Yoga Mat Yumminess: Part One Monday, Jun 4 2012 

As part of my get-ready-for-Beach fitness plan, I have kicked my Pilates workouts into high gear.

Whether you prefer a mat workout or to sweat and stretch on the Reformer or other machines, you need to surround yourself with quality equipment. An essential part of any Pilates or Yoga workout is a great mat. I have tried my fair share of yoga mat variety over the years, and a clear winner has emerged.

 

I am partial to the “The Mat” by lululemon. I have a bright pink version and LOVE it. I pretty much worship everything by lululemon, but this mat is actually made of superior materials that prevent slipping and scrunching throughout the workout. The rubber and cushioning are all perfect for any pose you can imagine. I also indulged in the “strap mat” which makes trekking to and from the gym (and keeping my mat perfectly rolled up during storage) a cinch.

 

 

 

 

There are certainly other viable options for quality yoga and Pilates gear. I’ve tried almost every material, color and size of mat. Everyone will find their own preference through their own journey, and my favorite is my wonderful pink lululemon friend.

 

What is your favorite yoga mat?

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of flexionfitness.com

second photo courtesy of shop.lululemon.com

third photo courtesy of shopcrazy.com

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Bountiful Beach Bag Thursday, May 31 2012 

With Beach Season having arrived in full force here in South Carolina, the time has come to put together my always-ready Beach Bag. In the summer months, I pretty much always have a durable tote full of my beach essentials by the door ready to go. When it’s time to hit the beach, you don’t want to spend minutes (or hours) searching for your sunscreen or favorite sunnies.

Here is a quick run down of what I always have in my Beach Bag:

Sunscreen. Duh. As a pale redhead, the sun is not always my friend. As much as I love to lay out and soak up the sun, I’ve had plenty of bad sunburns to learn my lesson. I like Neutrogena and Aveeno for non-greasy coverage. SPF 30 or higher at all times!

 

Sunscreen. I am very rarely at the beach alone, and have come to be known as a reliable sunscreen provider. But, as I mentioned that Neutrogena and Aveeno are my faves, they are not cheap. And when I’m doling out dollops to sometimes dozens of my hubby’s friends who are running in and out of the water every fifteen minutes, I could easily go through a tube every few days. So, I always have a cheaper spray-on, waterproof back-up to generously hand out to fellow beachgoers. Let’s face it, the boys don’t care if the lotions are greasy or clog pores! I also like to carry multiple levels of SPF protection, and save the higher SPF numbers for fellow sunburn victims.

 

Sunscreen. This time for my face. I am obsessed with the Neutrogena Face Stick- the perfect, non-greasy, non-yucky, non-makeup ruining, non-skin clogging sun protection, and the only thing I’ll use on my face.

 

Hair brush. Sometimes we go right from the beach to grab some drinks, and who wants to be the high maintenance girl who has to stop at home first to brush her hair? My trick is to dip my head backwards into the ocean, slick it back, and then brush it through to avoid tangles.

 

Chap stick. Lip protection is as vital as anything else, and I am always armed with an arsenal of anti-chapped lip weapons. NIVEA, Chapstick, Blistex, you name it, I have at least 4 in my beach bag at any time. A good tip to avoid a melted stick is to hide it in my sunglasses case and shove it to the bottom of my beach bag.

Baseball cap. No matter how much Neutrogena and NIVEA I slather on my face, those delicate eyelids can still get burned if I remove my sunnies for even a few minutes to avoid raccoon eyes! So I worship the sun gods from the safe umbrella of a pink Red Sox hat.

 

T-shirt. Even if it’s tissue paper thin, I use this more than anything. To protect my face from the sun as I lie on my back, to pillow under my head if I’m on my stomach, or to throw on if the sun starts to set, taking the warmth with it. Especially if you’re boating, a comfy, soft, 100% cotton T-shirt is an absolute must!

