Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Five: Five Keys to Health

A few months ago, my BodyPump instructor shared something with us during a stretch break that made me think.  She listed five things that are equally important in creating a healthy lifestyle.  I wanted to share those things with you today, including some research I did regarding these five keys to health (and some of my own opinions, too!).
I think we all know that exercise is a big key to overall health!  The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week AND muscle-strengthening workouts that hit all major muscle groups 2 or more days each week.  I'm sure that seems very overwhelming for someone who doesn't exercise regularly, but the Harvard School for Public Health has some great tips for incorporating exercise easily into your daily life (the CDC article I linked has some great tips, too!).  Some things I like to keep in mind when incorporating exercise:
  • Make it fit for your schedule.  If that means breaking your aerobic exercise up in to 10-minute chunks, then do it!
  • Do something YOU love for exercise.  I like to run, but that's not for everyone.  Some people like spin class, but I don't really like it that much.  If you don't enjoy what you do to exercise, then you won't do it!  Find what you enjoy and do that instead of trying to do what everyone else is doing.
  • PLAN to exercise.  When I have a workout written down in my planner, I am so much more likely to do it.  Also, I often have a gym bag in the car with gym clothes even on days I don't plan on heading straight to the gym.  That helps if I have some extra time between appointments and can get in a quick workout.
  • Ask for help if you don't know how to do something, particularly for strength training!  Correct form is so, so important for your muscle growth and, more importantly, for your safety!  I started strength training with a personal trainer and BodyPump classes, and then when I felt comfortable, I started doing it on my own.

Obviously, a healthy diet is certainly a key to health!  If you're exercising but not eating right, then you aren't going to see the benefits.  There are so many different things you can read about what foods to eat, but here are some simple things about healthy foods:

  • The fresher, the better.  If you buy fresh foods and meats, you know exactly where the food came from and what's in it.  Processed/packaged foods can have so many ingredients that you can't even pronounce, and therefore who knows what they do to you!
  • Cut down on the red meat.  You often hear that red meat isn't very good for you.  Red meats are higher in fat.  Instead, try to incorporate more fish as protein.  Also, ground turkey is a great substitute for ground beef (and doesn't have too different of a taste, either!)
  • Watch the portions.  Portion control really is a problem in America, especially serving sizes of different parts of your meal.  This is the Healthy Eating Plate created by Harvard Health:
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     We should be eating a lot more vegetables and fruit and a lot fewer grains and protein than we currently do at each meal.
  • Calories come from liquids, too.  There are so many calories in the beverages we drink, so be aware of that when reaching for something other than water.  
UC-Berkeley released this article with 14 Keys to Healthy Eating.  They share some great tips for improving the health factor of our diets.
I feel like sleep is the first thing to go when trying to fit a bunch of stuff into a busy day.  But, sleep is so, so important to your overall health!  The National Sleep Foundation says there's no magic number for sleep, but adults should get in the range of 7-9 hours each night.  Other factors can affect that number, including the quality of the previous night's sleep and previous sleep deprivation.  Here are some tips for making sure you get enough sleep each night from the National Sleep Foundation:
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I find that I also have to turn off the electronics about 30 minutes before I plan to go to sleep.  Otherwise, social media is all I can think about, and I can't fall asleep right away!  Annette talked about that on her blog recently, and I have to agree that all this technology keeps us from resting when we need it.  If you're having trouble falling asleep right away, trying turning off the technology about 30 minutes before bed time and see if that helps!  It definitely helps me.
Of these five keys to health, I am the WORST at stretching.  It is so, so important for your body, though, and if you regularly stretch after exercising, you will notice a difference.  Some of the benefits of stretching include improved athletic performance, decreased risk of injury, increased flexibility and range-of-motion, and increased blood flow to the muscles (Source).
Image Source--and a great whole-body stretching routine!
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you stretch all major muscles groups 2-3 times a week.  It's also important to note that stretching before a workout can actually decrease athletic performance (particularly sprinting) since your muscles aren't warmed up yet.  If you're going to stretch before a workout, walk or lightly jog for 5-10 minutes to warm up, then stretch.  After a workout, though, seems to be the best time to stretch for maximum benefits.

