All Work and No Play

Today was day #2 – on my own in Washington, DC. After a brisk run, followed by a little morning work, I headed off to the Smithsonian – a place that I had not been in over 20 years. I spent more than two hours wandering the halls of the Natural History and the American History museums. I even got the chance to visit Julia Child’s kitchen! During this time, I was torn between loving the freedom to come and go as I pleased, but wishing I had Scott with me to share the experience.

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped off for afternoon tea at a local favorite – Teaism in Penn Quarter. Teaism would not be my first choice for authentic afternoon tea (British style) – it’s more focused on Asian tea. But the cafe provided a great atmosphere to enjoy my English breakfast, some cake, and a cookie. Because I had nowhere else to go, I took my time, savoring the drink and good eats, and reading a magazine from cover to cover – something I rarely do nowadays.

Tomorrow I actually have to WORK, but thankfully, not until 10 AM. I’m planning a 6-mile run around the city, then another dinner out tomorrow night. Life is hard when you’re on a business trip – he he!

Dinner at Circa in Washington DC

Hey all! Hope you had a great weekend. I was up and at ’em around 7 AM today. I went for a 6-mile run, then came home to finish packing for my trip to DC. I boarded a plane around 1 PM and touched down in DC about 3:30 PM. Whew – all that in just a matter of a few hours! Since my conference doesn’t start until tomorrow, I quickly unpacked at the hotel then headed out to take in the sites. I walked all over Penn Quarter, sampling froyo, viewing the goods at Teasim, and then finally stopping off at the American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery.

Later on, I met Prachi – a DC friend of mine – for dinner at Circa on Du Pont Circle. Circa Cafe is a mix of trendy and charming, and with the weather at 70 degrees, you just can’t beat sitting outside! To start, we split a bottle of Chardonnay and some super yummy risotto croquettes…

These croquettes were awesome! Cheers to the chef who thought up the idea to bread risotto balls and deep fry them! Note to self – must try these at home. Next up, I enjoyed the Rocket salad with cherry tomatoes, arugula, sliced chicken, and more…

As you can tell, I was more than happy with my entree choice, the wine, and the company. Since I don’t see Prachi very often – a couple times  a year – we try to catch up on everything when we do see each other. Sadly, I learned that she is moving to Phoenix for a year with her boyfriend, Jigar. I only say “sadly” because I don’t travel to Phoenix very often so will likely not see her for quite some time. Ironically, Phoenix is where Prachi and I met for the first time about 5 years ago. I have never met Jigar but I’m sure he must be a great catch – after all, he likes Pazo restaurant in Baltimore!

For dessert – Prachi and I shared a wonderful orange almond crescent bread pudding with pistachio gelato. OK, we really didn’t “share”. She ordered a decaf coffee and I ate most of the dessert, but can you blame me…

Who can pass up bread pudding sans raisins with creme anglaise? The only thing that would have made this better is chocolate – hmm, something to think about for next time.

OK ladies, it’s off to bed for me. Planning a early AM run tomorrow!

Unusual Benefits of Exercise

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Prevention magazine recently identified 17 ways that exercise improves our health. Although there are a few obvious benefits on the list – like weight loss, reduced stress, etc – there are a  few that might surprise you. Regular exercise can:

  • Make you happier and increase your productivity at work
  • Improve your vocabulary
  • Improve your dental health
  • Reduce your risk of getting colds
  • Improve your vision
  • Help you sleep more soundly
  • Make you smarter by improving mental fitness

So, even if you don’t need to lose weight, there are more than enough very good reasons to keep you moving everyday. Just pick one and get going!

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!

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.

5 Ways to Avoid Snacking

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Hi All! I’m back from Austin and I am tired! I’m so glad that I have about 3 weeks to recuperate until I travel again. And speaking of traveling…

Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going?

This morning, while on my 5 mile run, I noticed one of those radar speed signs that tell drivers how fast they are going. As I approached the sign, I noticed it posted 27 MPH, referring to the previous car that went past. As I came closer to the sign, the number quickly change to 8 MPH…then hovered between 8 and 7! How cool is that – a speed radar sign that seemed to accurately capture my running miles per hour! Next time, I’m going to take a picture to prove it – he he! See officer, I wasn’t speeding, but I’m on track for a PR!

