This Week in Wellness (Links!)

How was your long weekend? Mine was great; I went to Boston with my boyfriend to visit some of our friends there, and we packed a ton into the weekend, going to Crane Beach, watching a Red Sox game, and hitting up some of the local bars. Here are some of my favorite snapshots from the weekend (but please keep in mind that, like the good New Yorker I am, I’m not a Red Sox fan—but it was still fun to see Fenway!):

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Luckily, we got back around 4:30 p.m. today—so I had time to squeeze in a work out, make my forbidden rice ramen in peanut sauce, and get some things in order before the start of the work week. Here’s what’s on my health and wellness radar for the next few days:

Have a well-intentioned week!

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A Red, White, and Blue Mimosa Bar for 4th of July Weekend

You guys, I worked on a really fun story for work recently—it’s all about how to create a red, white, and blue mimosa bar for Independence Day! (I know I’m a little belated here, but it’s still Fourth of July weekend.) Coming up with the idea, selecting which products to feature, ironing out all of the details on which foods and drinks we’d need to stock up on, and then putting it all together was a blast—and I think the end product turned out really well! Check out some of the photos:

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So fun and festive, right? You can get the full instructions on how to create the mimosa bar for yourself at WomensHealthMag.com, but here are some of the basics:

  • You’ll want to buy lots of bubbly, along with red, white, and blue juices and red, white, and blue fruits. We did cherry juice, coconut/white cranberry juice (coconut juice is whiter but also harder to find), blueberry juice, strawberries, raspberries, white peaches, apples, blueberries, and blackberries. Of course, if you’re making a mimosa bar for another occasion, you can coordinate the juices and fruits to be appropriate colors for that event. This would work really well for a bridal shower featuring the wedding colors, for example.
  • Then just arrange everything with a bunch of glasses in a pretty way, and you’re ready to go! If you’re using the same juices we used, you might want to take advantage of these free printable juice labels and straw tags.

Cheers!

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What’s Your Favorite Bridge Run?

Today’s my last day vacationing in Charleston, so I wanted to make sure to get in a good run. I went to the Arthur Ravenel Junior Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina (the one you cross in the famous Cooper River Bridge Run, which I did in 2013) and went for an absolutely gorgeous 4-mile run. Take a look at some of the photos I took while on the bridge:

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And here’s one that I didn’t technically take while I was on my run, but I took it right afterward from a nearby park (you can actually see two different views of the bridge if you look closely at the edges):

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Beautiful, right? I think bridges may be one of my favorite places to go for runs (before I hurt my heels, I did the Williamsburg Bridge all the time since I live so close to it). But something I realized this morning is that, had I not known someone who lives in Charleston who could tell me exactly where to park and how to get on the foot path, I probably wouldn’t have bothered running the bridge. And the only other bridge runs I can even think of are the Golden Gate Bridge and ones in New York City (believe it or not, I still have yet to run the Brooklyn Bridge).

When I did a search for bridge runs online, I quickly realized how difficult it is to find a list of bridges with foot paths that make great places to run. It’s just one of those things that locals who are into running know all about—and tourists don’t. Which is why I want to pass the baton here and ask you to share your favorite bridge run. Are there any I should make sure to add to my running bucket list? Please share your suggestions in the comments!

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This Week in Wellness (Links!)

This weekend has been a fun but busy one for me! I’m currently in Charleston, South Carolina, visiting an old friend (which you may already know if you read about my genius fit traveling tip). We’ve packed in a lot of fun stuff so far this weekend, including shopping on downtown’s King Street and eating at Husk, a local restaurant with a James Beard Award-winning chef. Here’s the yummy catfish that I got for dinner:

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Soon, my friend and I are going to head out for the beach—but first I wanted to share some of the links that have me inspired to focus on certain health and wellness goals in the upcoming week:

Have a well-intentioned week!

 

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Genius Fit Traveling Trick: Tying Your Sneakers to Your Suitcase Handle

It’s a problem that anyone who wants to work out while on vacation struggles with: How the heck are you suppose to fit your sneakers into your suitcase, along with everything else you want to bring? (And no, those three extra going-out outfits you threw in there just in case canNOT come out.) All too often, sneakers are left at home and vacation workouts are sacrificed.

