Practical Tips for First Timer Yoga Class

Yoga is something that I have truly fallen in love with over the past couple of years.  I think that it has so many benefits – mental, physical, social- that if you have any interest in trying it, I absolutely urge you to go for it!  Below are some practical guidelines so when you take your first class, you feel prepared and stress free.

Hair Choice

I find having a pony tail can be uncomfortable when lying down, so my favorite things to do are a variety of braids.  French braids, pigtail braids, halo braids.  These all evenly distribute the hair so nothing is pulling and when you are on the matt, you dont have a pony tail poking you in the back of your head.  I see some people pracicing with their hair down which I have only been able to manage when my hair was super short with a soft headband.

Here is a great tutorial that I first used for a halo braid which is now my go to hairstyle for yoga and running.

Halo Braid

Clothing Choice

Make sure its something you are comfortable in.  Very often I have worn an outfit that looked very “yoga chic” but then in the middle of class realized it was not going well. Either it was too low cut and I felt exposed, the leggings didn’t stretch right or sat too low or my top was too loose and exposed my stomach during downward dog or inversions.  Whatever you decide to wear, play around at home first. Bend over, twist, stretch. Make sure its something that you are comfortable with so that way you dont have any wardropte malfunctions to distract you. Generally leggings and a fitted tank are my go to choices. Don’t feel pressure to buy expensive brands, anything you have that fits well will do the trick.

Get there Early

Generally, its polite to arrive at a class about 15 minutes early.  If you are brand new, it may be extra helpful to get there ahead of time.  This way you can check in and get settled, which can make the whole experience more relaxing.  Additionally, you can meet the instructor and disclose that you are new and if you have any injuries or concerns.  In my experience, teachers are very welcoming and they can make really helpful suggestions prior to and during class to accomodate your skill level and needs.

Avoid the Competitive Spirit

For some, including myself, the urge to compete with others during a class can be very strong. You may look around at other students nailing a pose or taking it to a full, gravity defying, super flexible expression.  That is their practice. Focus on your own, and you will be better for it.  This is something that I have worked on continously.  By scoping out others, it takes you out of alignement,  your focus is split and you are not paying attention to your body. This can cause you to lose balance, not get the most out of the pose or potentially hurt yourself.

Angry yoga

Something to keep in mind is you dont know everyone elses story. Even in a beginners class, you may have people who have been practicing for years. There may be other teachers observing this instructor.  This could be someone who just wants to brush up on the basics or someone new to yoga but did dance for 15 years.  Everyone is going to be a different level and that isn’t a bad thing. Each student starts somewhere.

Listen to the Instructor

I mean, duh. But really listen.  There are often a lot of funny sounding metaphors that really work  like”knit your ribs”.  Do you best to visualize what they saying and apply it as best you can.  Also be open to their modifiations.  During class you may be working on a pose that has 3 modifications – to make it easier or harder.  Your instructor will likely emphasize which is intended for whom and encourage you to do what feels right for you. Going back to the competative nauture, dont feel pressured to pick the hardest option.  Do what feels right which may be a gentle stretch or bit of a challenge, but should not feel overwhelming.  This way you can start to understand the foundation of a pose, which will make it easier to advance later on, once you master the basics.

Pick the Right Class

If you are going to a studio, a community class or a session at your gym, try and find out what the style is.  There are beginner classes, power classes, heated classes and more.  If your nervous, try a beginner or foundations class to ease into it.  You can usually chat with the instructor or another employee about what to expect and which class would be the right fit for you.  Studios also may have descriptions on their website. Below is a sample from the studio I attend:

Just Go For It!

Yoga is great and I love it! It has enriched so many peoples lives, whether they were looking for a good work out, a way to connect with their body, or wanted to get involved with a vibrant social scene of wonderful people.  I know it can be daunting.  Sometimes beautiful photos of yogis in amazing poses can come off as intimidating rather than inspirational.  But don’t let that stop you!  You owe it to yourself to give it a try and I hope the above tips help you feel more confident venturing into your first class.

