Healthy Habits to Try in 2014 {A post by me from Today’s Woman Now}

Today’s Woman Now.

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Not really into the whole resolutions thing? Try picking up these small healthy habits and you’ll see some good changes come about in 2014!

Incorporate sunscreen into your daily routine.
Even though it’s winter and you’re not outside as much or even if you’re not outside intentionally sunning yourself, you should always have some amount of SPF on. Why? Whether you realize it or not, sunlight is constantly hitting your skin- especially your face. Think about the sun coming in while you’re driving, or you’re outside in the fall or spring watching your kid’s soccer game. Your skin is always exposed to harmful rays even if it doesn’t feel like it. Now days, so many products make it easy to get the SPF you need without feeling like you’re wearing heavy, oily or goopy sunscreen. Most daily moisturizers and even most make ups these days include SPF. Make sure whatever you’re using has at least 15 or higher. You’ll thank yourself one day for this habit!

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
According to most studies, getting on a consistent sleep schedule is the single best thing you can do to affect your overall sleep quality. Getting on a schedule helps your circadian rhythms allowing your brain to know when it’s time to shut off and wake up, giving you a better night’s sleep. A better night’s sleep also helps to reduce the amount of stress hormones and helps to control your appetite-controlling hormones. Hint hint, it’s good for helping you stave off unwanted pounds.

Stop reading on the elliptical or treadmill.
Let’s be real ladies, if you’re able to follow along the lines of a book or a magazine, you’re not working out hard enough. Leaning on the handle bars or the arms of an elliptical to support your weight also means you’re not working intensely enough. Doing these things can reduce your calorie burn by 25 percent. Good form is key. Save the reading for your cool down stretch!

Swap one can of soda for water each day.
To start, a can of soda has approximately 40 grams of sugar. Most healthy diets suggest you try to keep your sugar levels under at least 15 grams. And if you haven’t noticed before, drinking lots of water will make you feel full- a can of soda won’t, meaning you’re more likely to snack while you drink it. You don’t have to quit your soda intake completely but by switching one soda per day with some quality, fresh water, you can drop more than a pound a month. Not bad right? If you are too bored with just plain water- add in some fresh lemon slices, cucumbers, mint leaves or other fruits to add some flavor.

Soak up fifteen minutes of sunlight a day (at least!).
It’s no wonder people feel more down and depressed in the winter. Getting a few minutes of sunlight each day helps to brighten your mood, relax your nerves and bring about good feelings. Not to mention, it helps to reset your body’s internal clock for the day which means that at night, you’ll rest better. If it is winter, just simply standing by a window while you have your morning coffee or sitting in the sun rays coming through the window while reading the paper is all it takes. Most importantly, your eyes needs to register the light- not necessarily your skin. So take a moment to soak it up and your days will be a little brighter and your nights more restful.

Limit drinking to only three days a week.
For most women (and even men) alcohol calories can be a major problem. By having a couple drinks a day, you can easily gain about a pound a week. Try to stick to only having a drink three days a week at most. Try just the weekends. If you need another reason, just think that an average glass of wine at a restaurant has around 250 calories and mixed drinks have even more calories plus generally lots of sugar. Having just one glass of wine four days a week can add up to 1,000 calories per week! Nixing all those calories (or at least half) can really save you some weight gain.

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Juice it up! Going green has never felt so good.

One of my favorite things is freshly pressed juice. It not only is good for you, but it makes you feel good too. Put good in, get good out. Since it’s hard to find a good juice bar depending on where you live, I now make my own and it’s become quite the habit for me. I like to mix it up every day too with what I put in it. Here’s how I go about it…

Choose a base- I use Zico coconut water or apple or orange juice (I strive to choose the ones with the least amount of sugar). Other juices like beet juice, carrot or tomato also work depending on your preference!

Add in the greens- I like to use kale, parsley, spinach, celery, and cucumbers.

Spice it up- I also use fresh ginger root in all of my juices. Ginger root has many good benefits such as anti-inflammatory purposes, helps to fight off cold viruses and sore throats, helps soothe an upset belly, and aids in healthy digestion. Lemon juice is also a main staple in my juices (lemon and ginger make a great combination!).

Throw it all in a blender or juicer to liquefy- I use my Vitamix juicer which is the best kitchen appliance I ever bought- and pour over ice. You’ll immediately feel and see the benefits.

Enjoy going green!

xxx SSG

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Healthy Snacks for the New Year and the New You

It’s that time of year again, time for New Years’ resolutions, new habits, new outlooks and of course new diets. Call me cynical but I’m not into the whole resolution thing. I think it’s great that people want to start the new year off right, but let’s be honest, if you’re one of those who waits until a certain day, or tomorrow, or after the weekend, chances are you’ll never start.

I don’t like New Years’ resolutions mainly because I find it silly- why not start today? Or right now? You don’t need to quit everything cold turkey or drastically change up your life in one day. That’s not realistic.

