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.

Goodies

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?

Banana Almond Muffins

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If you are like me like, you love a good muffin to start your day BUT you hate all the sugar, carbohydrates and empty calories.  If you are like me you also put almond butter on almost everything but particularly love almond butter with bananas.  If you are like me, you’ll love these banana almond muffins!  I’ve swapped out regular flour for whole wheat flour, and said good-bye to sugar and hello to agave.  I’ve also added plain, raw almonds to combine two of my favorite flavors!

Banana Almond Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of agave syrup

3 large bananas mashed

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 cups of whole wheat flour

1/2 cup of chopped raw almonds

1 teaspoon of baking soda

2 teaspoons of vanilla

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions:

1.  Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

2.  Grease a muffin tin with oil.

3.  Mix agave nectar, bananas, oil and eggs in a large bowl with wooden spoon.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Pour into muffin tin.

4.  Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.   Let cool and loosed from tin.

Makes 12 muffins. 

I love these muffins.  They are so quick and easy to make and taste delicious every time.  We always have extra bananas lying around since I don’t eat them once they turn brown.  So I freeze them and use them for smoothies and these muffins.  The muffins are light and fluffy with just enough almonds in them.

My favorite way to enjoy them is toasted with almond butter or jam on top.  If I’m feeling really crazy I top it with cream cheese for an extra good treat.  They make the perfect breakfast or pre/post workout snack!

Enjoy!

Healthy Habits for Weight Loss: Dinner and Portions

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There are a lot of reasons to lose weight and there are a lot of ways to do it.  With our wedding approaching in November we decided to make this an overall healthy year.  So in January started to focus on what we were eating, how much we were eating and set out to change some habits and lose weight along the way.  I’ll be sharing some of our new healthy habits over a series of short posts.  Let’s start with dinner and portion sizes.

I grew up in a house where my mom cooked dinner every night.  We sat down as  family, talked about our days and shared a meal together.  She made everything from tacos, to shake and bake pork chops with mashed potatoes.  We always had a fresh vegetable and salad with our meals.  My mom also made pretty much everything from scratch which helped to keep our meals healthy.  Michael grew up in a similar house and together we bonded over cooking and sharing meals.  When we moved in together, cooking dinner and having a meal became a daily occurrence.  We have always tried to keep it healthy with lean protein and green veggies but we knew this wouldn’t be enough to help us shed a few pounds.

One of the first things we changed up this year was our dinners.  Michael has always struggled with GI issues, and complained that our dinners left him feeling full at night which made sleeping uncomfortable.  So we’ve started to shift to a lighter dinner.   We’ve also really focused on our portions.  For example, Wednesday night is always taco night for us.  We used to make guacamole with 2 avocados and would each eat three tacos with extra lean ground chicken.  I’d say most nights we ate 3/4 of a pound of turkey.  Now make guacamole with  1 avocado, each eat 2 tacos and have less than 1/2 a pound of meat between us.  Most other nights we have been having a salad or soup.  Salads are topped with salmon or chicken baked in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.  We’ll put some butternut squash, tomatoes, cucumber, and whatever else sounds good!  We’ve always tossed our salads with a yogurt based dressing and kept it very light so we continue to do that.   Even when we order takeout I serve out my portion and then package up the remaining serving so as not to over eat or tempt myself!

Salmon over Salad with Veggies!

Salmon over Salad with Veggies!

For me the switch was really hard to adjust to mentally.  I was afraid I’d be hungry or not get enough to eat, after all I was already at a healthy weight.  And to add to that, I’ve always been a big eater.  Growing up I always had seconds, and when I was skiing in college and burning about 2,000 calories in a single workout I had seconds.  To the astonishment of those around me I could always eat and eat and still be at a healthy weight with lean, toned muscles.  Recently though, I’ve noticed I want to eat less and I’m fuller faster.  It’s likely a product of my age and activity level but had me thinking about how much I was eating on a regular basis.  The first thing I noticed when it came to eating lighter, smaller meals was that I really didn’t miss the larger portions or second helpings.  Not one bit.  I also noticed that I was sleeping and feeling better with our lighter dinners.  Michael has also been feeling much better since we’ve started eating lighter and has had less GI issues as well.  I think the greatest change is that this habit is even translating when we go out to dinner.  We order less food, order healthier options and we don’t eat our whole serving.  It’s so unlike us but goes to show how mindful eating can make a difference…a difference you can see and feel!