 

What was your first yoga class experience?

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Hot Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal

For work I try and compile recipes that meet our patients needs that are a little out of the box.  Many of them have been receiving dialysis for years and have tried a lot of the options out there. I wanted to offer some high protein alternatives to meat and eggs, which can get tiring.  So I took to the food blogs, looking for high protein baked goods!

While there, I kept seeing coconut butter and I really wanted to try it out.  Basically it is like coconut oil but has some of the meat of the coconut mixed in so the consistency is thicker. It is solid at room temperature, while coconut oil is liquid. It has a nice creamy texture and is very rich so when you use it, you don’t need much.

I decided to buy some and give it a try!  It was about $11 so a bit of a grocery splurge, but you don’t need much so it will last.  I have been into oatmeal lately and decided to incorporate it into my breakfast

Hot Chocolate Oatmeal

Hot Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • 1 cup of milk or milk alternative
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp or packet of hot chocolate mix
  • 1 tbsp coconut butter
  • Coconut flakes for garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook oatmeal to package instructions either stovetop or in a microwave.
  2. Warm up the coconut butter by putting the jar in a pot or bowl of hot water. Let it sit and stir until liquid.
  3. Mix hot chocolate into oatmeal.
  4. Sprinkle chia seeds on oatmeal.
  5. Drizzle coconut butter and then sprinkle with coconut flakes.
  6. Enjoy!

If you want a lower sugar option, you can use regular cocoa powder but I find oatmeal needs a little sweetness for me.  The end result is super creamy, luxurious and satisfying breakfast.  The coconut butter adds some fat so it so it makes it a little heartier and it sticks with you pretty well.

Hot chocolate oatmeal 2

Ingredient Breakdown

Oatmeal – This whole grain is a great source of fiber with some additional protein.  It has also been shown to protect against heart disease, help manage blood sugar,  and lower cholesterol.

Chia Seeds – Another great source of fiber and protein with some added calcium.  They also aid in digestion, make you feel full and act as a prebiotic.

Coconut Butter – Creamy texture with fat to help with satiety.

This definitely sticks with you during the day and its a bit decadent without being totally indulgent.

How do you incorporate coconut butter into your diet?

5 Training Changes I Have Made – Half Marathon

This past summer on a bit of a whim, I signed up for another half marathon.  It had been about 2 years since my first one and I was ready to get back in the saddle.   I went to a conference for work and they really stressed being your best self both professionally and personally. I started reflecting on things that made me happy and decided to just go for it and sign up for another race. I really like having a goal, running itself makes me happy and this pushes me to do it when life might otherwise get in the way. Something that helped me pull the trigger is that the race was literally 5 minutes from my house.  And a wonderful surprise was Eric, my husband, decided to do it with me!  He has run in the past, frequently doing a local 4 on the 4th race (crazy hilly and always super-hot) but this would be his first half marathon.  After the race, I realized some key differences between my training for my last race and this one.


 

Terrain Choices

Last time I did a lot of my short runs either on the road, on the treadmill, or in a local park. I really hated the treadmill, it was just so boring and I never felt like I got a good run out of it. I much preferred getting outside and going on the road. It’s much more stimulating and you can’t beat fresh air.

This time around, I did my weekly runs at a local track. Starting in the summer vs. the winter means I was able to run everything outside which is amazing. I know that running in circles too much may not be the best but it has helped me to run at a much steadier pace.

Using my Nike Plus Tracker/Running app, I could see that previously, I would start and finish really strong but have a very significant dip in my pace for the middle. Or I wouldn’t push myself and have a ton of energy left at the end. I started timing my laps on my phone so I could see if there were any big changes lap to lap and address it right away. I think that running on the track has helped me establish a natural pace that I can now use when I am on a trail or the road.


