Posts Tagged ‘New Stuff to Try’

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.

Peek a boob

June 2, 2011

Thumbing through the pages of  Fitness magazine and came across an ad for what I think is an ingenious product.

It’s called the No Show Active Top.  Have you heard of it?

It’s basically a coverup that fits over your otherwise skimpy bikini top.  It looks like a sports bra, but is definitely more attractive and flattering.  This is for the gal who doesn’t just lay out on the sand at the beach, but rather the more active beachgoer who maybe enjoys a good game of pick-up volleyball.  What it does, is keep your boobs from popping out of your top while you’re running around.  Sure you could throw on a T-shirt, but that’s not cute.  This is. What I want to know is why no one thought of before!

Check it out: nomorepeekaboob.com

(The name of the website alone is worth checking it out!)

Ugh, running.

May 12, 2011

You may or may not know this, but I really don’t like running.  You wouldn’t know it with two triathlons, two half marathons and a handful of 5ks under my belt, but seriously, I don’t enjoy as much as I think I should.

Part of the problem is that I’m too slow.  I feel like I should be running a faster pace than I usually do and the fact that I can’t, frustrates me.  Sure, I’ve improved since I first started training for races and there are days that I look forward to a run, but most of the time I don’t.  The reason for that is that during the run and especially after, I’m in a lot of pain.

Now I don’t suffer the usual runner’s pain of aching knees, sore hamstrings or even shin splints.  Nope, my problem is my feet.  I’ve had issues with them since I was a pre-teen and while some corrective measures have helped, at the end of the day (or a run), my feet HURT.  And yet I keep running, hoping I’ll one day finish a run and not be in pain.  That day came last week.

All the usual treadmills at the gym were being used, so I hopped on one that I (and everyone else) usually go to as a last resort.  I can’t explain why, except maybe it’s because the control panel doesn’t have bells and whistles like a personal trainer or a fan (which is why I always skipped over them).  There’s also less space to put your stuff one, just two little nets to hold everything.  It’s called the Woodway and it’s with hesitation that I tried it.  I’ll never use the other treadmills again.

Right off the bat, I knew it was different.  When I picked up the speed, there wasn’t that usual pounding sound you hear when running on the regular treadmills.  It also didn’t feel as if I was landing as hard, more like I was running on a dirt path through the woods.  (Maybe that’s genesis of the name?)  I set out to run 3.5 miles that workout and expected the usually pain in my feet around 2.25 miles, but it never came.  In fact I made it through the whole run with only some minimal discomfort by the end of it.

I thought maybe it was a fluke, so I tried the treadmill again today.  Same thing.  So I looked up the company.  Apparently Woodways are designed to minimize shock.  Needless to say, I’m never going back to those old pounding treadmills again!   I do have one request however to the designers over at Woodway…could we maybe get a model with a built-in fan?  Thanks in advance!

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!

Old dogs and new tricks

March 30, 2011

The dumbbell rack

You know that saying about old dogs and new tricks?  Well it applies to people too.  In this case, the trick is weight training.

According to a recent study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, women in their 20s and women in their 60s gained strength from lifting weights at the same rate.  Ergo…it’s never too late to start! 

The study suggests this tip for getting stronger,  faster: add an extra 5 percent to the amount you usually lift and you’ll get up to 38 percent stronger in 13 weeks.  So for example, if you usually leg press 100 pounds, go up to 105 the next time around.  The math isn’t so easy if you’re using 8 pound weights to work your biceps.  An extra 5% would mean you’d have to lift 8.4 pounds.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen an 8.4 pound dumbbell! 

Here’s what I suggest: work with the 8 pound weight until you notice it’s too easy to pump out 2 sets of 12.  The last couple reps on both sets should be hard to do, but not torture.  When it’s too easy, it’s time to move down the dumbbell rack.

Fit-ting reading material

February 23, 2011

As you may have guessed from reading some of my posts, I’m not the biggest fan of women’s health magazines.  The conflicting information dispensed in their pages frustrates me to no end.  But I think I finally found a publication I can read without wanting to rip up the pages — it’s Fitness magazine.

I recently signed up for the More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon on April 3.  As part of my registration fee, they threw in a subscription to Fitness magazine.  The first issue arrived in the mail yesterday.  Considering how much of a skeptic I am, I wasn’t expecting much.  But it’s surprisingly good! 

In its pages you won’t find a limited diet intended to help you lose 20 pounds before spring along side a recipe for a decadent chocolate cake.  Instead,  you get down-to-earth fitness advice (like which machines you can skip at the gym) and healthy recipes like chipotle vegetable chili.

Another thing I was very happy to see…only one photo of a woman in a bathing suit!  And even then, it was a bikini bottom paired with a sweater.  Weird, I know, but this was the winter issue.  (Hmmm…I guess that could explain the lack of scantily clad women, but that doesn’t seem to stop other women’s magazines of always featuring women prancing around in bikinis and lingerie.)

The only disconnect was the giant full page ad for Hydroxycut.  That product seems to go against everything the magazine stands for, but I can understand having to take ad dollars where you can get it.

Overall, I think the magazine definitely upholds its mission to “empower women to embrace fitness as a lifestyle — not an age or dress size–and to change the conversation from skinny to healthy”.   Glad to know I’m not the only one!

So if

An app-solutely easy way to lose weight

February 16, 2011

A year or so ago I blogged about the mind-boggling number of diet and fitness apps available to smart phone users. 

At the time, I didn’t have a smart phone of my own and had to rely on the experiences and recommendations of others, but not anymore.

Since getting my new iPhone last week, I’ve spent a lot of time trolling through both the free and paid healthcare and fitness apps.  Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Name something you want to keep track of and there’s an app for it.  Whether we’re talking calories, exercise, heart rate, sleep, your period, your pregnancy or the number of push ups you can do…there are apps available to help you monitor all of it.  There tends to be multiple versions of each so all you have to do is pick the one that appeals to you, your goals, and your wallet the best.

My go-to diet app is the one available for free from the Daily Burn.   

The list of foods in its database is extensive.  If  you’re lazy or having trouble mastering the touchscreen keypad, you can pay to upgrade to an app that’ll let you scan the barcode of any food item to log it.  Neat, right? 

In addition to logging what you eat, you can also input personal information like your weight goal and it’ll suggest a caloric range for you to stick to.  You can also keep track of your exercise and even email questions to a certified personal trainer.

If you’re looking for something a bit more “hands-on” in terms of fitness, there’s definitely no lack of apps that offer to coach you or show you how to perform exercises.  You need to pay for most of those, with the average price around $1.50.

There are also apps that use GPS to track your runs/walks/steps.  I have yet to try one, but I hear most work great (until you get a phone call, but we’ll leave that for another post).

Overall, I think these healthcare/fitness apps are a great way to maintain your healthy lifestyle.  Let’s face it, we could all use a little help in sticking to our diet and/or exercise resolutions.  But when that help is so readily accessible, there’s really no excuse for failure.

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