Do Before and After Photos Make You Feel Better or Worse?

If you look up practically anything fitness or health related on Pinterest, you’ll be bombarded with images of women with incredibly perfect bodies. Beautifully tanned and chiseled and often accompanied by a ‘before’ picture. The same can be found on gym, diet, and weight-loss pill advertisements. Many people find these pictures inspiring and motivating – that seeing someone go from point A to point B makes them feel like, ‘Hey, I can do that too!’

Personally, I waver on my opinion. I worry that comparing myself to the people in these images will create false expectations and lead to failure. I know that the pictures don’t show the full story – like the cost benefit ratio of getting that awesome body or the extreme lifestyle changes the person probably had to make besides just food and exercise. And I know that Photoshop and camera tricks can manipulate pretty much any image. On the other hand, they can be motivating because I assume that not EVERY image is fake and that people CAN change.

I was inspired to write this entry by the video below (from Buzzfeed.com). Take a look and let me know what you think. Do these types of before and after photos make you feel better about yourself or worse? Do they motivate you or have the opposite effect? I’d love to hear your opinions.

Entertaining, the Healthy Way

Entertaining

This weekend, we had friends over for Friday night dinner. Jared and I love to entertain, and it’s important to us that our guests feel special and welcome when they’re in our home. One of my goals as a health coach is to prepare a meal that isn’t just delicious but is healthy, as well. I think it sends a message that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring, bland, or unappetizing. And often, health-ifying a recipe doesn’t take much more effort than its unhealthy counterpart.

This Friday, I made chicken puttanesca with the option of whole wheat pasta, apple-walnut salad with cranberry vinaigrette, and chocolate cupcakes. I will say that dessert is often the hardest for me because it can be tough to find recipes that are nutritious. The recipe I made isn’t exactly healthy and I wouldn’t suggest it as a regular option, but for special occasions, it was a delicious and much lower in calories and fat than the original recipe.

Here are the recipes for our Friday night meal. Where do you go for healthy recipes?

Delish

Chicken Puttanesca

Apple-Walnut Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Chocolate Cupcakes (I used seltzer water)

Friday Faves

This week was wonderfully productive and fun – a great way to come back from a long weekend. This weekend, I have very little on the agenda which I’m so excited about! Decorating for Hanukkah, hanging out with friends, and what will hopefully be a healthy and delicious brunch that (if all goes well) I’ll share next week!

My workouts this week were varied and super fun. I always try to take a day or two off each week from my heavy workouts, but on those days, I try my best to hit a high step count (which for me is anything over 14,000)

Monday – Zumba at the Ailey Extension

Tuesday – off, 14,685 steps

Wednesday – Barre at FlyBarre

Thursday – off, 16,886 steps

Friday – Spinning at FlyWheel

Saturday – Broadway Dance at Broadway Bodies

Sunday – Yoga at Upper West Side Yoga and Wellness 

Here are some of my faves from the week.

Christmas lights

New York City Christmas lights

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Adorable puppies in adorable sweaters (This is Abbey Road, my parents pup)

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Fishing in the Hudson River. A rare site.

My favorite part of the week - a live recording of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me at the NJ Performing Arts Center. The picture's not great, but I can check this off my bucket list!

My favorite part of the week – a live recording of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me at the NJ Performing Arts Center. The picture’s not great, but I can check this off my bucket list!

 

Have a great weekend!!!

 

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**None of the links in this post are affiliates nor is this post sponsored by any of the mentioned studios.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

Nobody’s Perfect

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Do you have a guru? Perhaps not in the traditional sense of the word, but maybe someone you consider as a master or teacher? For a long time, I’ve admired and respected the teachings and insights of author, Gretchen Rubin. Rubin has written a number of books on a variety of subjects and it’s her two books on happiness, The Happiness Project and Happiness at Home that led me to jokingly (and not so jokingly) refer to her as my guru.

As a lover of quotes, lists, and mantras, it’s no surprise that Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood resonate with me. One of my absolute favorites is, “What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

No one is perfect and it’s silly to try to be. Sometimes we have an extra drink when we know we shouldn’t. Sometimes we accidentally leave someone on an email that we meant to take off. Sometimes we miss a workout because watching the latest episode of Modern Family just can’t wait any longer. What’s important is to remember that if those mistakes truly only happen once in a while, it’s ok.

I keep this hanging on the wall as a reminder to acknowledge my mistakes and learn from them – but to also let them go and not beat myself up. We all deserve a pass once in a while.

 

**This post has not been sponsored by Gretchen Rubin in any way; I’m simply a fan. If you’d like to read more, check out www.gretchenrubin.com.

