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Healthy Lunch Gift Idea: Fitbit One

Posted: December 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Exercise | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Fitbit One

Fitbit One 

I focus mostly on healthy food on this blog, but I’d be remiss not to mention this incredible health tool which I use every day: the Fitbit.

I’ve been using a Fitbit every day for almost two years now (I was an early adopter), and I absolutely love it. It would be a perfect gift for anyone looking to boost their healthy habits, or a gift for yourself!

The Fitbit is a nifty (and cute) little tool to help you achieve a higher level of movement during the day. It’s a gentle reminder to get up, walk around a little bit, and keep active. Why is this important? The average American walks less than 3000 steps a day. 5000 steps are generally recommended for baseline fitness, and 10000 if you are trying to lose weight. I don’t walk 10000 steps every day, but the Fitbit certainly helps me get in some extra steps.

What does the Fitbit do?

1. Primarily it is an incredibly useful pedometer. It measures your steps, the number of stairs you climb, how far you walk in a day, how many calories you burn, and your general activity level throughout the day. You can press a little button on your Fitbit to toggle through the different data during the day while it is clipped discreetly to your pants.

2. It also measures your sleep! You can slide it in a soft wrist band, and it has an accelerometer to measure your movements and sleep patterns. It’s unobtrusive – I rarely notice that it is there.

3. It uploads wirelessly to your computer, and turns your personal data into beautiful (and readable) graphs and charts. (Free!)

Here are a couple of snapshots of my charts below:

The activity monitor tells you all of the important data in one spot. (Don’t feel bad, I don’t typically get in this many steps during the day…)

You can then see how you performed throughout the day: this graph tells you how active you were at different time periods. The chart breaks down the activity levels into a really clear picture of who much time you spent in different active zones.

Finally, you can monitor your sleep patterns. This was an evening where I a) went to bed pretty early, b) fell asleep faster than ever, and c) got in an ungodly amount of sleep. It was delightful!

When clients or friends are looking to improve their health, I never advocate drastic diets or fitness regimens – one of the best ways to get healthier is to make small changes and add more of the good stuff to your life. For me, walking is the best way to keep healthy and fit, and the Fitbit is an invaluable tool to help me do this. I highly recommend it.

If you have any other questions, please ask in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Fitbit Ultra

$99 (or $94 at the time of this post)

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Hiking the Dipsea

Posted: May 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

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One of the goals that my study group is holding me accountable to is doing one fun exercise activity each week. This can be something new – a spin class, rock climbing, walking to some crazy new destination, etc. For this week, I chose a local bay area hike – the Dipsea – 679 steps + a 6 or so mile hike out from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. I recruited my friend Sondy, a Bay Area native, and friend from college to lead the way.

The trail is outrageously beautiful, and includes sections through woods, out in the open, around big hills, and up and down them. Not for the totally out of shape hiker, but not particularly challenging for someone in shape.

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I wore my Vibram Five Fingers, odd looking shoes certainly, but supremely fun to wear. And to meet people with – I must have been asked about them five times by hikers on the trail. Sondy, the amazing woman she is, did about 6 of the 7 miles *actually barefoot*.

As for food on the trip:

Before the hike: Oats in a jar – steel cut oatmeal, in the bottom of an (almost empty) Barney Butter jar with a tablespoon of Nutella. Portable and easy for my commute to Mill Valley. (MUNI and Golden Gate Transit).
During the hike: Dried dates – you know, the little date pieces that look like worms. (About 1/2 a cup, total). Water. A piece of dried mango, offered up by another hiker.
Post hike: Meal at the Sand Dollar – a (small) hamburger with cheese and no bun, fries, a pickle, and lettuce.
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After lunch, we wandered around Stinson Beach until the Stagecoach came and picked us up to head back to Mill Valley. When we arrived, we walked the mile and a half back to our car. Yeehaw!

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3 Easy Weeknight Dinners

Posted: May 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Dinner, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

After a few weeks of a lack of moderation, I’ve come back to a healthy focus. That’s what healthy living is about – finding moderation, and course correcting when you’ve been a little bit too loose with yourself. For me this means:

1) 1 hour of exercise at least 5x a week (if not all seven days). Ideally, it would be 350 minutes of exercise per week, and a combination of low, moderate, and high intensity.

2) Planned dinners (and leftovers for lunch) I eat most of my meals at home, but planning my meals ahead of time ensures that I have food on hand for making dinners, and that I make balanced choices ahead of time instead of getting hungry, cranky, tired, and making less than healthy choices.

