Fitness Motivation

Personally I find an external motivator to be great incentive to keep up with an exercise regime. I wish I could say that I have all the internal motivation that I need in order to meet all of my goals, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.

On days when I’m tempted to skip my workout, knowing that I’ll have to admit my lapse out loud to someone else is usually enough incentive to push through. Usually.

So here’s some Fitness Motivation so we can all stay on track to meet our goals!

I’m registered to run the San Francisco Half Marathon on July 31st and haven’t run consistently for months so I need to begin training… Now!

It just so happens that one of my best friends is training for the Death Ride (which I lovingly call The Ride of Death) a 129 mile bike race with 15,000 miles of climbing through the Sierra Nevada’s near Tahoe. Her race is July 9 and although we’re training for different types of races in different cities (she’s in Sacramento), she has been acting as an unofficial sponsor and motivator for my last-ditch training efforts.

Monday mornings I email her my proposed workouts for the week (subject to scheduling changes) and each morning I send her a confirmation of what I accomplished the previous day. I’m going to include various types of exercise in my training program in addition to running, specifically circuit training and Pilates.

Below is a draft of a proposed schedule for one of the weeks of training:

Monday:

  • Run to work (1.3 miles)
  • Mini cardio session (2 miles stationary bike & 1 mile elliptical trainer)
  • Pilates Mat class (5pm – 6pm)

Tuesday:

  • Jog to work
  • 15 minute circuit training workout
  • Run (pm)

Wednesday:

  • Walk to work
  • High intensity interval training on the elliptical
  • Pilates Mat class (5pm – 6pm)
  • Yoga Flow (6pm – 7:15pm)
  • Walk home

Thursday:

  • Walk to work
  • 25 minute circuit training workout
  • Run (pm)

Friday:

  • Jog to work
  • 15 minute circuit training workout

Saturday & Sunday – Rest & stretching (maybe a massage if I can be convincing enough) and long walks or a hike

Hooking up with a workout buddy who you can share your plans with or a like-minded friend who you may not workout with but who has similar goals, can be a great motivator.

If the idea of sharing your workout goals/plans with someone else isn’t appealing, or if you’re just getting started and want to hold off until you feel like you’ve made some progress, there are other external motivators that may help you when the odd lazy day rears its ugly head.

(1) A kick-ass play list can do wonders. Put a super charged playlist on your MP3 player or blare it over your computer/sound system. Everyone has their own style and different beats that get them pumped up, and I personally refresh my Nano weekly, but here are some artists/bands that never fail to get my heart rate going, regardless of my mood: Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Chemical Romance, Finger Eleven, Breaking Benjamin, My Darkest Days, Jason Derulo, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, K$sha, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Sean Kingston.

(2) Sign yourself up for a class on a day when you don’t think that you can make yourself do a work out. You’ll feel guilty not showing up after having reserved a spot in the class and even guiltier when you see the charge on your credit card! The two days of the week that are the hardest for me to get off my booty are always Monday and Wednesday, so I’m getting into the habit of doing at least a Pilates class at Glow Yoga  each of those days. And now that I’m getting to know the other students and the instructor, there’s even more motivation not to play hooky!

(3) If you have a movie or a book that you find extremely motivational, that can be a great way to get yourself going. If hearing Jillian’s commanding voice shoots you out of your seat, start your workouts with some Shred, even if you don’t plan to do the video it can give you the push you need. Personally I’ve found that popping in a dance DVD before my 5:30pm after-work runs or reading a few pages of Born To Run are a sure-fire way to get myself going.

(4) Finally, one of my favorite pieces to read when I need to stoke my motivational fires is The Better Man, about the (then) 75 year-old fitness guru & health nut Don Wildman (my friend Jim sent me this YEARS ago and I saved a PDF in case of emergencies). This always gives me the kick in the pants that I need to get off of the couch.

Good luck getting yourself onto the trail, treadmill or into the gym. Make me proud!

Continue Reading · Comments { 2 }

Fashion Inspiration

Fashion isn’t just about what you wear, what goes on your body. It’s truly an expression of yourself that extends beyond your clothes.