What is realistic though, is starting small. Make a few changes- maybe one per day- and you’ll be inspired to do more. For example, try to reach for more water throughout the day instead of soft drinks. With each small change, you’ll become more aware of how good it feels and you won’t feel like you’re completely depriving yourself. Also, when you do fall off the wagon, you won’t feel as bad and have the urge to say “to he’ll with it”.

To help you make small changes and become healthier this year, here is a list of 100 calorie snack ideas (that are actually delicious and nutritious). Who knows, maybe changing up those greasy potato chips for some fruit or cheese will inspire you to make even more or even bigger changes- making it easier for you to stay on track and stay healthy.

-celery with natural peanut butter or almond butter (I say natural because there are so many new brands out there that are much healthier. I love peanut butter and its not unhealthy but you can’t get away with eating too much of it. I like PB2 which is one of the most healthy out there right now. It’s powder form but it’s super easy to make -just mix with water- and tastes exactly the same. Look for peanut butter with no extra ingredients, just peanuts, especially none with hydrogenated oils! This is also a favorite snack of Olivia Munn who if you haven’t noticed, looks amazing…….)

-1 slice turkey breast with 1 slice Swiss cheese

-3 cups air-popped popcorn

-1 1/2 oz part-skim mozzarella and 1 tomato slice

-2 1/2 cups watermelon (Jennifer Love Hewitt’s go to sweets-craving snack)

-1 medium apple

-2 tablespoons hummus and 11 baby carrots

-14 almonds (Bethenny Frankel uses almonds in a lot of her Skinny Girl recipes)

-3 clementines

-Sliced rep pepper (a favorite energy booster of dance hottie Karina Smirnoff)

-1 cup chopped mango

-15 raspberries

-2 tablespoons of guacamole and 5 tortilla chips (VS model Alessandra Ambrosio is a huge guac lover- and we can all agree she looks amazing too…..)

-1/2 cup edamame

-2 bars fruit leather

Try swapping out some of your less healthy snacks for these yummy options and start feeling better about staying on track- not just for the new year, but for all year long. Small changes can make a big improvement.

xxx SSG

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Pure Barre Buzz- Why the big deal??

If you don’t know me, I’ll tell you now that I lead a pretty active lifestyle. I am not a marathon runner however but I am no couch potato either. I fall somewhere in between the two, I’d guess. I like to work out a lot and I strive for at least 6-7 days per week for at least an hour per day.

Growing up, I was always active and always involved in some sport so I will admit that I’ve been in pretty good shape my whole life. However, just like everyone else, I sometimes get tired of the same workout routines, I get bored, I hit a plateau, it’s just not working for me, I gain a few unwanted pounds, you name it. I am a normal female who at many of times wishes her body was different or better, tighter, slimmer, whatever, as I am sure many of you can relate to- even you, Candice Swanepoel and Kathryn Webb!

Anyways, I am sure many of you have also heard about the new Pure Barre craze that has become increasingly popular all over the country within recent months. Well, as any girl wanting to better my body, I followed the buzz and jumped on the bandwagon. And am I glad I did! Here’s what it is and why….

First, what is it you may ask? To begin, we can all go ahead and thank the founder, Carrie Rezabek Dorr, dancer and choreographer, who first opened her studio in 2001. Pure Barre is a total body workout that is designed to lift your bum, tone your thighs and burn fat while using a ballet barre to preform isometric movements. Trust me when I say isometric. Watching a class, it would be hard to notice any major movements during most of the workout but the smaller the movement, the bigger the results!

According to their website, http://purebarre.com, which I suggest you take a look at, “The technique protects your joints as it does not involve any bouncing or jumping. Each strength section of the workout is followed by a stretching section in order to create long, lean muscle without bulk. The workout launches a full blown attack on the areas of the body all women struggle with: abs, hips, seat and arms. It defies gravity by tapering everything in and lifting it up.”

I would not really know what to compare this workout to, but it truly does target all of the major areas that 99% of women struggle with. The classes are only an hour long and even though you’re generally not dripping in sweat, you are definitely doing work. You’d be surprised how much you struggle at first with just two pound weights!

You do not need to bring anything with you to class other than yourself. You do not wear shoes but you will need socks. I suggest the super grippy socks that they sell at the studio though- it makes certain moves easier. I would also suggest to wear more form fitting clothes- nothing too blousy or anything that will get in your way. I like to wear long leggings and a tank-style top.

The instructors are all really great and they will help you with any questions you may have, which trust me, you’ll have some to ask! If you don’t know what you’re doing- which is pretty much everyone at first- they come around and help you to insure your form is correct. Also, the instructors throw out and remind you of cues throughout which is very helpful. You’ll begin with a warm up and then move to arms, legs, seat work and then abs. You will also stretch it all out after each targeted area which is great. During the class, you’ll use a ball, weights for arms, a mat and rubber tubing, which is all provided for you at the proper time of class.