 

 

I usually pack snacks (BBQ chips are my faves on the beach!) and bottled water or, depending on what beach I’m hitting up, a nice cold beer in a cooler. Another must: a clean, dry, sand-free Ziploc bag to protect my phone and iPad. Sand somehow gets everywhere, and plastic baggies come in every size. They seem to be the only way to keep all those pricey electronics safe.

What is your must-have in your beach bag?

Happy Summer! See you on the beach!

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of capecodbeachchair.com

second photo courtesy of drugsdepot.com

third photo courtesy of latestbeauty.com

fourth photo courtesy of hotcouponworld.com

fifth photo courtesy of newenglandusa.com

sixth photo courtesy of thegreenestdollar.com

seventh photo courtesy of beachpassion.com

Fitness Focus: Cameron Diaz Wednesday, Mar 28 2012 

Remember that incredible shot from Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle with Cameron Diaz and Demi Moore, two of Hollywood’s hottest bodies, squaring off in their respective white and black bikinis? Yeah, the girl works out.

Hollywood has admired Cameron’s smokin’ bod for years. As I search for bikini workout inspiration, any image of Cameron has me doing squats and lunges right in my living room. 

 

Here are some of her go-to workouts:

 

Staying Active

Cameron has always loved to surf, run or take part in any outdoor activity that keeps her body in perfect shape. Here she is paddle boarding.

 

 

 

Getting’ Leggy With it

Cam loves to show off her stems, and if mine started at my neck and went on for days, I’d love to too. While Cameron and her trainer both maintain that she is committed to a regimen of healthy eating, and that she doesn’t live in the gym, they both admit that she works hard for her body.

Cameron credits Pilates (mat and Reformer), reverse lunges, curtsy squats (I worship these, in a love/hate sort of way) as well as plenty of cardio and using free weights.

She also swears by the squeezable ball-and it’s actually pretty easy to incorporate that into your Pilates routine once a week.

The Couple That Sweats Together

Cameron has also always shown an affinity for working out with the man in her life. Whether it’s that famous photo of her and JT smooching on surf boards, or if she’s hitting the gym with A-Rod, it’s no surprise that Cameron incorporates fitness into her daily life, and it’s only natural that her (equally gorgeous) mate would accompany her for a good workout. 

 

 

What’s your favorite workout to try and look more like Cameron?

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of cinemastore.it

second photo courtesy of bestactress.info

third photo courtesy of fitsugar.com

fourth photo courtesy of popsugar.com

fifth photo courtesy of fitsugar.com

sixth photo courtesy of zimbio.com

seventh photo courtesy of justjared.com

eighth photo courtesy of thislondon.co.uk

ninth photo courtesy of twistednews.com

 

From Today’s Kitchen: Quiche Au Fromage (Plus Spinach!) Wednesday, Mar 21 2012 

Springtime, and the living’s easy.

 

When searching for the perfect, light, healthy and above all easy Springtime recipe, look no further than a nice quiche. Delicate, tasty, yet still packed with nutrients, this dish has always been one of my favorites. My mom has been making Julia Child’s Quiche Au Fromage since I can remember- yes, I was that 6-year-old bringing a piece of chilled quiche for lunch in first grade.

I like to throw two quiches in the oven at once- it’s just as easy to make two, and the Pillsbury pie crusts come in a package of two. Eat one with a side salad for dinner, serve with fruit for a nice lunch, and put the other in the freezer or fridge to have on hand when company unexpectedly stops in. Wouldn’t you like a nice, chic dish to serve at the drop of a hat? It’s also convenient to bring to luncheons or pot-luck events, day or night, no matter the season. C’est parfait!

Here is the Julia Child recipe I’ve been using for Quiche Au Fromage. The other day, I added spinach. I’ve recently become obsessed with spinach and thought adding it to my quiche would add some antioxidants, protein and other super-food stuff.