I love running in new places, though. Not only does it help keep me sane and in shape, but it might just be my favorite way to explore a new city.

That’s why I was so, so excited last month, when I was flying to Miami for my friend’s bachelorette party and saw a smart solution to this problem: tying your sneakers to your suitcase handle (the same spot where lots of people attach a neck pillow).

So yesterday, when I was packing to visit one of my college roommates in Charleston, I knew I had to try it. Check it out:

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What a simple but brilliant solution, right? You just do the first step of tying your shoes (pre-bunny ears), then repeat that step again around your suitcase handle, then proceed to tie and double-knot your shoelaces.

My sneakers seemed pretty secure, but there is one caveat: If I were checking my bag, I’d be nervous about a shoe getting lost in the underbelly of the plane. So if you’re doing not taking your bag on-board as a carryon, I’d recommend stuffing a plastic grocery bag in your purse and removing your shoes right before you check your suitcase. The bag should be easy enough to stow under the seat in front of you—and you’ll be able to work in as many sweat sessions as you like when you get to your destination.

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Yet Another Great Reason to Stop Comparing Your Eating Habits to Other People’s

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This weekend, when I was camping with the Girl Scout troop I volunteer with, my co-leader said something that surprised me: “I told myself that I was going to watch what you eat this weekend and have whatever you have.” Apparently, she had been impressed one time at a meeting when I turned down ice cream because I said I was having dinner afterward and didn’t want to ruin my appetite. What I hadn’t said was that, in addition to having those dinner plans, I had also overeaten at work that afternoon. Had that not been the case, I’m not sure I would have had the self-restraint to say no to some Ben & Jerry’s (at a later meeting, I gladly indulged in a Carvel ice cream sandwich).

The experience was a poignant reminder of something one expert told me when I was working on a story a wrote about food shaming a few months ago: You really have no idea what a person eats when you’re not around. And since our diets are all about the big picture—and not whatever you happen to notice someone noshing on in any given moment—the food habits of others you witness are definitely not worth guilting yourself over.

Still, it’s something that many of us do. Today, I got a text from the same woman mentioned above saying, “My watch Robin diet worked! I lost almost 2lbs this week! Now how do I get a video camera to follow u this summer? Lol.” Oh, the irony; I don’t actually feel like I have great eating habits. At all. Sure, sometimes I’m successful at my attempts to load up on produce-filled salads and snack on fruit with protein-rich Greek yogurt. But at other times (and a lot of other times lately), I stress eat, overindulge, or snack just because I’m tired—or for no discernible reason at all. Luckily, it seems like in this case the food comparison is somewhat motivating. But it’s not the only time something like this has happened. People at work have told me that I’m always so good about practicing self-control and turning down sweets. Again—that’s not at all in line with how I view my own eating habits. (I wish I could resist dessert more often!)

So the next time you find yourself noticing how or what someone else is eating and starting to compare how it stacks up against your own food tendencies, I hope you’ll remember this post and tell yourself that the person could have skipped the previous meal, just eaten a snack not too long ago, be planning to eat a big dinner, or any number of other situations about which you’re totally clueless. Rather than feeling bad (or good) about your own eating choices based on theirs, focus on listening to your cravings and hunger levels and choosing foods that will satisfy those. (And check out this other advice on how to stop comparing your food choices to other people’s.) If you ask me, that’s a much saner and less stressful way to nourish yourself.

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photo by Kwekwe

#TastyTuesday: 5 Fruits That Taste Amazing When They’re Frozen

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Have you noticed how sugar’s become public enemy No. 1 lately? Tons of people are quitting all added sugar, and in one survey, 15 percent of people said they thought the sweet stuff was the worst thing for your health—that’s twice the number who said the same about marijuana. I won’t be eliminating sugar from my diet any time soon—I think a balanced eating plan can include all foods, and I know that it would drive me crazy to adhere to all of the food restrictions that would be necessary to eliminate added sugar from my diet.

