Thirty Things to Do Before I Turn Thirty (Well…Here’s Hoping, Anyway!)

Two weeks ago, I turned 25. Cue the quarter life crisis. I’m supposed to be adulting now, but instead I’m just over here binging Netflix.

Turns out, “halfway to 30” doesn’t mean “existential questions answered.” Shocker. Guess I’m still the clueless human I was at 24.

Alright…so, my twenty-something years are numbered. So, I’m nowhere close to nailing down my purpose—outside of moscato and HIMYM. So, life hasn’t taken the course I once assumed it would. So what?

Age doesn’t have an expiration date, and 30 isn’t even that old. Besides, five whole years stand between me and the Big Three-0. Five years of adventures, opportunities, aspirations and undertakings. Five years to define (and re-define) my goals. Five years to make. it. happen. 

On that note, you obviously know what’s coming:

30 before 30 bucket list

Drumroll, please…

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Phew…that was one monster post. If you stuck it out, thanks for being a trooper! Now, what’s on your “30 Before 30” bucket list? Promise I won’t steal your brilliant ideas—unless I need more inspiration when I turn 40!

Sweat It Out With a Protein-Packed Snack Attack

There’s a 50/50 chance I might’ve *casually* mentioned once—maaaaybe twice—that I’m getting married in the near future. 160 days if you wanna get technical, but who’s counting?

Although I don’t buy into that stereotypical “wedding workout” mentality (fitness is a lifestyle, not some Must. Drop. Two. Dress. Sizes. For. The. Big. Day. thing), exercise does have a prominent place in my routine. That would still be true regardless of this whole bride-to-be caveat…but extra motivation a la Alfred Angelo never hurts either!

post pure barre

That time I dragged the (almost) hubs to Pure Barre…Couples who sweat together stay together, dontcha know!

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not just about turning heads on your walk down the aisle or rocking that honeymoon bikini you’ve ogled for months. Exercise relieves stress (pre-wedding jitters, anyone?), boosts productivity (those guest lists aren’t gonna write themselves!), and influences even more healthy habits too.

Like eating. A.K.A. the other part of this wellness equation. In order to sustain physical activity, our bodies need fuel. Mainly protein-dense fuel which promotes muscular development, strength and endurance, so we can keep moving for longer periods of time. Fact: no snacking repertoire—for pre-workout energy or post-workout recovery—is complete without this nutritional powerhouse.

Think raw almonds, steamed edamame, roasted chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, plain Greek yogurt and nut butters, for example. Or, need some further “nom”spiration? (Just invented a new word. No biggie.) Check out my Sweat Sesh Snack Attack go-tos for your protein loading pleasure!

protein post-workout snacks

Whether you’re #SweatingForTheWedding or craving a healthier alternative to Cool Ranch Doritos, these mindful munchies just reinvented snacktime. Yup…don’t underestimate the power of protein. This bride-to-be has spoken.


*For even more ideas, recipes and tidbits to pack your diet with protein,  Nuts.com  has you covered!

Healthy Habits to Keep the Odds (of Cancer) Ever in Your Favor

February is National Cancer Prevention Month—a cause which has deeply resonated with me over these last 10 years. And that’s due to one remarkable girl who, during the short time I knew her, impacted my life more than some people twice her age ever could.

February 25, 2006  will forever be etched into my memory. On this date, heaven gained an angel in the form of my childhood friend and role model, Kalyn Elizabeth High. I avoid using the expression “lost her battle” to describe Kalyn’s final moments here on earth—because that girl was the toughest fighter I have ever met, and osteosarcoma couldn’t crush her spirit or shake her faith.

But this disease did take an incredibly gifted 16-year-old away from a world who just didn’t want to say goodbye. So, throughout the past decade, I’ve become passionate about cancer awareness, research and prevention. Kalyn is the inspiration for this post, but anyone can benefit from the information.