 

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1 cup chopped ham

1 chopped shallot

2-3 tablespoons butter

3-5 eggs ( I always use 5)

1 ½ cups half and half (I use the low-fat, it tastes fine)

pinch pepper

½ teaspoon salt

one uncooked pie pastry (Pillsbury)

 

What is your favorite easy Springtime recipe?

 

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of proteinpower.com

second photo courtesy of my iPhone (this was the quiche I made)

third photo courtesy of thedailygreen.com

Big Spoon, Little Spoon Tuesday, Mar 13 2012 

When it comes to staying healthy and watching what you eat, there are many tips, tricks and secrets out there. You can pour liquid all over your plate after you’ve finished half your food, or follow the three-bite rule, or eat only green foods. Everyone has their own weird food idiosyncracy that they like to remember as their healthy eating mantra. As I prepare for the warm weather-which will be here sooner than I’m used to- and accompanying skin-baring styles, I turn to the method I like to call “spooning.”

It’s not anything like that. I like to follow the “big spoon, little spoon” rule when it comes to serving sizes! Each set of flatware from our wedding (love you, Sur la Table!) comes with two sizes of spoons.

One is larger, about a tablespoon-plus size, and one is much daintier and slighter, perfect for stirring my tea. I use these as my guidelines.

If I’m eating something healthy, like a helping of my Kashi cereal in the morning or a nice bowl of creamed spinach, I’ll use the big spoon. If I’m enjoying some Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food (shhhh) while catching up on Modern Family, I reach for the little spoon.

 

Numerous diet and health studies have shown that when you use a smaller spoon or a smaller plate for your helping, your eye tricks your belly into thinking you’re full more quickly, and you end up eating less.

 

I think to myself “Big Spoon Protein, Small Spoon Sugar.” I use this to track how much I eat of one thing, and make sure I’m getting the proper nutrients and not too many bad, empty calories on a daily basis. If it’s good for me or a “superfood” like kale, carrots, avocado, or eggs, I’ll use the big spoon when dishing out my ingredients or if I’m eating it out of the bowl. Peanut butter is my exception, and requires a big spoon- there’s protein in peanut butter, right?

This rule can also be applied to forks- use the big forks for veggies and healthy meats, and the small forks for pies and carbs. There’s a reason they’re called “dessert” forks! Forget Mary Poppins and her giddy song- a spoonful of sugar is not good for you. Unless it’s a little spoon:)

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of shutterstock.com

second photo courtesy of surlatable.com

third photo courtesy of foodnetworks.com

fourth photo courtesy of beststuff.com

fifth photo courtesy of eatlovefood.com

sixth photo courtesy of last.fm

My 7 Irrational Fears and Phobias Thursday, Feb 2 2012 

It’s a scary world out there. Watching too much 24 and Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit makes it even scarier. But to get through the day, I like to believe in the sunshine side of life, and focus on everything good we have in our lives. A tip I heard from (my idol) Giuliana Rancic is to start your day by saying OUT LOUD 5 things you are grateful for.

 

I followed Giuliana’s advice and like to talk to myself out loud in the car first thing in the morning about everything good . With everything Giuliana’s been going through, she is such an inspirational role model for being thankful for what we have in our lives. It can be something as silly as “I’m grateful I made that red light,” or “I’m so lucky that my hair is cooperating today.” I also think about how grateful I am for major life blessings like that I am able to spend so much time with my new husband, that my parents are healthy, my pets, $0 in student loans, etc. It really feels good. When you think about all the horrible problems plaguing our world right now, anything we complain about seems so petty and silly.

 

That being said, I am of the opinion that if we’re honest about what we’re afraid of, we’re less likely to be caught off guard. I think we’re all entitled to 7 totally irrational fears, that we don’t have to explain to anyone, but that we are just allowed to hide under the covers from when the thought approaches. Why 7, you ask? I don’t know; it’s a cool, mythical, lucky number. Here are mine, in no particular order:

 

Snakes. Not a fear- a phobia. Physical reactions bordering on almost needing hospitalization.