Scoping out the Race Course

In addition to running on the track, every week I went down to the state park where the race was to get my long runs in. I had a map of the course and ran it from the starting point. It is so valuable to be able to know exactly where the hills are (even though they are minor) in addition to the mile markers. Something that is interesting about this course is it goes through multiple different types of terrain. It starts in the park and you run on dirt paths through campgrounds and picnic areas. Then you have a section of well groomed trail in the woods, which is totally shaded (sweet!). After that you pop out on the roads in Madison for the majority of the middle miles. Being able to check this out and run it consistently has given me the chance to get a feel for the conditions including the wind, sun, elevation and smells (low tide – its real). For my last race, it was in Annapolis so I never got the chance to check it out before race day.


Running Without Headphones

Track photo
Not listening to music gives Eric plenty of time to steal my phone and take random pictures of me.

When I was reading through the rules for the race, headphones are specifically banned so I have been training without them. Which seemed crazy to me at first! How was I going to stay motivated? In Maryland I would listen to music and podcasts on my long runs to help pass the time. I really thought it was going to be a struggle to go without any kind of music. Now that I’m running without them, I think headphones may have been holding me back. Once I got going, I would just putz along to get the mileage in without focusing on my form, pace or how I felt. I had a pretty short stride and was probably running hunched just because I wasn’t paying attention. Now I am really feeling the run. I can check in more easily and if I can dig deeper, I do. If I notice poor form or some strain, I can adjust. I no longer need to be distracted while I run. Obviously after a while, my mind will wander (perhaps writing the outline for a blog post…) but I can snap myself in and out as needed. This has allowed me to keep a more consistent pace but also challenge myself and now I am going much faster. Much of my long runs had an average pace around 12:00 min/mile, some even slower. Now I am consistently in the 10:00’s. I don’t feel like I am training any harder, but rather, I am getting more out of each workout so I am progressing.

 

Having a Buddy

For my first race, Melissa of EatontheRun peer pressured encouraged me to sign up because she was racing. I then got my friend Erica to join as well. Even though there were a bunch of us running together, we all had different paces and locations – Erica was living about 7 hours away from me at the time. So the vast majority of my training was solo.

Having Eric running with me was a big change.  Not only does this help with motivation during the run (we get competitive with each other) but it makes it much easier to stick to our schedule. We plan our evenings around our workouts. Being on the same page Eric and Wendymakes things so much easier so there isn’t any FOMO – we can plan fun things for our rest days together.

Being afraid of missing things did get me in trouble last time. I got lax about following my training schedule in the final couple of weeks and ended up missing a lot of runs. My internship was wrapping up, friends were getting married/graduating and I was trying to prepare for life post internship in the real world. This time, I had Eric to really anchor me into the schedule.
Making a Time Goal

Last time all I wanted to do was finish. I wanted to run the whole thing and didn’t care how long it took. I ended up walking really only around the aid stations because I can’t handle drinking/eating while running. So I was happy with that.

This time, I decided to make a real concrete goal. Having a benchmark makes it easier to determine what a reasonable goal is. So this time, I set out to finish in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes which breaks down to about an 11:30 average pace.

Recap

Well the race went really well. It was a bit chilly and started a bit late but it was a beautiful course and we had nice weather.  We did miss our goal by about 2 minutes, but it was still better than my last one by 15!  I am really happy with how it went, especially because we only trained for 9 weeks and Eric was brand new to this distance.

Post Half

It was a great race and after a little hiatus, we signed up for another one this April! We are already so much faster starting out so I’m expecting some significant PRs in our future.

 

How has your training evolved over time?

 


All of this is based off of my personal experience as I don’t have any formal training to instruct others. If you are working towards a fitness goal, just be mindful of what tactics seem to work and if anything has changed since you started. Being adaptable is a great way to get the most out of you training and in general, your life.

What is Old is New Again

Usually my posts are all about nutrition, fitness and health.  Well for a bit of a change I wanted to share one of the projects I have done for the house! I love working with my hands and it is so fun to have an real reason to get crafty.  I actually have a space to put everything when its done.

When we first moved into our house, it became painfully clear that we lacked certain essentials.  A kitchen table for instance.  Or chairs. We didn’t have a single chair.  We ended up with 4 couches (people love giving away couches) but that was the only place to sit.  Honestly, we are pretty easy going people when it comes to this stuff so we decided to take our time and buy what was right, rather than running out and spending a fortune on stuff just to fill the space.

