Incorporate Workout DVDs into Your Fitness Routine

30dayshred

My workouts, to be honest, are quite bland. I spend a few days per week running (one long run mixed with several shorter runs for speed) and maybe 2 days incorporating strength training with the same combination of moves and weights each week (I do not pay for a gym membership, so I do not participate in classes and do not have a wide variety of machines to choose from at my free fitness center through my apartment complex). I do increase my longer runs and try to beat my times for my “fast” runs, but other than that, my fitness habits are relatively predictable. I tend to notice some results and improvements on my running times, however, when my roommate was just trying out her new workout DVD for the first time (Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred) and asked me if I wanted to join, I decided to try it out. I had completed the same workout DVD when I was in college awhile ago, but that was the only time that I have ever worked out via video. The workout program contains 3 levels spanning 30 days (10 days for each level). I figured that since I had been working out consistently and felt that I was in pretty good shape, the workout DVD would be pretty easy. Well, the next day, I was feeling it. My chest and shoulders still burn, two days later! It made me realize that I do tend to neglect certain muscle groups — I’m biased toward focusing on my legs, butt, and biceps! My chest rarely gets a good workout and I tend to baby my shoulders as well. I was quite happy to feel sore the next day and will continue to occasionally join my roommate when I can for her 30 day shred.

Some of the benefits of incorporating workout DVDs into your fitness routine include avoiding a costly gym membership and waiting on machines, enjoying the comfort of your own home so that you can feel more at ease with your own pace and your body, allowing more flexibility with your schedule if you live somewhat far from a gym, mixing up your routine to focus on different moves and muscles, or not having to worry about bad weather ruining your outdoor run or bike ride. You can buy used workout DVDs online or at the store and can also use YouTube as a source of online workouts (Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred is actually on there). While I haven’t tried them, here is a list of some great workouts to try at home: 8 Great Workout DVDs to Try Now.

Check Out MindBodyGreen

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered the website MindBodyGreen and was hooked. The site offers a “guide to wellness” focusing on health, fitness, happiness, and relationships. Be sure to check it out! You can even add your email address to be signed up for their free inspirational newsletter. There are plenty of great ideas there to get you started on living your best life!

Epilate for Smoother Skin While Saving Money

epilate

Epilate? What is that? When I tell people that I use an epilator, most give me a questioning look. I’m surprised at how many women have not heard of this amazing device. Since we are still in the middle of summer, epilating can be a useful option for those hoping to maintain a smooth, bikini-ready body.

An epilator is a small, mechanical item that uses a series of tiny, rotating tweezers to grasp multiple hairs from their roots. It is also known as an electric tweezer. Epilating is similar to waxing, in that hairs are pulled out from the roots to provide for longer-lasting results (around 2-4 weeks) without needing to shave. Similarly to waxing, it can be painful, but the temporary pain is worth the results!

If you’ve ever waxed, you know the smooth feeling that results from it, contrasting to surface removal techniques such as shaving or using hair removal creams. The hairs take longer to grow back and when they do grow back, they are typically finer and softer than before. Epilators are not just built for your legs; they commonly have several attachments that can be used for more sensitive or difficult to reach areas (such as armpits and bikini). Epilating is also different from waxing in that it is better for the skin, since waxing tends to remove epithelial cells in the process.

In addition to providing smoother skin, epilating can also be a good choice if you’re looking to save money. The average cost of an epilator is around $40 (and simply needs to be recharged for the next use), while the average cost of one waxing session varies but runs about $20-$100 for a full bikini and around the same price for full legs. That usually doesn’t include the cost of tip and also does not include the cost of gas to drive to the salon. Let’s say that you spend $50 per month (a very modest estimate, considering that would be around one body part and waxing also tends to be needed more than once a month) on waxing. You would be spending $600 per year on waxing, compared to the $40 that you spent on an epilator. Shaving cream and razors also add up. Let’s say that you buy a cheaper set of disposable razors at 10 for $10 and use a new razor two times per week, so 104 razors per year or $104 per year. You will also need to purchase shaving cream, which costs about $3 a can, which lasts about one month (so $36 a year). Combined with the cost of razors, that is $140 a year, though most women purchase higher quality razors for more than that. Laser hair removal, though more permanent, comes with a hefty price tag (a couple thousand dollars) and requires at least 6 sessions for best results.

You can use an epilator on many areas of the body and in the long run, it can save you time since waxing requires a visit to the salon along with an appointment and shaving must be done every couple of days in order to maintain a smooth appearance (according to an article listed at the bottom of this post, the average woman spends about 72 days shaving over the course of a lifetime). Epilating can be done on your own time, or even while multi-tasking (you can watch TV or read a magazine while epilating).

http://www.braun.com/global/female-grooming/adviser/6-reasons.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/11/average-time-spent-shaving-legs_n_3063127.html

Image credit and more info: http://beautysaloon.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/proper-use-of-epilator/

 

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

fruits and veggies

You’ve probably heard it since you were young: eat more fruits and vegetables! At that point, they were probably the last things that you wanted to have on your plate at the dinner table. As we grow older and more aware of what we are putting into our bodies, we slowly learn the benefits of what our parents once encouraged us to eat.

