Love Yourself

As the flowers continue to bloom, grass turns greener, and the trees are flush with leaves, it’s time to acknowledge it: spring has nearly come and gone! April (and often May) showers brought May (and June) flowers, and our world seems to be a whole lot brighter than it was merely a month or two ago.

Flowers, grass, and trees aren’t the only plants that emerge during spring; certain fruits and vegetables make their way into the season, too. They fill local farmers’ markets and grocery stores with hues of green and pink. Their fresh, light taste is more than welcome after a winter’s worth of potatoes, mushrooms, and other heartier winter produce.

The leafy greens are filled with vitamins A, C, and K, which keep your immune system, bones, and muscles healthy. They also help you heal quickly when necessary. Green veggies are also full of fiber that keeps you feeling fuller, longer. Spring green vegetables range from leafy spinach and arugula for salads to the fresh herbs that dress your meals to flavor-filled peas, scallions, and asparagus.

But spring produce doesn’t stop at green. Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries – are at their best in the spring. Their sweetness is wonderful alone, with granola and yogurt in the morning, or topped on green salads. Pink beets also make their way through this season, while rhubarb, radishes, onions, and carrots are in their glory.

Now is the time to use these fruits and veggies in your cooking while they’re in their prime! Not only do they taste their best these days, they’re also filled with the greatest amount of nutrients. We’ve put together a few quick recipes that will impress your family and friends this week, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts. Use up that fresh-as-ever spring produce, add some extra nutrients to your week, and soak up what nature has to offer.

  1. Roasted Strawberry and Rhubarb Grits with Toasted Pecans by Vegetarian Ventures
  2. Pea Guacamole and Seared Pea Tacos by Salt and Wind
  3. Homemade Strawberry Shortcakes by Lovely Little Kitchen
  4. Asparagus Corn Soup by Hello My Dumpling
  5. Spring Vegetable Potstickers by Smitten Kitchen

When you cook these this week, let us know how it goes in the comments below!

Ahh, summer. That joyous time of year when the weather gets super warm, the kids are out of school, and you get to spend time outdoors doing what you love: boating, hiking, walking, beaching, vacationing, kayaking… the opportunities are endless.

While it all sounds like a dream, the chance to do everything outside comes with another unexpected part of summer: a busy schedule. Especially here on the east coast, we find that everyone so badly wants to take advantage of the warm summer months that every weekend fills up with plans quickly, oftentimes without us even realizing it.

Once May hits, you look at your calendar and realize you don’t have a free weekend until August. That’s crazy! With work during the week and other responsibilities, finding time for yourself – particularly to exercise – can be difficult.

But again, the benefit of the season is that the outdoors is your oyster. Let’s use that to our advantage to fit in a workout no matter how busy we get. Here are a few ideas for always getting that exercise in:

  1. Choose workouts that require no equipment. Running and bodyweight workouts are a great use of your time and require no equipment, so you can always be at the ready to fit in a quick sweat session. Throughout the busy summer months, be sure to carry sneakers and a workout outfit in your bag at all times for when inspiration strikes.
  2. Think of creative ways to use your time. Where in your schedule do you have a bit of time you may not have taken advantage of for a workout before? Could you wake up 30 minutes earlier and fit in a quick jog? Could you head out to the spin studio next door to your office during your lunch break, or take a quick afternoon break to go for a walk?
  3. Turn your commute into a workout. That time spent on the train or in the car could be spent getting your sweat on. If you live close enough to your office, try jogging home or biking. If you take public transit, get off the train or bus a few stops early and walk briskly home from there. Who knows – running, biking, or walking may even shave some time off your traffic-laden commute!
  4. Find a competition to train for. For some, competition is just the motivation needed to always fit in a workout. Sign up for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or whichever distance sounds enjoyable to you, and train for that race. There’s nothing worse than paying for a race only to not train, get to race day, and have a terrible time getting to the finish line. If running isn’t your favorite, sign up for a bike race or a weight-lifting competition. If you have an end date in mind, you’re more likely to fit in those training sessions.
  5. Multi-task. If you’re short on time and only have 30 minutes at the gym, bring a few dumbbells onto the treadmill with you and lift while you walk. Turn the treadmill incline up to make your legs burn, then perform bicep curls, overhead raises, or dumbbell rows to work your arms and shoulders. If the treadmill isn’t your style, try a bike or elliptical. The combinations are endless!
  6. Incorporate circuit training or HIIT into your routine. Both of these workouts speed up your typical training, get your heart pumping harder, and ensure you’re burning calories the whole day through. In circuit training, you commit to a series of 5-10 exercises with no rest (think push-ups, directly into squats, directly into overhead dumbbell raises). HIIT (or high intensity interval training) is similar, but with this type of routine, you work as hard as you possibly can for 10-20 second intervals (say, sprinting), then rest for 40-50 seconds. The key here is intensity, so pump up the volume!