A fire breaking out in my apartment. (It is for this reason that I keep a pair of slip-on shoes in the kitchen and the kitty

carriers are easily accessible.)

 

Vampires. Sure, Edward Cullen is pretty hot, and I know vampires are super hot right now, but the thought of an undead blood-sucker kind of freaks me out.

 

Something crawling into my ear while I’m asleep. 

 

Teeth falling out of my mouth. At approximately age 9, at the dentist, the hygienist was flossing my bottom teeth and she yanked out a baby tooth. It wasn’t loose or anything- she just pulled up with the floss from underneath, and blood came gushing out of my mouth.  I am forever traumatized.

 

Checking luggage. This is a totally rational fear, because I have been the victim of the worst luggage theft of anyone I know. Three words: JFK. Christmas. Europe. Lost: $3000 worth of sentimental and semi-valuable, irreplaceable wonders.

Something really bad happening to a family member and someone not being able to reach me.

 

 

Maybe putting all this fear and anxiety out in the universe isn’t decreasing the chances of something horrible happening, but expressing our feelings about what we’re happy about and what we’re scared of is one of the healthiest things we can do for our peace of mind.

 

What are your 7 irrational fears and phobias?

 

Media Credits:
first photo courtesy of masterfile.com

second photo courtesy of catster.com

third photo courtesy of luciddreaming.com

fourth photo courtesy of cherrynrouge.com

Inspiring Icon: Giuliana Rancic’s Incredible Story Tuesday, Dec 13 2011 

In honor of the impending New Year, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss a very special and emotional topic.

 

Everyone has witnessed the incredible strength, beauty, courage and style that Giuliana Rancic has displayed lately. Her October announcement of her breast cancer diagnosis moved me to tears- I actually read the news on Twitter one morning a few days after my wedding. I was overcome with audible shock and heartbreak at this devastating news to befall my absolute favorite style inspiration and career role model.

 

The news was made all the more poignant by the fact that I had just recently been lucky enough to meet Giuliana and Bill while on my birthday trip to Vegas with my then-fiance. I was positively gleeful, armed with my pink contest-winner bracelet, when I clutched my (second) copy of I Do, Now What?, which I had spent the previous months devouring- now I had a copy for my fiancé to read!- and I stood in line, awestruck by Giuliana’s beauty in real life and her down-to-earth persona.

 

It is perhaps for this reason that I have not written about her until now. I have honestly felt so close to her and her struggle to have a baby- watching all four seasons of Giuliana and Bill on iTunes repeatedly and eagerly soaking up any interview with my favorite “girl crush”. Because, when I was trying to contain my shrieks of excitement and prevent my hands from shaking while Giuliana graciously signed my book (and wrote a birthday message, of course!), my idol was harboring a devastating secret. At this point, September 8, she had already learned of her new battle with breast cancer. From her stunning Diane von Furstenburg dress to her witty remarks during her fashion presentation to her effortless smile and glow, she looked anything but a cancer patient. She was a vivacious, brilliantly shining star lighting up the Palazzo. Her energy and genuine excitement was evident to all who saw her that night, and I’m sure to anyone who has met her in person.

So when I heard about Giuliana’s health crisis, compounded by her continuing struggle to become a mother, I felt as though a close friend had been hit by the pink ribbon’s formidable enemy.  She is more of a role model to me than most people realize. I even semi-stalked her career on E! back when she was still Giuliana DePandi and I was still in high school. Why did I major in Journalism? Did I mention she re-tweeted me once congratulating me on being accepted to her alma matter, American University for grad school? Amazeballs moment if ever there was one! She has truly touched my life; I started following her example of saying out loud to myself in the car the things that I am thankful for, and my day literally feels lighter and more full of promise.

