Incorporate Workout DVDs into Your Fitness Routine


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!

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!


Image credit: Roma Foods


Avoid Shopping While Hungry


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: 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

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:–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.

Wear Sunscreen This Summer


I’ll admit it. This is something that I need to work on. I rarely burn and I love the warm feeling of the sun on my skin coupled with the bronzed look that results from laying out for a couple of hours. If I do apply sunscreen, I typically apply somewhere around SPF 8. Applying more sunscreen is number one on my list of health-related changes that I’d like to make. Though I workout regularly, drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol/drugs/cigarettes, eat a healthy diet, and engage in stress-relieving activities, a lot of that can be negated due to my love of the sun. While I do advocate getting outside more often (see my previous post), it’s essential to apply sunscreen to preserve the health and look of your skin.

According to a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people who apply sunscreen daily show about 24% less skin aging than those who do not. With repeated exposure to the sun, skin appears more dry, wrinkled, and leathery. In addition, sun exposure increases the likelihood of skin cancer, which has become the most common form of cancer, accounting for about half of all cancers. A person’s risk of melanoma (the most dangerous of skin cancers) doubles after 5 sunburns, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Around 9,000 people die of melanoma each year. However, if caught early, the odds of surviving melanoma are over 90%. Be sure to visit your physician or dermatologist each year and have them look over your skin for any abnormalities. If you have kids, be sure to cover them with plenty of sunscreen, since burns during our early childhood increase our risk of melanoma as adults. Do not worry about applying sunscreen higher than SPF 50, since there are insignificant differences in sun protection after that point. However, make sure that your sunscreen is “broad spectrum” and protects against both UVB and UVA radiation. Reapply at least every two hours.

And while sunlight has its many benefits, most of them can be enjoyed just as easily if you are wearing sunscreen!

For more advice on protecting your skin from sun damage, check out:

Work Out for a Better Mood

workout and mood

One of the easiest ways for me to boost my mood is by working out. Need to blow off steam from a stressful day? Try breaking into a sweat for a bit. You might have heard it before, but your body releases endorphins, which diminish your perception of pain, while you engage in physical activity. If you’ve ever experienced “runner’s high,” you have felt the affects of endorphins triggering a positive feeling in your body. Exercise also improves self-esteem, decreases anxiety, improves sleep, increases energy levels, and lowers blood pressure, among many other benefits. Any type of exercise can help, so pick something that you enjoy most!

For information on how exercise can improve your mood and help to prevent depression, check out: