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3 Ways to Keep Calm and Take Control of A Stressful Day

Written on May 23, 2014 at 12:13 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Feeling like your to-do list has grown legs and run away from you? Welcome to my life. Sometimes I feel like there’s just not enough time! Fortunately, Barb Schmidt, author of The Practice and founder of Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life, teaches a three-part daily guide that focuses on managing stress, finding inner peace and uncovering happiness. I touched base with her—on one of my insanely busy days, no less—to snag a few top tips that helped keep me calm, focused and ready to tackle the biggest challenges. Sharing is caring, so go ahead and use them too.

Start Off Refreshed “If we start the day in a very centered, balanced place, then we can carry that throughout the day,” explains Schmidt. Keeping calm and cool under pressure is key to making that clutch game-time decision, like when you need to convince your boss that path A is better than path B. If you start off on the wrong foot—say, slapping the snooze, racing to get ready and skipping breakfast instead of slowly rising and maybe even squeezing in a yoga sesh—things tend to go awry quick. For an early morning pick-me up, follow Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life on Facebook for a morning quote and photo, and follow us on Instagram for inspiring Motivation Moments from women just like you.

Give Yourself Permission To Stop We’re constantly trying to get more and more done throughout the day, but sometimes the relentless go, go, go can seriously drain you. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, Schmidt suggests going to the bathroom (or closing the door to your office),shutting your eyes and taking a few deep breaths to regain composure and clarity. Even better:  “Take a quick five-minute walk and re-center yourself,” says Schmidt. I’ve taken a few laps around the block recently and come back refreshed, re-energized and sometimes with a brand new idea. Yay for Vitamin D!

Detach From Your Day So much happens from the moment you wake up to when you finally head home and kick off your shoes. “Usually it’s things that happen during the day, good or bad—but mostly negative—that we either wish we didn’t do or had handled differently,” says Schmidt. I know I’ve regretted a decision or two (buying that extra pair of un-returnable shoes, for example—just say no!). Schmidt says to take a mental scan and noticed what happened, and then make the conscience decision to not dwell on it. “[We] don’t have control over what happened, but [we] do have control over whether to let it go,” says Schmidt. And know that it’s a process. “The heart and the brain may be saying ‘No! I can change all of it.’ But it works.”

Photo courtesy of HCI Books

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Can You Find Calm Through Meditation?
6 Ways to Find More Time for Yourself
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Hypothyroidism: What Is It and Who Can Get It? Sofia Vergara Dishes on Her Own Experiences

Written on May 22, 2014 at 5:02 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern 

You know her best as the hilariously vivacious housewife, Gloria, on Modern Family. Her thick accent, hysterical one-liners and constant nagging on Jay always have me doubling over in laughter. But one thing I didn’t know about the star? In 2000, at the age of 28, Sofia Vergara was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have her thyroid removed. That resulted in a condition known as hypothyroidism, which in non-scientific terms basically equates to an underactive thyroid, and it’s usually marked by symptoms of extreme fatigue, depression and weight gain.

Since then, the Emmy-nominated actress says life is relatively normal, thanks to her doctors and regular checkups. “I’ve been very lucky, I never felt any symptoms,” admits Vergara. “[But] now I have to take a pill every day of my life.”

The treatment for hypothyroidism is a synthetic hormone called levothyroxine, explains Dr. Jordan Geller, M.D., Vergara’s endocrinologist. “It’s basically an exact chemical copy of the thyroid hormone that our body makes. It’s taken as a pill, once a day on an empty stomach and it’s usually life-long.”

OK, so what exactly does all this mean, and why should you care? First of all, the thyroid gland is a pretty important asset to maintaining good health. “From the minute we are born until we die, there is not a system in the body that doesn’t need the thyroid hormone,” explains Dr. Geller. And while nearly 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, according to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), about 60 percent of them don’t even know it. Yeesh!

It turns out women are 5-8 times more likely than men to have thyroid problems, too, notes the ATA. If you’re one of them, don’t panic about missing your beloved barre class quite yet. “If somebody’s thyroid levels are managed appropriately, then it really shouldn’t interfere with their ability to exercise or do anything throughout their life,” says Dr. Geller.

So how do you manage hypothyroidism? In 2013, Vergara and Dr. Geller teamed up with AbbVie (the makers of Synthroid, levothyroxine sodium tablets) to launch a campaign called “Follow the Script,” which aims to educate those with hypothyroidism about symptom and treatment information, helpful questions to ask your doctor and pharmacist, and create a community for people to come together and share their stories. You never know what fitness-minded friend you’ll find—and I never say no to a new workout buddy.  

And while Vergara is known for her extreme aversion to exercise, she does admit to recently adopting a workout regiment since she’s “started seeing age changes.” While she doesn’t really have a favorite, you can find the actress currently doing a lot of SLT, Spinning or trying her hand at TRX (we recommend this routine). Fingers crossed she falls in love with one—or all—of them!