Overall, fitting exercise into a busy schedule is all about choosing to do something over nothing. Whether it’s calf raises at your desk or a quick morning jog, there’s always time to fit in a little something active. You can even just turn your daily walk upstairs into a quick workout! Fit in fitness this summer… despite your busy schedule… and enjoy.

“Lay out your clothes the night before!’ they say.

“Keep your goals in mind,” they chant.

“Visualize your workout,” they coo.

No matter what tips experts give for getting out of bed to work out, if you’re not a morning person, it can feel like a truly impossible task. In your sleep, you shut off the many alarms you set with great intentions. Your clothes the night before look dreadful compared to your comforter. And your goals – no matter how much you want to accomplish them – don’t seem so set in stone when your bed at the time feels better than any workout can.

But many non-morning-people have figured out a way to make morning workouts a habit, and they’re better off for it. In fact, they swear by it! And working out in the morning has some serious benefits: it boosts your metabolism for the day ahead, guarantees you get a workout in without after-work plans getting in the way, and revs up your productivity and endorphins all day long.

The key to making this work is creating the habit. And to make it a habit, you need to make it happen multiple times per week until it feels natural. But how do you start with that first day and first week?

Find the right alarm. Conventional alarm not working for you? A typical alarm clock makes it so easy to hit “snooze” without another thought. Find an alarm clock that gradually lights up until your room is bright like daylight. That way, even in the darker winter months, your brain will signal itself to wake up. Even better: find an alarm clock that can play music and sync it to your workout playlist! Getting those beats pumping will get you in the mood instantly. And remember: keep the alarm away from your bed, so you’re forced out of the covers to turn it off.

Place coffee and a yummy pre-gym snack (preferably something chocolate-y that’s worth waking up for) next to your bed the night before. Even if the coffee’s cold in the morning, the taste will awaken your senses enough to get you out of bed and into the gym. Ensure that your pre-gym breakfast is quick, easy, and worth eating early in the morning.

Schedule your heat to turn on a half hour or so before your wake-up time so getting out from under the covers isn’t so hard. One of the biggest obstacles to getting out of bed is the warmth of the covers. It’s so cozy –especially in the winter – to stay underneath all the blankets and hide from the cold outdoors. Make sure to schedule your heater to turn on before you wake so your room isn’t quite as cold… making it SO much easier to get out of your warm bed.

Once one foot is out of bed, go straight to the bathroom and splash water on your face. Cold water will get you out of dreamland instantly… and once you’re up, it’s easy to stay up.

Schedule brunch – or another reward – after your workout. There’s nothing better than heading out for eggs and bacon (and maybe a Bloody Mary!) on a Sunday morning with close friends. Frame the brunch as a reward for a good workout, or pretend that brunch is an hour earlier and get to the gym first. We don’t know about you, but we’re certainly motivated by food!

There you have it – five easy tips for getting out of bed early to work out. What are your best strategies? Leave a few in the comments below!

If you live in a colder climate, you’re probably very ready for the cold to be over at this point. Last week, we hit a high of 70 degrees in Boston for one day, and it was quite the tease. It had us dreaming of sunny, windy beaches; sand between our toes; cool, fresh, juicy summer fruit; steamy jogs around our local grassy park; and shorts, sandals, and tank tops galore.

