Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Tip #1

Like I said in my last blog post, I will be offering two holiday-themed tips per day during this joyous season. One will be a fitness tip and the other will be a tip for a healthy indulgence. So here it goes, folks.

Instead of doing your bicep curls while standing or seated on a bench, try doing them on a stability ball, like this:

In this position, you will be challenging your stabilizing muscles which will give you more bang for your bicep-exercise buck. This works more muscles than if you had the help of a bench or the floor to steady you. You have to recruit muscles from your core, glutes (butt), legs and shoulders when using the stability ball. Cool, right? It's likely that you'll have to lift less weight than if you weren't on the stability ball, so test what works best for you: use a weight that gets difficult to lift in the last two repetitions of your set. Do two to three sets of this exercise, 10-15 reps total in each set.

I'm a Starbucks fan, but I feel bad about it because where I live in the East Village, there are so many amazing coffee shops to choose from, and I know I'm supporting "The Man" by helping build the Starbucks empire with each coffee I buy.  But what can I say: they carry yummy low-calorie/sugar-free syrups and toppings, and when I'm looking for a warm, delicious, health-conscious drink with a holiday kick, I know I can find it at Starbucks. That being said, feel free to substitute your coffee shop of choice for the drinks I'm discussing. 

To make a Cup o' Joe more festive and creamy without the heavy syrup and sugar, try a Tall Soy Latte (Starbucks uses Vanilla soy which means no sugar or sugar substitute necessary and also means yummy deliciousness in a cup) and add your own topping supplied by the coffee shop. I like using cinnamon and nutmeg for instant Christmas-in-a-cup. Starbucks also has cinnamon dolce and pumpkin spice toppings you can use for something extra festive but calorie free. To lessen the calories even more, substitute skim milk. Your drink won't be as creamy, but if soy isn't your thing, it's a good substitute.

Rock out, enjoy, and Be Well!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Time

Holy moley, the holidays have begun. I love this time of year. I love bundling up in warm coats and scarves; seeing the Christmas trees for sale, lining the streets of New York City; the holiday menu at Starbucks, with drinks like Gingerbread Lattes and Peppermint Mochas to warm your belly; enjoying the crispness in the air that leaves your cheeks rosy. It's a short, yet special, period between Thanksgiving and the New Year, and I feel a bit more giving and a bit more spirited. It's nice.
It's also the time of year where, if you're an avid health and fitness magazine reader like I am, you get bombarded with tips on "surviving" the holidays, like it's some sort of hardship that we all need to slog through every year. Yes, more calories tend to be consumed during the holidays. Thanksgiving kicks off the gluttony, and it continues from holiday party to holiday party, and people tend to put on some weight as a result. The good news, though, is that according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the average American gains only about 1 pound between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. The bad news, is that this 1 pound is never lost, which could contribute to weight gain over the course of one's lifetime. Luckily, since fitness and health rank high on your list of priorities , you won't let that 1 pound stick with you, right? Anyway...
What I would like to do is reverse this propaganda of guilt that readers might feel during this magical time of year. I'm not advocating that you abandon all your fitness goals and healthy ways of living, but rather to enjoy without worry like I have tended to do over the years. Define what your wellness is and don't let anyone else dictate that. Maybe that's enjoying a holiday party without feeling guilty for indulging. Or maybe it's hitting the gym/bike trail/running trail/fitness class daily, so that you can feel strong and fit to get through the longer days spent party hopping/holiday shopping/family enduring. Whatever it is, enjoy it, will ya? It only comes once a year!
To help you, I've decided to offer two holiday-themed tips a day on this blog. One will include a fitness tip and the other will include a healthy indulgence so that your personal wellness can be met, whatever that may be. For now, get outside to enjoy the early winter weather, rosy up those cheeks, stay healthy and motivated and Be Well.