More from FITNESS:

Doctor Appointments You Should Skip 

Bad Health Habits That Are Actually Good for You

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Photo courtesy of Abbvie/Follow the Script

We Tried It: Body Conceptions

Written on May 15, 2014 at 10:39 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

What it is: A full-body, dance-inspired workout developed by Mahri Relin, formerly of the Tracy Anderson Method and FlyBarre at Flywheel Sports.

Good for: Anyone looking to tone long, lean muscles. This workout targets your arms, abs, thighs and bum with a combination of explosive movements and smaller, focused isolations.

Where you go: Stepping Out Studios (37 W 26th Street, 9th Floor)

How it works: Body Conceptions offers open classes five days a week, private training sessions for groups (four to seven people), pre- and post-natal training and special events (sweaty bachelorette or birthday parties, anyone?). Check out their classes and schedule here.

What you need: Sneakers and comfortable, form-fitting clothing. You’ll be doing a lot of jumping and dance-like movements, so you’ll want something that’s easy to move in but not too baggy.

What it costs: Each classes is $32—just $20 for first-timers. (Insider tip: Once you buy your first class, you’ll get a special promo code for a great deal on two more classes!) Two, five and ten-class packages are also available. Sign up for the 2014 Spring Challenge, a six-week program for $600! Summer, here you come.

What we think: This workout is killer! Think barre, Zumba and aerobics mashed together in one sweatastic hour. Warning: the isolations are tough…in a good way. Mahri had our class do tiny pulses mid-crunch (you know the place where all of your muscle are engaged and you’re not quite sure you can hold it? Yeah, right there). My abs hurt just thinking about it. But her energy was infectious and made the class seem like more fun than work. Always a win!

Photo courtesy of Body Conceptions

Want us to test another workout? Post a comment to let us know and you may see it in a future We Tried It!

More Workouts We’ve Tried:

JumpLife Gym

DailyBurn’s Inferno HR

Doonya Fitness Party

 

Ride It Out! Celebrate National Bike to Work Day in Style

Written on May 14, 2014 at 5:48 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Dust off those handlebars and get ready to put your pedals to the metal, err road, to celebrate National Bike to Work Day tomorrow. We’re super stoked to get our wheels spinning—biking is great for the environment and your bod. (You blast about 540 calories per hour commuting on two wheels!) To get you in gear, we’ve got some great rides, deals and steals. Saddle up!

Ride In Style Look sleek and chic as you ride through town on Electra’s Amsterdam Forget Me Not 3i ($959, select retailers). This brightly colored stunner is made of lightweight aluminum and comes with both front and rear lights. Plus there’s a matching bell–ding, ding!

Lighten Your Load Dreaming of biking to work but lug too much back and forth? Novara’s Barrow Bike ($749.00, rei.com) was made for you. With its built-in basket and rear-rack you’ll have plenty of places to stash your stuff! And better yet, the basket is attached with Novara’s exclusive “N-dock” system, which keeps the basket aligned and steady–even through turns. So there’s no need to worry about an epically embarrassing spill (phew!).

Go Retro Perfect for a casual cruise down the beach or city streets, The Langdon ($399-$499, purecitycycles.com) has a retro-inspired frame that will have you racking up the compliments. The single-speed or three-speed models are offered in two sizes. Customizable for a great ride!

Get The Perks EveryMove, a free online and mobile app, rewards users for healthy activities like working out, gardening and, yes, biking, by linking to your favorite fitness trackers. In honor of National Bike Month, they are teaming up with Spinlister, Kaidel Sportswear and Orange Mud to help you cash in on your healthy habits and earn some great deals! Learn more here.

Win Your Own Don’t have a bike? Join our #MakeFitHappen Contest on Pinterest and you could score a Willow 3 beach cruiser from Brooklyn Bicycle Co! Entering is super easy – get the low down here. You have until Sunday, May 25th at 11:59pm to join in.

Photos courtesy of Electra, Novara and Pure City Cycles

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Celebrate Cinco De Mayo With 5 Guilt-Free Cocktails

Written on May 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

It’s fiesta time! Celebrate Cinco de Mayo without the next-day, calorie-ridden guilt. We’ve got five deliciously low-cal sips that are sure to please. While margaritas are the traditional way to start the party, we’ve got a great mix to appease all your different taste buds. So grab your sombrero and enjoy!

Herradura Margarita
Calories: 134 per serving

  • 1 ½ oz. Herradura Reposado
  • ¾ oz. triple sec
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • Salt (optional)

Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a glass frosted with salt and enjoy.

