Archives for May 2010

Yoga On the Go

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Although I travel quite a bit for work, I always find time to fit in a run or a workout. Some people use work-related travel as an excuse to forgo workouts. But I’m a firm believer of the mantra – where there’s a will, there’s a way. Most of the time, it’s easy to just go for a run in the city or to use the hotel gym’s treadmill. However, there are those times when fitting a run in seems almost impossible. I’m sure you’ve all been there:

  • You get in too late to your destination city to fit in a outdoor run and you don’t want to pay the hotel gym fee for a 45-minute run
  • The area where you’re staying is too sketchy for you to run outside; plus, the hotel only has two treadmills, both of which are out of order
  • It’s terrible weather outside, which sends you to the hotel gym only to find it’s too packed to find an open machine

Although I’d choose running over all forms of exercise, I’d prefer to do any type of exercise over none at all. In situations where I can’t run while traveling, I find it good to have a back up plan. Here’s how I cope…

Pack Your Workout: I received a yoga mat for my birthday and it is a wonderful fitness tool to have! It is thin enough to fit in my suitcase and even my carry on, yet still provides a quality yoga mat feel. I just put a hotel towel down on the floor, throw the mat over it, grab my yoga pose book, and I’m good to go.

Try e-Yoga: And speaking of yoga, iTunes has several free downloadable audio and video yoga podcasts (like Yoga Today), ranging from hatha to flow, and more. You can also print out several yoga sequences through Yoga Journal or download sequences at Yoga Download.

Workout Anywhere: Health and fitness magazines and their corresponding Web sites are great resources for workouts that you can do anywhere. Women’s Health magazine has a great list of ipod friendly workouts to download and Shape magazine has several spot-training workouts you can access with an Internet connection. Bonus – most workouts can be done right in your own hotel room.

So, as you can see, even if you’re confined to your hotel room, there’s really no excuse for skipping your workout. Now get going!

3 Reasons to Break Your Starbucks Habit

More than once on this blog I have mentioned my affection for tea. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a Starbucks addict, but am trying to quit by replacing my coffee with tea. So today, as I sat at my desk, dreaming of Starbucks but drinking my Tazo Awake tea, I reminded myself of all of the benefits of breaking my Starbucks habit.

3 Reasons to Break Your Starbucks Habit

1) Save money – On average, I visit Starbucks 3-4 times a week and spend about $4 each time. Do the math, that’s up to $16 a week or more than $800 a year. If I buy my Tazo from the store at about $3 a box, which could last 2-3 weeks – oh my, just think of all the money I could spend on new yoga clothes!

2) Calorie control – Unless I get a skinny latte, the calories in my go-to Frap equal about 250 calories a pop. Again, do the math, if a pound is equal to 3,500 calories, I may very likely be gaining 1 pound every couple of weeks, unless I cut down my calories in some other way. So essentially, I’m paying Starbucks $800 a year to put on 26 pounds.

3) Health benefits – Yes, I know coffee does have many health benefits, but the unbelievable amount of sugar that is included in my signature drink is definitely not healthy. Even if I get the “lite” Frap, it’s loaded with artificial sweetener, which is a whole other issue. Furthermore, by switching to tea, I may even gain more health benefits. Tea has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. Tea has been known to contribute to:

  • Heart health
  • Cancer prevention
  • Skin protection
  • Alzheimer’s Disease prevention
  • Dental health

Spend less, cut calories, and improve my health – how many more reasons do I need??? Apparently, all of these reasons are not enough because I’ve attempted to break my Starbucks habit in the past and, obviously, it hasn’t worked.

For me, the big test is business travel. While traveling for business, I will often get 1-2 Starbucks a day as treat AND because I don’t have to pay for it! So, I’m leaving for Washington, DC, on Sunday where Starbucks are plentiful. Any suggestions on how to avoid the green mermaid?

If you’ve recently quit Starbucks (and lived to tell about it) what tricks/strategies did you use to help you through your ordeal?

Mother's Day Conundrum

Happy Belated Mother’s Day everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful day. It was fairly chilly in Chicago yesterday, but I managed to get outdoors, go out to lunch, and do a little shopping – all by myself!