“Fashion is everything. Art, music, furniture design, graphic design, hair, makeup, architecture, the way cars look – all those things go together to make a moment in time.”  – Tom Ford

And just as fashion isn’t limited to the cloth that we wrap ourselves in, inspiration can also be found in many forms.

I began clipping pictures from magazines as a pre-adolescent, not necessarily fashion inspiration per se, just pictures that caught my attention, things that I found eye-catching, or memorable, or mesmerizing.

As I became interested in fashion however, my clipping habits became more focused. And while I don’t confine myself to photographs of clothing and accessories, I’ve found that my love of fashion gives this activity more direction and purpose. I’ve found that even without context, pictures can serve a creative function.

They excite. They encourage. They inspire.

The beauty and artistry captured by a photographer can be moving, regardless of the medium. Advertisements, promotional materials, editorials, art, beauty, home decor…

I’ve found that by keeping these images available to myself I can stay out of a fashion rut. They provide new ideas and inspiration, get my creative juices flowing, and motivate me to grow and evolved sartorially. I highly recommend creating and maintaining a Look Book, a collection of images that make you smile, that invigorate you, that make you push your boundaries.

Whether it’s a physical book filled with clippings like mine are, or Boards on Pinterest, this is a great creative and inspirational outlet. Keeping pictures of looks that you like, styles that call to you, photos that take your breath away, can all be great tools to keep your approach to fashion fresh and interesting.

What’s YOUR favorite way to get inspired?

Continue Reading · Comments { 5 }

Menswear: Let’s Hear it for the Boys!

In my opinion menswear styles are more classic and long-standing than their female counterpart, the cuts are more enduring and the underlying style more deeply rooted. This means putting your money into well made, classic pieces is the best way to approach your closet, since you’ll be able to wear them for years to come.

So what, do you ask, should today’s modern man have in his closet?

Suit(s):

Once you’re out of school, a good suit is a must. Interviews, weddings, funerals, work/charity events, and perhaps even the occasional date (think Valentine’s Day/Anniversary) can all call for a suit. Black, navy or charcoal are all a good choices, though I must admit that I’m a sucker for a great pinstripe suit. I’m also a fan of a classic three-piece suit, I love how they still manage to look clean and put together even with the jacket off and the sleeves rolled up.

Menswear Must Haves Mens Fashion Style Fashion Blogger Street Style

Dress Shirts:

Button-downs are extremely versatile and have a place in any well-rounded wardrobe. Pair with slacks or a suit for (semi) formal affaires, with jeans and dress shoes for Friday night cocktails or untucked over well-worn shorts with loafers (sans socks) for summertime. Like I said, versatile.

So invest! Stripes, solids, pastels, black, white, slim fit, logo, patterned, linen, cotton… Whatever suits your build, coloring, and lifestyle, it’s time to put your money where your shirt is! 🙂

T-Shirts:

Tees are somewhat of a touchy subject for me. While basic shirts can be a great staple for a man’s closet, they should not all be graphic or novelty shirts, nor should they be riddled with holes and look like they belong in a rag pile. I don’t care how many memories they hold! (Does that sound like a line I’ve used before? Cuz is it is…)

Depending on your build and lifestyle, different styles will suit you best. For his downtime my brother loves vintage-style rock shirts, and with his build – Tall & muscular but lean – They suit him perfectly. My dad favors the Robert Barakett shirts that Nordstrom carries because they’re soft with a relaxed fit and can keep up with him whether he’s walking around downtown or gardening (oh, the joys of retirement). I’m also a fan of the oh-so-easy Lacoste V-Neck Jersey Tees.

So take your significant other, sister, mom or friend shopping with you and try on some different styles. To each their own!

Menswear Must Haves Mens Fashion Style Fashion Blogger Street Style

Collared Shirt:

Polo shirts are a great middle ground between a t-shirt and a button down. They can add a bit of structure to a look while retaining an overall low-key air. Throw one over jeans with loafers or pair with shorts and flip-flips. You can even pop that collar if you’re in the mood.

Like t-shirts and button downs, these come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Once you’ve found a brand that fits you perfectly, you can order online to your heart’s desire, but you should definitely put in the in-store research before getting mouse happy.

