Weekend Recap: Keeping a Positive Outlook

This past weekend my lifelong friend Emily and her boyfriend, Matt, came to visit.  It was fabulous being able to spend time with them-we always have so much fun together.  Saturday we went out for a nice breakfast from a restaurant that grows their own produce-which I love-and then took them on a tour of the sites.  

As we were on our way home, we were rear-ended.  The person who hit us failed to see that we we were stopping.  She nailed us, she didn’t even brake.  Thank our lucky stars no one was seriously injured.  We were hit hard and there is quite a lot of damage to the car.  We’re all pretty sore, but lucky.  (Now, this is the second, yes second, time I had been rear-ended this year. The first time I was rear-ended, on Thanksgiving day, by a cop who had fallen asleep at the wheel.  Luckily all parties involved were ok, but my car was totaled.) So now we have to go through all the hoopla, yet again, that is involved with car insurance claims. Ugh! 

In true fashion, Em and her main squeeze were so positive about it.  We were not gonna let this bump in the road put a damper on our weekend together!  So we headed home and got ready for the cookout that we were planning with our Philly friends.  The rest of the weekend we had a running joke about all the positive things about the car wreck…”Hey Matt, Positive Point #73, at least you didn’t get your Starbucks before the crash, you would have wasted a perfectly good cup of coffee.” “Positive point #103, at least our groceries and fresh pineapple weren’t damaged”.  This went on the entire weekend.  And I loved it.

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Because here’s the thing. Cars can be replaced; The people I love cannot.  Sure, I could have been bummed the rest of the day.  I could have complained on-and-on about it.  Or I could have done what I did.  And find all the positives things about the situation, realize that I couldn’t have changed what had happened, and be happy that in the grand scheme of things everything is ok.

Positive Philly1 1024x788 Weekend Recap: Keeping a Positive Outlook

There is power in positivity. It can completely turn around your day, weekend, and even your entire outlook on life.  Think happy thoughts, friends.

Let’s Chat:

How have you overcome a negative situation?

Do you practice positive thinking and reflection?

How was your weekend? (Hoping it was a safe one!)

 

Super Tush Toning Workout

Happy Friday, friends!  This weekend my friend Emily is coming to visit along with her boyfriend.  Em and I have been friends since…well…we’ve been friends so long we actually don’t quite remember when we became BFFs.  Sometime back around 2nd or 3rd grade is our best guess.  

One of the things I love most about Em is that she always has a great time.  She is one of the happiest people I know and makes you grin just being around her.  So to say that I am excited for this weekend is an understatement.

But before I go enjoy my weekend with my soul, I want to share this week’s workout with you.  It’s sure to get your derrière in tip top shape.

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How to properly perform: Jump Squats | Marching Hip Raise | Step Ups | Single Leg Deadlift | Sumo Squats

Let’s Chat!

What are your weekend plans?

What’s one of your favorite lower body exercises?

Weekly Workout- Total Body Toner

Happy almost-4th of July everyone!  I hope you all enjoy your long weekend and are able to spend it with those you love.  In the spirit of Independence Day I have to share this little joke with you that I found hilarious… Weekly Workout  Total Body Toner

 Okay, on to the Weekly Workout!

With the holiday weekend upon us that means lots of folks are traveling.  Whether you are flying or driving, packing light is a must.  But maintaining your healthy lifestyle shouldn’t take a back seat to your travel bug fever.  What’s a super simple solution to working out while on the road?  A resistance band.  That’s it!  It’s teeny tiny and super light, leaving you more room to pack the essentials (here’s looking at you super cute ).

This week’s workout is all about resistance bands.  You don’t need a lot of space to do it, plus, it hits all your major muscle groups!

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How to properly perform: Front Squat | Woodchoppers | Lateral Band Walk | Bent Over Row | Knee Pull | Incline Chest Press

Let’s Chat!

How do you stay fit while traveling?

What are your weekend plans?

Do you find it difficult to maintain your health lifestyle during holidays?

The Great and Powerful Dr. Oz?

Oh, Dr. Oz….it seems like you either love him or hate him.  I remember years ago, when Dr. Oz sprang into daytime television, capturing the hearts of so many.  I was one of them.  He was charismatic.  He presented information in an easy to understand way.  He seemed like a guy you wanted to be friends with-to have lengthy conversations with over scrumptious homemade dinners.Oz The Great and Powerful Dr. Oz?

