Written on September 16, 2013 at 11:14 am , by Samantha Shelton
Is it just me, or does it feel like now that summer is over, it’s time for another tropical vacation? If you’re in the market for a getaway, I have a great suggestion: Aruba. While I love lounging on the beach as much as the next girl, there comes a point in my trip when I feel the urge to get up and go. So, if you’re like me and need a healthy mix of active adventure sprinkled with total relaxation, then the One Happy Island is perfect for you to explore. Allow me to explain:
Beaches. Aruba’s got ‘em and they’re beautiful. The crystal-clear water is extremely inviting, and the temperature is perfect for swimming, snorkeling or a good ole’ splash fight with friends. The sand is pure white, and with more than 10 locations, there’s plenty to choose from if one spot is a bit too crowded for your liking. One warning, though: It’s windy in Aruba (making the high temps super comfortable). So if you’re a girl who prefers sun-bathing to water-splashing, I’d recommend lounging by the pool.
Water sports. This is the place to try it all and really test your limits. If you’re a beginner, try snorkeling or stand up paddleboarding. If you want to feel the wind in your hair, give wind- or kite-surfing a whirl. I hopped on a catamaran tour with friends, where we explored three different locations, including a ship wreck! And you have to be sure to try a unique water activity I had never heard of before: Snuba. A cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, this is for those who don’t have their scuba certification but still want to explore the depths of the ocean. The difference: instead of strapping a tank to your back, it stays above water so you can swim freely. Perfect compromise, right?
Guy-friendly adventures. If you’re bringing a special man along, most of the time they do a good job of relaxing on the beach beside you while sipping ice-cold beverages (I recommend tasting an Aruba Ariba, the island’s famous tropical cocktail). But if they’re being honest, most would rather explore in a more, er, rugged way. Enter ATV riding. The landscape in Aruba has turquoise waters colliding against desert-like terrain, giving you those Instagram-worthy views (#nofilterneeded) and him an adrenaline rush as you cruise over sand dunes, past cacti and through the rocky cliffs of Arikok National Park. And if that’s not quite your speed, you can hike or hop on a horse – you’ll still slowly walk along the beach for more of a romantic vibe, but there are plenty of trails that take you through the same rugged terrain as an ATV. Join a tour of more experienced riders and you won’t soon forget the feeling of moving along at a full gallop with ocean views to your left and rocky mountains to your right.
Written on September 9, 2013 at 11:19 am , by Samantha Shelton
It was a magical weekend in the world of music. The return of football (are you nailgating this season?) brought the news that this year’s Super Bowl XLVIII half-time show may just be better than the last. While we love Beyonce as much as the next girl, our hearts started pitter pattering with the announcement that Bruno Mars will take the stage during the championship game. Um, yes, we would like to watch him swagger on stage with his bandmates, reminding us of Michael Jackson’s smooth moves, especially after his VMA’s performance. And letting him charm us half-way through watching cute guys play football? Thank you, NFL. Thank you.
But that’s not all that’s got us on a music-high this Monday. USWeekly also tipped us off about a certain collaboration between two of our fave pop artists. We kind of figured something could be in the works after the Twitter lovefest that occurred between J-Lo and T-Swift after their performance on Taylor’s Red Tour. But it looks like the two will have a song on Jenny’s eighth album, set to release in early 2014. Anyone else think this is going to be a match made in heart-thumping, run-your-heart-out heaven?
To tide you over until these big events actually come to fruition, we compiled our top tunes from these three stellar artists. And if you need to remember just how great all of ‘em are at performing, check out these vids first:
Now you tell us: Which performance are you most excited about?
Written on September 2, 2013 at 10:01 am , by Samantha Shelton
We know: It sucks that summer is coming to a close. While you pack up your bikinis and flip flops, and take out your (super cute) sweaters and boots, press play on this lineup. Just because the seasons are changing doesn’t mean we have to let go of the hottest jams quite yet, and right now, we have no intention of doing so.