After all…cancer doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, ethnicity or background. Cancer is ruthless. But we can stack the odds of survival—and even avoidance—in our favor. Check out these statistics from the American Center for Cancer Research:

Approximately 1/3 cases of the most common cancers in the U.S. could be prevented by eating healthy, being active and staying lean. That’s an estimated 374,000 cases of cancer in the United States that would never happen.

For practical and effective pointers on limiting your exposure to physical, chemical and environmental stressors that could put you at risk, I’ve teamed up with the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center, an online resource that warns against asbestos usage. This substance  is a leading cause of the rare but aggressive Mesothelioma and other lung cancers. 

As illustrated by the following infographics, cultivating simple habits throughout everyday life can make a positive, long-term impact on your overall wellness…

cancer prevention

healthy home checklist

Finally, remember—February might be Cancer Prevention Month, but these tips should be utilized year-round.

Kalyn…this one’s for you!

A Groom’s Take on “Sweating for the Wedding”

If you follow me on social media, you might’ve noticed my not-so-subtle references to recently getting engaged. BUT, if you follow almost any engaged woman on social media, you’ll be hard pressed to escape #SweatingForTheWedding posts.

In fact, this Instagram search yields 171,277 results—talk about a staggering number of body conscious brides-to-be! Yet, with all the emphasis placed on that “feminine ideal,” who could blame them?!

Since I’ve been tempted to dabble in said fitness fad (hellllooooo…this girl’s gotta fit into an Alfred Angelo dress 8 months from now!), I enlisted my future hubby for his stance on the subject. Thus, our discussion became a blog post.

Check it out, bridal beauties, straight from a guy’s POV:

Sweating for the Wedding

image courtesy of CNDY via Flickr Creative Commons  (changes have been made)

I’m fairly new to this whole “Sweating for the Wedding” thing. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed until my fiancé brought me up to speed once I put a ring on her finger.

Now, after Googling the phrase, I can attest that “Sweating for the Wedding” has indeed gone viral. Brides can get dri-fit shirts with this hashtag printed across the front. There are even water bottles, car decals, sweat bands and more, urging women to jump on the bandwagon.

Listen, I’m all about exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but I also feel this trend could send a harmful message to some women—especially those who struggle with insecurities surrounding weight or body image.

Not to mention, if these insecurities are triggered by stress, they’ll escalate into overdrive once those wedding plans get underway. I’ve only been engaged for about a month, yet I can already vouch for all the time, energy and craziness that goes into this process. So, with the added pressure of sculpting that “perfect bod”…well, you’re eventually gonna crack.

While there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing fitness, “Sweating for the Wedding” is not a prerequisite for marriage. Your future husband already finds you sexy. He wouldn’t have pursued you in the first place if he wasn’t sexually attracted, right? Exactly. You’ve got nothing to prove.

Men are visual creatures. I am a man, so I’ll freely admit this. But I can also assure you that any guy, who kneels down and proposes, thinks the girl standing in front of him is drop-dead gorgeous. She’s the only woman he sees—guaranteed.

Anyone, who’s anxiously anticipating their wedding day, wants to turn their spouse’s head. However, when this goal manifests itself through extreme workout regimens, it could result in serious physical damage.

I hope my fiancé knows that her appearance and physique will never disappoint me. From my—okay, biased—viewpoint, she’s the most beautiful woman alive, and my jaw will drop when I see her walk down the aisle. She doesn’t need to impress me…or anyone else, for that matter.  

Same goes for you other brides out there. Imagine how your husband will perceive you that day. After all, his devotion isn’t only surface-deep.

And, if you opt to workout beforehand, make it a bonding activity for both of you. Be each other’s accountability partner, so—rather than just “Sweating for the Wedding”—you’ll discover positive motivation for long-term health.  No hashtag needed.

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Can you see why I’m marrying him, ladies? The dude’s a keeper (and my self-esteem levels concur)!

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I’m painfully awkward sometimes.

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But at least we clean up good.

 

The Mindfulness Model: Why Listening to Your Body Trumps any Diet

Ever collapse on the couch with that “emergency” Doritos stash after a chaotic week, then proceed to finish every single crumb without noticing?