If stretching bores you, try going to a yoga class once a week.  Also, if you got to a group exercise class, make sure to stick around for the cool-down/stretching at the end.  Both of these are great ways to ensure you are getting your stretching in for the week!
Now, THIS key to health is one that I'm good at--drinking water!  I think all of us have heard that we need to have 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day to total 64 ounces.  Well, more current research says from the Institute of Medicine says that women should have 91 ounces of fluid a day and men should have 125 ounces a day.  This includes water in our foods (about 25% of our daily water intake is from food) and beverages other than water.  I've also heard from other sources (like Advocare) that your daily water intake should be equal to half of your body weight (in ounces).  For example, a 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces of water a day.
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Of course, other things affect how much water you should be drinking each day.  Exercise, the climate, health conditions/medications, and pregnancy do require an increase in needed water intake each day (source).  It is possible to drink too much water, but the Mayo Clinic says that it is rare.  The best way to make sure you are getting enough water is to check your urine.  It should be a light yellow color, or almost clear.

How do I make sure to get in all my water each day?  I leave a water bottle on my desk at work and fill it up at least twice (minimum) during the day.  I also keep a cup for water near me.  I enjoy drinking water, but if you don't, here are some things that you can do to get yourself to drink more water:

  • Add a calorie-free flavor liquid.
  • Before bed, put fruit in a pitcher of water to infuse it with the flavor for the next day.
  • Drink a glass of water with each meal.
All five of these keys are vital in living a healthy life.  I know it's hard, but strive to make some healthy changes in your life to improve upon one of the keys you are lacking on.  I, personally, am doing well with drinking the recommended amount of water but need to work on sleeping and stretching more.

Question for you: Which of these keys are you great at already?  Which of these keys do you need to improve upon?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WIAW #39: Tasty Treats

Hey everyone!  How's your day going?  I'm doing much better today...yesterday I was a bit "under the weather" thanks to too much wine while watching The Bachelorette on Monday.  Whoops!  Good thing I had nothing to do on Tuesday.  

Today is going to be busy, though!  I have an all-day meeting to plan for a back-to-school workshop I'm running AND Joe and I have to pack for Chicago before we fly up there on Thursday.  I can't believe the ZOOMA Half Marathon is here already!  It feels like just yesterday that I won the entry to the race and started putting together my training plan.

ANYWAY...sorry for the rambling.  It's Wednesday, so that means that it's time for another edition of...

Today's WIAW post features some treats I've had over the last week.  Some of them are sweet treats, and some are just meals-I-don't-have-often-that-were-quite-a-treat!  So, without further ado, let's take a look!  

Thanks, as always, to Jenn of Peas and Crayons for the WIAW party!  Head on over to Jenn's blog to check out what other bloggers are eating and find out more about what What I Ate Wednesday is all about!

Sweet Frog's Watermelon Frozen Yogurt
While my mom was in town last week, we stopped by Sweet Frog for a sweet treat!  They had a watermelon fro-yo that I decided to mix with Vanilla, graham crackers, chocolate sprinkles, and some chocolate bark.  Yummy!  If you had a Sweet Frog near you, you NEED to try this watermelon flavor! It's so so good!

On-the-beach Ice Cream Bars
Mom and I are not ones to pass up ice cream, so when the ice cream truck drove by on Friday, we had to get some ice cream bars!  I got a Chipwich, and mom got a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar.  It was the perfect treat for a hot day on the beach.  Plus, I hadn't had a Chipwich in FOREVER, and I forgot how great they are.

Yogurt Bowls for Breakfast
I've been having yogurt bowls lately for breakfast, but they are quite a treat to me!  This vanilla Greek yogurt bowl has Apple Pie Oat Clusters from NatureBox mixed in, and it's a great mix of tasty, creamy, and a little crunch.  So good!

Freshly Caught-By-Us Scallops
On Monday night, I sauteed up the scallops we caught on Sunday, threw in some frozen shrimp, and put them over fettucini alfredo.  It was a really great dinner, and it was a nice treat to be eating something actually we caught ourselves!  I wish we had something like this for dinner every night!