Stress and the Snack Monster

As most of you know, I’ve been a little stressed and frustrated at work these days. There have been significant changes in the staffing model of our group, which is causing great uncertainty and unrest among the troops. As a result of this and other daily stressors, I’ve had the urge to snack more throughout the day. I’ve even found that I need to bring out all of my “tricks” to get me to stop snacking, including:

5 Ways to Beat the Snack Monster

  1. Chew gum – This can provide a temporary fix of having something in your mouth to chew. Although, if you chew too much and too often, you may take in too much air, leaving you with a bloated feeling.
  2. Eat a mint – Again, this gives your mouth and teeth something to do while your mind is resisting the urge to snack.
  3. Brush your teeth – Brushing my teeth gives me that clean fresh feeling in my mouth. Brushing also seems to send a signal to my brain that I’m finished eating for the time being.
  4. Use a teeth whitening strip – I keep these handy at home, in my purse, and on trips. Not only do they make your teeth whiter, but you have to wait 30 minutes before taking them off, which is usually enough time for the snacking urge to pass.
  5. Drink a glass of ice cold water – Sometimes when we have the urge to snack, it’s really because we are thirsty. Drinking a glass of really cold water takes care of that thirst and makes you feel full all in a few gulps!

What are your tricks to avoid snacking during the day?

My 15 Seconds of Fame – Kind of

As most of you know, I attended a conference last week in Orlando. During one of the evening social events, which took place at Disney World (yeah!) there was a live feed filming all of the attendees as they arrived to the event. The live feed was projected on a giant screen for all to see, complete with the Black Eyed Peas blaring in the background (just a recording, Fergie was no where in sight). Take a look at my 15 seconds of fame…

Yep, that’s me in the light blue shirt with the scarf around my neck. A colleague of mine happened to snap this photo just as he saw me come up on the screen. How cool is that? I gotta feelin’….yes it was a good night. I should have been in pictures.

That’s about all I have time for today. I’m scheduled to run at least 5 miles tomorrow (possibly in the rain) so must get to bed.

Have a great night everyone!

Exercise All Day Long

Wednesday was a day full of fitness. It literally seemed like I was exercising all day long. It went something like this…
  1. Run
  2. Yoga
  3. Walk
Yoga pose

I started with a 7 mile run – 7 miles in 58 minutes to be exact! This is actually a little slower than I’ve been running the last two weeks. I’ve been averaging 745-8:00 minute miles, running for a max of 6.2 miles (10K). Today, my average was 8:20 – so I guess that last mile really slowed me down.

Next up, yoga! I went to a lunchtime yoga session right in our office. This is my first time practicing yoga in about 3 weeks because I’ve been traveling so much – excuses, excuses 🙁 The session, which was attended by 5 other women in the office, lasted for nearly an hour. I was secretly thankful when the class finally ended because I was so hungry!

After work, I stopped by an outdoor mall to walk and browse for about 30 minutes. It was 80 degrees and sunny, even at 5 PM, so it was a great afternoon for a walk outside. It always seems so much easier to exercise when it’s nice outside. I wonder if I would exercise even more if I lived somewhere where it was nice all of the time – like San Diego. Hmmm, now there’s an idea.

Ok, off to read before bed. I have another fitness-packed day planned for tomorrow so I’ve got to get some sleep!

Business Travel Fitness

Often times, people use business travel as an excuse to avoid or postpone their workouts. They’re too busy, too tired, or too stressed to workout. Well, I’m just the opposite. I see business travel as a prime opportunity to enhance my workout – I get to run in a new city, with new sites, new routes, etc. No matter how tired or busy I am, I always find time for a run when I’m traveling for business.