We still have weeks left of winter, however, and we know it’s only a matter of time until fluffy snowflakes settle back in (in fact, it only took a day until the snow was back in Boston). While the weather isn’t cooperating with our desires for warmth, we decided to take matters into our own hands and feel the summer indoors with some juicy citrus smoothies.

These smoothies are reminiscent of beachside views and sunnier days. On your first sip, they’ll take you to a place of comfort and rejuvenation and inevitably will make you smile. With a blend of citrus fruits, seasonal winter fruits and veggies, and a base of yogurt, almond milk, avocado, or other creamy substance, a fresh summer-like smoothie is just what you need to mentally escape from the doldrums of February and March.

We scoured the internet and some of our favorite food bloggers to find seasonal citrus smoothie recipes that would delight and bring you to summertime bliss. Try one of the smoothies below and let us know how you feel afterwards. Our guess? Quite sunny!

  1. Dairy Free Cranberry Orange Smoothie by Cotter Crunch
  2. Turmeric Carrot Cake Smoothie by Making Thyme for Health
  3. Winter Fruit Green Smoothie by Real Food and Ice Cream
  4. Blackberry Lime Smoothie by Two Peas and their Pod
  5. Pear Ginger Smoothie by Natalie’s Health

What are your favorite winter smoothies? Share your best recipes in the comments below! 

If you’re a runner, or are trying to up your running game, you’ve probably heard tons of advice about improving your stride, avoiding injury, and increasing your speed. Being your best at any sport takes research, reading, and practice; the more you know, the better you’ll be. That research shows commitment and a desire to achieve set goals.

However, as with most art forms, all the proper advice is paired with some serious myths that can impact your performance. Between online magazines, bloggers, and medical sites, the lines of internet advice blur. We’re here to crack apart a few of the myths we’ve seen across the blogosphere when it comes to making the most of your runs.

  1. Always stretch prior to a run. It turns out that stretching after a run is a more effective use of your time. Stretching before a run may actually slow you down and doesn’t help avoid injury. A quick dynamic warm-up – like high knees, jogging in place, or lunges – is a way better use of your time and limbers your muscles while strengthening them.
  2. Running on pavement is bad; grass and dirt place less of an impact on your knees. While it may seem viable that running on softer grass or dirt protects your knees and legs because they have more give than pavement does, that may not be the case. It turns out that most injury is caused by repetitive motion, which happens on consistently-shaped pavement. Trails force you to change up your stride, helping to avoid injury. So instead of avoiding pavement, avoid consistent routes… whatever that’s made of.
  3. Sports drinks are the best post-workout recovery. If you’re doing a longer workout – say a half marathon, or an intense hour in sweltering heat – drinking a sports drink can replenish electrolytes, sugars, and calories that you’ve lost during your tough exercise session. However, for a normal everyday workout, sports drinks just bring in extra unneeded calories and sugar. Refuel with fruit for natural sugars and healthy calories instead.
  4. Carbo-loading is key to winning your next race. It turns out that the days of bingeing on pasta the night before a big game or race may be over. Eating a ton of carbs the night before may actually impact your GI tract and make you feel bloated the next day… not ideal for a long run. Gradually increase your carb intake starting a few weeks before a race to perform best on the day of a competition.
  5. Barefoot running is better than conventional sneakers. This depends. While barefoot running has been shown to improve your stride, new studies are showing that barefoot shoes (or running completely barefoot) may not have the injury-avoiding properties that some thought. If you’re trying out barefoot running, start slow and stay in tune with how your body feels. At the first sign of pain, switch back to your shoes.

What running myths have you heard that need to be dispelled? Let us know in the comments below!

Water: it fills out the lakes, rivers, and oceans we love to enjoy. There’s nothing quite like sitting by the ocean reading a novel, relaxing on a kayak in the middle of a lazy river, or doing a few swim strokes in the nearby lake. The water that makes up about 70 percent of our earth’s surface nourishes us in so many ways.

