Everyday Inspirations

 
 

~ a better you ~


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Happy Wednesday, sweet readers. I honestly cannot believe we're halfway through the week. The combination of multiple work projects, plus the fact that my training schedule doesn't include a rest day until Friday, means that this week is flying by. I feel like I'm going, going, going from the sound of my alarm until I fall into bed at night. Not that I'm complaining.

I know this is going to make me sound ultra dorky, but lately I've been looking forward to coming home from the gym... and washing my face. Because a clean face means I get to use my new night time moisturizer!

You: Um, yay?

My transition to a night moisturizer (it sounds so very adult, doesn't it?) happened because of a conversation I had with my cousin Christine, who is an aesthetician (you may remember her from our 12 Days of Holiday DIY). I visited her over my birthday weekend for a facial and she asked about my skin care routine.

"Oh, you know, I wash my face twice a day and moisturize after."

"Do you use your daytime moisturizer at night?"

"Is that bad?"

No, she told me. It's not bad. But then she pointed out I really don't need the SPF from my daytime lotion when I'm sleeping. Point taken.

I always feel a little torn about anti-aging routines. It's not because I don't want young-looking skin and not because I don't want to take care of my skin. I just think it can be tough to live in a world that's so very focused on youth. Maybe I'll feel differently the older I get, but I sure do wish we spent less time agonizing over little lines and more time revering the amazing experience that comes with age and experience. Laugh lines should be badges of honor.

That's just me.

Regardless of how you all feel, I know I don't need to hammer it into your head that skincare is extremely important at any stage of your life. And, as illustrated from the conversation I had with my cousin, I also know I'm no expert. So I wanted to share a few links with you that explain why using a separate night cream is indeed a good thing to incorporate into your nightly ritual.

- It's a simple, cheap way to keep your skin hydrated and nourished.
- Night lotions are heavier than the lotion you wear during the day. Because of this, there are more active anti-aging ingredients.
- They vary to work with your skin at any age. Check out a list of the best skin routines according to your age--you know I had to pull a Cosmo article. (Okay, so this tip is in the one above too.)
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~ a better you ~


Borghese Fango
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{angie}
I don't know if you have noticed, but it is f*%#ing freezing outside. And dry. And bleh. The groundhog may have predicted spring (hmmm we'll see),  but my skin sure feels like winter. I felt like my face needed a little rejuvenation so today I used my favorite face mask--Fango by Borghese.* I love the way I can feel it working--gently removing flaky dead skin and clearing my pores. Of course I also appreciate that the mud comes in this fabulous green color that always makes me feel a little like Jim Carrey in "The Mask" (can you see the resemblance? Ha!) Borghese is a top-of-the-line department store brand (I actually used to represent their line when I was in college so I know how truly awesome it is), but you can get it for a deal online or even sometimes at Costco. I have had many a facial, but Fango always has a way of making my skin feel refreshed. Rub in some moisturizer afterward and I feel like a new woman ready to face the freezing cold outdoors. Let's pray the groundhog is right. I want my normal skin back!

* I am in no way being compensated to write this for Borghese.
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~ a better you ~


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Hello, gorgeous.
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We've spent January discussing quite a few workout-related topics as our "A Better You" posts, and I hope they've been helpful for our readers. There really is nothing like starting a new year filled with new goals. And there is nothing better than a goal to make yourself healthier. It's one of the toughest things to do, especially in our world. It's also not a short-term goal that is easy to make and forget. Staying in shape and eating healthy is a commitment, something you have to integrate into so many areas of your life. You have to understand yourself, change your habits, and be flexible.

One pattern I've noticed after we (yes, I'm including everyone here) set a goal to "get healthy" is that it's sometimes easy to rationalize unhealthy habits: "I ran X miles today, so I can eat anything I want tonight."

Now don't get me wrong. I LOVE eating. I don't ever finish a half marathon and think, "Hmm, yes, salad time." (Hell, I don't finish a long training run and think that!) I am most definitely a person who "runs to eat," rather than the more impressive "eats to run." Most of us are and that's not a bad thing. However, my concern comes when food because the motivation more often than necessary. If you find yourself turning an unhealthy meal into a reward for going to the gym, it's time to take a step back. To be clear, I'm not saying that food is a bad motivator or reward. Sometimes it's the best. thing. ever. But like I said, my concern is when food is the ONLY reward. What happens if you stop working out for a period of time? I mean, this is life. You have to make healthy habits what they are... habits.

Understand your connection to food. Not to get all Jillian and Bob on you, but one of the simplest connections to food is emotion -- and your job is to understand that emotion so that you don't turn to food because you're depressed or bored.