Pants:

A complete closet should contain a few types of bottoms, namely slacks, jeans, and shorts, if applicable to your climate. At least one pair of black slacks are a requirement, however depending on how often you dress up you should consider investing in multiple pairs. Charcoal, navy and a neutral color like khaki or tan are right behind black in importance. Wool, cashmere and linen for dressing up and seersucker, cotton and linen blends for play.

When you hit the store for any pants shopping be sure to take the shoes you’ll most frequently wear with them. A good pair of slacks or jeans can be expensive, so you don’t want to buy them too long and ruin them in a matter of weeks by walking all over the hems. Also, keep in mind the tailoring is a great option, it’s fairly inexpensive and can make your pant last much longer.

Menswear Must Haves Mens Fashion Style Fashion Blogger Street Style

Extras:

I adore accessories for men, you gentlemen prefer to buy one or two great ones and leave it at that (none of the female shoe insanity!) A black and a brown belt, same for shoes, a pair of sunglasses, a wallet and a large silver, gold or leather band watch and you’re done. Easy peasy! (Obviously, this is not applicable to rappers)

The key for mens accessories is finding quality, classic pieces that can be worn season after season. Unfortunately this may require trips to multiple stores. I know – I’m sorry! Take the time though, as much as it takes, and you wont regret it.

 

{Images from Menswear Must Haves}

What are YOUR menswear must haves?

Continue Reading · Comments { 2 }

Gluten: The Good, The Bad & The Itchy

If you’re interested in the food world you’ve probably heard at least something about gluten-free eating. My introduction to this topic was brought about somewhat abruptly by a diagnosis of gluten-intolerance in February of 2009. My post-collegiate diet primarily consisted of processed and pre-made food and suddenly I was being told that I couldn’t eat those foods anymore.

At all.

Gluten is a protein composite that can be found in wheat and cereals, in addition to being an additive in a huge variety of other foods where it is commonly used as a thickening agent (ketchup, beer, salad dressings, soy sauce…). Gluten intolerance is a condition where the body cannot digest gluten. The recent increase in diagnoses of gluten-intolerance is thought to be the result of over consumption, essentially the American diet is so heavily saturated with gluten in this day in age that our bodies are starting to reject it.

A great summary on this subject can be found on The Fitnessista – Reader’s Request: Gluten Freedom.

There are varying levels of intolerance to gluten and the symptoms can range from an upset stomach to malnutrition. The most severe form is Celiac Disease, where the body’s inability to process gluten causes the villi of the intestines to atrophy and sufferers cannot consume any gluten. The form of gluten-intolerance that I have is called DH or Duhring’s Disease and I get mild to severe eczema following the consumption of gluten.

After I was diagnosed and thrown into the gluten-free world with a long – And I mean LONG – List of foods I couldn’t consume I was stunned to find not only a community dedicated to this lifestyle, but also a small group of people voluntarily eating this way.

Why would someone give up bread and pasta if they didn’t have to?

I must have asked myself that question a dozen times my first week without gluten. I was hungry. I was cranky. I was devastated that this was going to be my life from now on. I even, gasp, had to learn to cook. And then a funny thing happened. I started to… I started to feel better. My eczema went away. My frequent nausea and random stomach pains went away. My headaches went away.

I was officially a convert!

I researched mercilessly online, I bought cook books, I purchased my first set of knives, I started to learn my way around the kitchen, and I also discovered the wonderful wide world of food blogging. This was a hugely developmental stage of my life. I went from eating like a college student (i.e. forgetting everything my mother ever taught me about nutrition) to learning to cook, cutting out gluten, transitioning (slooooowly) to veganism, experimenting with raw foods, and most importantly, rediscovering the art of listening to my body.

Before I continue to sing the praises of a life without gluten and give you a peek into my cupboards, let me remind you that prior to making any major changes in your diet you should speak with a professional. There are right and wrong ways to go about any changes in your diet and speaking with a nutritionist, doctor, dietician, RN, or naturopath can help put you on the right path so that you stay healthy through your transition. I am a firm believer that there are very few blanket nutritional rules out there, every single body is different and needs different things to perform optimally. I’m just sharing my experiences and my insights, and they will not be applicable to everyone.

Now for the good stuff.