You’ve probably heard the old adage: drink 8 glasses of water a day for optimal health. But why exactly do we need to intake so much water? What are the benefits?

We set out to find a few main reasons why water is touted by medical professionals as so necessary. Here’s what we found.

  1. Water aids in digestion by dissolving fats and fiber to make them easier for the body to digest. This helps reduce the burden on the liver and kidneys by helping to flush waste products. Not only does it keep your digestion moving smoothly, it keeps key organs healthy and active, too.
  2. Water may protect against bladder cancer, and perhaps even breast and colon cancers. Studies show that the greater one’s fluid intake, the lower risk that individual has of bladder cancer, perhaps because urinating more frequently releases the bladder of possible carcinogens.
  3. Water energizes you and keeps you focused. Fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration, and sipping a few glasses of water may in fact have the same effect as a cup of coffee would. Dehydration can also weaken your attention span and memory, so having lots of water when you’re trying to concentrate may be just what you need to finish that big task.
  4. Water prevents headaches. Oftentimes those headaches people get mid-day are caused by dehydration. Step up your water game to avoid that aching pain. Even worse – a lack of water can also trigger migraines. If you do get a dehydration headache, chugging ample water (more than you’d even think you need) can help it go away.
  5. Water keeps the cartilage around our joints and bones healthy. Cartilage – the rubbery material that protects our bones and joints – is made up of about 85 percent water, so keeping it hydrated is key. With hydrated cartilage, your bones and joints stay ultra protected, which can help you avoid injury.
  6. Water can soothe you mentally. All day long, we’re exposed to non-stop noise in the form of music, car horns, emergency vehicles, crying children, screeching trains, and more. This large amount of noise – particularly if you live in a city – can increase blood pressure and stress levels. Counteract this noise pollution with the sound of a bubbling brook, which has actually been cited to have therapeutic effects on the brain.

Water has ample positive health effects that extend well beyond those listed above. How does water make you feel healthier? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

Do you ever have those nights where you really just can’t fall asleep? You lie awake with one million thoughts running through your mind on loop and can’t seem to shake them. You lie there thinking through tomorrow’s tasks, your friend’s dilemma, or your earlier conversation with a family member, and sleep gets farther away. Those thoughts running through your head won’t stop – and suddenly it’s 3:00 in the morning.

We’ve all been there. Whether you’re an easy sleeper or have trouble daily, everyone has had a night where they simply find it impossible to doze off. If you’ve been there, we feel you. And through practice, we’ve come up with a few tried-and-true techniques to get you off to dreamland.

  1. Acknowledge your worries. Will they worry you again tomorrow morning? Is there anything you can do about it now? By thinking deliberately and intentionally about your worries – rather than letting your mind spin – you have a greater opportunity to solve them, or at least push them off until the morning.
  2. If it still worries you, write it down. Journaling might not be your thing, but sometimes it helps to take your thoughts from your mind and physically put them on a piece of paper to put them in perspective.
  3. Go for a walk. Sometimes your worries get your mind into a tailspin, and in the dark in bed, it can be nearly impossible to break out. If that’s the case, get yourself out of bed and take a quick walk around the house. Even a quick strut to the bathroom can break your mind’s cycle and start your thoughts anew.
  4. Take a deep breath. Deep breathing is key to a successful night’s sleep, so try to get yourself in that rhythm by taking a deep breath and counting to ten. There’s a reason people count sheep: the repetitive counting can set the mind at ease and put you into the tranquil sleeping and breathing rhythm you need to doze off.
  5. Picture something tranquil. If counting sheep or breathing don’t calm you down, picture something that does. Visualization is a key strategy for accomplishing goals, and falling asleep is no different. Picture a scene that soothes you: a beach in Hawaii with the waves crashing, the top of a Colorado mountain you recently hiked, or your living room couch surrounded by family. Picturing your happy place can quickly put your mind to rest.
  6. Don’t fire up the phone. When all else fails, don’t resort to your phone or computer to distract you – it can only make matters worse. The blue light given off by these electronic devices can stimulate the parts of your brain that indicate it’s time to wake up. If you need a change of pace, pick up a book or magazine.
  7. Repeat to yourself: what’s the worst that can happen if you lose sleep? Sometimes, when worries keep you up, the endless additional worry that you’re not getting enough sleep can keep the cycle going longer than it needs to. But what is the worst that can happen if you’re tired tomorrow? You can always grab an extra cup of coffee, cancel your evening plans, and chill on the couch after work if you need to catch up on rest. Take a step back and breathe – it will all be okay!