Yeaaaah…We’ve all been there. Once or twice.

In fact, the average person spends approximately 38,003 hours eating over the course of their lifetime. Talk about a feeding frenzy! So, give your choppers a break and practice the art of mindful eating instead. 

Because, let’s be honest, our “instant gratification” culture has reduced this to a lost art.

By deliberately pacing yourself and savoring each bite throughout a meal, you’ll become more aware of your body’s internal cues which send the brain “hunger” and “fullness” messages. If you tune into these signals, they’ll take the guesswork out of knowing when to drop that fork.

Anyone can cultivate mindfulness — just slow down and listen. After all, the human body is constantly communicating, even when we’re too hurried or preoccupied to get the memo.

The infographic below explains how replacing those absent-minded munchies with mindful eating habits will help you make permanent strides toward a healthier, balanced and physically empowered lifestyle.

How to Master Mindful Eating


Shout-out to Health Perch for providing the featured research and  infographic.

Why, Yes. I DO Enjoy Exercise. (And, No. I’m NOT Lying.)

{This is a rant. You have been warned.}

Is it just me, or do any other “workout junkies” out there constantly feel pressured into justifying their love for fitness?

And, while we’re on this subject, does the following soapbox speech sound vaguely familiar?

“But, forreeeeal. I like the burn. It’s calming. Invigorating. Liberating, even!”

“Please don’t judge me.”

I digress. Maybe it’s a by-product of personal insecurities, but I find myself repeating that defensive mantra…a lot.

So, here’s the sitch: I am unabashedly passionate about maintaining a strong, toned and healthy physique, which often elicits both thinly veiled skepticism and outright condemnation from those, who view exercise as a necessary evil or instrument of torture.

Whether we’re talking crunches during a Friends marathon, yoga after a taxing 9–5, or even a brisk weekend hike, the more often others catch me engaging in physical activities, the more judgment I perceive from them.

What these skeptics apparently can’t reconcile, though, is that some of us might choose sweating in our Nike’s over lounging with a remote.

Nor have they considered the outrageous possibility that we might actually want to stay routinely active.

Not as penance for sneaking Cheetos.

Not as a miserable last resort because…well, skinny jeans.

But, because we freaks of nature associate exercise with personal empowerment rather than self-inflicted punishment.

Groundbreaking, huh?

I’ll just give you a minute to recover from your mind being blown.

Excuse the sarcasm, but occasional passive aggression is soothing for the soul. Besides, this is honestly how I feel whenever someone fixes me with a suspicious sidelong glare and demands, “You’re working out AGAIN?!?!” Voice dripping with accusatory condescension.

YES. Yes, I am. How astute of you to notice, person with functioning eyeballs.

Admittedly, I’ve flirted with the impulse to overexert myself. In the past, I even experienced addictive highs from going “too hard.” Therefore, I understand better than most of my accusers how difficult striking a healthy balance can be.

But progress is a thing, people!

“That girl who cried PHAT” — she’s no longer me. Once upon a time, maybe. But not anymore. I refuse to still be defined by how she would behave. The fact remains it took hardcore effort and commitment to sculpt this vigorous, muscular body, and — sorry, not sorry — I won’t quit now.

Exercise will never not be an integral part of my daily life.

So, to my fellow fitness aficionados who’ve been disputed or scoffed at for simply doing what you love: Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate (Taylor Swift lyrics, anyone?).

Don’t stop. Don’t agonize over this lack of acceptance. Just keep fueling your passion.

No guilt. No apologies. No shame.

Just. Pure. Awesomeness.

{End rant.}

Nutri Maqui: Because “Natural” Doesn’t Have to Mean “Nasty”

image courtesy of nutrilifescience.com

image courtesy of nutrilifescience.com

Why is the claim “all-natural” typically met with groans, eye rolling, and outright skepticism from the average consumer?

Well, because it’s often just that — a claim. Pretentious-sounding marketing ploys that guilt people into buying overpriced (not to mention, unappetizing!) products, which may or may not legitimately support a nutritious lifestyle.