Now you tell us: What was your favorite song of summer?
Written on August 30, 2013 at 11:23 am , by Samantha Shelton
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Hate those gimmicky before/after photos that come with every quick-fix weight loss ad? Us, too. Which is why we love that personal trainer Mel V took matters into her own hands, and posted on Instagram how she created the “I Dropped a Crazy Amount of Weight” images in 15 minutes. - MelVFitness
- The best city to snag a healthy meal at work? Washington, D.C., you win! -Fox News
- If you think running is enough to counterbalance sitting at a desk all day, you’re wrong. Here’s why sitting is being dubbed the new smoking. – Runner’s World
- ‘Tis the season of weddings. We love these fun pre-bachelorette party baskets for your bride-to-be (Psssst: We spy a copy of FITNESS in there!) -Peanut Butter Fingers
- Instead of peppers on your pizza, put the pizza in your peppers! (Say that five times fast) We’re loving this Italian twist on the stuffed veggie. -Healthful Bites
Yankees’ Relief Pitcher David Robertson Talks Baseball, Charity Work and What He Loves Most About Fit Women
Written on August 20, 2013 at 10:50 am , by Samantha Shelton
Going to the Home Run Derby is one of those things you can bet your guy has on his “To Do Before I Die” bucket list. And since the famous fundraising event moves from city to city each summer, it’s that much harder to land a ticket. Lucky for us, this year’s Derby landed right here in New York City at Citi Field. Announcing their new status as an official MLB sponsor, Lipton graciously hosted this major baseball fan to watch hit after hit (along with a mini concert from Pit Bull – “Feel This Moment” is just as good live, FYI), then introduced me to Yankees’ relief pitcher David Robertson. Read on to see how our chat went – trust me, you want to: He let us in on the most attractive look fit women rock.
Lipton is now an official MLB sponsor. Are you excited to be partnering with them?
I am! I’m really excited because these guys sent me like five or six cases of tea, and I drink the green tea all the time. I love it. I buy it all the time anyway, so now that they sent me some, my fridge is stocked. It’s become my morning routine to just grab one of the green teas with citrus and suck it down. I feel like I get my little caffeine boost and I’m hydrated; ready for the day.
Every home run tonight equals a donation to a few select charities. If you could choose any charity yourself, which would be your pick?
Well, I have my own charity. It’s High Socks for Hope, and we do disaster relief. Right now we’re helping Hurricane Sandy victims. We started the charity because my hometown, Tuscaloosa, AL, was hit by a tornado and it destroyed over 15 percent of the town. I knew friends and people that lost everything, so we kind of made it our off-the-field job to help regroup, bringing out goodie bags and figuring out how to take the next step in the rebuilding process. We do a lot of furnishing homes and work with Habitat for Humanity. So I’d say give it to us because we will use that money. We’ve helped thousands of families and we’ll help thousands more.
I’m from upstate New York, and my hometown recently experienced a ton of flooding. It’s the same thing: People I grew up with had their homes destroyed.
And no one realizes that when it’s a year later, not everything’s been fixed. That’s where we can step in and help. We know people who, just to get their houses cleaned up, it takes nine or ten months. They don’t have any money left to buy furniture. So we buy them furniture, mattresses, beds, sofas, anything. Anything we can give them, we do.
Written on August 14, 2013 at 10:48 am , by Samantha Shelton
You know her as a U.S. Olympic softball player, but in the last few years, Jennie Finch has proven to be quite the well-rounded athlete. After hanging up her glove and settling into motherhood, Finch has taken the fitness world by storm, tackling major events like the New York City Marathon. This summer, she did it again and dominated a completely new-to-her sport: the triathlon. After swimming, biking and running in the New York City Triathlon – finishing in 2:51:15 – we caught up with the supermom to find out how she felt on race day, and whether we’ll see her back in the Hudson River any time soon.