I'd say that I've had some pretty great treats lately, both as meals and as dessert!  As I start work soon, I'm going to be working on eating a cleaner diet, so the sweet treats will have to be cut out...sad day :(  That's ok, though!  My waistline will appreciate that :)

Question for you: What's your go-to sweet treat?  What do you consider a treat at meal time?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reviews of Recent Reads

Hey everyone!  Anyone watch The Bachelorette finale last night?  I did!  As silly as it is to get so in to this show, I'm really happy for Andi and Josh!  I guess I'm a little partial to Josh since he's a UGA grad, and I married myself a UGA grad as well :)

Ok, let's get on to the ACTUAL post...

I usually share book reviews with y'all as soon as I finish reading a book, but the last one I did was way back in January!  I've definitely been reading since then, but I guess the books just haven't been worth talking about.  Well, on the last month, I've finished three books that I really, really liked, so let me share a short review about each of them.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
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There's been a lot of buzz about this book recently, so I was excited to check it out.  At first, I had a hard time getting in to it, but once I did, I pretty much flew through it!  There were quite a few things that I loved about this book.  First, the story is told from four different perspectives, and I always love to see the same events through different people's eyes in a novel!  Second, once the novel gets going, the book talks about the Holocaust and World War II.  I find this period in history fascinating, and I very much enjoyed this part of the book.  Last, the conclusion of the book was not exactly what I expected, but I was very pleased with it.  I don't like knowing what's going to happen throughout the story, and Jodi Picoult certainly threw a few curve balls in throughout the story.  I actually gasped out loud when I read the last 3 pages of the book!  

The Storyteller is a fantastic novel, but I will say it is not light reading.  It will really make you think, and parts are very sad.  BUT, I do recommend that you read it, especially if you like historical fiction or the World War II/Holocaust time period.

I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality Show Villain by Courtney Robertson
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On a COMPLETELY different page, if you like the TV series The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, then you will love this memoir by the winner of Ben's season of The Bachelor!  On the show, Courtney was depicted as the villain, and I wasn't too big of a fan of her while watching the show.  Her book details her life leading up the show, her experiences during filming, and her life and relationship with Ben after the show.  The book was incredibly interesting to me and very easy to read.  There are some juicy things that Courtney shares in the book, and she is also very vulnerable about her feelings and experiences with Ben and The Bachelor.  You have to read this if you like the show, especially if you watched Ben's season.  It was so interesting, and it really made me like and respect Courtney a whole lot more.

Bond Girl by Erin Duffy
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I read about this book from's book recommendation (she's my girl crush, and I'm not ashamed!), and I'm really glad that I did!  Bond Girl is a fictional novel that follows Alex, a recent Business grad from UVA (boooo), as she breaks in to the world trading bonds on Wall Street.  She has to find her way as a woman in a male-dominated field, and as she does, hilarity ensues.  This book just felt so real as I read it.  The things that happened and conversations that were had seemed so natural, which made the main character Alex so relatable.  Also, this book is actually LOL funny.  There were many times I found myself laughing out loud after a chapter.  There's also a bit of a twist in this book, which I always love in a novel.    If you're looking for some light, entertaining beach/pool reading, this book is definitely it!

Question for you: Have you read any of these books--if so, what did you think?  Any good book recommendations for me?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Time Weekend + ZOOMA Training Week 9

Good Monday morning, y'all!  Hope your week is off to a great start.  I have nothing on the agenda today (except for a workout), and I am totally OK with that after the weekend we had!  Let's jump on in, because there is a LOT of summer time fun to tell y'all about!

My mom got in to town on Wednesday, and we'd been spending lots of time together on the beach, talking, and eating!
We got out on the beach pretty early on Friday morning so that Joe could come with us before clinic.  It was a beautiful day but HOT, so we spent a fair amount of time in the water.
We walked for a bit on the beach, as well, before eating a lunch we'd packed.  We also got some ice cream from the ice cream truck that drove by on the beach, and I was so happy to get a Chipwich for the first time in a while!
We left the beach around 2:30, which was perfect timing as a storm rolled in right as we were walking into the house.  We spent the afternoon watching Frozen (Mom hadn't seen it before), and Tequila even joined in!
Once Joe got home, we ate dinner, then headed to church for a showing of the movie Heaven Is For Real.  Mom and I both read the book, and while they did deviate from the book a little bit, the movie was still really good.  It definitely makes you think!