Still, I’m not opposed to the idea of focusing on nutritious, no-sugar-added ways to satisfy my cravings for something sweet. Which is why I love the idea of eating frozen fruits for dessert. Many of them are so good—even better than their fresh counterparts, in my opinion. Seriously, I’d want to eat them even if they had the nutritional stats of ice cream. So in the name of becoming more conscious of my sugar intake—and eating more foods I genuinely enjoy—I thought I’d share my favorite frozen fruits with you:

Bananas
If you check out food blogs regularly, then you’ve likely noticed that banana “ice cream”—or chunks of banana that are blended into a soft, creamy frozen treat—is everywhere. I have two major issues with these recipes: (1) I don’t really like getting my blender dirty unless it’s for a really, really delicious reason. (2) When you blend the bananas, their volume decreases a lot. So it can take a few bananas to feel like you’re actually getting a decent amount of ice cream. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: freezing a whole peeled banana in a zip-top bag and eating that as if it were a Popsicle. So good!

Pineapple
Buy a can of pineapple chunks in 100 percent pineapple juice, and pour the whole thing into a few Dixie cups. Put a Popsicle stick in each one, and in a few hours, you’ll have yourself a really tasty dessert.

Red Grapes
These freeze up into little balls of bliss. They’re amazing on their own (just pluck them off the stem and wash before freezing). Or you can also dip them in yogurt and put them on a wax paper-lined baking sheet before sticking them in the freezer.

Mango
To tell you the truth, I’m not that crazy about mango when it’s fresh. It’s all right—but when you slice it up and put it in the freezer, something magical happens. Don’t just take my word for it—try it for yourself.

Watermelon
I cut this juicy fruit into chunks, put them in a giant Tupperware container, and stick the whole thing in the freezer all. The. Time. I’m dying to try it with cantaloupe soon and see how that tastes, too.

Are there any fruits I missed that are great frozen? Let me know so I can try for myself!

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Are You a Sleep Procrastinator?

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Last night, I probably could have gone to bed at 10 p.m. But I wanted to write a blog post…and get a couple of things done for work…and watch an episode of Orange is the New Black…and then watch another episode. Chances are, you can relate: Half of the people in a recent study said they suffer from sleep procrastination, or “failing to go to bed at the intended time, while no external circumstances prevent a person from doing so,” according to a recent study conducted by Dutch researchers.

I know it’s a little ironic writing about this at 10:30 at night, but I thought it was important to talk about how incredibly hard it is not to push back bedtime when you feel like there’s constantly so much to accomplish. Right now, for example, I really feel like I need to e-mail the company that manages my apartment building, pay my electric bill, text my friend who I’m visiting this weekend—and I’m also in the middle of baking cookies for a co-worker’s last day tomorrow. In other words, it’s not just a lack of self-control that’s the problem—despite what the researchers are suggesting. A lot of people, myself included, have so much they want and plan to do each day—so it’s hard to know when to say when and save the rest for tomorrow so you can get an adequate amount of sleep.

I also sabotage myself at other times, planning early workouts for myself and/or booking things every night of the week—whereas if I gave myself the night or morning off a few times a week, I would be able to sleep later or check off some of those little things on my to-do list (including unwinding by watching Netflix with my boyfriend) earlier.

Are you a sleep procrastinator? And do you have any tactics to make sure you get enough shuteye (rather than staying up late doing things that you could easily put on hold until tomorrow)? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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This Week in Wellness (Links!)

Hi, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed the summer solstice! My weekend was exhausting but great; on Friday, I went to a nearby camp with the Girl Scout troop I volunteer with, and we got back home earlier today. We packed tons of activities into the trip, including fishing, arts and crafts, and of course, s’mores making. Here are a few photos:

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One of the things I’ll be focusing on this week is catching up on sleep—seven-year-olds aren’t too concerned with making sure they’re quiet in the morning so you can get enough shuteye! Here’s what else is on my health and wellness to-do list this week:

Have a well-intentioned week!

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#TastyTuesday: The Seriously Delicious Healthy Sandwich You’ll Love

This weekend, I finally ordered delivery from a sandwich spot in my neighborhood I’ve been dying to try ever since I moved to Williamsburg. (It only took me 10 months!) It’s called Saltie, and it’s known for combining creative ingredients into innovative (and of course tasty) sandwiches. I ordered a sammie called “clean slate” and somehow wasn’t disappointed—even though I’d spent so long hyping up this place in my mind. Here’s the sandwich:

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And here’s a photo after I cut into it. Much messier—but still pretty yummy-looking!