Yes, if you go gluten-free, the breadbasket at restaurants will taunt you for the rest of your life, Italian restaurants will become a dim memory, and you will have to explain your needs to every waiter or waitress you encounter. That being said, discovering that there’s more to life than white flour will give you a greater appreciation for food than you can imagine. Prior to my diagnosis I’d never tried the nutty deliciousness that is quinoa, I’d never considered the possibility of brown rice, seaweed or spinach pasta, and I’d never even heard of amaranth, millet, or tempeh. Not only am I healthier now, I am better educated and more knowledgeable. Can’t argue with that combination!

So what do I eat when I have good old-fashioned cravings?

SoccaPizzaThree

  • Pizza – I am a pizza girl through and through, and have spent many a night dreaming about cheesy, delicious pies and waxing nostalgic about my favorite pizza place (Za’s, if you’re curious). Luckily I have managed to find ways to circumvent this craving over the last two years. First, I love me some mini pizzas as a snack, which I discuss here. Second, I discovered Amy’s Non-Dairy Rice Crust Cheeze Pizzas. Score! And finally, I learned to make amazing socca flatbread pizzas. I started experimenting with socca after reading the Socca Tribute by the twins over at Pure 2 Raw and have been a devotee of the garbanzo bean flour delicacies ever since (Gluten-Free Vegan Pizza). Coat with hummus and cover with sautéed veggies and you have yourself an amazing, albeit unorthodox, pizza masterpiece.
  • Pasta – All of my usual shops carry a variety of different types of gluten-free pasta choices. Trader Joe’s has brown rice pasta in multiple styles. And both Whole Foods and Real Foods carry quinoa pasta, brown rice pasta, spinach pasta, and other specialty types like kelp. I also invested in a spiralizer which allows you to make spaghetti-like pasta out of squash and zucchini. Gluten-free + a serving of vegetables, that’s a win-win situation, so check out my Vegan Mac n’ Cheese recipe.
  • Bread – I’m not much for sandwiches (they make me uncomfortably full so I usually stick to wraps) but on the occasion when bread makes an appearance in my life (ahem, stuffing) I always reach for Food For Life’s Brown Rice Bread.
  • Baking – I swear by Bob’s Red Mill flours and grains. The Real Food’s in Russian Hill has a great selection and I always run over to browse the choices whenever I have a baking project in the works.

031 (2)

While going gluten-free in order to manage a medical condition is obviously a necessity, there are those who voluntarily limit or exclude gluten from their diets. The Paleo Diet encourages its devotees to avoid gluten grains, citing them as potential factors in modern societies with high incidences of Celiac, Type 1 Diabetes, MS, arthritis, and other diseases. Even fad diets like Atkins tout the benefits of eliminating bread from the diet.

In addition to discussing your choice with a doctor or other health professional, I would caution those who exclude gluten from their diets for weight-loss purposes to avoid subsisting on processed and pre-made gluten-free foods as much of the nutritional value of these foods has been striped out. Your diet should focus on the consumption of organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains and plant-based protein sources like brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, nuts, beans, tempeh, soy and tofu, and meat and low milk-fat or goat milk dairy products (as applicable to your lifestyle).

Tell me – Have you ever gone gluten-free?

Continue Reading · Comments { 10 }

Plant Based Protein

The goal of this post is to address a question that I receive frequently when people find out that I don’t eat meat: “How do you get enough protein?”

Plant Based Proteins Vegan Gluten-Free Vegetarian Paleo-Friendly

{A Food Centric Life – Guide to Plant-Based Protein}

While I am personally of the camp that believes Americans consume too much of the wrong kinds of protein, I will avoid lecturing on the topic and instead provide you with suggestions for some healthy, easily digestible, protein-rich foods that don’t center around animal products.