One day I came home and Eric had bought us a BEAUTIFUL cherry dinning room table.  It had a great finish and color and he got it second hand so it was a steal. There are a couple of dings but they don’t bother us at all. The next weekend we went out and picked up 4 chairs for $10 a piece (Good Will baby!). As they were, they weren’t what we wanted exactly, so we got to work.

Chair
I forgot to take a “before” picture of the chair but the pine color is what they came as originally.

Step 1: Sand down the chairs.  They had a coat of polyurethane so we used sand paper to rough it up so new paint would stick. If you have access to an power sander, I would highly recommend it.  Getting every nook and cranny by hand took a couple hours and gets very tiring.

Step 2: Spray paint! We decided a white would look best to give the kitchen a bright, clean vibe.  It doesn’t exactly match the table but we decided that it “goes”.  And we usually have a table cloth on anyways to protect the wood.  I would recommend using a semi-gloss paint.  At first we used regular white paint that had an eggshell finish, what you would normally use for walls and it came out a little flat and dull.  We ended up doing about 2 coats per and that seems to be plenty.

Chair 2
Drying in our basement. Make sure to have some airflow to help it dry and prevent the painter from getting woozy.

Once they were dry, we decided to take this refinishing to the next level and add padded seats.  At first it seemed really intense but it was actually pretty easy.

Step 3: Remove the seats.  We were able to just unscrew them.

Step 4: Cut a piece of foam to the shape of the chair.  We used 1 inch thickness but this is variable based on how cushy you want it.  After you place your foam, take a sheet of batting and wrap it over.  Use a big peace as it is easy to trim later.

Step 5: Cover with your fabric.  Make sure to choose something that has some durability.  Fabric stores will likely have it labeled or you can always ask.  For this step, I would recommend 2 set of hands.  Have one person line everything up and keep it taught while the other uses a staple gun to secure the fabric on the bottom side of the seat.  Make sure to go far enough in so there are clean edges when you reattach the seat.  We bought furniture tacks but the stable gun was so much easier.  We went back later and used to the tacks to reinforce the fabric while the stables did the heavy lifting.

Chair 3
Finished product!

And there you have it! We did this over the course of a couple days, sanding one day and then doing the rest later on.  I am so happy we took this route.  Before we got these, we did actually go to IKEA just to check it out.  The only chairs that we were interested in that didn’t look like they belonged in a dorm were about $90 each!  I didn’t keep track of the cost of this project but I have a feeling that supplies were around, if not under $100.  We did have to make a couple trips out to get more paint and fabric.  Even if we went a bit over, we still came in way under buying new.

By doing it this way, we not only saved money, but we got to make custom furniture and now have something that is truly “us”.  We made them together which was also a fun bonding experience. We also got to re-purpose old chairs, reducing waste overall.  Now that I think of it, all of our furniture is actually used/antique.  It gives the house a bit of charm.

If you are debating whether or not to try a big project, just go for it! Definitely search for some how to’s to get tips and guidance, but you might as well give it a try.  You may just end up with something you love that you had a good time making.

What has been your favorite home improvement or craft project?

Getting your Fruits and Vegetables Into your Daily Routine

So now that you know how many servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day, what now?  If you have a very low intake, it may seem like a huge change to meet the recommendations.  As with everything I recommend, lots of small changes can make a large challenge manageable.  Here are my favorite ways to add produce into your daily routine.

box-of-fruit-and-vegetablesPack your Lunch

This is probably my most used method of controlling what I eat.  When I do get too busy or just forget to bring lunch with me, I am reminded that my alternatives are so sub par.  At my job I can pretty much get a burger, sandwich, pizza or other equally less healthy option.  I can drive to the grocery store for the salad bar, but am inundated with mac and cheese, fried chicken, more pizza, and other high calorie options.  Not only is buying a lunch typically lead to more calories and end up costing more, but 90% of the options don’t include a full serving of fruit or vegetable (no that slice of tomato doesn’t count).  For some guidance, check out my previous post here.  Include 1 fruit and 1 vegetable and you are almost halfway there for the day!