You conquered the New York City Marathon in 2011, and now the triathlon. What made you want to do it?
Actually, my coach and a girl who ran the marathon with me are both triathletes and they wanted me to do it. And then Aquaphor wanted to know if I was interested, and it’s a brand that’s been in my house since my [softball] playing days. Now that I’m a mom, I use it on my kiddos. It looked like a fun challenge, so I figured why not?
Did you have any kind of experience in swimming and biking before signing on?
Other than riding my beach cruiser in high school and playing marco polo in the pool, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know how to breathe properly or even freestyle properly in the swim. It was all so new and I was just tapping into a new community. It’s been fun to get in and figure it out.
Which part of the tri was your favorite?
I thought running would be my favorite leg, but running after swimming and biking is a whole different ball game. I’ve grown to love swimming, which I was most nervous about. It’s less stress on your body. Biking just took a long time to get the training miles in, but swimming was never more than an hour, which was refreshing and a nice change-up.
Written on August 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm , by Samantha Shelton
When comfort food is calling your name – especially Southern comfort food – there isn’t anything that fits the bill quite like a right-outta-the-oven homemade biscuit (paired with chicken and gravy, yes?). Unfortunately, those small circles of delicious can wreak havoc on your waistline in a big way, thanks to calorie-ridden ingredients like buttermilk and shortening. To keep our tastebuds and figures happy, we said yes to a fun night of healthy baking with Iron Chef Michael Symon and Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt. While we can’t give you personal kitchen time with Symon, who’s whole-hearted laugh and boisterous personality is super infectious, we can give you his slim-downed solution to your comfort food cravings. Whip up this fluffy biscuit recipe, and maybe tune in to Symon so he’s practically there, too.
Dannon Oikos Plain Greek Nonfat Yogurt Biscuits
- 2 cups flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and kept cold
- 1 cup Dannon Oikos Plain Greek Nonfat Yogurt, plus more for brushing
- 1/4 cup milk
- Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and lemon zest. Add cubed butter and work it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt and milk. Add to butter and flour mixture. Stir until dough comes together, then knead the rest of the way, being careful not to overwork it. The dough will be slightly sticky when finished.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and press out to 3/4-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter or drinking glass, cut into rounds, pressing straight down and not twisting.
Lay biscuits onto a baking sheet and brush tops with extra Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Written on August 9, 2013 at 9:57 am , by Samantha Shelton
Landon Donovan, David Beckham and, of course, the soon-to-be Bachelor, Juan Pablo – soccer players have the sleek physique we love to look at. But one thing all that hard work in the sun is doing (besides giving them chiseled abs)? Wrecking their skin. So Donovan, one of the top pro players for the LA Galaxy, teamed up with The Skin Cancer Foundation to help spread the word and prevent the red (Seriously, his pose to the right is cute, but we prefer less color). After years of sweating on the field all day without protection, one close-to-home diagnosis became a critical wake-up call. Find out what it is, and how he suggests getting the special guy in your life to slather on the sunscreen without being a nag.
Tell us a little bit about why you got involved with this initiative.
A few years back, my dad developed skin cancer. That was a little bit of a wake-up call for me, considering being out in the sun is something I do every day. When it all happened, my girlfriend at the time asked me bluntly, “You wear sunscreen every day, right?” And I hadn’t been. My whole life I had been outside playing in the sun and I had neglected something so important. So after my dad’s diagnosis, I became someone on the team who wore sunscreen regularly. There are a lot of people who are not educated and if we can help even just a few, it’s worth it.
Recent statistics say that 70 percent of men don’t know what skin cancer signs to look for, and half don’t wear sunscreen. Why do you think that is?
It’s a macho thing, an unaware thing. I don’t think people fully understand the dangers. It’s one thing if you go out once a week and you’re in a little bit of sunshine. But for me and many of the people I know, we’re out in the sun playing soccer every day, and it’s constant. It only takes a couple minutes to apply sunscreen and it can save your life.