The result? Money wasted, and no perceptible health benefits to justify the cost (or assault on your taste buds!).

If only there was a dietary supplement out there, which could live up to the “all-natural” hype, without compromising flavor and affordability…

Enter: Nutri Maqui.

This gluten-free superfruit juice is the solution to our dilemma, dear readers! Made with the purest and highest quality ingredients found in nature, Nutri Maqui delivers optimum nutritional benefits and tastes startlingly delicious, too. Think: sweet with just a hint of satisfying tartness. Fabuloso!

Developed by Nutri Lifescience, a Florida-based company dedicated to preserving the overall wellbeing of its customers with premium-grade health products, Nutri Maqui packs an energizing punch, guaranteed to power you through even the most hectic schedule.

Its primary active ingredient — maqui berry — is nature’s richest known source of antioxidants (essential nutrients that fight disease-causing free radicals in the body) and can only be harvested from the Patagonian region of South America. This extraordinary superfruit has been proven to fortify immune function, alleviate oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and promote both physical and mental longevity.

These are the very same benefits you can expect from just a single serving of Nutri Maqui!

Plus, integrating this dietary supplement into your regular routine couldn’t be simpler. Jump-start your morning by blending it into a smoothie. Drink it straight from the bottle for pre-workout fuel or post-workout recovery. Even enjoy it as an afternoon pick-me-up instead of reaching for those Doritos. Regardless of how you choose to get your daily dosage, Nutri Maqui fits in with any lifestyle demand.

Now, let’s discuss cost. One 32-ounce bottle retails on Amazon for $39.95, and — I can assure you — the value is worth the price tag. Check it out: Each serving equals 1 cap-ful, and every bottle contains 32 servings. That’s 32 days full of energy-boosting, antioxidant-enriching nourishment. Talk about a bang for your buck!

My personal experience with this superfruit juice can only be described as “love at first sip.” Nutri Maqui is the real deal, — not just another poser of false advertising — and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

So, whether you’re already an all-natural enthusiast or you’re striving to live healthier in the New Year, Nutri Maqui has you covered!

nutri maqui juice

image used with permission from Nutri Lifescience, LLC

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On Turning Your Body Image from Naughty to Nice

The holidays are a challenging time of year for me.

I won’t even bother pretending otherwise.

So, with Christmas just 2 days around the corner, that telltale anxiety has begun creeping up on me.

In T-48 hours, the festivities will commence. I’ll be plied with cut-out cookies, green bean casserole (whose appearance at the buffet table always makes me wonder: why is this even a thing???), and every sugary beverage imaginable. I’ll spend Christmas dinner inwardly squirming because there’s no socially acceptable reason to escape “family time” for a stress-relieving workout.

And — most cringe-worthy of all — I’ll nod and *fake* smile as the table conversation invariably shifts to, “I reeeeeeally shouldn’t eat this, but…”

Don’t give me wrong though, I still love the holidays.

No, seriously. I do.

I’m a sucker for seasonal traditions. I can flawlessly quote Elf, and I know the lyrics to every musical sequence in White Christmas (that’s right…not just the title song!). I’m always convinced reindeer can fly upon watching the “Santa Tracker” with my younger cousins. In fact, I’m even listening to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” while typing this post.

Yep. There’s no denying it. Christmas is magical.

Too bad the magic often takes a backseat to my “holiday weight”-centric neurosis.

Negative body image seems grossly intensified during this time of year, and I sure wish Santa would fill my stocking with manuals on getting through the season, unscathed by those pesky insecurities. All gift-wrapped and foolproof because I am on the Nice List, don’tcha know.

Right. If only.

Instead, I’m left to my own devices when faced with excessive eating, thoughtless comments, and degrading voices inside my head. And — if you’re anything like me — you’ve likely experienced the exact same struggle.