That feeling changed for me when the show took a disheartening, and worrisome turn.  Dr. Oz began to present and advocate more and more products on the show, touting their “miracle” health benefits.  A good majority of these products have been for weight loss pills and supplements (It’s important to note that weight loss supplements are not regulated by the FDA.) .  Many of these products haven’t been researched well enough to prove their effectiveness or do have research that disproves their outlandish claims.

My issue is not solely with the products he promotes.  It’s that he speaks in absolutes-i.e. ‘This new craze weight loss system will work for EVERYONE’.  In general, health professionals should know that health is an individualized and intricate process with many different factors.  Beyond that, Oz seems to use questionable research to validate his claims. (Check out this review about some of the supplements Oz talks about.) 

Recently, Dr. Mehmet Oz has come under fire and was called to Capitol Hill by the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance Subcommittee.  The panel was called to discuss his advocation for products that have faced legal action from the FTC  for “unfair or deceptive advertising and marketing practices that raise health and safety concerns.”  This isn’t the first time that Dr. Oz’s practices have been questioned.

As Seen On Dr. Oz The Great and Powerful Dr. Oz? Now some will say that the public has a certain responsibility to use common sense in regard to interpreting and following advice such as that seen on the Dr. Oz show.  Well, yes and no. Yes, we have a responsibility to use common sense when any Ole Joe tells us that drinking only lemon juice and cayenne pepper is healthy.  But what about when that Ole Joe has the initials, M.D. following his name?

So what about Dr. Oz? Is he wrong?  

Some say yes, some say no, each for specific and differing reasons.  

Here’s my thought, if Oz was just an entertainer, just a talk show host, the story may be different.  But the fact of the matter is that Dr. Oz is a licensed medical doctor.  The public is just in believing that he should have a person’s best interest in mind regarding their health.

Dr. Oz The Great and Powerful Dr. Oz?As a health professional myself, I can’t get behind someone who tells millions of viewers that Green Coffee Beans will help them lose weight when there isn’t solid research behind these claims and when that company has been found to have fabricated those claims. Or when the same man made the even more outlandish claim about another supplement saying that in order to lose weight there is “No Exercise. No Diet. No Effort” all you have to do is take a “magic” pill. 

Yes, the show is produced for entertainment purposes, but it’s also designed as an informative means to deliver health and medical advice to the masses, one that is lead by a practicing and licensed M.D.  Yes, people have a certain level of personal responsibility in not believing everything they hear, doing their own research, and speaking with their medical provider.  However, health information coming from a medical doctor should be sound, well researched, and proven advice-which many segments of the Dr. Oz show are not.  And that my friends is deceiving.

So what does it all come down to?  Yes, I hope that Dr. Oz uses this experience to reevaluate and adjust his practices.  And I hope that people begin and continue to question what they hear, to do some research, to ask questions, to be curious. And finally, I hope that as health professionals we hold ourselves to a higher standard, and practice honest and ethical methods.

P.S. Do the research for yourself. (See an overview of literature about weight loss supplements here.)

P.S.S.  Not everything Dr. Oz promotes is bad or ineffective.  He does give some very sound health advice.  Just take everything you hear about magical or miracle products with a grain of salt.

 

In good health, Sam

 

Let’s chat!

What are your thoughts about the Dr. Oz show?

Have you noticed questionable practices like this elsewhere?

What are your hopes for the health industry?

 

Weekly Workout

Happy Wednesday, all!

This week I began nannying full-time.  Let me tell you, it is a very welcome change.  The babe is a sweet pea!  Each day we go for a long walk and I spend a lot of time walking around the house with her.  But while she’s sleeping, I sit…far too much.  Especially considering that sitting is the new smoking.  

We’re a culture that sits alllll dayyy longgg.  We sit as we drive to work, when we get to work, driving home, and kick it on the couch once we make it back to our humble abodes. So with this in mind, I’ve designed this week’s workout to get you moving for a couple minutes.  