Do the numbers surprise you?
On the surface, it’s a surprising number. But when I think about people I know and guys I play with, it’s not all that surprising. I think for the most part it’s an ignorance thing where people don’t really understand the danger involved. And for some people, I don’t know if it’s a lazy thing, or if they just really don’t think anything can happen to them. Like, “Oh, I don’t need it, I’m not going to be outside that long.” It’s a lack of action, so bringing up awareness will hopefully move them so that next time they go outside, maybe they’ll spend two minutes and put sunscreen on.
As a soccer player, you have to be out on the field a lot. What’s your sunscreen regimen?
I put sunscreen on about a half hour before I go out. For people that sweat a lot, it’s necessary to find sunscreen that is water resistant because if you put it on too late, it’s dripping in your eyes and that doesn’t feel good. If I’m not going to be outside for a long time, then I at least put on a hat and sunglasses and make sure I’m covered so that I’m not exposing myself directly.
Do you have a favorite brand you find works really well while you’re out being active?
I’m pretty easy as far as that stuff goes, so as long as it doesn’t go in my eyes, I’m good. I prefer the spray, but it’s easier to get the lotion in the locker room. The spray is nice because you don’t get it on your hand and it’s not greasy. I don’t want it to be greasy.
How can women help the men in their lives get more educated about skin safety?
Continue to push it so that they understand. I don’t know, by nature, men are just not as concerned or aware. Women are a lot more nurturing, I think, and want to take care of people, and understand inherently the dangers involved. So use that and make them be informed. I know it can be difficult, but I think being really blunt and letting them know that you care about them and you don’t want to see something bad happen to them would work. There are plenty of stories about people who get skin cancer and it goes undetected and you can die from it. If men can see that that’s a real possibility, it might get them to stop and think about it. Just continue to nag them because in the end, that part doesn’t matter. Saving their life does.
To get a little more sunscreen 411, we checked in with Joshua Zeichner, M.D., spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation. More skin-saving advice:
Written on July 23, 2013 at 9:30 am , by Samantha Shelton
In our July/August issue (on newsstands now!), we explored the best sporty activities in the top 10 most visited cities across the country. But that doesn’t mean others don’t have something fun to offer! After visiting North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, it’s safe to say there are plenty of fit activities to take advantage of if you’re looking for more than a “lay on the beach and drink all of the margaritas” type of getaway. Here, some of our personal faves:
Surfing. Hang ten in these waters and you can definitely call yourself a surfer. The waves vary from two- to three-feet high—perfect for beginners—and can get all the way up to 19-feet during a tropical storm (obviously better for those well-versed on the board). We loved our lessons from Mike over at Hot Wax Surf Shop, but if the adrenaline rush isn’t quite your style, they also offer more low-key stand-up paddleboarding (SUP).
Beach Running. Rent a house from Emerald Isle Realty and you’ll only have to take a few steps before you’re at the beach. Perfect for lounging and getting in a quality workout! We were hosted by the company in one of their beachfront homes, and had a personal walkway leading straight onto the beach—no crazy maneuvering required! Waking up to the sound of the ocean each morning had us leaping out of bed and lacing up the sneaks for a quiet, peaceful jog along the water before diving into the day. If your feet are ready for it, head closer to the water and forgo shoes for some barefoot running so you can really feel the sand beneath you (and burn up to 60 percent more calories!). Watch the sun fully rise post-run and indulge in a little seaside yoga for a true feeling of bliss.
Lighthouse Climbing. If you want to see the Southern Outer Banks from a higher perspective, head over to Cape Lookout National Seashore over on Harkers Island. Accessible by ferry, we suggest packing a picnic to enjoy by the water, then climbing the 207 steps to the top of the lighthouse! The breathtaking 360 views allow you to take in miles of uninhabited territory, except for the wild Spanish mustangs over on Shackleford Banks. The park is a sea turtle nesting area, too, so keep an eye out for hatching nests. Once you’re finished, ask the ferry driver to slowly bring you over to the Banks, where you can get a closer view of the elegant horses. If you’re extra lucky (like we were!), you may just get a little show from the wild dolphins while you zip back to land.