Recipe courtesy of Tequila Herradura

Bohemia Sangrita

Calories: 70 per serving

  • ¾ cup pomegranate juice, cold
  • ¾ cup Bohemia beer, cold
  • ½ cup orange juice concentrate (thawed but not diluted)
  • 2 teaspoons Chipotle Hot Sauce

Combine ingredients in a small pitcher. Mix well. Serve in small cordial or shot glasses alongside a separate glass of high-quality tequila blanco. Enjoy by alternately sipping the sangrita and tequila. 

Recipe courtesy of Tequila Herradura

Zona Rosa
Calories: 200 per serving

  • 2 parts Milagro Silver
  • 3/4 part Agave Nectar
  • 1 part Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 Strawberry (sliced)
  • 1/2 Kiwi (sliced)
  • 2 Basil Leaves

Combine Milargro Silver, agave nectar and lime juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strained into an ice-filled highball glass and top with ginger beer. Garnish with strawberry, kiwi and basil. Consider adding three dashes of rhubarb bitters.

Recipe courtesy of Milagro Tequila

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Kelly Osbourne Dishes On Her Stay-Slim Secrets

Written on May 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Famous for her colorful hair, unique style and true-to-herself attitude, the fashion-forward Kelly Osbourne has been focused on getting and, more importantly, staying healthy. (Since kicking off her weight loss journey back in 2009, Osbourne has shed and kept off an impressive 70 pounds!) To help celebrate the launch of Wheat Thins Popped, we got the skinny on Osbourne’s fit physique.

“I’ve been through a huge transformation in my life,” Osbourne told FITNESS Associate Beauty Editor Molly Ritterbeck. “It’s not just about health, it’s about maintenance. It’s finding the way you want to be and working on yourself and finding things that work for you.” So, how does she do it? Simple swaps and go-to snacks are her top tricks. “I’ve started to take my own snacks with me on set,” said the Fashion Police starlet, adding that Wheat Thin’s new poppable product is actually one of her favorites.

“I tasted-tested every single one before I said ‘yes’ to doing this [campaign] because I can’t lie,” she said. And boy, do we appreciate her honesty! But sometimes a little mental fibbing is just what you need when it comes to swapping out those not-so-good-for-you treats. “If you want sour cream, have fat-free Greek yogurt instead and add some lime and a little pinch of salt and your mind thinks it’s the same thing,” explained Osbourne.

And when it comes to her workouts, Osbourne likes to mix it up. “I love a good sweat and a run and I do circuit training,” she said. “But I also love my hula hooping and…fun stuff like the trampoline workouts and there’s a jazzercise class that I want to start doing in LA.” She even tried out salsa but says she can’t keep it up “because I get too competitive and by the time I leave, I can’t walk.” Looks like her Dancing with the Stars days aren’t quite behind her yet!

Photo courtesy of Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Wheat Thins

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Snack Girl’s Secret to Winning Between Meals

Written on April 29, 2014 at 9:50 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Control is key, says Cain. That’s why she always has almonds or a chocolate square in her purse. (Photo courtesy of Beth Wallace)

It’s no secret, snacking throughout the day revs up your metabolism. But successfully satisfying the mid-day munchies without undoing your workout can be a challenge. In fact, a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the average number of snacks consumed per day has doubled over the past 30 years, contributing to a quarter of our daily caloric intake. Here to help fight the between-meal pig outs is self-proclaimed “Snack Girl” Lisa Cain, author of Snack Girl to the Rescueon sale now. Ready, set, snack—smart!

Identify what you want. Is your sweet tooth calling? Or are you in need of something salty? Before lunging for that chocolate bar and bag of chips, narrow in on exactly what it is you’re looking for, suggests Cain. That way, you kick cravings for less calories. Win, win.

Smart swapping. “Try to find something in the same flavor profile that’s a healthier alternative,” says Cain. Say you’re fixin’ for nachos, for example. It isn’t just about the flavor, but the overall finger-licking experience. Trade in the high-calorie snack for something a bit more forgiving, like a serving of Monterey Jack cheese with whole grain crackers, suggests Cain. “It has calcium and protein and is a lot better for you!

Check the clock. Are you really hungry? “A lot of people are afternoon snackers,” says Cain. “They’ve got a low in the middle of the day and sometimes it’s just because you’re bored or you’re tired.” Find a replacement activity instead, like taking a walk, to see if food is really what you’re after or just a change of pace.

Run low. “Snacks should be around 150 calories,” says Cain. “If you’re going up to 300 or 400, we’re looking at more of a meal and you’re going to ruin your appetite.” Check out our recipe collection for smart, waist-friendly options.

Snack pack. Cain always has a little bag of almonds or a square of chocolate in her purse to prevent a surprising urge to splurge. “If I’m in a café and I want a cookie, what stops me is having that little square of chocolate.” Control cravings—and portions—by being prepared on-the-go.