Do it multiple times throughout the day to get your heinie off the seat.  Or try repeating it a few times as part of your workout. Power Plank Workout 731x1024 Weekly Workout How to properly perform: Plank Jacks | Thread the Needle | Around-the-World | Side Plank Leg Lift | Alternating Plank Crunch Plank on, friends!

Let’s Talk:

Do you sit a lot throughout the day?

How do you make sure you’re moving throughout the day?

What’s your favorite plank variation?

Redefining Winning

Hey there.  Remember me? Yea, I’m coming back from my unannounced hiatus.  Where was I, you ask?  Soul searching? Pitying myself?  Getting my life in order?  All of the above.

Let me fill you in.  I’ve been searching for full-time employment in my field for a year now.  Graduating from grad school I thought I would have no problem finding a job.  I had two degrees, an exceptional GPA, boatloads of experience for someone my age and who had been in school fulltime.  And I was passionate to boot. 

But it wasn’t that easy.  I’m in the same boat as so many other people.  I’ve applied to an obscene number of jobs…so many to that it’s almost laughable at this point.  I’ve had interviews-ones that I was sure I nailed, and then….nothing.  They decide to go with someone else. 

A Better Yes Redefining WinningWhat’s even worse-knowing that your resume hasn’t even been looked at.  There was a company that I had been applying for jobs that I was perfectly qualified for (over 10 applications)  I had a recommendation from someone that worked there, I volunteered there, and never heard back.  Finally, one day I hunted down the person in charge of hiring, found their contact and gave them a call.  As I heard her shuffling through papers, I heard surprise in her voice as she read my name aloud.  “You have a really impressive resume.” Awesome! This is a great step I thought.  But then she followed it with “But I think we’ve already hired someone”.  So I gathered all my confidence and asked her what I could do to improve myself so that I would be a person they wanted to hire.  I explained the passion I had for the company, the experience I had with them, the reference, and the number of times I had applied to varying positions.  She began fumbling over her words trying to find what to say.  Finally, she told me “Your application hasn’t been looked at before-We just have too many applications to get through”. WHAT?!?!?!  Hours. Hours! I put into carefully, maybe even obsessively, writing each cover letter, reformatting my resume, researching the position.  And it had never been looked at.  I was heartbroken.  I was angry.

 

But I picked myself up after a day or two and got back to the grind.  Not soon after I received a call from a company’s HR department that was looking to hire a corporate wellness employee.  Their current wellness employee was retiring and had found my resume on a job seeker site.  She “loved” it and said that I had great experience.  I got an interview.  Worked my tail off developing a wellness proposal (which was beautiful I might add) and nailed the interview.  “We love your ideas….It was so nice meeting you…”  I didn’t get the job.  They sought me out.  And I didn’t get the job.  They gave it to someone that had more experience.  But the job required one or less year’s experience.  And I had a combined total of two.  Complete and utter defeat.

 

I wallowed, no I pitied myself.  Why was this happening to me?  I worked hard.  I got good grades.  I pushed myself and had great experience and phenomenal recommendations.  More so, I’m good at what I do.  I know that.  I love what I do.  Passion is so many times overused but that’s exactly what this is to me.  My passion.

 

And it wasn’t working out as I had planned.  I was shattered.  I became depressed and applying for jobs became daunting.  I couldn’t take any more rejection.  

baby steps Redefining Winning

 

Finally, after endless support from my parents, boyfriend, sorority sister Kari, and my amazingly inspirational fitness friend Kiera, I pulled up my big girl britches and made a plan.  I was going to finally sit down and take my Health Fitness Specialist Certification through ACSM-something I had been putting off until I had a fulltime job with reasonable hours.  Why was I putting it off?  Carpe Diem, right?  So at the end of August I’ll be putting my knowledge to good use and getting that dang certification to make me that much better.

 

Next step, find a job with more accommodating hours so that I can study and still have a teeny bit of a life.  Also during this time, apply for more jobs.  Let the fear of rejection go.

 

With that, I found a temporary nanny position for an adorable little love bug.  Her parents are the sweetest, and uber supportive of me studying while babe sleeps.  WINNING.  A friend who took the same certification brought me all her study materials.  WINNING.  I have a boyfriend who pushes me and helps me realize my dreams will become reality and encourages me to work my tookus off.  WINNING.  I have an amazing support system of family and friends who love me and know my worth.  WINNING.  And I have this little furball who always licks my tears away and cuddles me till my heart is content.  WINNING. 