Mom's flight home was around 11, so we spent the morning hanging out before dropping her off.  We had a great time with her :)  Afterward, Joe and I just kind of hung around the house before leaving for Tampa in the late afternoon.  I had a concert to go to, so Joe decided to go to the Tampa Bay Rays baseball game while I was at the show.  Him dropping me off/picking me up wound up working perfectly, since getting out of the parking lot afterward would have taken so, so long!

Anyway, the concert!  Back in January, I told you how excited I was for MONUMENTOUR featuring Fall Out Boy and Paramore.  Both bands have been my favorites for about 10 years now, so seeing them together was going to be EPIC!

The time finally came Saturday, so I headed to the amphitheater at the fairgrounds in Tampa for the show.  I LOVE going to concerts at these types of venues in the summer, since they're open-air and a great way to spend more time outside.  Even though it was insanely hot on Saturday night, I really enjoyed seeing this show at an amphitheater!
Sunset while Paramore plays?  Awesome!
Anyway, I was in the pit section, and I got a pretty good spot!  The opener was New Politics, and they were actually really good!  They opened for Fall Out Boy when I saw them last June, and the band has really grown since then.  Plus, back in my punk rock/emo phase, I would have been really in to the lead singer! ;)
After that, Paramore came out!!!  I'd seen them once before, so I knew the show was going to be great.
Paramore ROCKED!  They did play a lot of newer stuff, but it made me want to re-listen to those newer CDs of theirs.  Oh, and I still want to be Hayley Williams.
She has an amazing voice and can totally rock that outfit.  Oh man, so so good!
Then, Fall Out Boy came out!
This is my 11th time seeing them (I know, I know...kinda sad, but there are worse things to be spending money on), and being honest, it was not their best show.  Most of them (except Patick, the lead singer) just seemed bored the whole time.
I think this picture is proof--Pete usually smiles/rocks out the whole time during the shows.  I know it was hot, but we all paid to see a good show and were hot too.  It could be the fact that they played most of their newest CD which isn't really as much of a rock-out CD as their older stuff.  Needless to say, I was a little disappointed.  BUT I still enjoyed myself!
After the show, I went across the street to the WingHouse to wait for Joe to pick me up.  I met some people who went to the concert, and we had a good time chatting.  Joe got there, we ate a little snack, then drove up to Gainesville.  It was a late night, but we were excited for the next day!

After only 4 hours of sleep, we got up and met up with some of Joe's friends to go Scalloping!
Scalloping is another great summer time activity in Florida, since the scallop season starts on July 1st.  Basically, scalloping is a snorkeling Easter egg hunt.  You boat around in the Gulf looking for the right area for scallops, get a mask and snorkel, and swim around until you find them.  You then dive down to pick them up and put them in to a mesh bag while you look for more.
Joe and his friend Brent looking for scallops
They're hard to see, but you look for this under the water:
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When you catch enough, you clean them out and save the meat to eat later on!  At first, We had a hard time finding a good spot and spent a lot of time just boating around.
The group + me
Later on in the day, we found a BUNCH of scallops! I think I wound up bringing in around 30 at this one spot, and it was really a lot of fun.

After two pretty long days of summer fun, we got home late on Sunday night and just crashed.  It was a GREAT weekend though, so we were happily exhausted :)

ZOOMA Chicago Half Marathon Training Week 9
This week's training was a bit unconventional, but I did get workouts in!
Monday-15 minute run/incline walk + BodyPump
Tuesday-Bikram yoga
Wednesday-2 mile walk with Mom, Joe and Tequila
Thursday-2 mile walk with Mom, Joe and Tequila
Friday-2 mile walk with Mom, Joe and Tequila
Saturday-rest day/dancing at the concert
Sunday-Lots of swimming while scalloping
Sometimes, workouts are best done when they aren't specially workouts!  I really did get in some good exercise that wasn't just running.

This week is going to be a light running week/tapering.  I do have some strength workouts and yoga planned, but with the half marathon on Saturday, I want to keep my legs fresh.

Oh man, this wound up being a long post!  If you stayed with me the whole time, you deserve a prize :)  I just had so much fun this weekend!!  I hope you had a great weekend, too

Question for you: Have you been to any concerts this summer?  What is your favorite summer time activity?