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!).

Egg-less…Eggnog?!?!

Yup. You read correctly.

And, let me assure you: this is one mouthwatering oxymoron!

Quite possibly, my favorite seasonal indulgence is eggnog. Add a generous splash of rum, and that sugary, yolk-y, saturated fatty concoction tastes like liquid Christmas.

With a complementary aftertaste of “hello, holiday pounds!”

Sure, sometimes I can rationalize this guilty little pleasure with the old “Look at me getting my daily dose of protein!” excuse. But, the unfortunate fact remains that your average store-bought eggnog contains more imitation Nog than freshly-cracked Egg.

Still, it’s Christmastime, and seasonal beverage enthusiasts — such as myself — shouldn’t have to deprive themselves of drinkable holiday cheer. Therefore, I submit for your culinary experimentation (and guiltless enjoyment), a nutritious and equally delicious alternative to the questionable eggnog you’ll find on a dairy aisle.

This vegan recipe cuts down on refined sugar, saturated fat, and other artificial additives. It also substitutes avocado — Wait, what? Oh, yes! — for eggs, and coconut milk for all that…well, “Nog” stuff. The combined creaminess of these ingredients creates that delectably thick, smooth texture associated with classic eggnog (and even offers up some omega-3 goodness!). Plus, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla add flavorful holiday nuances to get you into a cozy state-of-mind.

So, ignore the slightly greenish tint (because it really does taste like eggnog), and drink up!


  • Ingredients:
  1. small Hass Avocado
  2. 1 1/2 cups Coconut Milk
  3. 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
  4. 1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  5. 1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  6. 1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
  7. 1 packet Stevia Powder

vegan eggnog ingredients

  • Preparation: 
  1. Peel the avocado and remove its pit, then chop the avocado into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Transfer the avocado chunks into a blender, then pour in the coconut milk.
  3. Stir the vanilla extract, stevia powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into the coconut milk.
  4. Turn the blender to a medium-high setting, then puree the mixture until thoroughly smooth.
  5. Transfer the liquid into a tall glass (or Christmas-y mug!!!) and lightly sprinkle nutmeg on top.

vegan eggnog before

vegan eggnog after

Gallery

Don’t Wait for the New Year. It’s Never Too Early for a New You.

Yeah…Yeah…Yeah. You know the drill:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

…for working up a sweat, that is!

Wait, is that not how the song goes? Oh, well. Sorry to burst your bubble, but with the imminent threat of “holiday pounds” (dun! dun! dun!) looming on the horizon, now is an ideal time to kick your fitness goals into high gear. Why hold out until New Years to start acting on that — dare I say, predictable — resolution?

The following 28-day Interval Training circuit, courtesy of Girls Gone Sporty and CROSSROPE, will support you all the way through this festive, yet often diet-derailing season.

With a combination of high intensity tabata, cardio and strength conditioning exercises, you can count on this 4-week program to whip you into tip-top shape — just in time for debuting that brand new little black dress  at holiday parties or tongue-tying those hypercritical relatives into stunned silence.

These daily workouts can be done absolutely anywhere, anytime.  And, aside from your own body weight, the only equipment you’ll need is a jump rope.  (Any jump rope will suffice; however, if you wanna get uber legit, the masterminds behind this program suggest using CROSSROPE’s Double Under Domination Set. Check out my social media accounts to score a 5% discount code on CROSSROPE merchandise.)

So, without further ado…Tone your way through Thanksgiving and Christmas, then ring in the New Year with a fabulous physique and oodles of confidence to continue this healthy streak into 2015!

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***Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these image slides or the 28-Day Interval Training circuit. All credit for this post goes to Laura Williams, founder of Girls Gone Sporty, in association with CROSSROPE.***

(Oh, and one more thing: Download the entire program here.)

My Top 5 Picks for any Fitness Fanatic’s Holiday Run List

If you’re among those brave souls, who refuse to let frigid temperatures stand between you and staying in shape, here’s a golf clap. I applaud that dedication!

But — sigh! — I can’t sit with you.

Partly, because I don’t wear pink on Wednesdays. But, mostly, because my body and winter weather don’t get along.

In my defense, I’ve spent most of my life in the sub-tropics, so anything below 60-degrees sends me running for a hoodie. If I faced the same conditions  that Northerners (Or, anyone above the Florida-Georgia line, really. Yep, I’m that warm blooded!) deal with on a daily basis, then outdoor workouts could just kiss my booty goodbye until spring.