After an awesome 7-mile run, Scott and the kids surprised me with a bag of mother’s day gifts. As you will see from the photo above, they gave me:

  • Conundrum Wine – A few weeks ago, when I was in Orlando for work, a senior staff member ordered a bottle of Conundrum wine for the table. The wine was a little more expensive than the wine I’m used to, but hey, I wasn’t buying! I normally like Chardonnay, but I loved this wine. It is a mix of a variety of green grapes – the makers don’t reveal the exact blend, just to keep you guessing. I mentioned to Scott that I liked the wine and somehow he remembered! Then again, it is wine we’re talking about. I would not be surprised if I drink one glass and he finishes the bottle. Classy.
  • Tea Cup – Yes, I’m a lover of tea cups. And the one above probably looks familiar. I was actually given this anthropologie tea cup for a Christmas present. However, it fell out of the cupboard two weeks ago and broke all over the floor – ugh! I was so bummed thinking it was probably sold out by now. But alas, Scott managed to find one hidden away in the store.
  • Ruffle Blouse – I also received a very cute lime green (although it looks yellow in the picture) ruffle blouse from Anthropologie. The material for this blouse is incredibly soft and very light – awesome for summer. Although, it is a little too big and the color is definitely not idea for my skin tone. No problem, I’ve already seen several other tops from Anthropologie that I like – guess I have to go shopping again!

In other news…I’m leaving for Washington, DC on Sunday for a 5-day trip. I was suppose to go with a colleague from work. However, I just found out that I will be going alone! Traveling to DC for a whole 5 days by myself – oh the possibilities!! I plan to fit in a few runs around the capitol, dinner at an awesome restaurant with a friend, and maybe, just maybe, a fancy cupcake or two!

French Macaron Friday

This morning I ran inside on the treadmill for the first time in weeks. I have to be honest, I was not at all excited about running today. I’ve gotten so used to running outside that it’s hard to go back indoors. I’m hoping that this spell of rainy cold weather will not last much longer.

Because of the rainy and overall yucky weather, I spent most of the day inside the house with the kids – save for a Starbucks run around 11 AM. I contemplated taking the kids to an indoor play area, the movies, or the bookstore – all of which would end up costing me at least a little money. But instead, we played legos, built little hammocks for their stuffed friends, and built a fort/castle made out of sheets, blankets, pillows, couches, and little tables. It’s time likes these when I’m reminded that, unlike adults, little children don’t need to spend money to have fun, they just need to spend time with you.

And what did I treat myself to after spending the whole day inside with the kids? A beautiful, fluffy vanilla macaron – it definitely made up for running on the treadmill!

Tree Pose For Balance And Relaxation

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Stress. Worry. Anxiety. Uncertainty. We all feel these emotions at some point in our lives -and for some of us, we feel them on a weekly or daily basis. Among other things, these emotions can leave us feeling mentally and physically unbalanced.

If you’re feeling a little off-center these days, due to family, work, or anything else, try taking a moment to center yourself – to find your balance. A good way to do this is with yoga, specifically, the tree pose.

For those of you who already practice yoga, what I am about to say will be like preaching to the choir. Tree pose is a balancing pose that requires you to focus and relax at the same time. Tree pose helps you work on your balance, but it also can help you clear your head and steady your body and soul. There are many postures in yoga that I have not yet perfected – down dog, warrior three – the list goes on and on. But tree pose is one that I do quite well. And, when I focus, clearly concentrating on perfecting my tree, I can think of nothing else. Instant relaxation, albeit temporary.

If you’ve never practiced yoga or just need a refresher on how to maneuver the tree pose, Yoga Journal has an easy, step-by-step guide on the tree pose, and many other yoga poses, most of which include photos.

So when stress leaves you feeling a bit lost, find your tree – and yourself – again.

How Many Calories Are in Your Favorite Cheese?