Over the next few posts I’ll talk about breakfast, desserts, meal prep and more!  All of these changes are really making a difference for us.  And the positive results make us want to continue our healthy habits!

How do you monitor your portions at dinner?  Does mindful eating  help you keep your portions smaller?

Life and Updates

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Good morning friends!  It’s a snowy morning here which means it’s a snow day and we are curled up at home.  I love a good snow day so you won’t find me complaining!  We are headed to Lake Placid next weekend for some skiing and winter fun.  All this snow makes me very excited for our trip!  I can’t wait to teach Michael how to cross country ski!

I’ve been battling the nasty virus that’s been going around.  I’ve been doing a lot of resting over the last week or so.  I’m very much looking forward to getting back to my routine and workouts.  I’m easing back into it slowly to be sure I don’t end up getting sick again.  I’ve recently received lots of goodies in the mail from Gaiam and signed up for Barre3 online barre classes.  I’m so excited to incorporate some new workouts into my routine as a compliment to running!

Goodies

New Workout Goodies!

Along the lines of workouts and health, Michael and I have both had some good success over the last month or so trying to lose weight.  We both agreed that we wanted to slim down a bit for our wedding so we have really focused on what we are eating and our portion control.  It’s been working and the scale is definitely showing it!  I’ve always considered myself a healthy eater and I have to admit, I’ve learned quite a bit more in the last month.   I plan to post in the coming weeks with some of our new habits that I find most effective. 

Speaking of blogging, I’ve been thinking about the future of LiveRunLoveYoga.  I really want to try to start blogging more.  It’s a challenge with all that we have going on but it’s worth it to me.  My hope is to include more healthy recipes, more posts about yoga and workouts and even a bit about beauty and fashion.  I’m also hoping to keep the posts shorter and sweeter but hopefully more frequent!  More to come on this!

That’s all for now…just a quick post to say hello and share some good things to come! If you are in the New England area be sure to stay safe today with all the snow!

Is it snowing where you are?! What are your healthy living updates?

Embracing the Transition

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Remember when I talked about the transition to the New Year?  It turns out that the word transition has followed me into the year of 2014.  And it appears, it is going to stick with me.  Here’s the thing though, I’m not very good at embracing transitions.

I really like when things are complete.  I love crossing items of the to-do list.  I love feeling accomplished.  Most of all, I love not having to worry about things.  Like most of us, I find life overwhelming at times so anytime I can cross something off of my list it makes me feel better.  And I like feeling better.

Transitions do not make me feel good.  They make me nervous, they cause me to worry, I feel restless and most of the time they make me want to cry.  That’s pretty much how I’ve felt for the last few weeks.  It’s uncomfortable.

The other day I was trying to sit with my emotions, embracing them and try to let them go.  As I was thinking about the future it occurred to me that 2014 is really a year of transitions .  Michael and I are engaged and planning our wedding.  A HUGE part of me wants to plan the whole wedding RIGHT NOW and become Mrs. Rosa.  But that’s not what weddings are supposed to be about.  It’s about planning, making decisions together, enjoying the process and becoming husband and wife…a unified team.  We are also working on our house right now, painting and making some upgrades.  I would really like to stay home from work the next 2 weeks, work incredibly hard, and cross that off our list.  Home improvements…complete.  But life doesn’t work like that.  You have to go to work and you pretty much have weekends to work on your projects.  And if you’re really busy you probably can’t dedicate 100% of your weekend to home improvement because you have grocery shopping and social engagements and other things to accomplish.  So realistically it means that your project will take a while and  you should embrace that your bedroom has no door and just roll with the transition.  Beyond the wedding and the house there are a few other transitions happening.  And none of these transitions are going to come to an end tomorrow, or next week.   That means one thing…I need to embrace transitions.

I think at times the world knows just what we need and helps along in our journey.  Over the last few days I’ve seen more messages encouraging me to embrace the transition, to let go of what I cannot control (like time and the future).  And you know, as I’ve really tried to make an effort to do so I feel less stressed and more positive.  All those feelings that make transitions feel uncomfortable began to subside.  It turns out letting go takes effort but feels so good.  After all, not every single thing needs to get done right now and not everything needs to be perfect.  And as they say all great changes are preceded by chaos.  So here’s to embracing the transition and learning to let go…

Have you learned to let go and embrace transitions? What has followed you into the New Year?