Fortunately, in my stomping grounds, exercising throughout winter months requires leggings and long sleeves at the most. If you live in a colder climate, though, you’re probably laughing at me right about now. As you should. Your badassery puts my year-round flip-flopped feet to shame.

But, before heading outside to conquer the elements this season, better make sure you’re equipped for combat, right?

Right.

(Or, so I’ve heard. I’m still new at this “brrrrr!” stuff).

The following #HolidayRunList will help you accomplish just that. Although it’s specifically tailored toward runners, fitness enthusiasts of every activity level can also get in on the action.  Below, I’ve featured my favorite winter-ready workout gear — which I may or may not sport in 60-degree temps — that will keep you moving despite Jack Frost nipping at your nose. See what I did there?!

Whether you’re a hardcore marathoner or casual jogger, these seasonal must haves are perfect for running in a winter wonderland. Plus, they make snazzy gifts and stocking stuffers, so you might wanna include them in that letter to Santa. Or, just #TreatYoself.

Since you managed to avoid the Naughty List, and all.

Anyway, without further ado…

My #HolidayRunList (in no particular order):

  1.  Nike Lightweight Tech Gloves ($14.97) — These gloves are made from patented Dri-Fit material to keep your hands cozy, without building up sweat. Added Bonus: the fingertips are touch-screen compatible, so you can easily track your distance, check the time, or crank up your running playlist on a mobile device.
  2. Lululemon Run With Me Ear Warmer ($26.00) —  This ear warmer fits snugly against your skin, with a comfortable 4-way stretch to prevent chafing. Added Bonus: both sides are reversible and provide 360-degree reflectivity, so you can stay stylish, visible, and safe when clocking some miles after dark.
  3. ASICS Lite-Show Favorite Pullover ($60.00) — This pullover top is figure flattering and brightly colored to keep you feeling confident, while working those muscles. Added Bonus: the fabric is climate-controlled to increase breathability and help your body adapt to unpredictable weather patterns.
  4. Fabletics Salar Capri ($39.95) — These capri pants provide a full range-of-motion with smooth, stretchy material that wicks moisture, while warming your legs from the inside out. Added Bonus: eye-catching designs, such as chevron, make these bottoms a sure-bet for effortless street-style, as well.
  5. ProCompression Calf Sleeves ($45.00) — Now for the main attraction! These calf sleeves have recently become my go-to workout accessories. Ideal for a wide range of physical activities, they’re made with graduated compression technology that optimizes blood circulation and oxygenation, supports lower leg muscles and tendons, and prevents stiffness and inflammation. Plus, they’re available in various colors and prints for extra cuteness on Race Day. Read all about the amazing benefits of your new “exercise bestie” — and snag a pair for yourself — on ProCompression’s website. Then, enter the code PINK2 at check-out for a 40% discount (valid until December 15, 2014)!

And, just for kicks, here’s yours truly rocking my ProCompression Calf Sleeves in the pseudo-winter Sunshine State…

ProCompression Calf Sleeves

when they first arrived in the mail

ProCompression Calf Sleeves Resting

they’re not only functional, but fashion-forward too!

ProCompression Calf Sleeves Running

out for a test run…final verdict: 2 thumbs up!!! 

Now, what are you waiting for? Hit the pavement this season without a case of those cha-cha-cha-chills slowing you down.

For the First Time in Forever: Frozen-Inspired Holiday Decorating

I grew up in Orlando, which means that an obsession with all things Disney has practically been written into my genetic code. As such, the holidays never fail to bring out the “Disnerd” in me.

During this most glorious of seasons, my family can be found celebrating Christmas “around the world” at EPCOT, decorating our oh-so-traditional Mickey Mouse-themed tree, and — most recently — watching Frozen while sipping hot cocoa.

(Side Note: I make the best hot cocoa EVER. Here’s my secret formula: 1 c. rice milk and 2 tbsp. Nutella, melted over medium-heat for 5 minutes. And don’t skimp on that Nutella; it’s the clincher here. Besides, a little holiday indulgence never hurt anyone, right?!)

Wait. What were we talking about? My affinity for Christmas beverages took me off on a tangent.

Oh, right. Disney. My other affinity.

So, the Frozen fanaticism has hit me hard. Guilty as charged. My twin sister and I even refer to ourselves as Anna and Elsa. (But, as the oldest by 1 whole minute…I’m obviously Elsa.) Wanna see our Arendelle-couture Halloween costumes? Sure you do!

