Simple Steps to Feel Amazing Every Day this Summer

Summertime is the official spokes-season (see what I did there?) of relaxation, vitality and pure amazingness. In fact, my personal mantra during these gloriously sun-drenched months is to Feel Amazing Every Day through self-care rituals, alfresco explorations, fitness commitments and superfood sustenance.

 And in that spirit of epic expectations, lemme divulge my Top 4 no-fail wellness pointers, along with statistical snapshots on why you should care. Then, we can ALL proceed to make this summer one for the history books!

feel amazing every day

1.  Start Each Day with a Yoga Flow.

  • Stimulates physical energy
  • Alleviates emotional stress
  • Cultivates breath awareness
  • Forges a mind–body connection
  • Promotes full-body movement
upward dog

upward dog, anyone? ignore the…err…unflattering angle!

2.  Say “Hell Yeah” to Whole Foods.

  • Gives the body nutrient–dense fuel
  • Satiates hunger for extended periods
  • Curbs refined sugar cravings over time
  • Encourages a mindful eating practice
  • Replaces “artificial” with all–natural
amazing grass pancakes

protein pancakes topped with almond butter drizzle

3.  Spend Quality Time Outdoors.

  • Improves respiration & circulation
  • Reduces stress for mental clarity
  • Offers the benefits of Vitamin D
  • Motivates cardiovascular activity
  • Fosters appreciation for nature
amazing grass smoothie 2

RayBan shades and 95–degree Florida humidity…optional

4.  Slurp on Amazing Grass Smoothies.

  • Contains 20g of plant-based protein
  • Yields 2 servings of fruit & veggies
  • Includes 7 alkalizing leafy greens
  • Supports lean muscle development
  • Regulates optimal digestive health
  • Provides these wellness benefits:
    • USDA-certified organic ingredients
    • non-GMO & gluten-free verified
    • no added sugars or preservatives
    • vegan, kosher & pareve compliant
amazing grass smoothie 3

organic pea, hemp, chia and quinoa…OH MY!

Psssst…wanna experience all that AMAZINGNESS for yourself this summer? Then, don’t forget to enter my Amazing Grass Protein Superfood Giveaway! Check out the details below and indicate which flavor you’d prefer: Original, Vanilla or Chocolate–Peanut Butter.

instagram giveaway

***Open U.S.–based entries only.  Winner selected at midnight July 9.***

 

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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.

Suggestions for Staying Active on a Shoestring Budget

I’m in my early twenties and have only been able to claim “college grad” status for 10 months. I earn an unsteady – albeit enjoyable – living as a freelance writer. I spend most week nights watching Netflix, since that’s about all I can afford.

So, you connect the dots: this girl’s expendable income is questionable, at best.

However, these twenty-something financial woes (basic white girl problem, anyone?!) haven’t stopped me from discovering fun – and ideally, FREE – weekend pastimes. And nothing recharges my batteries quite like some physical exertion.

Fortunately, near my stomping grounds, there are several inexpensive and off-the-beaten-path activities, just waiting for a broke girl to take advantage of.

Exhibit A: hit up a local farmer’s market.

Exhibit B: explore a seaside nature preserve.


I’ll start with Exhibit A. First, here are some photos from my stroll among South Florida’s gloriously organic, locally-sourced, and seasonal produce (a.k.a. an au naturel lover’s dream!):

farmers market 1

eat organic!!!

farmers market 2

downtown Bradenton, FL locally grown fruit/veggie stands

farmers market 3

downtown Bradenton, FL fair trade product stands

farmers market 4

organic plants, holistic remedies, and homegrown spices/herbs

farmers market 5

my sister sipping homemade guava and sugar cane lemonade

Call me a “foodie” geek, but I just love the pulse of a downtown farmer’s market – even on a small-scale like this one I visited.

The air surrounding these produce stalls feels fresher somehow…more invigorating. The fruits taste juicier, and the vegetables crisper. There is an easy-breezy vibe and tight-knit sense of community.