Packed lunchKeep a Stash

Where ever you are, have a serving handy.  This means at work, at home or in your car.  One way to do this is to pick up a bag of apples, baby carrots and hummus or a basket of clementines and keep them in the work fridge.  When I need a snack or need to round out my lunch, I can just grab one.  Easy peas-y.  You can also use more portable options like individual applesauce or fruit cups/pouches as well as dried fruit like raisins or apricots and keep them in your car.  When  you hit a batch of traffic and the roadside fast food starts looking tempting, you will have a healthful option at your fingertips.  And honestly, it has been so cold in the New England area, that you could probably leave fresh produce in the car too (obviously not a year round option).  You also may want to keep a fruit basket on the counter at home.  It makes the fruit visible and appealing.

Fruit basket
This is basket we have at home. It prevents the bananas from getting squished and you can also monitor their ripeness if you buy them a little green.

Shift your Thinking

Traditionally, we think about building our meals around the protein source.  Chicken for dinner! Steak for dinner! Fish for dinner! There is so much emphasis on these foods that everything else seems secondary.  Try putting the focus on the vegetable and plan around that.  Decide that tonight you want cauliflower for dinner.  Pick a recipe and then select what goes best with it.  This will make sure the vegetable is never forgotten.  It will also make you more likely to try preparing your vegetables in an exciting way that will make them more appealing in the future.  For example you can make mashed cauliflower, cauliflower tots, curried cauliflower, Parmesan roasted cauliflower, buffalo cauliflower…you get the point.  they don’t just have to be steamed or boiled.  Make them exciting.

Pinterest is your friend when exploring new recipes.
Pinterest is your friend when exploring new recipes.

Every time you Eat is an Opportunity

Each meal, each snack has the potential to get a serving in.  If you shoot to have a fruit or vegetable every time you eat, even if you don’t always succeed, you are making great progress.  Add berries to your morning yogurt or include spinach and mushrooms with your eggs.  Homemade kale chips or a bunch of grapes make a great snack.  Having a salad with both fruit and vegetables can be a satisfying lunch as an entree or side.  Experiment with fun vegetable recipes for dinner and have some cherries with a dollop of whipped cream for dessert.

Try adopting 1 or 2 changes at a time and see how it can be so easy to have all your fruit and vegetable servings if you pay attention to your intake and have a little planning.

How do you make sure you eat enough of the good stuff? Favorite recipes welcome!

Holy Snow Batman!

If you live in New England, you were probably just hit by a giant bucket of snow.  As a kid, your first thought was “SNOOOWWW DAAAAAY!!!!! I’m gonna go sledding, and have a snow ball fight and….who wants to build a snow maaaaaan???”

As an adult and home owner, my first thought was “SNOOWWWW DAAAAAYYY!!! Oh wait, I have to move all of this.  This is MY responsibility.”  Adulthood.  It happens to the best of us.  So I thought about it and realized that this was still a good opportunity.  The husband and I got out there, him manning the snow blower (a necessity in Connecticut) and I with my shovel and broom.  Together we spent the morning clearing out the driveway, porch, deck and made a path through the back yard to get access to our well and garage. It actually wasn’t too bad and as a bonus, we got our physical activity in!  It can be hard work moving snow.  This storm was about a foot:

IMG_0848 IMG_0849 IMG_0835 IMG_0837 IMG_0838 IMG_0845 IMG_0843Now in general, the bitter cold and snow can be a MAJOR exercise deterrent.  Running or even just taking the dog for a walk now has mountains of new obstacles.  Getting out to the gym or a class can also seem daunting.  What is important to remember is that even if your normal activities are no longer weather appropriate, you can still stay fit and have fun.  Shift your thinking and focus on seasonal activities.  Now I know that snow removal although seasonal, is not fun.  Instead think about all those things you enjoyed as a kid.  Get together with friends and have a massive snow ball fight.  You will be puffing by the end with a giant smile on your face.  Sledding is another classic.  You wont even mind running up the hills!

