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Eating Healthy and Exercising On-the-Go

10 Jun

It’s not always convenient to fit eating healthy and exercising into your day. Especially when you’re traveling or just really busy. When you’re short on time (and exhausted) it can be tempting to skip the gym and head to one of the closest fast food restaurants in the area for a quick and easy meal. Admittedly, sometimes this is the best option in a bind, but make a habit of it and your waistline is going to expand. And fast.

Personally, I’ve been pretty busy lately. We’ve been out-of-town the past three weekends, in addition to preparing for a cross-country move. A bit overwhelming at times! I can more than relate to just how difficult it can be to find the time to fit exercising into an already packed schedule. And to work up the energy to make a healthy lunch and dinner.

Here’s a few tips to keep eating healthy and exercising, even when it’s a whole lot easier not to:

  • Schedule Your Workouts: At the beginning of the week take note of the days you’re free to workout at your normal time. If your availability doesn’t equal an adequate amount of exercising time for the week, get creative! If you normally workout in the evenings, wake up early and go for a morning run. It’ll be rough rousing yourself out of bed early, but trust me, you won’t regret it.

  • Work Exercise Into Your Day: If crafty scheduling still isn’t cutting it to get your normal workouts in, you can always find fun little alternative ways to fit exercise into your day. Last weekend my husband and I were in NYC and instead of working out in the gym, we went for a bike ride around the perimeter of Central Park. So fun! I also love to go outside for lunchtime walks. Sure, it’s not the greatest calorie burner ever, but it’s something. And it pulls me away from the glare of my computer screen for awhile. Total bonus!

I hadn't been on a bike since I was about 11 or 12. The first few minutes of the ride were interesting, the rest were fun!

Biking in Central Park was  a great way to get our daily exercise in.

  • Prepare Healthy Food in Advance: Sometimes you really won’t have time to cook dinner or pack a healthy lunch for work. Combat this problem with a little advance planning. If you know you have a crazy week ahead of you, spend an hour on Sunday making dinner for the week, putting individual portions in freezable containers. Quick, easy, and healthy!

It can be tempting to opt for fast food restaurants and declare an exercising ban when you’re really super busy, but well, just don’t. Healthy food doesn’t typically come from restaurants where employees wear funny little hats. Eating healthy and working out shouldn’t be an option, it should be your way of life!

Need Friday Night Date Ideas? Try Working Out Together!

20 May
If you live near the beach, jogging together should already be on your list of date ideas!

Live near the water? What could be better than a Friday evening jog on the beach?

I rarely workout on Fridays, which is ironic as it’s typically one of my “fatter” days of the week. Friday night is a fun time to relax with my husband and maybe some friends, so clearly I’m not too keen on welcoming the weekend by spending time at the gym by myself. One could argue that nothing is stopping me from getting up early and exercising before work, nothing that is besides my love of sleep and the desire not to be a cranky beast to everyone I come in contact with during the day. Thank me later people.

Living in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA doesn’t really offer much along the lines of scenic, fun outdoor activity. In fact, I would guess that the majority of our Friday evenings are either too cold to be doing anything outside or involve some sort of dreadful precipitation falling from the sky. Yuck. Luckily this is not always the case.

A few weeks ago we were “kicked out” of our house for an hour on a Friday evening. My first thought was to go get drinks somewhere, but then my husband, knowing my love for healthy date ideas, came up with this fantastic idea — going to the park for a jog! It was a nice day out and were planning to stuff ourselves with takeout from our favorite Thai place for dinner, so why not negate some of those calories beforehand? Brilliant!

We had so much fun with that jog (and felt so utterly superior) afterwards that we decided to do it again the next week. To switch our route up, we drove to a neighboring town, and my husband mapped a little route for us to jog using Map My Run.

Of course it’s pretty impossible to commit to Friday evening jogs every weekend. When the weather acts up or if we’re planning to meet up with friends or go out to dinner or something, it’s not always possible to fit it into the plan, and that’s okay. It’s just nice to have a fun little workout to add to our list of Friday night date ideas, when we don’t have anything else going on.

Why a Lack of Sleep Can Plump You Up

12 Jul

Create a relaxing environment to avoid being victimized by lack of sleep.

No one enjoys suffering from lack of sleep. In fact, no one really enjoys even being around someone who is suffering from a lack of sleep. Not getting enough rest can make you cranky, irritable, unproductive, and can even cause weight gain. Yuck!

If you don’t believe me that a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, consult  Self Magazine. According to them, enduring just two consecutive sleepless nights can mess your metabolism up, by stimulating hunger and lowering levels of hormones that tell you to stop eating. Self Magazine also states that  lack of sleep leads to insulin resistance, which interferes with the way that your metabolism processes fat, leading to weight gain.

So, does anyone else feel like this explains their behavior spot on when suffering from lack of sleep? Although I typically prefer healthy foods to well err anything else, when I’m tired I often crave super fatty things. I’m glad to see there’s an actual scientific reason to support my disinterest in healthy foods when I’m tired. But still, scientific reasoning or not, a lack of sleep is not a good excuse to host your own personal fat fest.