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Conversation Time:

What have you struggled with?

How do you stay positive when faced with challenges?

What was the job search like for you?

 

No Gym Needed Workout

The gym.  I finally get there after a long day of work only to search for a parking spot for 15 minutes.  Once I’ve made it inside, have gotten changed, and unknotted the behemoth mess that was once my headphones, I begin my workout (which I ,of course, have pre-planned).

Ugh….someone’s on my favorite machine. Just sitting there…texting.  Ok, I’ll just switch up my routine a bit, on to the fly machine.  Eww, that very sweaty man just got up and didn’t wipe the machine down-I’ll just give it a quick wipe.  I walk to to get the spray bottle, trip and face-plant…on free weights that have been abandoned in the middle of of the floor….

Agh! The agony!

Alright, so maybe all of these things don’t happen in succession each time I go to the gym. And I have never actually face-planted (knock on wood).  But sometimes, after a stressful day I just don’t feel like dealing with the gym, or my little gym pet peeves.  Sometimes I don’t want to waste time driving, or am traveling and don’t have access to a gym, or I would just rather be in the comfort of my own home.

So, I give you the “No Gym Needed Workout”.  It can pretty much be done anywhere.  You don’t need a lot of space or any sort of equipment. And you don’t have to deal with little annoyances or distractions. You can focus on you.

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How to properly perform: High KneesPlank Up-Downs | Wall Sit | Mountain Climbers | Bridge

This is a great little workout on its own and it allows for plenty of variations to increase or decrease the intensity.  If you feel like amping it up, try doing some arm work afterwards. Enjoy!

Conversation Time:

What are your gym pet peeves?

What are your favorite at-home exercises?

7 Ways To Become A Productive Morning Person

7 Ways To Become A Productive Morning Person 1024x682 7 Ways To Become A Productive Morning Person

Anyone that knows me personally knows that I am NOT a morning person.  When I wake I look somewhat like a half zombie, half witch, with a dash of bird’s-nest-for-hair.  I barely make words until I’ve had my morning cappuccino.  It’s more like mumbles, grumbles, and hand motions.  I’m actually not joking about this part at all, both my boyfriend and college roommate could attest to this.

For nearly the past year, I’ve been making an effort to be more of a morning person, to be more productive, and to start my day off bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  This came about because I realized that I was stressed.  Way to stressed.  And a large part of that stress began in the morning.  I was always hitting the snooze button, rushing around to get ready, and not having a spare second to breath.  Enough was enough for me.  I decided to make a change.

And yanno what?  It really wasn’t that hard.  Sure, I still struggle with making my bed each morning…but for the most part it’s pretty easy.  My mornings are actually enjoyable.  Yes, I said it…enjoyable.

 

So you see, with a few simple changes even the most horrific night crawler could be chipper, less stressed, and get more done in the day.

  • Make a to do list.  Before you go to bed at night, make a list of the most important tasks you need to tackle the next morning.  Stick to that list in the morning, tackling the most important task first.
  • Immediately change out of your pajamas.  It gets you in the mindset that snooze time is over and gets your butt in gear.
  • Make your bed.  I am absolutely terrible at this, it’s something I need to work on.  But keeping things neat will help you get a fresh start to your day.
  • Eat breakfast.  And no, a bowl of Captain Crunch will not suffice here.  Though I do that that delicious, scrape-the-roof-of-your-mouth terror, it’s not a wholesome breakfast that will keep you full.  Opt for real food…eggs, old fashioned oats with sliced almonds, or a protein-packed green smoothie.
  • Get moving.  I still have yet to fall in love with full-blown workouts in the a.m.  I so envy people that do.  But any bit of physical activity will help.  Every morning I take Paxton for a walk.  It’s become a necessity for both of us.
  • Do one chore.  Vacuum, empty the dishwasher, toss in a load of laundry.  When I start my day with a small chore, I end up getting much more work done throughout the entire day.  Plus doing one chore every morning will cut down on your weekly cleaning session times.
  • Give yourself a time limit.  First, wake up early enough to not be rushing and so that you have time to spare.  To stay on track with time, make an upbeat playlist to jam to in the morning.  Give it a specific time length or set a timer with it.  When the music is done you know it’s time to get a move on to work or whatever the rest of the day holds in store for you.

