitness gift guide

 

 

MASON JAR LIDES & STRAWS: Ball Sip & Straw pack of 4 for $7.00 (Also available at Target)

Sip in style… and no more spills.  A must-have for any juicing/ smoothie lover.

fitness gift guide

 

 

 

HEADBAND: Nike Training Headband $15

This stylish headband is a super-soft, stretchy fabric blend in a wide design for a secure fit that helps keep hair and sweat out of your eyes.

fitness gift guide

 

 

 

SMART WATCH: Basis Peak  $149.99

I am recommending this watch specifically, because I own one and love it.  They also have the most amazing customer service.  Here’s what it does: 24/7 sleep and fitness tracking, heart rate (no chest strap), tracks walks, runs and rides, notifications for texts, emails and calls. It also integrates with various health apps and you can change the watch straps for other colors.

**FitBit is also a very popular and well liked smartwatch to consider

Fitness Gift Guide

 

SOCKS: Nike DRI-FIT no-show socks $8

I never cared too much about my socks, always opting for the cheapest pair, only to find a hole in them in a short time later. It’s especially annoying when your sock keeps slipping down into your shoe– talk about frustrating! But ever since I tried these Nike cushioned socks, I felt like I was walking on clouds because of their supportive compression fit. They are crazy comfortable and very durable.

fitness gift guide For runners, a great sock is  Thorlo running socks ($15), which are made of sweat-wicking material and have strategic cushioning to keep any run comfortable. A friend gifted me a pair of these and I am so happy with them 🙂 

fitness gift guide

 

NICE GEAR: Having nice workout gear gives a little boost of confidence and motivation to get our exercise.  We all want to feel comfortable during that sweat session while still looking great. Here are a few of my favorite pieces:

 

Get 20% off your first outfit + free shipping with Fableticsfitness gift guide fitness gift guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Athleta Running Half-Zip

fitness gift guide

**Other great brands: Nike and LuLuLemon

 

 

 

COOKBOOKS

The Skinny Taste Cookbook for $18.00  AND  Thug Kitchen for $14.99   

fitness gift guide

 

 

fitness gift guide

 

RUNNING GLOVES

No more fumbling to change songs with icy fingers; the Lucy E-Tip Run Gloves ($30) feature a smartphone-compatible index finger tip.

fitness gift guide

 

WATER BOTTLES 

Camelbak Chute 1L, $14 

fitness gift guide

Nathans Speadview Hydration Handhel, $28.65

This one is great for running + holding your phone.

fitness gift guide

 

 

SMART JUMP ROPE

Chialstar Smart Calorie Counter LCD Digital Jump Ropes, $9.99- You can take exercise everywhere and anywhere with this.  It includes a timer and counts the calories you burn in addition to the number of jumps

fitness gift guide

 

 

 

FUN GRAPHIC TEES

There are a bunch of cute ones at Target, ranging from $9 to $11  

fitness holiday guide fitness gift guide fitness gift guide

 

 

The Fit Lady’s Closet  at LiveLoveLifeFit— My good friend and fellow blogger + fitness enthusiast offers some great goodies on her website, including these two graphic tees ( $16.99 to $18.99)

http://www.livelovelifefit.com/#!apparel/c1r7iScreen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.34.56 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Here are some other great fitness gift ideas to consider:

  • Groupon offers great discounts on massages and fitness classes.
  • Yoga mats aren’t just for yogis, but are also useful for stretching.
  • Gym bags are a must-have to tote around workout gear.
  • Armband or belt to carry a phone and keys.
  • Gift cards to a healthy restaurant or juice bar is a nice idea too.

Still need more ideas? No problem! Check out LiveLoveLifeFit’s holiday gift guide for ideas sure to please the fitness enthusiast, the new mom, the mother-to-be, the go-getter, or the the make-up junkie.

 

This holiday season give a gift that will not just be thoughtful, but useful and very much enjoyed by your friend or loved one.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FITNESS GIFT IDEAS?

Share them in the comments below. 

 

Merry FITmas,

signature

 

Facebooktwitterrssinstagram