It’s the textbook definition of autumn.


Which brings me to Exhibit B. I only live 10 minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico (rough life, huh?), and there’s a 487-acre nature preserve near the Anna Maria Island beaches.

This breathtaking coastal and wetland habitat is probably the area’s best kept secret, but I’m among the lucky few, who have stumbled upon its pristine beauty.

So, enjoy these snapshots from my Sunday afternoon spent hiking along winding waterfront trails, lined with postcard-perfect palm trees and marsh grass lazily lolling in the breeze. (Can’t help the alliterations…I am a writer, after all! Sorry not sorry.)

Robinson Preserve 1

Gulf of Mexico inlet

Robinson Preserve 2

natural wetland habitat

Robinson Preserve 3

trail to the 360-degree view observation tower

Robinson Preserve 4

view of the bay from the observation deck (St. Petersburg Skyline Bridge in the background)

Robinson Preserve 5

view of the wetlands from the observation deck

Robinson Preserve 6

another view of the wetlands

Robinson Preserve 7

that’s me on the tower’s top level

Robinson Preserve 8

Gulf of Mexico with the Skyline Bridge in the background

Robinson Preserve 9

view of the Gulf of Mexico from behind a mangrove

Robinson Preserve 10

coquina path through natural foliage

Robinson Preserve 11

inlet with overhanging mangroves

Robinson Preserve 12

Gulf of Mexico beach with sailboats in the background

This regionally protected environmental gem features several recreational – and yes, absolutely free – opportunities, from hiking/biking trails to canoe/kayak launches. The diverse scenery reminded me of an African savannah or a deserted tropical island.

For awhile, I even forgot this was still my hometown.

Whether you’re a Southwest Florida resident or occasional vacationer, if you ever find yourself tooling around these parts, I highly recommend a Robinson Preserve pit-stop.

And, next time you’re looking for cost-efficient weekend fun, check into local farmer’s markets or nature preserves in your own backyard. Both are fantastic ways to get moving without breaking the bank!

50 Ways to Turn “Train Time” into “Play Time”

Burn excess fat, build lean muscle, and get that heart rate pumping without even feeling like you put forth the effort. These enjoyable (and shockingly effective!) physical activities take the “work” out of “working out.” No heavy lifting…it’s all fun and games over here!!!


 1. jumping rope

2. paddle-boarding

3. pole dancing

4. kayaking

kayaking

5. gardening

6. playing Wii Sports

7. hula hooping

8. rock climbing

9. ice skating

ice skating

10. fencing

11. strolling the beach

12. roller blading

13. kickboxing

14. geocaching

treasure hunting

15. doing aerial yoga

16. putt-putt golfing

17. playing beach volleyball

18. bowling

bowling

19. playing D.D.R.

20. walking the dog

21. spinning

22. acting out charades

23. swimming

swimming

24. shooting hoops

25. relay racing

26. doing obstacle courses

27. playing tennis

28. primal moving

primal moving

29. housecleaning

30. trampolining

31. horseback riding

32. shopping

33. cross-country skiing

jumping in the snow

34. hiking

35. playing laser tag

36. volunteering

37. bicycling

bicycling

38. painting the house

39. scuba diving

40. body-surfing

41. building a tree fort

42. dancing

dancing

43. throwing darts

44. swinging

45. mowing the lawn

46. banging on drums

drumming

47. washing the car

48. stretching

49. doing martial arts

50. skipping


So, yeah…staying in shape can be MUCH easier than you realized. Capiche?!

15 Reasons to Get Active in the Great Outdoors

In recognition of today as summer’s official start-date, say hello to the limitless playground that is Mother Nature!

Go on, get out there…here’s why you should:


1. Increased exposure to fresh air allows the respiratory, cardiovascular, and circulatory systems to function at their optimum.