 

When I saw her tweet that she was going to appear on the Today show this past week, as much as I wanted to believe that it would be an announcement of a clean bill of health (or even a pregnancy!)I had a sinking feeling in my heart that Giuliana had been dealt a serious hand with this diagnosis. I felt as though she couldn’t catch a break- how could something so horrible happen to someone so beautiful, so inspiring, so good? Hasn’t she suffered enough with her miscarriage and public battle for something that comes so easily to other women?

 

But when I watched her broadcast (and thankfully I have it forever on TiVo) I was struck by her smile. Her genuine, warm, toothy, smile. As she was talking about her decision to undergo a double mastectomy before New Year’s Eve, she was the total pillar of strength, even as her voice shook and her eyes welled with a relatable, raw emotion. Again, I was seeing my friend sitting on that couch. There she was talking about how fortunate she is that she caught it early, and has options for her treatment and recovery process. As her loving husband held her hand, she again showed the world the definition of a strong, modern woman. A gorgeous, stylish, smart, sophisticated woman who is staring down the face of a serious disease with her perfectly lip-glossed smile. She is choosing life, and in the process, is becoming even more of a role model for any young girl who can ever hope to face challenges in life with confidence and grace.

 

For all things Giuliana Rancic and to learn more about her mission to educate young women on life-saving early breast cancer detection, you can visit many of her fabulous websites: www.fabfitfun.com or www.bebrightpink.org. She also graces the cover of this week’s People magazine, speaking bravely about the fight for life.

I would like to send my warmest, pinkest wishes to Giuliana for a successful surgery and smooth recovery, and for nothing but light, love and smiles in 2012!

 

Media Credits:
first photo courtesy of ontheredcarpet.com

second photo courtesy of betterworldbooks.com

third and fourth photos courtesy of my iPhone (Sep 8, Las Vegas- yes that is me in the blue dress- I wanted some photographic evidence of how close I twas to G&B!)

fifth photo courtesy of accesshollywood.com

sixth photo courtesy of cbs8.com

Snazziest Hand Sanitizer Tuesday, Aug 23 2011 

I remember during the swine flu epidemic when my college class president signed off campus-wide emails with “Peace, Love and Purell”.

Well, thankfully, the outbreaks have passed, but health and hygiene are still of the utmost importance to make sure it stays that way. Vitamin C supplements, lots of rest and plenty of OJ are vital in maintaining your health and to prevent the spread of disease to those around you. With all the terrifying statistics of how many hundreds of germs thrive on doorknobs, pens, the treadmill at the gym, and even your steering wheel, hand sanitization has never been more important.

Luckily, now there are tons of stylish, moisturizing ways to keep your hands safe and your body healthy. Here are some of my favorites:

 

 

 

 1. Purell, the Classic

You can’t go wrong with this army against germs. Eradicate 99.9% of germs every time you spritz. You should keep one of these by your front door, and apply the second you walk in.

2. Gold Bond Ultimate Hand Sanitizer Moisturizer

A more stylish option that you can leave on your desk at work, this lotion doesn’t scream “I KILL GERMS!!!” so you can discreetly apply after shaking hands at the morning meeting or using the copy machine. This also severely moisturizes your hands, so none of that alcohol smell or starchy after-feeling lingers.

 3. Germ –X

This new-age, antibacterial foam wash is great for common spaces where lots of people gather, because you can just leave it next to the sink in the kitchen or by the door.  I love that these come in little purse-perfect packets, and larger tubs of wipes to sanitize your phone, keyboard, or car door handle every morning. ( You simply MUST wipe down any workout equipment before and after each use- benches and hand weights included!)

So there you have it! Hand sanitization at its most stylish and effective. Now there is no excuse for not lathering up every time you leave the house (and come home!) It takes less than 15 seconds to kill germs, but yuckiness leading to colds, staff infections, or the flu takes much longer to treat.

What are some of your favorite hand sanitizers? What is one thing you always make sure to wipe down thoroughly?

