Category Archives: Healthy Living

Keeping Healthy with Doctor Visits

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I have a confession. I’m really bad about going to the doctor. Like REALLY bad. . In fact it’s been about 9 years since I had my last physical. It’s actually kind of embarrassing because I claim to be so healthy. But really, I think that’s why I haven’t made it a priority. I’m not overweight, I eat well, I don’t abuse alcoholic, I exercise regularly- I do everything they tell you to do. Except have regular doctor’s visits.

There’s something about getting engaged that motivated me to make doctor’s visits a priority. The biggest accomplishment for me was finding a primary care doctor and have a physical. For the first time in almost ten years. She was awesome and pretty much told me what I already knew, I’m healthy. I’ve gone on to schedule and attend all those overdue appointments. Now I’ve got 2 new inhalers, new glasses, and contacts and I feel better than ever.

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There is a certain sense of relief in visiting the doctor and hearing I am healthy. It’s also rather motivating to keep doing what I’m doing. And it kind of verifies those 5am runs and green smoothies payoff.  All good things.

They say an apple a day keeps he doctor away. Perhaps it should really be that an apple a day keeps the doctor happy? If you haven’t made doctor visits a priority in your life I encourage you to do so. It truly brings healthy living full circle and is worth every minute.  Plus, as my doctor told me, collecting data when your healthy builds a baseline that will be helpful to have as you age.

Tell me, do you make doctor visits a priority? If you don’t, why not? It’s worth every minute and it’s good for your health!

Healthy Benefits of Coconut Oil

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By now we’ve all heard about the benefits of coconut oil.  It’s a healthier alternative to olive oil and canola oil, tastes great with those bitter greens like kale and you can even use it for baking.  It’s also anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and moisturizing.  This weekend we had some fun utilizing coconut outside of the kitchen.

Healthy Living with Coconut Oil

As a moisturizer. 

After a long, cold winter we’ve been suffering from dry skin and were looking for some relief.  After reading about all the benefits of coconut oil and after a recommendation from a friend, we decided to give it a try.  Michael suffers from eczema so we were curious to see if it would help those patches.  We were pleasantly surprised at how moisturizing the coconut oil was.  Michael’s patches definitely looked much better the next day.   An added bonus was that a little really goes a long way!  The only downside was that you end up smelling like coconut oil.  We’ll definitely be keeping a jar in the bathroom to ward off dry skin and using it more regularly.  If you’ve never tried coconut oil as a moisturizer the trick is to put it on when your still damp from the shower.  Your body will absorb more of the oil then.  It’s definitely worth trying it if you’ve never done it!

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil!

Oil Pulling. 

Have you heard about this in the news?  Michael has read about it a few times and I received a press release talking about it this week.  In our quest to make this a healthy year as we prepare for our wedding Michael wanted to give it a try.  I wasn’t too keen on it but was convinced to give it a go.

Oil pulling is when you swish oil around your mouth for 20 minutes.  You can use sunflower oil, sesame oil, olive oil or coconut oil.   The oil is absorbed through your tongue and is absorbed into the body.  The idea is that bacteria will cling to the oil, when you spit it out you remove the bacteria and toxins from your body.  The benefits are a healthier mouth including whiter teeth, healthier gums, better breath.  It can also help alleviate headaches and cure insomnia.

The recommendation is to swish for 20 minutes but not to gargle.  We melted some coconut oil, took a spoonful and started swishing.  We couldn’t even look at each other because we were both going to laugh and spit out coconut oil everywhere!  So we went to separate rooms and kept on swishing.  I had a really hard time with it, I actually really wanted to gag multiple times.  The other thing that made it really hard was that as you kept swishing, the oil started to taste really gross.  I made it for about 9 minutes before I had to spit it out.  Michael held strong and went for 16 minutes.  Once you spit the oil out, you swish with salt water.  It helps remove some of the oil from your mouth.  Water tasted delicious and brushing my teeth felt even better! I even noticed that my teeth were brighter!

I’m not sure I’d try it again but I think Michael may.  He didn’t seem to mind the process and is really interested in some of the benefits.  I’m glad I tried it.

I’m off to help Michael cook dinner!  We’re having fish tacos…cooked in coconut oil!

Have you moisturized with coconut oil?  Would you try oil pulling?  Have you tried it or do you pull regularly?

Getting Fit with Gaiam

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Hi Friends!  So last time I was here I talked about the workouts that are helping me lose weight.  Today I wanted to share a little bit more about the tools that are helping me to lose weight.  Back in January Gaiam offered to send me a few different workout products to test and use as part of their Get fit with Gaiam campaign.  As a yogi, I’ve always been a big fan of Gaiam and all they have to offer.  I’ve bought yoga videos, blocks, straps, mats and props from them and have been following them on social media for years.  I love their philosophy, and I love their products.