Develop a taste of delicious, healthy meals and snacks. I'm human. I understand that we all have the best intentions but sometimes food is still the only thing that hits the spot. (Do you know how hard it's been for me to come home from a workout and ignore all that leftover birthday ice cream cake that's in my freezer?) Start to experiment with healthy meals and snacks. One of my favorite tricks I use when I'm craving a brownie or cake after dinner is to enjoy half a grapefruit. So delicious. And so guilt free!

Don't deny yourself. Ang and I say this again and again and again. Don't. Deny. Yourself. It never works to your advantage. If you want a big ol' burrito, have one. Just not every night. Or even three nights a week. Develop a schedule for going out; for example, by giving yourself a "free night" on Fridays.

Create new rewards. Oh my gosh, this one is the best. Who says food has to be your only reward? Especially if you're rocking some awesome workouts (I mean, I think you DO deserve something for getting up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to run 12 miles, thankyouverymuch). What about clothes (my personal favorite) -- a new top to wear this weekend or new workout capris. Shoes? A trip with your friends? An outdoor adventure, like rock climbing or kayaking? You can have fun with this.
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~ a better you ~


tips for eating healthy
{angie}
I was talking to my friend today about his frustrations with eating healthy. One of his main complaints -- making healthy food takes too long. Here in the U.S. we are all about instant gratification and fast is never fast enough. I love to cook, but frankly, sometimes you just want something that doesn't take a lot of work or time. This is why fast food, Hot Pockets, frozen burritos or other fast and fatty food are so popular. So I thought I would share two of my favorite appliances that help me eat fast and healthy. I'm not being compensated to share these, I just love them.

First, the Breville Panini Grill. No, this isn't just for your sandwiches (though you can also make a damn good grilled cheese in about 1 minute). In the spring, summer and fall Nate and I love to grill. It's fast, healthy and delicious. But when it's the dead of winter or I'm home alone (I'll admit, the grill intimidates me) the Breville is my best friend. Just heat it up, salt and pepper the meat, and throw it on there. Six minutes later I have some super juicy grilled chicken and without any added oil. 

Next, the Magic Bullet. Now I'll admit, I wasn't convinced on this by just looking at it. I had a blender already and didn't really understand why I'd want one with individual cups rather than a large container. I'll tell you why -- it's SO CONVENIENT! The set up is fast with a small, light base, it's purees like a dream, and the clean up super easy since you're drinking from the same (dishwasher safe) container you make it in. Not too long ago my blender broke so when Christmas came around my mom came to the rescue with one of these babies. I haven't even had it for a month and I can't tell you how much I've already used it (much more than my previous blender). I always have some bags of frozen fruit on hand, so I just toss some in with the fresh fruit I have in the house and it's creamy deliciousness.  
Using these two lovely appliances, I made this dinner in literally ten minutes, which included time to take the dog out, make another side dish and take photos. Clean up took another five. And when I was done, the meal was scrumptious. These are both dinner for one, but they are easy to multiply for the whole family. I told you eating healthy can be easy!

Grilled Chicken with Tomato and Feta

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Ingredients
Chicken breast
1 Roma tomato, sliced
fresh basil
feta (I used a about a tablespoon)
1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing

Directions
Heat up the grill and salt and pepper chicken. Cook for 6 minutes on high or until cooked all the way through. Top with sliced tomato, fresh basil leaves, feta and your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

Calories: Approximately 180

Peach, Orange and Banana Smoothie

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Ingredients
1/2 cup frozen peaches
1/2 banana
1/2 orange
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 scoop Muscle Milk vanilla whey powder

Directions
Combine all ingredients in Magic Bullet, screw on cross blade attachment and blend until smooth.

Calories: Approximately 223

 

~ a better you ~


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All day I have been super excited because I finally found a wellness class that fits into my busy schedule. Tonight Dan and I are doing some cardio and YOGA at the gym, and I couldn't be happier. (It's so great to be excited about going to the gym.)

I recently learned that yoga is used to prepare the body for meditation, to prevent everyday aches and pains from interrupting communication with the spiritual (by the way, that sounds totally obvious now, but it really had never occurred to me). Anyway, I personally love the idea of preparing my body to be more in tune with something bigger. It's really a nice feeling.

So rather than sit and analyze yoga further, I'm going to go get changed and have some dinner so I can head out. Sometimes it's better if I stop yapping and start moving. :) 
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~ a better you ~


My finess pal review
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{angie}
You have set your resolutions and perhaps even set a workout schedule. Now it's time make your fitness goals a reality! The key to success is tracking your real-time progress and following your schedule so you can get real, measurable results. People who are track their diet, exercise, and weight tend to lose weight more consistently. To make that easier, let me introduce to you MyFitnessPal.com.