How do you quell nighttime worries? What are your best strategies for falling asleep? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

At the beginning of each new year, many people set a slew of goals they’d like to accomplish. Whether it revolves around money, fitness, education, family, friends, or something totally unique, these goals tend to be a new habit or behavior that you’d like to adopt. But as you may find out early into January, accomplishing something new takes time. Going to the gym a few days a week takes planning. Saving a certain amount of money each month means you need time to set a budget and monitor it. All goals add something new to your plate – which may already be full.

Between your job, family, and other commitments, your life may feel hectic. Fitting in yet another task to accomplish each day seems daunting, which can get in the way of accomplishing those things you really want or need to do this year.

Time management, therefore, is critical to accomplishing your goals. By setting a few key time management strategies in place, you can free up a time to get going on the things that really matter to you.

Accomplishing a goal means scheduling your time. Planning and scheduling are habits that may take some time to form, but once you have them set in stone, it becomes so much easier to save time for things that truly matter. If you’re interested in gaining muscle this year, for example, add appointments in your calendar to go to the gym. Pledge to stick to those time slots just as you would a doctor’s appointment.

There will always be more and more demands on your time, so stop waiting for the “right time” to start working towards your goals – anytime is the right time! Even if you start to pick away at your goal slowly to start, any activity will get you in the habit of incorporating that skill or time into your daily life.

Get going! Set plans in motion to accomplish your goal as soon as you decide the goal that’s right for you. The more you procrastinate, the less chance you’ll have to accomplish it. Start scheduling today.

Don’t rush results. XX percent of resolutions fly out the door come February. That’s often because many people expect instant results – and when they don’t see those results, they give up. We’re here to tell you NOT to give up! Accomplishing great things takes time. And with the time management habits we’ve delineated above, you’ll be fitting in your goals in no time.

How do you fit in time to accomplish your goals? What time management strategies do you use? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

This time of year, so often women make their resolutions to lose weight. Oftentimes this resolution stems from an outside pressure to be thin as dictated by media, magazines, and celebrities. The main goal is aesthetics.

At the end of the day, if you aren’t chasing fat loss for the right reasons, it’s going to be difficult to achieve that goal. It’s hard to stay motivated to do something you really don’t want to do, but feel pressure to do.

We’re here to tell you that your health isn’t only dependent on the number that comes up on a scale. Sure, that general number can be indicative of health, but it isn’t the only metric. All bodies are different, and it’s time we celebrated them for the strength they hold.

This year, we challenge you to set a health and fitness goal that doesn’t have to do with weight loss. Find a reason that truly motivates you to move your body and stay healthy. The reason is different for everyone, but perhaps one of the following might resonate.

I exercise to:

Feel good in my body. Those endorphins that are released when working out are no joke. Not only will they make you feel good in the moment, they can also last throughout the day to make you feel great about being you.

Increase physical strength. Want to be able to lift your kids or grandkids with no problem? Haul all of your groceries out of the car without breaking a sweat? Move furniture around for a friend? Working out builds strength and muscle to help you do just that.

Increase stamina, endurance, and energy levels. It might seem contradictory, but studies have shown that those who exercise regularly have more energy during the day than those who don’t. They’re also able to walk further distances or engage in physical activity for longer periods of time.

Move pain-free. Achy joints? Sore tendons? By strengthening your muscles, bones, and overall health, exercise can help you stay pain-free and even help you recover faster from injury.

Relieve stress. Exercise is a mood-booster and stress-reliever through and through. Feeling stressed at work? Go hit a punching bag at the gym. Feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities at home? Take a few minutes to run on the treadmill and sweat out that stress.