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Get Fit with Gaiam

I opted for the Gaiam Sol Natural Cork Block and the Banyan & Bo by Gaiam Premium Yoga Strap.  I was pretty excited for the cork block as I have a foam block at home at it’s just not quite wide enough or sturdy enough for poses like supported bridge.  This cork block is really wide and thick so I feel very safe and secure when using it for supported bridge or standing splits.  I was actually thinking I need to order a second one so I can use them as props to help deepen my backbends or when working on splits.  I also really liked the yoga strap, it’s nice and thick and doesn’t have any stretch to it.  I’ve found that some yoga straps will stretch when I use them to lengthen my hamstrings or open my shoulders.  This one did not do that at all and again felt really sturdy and supportive when using it.  I’d definitely recommend both!

Gaiam Sol Natural Cork Yoga Block and Banyan and Bo Premium Yoga Strap

Gaiam Sol Natural Cork Yoga Block and Banyan and Bo Premium Yoga Strap

The other item I received was the Step360.  I was hesitant about reviewing this as I was really worried it would be another workout item I’d never use.   I have to tell you, I’m so happy I decided to test this out!  With this winter being so cold and snowy it’s really given be another outlet to sweat it out.  So what is a Step360?  The step has 2 air inflated chambers with a solid surface on the top making it a combination between a step, a trampoline and a balance board.  It was super easy to set up, I pretty much inflated the air chambers and was good to go.  It came with 2 DVDs with a variety of workouts on it and a sculpting cord.  I absolutely love the workouts.  They are interval based and really easy to follow.  The best part is they are 10 or 20 minutes long.  The cardio based workouts do a great job of increasing your heart rate and working your agility.  The strength workouts with the use of the sculpting cord really work your whole body.  I’ve been sore after every workout! The Step360 has been really fun to use and has added a whole new dimension to my workouts.

Step360 by Gaiam
Step360 by Gaiam

A big thanks to Gaiam for letting me test out the Gaiam Sol Natural Cork Block and the Banyan & Bo by Gaiam Premium Yoga Strap and the Step360.  They’ve definitely made my workouts more fun and helped me to continue to live a healthy life!

Have you tried the Gaiam products?  Would you try the Step360?

Healthy Habits for Weight Loss: Workouts

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So I’ve shared with you how Michael and I modified our breakfasts, lunches and dinners to help us lose weight.  Beyond the food and the portion control there is one other main component that has helped us be successful…workouts.

By now you all know that I love running and to run long.  I also love yoga for strength and stretching.   Occasionally I”ll find myself in the gym focusing on strength…until I get bored again and decide yoga is enough.  I don’t do intervals unless I’m chasing down a half-marathon or marathon PR and even then I’ll usually try to justify that I don’t need to do them.  As a college athlete strength sessions were how I got fast, and intervals were how I got faster.  After years of focusing on them, I was just happy to workout how I wanted, when I wanted.

Recently, I’ve been back to strength and intervals but in a whole new way.  And I  haven’t been running long very much at all.  I have to say, it’s making a difference and I see it in the tone of my muscles and the overall look of my body.   So here’s a peek at what I’ve been up to…

Barre Workouts.

Since November I’ve been attending Barre N9ne every Friday morning.  I absolutely love the workouts.  An hour flies by and I’m sore for days!  The class I take involves mat and barre work to tone your whole body.  Each exercise lasts about 5 minutes.  Typically it’s about 3 variations of small muscles movements done in sets of 12.  You repeat the whole sequence for each muscle 3 times.  It was amazing how quickly I started to see my muscles tone up!  In addition to my weekly barre class I also subscribe to barre3.  Barre3  incorporates some yoga into the workouts which I really like and it ties everything together nicely for me.  For $15 a month I have access to unlimited videos of barre classes that I can do at home.  With a set of 3lb. weights, an ab ball and my kitchen countertop I’m able to get a great workout in.  They have videos that are 10, 30, 40 and 60 minutes long.  Sometimes I’ll do a quick barre workout after a run or other days I’ll keep it simple and just do a 40 or 60 minute workout.  I love how long, lean and toned my muscles are looking thanks to these workouts.

Barre!!

Barre!!

Intervals.  

With all the snow and cold it’s been hard to run outside.  Lucky for me Gaiam sent me the Step360 to try out.  The workouts are 3o minutes long and are 6o second intervals that are cardio based.  They also have videos that are for strength and utilize a resistance band.  I usually combine a 30 minute cardio workout with a 10 minute strength workout.  This definitely does the job in terms of getting my heart rate up and working up a sweat.  I really like the workouts and find them really fun!