This past weekend, we embraced the cold weather.  Growing up, my husband and his family would play pond hockey together.  We planned it out and had everyone all set.  And then it snowed the day before. 😦 Did that stop us? Please.  We are New Englanders!  The ice was thick enough so we went out onto the pond the day before with the snow blower (I’m telling you, its amazing!) and shovel and we cleared a rink for the boys to play hockey and then an outer circle for the less talented skaters (ahem, me and the children).  The next day the ice was ready for us.

IMG_2408We kicked off the day bright and early around 10, skated all morning and then had a nice batch of home made crock pot chili (recipe coming soon!).  Everyone playing hockey was playing all out.  Some of them had been avid hockey players when they were younger and some were just beginners.  It was really fun to watch because even the newbies were having a good time.  My friend Meagan and I skated around the outer loop chatting and watching, getting our bearings.  We also each grabbed an extra stick to use for balance.  I would highly recommend this strategy for individuals who are not confident on skates.  It gives you such a sense of security and if you actually do start to fall, you can absolutely catch yourself.  By taking the stress out, you can enjoy yourself longer.

The day was a blast and didn’t really feel like exercise.  That night and the next day, however, we all felt it.  2+ hours of continuous skating engages so many muscles and really makes your body work.  It felt a lot like post skiing (another activity to embrace), that really satisfying wiped feeling.  I didn’t get too many photos but we had a beautiful day.

What winter activities do you look forward to?

Are you Getting Enough Fruits and Veggies?

A lot of people may think they get enough fruit and veggies over the day, but they may fall short of the recommendations.  To start off, what are the recommendations? In general, the more produce the better, but check these charts for your age and sex to get specific recommendations.

Daily Fruit Needs
Image from http://choosemyplate.gov/
Daily Vegetable Needs
Image from http://choosemyplate.gov/

These recommendations are pretty clear by putting them into “cups” rather than a number of servings.  However, there are 2 exceptions.  When it comes to dried fruit 1/2 a cup counts as a full cup.  The volume is smaller just because they are dehydrated, but they retain their nutrition.  The second difference is with leafy green vegetables.  This includes lettuce, spinach, kale and other salad mixes.  Because they are so light, 2 measured cups equals a cup serving.  Use the below images that I got from PopSugar to help you visualize your actual needs.  It may not be as daunting as  you think,

Fruit ServingFruit Servings 3 Fruit Serving 2

I couldn’t find similar images of vegetables but just grab some measuring cups and measure it out.

If these charts and images make you realize that your intake is on the low side, you are in good company.  The CDC conducted a study and found that on average, only 32.5% of Americans meet their needs for fruit and only 26.3% meet their vegetable needs.  These numbers have actually gotten worse since 2000.  Statistically, the highest intake is found in women, adults over 65, and in those with a college degree.  Surprisingly, fruit intake is very similar across income brackets (vegetable intake is highest in those with salaries above $50,000).  This shows that social factors and education may be more important than income.

But you may ask, why is it important?  Well for your personal health, it is probably the best thing you can do.  Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in salt, fat, and calorie making it easier to lose weight or stay where you are.  It has also been shown that a diet high in produce can reduce your risk for heart disease, certain cancers, stroke, lower your blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and kidney stones.  They are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, water, and phytonutrients.  All of these are critically important for your body to function properly and at its highest level.

Keep your eyes peeled for a follow up post on how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily life.

Do you struggle with your produce intake?

How to Stay Hydrated Without Really Trying

Keeping hydrated is something that people talk about a lot during the summer.  Its hot, we sweat and a tall glass of water is incredibly appealing.  But it is just as important in the winter and is frequently overlooked as an important area of well being.  According to a study by the University of New Hampshire, we are prone do dehydration in the winter about the same as in hot weather.  A lot of water is lost simply through breathing and perspiration.  We may think that these losses are low, but we sweat under our layers and when the air is very dry, water evaporates quickly.