2. Being surrounded by nature – particularly plant life – has been proven to reduce anxiety, stress, and clinical depression.

3. Healing powers in both the ground and atmosphere build immunity toward chronic illnesses, such as cancer or diabetes.

4. Regular doses of natural sunlight boost the body’s production of Vitamin D, which supports bone growth and density.

5. The green pigmentation found in leafy foliage stimulates energy, elevates the mood, and sparks a burst of creativity.

6. Both holistic medicine and modern science show that walking barefoot on grass fights insomnia, leading to peaceful sleep.

7. Nature’s abundance of sensory stimuli improves concentration, memory, alertness and other cognitive functions.

8. The average person is more likely to exercise outside than at a gym, so even 10 minutes in the backyard triggers movement.

9. Exploring the wonders of this planet promotes adventure and taking chances, which is vital for personal development.

10. Unplugging from technology and greeting the new day improves eyesight, since staring at LCD screens strains the pupils.

11. Even a stroll around the block is ideal for stretching tight muscles and lubricating stiff joints – especially those knees.

12. Any amount of time spent engaging in recreational activities or relaxing outdoors naturally heightens self-esteem.

13. The simple act of leaving those 4 walls behind encourages face-to-face human interaction, connection, and community.

14. A daily retreat from urban pollution – in a park or by a lake, for instance – boosts the body’s white blood cell count by 50%.

15. Another reason to go barefoot outside, walking on earthy, rough terrain activates reflex points that ease physical tension.

Take the “10,000 Steps a Day” Challenge

Remember all those mornings you faintly mused, “I should get up and go for a run. Uh huh. I’ll do that. Definitely.” (before rolling over and falling right back to sleep)?

Don’t lie…it’s happened. But, hey, no judgment! Running isn’t exactly everybody’s first – or second or third…or fourth – choice. And admitting that doesn’t mean you just committed a fitness felony. After all, exercise should be a feel-good activity, not an instrument of torture. So, even if you don’t have the makings of an Olympic sprinter, you’re not S.O.L. There is, in fact, another (and, I’m sure you’ll agree, less grueling) way to meet your daily cardio quota. And here’s the kicker: you already do it. Constantly. Without much effort.

I mean…you walk, right?

Thought so. Well, then how ’bout walking for a workout?

Yes, it’s a thing. You really can stay in shape by simply putting 1 foot in front of the other. We’re not talking a leisurely meander though. Nope, sorry (you still gotta MOVE, girl!). I’m referring to a purposeful, powerful, pump-those-legs-and-swing-those-arms kinda walk. Put some pep in that step, okay?!

Alright. So, brisk pace. Now, let’s go even further. Allow me to introduce  the – drumroll please! – “10,000 Steps a Day” challenge. Developed by the National Health Service, this incentive offers a virtually painless solution for those, who struggle with fitting exercise into their schedules. Simply lace up those sneakers and start walking from Point A to Point B.

But, just in case you’re skeptical that such a seemingly mundane activity counts toward a legit workout, let’s crunch some numbers. According to NHS, the average person takes 1,000 steps in 10 minutes…so, you do the math: walk for approximately 1-hour-40-minutes and viola! You’ve reached 10,000 steps. Make this a habitual routine and reap the rewards of increased stamina, heart health, limber joints, and energy to burn.

STILL not sold? Taking more steps throughout the day can be as minimal as following these suggestions:

1. Opt for the stairs instead of an elevator.

2. Park further away from the mall entrance than you typically would.

3. Forego driving and pound the pavement to work (if you live close enough).

4. Stroll through the park with a friend or significant other.

5. Leash up your dog and actually let him drag you, for a change.

6. Join a cause like the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk.

7. Grab your IPod and bebop along to some favorite tunes.

8. Feel the sand between your toes along the beach.

7. Invest in a pedometer, Apple Fitbit, or Nike FuelBand and make a game out of setting (then beating) personal walking records.

Challenge. Accepted.