First, let me say, I am no way being compensated to share this tool with you, and even better, using it is free. I have used it myself for about the last two months and simply love how it has changed my diet and exercise. Now, I consider myself a pretty healthy person -- I am in a healthy weight range, eat a well-rounded diet, and exercise regularly. Back in November when I started logging, I was simply looking for a way to track calories and exercise so that I could keep from gaining weight over the holidays and perhaps turn a little chub into muscle. Well it worked! Not only did I not gain weight during the holidays, I actually lost without even giving up my favorite holiday dishes. I entered in my information and my goals and it created a plan for me. After that I just had to input when I ate or exercised (which is super easy on the go when you have their iPhone or Android app). It has so many awesome features that help keep your plan on track. Here are some of the highlights:

It counts your calories. You simply look up the food you ate (down to the exact brand and amount), and input it into your diary where it records all the nutritional info. Now as I said, I eat pretty healthy -- or so I thought. It's not like I'm constantly chowing down on burgers and fries, but it's things like the cookies in the office kitchen or the mocha date with Ashley that sneak up on me. When I get to the end of the day I might remember what I ate for all my meals, but I certainly lose track of the little snacks I eat. This is totally different for every person, but once you start tracking, you will start to make smarter decisions about where to "spend" your calories. You find yourself choosing an apple instead of muffin or a side salad instead of fries to conserve your calories. Afterall you don't want to get to dinner and realize you only have 200 left. Beyond calories, it also measures your other daily nutrients like fat, calcium, fiber, etc so you can make sure you're reaching your nutritional goals there as well. I don't worry too much if I go over on vitamin C, but if I'm way over on fat even if I'm under on calories, I know I need to watch it.

It gives you incentive to workout. The site has tons of different exercises and is measured by the amount of time you spend doing that exercise. A lot of losing weight is about your caloric intake. If you are maintaining your weight by consuming 2,500 calories and you lower that to 2,000, you will begin to see results. Now if you eat 2,500 calories but burn 500 at the gym, you still net out at your caloric goal of 2,000. You see the incentive here? I love food and that 500 calories represents something totally delicious I would otherwise have to abstain from. I started to notice how much more I love my workout days over my "too lazy to get off my ass" days because I got to eat a little more. Also on days I know I have a party or a dinner out, I plan ahead by burning some extra calories to make up for it. 

You can track weight, measurements and progress. Not only can you track your daily progress in your caloric intake, but you can track your weight and measurements week to week. It creates a graph so you can see progress since your last "weigh in." Tracking this shows your visible progress and gives you even more motivation to keep it up.

Connect with friends for motivation. Find other fitness pals or even share info with your actual workout buddies to keep you in line. You can choose to keep all your info totally private if you want, but sometimes having another person helps motivate you to be better.
Overall, I think this is a great resource to help you reach your fitness goals and I have been recommending it to friends left and right. My favorite part is that it's totally free and you can manage it from your phone or online. Keep your goals on track and finally reach them this year! 
 

~ a better you ~


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I have such love for books. Learning to read was probably one of the greatest things that happened to me -- I often take advantage of this skill and need to remind myself that it's definitely a blessing. 

In addition to reading, I completely love books themselves. Their feel and smell, the satisfaction of digging into one... yum! I love collecting my favorites, even though they are probably one of the worst things pack and move. I've written before about the many benefits of reading and am definitely an advocate for picking at least one book-related goal for your New Years resolution. In hope of inspiring you to check out a book that interests you, I want to share the books I'm currently reading. Right now I'm working on four (living about a block from a library is definitely a perk):

The Glamour of Grammar by Roy Peter Clark. A former professor declared her love for this book on Facebook and my nerd alarm immediately went off. Yay! A new grammar book! Yes, I am a major dork. In fact, I must have mentioned my excitement about this book more than I realized, because I found it wrapped under the tree this year (thanks, babe!). Let's be honest. Unlike me, most people hate grammar. It's really not a sexy subject. This book focuses on lifting that "ugh" feeling by helping readers better master how they communicate. If I may quote the book jacket itself: "In a world where we communicate more and more through e-mails and text messages, how you use language matters -- even in 140 characters." Who wouldn't want more power over their words? Sign me up.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. This book has been a hit at my office. Even though I had heard of it, I didn't think about actually reading it until a month or two ago. After putting my name in line with 40+ holds at my library, I've finally have the novel in my hands. I've been warned to not read this book alone at night (murder mystery!) and since I'm a complete wimp, I'm taking that warning very seriously.