Improve sleep quality. Studies show that those who exercise more frequently sleep longer and deeper throughout the night, which in turn increases your energy levels and makes your future workouts more effective. It all comes full circle!

Serve as an example to your kids, family, and friends. We all know the benefits of exercise – stronger heart and lungs, longevity, strength, happiness, better sleep, and more. Show your loved ones it’s easy to fit in exercise each day: lead by example.

Overall, weight loss can help you achieve the goals above. But by motivating yourself through the above means, it becomes even easier to stick to exercise and fitness goals. What are your reasons for exercise? 

It’s that time of year again – the holidays are upon us, which means the New Year is right around the corner. As you’re well aware, many people use the New Year as a time to renew and rejuvenate; this often comes in the form of goals set for the year ahead.

New Year’s resolutions can get a bad reputation. It doesn’t help that articles around the internet state that, on average, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions get ditched by February, and 92 percent get thrown aside before the end of the year. One big reason is that resolution-setters think too big; while it’s impressive to set a lofty goal, it can be difficult to see progress immediately – and many people end up getting frustrated and ditching the goal. Many others set too many goals and find it difficult to fit them all into the ins and outs of daily life.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The key is to set resolutions that are doable, actionable, and that will truly make you feel good inside. One of the most popular resolutions is to lose weight; while this is an admirable and health-inspired goal that we respect, it’s filled with negativity – the thought is that you have too much weight, and you need to lose it. We prefer to frame goals in a positive light that instill a lifestyle change; for instance, instead of looking at pounds on a scale you need to lose, set a goal to gain muscle, or add more greens to your diet. When you set your goals in a positive frame of mind, they’re more likely to be accomplished.

This year, we’d like to think beyond conventional goals (lose weight, exercise more). We’ve thought through some unique, positive goals that will make you feel great all year long – no matter how you’re progressing. Try one of these goals this year to feel accomplished, creative, and improved.

  1. Meet more new people. How often do you make new friends? You may be settled into a job and town that you love, accomplishing your long-term goal to find happiness in the every day. We applaud this! At the same time, once you settle into a routine, it can be difficult to meet new people. Adding fresh faces to your life helps you learn about yourself and about the world, and continues your rapid growth as a human being. Make a resolution this year to try new activities that help you meet new people – you never know who you might meet and how they may help you grow into your best self!
  2. Try a new food each week. Here’s another way to add some adventure to your life: try new foods. You probably have your staples that you whip up each morning, afternoon, and evening. But adding new dishes, fruits, and vegetables to your diet helps diversify the nutrients you ingest, making for a healthier you. Plus, putting together new recipes with unique foods offers a dose of weekly fun!
  3. Practice kindness each day. New Years’ resolutions tend to be very self-focused, which is certainly admirable and respectable. But this year, try adding one resolution to your year that has an impact on those around you: practicing kindness. Resolve to do one act of kindness for another person per day; pay for someone’s coffee in line behind you, hold a door open, or tell a friend that you appreciate them. This goal will make you feel good day in and day out, and will strengthen your friendships dramatically.
  4. Reduce clutter. Start the new year off right by cleaning clutter out of your home. Life is filled with daily stresses, and surrounding yourself with lots of excess stuff just adds to that stress. Think through what you really need in your home, and donate the rest to those in need.
  5. Get your photo taken in five interesting places. This one is a great tactic for trying new things, traveling, and expanding your horizons. Travel to the edges of the world that you’ve always wanted to go and document your time there to preserve the memory. You don’t even need to travel far to accomplish this goal; interesting sights can oftentimes live just a few miles away.
  6. Add vegetables and reduce meat in your diet by committing to Meatless Mondays. Around 2,000 gallons of water go into raising one pound of beef. That’s a lot of water! Reduce your environmental impact and add more veggies to your diet by incorporating Meatless Mondays into your week. Whether it’s every meal during the day or just dinner, reducing your meat intake just one day a week can have wonderful side effects on the planet and your body.

What is your New Year’s resolution? How do you stick to the positives? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!