Tips to Avoid Weight Gain From Lack of Sleep:

  • Stock your cabinets with only healthy foods. If the junk food isn’t there, you can’t binge eat it.
  • Relax an hour before bedtime. Turn off the tv, pull yourself away from Facebook and take a bubble bath with a good book to unwind.
  • Think before you eat. When you eat something that doesn’t fit into the “healthy foods” category, you know you’re being naughty! Instead of impulsively grabbing a bag of Doritos off the shelf and shoving them in your face, take a moment to think about how this decision will impact your ability to fit into your pants. Then promptly remove the bag from your piggy little paws.

Practicing Healthy Living by Getting a Physical Exam

18 Jun

After reading my blog for 30 seconds, any genius could tell that I’m a huge fan of healthy living. I follow a healthy diet and exercise like a lunatic. I think this alone is pretty good, but I recently decided to take my healthy living one step further and get a physical exam from an actual primary care physician. (Don’t hide it, I know you’re impressed with my very adult-like responsibility).

I guess you could say I get a mini physical exam in the conference room at work each year, to save money on health insurance premiums (way less creepy than it sounds, but yes, I really will do anything to save money). In this annual screening, health stats such as cholesterol, blood pressure, height and weight are checked to make sure you’re generally in good shape. My love for this service is typically perceived as odd, but whatever, I’m not ashamed to admit it, I love a good free health checkup.

Anyways, until recently I haven’t had a primary care physician since high school. I’m fortunate enough not to get sick very often and when I do I either go to MedExpress or just ride the wave until it passes. My boyfriend recently did a little research to find a good primary care physician in our area and went in for a checkup. Hearing about his visit inspired me to find a primary care physician too, because although worksite wellness screenings are cool, they really don’t take the place of having an actual primary care physician check you out. And in order to retain my self-described designation of the queen of healthy living, I felt it was necessary to actually have a doctor.

The Physical Exam

Since I haven’t had a primary care physician for like 10 years, I was pretty nervous before my physical exam. You might say I’m a bit of a hypochondriac (during the winter I had itchy legs for a few days, consulted Dr. Google and afterwards was genuinely afraid for a good half a day that I had Hodgkin’s Disease or Lymphoma), so I came up with all sorts of crazy scenarios in my head of what would be involved in this process.

So as it turns out, a physical exam is not a big deal at all, especially compared with a trip to the lady doc. My new primary care physician, that’s right I have a doctor now, was super nice. We discussed my family medical history, he asked me a bunch of questions, felt me up in a few places and a little blood was drawn. It was that simple. This may not be normal, but I swear, I actually had a good time at my physical exam! And I was diagnosed as being in perfect health! Yay!

Moral of the Story

You should follow a healthy diet. You should exercise regularly. And you should go get a physical exam at least once every few years. This is a great preventative health measure to ensure that you’re really doing everything you can to promote your own wellbeing.

Have a Case of Too Low Cholesterol? Drink Wine & Eat Chocolate!

30 Apr

Having low cholesterol levels is supposed to be a good thing, right? Until recently, I had never heard of having too low cholesterol levels… until I was told that mine is too low.

Each year I get a health screening at work, mostly because I’m really cheap and this allows me to pay less for insurance, but also because I sincerely love to brag about my impressive health stats! If I can’t use them to back up my bizarre eating habits and workout schedule, then well I’m no longer weird and healthy, but just plain weird. Not cool!

I have 'medical reasons' to drink wine and eat dark chocolate.

Understanding Low Cholesterol Levels

Until I found out about my too low cholesterol, I didn’t even know what numbers were added together to create your total cholesterol level. For any of you out there who are clueless like I was, your cholesterol is composed of your HDL (good), LDL (bad), and triglyceride levels. According to my insurance company, too low cholesterol is anything less than 125 mg/dL, while the American Heart Association, says anything greater than 200 mg/dL is too high. Here’s ranges defined by the AHA:

  • Low HDL (in an unflattering way)
    • Less than 40 mg/dL (for men)
    • Less than 50 mg/dL (for women)
    • High HDL (in a flattering way)
      • 60 mg/dL and above
      • LDL
        • Less than 100 mg/dL (Optimal)
        • 100 to 129 mg/dL (Near or above optimal)
        • 130 to 159 mg/dL (Borderline high)
        • 160 to 189 mg/dL (High)
        • 190 mg/dL and above (Very high)
        • Triglycerides*
          • Less than 150 mg/dL (Normal)
          • 150-199 mg/dL (Borderline high)
          • 200-499 mg/dL (High)
          • 500 mg/dL and up (Very high)
            *Meditec also says that levels shouldn’t go below 40 mg/dL for men and 35 mg/dL for women.