3) Happiness boosters! I find that when I’m living the healthiest, I’m not just focusing on food and fitness, but about making a point to spend time with friends, doing fun things, and doing new things. It helps fill an emotional hunger and keeps me satiated with my food choices.

Here are some of my dinners over the past few days:

1. Spicy Moroccan Fish Stew from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Mine had cod, shrimp, and rather than couscous, I served it over some bulgur pilaf. I also added in a handful of edamame and frozen corn. This only got better the next day for leftovers – I ate all the fish during dinner, but the shrimp kept quite well the next day, and the flavors really had a chance to mellow. I’ve been having really good success with this cookbook.

2. Carrot Salad with lemon dressing and parsley, Israeli Cous Cous (Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend), and a ground beef saute. For this dinner, I sauteed some onion and frozen bell pepper mix until soft and slightly browned, and then added in the ground beef with some oregano, salt and pepper. This is one of those mish mash meals that didn’t quite go as planned (I was going to make turkish meatballs) but tasted good just the same. The carrots were from my Farm Fresh to You box.

3. Grilled Pork Loin, with Roasted Baby Potatoes, and Spinach Salad with Tomatoes, Grilled Asparagus and Lemon Dressing. After going on a long walk this afternoon, I stopped by Bi-rite market to look at all the BEAUTIFUL produce. I ended up grabbing some spinach, asparagus, and (I-know-they-are-out-of-season-but-I-wanted-them-anyways-tomatoes). This meal was so simple to put together. As soon as I got home I put the potatoes in the oven to roast at 450. I then grilled the asparagus and set them aside. I put together the salad, made the dressing. Then I grilled the pork for about 10 minutes – getting a good sear on both sides, and deglazing the pan with a little white wine. At the end I broiled the potatoes for about 5 minutes while I let the pork rest. Then tossed the asparagus into the salad, dressed it, and served everything up!

A little note on accountability: After struggling for the past few weeks to get things under control, I met with my health coach study group. At the end of our meeting, we each set goals for ourselves for the week, and shared what we wanted to be held accountable for. My goals for the week are – daily exercise, avoiding eating until stuffed, and doing one new and exciting fitness activity.

Today’s Exercise: 10k steps (walking to work + 1.25 hour walk through the castro/mission)

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Oatmeal and Candlelight Yoga

Posted: February 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Breakfast, Exercise | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

I’m still struggling to get enough sleep these days. I’m definitely an 8 to 9 hour sleeper, and getting 6 to 7 throws me off and makes for a cranky morning! Last night I decided that I was going to be proactive though, and I registered for a yoga class for this morning, knowing that even if I wasn’t feeling up to it, I’d go, because I had already paid for it. I think this is the trick!

I woke up at seven, and made myself some of my already made steel cut oats, and stirred in a tablespoon of Justin’s Maple Almond Nut Butter, and some cinnamon. I moved it all around with my spoon until I couldn’t eat anymore, and then just popped it in a container and took it with me. (I’m actually still eating it as I type this). Sometimes, I just can’t get in very much breakfast, but I try to have even a little bit to wake up my metabolism.

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I headed out to Valencia street for my class at the Yoga Tree over in the mission. I loved practicing this week at the Yoga Tree on Castro, but Valencia is a tad closer to where I live if I want to get in a session before work in the mornings, and I thought I’d check it out.

Getting in a little early though, I headed in to Ritual Roasters, to have a teeny tiny cup of coffee. I opted for a single shot cappuccino. Just a little one! Not too much caffeine for me!

Ritual Roasters

Here it is:

Ritual Coffee

Their foam art is so pretty!

The fellow across from me was reading the Financial Times. Aside from being an incredibly interesting newspaper, they print it on a salmon colored newsprint. I used to see a lot more of these on the East Coast, but apparently people in SF are less likely to be interested? A lack of investment bankers?

Ritual Coffee and Paper

I read my copy of Runner’s World to give me some motivation to put lots of energy into my yoga practice. I’m not really a dedicated runner, but the incredible stories in that magazine are great for any sort of personal achievement motivation.

Half of Coffee

I love how my heart flower stayed at the top until I finished my coffee!

Energized, I headed over to Yoga Tree.

More Candlelight Yoga

Candlelight yoga is a class where deep asanas are practiced with the lights off and the room lit only by candles. It’s a great way to start the morning and increase your presence and focus. There were about 40 people in the room, and we got cozy with one another! It was so beautiful!!