Sightseeing in Beaufort. A short drive away, this quaint little town is not only voted America’s Coolest Small Town, it’s also the famous location of Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember (and we know you’ve seen that movie!). Stroll the waterfront docks while the sailboats and yachts come in and out, spot the wild mustangs from across the water, or tour the historic area of town. Definitely a walkable town for those who love window shopping, this is a fun way to take in a cool movie location, soak in a little American history and log those 10,000 steps!
Now you tell us: What’s your favorite way to explore a new place while on vacation?
Written on July 16, 2013 at 9:50 am , by Samantha Shelton
Surfing. It’s on everyone’s bucket list. And when you imagine yourself crossing that particular item off the to-do list, I’m sure you envision white sandy beaches, lots of palm trees and, well, hot surfer dudes in Hawaii. At least, that’s how I pictured it.
When I actually crossed it off my list earlier this year, though, it happened somewhere I never would’ve expected: North Carolina! More specifically, North Carolina’s Crystal Coast at Emerald Isle Beach. I met up with Mike Crews, owner of Hot Wax Surf Shop, who’s been surfing since he was five years old, and instructing for the last 15 years. After getting zipped up in an oh-so-sexy wetsuit (insert sarcasm here), I hit the beach – not the water – for lessons on how to power through the waves, nail my timing, paddle like I’m about to die, and pop up to catch and ride that glorious wave.
One lesson Crews stressed that I wasn’t expecting: yoga is a critical component to successfully surfing. Wait, what? I knew you needed balance, core and upper body strength. I felt I had a decent amount of all three, but hadn’t been “om-ing” regularly. Would I be able to hang ten?
Not only does Crews instruct surfing, he’s also been teaching yoga for the last 15 years. So it made sense to get the low-down on both sports from him. Read on to find out what the big deal is, and why you should pop up on the Crystal Coast this summer (August kicks off their season). Spoiler: While I definitely got knocked around a bit, I rode a wave by the end of the day. Success!
Why are yoga and surfing so closely related?
Yoga is something most people have at least dabbled with, so if I make the connection between the activities, it’s often easier for them to relate the two. They understand that when they’ve popped up on the board and are riding, they’re basically in a Warrior II pose. Downward-facing dog is another similar pose because it’s how you shift from lying on the board to popping up to that Warrior II pose – if you can jump between those two poses quickly, then that simulates jumping up to the position you need to catch a wave. The only major difference is you’re on a surfboard instead of a yoga mat.
What are some top poses you recommend for surfers outside of the water?
I would always recommend that you do a few sun salutations before you go out. They’re going to stretch your entire body every way, and it gets your breath going. Yoga is so great for surfing because it helps with flexibility and expanding your breath, which are both critical components to being a successful surfer.
Why is the breathing part so important?
A lot of different yoga programs teach retention of the breath, which helps you inhale quickly, hold the breath and then release it slowly. If you’re about to hit the water, you need that quick inhale. As you swim to the top, you’re not necessarily holding your breath, but slowly releasing it. By the time you run out, you should be at the surface. So the practice of letting it go slowly and deliberately can really help you out. Yoga and breath retention helps you learn to keep calm during stressful situations, too, which is big if and when a scary situation pops up.
Um, scary situation?
A lot of people forget how strong the ocean is. If you get stuck under water, it can be like God holding his thumb down on you. You have to be able to maintain that sense of calm while having a lot of lung expansion. You don’t want to panic and fight – that only makes it worse.
How often would you recommend a beginner surfer practice yoga?
If you asked that in a yoga class, the instructor would likely say, “Do whatever you feel comfortable with.” While that’s true, I would say that you should really become proficient at yoga and go around three times a week if you want to surf.