4 Tips for Working Out in the Cold

winter workout

Happy December! I hope you all had a great weekend whether you were celebrating Thanksgiving or not. I loved spending time with family and getting some time off to rest and recharge.

Every year, December sneaks up on me.  I have a love/hate relationship with December because I can’t stand the cold but I love the holiday season. Hanukkah is my favorite holiday of the year (I decorate our apartment thoroughly and throw a Hanukkah party almost every year) and I love Christmas in New York.  Even though I don’t celebrate; I love the festive cheer, the lights, the craft markets, and the carols.

Winter is also the season when people start hibernating. It’s tempting to stay bundled up on your couch all winter, but imagine how great you’ll feel if you can motivate yourself to keep working out even when it’s cold outside.  You’ll be invigorated, energized, and have a feeling of accomplishment. Not to mention that each winter-workout will bring you one step closer to your fitness goals!  Here are a few tips to keep you safe, happy, and feeling great during your winter-workouts!

  1. Wear the right gear. Check out this fantastic page on Runnersworld.com. You put in your information (like the weather conditions, time of day, how you like to feel when you run) and Runners World suggests what to wear to keep comfortable. A hint: layers are always a good choice. Click Here.
  1. Warm-up and Cool-down the right way. Before your workout, jog in place or do some jumping jacks indoors. You’ll want your body to be warmed up before you head into the cold. After your workout, keep your cool-down brief and go back inside to stretch.
  1. Drink. You might not seem to sweat as much during a cold-weather workout, but it’s just not as obvious. Make sure to stay hydrated the same way you would in when you sweat a lot.
  1. Know your Limits. Sometimes it really is just too cold and outside workouts can become unsafe. If the wind chill is extreme or the temperature is well below zero, keep your workout inside.

Happy Thanksgiving + Recipe Round-Up

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Big family meals can be a bit of a challenge at our house.  Jared and I keep kosher which means that not only does all of the meat need to be purchased from a kosher butcher, but we don’t eat milk and meat together in the same meal.  Basically, there can’t be any dairy in the sides or the desserts. My cousin is allergic to nuts, which tightens our parameters even more.  Add in the fact that most of the people at the table are trying to be healthy and make smart food choices and you’ve got a challenge on your hands.

Luckily, we’re a pretty supportive and accommodating bunch and every year, we seem to work it out.  This year, I offered to make the desserts so I could create something dairy free, peanut free, and guilt free. I did a lot of internet searching and experimentation before choosing my recipes, so here are some of my favorite health-ified Thanksgiving recipes!

Remember, not everything on your table has to be perfect, but choose one or two of these recipes and you’ll know that you’re offering healthy and delicious options. It’s important to note that these recipes have no fake sweetener or chemicals in them. They’re delicious classic Thanksgiving recipes with just a bit less sugar, cream, etc than the originals.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Recipe Round-Up

Turkey Gravy

Low Calorie Stuffing

Quinoa Stuffing

Easy Green Bean Casserole

Crispy Roasted Green Beans

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Healthy Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad

Cranberry Orange Sauce with Thyme

Pumpkin Carrot Bars with Cream Cheese

Cranberry Pear Crumble

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

 

3 Tips to Win the Willpower War at your Thanksgiving Table

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Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to avoid snacking in the morning than after dinner? Or if you’re really sad about something you care less about getting to the gym? Well, there’s a reason for it and it’s not that you’re lazy.  It’s called the Principal of Limited Self Control or Ego Depletion – the idea that self-control and willpower are limited resources that can actually be used up and need to be replenished by rest. That’s why when you’re tired after a long day of work; it seems harder to resist that cookie. Or when you’re stressed out by family issues it’s harder to get to the gym. When you’re using all of your willpower just to get through the day, you have little left over for things like exercise and healthy food.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and for many, that means potentially stressful travel, potentially stressful family time, and a lot of tempting food – things that can easily deplete your self-control. Here are a few tips to help you win the willpower war this Thanksgiving with just a little advanced planning:

  1. Plan Ahead. Planning for obstacles in advance means you’ll need less willpower when the situation comes up because you won’t have to think about it. Find out what will be on the menu ahead of time and create a game plan. Decide in advance what you’ll fill up on (like roasted veggies and lean turkey) and what you’ll indulge in. You won’t feel like you’re missing out and you won’t go crazy when you see all of the delicious food out in front of you.
  1. Develop an ‘If-Then’ Strategy. For example, “If Aunt Martha asks me to try one of her cookies that she made just for me; I will take one, eat half of it, and put the other half back on the table.” Or, “If everyone has a drink in their hand before dinner, I will have a glass of club soda and put a lemon in it.” Like the first tip, if you’ve already developed a plan, you won’t have to think about it when the time comes.
  1. Offer to make something. What’s your weakness at the Thanksgiving table? Whatever it is, you can make a healthy version to bring with you so that you can indulge without the guilt. I have a sweet tooth, so this year, I offered to make dessert. I know exactly how much is in a serving size and I can enjoy without having to worry.