Upward dog yoga pose

For instance, I just returned from Disney World where I was on 4-day business trip. Each day, the conference lasted from about 8 AM to 5:30 PM, followed by an evening reception or dinner with my team. This schedule included longer hours than I was used to in a normal workweek. Yet, 3 of the 4 days I managed to run. I would get up by 6 AM and be out the door by 6:15/6:30 AM. I would head out in the dark toward the Magic Kingdom, taking in all of the morning sounds – including early-rising families anxious to get to the park upon its opening, birds and other wildlife, workers spraying the sidewalks and vegetation, and, most importantly, the music and magic that illuminated from the Magic Kingdom itself. The path leading from the resort past the Magic Kingdom was about 1.75 miles round trip. This was not the best distance, but the path repetition was much better than vying for a treadmill in the resort. My runs would last anywhere from 30-45 minutes, which brought me back in time to meet my group at the 8 AM session. I loved knowing that I was finished with my workout even before most people were having breakfast.

I admit, getting just 6 hours of sleep 4 nights in a row, coupled with early morning runs really takes a toll on the body. But to me, it’s all worth it in the end. If you are like me and travel quite a bit for work or even for fun, remember that you don’t have to neglect your exercise routine while you’re away. Even if you can’t put in your full/regular workout, doing a partial workout can reenergize you and keep you from feeling guilty about all the food and martinis you may be consuming.

Just like jello, no matter where you are, there’s always room for a workout! Here are a few ideas on how to burn a few calories on your next trip:

  • Run or walk around the resort/hotel or city, provided you feel safe.
  • Utilize the hotel gym. If your hotel doesn’t have its own gym, ask if they partner with a local gym that hotel guests can use.
  • Do yoga or stretching in your room. Try yoga download for great yoga routines on the go.
  • Arrange to take a bike or hiking tour with a local company or borrow a bike and a map from the hotel.
  • Swim in the hotel pool.
  • Pack a jump rope and jump in your room (if on the ground floor) or outside in a garden area.

Here’s to more safe, healthy, and happy travels!

Easy Ways to Add Movement to Your Day

When it comes to exercise, I am first and foremost, a runner. I run for many reasons – for exercise, the freedom it gives me, etc, but I also love to run because it is a great calorie-burning sport. Running truly is one of the best ways to burn calories and lose weight, but it is definitely not the only way.

To burn calories and eventually lose weight, you can walk, bike, swim, or do anything that keeps you moving at a moderate to fast pace for at least 30 minutes a day. And the exercise doesn’t have to be a dedicated sport either. It can simply be adding in more moderate intensity movement throughout your day. For instance, even though I burn plenty of calories running, I still try to move as much as I can throughout the day to give my metabolism and my heart an extra boost. Here are some of my favorite ways to move and burn extra calories at work and at home…

At Work

  • A few times a week, I try to take a brisk walk at lunch, whether it’s at a nearby mall or around the neighborhoods near my office.
  • Instead of or in addition to instant messaging or sending an email, I try to take a quick walk to deliver a colleague’s message. In most cases, more face time with other co-workers, especially those at the senior level, is a good thing.
  • When coworkers suggest heading out for lunch, I try to find a place that’s close enough for all of us to walk.
  • If I’m feeling sluggish at work and don’t have time for a walk, I’ll do a few standing leg raises (lift your leg straight back while holding onto the back of a chair) or stretches in my office or in a closed conference room.
  • Any excuse I have to go out to my car, I take it. I park at the far end of the lot so it’s a fast 10 minutes roundtrip. It’s a great energy boost, while burning calories at the same time.

At Home

  • I have very thick wavy hair that takes forever to dry, even with a blow dryer. To add extra movement during these 15 minutes, I do lunges and squats while drying my hair. If you’re not used to these, take it easy because you WILL feel it the next day!
  • Whenever my husband and I go out to eat, we try to add in some type of activity before or after our meal, ie. walking around at the bookstore or the mall.
  • When eating at home, I like to take a walk with my husband and the kids before or after the meal. It’s a great way to relax and reconnect. If it’s bad weather, I crank up the music and dance around with the kids in the living room. They love it and I still get to burn extra calories.
  • When we look for weekend family activities, we try to incorporate movement in some way. This could be swimming at our YMCA, walking around at the city museum or zoo, going for a hike, or going to the play park.
  • I walk up and down my stairs an much as I can – with or without laundry or a child in tow.

How do you fit in extra movement throughout the day?