Being in cold weather also affects our ability to regulate fluid balance in an attempt to conserve heat.  This means that when we are dehydrated, our body does not release a hormone that triggers thirst in addition to not conserving water in the kidneys, increasing water loss.  Since our body is not automatically correcting, we need to be more conscious about our fluid intake.  Incorporate these strategies the help prevent dehydration which can result in dry mouth, sleepiness, headaches, dry skin, constipation and dizziness.

Keep Water Available

If you don’t have any water, you aren’t going to drink it.  Keep a bottle in your car, on your desk, or by your bed.  This way when you do get thirsty it is nice and easy.  It also serves as a physical reminder that you should have something.  Even casually sipping over the day can result in an improved intake.

Drink with Meals

Always have a glass when you eat.  This may also be a helpful strategy if you are trying to cut calories.  It slows down your eating, helps you feel full sooner and eases digestion.  You need enough fluid in your body to have comfortable bowel movements as too little can lead to constipation. Having a glass with meals also gives you 3 structured opportunities each day to help out your hydration.

Use a straw

They help you drink much faster, leading to a larger volume.  It is common advice to avoid straws when drinking alcohol because of this.  Due to the mindless-ness of the act, it wont feel like a chore and  you can empty a water bottle pretty quickly.  It also makes drinking in the car easier and less prone to spillage.

2015-01-12 14.45.23

Drink Alternative Beverages

In general water is best.  It is certainly better than soda or juice for hydration, but it is not the only option.  Many people are so bored with water the thought of drinking 8 glasses a day is such an imposition.  Unsweetened hot or iced tea is a wonderful alternative as it has frequently been linked to its own health benefits.  They also come in a wide range of flavors.  Pay attention to caffeine intake and drink throughout the day.  You can also infuse water produce or herbs.  Cucumbers, mint, berries and watermelon all make great, refreshing water that are almost calorie free.  Just put your desired flavoring agents in a jug of water overnight and enjoy the next day.

2015-01-12 14.45.28

Don’t forget about Exercise

Anytime you work out, remember you are losing water.  Even light yoga or weight lifting should have you pre and re-hydrating.  Have a glass before you work out and keep a bottle on you during.  Exercise may trigger your thirst so embrace it.  In addition to being healthful, it can also prevent dangerous situations.  Dehydration can cause dizziness, being light headed, and having reduced coordination.  All of these can lead to serious injury if you are active – think dropping  your weight, falling on a treadmill or blowing out a joint due to poor form.

Track It

You never really know how much you drink throughout the day if you don’t pay attention to it.  Physically tracking it, at least initially, can clue you in to whether or not you are meeting your needs.  There are a ton of different methods you can try.  If you track your food intake in a written food journal or online, just add in all of your beverages as well.  If you carry a water bottle with you and refill it during the day, keep a sticky note by you and make a tally mark every time you finish a bottle.  Or you can per-portion all of your water for the day and when its done, you know that you have reached your goal.waterbottle

What do you do to keep hydrated?

Fitness In the Office

So its the new year and you want to jump start your fitness routine.  Maybe you want to join a gym or a studio, or start training for a race or event.  All of those are excellent goals! Sometimes though, our resolutions fizzle and we realize we don’t have actually have the time, money or motivation to dedicate to those kinds of large scale interventions.  If you need alternatives to these big commitments, I have you covered.

Don’t worry that you aren’t doing something big enough.  With the new year everyone wants to go all out.  Just remember, if you can do the small thing all year but can only go gangbusters for a month, slow and steady may win this race.  Here are a bunch of small tricks that can add up to help you get moving in 2015

Look at your commute.

See if you have any places you can make adjustments.  Check out how I built 60 minutes of activity into my daily routine.

Train CollageBe inefficient. 