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of mlive.com

second photo courtesy of early janitorial.com

third photo courtesy of myotcstore.com

fourth photo courtesy of vijon.com

fifth photo courtesy of medicsites.com

Bride-Friendly Treats: My Healthy Reese’s Saturday, Aug 20 2011 

In the final 6 weeks of wedding prep, diet becomes of the utmost importance. What I eat affects my skin, energy level, and of course the fit of my dress. Which means chocolate and peanut butter, two of my favorite treats in the world, are off-limits. Sad face.

The sweet tooth doesn’t go away. After dinner, I still want a little treat. Since I’m working so hard at the gym, I need a little something sweet to satisfy me.

Today, I did a little happy dance, because I stumbled upon a wonderfully delicious, chocolatey, peanut buttery piece of goodness.

A few weeks ago, a TV commercial for Nature Valley Granola Thins came across when watching Say Yes to the Dress. My fiancé (I got a good one- he sits with his laptop but watches with me shh!) They just looked so yummy, and I picked some up at the market. I love  the crunchiness Nature Valleys’s granola bars, and these new additions do not disappoint!

But of course, after a long day of work, that Reese’s craving kicked in. However, I was not about to undo all my long hours spent sweating in the gym. So I decided to create my own, healthy, wedding dress-friendly little pseudo- Reese’s concoction.

Instructions: unwrap a Dark Chocolate Granola Thin, unwrap a Peanut Butter Granola Thin, smoosh them together, with crunchy sides facing out, peanut butter touching chocolate, and feel the happiness of peanut butter and chocolate on your tastebuds.

Delicious!!! I can’t get enough. Well, one a day. At 80 calories per Granola Thin, this is certainly a Reese’s-imitation treat I can feel comfortable about.

Chocolate and peanut butter, bride-approved.

Enjoy!

What are some of your favorite healthy indulgences?

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of wedding-reception.com

second photo courtesy of candyandsnacktoday.com

third photo courtesy of the frugalgirls.com

fourth photo courtesy of asweetlife.com

fifth photo courtesy of cookerati.com

Peace, Love and Chamomile Friday, Aug 5 2011 

Sometimes, life is bleak. Sometimes the darkness out-shadows the light of our lives, and sometimes it’s hard to focus on the peaks when the pits are so massive. When the recesses of doubt and depression threaten to swallow us whole and pull us into the abyss of tears, it’s important to find our own unique silver lining.

 

Everyone has something that pulls them up after a downer of a day. Everyone has a relaxation after a “stressfest”.

 

Some of my favorites? Pedicures, Pilates, and peanut M&Ms are always good. But for a quick fix, one I can count on every day, I need look no further than my tea pot: Chamomile always does the trick.

 

When I’m sick, when I feel fat, when I feel really good and healthy, when I feel sleepy, when I need to relax, when I feel cold, when I feel alone…I pour myself some soothing “Cozy Chamomile”, to quote my favorite brand Bigelow.

 

Chamomile was by my side (in my cup, more like it) when I woke up at 4am to watch the Royal Wedding. The warm, inviting aroma and silky textures transported me to glorious Britain, where I could have my very own “princess” moment. I rarely indulge in caffeine anymore (soda is just ridiculously bad for you), so the caffeine-free option is good for my blood pressure, and the light color is good for my teeth. It’s inexpensive, easy and good for you. Chamomile just warms my heart, body and soul, and it’s a hard feeling to replicate.

 

Next time the world is kicking you in the stomach and all the doors are slamming in your face, try a new system of relaxation and treat yourself to a little bit of chamomile. Give yourself a break with sugar, French Vanilla coffemate, cream or just the pure, flowery flavor. Nothing can hurt you when you’re indulging in a soothing, warm spot of tea.

Media Credits:

first photo courtesy of sciencedaily.com

second photo courtesy of bigelowtea.com

third photo courtesy of roseoil.com

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