For comparison’s sake I’ve included a few common animal products in the plant based protein chart below as well. All of these statistics are based on a 100 gram serving size:

Food Protein (g) Cholesterol mg Total Fat (g) Iron (mg) Fiber (g) Energy kcal
Turkey: roasted 29.90 69.00 7.41 1.35 0.00 157.00
Ground beef: broiled (75% lean) 25.56 89.00 18.72 2.37 0.00 278.00
Tuna: in water, drained 25.51 30.00 0.82 1.53 0.00 116.00
Chicken: roasted w/out skin 23.97 76.00 13.39 1.26 0.00 223.00
Egg, hard-boiled 12.58 373.00 10.61 1.19 0.00 155.00
Food Protein (g) Cholesterol mg Total Fat (g) Iron (mg) Fiber (g) Energy kcal
Kidney beans 23.58 0.00 0.83 8.20 24.90 333.00
Almonds: raw 21.22 0.00 49.42 3.72 12.20 575.00
Almond butter: w/ salt 20.96 0.00 55.50 3.49 10.30 614.00
Sunflower seeds: dry roasted w/out salt 19.33 0.00 49.80 3.80 11.10 582.00
Chickpeas 19.30 0.00 6.04 6.24 17.40 364.00
Flaxseed 18.29 0.00 42.16 5.73 27.30 534.00
Cashews: raw 18.22 0.00 43.85 6.68 3.30 553.00
Tempeh: cooked 18.19 0.00 11.38 2.13 10.00 196.00
Oats 16.89 0.00 6.90 4.72 10.60 389.00
Lentils: boiled w/out salt 9.02 0.00 0.38 3.33 7.90 116.00
Black beans: boiled w/out salt 8.86 0.00 0.54 2.10 8.70 132.00
Hummus: commercial 7.90 0.00 21.13 2.44 6.00 166.00
Tofu: Silken, firm 6.90 0.00 2.73 1.03 1.00 62.00
Quinoa: cooked 4.40 0.00 1.92 1.49 2.80 120.00
Kale: raw 3.30 0.00 0.70 1.70 2.00 50.00
Sweet potato: baked w/skin & no salt 2.01 0.00 0.15 0.69 3.30 90.00
Avocado: raw, California 1.96 0.00 15.41 0.61 6.80 167.00

I’d like to call your attention to a few noticeable discrepancies in the nutritional values of the first and second groups of foods.

First, you will see that plant-based foods contain no cholesterol while animal-based foods do. Cholesterol is necessary for a variety of bodily functions, including the production of hormones and cell membranes. Luckily for us, healthy livers produce enough cholesterol so that these functions can be carried out. It should be noted however that the high intake of dietary cholesterol (i.e. the cholesterol in the first group of foods) can lead to heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Second, the animal products listed above contain no dietary fiber, which keeps your GI Tract running smoothly and is necessary to maintain a healthy diet. This is a great post from Gena at Choosing Raw on intestinal distress, treating IBS, and the differences between soluble and insoluble fiber. It’s graphic but incredibly educational if you’re interested in how dietary fiber affects your body.

Third, notice the difference in the amounts of iron in these foods. Our bodies need iron to help with oxygen transportation and the regulation and differentiation of cell growth. If any of you have ever taken an iron supplement you know how incredibly hard it is on the body to digest iron in that format, so eating iron-rich foods is by far the superior way to get the required amounts in your diet.

The act of digesting food puts stress on your system – It takes effort for your body to break down the foods you consume so that the nutrients can be readily absorbed by the body. Simply put, plant-based foods require that you waste expend less energy to digest them, meaning the you: (1) Stress your body less, and (2) Have more energy to utilize after digestion. Even taking just a weekend off from the consumption of animal products can give your system a much-needed rest.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic I highly recommend that you pick up Brendan Braizer’s Thrive Diet. While the title of this book contains the word “diet” that is somewhat misleading. Mr. Braizer was a professional triathlete and spent 15 years studying how the foods he consumed affected his life and his athletic performance, ultimately determining that a plant-based, high raw diet resulted in the optimum results.

This isn’t a diet that you go on to fit into your skinny jeans, this is a lifestyle change that you commit to so that you’ll never need a cup of coffee in the morning to wake up or a dose of sugar in the afternoon to keep your eyelids from drooping.

Please note that I am not a healthcare professional and that my comments, suggestions and thoughts are based on personal research and experience only. Prior to making any drastic changes to your diet you should consult a physician, especially if you suffer from illnesses or allergies which may be affected by nutrition.

Continue Reading · Comments { 2 }