Still can’t figure out what the big deal is? Take it from me, who would not be writing this if I did not fully believe this to be true, but I can definitely tell an improvement in my body. At first, you’ll realize just how weak your core is and you’ll find yourself working muscles in places you didn’t even know you had! I’ve been doing Pure Barre now for a few months and I strive to go everyday. They do say that to see improvements you should try to go at least 3-4 times per week and that the majority of the people see results in about 10 classes. I would support this theory. I am not looking to drop an excessive amount of weight but still some, and I would really like to tone everything up and Pure Barre has helped me with that thus far. My legs and abs have more muscle definition than they did when I was a competitive cheerleader. I feel tighter and leaner each day and I just absolutely love it!

Don’t let me fool you though- the classes are not easy and it’s pretty tough at first but you’ll be wanting to go back after just once class. However, the more you do it, the stronger you become and the easier the classes become. You’ll figure out what the hell you’re doing and if you keep at it, you will see big changes. In class, your instructor will tell you to “let it shake, let it burn” and I suggest you go with it, because that is where your muscles are changing (and you WILL be shaking and burning). I would also highly recommend this workout to new moms who want to shed that baby weight and tighten everything back up. I see women of all ages in class at all different levels with all different body types. It is a workout for everyone, including men if they are up for the challenge!

Visit your local studio or go online to find one near you. I go to classes at the Summit location in Louisville, KY which is owned by the very knowledgeable, Annie Locke. Classes are a bit more expensive but check with your location because they do offer different deals and sometimes discounts. I suggest that students be sure to ask because being a student myself, that is one good deal! (However, locations do vary so be sure to check.)

If you still aren’t convinced, check it out for yourself!

http://purebarre.com

Pure Barre Louisville- Summit location

4284 Summit Plaza Drive

Louisville Ky 40223

phone: 502.425.8300

email: summit@purebare.com

Get to shaking and burning, beauties!

xxx SSG

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Breakfast Boost Smoothie

I fully believe that if you put good in, you get good out. Thus, whenever I have super long days and have to be up and at em early, I like to start the day off right with an extra healthy breakfast boost. Like today, not something I’m looking forward to. However, I made myself a delicious, super green smoothie with fruit and protein to get me going.

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 fresh banana
Frozen strawberries
Coconut water
Almond or soy milk
Chia seeds
Maca powder
Ground flax seed
Splash of lemon juice
Handful of baby spinach leaves
Super food greens powder
Raw vegan vanilla protein powder

Blend desired amounts of ingredients until smooth and enjoy!

xxx SSG

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Treat Yourself

So since it is Saturday, I like to treat myself every now and then. Don’t we all! But of course, I hate to ruin my diet or feel guilty afterwards. As I was doing a little grocery shopping the other day, I came across this little gem! Anyone who knows me will tell you that I just adore ice cream.. ahhh it’s a weakness! Anyyy whoo, I got to reading the labels and found that this stuff is an indulgence without the guilt!! I didn’t believe it at first. I’m quite the skeptic at times. Buttt as I compared it to other brands, I felt I should at least test it out. I am glad I did!! If you like coconut milk, you’ll especially love this. It tastes just like ice cream, although not as super sweet. I had a few spoonfuls of this last night and I felt as if I was having a treat but I didn’t feel bad for it after. It’s non dairy and has no sugar added so there is only 1g of sugar, 140 calories and 12g of fat per serving. Seriously, if you like guilt free ice cream, give this a try! (You probably won’t find it in the regular ice cream section though- try looking in the soy/ gluten free/ organics section.) They also have different flavors like mint chocolate or cookie dough if you’re not into coconut!

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Protein Berry Superfood Smoothie

Good morning! It’s Saturday morning and I am up and at ’em already. I’m usually a morning person anyways but today I’m especially peppy. One thing that does the trick to get me going and energized is my superfood smoothie. I make one almost everyday. I mix it up constantly but for the most part, many of my ingredients are the same.

My favs right now are maca powder, raw cocoa powder, vegan power smoothie protein powder in vanilla, chia seeds, acai powder, and super greens or wheat grass powder.

I know I know, seems like a lot and probably more complicated than it is worth, but take yourself over to your nearest Whole Foods and you’ll find all of it in one aisle. It is worth it!

I like to use frozen berries because its cheaper than fresh fruit and it eliminates the need for a bunch of ice which can make your smoothie icy or watered down. Somedays tho, I omit the fruit and just make a lighter liquid drink. I also add in flax seed or flax seed oil too.

To make:
1 cup almond or coconut milk or coconut water
1 tbsp raw cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp maca powder
1/2 tbsp acai berry powder
(1 tbsp flax seed)
1 – 1 1/2 cup frozen berries
1 1/12 tbsp raw vegan protein powder
1 tbsp super greens powder

Put all ingredients (or more/ less if you like) into blender and blend until smooth. Then enjoy!

With the protein from the powder and the almond milk, the green goodness you’re getting (which is like a serving of green veggies) and the fiber from the fruit, you’ll feel good but not stuffed and you’ll stay satisfied longer throughout the morning. Sometimes, I especially like these after a work out. It replenishes my body and gives me the protein I need to help my muscles.

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xxx SSG