Anna Halloween Costume

Elsa Halloween Costume

Nope. The cold never bothered us anyway.  But enough with all these tangents. There is a point to this post, I promise.

Now that Halloween is over and the holidays have officially begun (Hey…Starbucks says so. Those red cups are back, people!), ’tis the season to start crafting.  And, in typical “Disnerd” fashion, no DIY project in my house would be complete without a nod to the Happiest Place on Earth.

So, $20 and 2 hours wandering around Hobby Hobby later, I set to work recreating some Elsa ice-magic.  The finished product — a Frozen-inspired Christmas wreath.

So, while this isn’t related to health and fitness, it turned out so cute that I just had to share!

All it took was faith, trust, pixie dust, and the following tutorial:

  •  What You’ll Need:
  1. 16-inch metal wreath form
  2. 3-foot rope of silver garland
  3. 3-foot rope of icicle beads
  4. 6 lavender snowflake ornaments
  5. 1 pkg. assorted-size blue ball ornaments
  6. 4 teardrop pearl branches
  7. hot glue gun & glue sticks
  8. wire cutters or scissors
  9. wreath door hanger
  • Time to Make It:
  1. Glue one end of the garland rope to the top center of the wreath form and wrap the garland tightly around the wreath until the other end reaches the point where you started, then glue it down.
  2. Glue one end of the icicle bead rope to the top center of the wreath form and loosely drape the beads around the wreath until the other end reaches the point where you started, then glue it down.
  3. If you have any extra garland left over, cut several 3-inch strands and glue them, at one end, around the wreath, so they stick out  in a random yet artful arrangement.
  4. Remove the loop hangers from the snowflake ornaments, then glue them onto the wreath in whatever pattern you choose. (I opted for symmetry here, but feel free to get creative!)
  5. Remove the loop hangers from the ball ornaments, then glue them onto the wreath, between the snowflakes in whatever pattern you choose. (I placed them in clusters of varying numbers/sizes.)
  6. Cut the teardrop pearl strands off the main branch and glue them, at one end, around the wreath, so they stick out in a random yet artful arrangement. (I paired each pearl strand with a garland strand.)
  7. Allow the hot glue to dry completely, approximately 10 minutes, then hang this fabulously Frozen-ified creation outside your door for the neighbors to ogle at with envy!

And, just in case you were wondering, the finished product should look something like this…

Frozen inspired Christmas wreath

Hey, Y’all! It’s Time for Fall!

happy fallimage courtesy of onlysmallthings.com

On principle, I religiously avoid using the expression “Y’all” (because, make no mistake: Florida may, geographically, be considered the South, but Floridians are NOT Southern!).

However, today, I’m temporarily suspending my “Y’all” boycott for 3 reasons:

  1. Fall has officially fallen.
  2. “Y’all” rhymes with “fall.”
  3. I just really love fall.

In fact, I’ll probably be wishing people an exuberant “Happy fall, Y’all!” all day ’cause the calendar says we’ve finally arrived! Summer sweat is a thing of the past. Crisp air, crunchy leaves, cinnamon-scented candles, and pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING have taken its place.

And, in the spirit of welcoming this stupendous season, I’ve compiled a countdown of my Top 10 favorite autumn-isms. (Although, I could seriously go on for 10 pages!).

Got any of your own favorites, worth adding to the list…Y’all?!


10. UGG boots, infinity scarves, leggings, and over-sized sweaters become every girl’s signature wardrobe.

9. It’s acceptable to spend every spare minute crafting and baking (just keep it pumpkin though, capiche?).

8. Food Network is unanimously considered the TV channel of choice from right about now until January 1.

7. Yankee Candle Company breaks out with all their cinnamon spice, apple cider, and snickerdoodle scents.

6. The foliage changes from boring ‘ol green to vibrant red, fiery orange, buttery yellow, and rustic brown.

5. It won’t be long before the holidays are upon us (in fact, I call mid-October the start of Holiday Season).

4. There’s an invigorating chill outside that clears the senses, puts a pep in the step, and refreshes the soul.

3. Starbucks serves up seasonal favorites (PSL, anyone? Yep, went there!) and invites us to #SpreadTheCheer.

2.  Black Friday becomes a festivity in itself, and the stores play “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on loop.

1. Everyone – and I do mean EVERYONE – hops on the pumpkin bandwagon, from desserts to coffee creamers.

(And, to that point: I may or may not be eating pumpkin oatmeal as we speak…)

pumpkin oatmeal

Jealous, much?