Candlelight yoga

The class was led by Pete Guinosso, who is currently leading a 40 day consecutive practice of yoga. There were quite a few 40-day folks in today’s class, and I have to say, I’m kind of in awe of this dedication. I enjoyed Pete’s guiding of our session – but must admit that a few times found myself giggling because he is an entertaining fellow! (I don’t see anything wrong with some lightheartedness in a hard session – he led us well.)

During my yoga, I thought about my health, being thankful that I’m able to move and push my body more and more every day. I noticed a marked increase in my flexibility, even from last week. I also thought about my friends and family, and even the people who I have struggles with.

After about an hour and fifteen minutes of some hard practice, I was sweating up a storm! (There’s no after shot today, because I had to get to work!) I’m really hoping that this is something I will do more often. The high after the fact is pretty wonderful.

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Some Hard Yoga, and Weeknight Indian Meat Curry

Posted: February 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I love the fact that you can now sign up for yoga and fitness classes online, and pay with your credit card. This is really great for anyone who is tempted to flake out on their exercise classes, (erm.. me) because you can sign up for the class when you are feeling good and motivated, and once you pay, you can’t cancel.

After watching all of the recorded Dr. Oz episodes on my tv, I decided quickly that I should get off my backside and get in some exercise before I turned into a couch potato. So I immediately signed up online for an afternoon class at Yoga Tree in the Castro so I couldn’t make any excuses. It was misty, so I took the bus, getting me there a little early so I could chat with people, and take some photos of the studio.

I hadn’t taken a yoga class in more than a couple of months, so I was a little bit nervous as to what I was getting myself into.

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Despite several encouraging recommendations, I had never been to Yoga Tree, and I was a little apprehensive as I walked up the stairs. When I got into the warm and peaceful studio I was immediately assured that I was in the right place. The studio is a large room, with beautifully lit (unscented) candles around the perimeter. I’ve never actually seen candles studio, but I thought it was a nice touch. There is a raised platform which does double duty as both a little shrine, and an elevated space for the instructor to demonstrate poses.

There was also a good music selection, including some light Cat Stevens and music that might be on my indie/folk playlists! I can’t stress how refreshing this was – a big problem I’ve had in other studios has been when I can’t zone out or focus because I’m angry at what I like to refer to as “generic zen-elevator music”.

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My class was a community vinyasa class, taught by Erika, who was actually a sub, and doesn’t normally teach at the studio. She was great, and I’d love to take another class from her! The levels were mixed, and I definitely felt out of shape and creaky! A little bit extra downward dog and child pose time than normal!

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I got in a great workout, and left there a bit of a sweat-ball. Always a good thing! I decided I’d snap a post-workout photo to document that I actually got through it! And, I signed up for their $20-three class trial. I have to use it in the next two weeks, so hopefully it will motivate me to actually get in there and start a little yoga streak.

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After class, it was still misty, but not actually raining, so I took my chances and walked over the really big hill to 24th street, to stop for a drink and head to the market. I went to Starbucks and got my new favorite – a Tazo Refresh Tea bag, steeped in steamed soy. Usually I just get a large tea with a splash of soy, but a soy steamer is a nice post-workout treat.

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I like watching people study and work in this particular Starbucks. Everyone is so focused.

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I had a cookbook in my bag, so I whipped it out to join the fun. I took this book – ‘5 Spices, 50 Dishes‘ by Ruta Kahate – home a few months ago, but haven’t actually cooked anything from it, even though several of my friends have recommended it. I thought that this would be a good book to review, so I’m going to be cooking through it for the next week or so. I made my little shopping list, finished my tea, and then headed to the store.

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Ultimately, my first dish was an outstanding success. I made the Indian Beef Stew, with some grass fed beef stew meat I picked up. The dish is slow cooked, but largely unattended, and the result is this really unctuous meal, with really tender meat and potatoes, with classic Indian spices including coriander, ginger, and garlic.

I served mine over a heaping pile of baby spinach, because I was feeling the need for some greens, and a Trader Joe’s Tandoori Naan bread. There are a couple of good looking bread recipes in the cookbook, but they will have to wait for another day.

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All in all, a pretty great day. I took a new class, got in 6000 steps, and made a completely new dish that got two thumbs up from both myself and Devon.

And now, winding down time with the Celtics vs. Lakers! We are a mixed household – I’m for the Celtics, he is for the Lakers – it makes for an interesting time watching the two teams play head to head. We are being mostly polite, and nobody is doing any rude cheering. At least he isn’t a Yankees fan, I wouldn’t be able to deal with that one.

Good night everyone!

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