As summer begins, I have found that it’s easier for me to eat more fruits and veggies as they seem like refreshing snacks on a hot day. They are an integral part of a healthy diet, and we should be consuming several servings of them daily. Do you get enough of them?

According to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, within a 24-hour period containing 24,000 test subjects, only 11% received the recommended number of servings (two or more of fruit and three or more of vegetables) per day. A study from 2005 showed that less than a third of American adults received the proper serving of fruits and about a quarter reported eating the recommended amount of vegetables.

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables “can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check.” They suggest mixing it up by trying out different types and different colors of fruits and vegetables to attain the most nutrients.

A long-term study by Harvard University found that there was a direct link between consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreased risk of heart disease and stroke. Those who had 8 or more servings a day were 30% less likely to suffer from heart attack or stroke, compared to those in the lowest category at 1.5 servings or less. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension study found that people with high blood pressure who followed a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products reduced both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure to numbers similar to what medications can achieve.

While data on the link between cancer and consumption of fruits and vegetables is variable, researchers typically agree that certain fruits or vegetables can lessen the likelihood of developing certain types of cancer. For example, fruit may help to prevent lung cancer and tomatoes may aid in preventing prostate cancer in men. In 2007, the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting showed that among smokers, those who ate the most food rich in flavonols (spinach, apples, onions, and berries), were 59% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer.

The indigestible fiber of fruits and vegetables may relieve or prevent constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, many fruits and vegetables have been linked to healthy vision by preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.
Eating more fruits and vegetables may also assist in weight loss, as they are typically low-calorie options and provide a lot of water and fiber to add volume to your plate, so that you can eat more food but fewer calories.

To work on increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, go out of your way to purchase them at the grocery store and keep them out in your kitchen for you to grab when you are hungry. Make a conscious effort to eat them while you are out at restaurants. Mix it up by buying different fruits and veggies so that you don’t get “bored” with the same ones. Continue to look up new recipes to spice up your diet as well. Try adding fruits and vegetables to dishes that you already like!

Resources:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/no-excuses-eat-your-fruits-vegetables

Image credit: Roma Foods

 

Avoid Shopping While Hungry

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Grocery store visits while you’re hungry can lead to extra money and extra calories! According to a study earlier this year, scientists actually experimentally validated the idea that we purchase higher-calorie foods when we haven’t eaten for a bit (summarized here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/06/us-shop-hungry-idUSBRE9450TF20130506). You are also more likely to make impulse purchases since you are looking for something to quickly fill your belly. The impulse purchases may also mean additional money that you didn’t plan on spending; it is estimated that we spend an extra 15-17% on our grocery bills when we shop while hungry.

If you are heading to the grocery store, try to eat a small, but filling, snack before you head out! You can also try chewing on gum to control feelings of hunger.

(image from shespeaks.com)

Air Dry Hair When Possible

wethair

Blow drying your hair frequently can lead to dry, damaged hair and can fade your hair color more quickly. Hair that is chemically treated is especially prone to hair dryer damage, since the health of the hair has already been compromised. While air drying may take longer, the benefits are definitely worth it if you can find the time. Air drying is easy as it requires no special tools or time. You can multitask while waiting for your hair to dry; I typically apply my makeup as my hair is drying, for example. If you are still somewhat pressed for time, consider air drying your hair for most of the time and then finishing it with a blow dryer. If you do continue to blow dry your hair, be sure to apply a thermal protective spray before using any heating tools and consider keeping the hair dryer on a cooler setting.

Air drying is also more environmentally friendly and can save you money on your electricity bill (especially if you use multiple tools such as a blow dryer, straightener, and/or curling iron). According to a poll (summarized here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2250701/How-time-really-spend-doing-hair-ladies-Answer-Ten-days-year.html), women spent about 15 minutes blow drying their hair each day and another 15 minutes styling the hair. For blow drying alone, that is 5475 minutes per year, or about 91 hours (3.8 days). In addition to saving money on electricity, you might also save money by making fewer visits to the salon by improving the health of your hair (less blow drying = fewer split ends = fewer trims).

I used to blow dry and straighten my hair every day when I was in high school, and the health of my hair definitely suffered from it. In college, I decided that I enjoyed having the extra 15-30 minutes of sleep or study time and typically resorted to air drying my hair on my way to class. Now, I usually shower at night and let my hair dry overnight in a satin head cap. Sometimes I end up with really nice waves in my hair when I wake up by doing it that way!

Work Out With a Friend

workout friend

Working out alone is great, but if you find yourself lacking motivation or getting bored, consider inviting a friend! Having someone that you’re meeting up with for a workout increases the likelihood that you’ll do it (you don’t want to cancel on your friend!). According to a research study of 1,000 women (summarized here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2263099/Looking-fitness-boost-Workout-friend–research-shows-women-train-harder-exercise-partner.html), women burn more calories, work out longer, and spend more time at the gym when accompanied by a friend. This varies by person, however; I found that I tend to work out longer and harder when I’m by myself, for example. Working out with a friend can also bring out your competitive side, which may improve your results. When you’re ready to give up, a quick glance over to your friend pounding away on the treadmill may be just the boost that you need. And let’s face it, it’s more fun to work out with someone! If you are hoping to catch up with someone anyway, consider going for a hike or a comfortable run or bike ride with them at a conversational pace.