I love cheese. If I were on a deserted island and could choose to have a few foods at my disposal, cheese would definitely be one of them. My love for cheese has also passed down to my children. I distinctly remember my son’s early experience with cheese. We were at the grocery store when he was about a year old. I let him hold a block of cheese (tightly wrapped of course) just to keep him occupied. I turned my back for a minute or two only to find that he had gnawed through the plastic to eat the block of cheese. Yep, he’s my son alright.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

We all have our favorite cheese(s). My favorites happen to be aged parmesan, extra sharp white cheddar, and the lovely Greek favorite – feta (oh yeah!). There’s just something about breaking off a big chunk of fresh parmesan or cheddar and savoring each little nibble. Pair it with a good wine, some grapes or other fruit, a little French bread, and you practically have a meal. Plus, don’t even get me started on the calcium and protein that just adds to the wonderment of this versatile food – because, like bacon, cheese seems to make everything taste better.

Most of us know that all cheeses are not alike. Some are strong, others mild. Some are stinky, while others have no particular scent. Ok, so you’re smart enough to know the different types of cheese. But, did you also know that not all cheese has the same amount of calories? That’s right, some cheeses are lower in calories and fat than others. Let’s take a look at these popular cheeses and how they rank on the energy scale…

(Full-fat, per 100g or about 3.5 ounces)

  1. Ricotta – 185 calories and 14.8g fat
  2. Feta – 250 calories and 20g fat
  3. Camembert – 297 calories and 24g fat
  4. Mozzarella – 301 calories and 25g fat
  5. Swiss – 400 calories and 30g fat
  6. Stilton – 411 calories and 35.5g fat
  7. Cheddar – 412 calories and 34g fat
  8. Parmesan – 452 calories and 32.7g fat

Uh oh, seems like two of my favorites rank on the low-end of the “good for you” scale. Oh well, there’s always room for feta.

10 Things You May Not Know About Mireille Guiliano

Hello All! I am still so exhausted from yesterday! Running 7 miles then gardening for 5 hours really wiped me out!

If you haven’t already heard, I’ve posted my article featuring the interview with author Mireille Guiliano. In 2005, she released her first book, French Women Don’t Get Fat. Now, five years later, she has just released her fourth book – The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook.

To learn more about the new book as well as 10 Things You May Not Know About Mireille Guiliano, check out the article on Bistro Chic! See you all tomorrow…

Growing Your Own Vegetable Garden

Late last night, I started watching the last episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on Hulu. I enjoyed the episode as always, but something toward the end of the show really hit home. The episode showed school children and families working in their gardens, harvesting their own vegetables. Scott and I have talked about planting our own vegetable garden for years, but have never really made an attempt. Then, last night, around 11 PM, I declared that we would start our own garden.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

There are many reasons why I want to have our own vegetable garden:

  1. Convenient, fresh produce – A vegetable garden, if it is appropriately tended, can yield an abundance of fresh produce, right outside your back door. So, if you’re lucky enough, you won’t have to make those last-minute trips to the market to pick up peppers or tomatoes, you can just meander into your backyard.
  2. Cost Savings – We all know that most fruits and veggies are very expensive these days. By planting some of the more expensive veggies – like bell peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce, you may end up saving quite a bit of money by the end of the summer.
  3. Life Lessons – Although my two children eat many vegetables, I would love for them to eat more. By getting them involved in the planting and care of the garden (and picking the veggies!), I’m hoping that they will be more excited about eating them.

So, after my garden declaration, Scott and I discussed where we’d like to plant a garden, what we’d like to plant, and when.

  • Where – The most obvious place to plant the garden is in our current raised garden which, before today, was home to a few flowers, weeds, and a ton of rocks that we had from a small pond we drained a few years back. The raised platform can help with water drainage and keep a few pests away.
  • What – Everything we’ve read about starting your first vegetable garden says to not take on too much your first year. We decided to pick a few of our favorites, particularly those veggies which are expensive at the store. These include tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, romaine or spinach, jalapeno, possibly melon, and a few herbs like cilantro and basil. We also intend to grow strawberries using one of these hanging planters. I really hope it works because we love strawberries and they are so expensive at the store.
  • When – Well, there’s no time like the present! We decided that we would start today! Our first step was to get the garden ready to plant, which meant, taking most of the rocks away, digging up weeds and other plants, and turning over the soil. Little did we know that this first step would take nearly 6 hours – and we still have more to do!

Next week, we’ll tackle the potting soil and maybe even plant our first vegetables! Stay tuned…