Want more tips and tricks? Pop by Cain’s site for waist-friendly treats (Chili Lime Popcorn, Rosemary Roasted Walnuts and No-Bake Brownie Balls, to name a few) to eat day and night.

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Snack Attack! The Must-Try Dip to Pair with Pretzels

Written on April 25, 2014 at 5:16 pm , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Pretzels are the perfect snack—a little salty with a whole lot of crunch. (No wonder so many distance races offer them at the finish line shoot!) Alone they’re great, but topped with something? All the better. Put a twist on the classic munchie with this savory recipe. I mean, it’s National Pretzel Day tomorrow, after all. Time to celebrate! Double-dipping encouraged.

Ricotta-Roasted Garlic Dip

1 bag Rold Gold Three Cheese Pretzel Thins
6 bulbs whole garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 pints ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a serrated knife, cut the top ¼ of each head of garlic off, exposing the tops of the cloves inside. Place the garlic heads on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil over each one. Wrap in foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Squeeze roasted garlic out of each head and place in a mixing bowl. Add the ricotta, Dijon mustard, Parmesan, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe and photo courtesy of Rold Gold Pretzel Thins

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Free Yoga! Wanderlust Yoga in the City Summer Series Is Back

Written on April 24, 2014 at 9:14 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Planning your summer but strapped for cash? Wanderlust’s Yoga in the City (YITC) series is back and we couldn’t be more excited! Like previous years, the fast-growing evolutionary brand is offering free, all-day events with renowned yoga instructors and live music from local DJs. Plus you can snag some goodies from Kashi, LUVO, Spiritual Gangster and more. See? Being a free spirit really pays off.

“While our festivals are incomparable getaways, Yoga in the City celebrates what is local,” says Wanderlust co-founder Jeff Krasno. “It brings together the best local teachers, musicians and craft vendors in some of our nation’s most beautiful city parks. The events pull together the local yoga and mindful community around a great day of fun and practice.” So what are you waiting for? Grab your mat and get ready to find your zen. Here’s when and where you can join the movement:

May 10: Los Angeles, CA – Santa Monica Pier
May 17: San Francisco, CA – Marina Green
May 31: Chicago, IL – Butler Field in Grant Park
June 7: Philadelphia, PA – The Piazza at Schmidt’s

For more information and to sign up, check out Wanderlust’s site to learn more.

Photo courtesy of Vincent Tran

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Five Ways to Go Green—And Get It—For Earth Day

Written on April 22, 2014 at 9:44 am , by

Written by Jordan Clifford, editorial intern

Let’s face it, green is the way to go. Conserving natural resources and living an eco-friendly lifestyle is something we can all get behind. I’m not saying you have to commit to composting or using biodegradable underwear (unless that’s totally your thing!) It could be just a few simple changes. Since the earth is getting a little extra love this month, here are just a few ways for you to go the extra mile:

Swap those water filters: Soma’s uber-chic, shatter-resistant glass carafe is made from entirely biodegradable materials and operates on an all-the-rage subscription-based service, so new filters get delivered right to your door every two months. Translation: you’ve basically run out of excuses for forgetting to change the filter. Not to mention you’ll feel awesome every time you do, because a portion of the sale of every filter goes to Charity:Water and brings clean drinking water to people around the world.  With one purchase you win in three ways: go green, give back, and stay stylish (because plastic water filters aren’t exactly the prettiest at a dinner party).

Recycle old electronics: ecoATM is an automated electronic recycling kiosk where you can drop off your old phone, tablet or MP3 player and get cash back (return ranges from $1 to $300). There are 900 kiosks nationwide, so check here to find one near you, dig out the old iPhone 4 hanging out in your closet and not only will you go green, you’ll get some in return. Sweet!  

Change a light blub: How many eco-minded individuals does it take? Just one.  Something as simple as swapping out one standard 60W incandescent light blub for an LED bulb can save you about $6 a year on electricity bills and is 75-85% more efficient. It might not seem like much, but according to Batteries Plus Bulbs, a specialty nationwide light bulb and battery retailer, the average home has approximately 60 light fixtures. Do the math, and yep, you could save up to $6,500 by the time a newborn turned 18. Hello, my-kids-are-off-to-college vacation!

Get socially savvy: Did you know that your morning glass of soy/almond/coconut milk does more than taste great in your morning smoothie or bowl of cereal? It saves 500 gallons of water per half gallon over conventional dairy milk! And better yet, Silk is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to donate $20,000 with your help. Simply get your social media on: visit silk.com/yaywater and for every video share, they’ll donate $1 (up to $20,000).

Stay committed: Make a pledge to do an “act of green” at earthday.org and become part of Earth Day Network’s “A Billion Acts of Green” movement.

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo by Ericka McConnell

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10 Ways to Go Green, Get Healthy, Save Money
Easy Ways to Green Your Fitness and Daily Routine
How Do I Eat Green?