But, since we’ve established the Big Guy won’t be bringing any “Body Image Survival Guides” on his sleigh anytime soon, I’ll leave you with this:

3 strategies, which have empowered me to sidestep feelings of inadequacy, so I can actually enjoy the festivities. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, as well. Just sayin’…

  1. If you want a cookie, have a cookie! Depriving yourself  is counterproductive and will frequently lead to a binge. Instead of suppressing a sweet tooth or restricting your regular intake to compensate for said sweet tooth, only to lose control and devour the whole damn cookie jar when nobody’s looking, allow yourself some wiggle room. Don’t overindulge, but listen to those internal hunger cues. If your body is craving chocolate chip goodness, for instance, feed the urge.  Eat 1 cookie. Taste it. Savor it. Then, walk away from the remaining dozen. Sweet tooth satisfied. Anxiety alleviated.
  2. Enough already with “good” vs. “bad” foods! There are no bad foods (unless they’re loaded with artificial preservatives…then, they can’t really be considered food). Only bad eating habits. Example: I might avoid green bean casserole, but my sister loves that shit. Therefore, green bean casserole is neither “good” nor “bad.” Regardless of our individual taste buds, it’s still just food. How food is consumed, though, can be detrimental. Whether you’re obsessively counting calories or mindlessly munching until nausea ensues, you fall into the disordered eating category.  So, eliminate those labels. If you like something, just eat it.
  3. You can be social while staying in shape! Rather than sneaking away from the crowd to sweat off Christmas dinner, turn exercise into a family bonding activity. Take a brisk walk around the neighborhood together, while enjoying holiday lights. Organize a backyard touch football scrimmage. Even play Wii Sports with your cousins (that’s what I do!). By all means, get moving! Just don’t let fitness take precedence over relationships. Strike a healthy balance. Instead of turning your desire for physical exertion into a covert mission, invite others to join in the action.

Oh, and (because…randomness) here’s a picture of some cookies.

Christmas cookies Yes, I baked them. I also — gasp! — ate them.

Guiltlessly.

If I can, anyone can.

You’re welcome (and Merry Christmas!).

Habit-Forming Fitness in Just 5 Easy Steps

I could spend hours building a case for why you should make fitness an integral part of your daily routine. But I’m also under no illusions: working out on the reg is a downright pain in the ass when you’re not in the habit of doing so.

So, what’s the most straightforward way to change your view of exercise from a torture tool to a physical necessity you’ll actually begin to crave? It all starts with developing a game plan. And once you determine how to proceed, you may just surprise yourself by putting that plan into action.

I oughtta know. It’s been almost 6 years since yours truly decided getting in shape would become a lifestyle staple.

And that’s one decision I’ve yet to regret!


1. Commit to exercise during a specific time of day. Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, chances are your body knows when it feels the most energetic. So, set aside at least 30 minutes to work out during this prime period. It could be immediately after waking up or right before going to bed, but choosing a consistent time will remind you to make fitness both a priority and regularity.

2. Associate exercise with another routine activity. If you habitually watch TV every evening after dinner, do crunches, push-ups or other strength training work outs while catching the latest episode of your favorite show. That’s up to 1 hour of physical activity (depending on the program’s length), and you probably won’t even notice those burning muscles with the TV as a distraction.

3. Sneak exercise into errands or office/housework. Instead of taking the elevator at work, opt for the stairs. Avoid parking right by the store entrance when you’re out shopping, park further away and walk across the lot. If you live in a relatively urban area, bike around rather than drive. Turn chores – like cooking, vacuuming, or washing the car – into a work out by doing them vigorously.

4. Assign a different type of exercise to each day. A work out schedule will keep you both organized and on-task. For example: Monday is “leg day,” Tuesday is “core day,” Wednesday is “arm day,” Thursday is “cardio day” (i.e. running, biking, zumba, etc.), Friday is “yoga day,” Saturday is “interval day” (i.e. tabata – cardio and strength training circuits), and Sunday is “recovery day.”