War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk. Over 1,000 pages, this book is the epic story of one family's involvement in World War II. My coworker recommended its prologue, The Winds of War, a couple months ago. I won't lie... it took me quite awhile to get through the first book (it's dense but wonderful) and I anticipate another month or so to get through this baby, especially since it's being juggled with three others. I highly recommend this book, especially if you're interested in WWII. I can't learn enough about the subject, and even though these books are fictional, they provide an amazing education about the events of the time. The Winds of War was especially awesome because it taught me more about the rise of the Nazi party in Germany and why Hitler became so popular. 

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I can't even tell you how many times I've heard good things about this book. Three Cups of Tea tells the story of Greg Mortenson's tireless work building schools throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, and how education in the area is changing lives. Mr. Mortenson is doing amazing things in our world and is truly inspirational.

Please share your favorite books. I have a running list and LOVE recommendations.
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~ a better you ~


healthy eating during the holidays
{angie}
The holiday season means lots of delicious (and sinful) foods. Yesterday at work my desk was literally surrounded by three boxes of chocolates and three trays of cookies within an arms reach. It took all the willpower I could muster (three mint cookies later) to move the "holiday cheer" to the desk away from me. Remember this post about falling into good habits before it gets hard? Well boys and girls, this week of Christmas is the true test. Pecan tassies and Russian teacakes will be dancing in front of my eyes...and how do I avoid them when they are my favorites?

Here's my suggestion -- don't. Don't avoid them that is. This is my one time of year to enjoy some of my favorite treats and I think it's totally silly to not eat them. That being said, there are a three things I do to keep it within reason.

First, eat a reasonable amount. When my dad offers me a pecan tassie I will gladly accept; even go for seconds or thirds (they are pretty small after all). Will I go back for tenths like I did when I was twelve? I'm going to say no. But I will allow myself to enjoy the season since for me the food is a very important part of that.

Second, I don't waste my calories on the fattening food I'm not that into. Scenario: It's Christmas Eve and there's a big bowl of veggies and fatty dip on the counter. Do I, a) chow down with extra dip -- veggies are healthy after all even with dip, or b) skip the dip because I like veggies plain and am holding out for the amazing dessert? For me, the answer is a solid b. Many people find themselves eating fattening foods they aren't that into during holiday parties and get-togethers. Save your calories for foods you love! Now if you like the dip more than the dessert, go for it! Or do a reasonable amount of both. It's all about weighing the foods most important to you. I certainly won't be wasting calories on any fruitcake.

Finally, schedule in a little exercise to counteract the extra food intake. Go on an early morning run on Christmas or even hit the gym if yours is open. If you plan ahead by burning calories early, you can eat a little more later on without even feeling a twinge of guilt.

Happy healthy holidays!
 

~ a better you ~


My lean, mean, butt-busting machine
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I'm officially nearing training for my annual half marathon. Even though it's cold outside, I'm pushing myself to maintain my strength and endurance in preparation for that training routine. Lately I've been resisting any sort of workout that requires me to do more than just walk outside my door. Because of this, I've started regularly running hills.

I used to avoid hills like they were the plague. But since I moved to a neighborhood located in Salt Lake's benches, I decided to start embracing the natural training that's right outside my door. My routine involves running up and down the steepest streets I can find, catching my breath on downhills or crosswalks. Sure, it's not always fun, but I know it's beneficial. Hill running is making me stronger and faster (and tightening the tush, of course). It's a great workout during the winter... I'm most definitely not cold after running up a hill or two.

Intrigued? Read this great article from Runners World to get started.
 

~ day 12: a better you ~


holiday thank you
{angie}
On the twelfth day of holiday do-it-yourself, after the gifts are given and received and much joy has been had, remember to say a special thank you. Thank you for the wonderful gift. Thank you for bringing me happiness this holiday season. Thank you for digging my car out of the snow. Thank you for hosting such an amazing holiday party. Being thankful doesn't end with Thanksgiving and the holidays are a beautiful time to recognize the amazing people in your life.

We put together some holiday thank you cards using scraps and embellishments we already had lying around to say our own thank yous. Get creative with paper, ribbon, scissors and any other fun stuff you have at your house. A beautiful handmade, handwritten thank you can really show someone how important they are to you.  

We hope you enjoyed our 12 days of holiday DIY! Thank you for reading!

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P.S. I was also able to use some of these scraps to make some super adorable gift tags. One more holiday DIY inspiration! And yes, there really are wrapped gifts at my house already.