Another tip that’s been shown to help with willpower is exercising in the morning, before the meal.  Studies have shown that when you work out before eating, you tend to eat less because you’re more aware of the work you just did.  Another tip is to not starve yourself before you sit down for dinner.  You’ll be wasting that valuable resource of self-control and won’t have as much left for the actual meal.

And remember, that no matter what happens this Thursday, it’s only one day. So even if you’re not the picture of perfect nutrition, give yourself a break, enjoy the holiday, and jump back on that horse on Friday.

 

Friday Faves

This week was packed with a good mix of work and fun. I’m looking forward to the weekend with our engagement photo shoot tomorrow morning, dinner with friends on Saturday night, and an early Thanksgiving dinner with Jared’s cousins on Sunday afternoon.

One new thing I want to start doing on Fridays is listing my workouts for the week and my plans for the weekend.  This week was a 30-minute HIIT class on Monday, Complete Core on Wednesday, and Barre on Friday. I’m not sure I gave myself enough rest in between these 3 great (but intense) workouts, so I’m going easy on myself this weekend with a jazz class on Saturday and yoga on Sunday.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

 

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Delicious dinner with my girlfriends. We get together once a month for a themed dinner party and everyone makes something. This month was Syrian food!

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Behind the scenes filming the Budstraps Kickstarter video

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Snazzy shoe and sock combo spotted on the subway

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Adorable dish for my jewelry 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower and Leek Soup + Tajine Chickpeas

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I’m excited to share this delicious recipe with you – something that I haven’t done yet on this blog. I love cooking my own meals because you know exactly what goes into them and have total control over portion sizes.  Cooking is sometimes tough in my tiny New York kitchen and we all know what it’s like to be short on time, so I’m always on the lookout for a recipe that has these qualifications:

  1. Quick to put together
  2. Easy to find ingredients (or easily substituted)
  3. Healthy (this means nutrient filled for meals and low in fat and sugar for snacks and desserts)

This wonderful Cauliflower and Leek Soup from Gina Homolka at Skinnytaste.com fits the bill completely.  If you haven’t discovered Skinnytaste yet, I highly recommend it.  When Gina posted this recipe on Monday, I immediately decided I needed to have it for dinner that night. It hit all of my qualifications and was absolutely delicious.

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I adapted the recipe slightly and added my own twist to it – tajine chickpeas that worked as a side and were equally as yummy when put in the soup.  People usually think of the North African cooking dish when they hear the word tajine, but it’s also a Mexican spice that consists of chili peppers, lime, and salt.  The lime gives is a great kick. Jared and I found it on a recent trip to Dallas and have been putting it on everything ever since.

tajin

The chickpeas were easy to put together.  One can of chickpeas (rinsed well), olive oil and lemon juice to taste (about  2 teaspoons of each), pepper and tajin to taste.  Start out light on the spices and add slowly until it’s just right.

For the original Cauliflower and Leek Soup recipe from Skinnytaste, click here!

 

Enjoy!!

Hang on to your buds. BudStraps are here!

I’m excited to tell you all about a great new product that will seriously change the way you work out.  They’re so simple and functional that it’s shocking no one has come up with this before.  So what are BudStraps?

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Have you ever been running on the treadmill and your earbud cord gets stuck on something? All of a sudden, your earbud is ripped from your ear and your iPhone fall onto the floor and you need to interrupt your workout to pick everything up again. Happens to me all the time.

Or you’re listening to music and go into a Starbucks. It’s time to pay the cashier, but you can’t hear her with both earbuds in. Your options are:

  1. take one earbud out and hold it awkwardly
  2. let the earbud hang down to your knees where it gets tangled
  3. wrap your earbud cords around your ear, up your shirt, or around your neck – not comfortable

Enter BudStraps.  It’s a lightweight and flexible strap that goes around your neck and clips onto your earbuds.  You barely notice it’s there. I make a point to walk every day during my lunch break and I always bring BudStraps with me.  I take them when I’m at the gym, grocery shopping, the subway…basically anywhere that I’d want to listen to music or a podcast.

budstraps

If you’d like to get in on the action check out Budstraps.com/kickstarter.  You’ll have the chance to get discounted Budstraps before they go to retail in a few months.  The campaign will help to create a new sportier design and cool new clip.

 

**This post has not be sponsored by BudStraps.  All opinions are my own.