What? Someone of German decent advocating being wasteful?  The way most of our life is structured is to do the fastest thing.  Drive. Send an email.  Have a video conference instead of a meeting.  We are all about doing the least amount to get the most time/benefit.  This leads us to sit. All. Day. Long.  Analyze your work environment and see where you can make some adjustments.  Try walking over to a colleges office to discuss an issue rather than sending an email.  Offer to walk across the street to get the morning coffee. Round everyone up for a meeting by physically going to each office.This actually makes you more personable as well so 2 birds, one stone.

Plan fitness breaks.

This is actually good for productivity and morale.  Make a schedule, something like every hour get up from your chair and stretch or take a lap for as long as you can.  Obviously office culture dictates whether you can take off for 15 minutes or if more than 3 will get you in trouble.  Even if you take 1 minute every hour is better than nothing and it may be enough to loosen you up.  And think about it; do your coworkers get to leave for a smoke break? If so, think about taking advantage of that time do something positive for your health.  And don’t forget, you can always dance! Play a song or two on your computer or iPod and boogie.  Its fun and you may get an office mate to join in with you.

Dancing 2
Me and some old co-workers during lunch, inspired by the Olympics.
Dancing
And who says you need a partner?

Embrace lunch time.

There is so much that you can do at lunch.  If you have the space, bring a yoga mat or some small weights and stash them in your office.   Then commit 10 or 15 minutes to a light work out.  Basic Pilates, yoga or weight training are all possible at the office.  You can try and listen to a yoga podcast to guide or you go free-form.  You can also try some of these moves:

  • Calf raises – While standing, rise up onto  your tippy toes. Hold for a second or 2 and then come back down to flat feet.
  • Bicep Curls – Use weights or a full water bottle
  • Triceps Extensions
  • Squats – Safety tip: never let your knees go in front of your toes.  Focus on sitting back, not necessarily sitting down.
  • Push ups – Feel free to start on your knees for an easier modification
  • Sit ups
  • Lunges
  • Planks – Hold it as long as you can and gradually work your way up to 30 seconds or a minute
  • Leg extensions – While sitting in your chair, slowly  bring one or both legs up so they are parallel to the floor, then bring down with control

A good flow is to do an exercise 10-15 times in a row, rest and then repeat the series 2 more times.

If you don’t have the space to really spread out, consider doing a couple flights of stairs while you wait for your lunch to microwave or coffee to brew.  You can also walk to a local restaurant to pick up lunch rather than driving.

Own It

Have confidence and just go for it.  You may feel silly at first. Don’t let it limit you.  If you want to make fitness a priority, your attitude can take you a long way.  Sticking out at the office may not be your favorite thing to do, but if you think about it, you would be sticking out for a very positive reason.  It may also encourage your co-workers to follow suit.  I walk to work, take stretching and fitness breaks and talk about my fitness tracker all day long.  Now 2 of my coworkers (30% of the office) have followed suit.  One keeps sneakers in her office to walk during lunch and another just purchased her first FitBit.  If you own your health you wont be silly and you may become a trendsetter.

own it
You can do it!

Use these suggestions as a guide and analyze your work environment to see how you can make healthy changes.

How do you work fitness into your work day?

Back in time for the New Year

I’m baaaaaacck!  So it has in fact been a very long time since my last post.  This past year has been incredibly busy so blogging took a back seat.  Well as the new year approaches and everyone starts thinking about ways to improve themselves, I decided to get back to blogging.  I really missed the outlet of writing and I find doing posts keeps me sharp and current on different nutrition and fitness trends/research.  So look forward to more frequent posts in 2015!

To tide you over, here is a little bit about my life in the past year:

I bought a house!

2014-06-06 06.08.25 2014-06-06 06.08.12 2014-06-06 06.07.42 2014-06-06 06.07.04   2014-05-06 08.38.54And I got married! All wedding photos were taken by Robyn Blasi Photography.  We are currently her featured wedding so go to her website to check out more photos.

we-53 we-62 we-131we-398 we-193 we-199  we-400 we-442 we-456  we-464 we-484(1)  we-488  we-661 we-680 we-709 we-720 we-787 we-837 we-861Enjoy the pictures and stay tuned for more health and fitness posts from The Baier Necessities!!!