Truth be told, I was actually only one measly point under the normal range for cholesterol, but still, that’s not good enough! So I immediately turned to Google to look for healthy ways to raise cholesterol. Surprisingly there really wasn’t much information out there. Most of my searches for “having too low cholesterol” just produced results for ways to lower your cholesterol. Helpful.

Foods That Can Help Raise Cholesterol

At least year’s screening my HDL (good) cholesterol was too low, which can be caused by being a carb monger. So over the past year I’ve really, really, really cut back on the amount of carbs I was eating, to try and bring it up. That worked, but apparently I also cut out too much fat during this process. Oops.

After some tedious Googling, I finally found some articles with tips on raising too low cholesterol, in a low-carb manner. Some of the foods I found that can help to raise cholesterol in a healthy way are:

  • Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Red wine (1-2 glasses per day)
  • Salmon
  • Dark chocolate

So, now I have a legit medical reason to eat dark chocolate and drink wine everyday. Not bad!

How to Deal with Stress (Like a Sane Person)

26 Apr

Unwind from a stressful day with a nice, warm bubble bath.

There’s no way around it, stress sucks! Whether you’re trying to figure out how to deal with stress caused by your boss (who has horns and carries a pitchfork), late mortgage payments, or a huge fight with your best friend, it’s definitely no fun.

A lot of people think managing stress involves eating greasy, sugary, unhealthy foods and yelling at people. If this is how you find stress relief, then congratulations — you’re a big, fat meanie (quite literally)!

There are many healthy ways to find stress relief that don’t involve getting fat or being mean. Managing stress in a positive way can help you to stay calm, cool, and relaxed — even when life throws a few really sour lemons your way.

How to Deal with Stress in a Positive Way:

  • Workout Like a Manic: When I’m in need of some stress relief, I’ve found the best way to channel my aggression is to take it out on a cardio machine. Typically I’m not much of a runner, but when I’m super stressed, spending a little time on the treadmill is crazy therapeutic! Not only am I able to clear my head during a mega workout, I also feel great about all the calories I just burned when I’m finished. Double win!
  • Take a Bubble Bath: Dim the lights, get a good book, and relax in a sea of nice, warm bubbles. Afterall, there’s few things in life more calming than a bubble bath.
  • Do Something Nice: Typically the last thing you want to do when you’re super agitated and annoyed is to be pleasant to anyone or anything that crosses your path. Surprisingly though, doing something nice for someone else can really help with managing stress levels.  I’ve found that when I’m cranky, I instantly feel better after complimenting someone. For bonus points, try to genuinely mean it when you express this flattering remark.
  • Distract Yourself: Find stress relief by entertaining yourself with something that you actually like. Read a book, watch your favorite television show, plant some herbs in your garden, or whatever else floats your boat. Doing something that makes you happy is bound to help you feel better.
  • Take a Walk: Sometimes people can be really annoying (and some people are just always annoying), so that’s why sometimes it’s best to go for a walk to clear your head when you’re feeling stressed. Temporarily removing yourself from the situation will help you to calm down and gain a little prospective (read: keep you from behaving like a crazy person).

If Your Into Cigarette Smoking Don’t Douse Yourself in Gasoline

23 Mar

As cheap, health conscious weirdo, who also happens to be afraid of fire, it’s no shocker that I’m not a fan of cigarette smoking. I cannot even begin to comprehend why anyone in modern life would pick up this nasty habit, when everyone knows what the effects of smoking will do to you. Back in the Mad Men era, people like Don Draper weren’t aware of the harmful effects of smoking (Yes, I am insinuating that Mad Men is real. Please don’t tell me otherwise.), so at least they had an excuse.

Thanks to an unfortunate incident with a gas pump the other day, I can add yet another reason for why I’m grateful that I’m not a smoker to the list. Here’s what went down:

I was putting gas in my car, and when it was all filled up I pulled the pump out. Standard procedure. What I wasn’t expecting was the stream of gas that shot up from the pump, right into my eye, my leg, my foot and some of my dress. AHHH! Thankfully I had a water bottle with me to wash my eye out, and then I hightailed it home, before the gas could cause me to spontaneously combust. Trust me, it’s pretty scary to drive home after you’ve doused yourself in gasoline. Especially when you’re afraid of fire.

As I approached my neighborhood, I remembered that some of my trashier neighbors love to do their cigarette smoking in front of their houses, even though we all have private back patios. Although I appreciate getting the opportunity to walk through their clouds of cigarette smoke on a normal day, I panicked about what could happen if I had to walk through them covered in gasoline. BOOM! Thankfully the coast was clear for me to run inside, strip off my highly flammable clothing, and take a nice, hot shower.

In case you ever spill gas on your clothes, you'll need baking soda, baby oil and white vinegar.

In case you ever spill gas on your clothes, you'll need baking soda, baby oil and white vinegar to get it out (and to clean your washing machine afterwards).

Moral of the Story: Cigarette smoking could cause you to explode if you ever accidentally douse yourself with gasoline. So don’t smoke. If you’re already a smoker, stop now!