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The great thing about this sandwich (or do you call it a wrap if it’s made with naan?) is that it’s the type of thing you could totally recreate on your own. Just toast naan, then fill it with hummus, bulgur, yogurt sauce (I’ll probably be trying just plain yogurt in my DIY version), cilantro, some sesame seeds, and pickled veggies (mine came with shredded carrots and beets—and you could probably soak them overnight in some vinegar with a dash of salt to get a similar effect). It’s the perfect Saturday sandwich—it not something you eat every day, so it feels special, but it’s filled with good-for-you ingredients that won’t leave you dragging for the rest of the day. Can’t wait to try making it on my own!

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The Best Way I’ve Found to Deal with Work Stress

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I’ll admit it: I think mental visualization is kind of hokey. Always have. So if you had told me five years ago that I would be sitting here, suggesting that you use a meditation to deal with negative emotions, I wouldn’t have believed it. But I’m a big fan of Michelle May, M.D., founder of the “Am I Hungry?” mindful eating program. So when I read that she suggested an exercise to help you sit with your anxiety (or depression, or whatever) and feel it—rather than resorting to less-than-constructive coping mechanisms—I decided to give it a shot. And you know what? The visualization has actually worked really well for me, particularly when I feel overwhelmed at work (which I’m guessing is probably something most of you can relate to). Here’s how it works:

While using mindful breathing, imagine yourself sitting at the edge of the ocean. Place your hands on the area of your body where you’re experiencing discomfort. Imagine breathing it closer to you, just as a wave moves toward you from the ocean to the shore. Allow the wave to wash over you. While breathing out, allow the discomfort to pull away from you and recede back into the ocean. Continue to visualize the waves building, rolling toward then over you, then rolling back out into the ocean. Align the rhythm of your breathing with the sequence of the waves.

Simple enough, right? As May says, “This wave meditation will help you become more relaxed and less fearful of the discomfort of the feelings in your body because you recognize that they ebb and flow by the ocean and that even intense emotions will subside as you observe them.” Lately, when I’ve tried this technique, I can actually feel my stress decreasing with each breath. I don’t think I’ll be visualizing myself running a faster mile as I fall asleep at night (even though experts recommend it), but I am happy to say I was wrong—at least about this meditation.

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How to Stop Comparing Your Food Choices to Other People’s

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Me enjoying a cronut. No food comparing here!

Last week, I shared a post that I wrote for The Real Life RD and let you know that I had another one in the works. Well, it was published last Friday! So I thought I’d share this one with you today. It’s all about why it makes no sense to constantly worry about how your meals and snacks stack up against other people’s eating choices—and how to stop the cycle of comparisons. Here’s a preview:

I love going to dinners with girlfriends, but almost every time I do, the same question comes up: “What are you ordering?” There’s nothing inherently wrong with the question; if it comes from a place of curiosity, then it’s really just showing an interest in the other person. But many women I know don’t ask the question that way (and I know I often haven’t in the past).

They’re asking because the answer will dictate what they choose to order—or make them feel bad about what they’re getting. Many women feel like they don’t want to be the one person at the table getting a big bowl of pasta when everyone else is eating a Caesar salad. I’m not a big fan of food guilt or just eating things because you feel like you should; why should choosing to nourish your body with whatever it’s truly craving in the moment—rather than depriving yourself—ever be something to beat yourself up over? (You can read more about my views on food guilt and food shaming.) But somewhere along the way, we’ve become obsessed with striving for this impossible ideal of “normal”—including with our food choices.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of how it happened for me: I’ve always had a large appetite. I can remember being about four years old and shocking my babysitter with how much cornbread I ate in one sitting. Then, in high school, it wasn’t uncommon for me to out-eat the boys whenever we ordered pizza. I never felt self-conscious about my hunger—that is, until I moved to New York City after college to start a new job there. That’s when people’s comments about what I was eating stopped feeling like simple observations and started feeling more critical (or at least that’s how I started perceiving them for the first time).

You can read the rest of the post at The Real Life RD (including my top tip for how to stop food comparisons). Is this something that you’ve ever struggled with? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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