Archive for the ‘New Stuff to Try’ Category

Nailing that manicure

July 13, 2011

One of the ways I like to save money is by doing my own manicures.

I’m no expert, but my nails come out looking decent except for the occasional spot of polish on the skin surrounding my nails.  Usually I grab a Q-tip dipped in acetone for the clean-up job, but that sometimes leads to smudging when the cotton sticks to my wet nails.  But check out this neat tip:

Ditch the Q-tip and opt instead of an angled eyeliner brush.  According to the folks over at Fitness Magazine, a brush dipped in remover is a lot better way to clean up around the edges!  Genius!

And do you want to know what’s currently hot in nail design? (yes nail design can be just as fashion forward as clothing) Multi hued nails.  As in a different color on each nail, kind of like the way we used to do it as kids.  Or, if you prefer something a little more subtle, paint four fingers on each hand one color and then pick a second color for the remaining fingers.  Check out the photo below for ideas.

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Taking the byte out of dieting

July 12, 2011

Looking to watch what you eat, but hate keeping track of your meals in a food diary or snapping photos of everything you eat?  Then an app created for the iPhone and iPad is probably a good fit for you.  It’s called 80 bites and what is does is help you keep tabs on how many bites of food you’re taking daily.

The app is based on the assumption that 80 bites is all you need to be satisfied and lose weight.  And since most of us can’t chew and count at the same time, this app keeps track of those bites with just a tap on the screen.

Now, I’ve never used the 80 bites program and I’m not sure how many calories that works out to a day, but keeping an eye on what you eat is a good way to make sure the scale stays down.

The 80 bites app is available for $1 at 80bitesapp.com

Tips for tackling hills

April 5, 2011

Competed in my second half marathon this past weekend.  Covering those 13.1 miles were just as hard as I remembered them being the first time, except this time around I had the added pleasure of tackling 4 monster hills (well, actually 2, but we ran them twice since the course was a loop).  As I chugged up the hills, I noticed many of my fellow runners took the climb as a walking break and I don’t blame them.  Hills are tough, especially if you haven’t trained for them, but you can conquer them, the trick is…you have to not think like a runner. 

It’s instinctive for a runner to lean into a hill while trying to run up one.  We think that by throwing our weight forward we’re somehow helping to propel ourselves forward, but we’re actually making it harder.  When you lean forward, you force your quads to do all the work, not to mention you’re putting a lot of pressure on your knees.  Meanwhile, your other leg muscles (your gluteus maximus and hamstrings) are just along for the ride.  Considering your butt is your body’s biggest muscle, it would make sense to use it, right?  That’s why I suggest you think like a cyclist.

The next time you’re faced with a hill, keep your upper body upright and lean back…using your hamstrings and butt to keep moving.  The sensation is the same as sitting back in the saddle when riding a bike up a hill.  You’ll find if you do this, you’ll get up those hills faster and you’ll be less tired once you reach the top because you’re exerting less effort by using those bigger muscles.

Another technique you can take from cyclists is to power through the downhills.  It’s easy to ease up on your pace when you don’t have to work too hard, but maintaining a steady pace, even speeding it up a bit, while running downhill will help to make up the time spent on walking breaks.

Oh and there’s one more biker trick I want to share.  If you find your knees/hips hurt during a run, it’s probably because you aren’t aligned properly.  To keep everything where it should be (and minimize injury), concentrate on keeping your knees forward as you run.  Imagine you have headlights strapped to your knee caps and focus on illuminating the path right in front of you. 

Just so you know, all these tips helped me turn in a decent time of 2:41:25 on Sunday.  That averages out to about a 12:20 mile.  I may not be fast, but I finished!

Coming out of hibernation

March 31, 2011

As much as I hate to say it, bathing suit season is getting closer.  Now, while I’m not one to go on a crazy crash diet to shed those winter pounds (and neither should you!), I’m not against a kick-ass move that’ll whip those abs back into shape.

According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the best move for toning your abs is this:

Now just lift your legs and you're all set!

Lie face up on the floor, legs lifted to 90 degrees with your knees bent.  Extend your arms overhead.  Now curl your torso off the floor, lower and repeat! 

Work that move into your routine and you’ll have bikini-worthy abs in time for Memorial Day!

Turning the heat up

November 4, 2010

As the days (and nights) get colder, here’s a neat idea to stay warm…make you’re own heating pillow!  Even if you’re not Martha Stewart, this is definitely a project you can tackle with ease. 

These heating pillows are great especially if you don't have a couple of furry bears to huddle with!

What you’ll need:

an old, cotton sock or pillow case

uncooked rice or wheat or dried corn (NOT popping corn) or cherry pits

optional: lavender buds, chamomile flowers, cinnammon, cloves, nutmeg

string or ribbon

What to do:

Fill the sock or pillowcase with the uncooked rice or filler material, taking care not to stuff the sock.  (You’ll want some room for the filling to move around.)  If you like, add the herbs/spices to give your heating sack a soothing scent.  Tie off the sock/pillowcase using the string or ribbon. 

To Use:

Heat the sack  in the for 1-2 minutes in the microwave.  If you’re worried it’ll burn, put a glass a water in the microwave alongside the sack when heating up.  I shouldn’t have to say this, but the sack will be hot,  so take care when removing it.  Cuddle up with the sock and voila!…warmth!