Step360 by Gaiam

Step360 by Gaiam

Yoga.

You didn’t think I could give up yoga did you?!  I love adding yoga in for more strength, stretching, relaxing and mind clearing.  It’s just something I can’t do with out!

Yoga!

Yoga!

Notice I didn’t put running in the list?  It’s because I really have only ran a handful of times in the last couple months and I don’t contribute it to my weight loss.  It’s kind of crazy to me because typically when I want to lose a couple pounds and tone up I just run more.  I’ve learned this time though that the variety and more so the strengthening is the key for me.  I’ve also learned that it’s not really about time either.  For many years I was so caught up in working out 5 days a week for an hour or so each day.  Now I really don’t stress.  I still try to workout 5 days a week but with work and life I end up working out about 3-4 days a week.  And an hour a day?  No way!  I’ve learned that I can get in a sweaty, effective workout done in less than an hour!

It’s been a really interesting few months in terms of working out for me.  I’ve learned a lot about what works for me personally and what doesn’t.  The best part is that I feel like I’m looking and feeling great these days!

What kind of workouts help you lose weight? What works for you?  What doesn’t?

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Healthy Habits for Weight Loss: Breakfast and Lunch

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Continuing on with this mini series on weight loss  I thought I’d share the changes I’ve made to breakfast and lunch.  Many of these changes are very subtle but they’ve certainly paid off.  I’ll also talk about carbs because I’ve definitely made some changes when it comes to those!

Breakfast has always been rather healthy for me.  I typically gravitate towards oatmeal, overnight oats, yogurt with fruit and smoothies.  I still enjoy all of those things but some more than others.  Smoothies have been a big component of our weight loss meal plan.  We started the year drinking detoxifying green smoothies everyday.  Michael really liked a combination of spinach, kale, celery, pear, cucumber, ginger, garlic and water.  I personally couldn’t deal with the garlic, it was just too much for me at 8am.  I liked a combo of spinach, kale, celery, pear, cucumber, pineapple, ginger and lemon.  It has just enough sweetness to it and it makes me feel really great.  I love playing around with different combos of smoothies and think they are a great way to use up veggies that are getting close to the end of their life.   Smoothies also did a great job of keeping me full but not stuffed.  By the time lunch came around I was ready for it!

Green Smoothie!

Green Smoothie!

Speaking of lunch, let’s discuss.  About a year and a half ago I gave my lunches a makeover.  I used to eat a sandwich, crackers, fruit and something sweet.  When I stopped training for marathons I started putting on some weight and I knew I was eating too much during the day.  Since then I’ve been eating soups, salads, or a sandwich on a wrap.  I no longer have crackers or chips, or sweets during the day.  I’ll be honest though I sometimes struggle with the sweets particularly when I’m really stressed out.  I’ve found the only cure is will power, so I just don’t eat it.  I do eat a lot of fruit.  So a typical lunch is soup or salad, a banana, and some berries.  I always have some almonds in my bag should I need a late afternoon snack but it’s very rare.  I love soup or salad because it’s just filling enough and since we make all our soups at home I know they are healthy!

Homemade Thai Noodle Soup

Homemade Thai Noodle Soup

The biggest change has really been how I view carbohydrates.  I LOVE bagels and muffins and paninis and subs.  There is nothing better than an everything bagel toasted with veggie cream cheese or a warm, cheese panini.  Clearly they aren’t the healthiest.  Here’s the thing though, I’m just not one to eliminate things.  In fact, once I eliminate it makes me want it EVEN more.  So I had to compromise.  Now I make my own muffins at home to be sure they are healthy and low-calorie, like these Banana Almond Muffins.  If I’m craving a bagel, I’ll have a half a bagel instead of a whole one.  Even then, I don’t eat bagels that often.  As for sandwiches, I really only try to have them once in a while.  If I said I had one once a week that would be exaggerating.  I make every effort to bring a healthy soup or salad from home to work so I’m not tempted to head out at lunch for Panera or the like.  We also don’t keep bread in our house.  The only bread you’ll find is a loaf of frozen ezekiel bread in the freezer which has been there for quite some time.  We do eat a lot of tortillas.  Michael loves egg sandwiches, so these days he’s been loving scrambled eggs on a tortilla.  I love waffles with almond butter and bananas, now I have a warm tortilla with bananas and almond butter.  They are delicious and I honestly don’t miss the bread or carbohydrates.

Like I said, small changes for these two meals that are really paying off.  Like I said in my last post, I’m feeling really good and definitely seeing the movement on the scale.  The most exciting part is that I’m seeing my muscles really tone up!

What do your breakfasts and lunches look like?  What changes have you made to help you lose weight?