Bonus tip: Do one thing for yourself each morning.  Whether it’s reading the gossip column or spending 15 minutes on Pinterest, set some time aside to relax.  For me it’s taking a few minutes to sit down and enjoy a cappuccino.  

Here’s to more happy and stress-free mornings!

 

Conversation Time:

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

What’s your morning routine like?

What tips do you have for being productive in the morning?

Workout Wednesday: At Your Desk Workout

We all know that exercising is good for us.  A sweaty gym session or a nice long run does our bodies, and minds, wonders.  But one extremely important aspect of physical activity that is so many times overlooked is what I like to call ‘active living’.  It’s the little things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in the furthest spot instead of the closest.  

Working forty hours a week can take its toll on the body.  Especially when the majority of that time is spent sitting at a desk.  A sore back, carpal tunnel, and long lengths of inactivity. Ugh…the achiness, the boredom. 

So this week I’m taking active living a teeny tiny step further by adding a little bit of a workout and good ol’ fashioned stretch session into the time I spend sitting at a desk.

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How to properly perform: Leg Extensions | Tricep Desk Dip | Isometric Crunches

Shoulder Shrug | Neck Stretch | Seated Spinal Twist Wrist Stretch | Half Bear Hug 

Conversation Time:

What tolls does your job take on your body?

How do you live actively?

Creamless Cream of Mushroom Soup

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I hope everyone is staying warm on this chilly day!  And hopefully this is the last of the freezing temps that we’ll see.  In the mean time, this hearty and healthy soup should keep you toasty warm.

For years….ok, basically my entire life up until recently- I’ve HATED mushrooms.  Seriously loathed.  Or so I thought.  Turns out I actually hate canned mushrooms, but love the fresh ones. 

The seas have parted.  I can see the light…My life is changed forever.

So lately, I’ve been trying out new recipes using mushrooms. Adding them to stir frys and pho, and using them as a stock starter.

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Which leads me to cream of mushroom soup.  It’s a basic pantry staple in many kitchens and a soup that some hold near and dear to their hearts.  My boyfriend absolutely loves cream of mushroom soup because as a little kid his Grandma would make it for him when he was feeling under the weather. 

And who doesn’t love rich, creamy soups?  It gives you a warm feeling just thinking about it.  But what I don’t love is all the extra calories, fat, and additives.  So I’ve created this lighter version using fresh, whole ingredients.  All the satisfaction with none of the guilt.

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I usually use this soup as a base for other recipes like Green Bean Casserole or Chicken and Rice.  This soup would also be fabulous as a starter or meal.

Mushroom Soup Edited 22 150x150 Creamless Cream of Mushroom Soup
"Cream" of Mushroom Soup
Mushroom Soup Edited 22 150x150 Creamless Cream of Mushroom Soup
Yields 3
You'll find no cream here! This delicious and versatile recipe is a healthy take on traditional Cream of Mushroom Soup.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups Fresh mushrooms, chopped
  2. 1/2 cup White onion, chopped
  3. 1 clove garlic, minced
  4. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  5. 3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  6. ~2-3 teaspoons flour
  7. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large saute pan. Add mushrooms, garlic, and onions and lightly salt.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat until mushrooms are tender and brown, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add broth and bring to low boil.
  4. Remove from heat, halving the soup.
  5. Blend half of the soup until creamy. Add to remaining soup.
  6. Return soup to a low boil.
  7. Slowly whisk in flour until soup reaches desired thickness.
  8. Let soup simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Garnish with chives, fresh spinach, or a drizzle of sour cream.
  10. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Try switching up the types of stock for a different flavor.
Pursuit of Healthy Happiness http://pursuitofhealthyhappiness.com/
I used brown rice flour in this recipe.  You may need to increase or decrease the amount of flour you use based on the type of flour.  Whisk flour in small amounts and stop adding flour once you reach your desired consistency.

 

Conversation Time:

How do you make traditional recipes healthier?

What’s one of your favorite comfort foods?

 

 

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