The latest food craze that might surprise you

October 15, 2010

So I’m a little late to the spaghetti taco bandwagon.  Wait.  What?  You mean you’ve never heard of the delicacy known as spaghetti tacos?  Where have you been?!

It's spaghetti! It's a taco! It's a spaghetti taco!

According to the New York Times, the odd mix is apparently the latest food craze among tweens.  (and you know they only report the news that’s fit to print, so it must be true).  Anyways, here’s the meal’s epicurean history:

“It started as a gag: spaghetti tacos.

On an episode of the hit Nickelodeon series “iCarly,” the lead character’s eccentric older brother, Spencer, makes dinner one night.  Glimpsed on screen, the dish consists of red-sauce-coated pasta stuffed into hard taco shells.”

But apparently the kiddie viewers didn’t get the joke.  Instead, the paper reports kids began pestering their moms for spaghetti taco dinners.  A quick Google search for “spaghetti taco recipe” yields 383 thousand hits.  And there’s even a Facebook page with more than a thousand fans devoted to the dish.

Now, I haven’t tried the dish, but I think that in addition to the under 5 feet tall fan set, spaghetti tacos will probably catch on with a certain group of adults who partake in certain recreational activities (if you catch my drift).

Spaghetti Tacos: Silly Enough for Young Eaters

Snack Wars: DIY Microwave Popcorn

August 18, 2010

Mmmm...pop

I love microwave popcorn.  Not only is it tasty, it’s good for you too.   Three cups (roughly half a bag) of a popular light butter brand packs only 150 calories, 3 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of fiber.

What I don’t love about microwave popcorn is the price.  That same popular brand costs about $4.29 at my local grocery store.

Enter the website instructables and their step-by-step process for making your own microwave popcorn.

Not only can you season it to taste, it’ll set you back only about 10 cents a bag.  Follow these instructions and enjoy!

Calling all Divas

August 3, 2010

You go Girl!

Ladies, if you’re bored with your workout and are looking for a way to spice things up, then check out these dance workshops.  Run by the DivaDance Company here in NYC, you can take classes that teach you the moves to current hot music videos.  This month they’re instructing ladies how to strut to Ke$ha’s “Your Love is My Drug” and Usher’s “OMG”.  In September, it’s Justin Bieber’s “Somebody to Love.”  The workshops run 4 weeks and cost $65.  Not bad!

Last year a whole bunch of us spent a Saturday learning the moves to the most popular dance video of 2009, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”  It was definitely one of the more fun ways I’ve ever worked up a sweat.  Not to mention the fact I can now break out into the moves whenever I hear it! Classes start Thursday, so if you’re interested sign up on their website divadancenyc.com

PS…they also do bachlorette parties where they’ll teach you how to strip!

Chafed Thighs — Summer’s Bane

June 29, 2010

God, it’s hot. 

A girl’s best friend in this weather is the skirt.  It’s cute and has built-in air conditioning.  But it’s not always the most comfortable choice of clothing if you’re carrying around some extra weight.  I’m talking about chafing — the result of your (and my) meaty thighs rubbing together.

Some of my friends opt to never wear a skirt in the summer because they want to avoid the pain and redness.  Others, will suffer through the heat wearing Spanx just so they don’t have to wear pants.  I’ve come up with a different solution.

Say bye-bye to chafing!

Head to your local sporting goods store and buy the anti-chafing roll-ons or sticks that they sell for runners.  Rub it on your thighs…and voila!  No more chafing.  Seriously.  I have two different brands at home.  One is like solid stick deodorant (Body Glide).  The other is like a roll-on deodorant (Sport Shield).  I prefer the roll-on.  It glides on more easily and lasts longer, although it is slightly oiler than the stick version.  Neither stains my clothing or has an offensive smell.

I also use it on my feet.  You know those cute summer shoes that always end in blisters?  Just apply this stuff to those areas where you usually get the blisters and I swear your feet will survive unscathed.

So try it!  After the first summer outing, you’ll wonder why this stuff isn’t mass marketed towards women instead of just athletes!

TGIF

June 11, 2010

It’s Friday.  Finally.  If you’ve had a rough week, take the time this weekend to relax.  Not sure you’ll be able to unwind? Here’s a few relaxation tips:

Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards!

1) Take a deep breath.  Now let it out slowly.   Take another 2 or 3 or however many it takes for you to reach a relaxed state.  It’s a deceptively simple practice that really works wonders.

2) Unplug.  Head outside, but leave the phone, iPod and/or computer behind.  Just sit there and do nothing.  Let your mind wander.  Maybe even take a few deep breaths (I’m telling you, it works). 

3) Enjoy a hot bath or shower.  If you’re feeling really stressed (or indulgent), add an essential oil like lavender or peppermint to the water.  Peppermint oil, by the way, is really great at relieving tension headaches.

4) If you have to work this weekend and find yourself in a stressful situation, walk away, seriously.  Take a break by going on a short walk.  If that’s not an option, try doing switching tasks for a little while.  In other words, take a time out, just like you would in kindergarten.

However you spend the weekend, enjoy!  I’ll see  you back for the madness of a new week (and new music) on Monday.