5. Vary your exercise regimen on a frequent basis. The most common culprit of a fizzled out fit ambition is boredom. You start strong, going to the gym every day, then gradually scale back until it’s no longer built into your muscle memory. Monotony often prevents you from moving forward, which is why you should switch up your work outs at least monthly for a fresh jolt of invigoration.


These strategies were highly effective for me, and I hope you’ll find them equally useful in your own pursuit of a habitual healthy lifestyle!

Who Ate It Better: Yanks vs. Brits

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I prefer to think of myself as Eurocentric.

I mean…I’m not. But I’ve spent enough time around Europeans to convince myself that their expressions (“bloody hell” a la Ron Weasley), customs (because who can resist a pub crawl?!) and utter sophistication (Kate Middleton…enough said) are mine by osmosis. In reality, I’m that Yank, who can’t even fake a British accent; however, I have been known to reference my college days as uni. So, that counts…right?

In all seriousness though, here’s one Euro attribute I believe Americans could benefit from: a mindful relationship with food. One of my best friends (or, mate, as they say Across the Pond), Millie, is from England. And, during our “NYU roomie” days, I learned more from her about healthy eating habits than I ever had from anyone else.

(Side-note: she’s the tall, thin blonde in that photo above. I’m the vertically-challenged goober holding our turtle friend, Alan).

From what I gather, Europeans are generally “meat-and-potatoes” people. It’s not that their diet is necessarily more nutritious than in the States (although you’d be hard pressed to find a rampant fast food culture over there). It’s that they’ve mastered moderation. Unlike many Americans, who have seemingly shut off this part of the brain, Europeans are tuned into hunger cues.  They eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re satisfied.

Notice I said satisfied. Not full.

S-A-T-I-S-F-I-E-D.

This, in my opinion, is the missing link that puts us at a disadvantage. We’ve been culturally conditioned to lick our plates clean. To keep that fork moving until we physically can’t swallow another bite. We have super-size Big Macs with extra processed cheese and 2 greasy patties. We have entire holidays dedicated to gorging ourselves with good ol’ Southern cooking. We have fried Snickers bars and bacon-wrapped bacon (but, seriously…why is that even a thing?!). No wonder diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and obesity are reaching epidemic proportions.

Overall, the American mentality toward food just can’t keep pace with countries, like England or France. Granted, Parisians do love their cream sauces. And Londoners effortlessly down pints of Guinness. On average though, they can enjoy an indulgent  meal without shoveling it away in excess.

Another difference I’ve noticed is that Europeans view eating as a leisurely social activity. They take their time during meals. They actually taste each flavor combination.

I inhale food. Sad but true. And unfortunately, that’s not abnormal among Yanks. It most definitely is among Brits though! When Millie and I would grab dinner in China Town or Little Italy, I’d finish eating within 10 minutes. But she’d savor every single bite. This both fascinated and perplexed me. After all…was still recovering from anorexia, while Millie was thoroughly content with her body image.  She didn’t care much about weight. I spent most days preoccupied with weight. Yet she trumped me in the health department. Every time.

How was this possible?

And then I realized: it’s possible because Brits, like Millie, approach mindful eating as a lifestyle. Not even a conscious decision, but just the way to be. They understand balanced nutrition is nonnegotiable if you want to stay active and live longer. They. Get. It.

Further proof that Yanks can learn a thing or 2 from our British mates…here are 5 lessons Millie taught me, which led to finally making peace with my own body:

  1. Size Zero doesn’t really exist in Europe, and they’re sorry about Twiggy.
  2. Most Europeans would rather walk or ride their bikes instead of driving.
  3. Oh, and they rarely opt for “non-fat;” they just consume smaller portions.
  4. Eating disorders are less prevalent in the UK than the US. (Like…British media actually acknowledges the medical complications, rather than turning them into a fashion statement).
  5. Counting calories is highly unusual. (Whereas, in New York, you’ll find calorie breakdowns on every menu. Even at the Regal Cinema. I mean…if you’re gonna order a large popcorn, hasn’t the “calorie ship” already sailed?!)

Basically, they just do life better over there.

And that’s my “OWNED!” face in the photo below…

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