Archive | June, 2011

Steam Room Update

30 Jun

I tried the steam room again last night. It still sucks. It’s like a humidifier on steroids.

BUT – it did do wonders for my sinuses (that only lasted for a few hours) and I was able to stay in there longer than last time (until my skin was being scalded by the steam that was being pumped in). My whole body was red when I escaped left.

I don’t like steam rooms.

Saunas for the win!


Check This Out!

23 Jun

I’m leaving for Italy a week from tomorrow (on July 1) and you can check out not only mine, but the rest of the Study Abroad group’s adventures here:

I’m going to be posting on here sporadically throughout the month that I’m gone – or maybe I’ll be lazy and just link to the other blog.

Caution: My posts from Italy will likely have a LOT to do with gelato, pasta and wine, not so much health food. It will be a ‘mental health’ month more than a physical health month. 🙂

Simple Swap: Sandwich Thins

21 Jun

I love carbs. Love Love Love. Needless to say, I eat a lot of bread (and pasta and cereal and rice…). But recently, I picked up a package of Oroweat Sandwich Thins.

Instead of 90 calories per slice, like other whole wheat bread, these are 100 calories for both ends of your sandwich. And unlike pita bread (which is delicious, don’t get me wrong), they’re still soft and even a little fluffy.

Another bonus? You don’t waste the end slices of loaf bread that no one likes.

The Oroweat brand also makes sandwich thins in honey wheat, multi-grain and whole wheat fill ’ems (for hot dogs and sub sandwiches).

The sandwich thins are enough for 8 sandwiches, fewer than an entire loaf of bread, and they’re a little more expensive but only by a few cents.

They’re great for brown-bag lunches (which I bring to work every day) and probably as hamburger bun substitutes, but I don’t think they could completely replace loaf bread (what about toast with jelly? These thins would probably turn into crackers if you put them in the toaster).

Almond Milk Hot Chocolate

17 Jun

Was as good as I thought it would be. 🙂

Only about 100 calories, too. It’s the perfect cold weather dessert (which you wouldn’t think would be appropriate in the middle of June in SoCal but it did rain last night).

Simple Swap: Almond Milk

15 Jun

I have a friend who introduced me to Almond Milk and it seemed like the day after she talked about, everyone else around me was talking about it, too. They were talking about it having a longer shelf-life than milk and fewer calories, it’s lactose free….I was interested but I’ve always been a “Got Milk?” girl.

I hesitated buying it because of the $3 price tag (my usual fat-free milk is under $2) but eventually gave in because almond milk has only 60 calories per serving compared to fat-free/skim milk’s 90 calories. I checked the expiration date: August 2, 2011 (I bought it on June 13, 2011 – nice!). It also has a ton of calcium and Vitamins D, E and B12.

Almond milk isn’t as stark white as cow milk, it doesn’t have a milky smell (or really any smell that I could sense) and it’s much thicker than my usual fat-free milk – it’s more like whole milk. It does have a slight almond taste, but not enough that you could use it to make an almond latte (I do use it in my coffee and it does the same job as regular milk or half-and-half).

The only thing I’m not impressed with was the consistency it gave my Cheerios. Because of the extra thickness, my cereal was more cream-based-soup-y than I prefer. I’m probably going to try using it to make creamier oatmeal and other hot cereals, or hot chocolate (OMG almond milk hot chocolate sounds amazing!).

I tried ‘original’ but it also comes in vanilla, dark chocolate (apparently my idea isn’t so original after all…) and unsweetened.

Overall, it’s a pretty good substitute if you’re looking to cut calories anyway you can, if you’re lactose intolerant, or if you just don’t drink milk very often and need something with a longer shelf-life.

You can even visit Pure Almond’s website to register to get a $0.75 coupon. They also have some interesting recipes to use almond milk as a substitute.

P.S. If you say or write the word “milk” enough, it sounds utterly ridiculous (HA! Pun semi-intended :P)

Closed at 8 p.m.? Really??

13 Jun

Because my summer class starts at 6:00 pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I don’t have time to get to the gym before class. So what do I do? I do my darnedest to get there during the weekend.

I couldn’t get there yesterday (Sunday) morning and I had things I had to take care of during the day/evening so I packed a gym bag and said, “I’ll go straight to the gym after the dinner meeting.”

Sure enough, I get to L.A. Fitness at about 8:30 pm and THEY’RE CLOSED! What?! Why?! They close at 8:00 pm on Sundays. How entirely inconvenient.

Oh well. Lesson learned.

Good thing I didn’t go for seconds of the delicious home-cooked Italian meal.

Saunas v. Steam Rooms

9 Jun

I belong to L.A. Fitness and each club location has either a sauna or a steam room. Because I go to whichever gym I’m closest to when I have time for a workout, I’ve been able to sample both and found that I love the sauna and hate the steam room. Here’s why:

The sauna is ‘dry’ heat. Granted, it took a few trips into one to get used to breathing such hot air (the trick for me is mouth-breathing – not cute, but it works) but it’s not much different than walking out of a Vegas casino in the middle of August :). I sat in there for about 10 minutes after a long run and I was drenched in sweat when I walked out. The hot air makes it a great place to do some slow stretching after your work out, because your muscles are already loose and the hot air helps you to relax.

A few benefits I’ve read about using saunas include increased performance in endurance sports, increased metabolism (due to increased heart rate from pumping more blood to your skin to help you cool down), and it aids in ridding the body of toxins and heavy metals. There are risks for using a sauna for people with certain health conditions or if you stay in too long, but the overall consensus I’ve noticed is that if you’re in decent health, clean and sober, and use the sauna properly (i.e. for no more than 15 minutes at a time) the benefits outweigh the risks.

Alternately, the steam room is ‘wet’ (?) heat – it’s freakin’ humid! It’s like walking into a bathroom after someone took a really hot shower – REALLY hot shower. All the moisture gathers on the ceiling, so you run the risk of getting dripped on – which was an unexpected surprise. Then, the room periodically refills itself with steam and the rush of steam into the room startled me, LOL. While it’s refilling itself, it’s incredibly hard to breathe and actually forced me to leave.

I was only able to stay in the steam room for maybe 5 minutes before I was too uncomfortable to stay. Because of this, I didn’t sweat nearly as much and most of the moisture on me when I stepped out was steam – much less satisfying than when you step out of a sauna.

I read that the steam room is generally preferred by people with sinus issues (which I do have) because of the humidity, but I’d still take dry heat over humidity any day.

If you have access to either, I recommend trying them to see which you prefer. It’s a great way to end a workout and you’ll feel refreshed afterwards.

Simple Swap: Spinach

6 Jun

Cute story: I’ve been eating spinach since I can remember because my grandma used to say, “Eat your spinach because you want to be strong like Popeye.” And really, what 6-year-old girl doesn’t want to have massive forearms to beat up bullies with?

Me! (apparently, I was annoyed...)

Clearly, he's every young girls idol

And now I use spinach as a great substitute for regular iceberg lettuce.

1 Cup of raw spinach has only 7 calories, 1g of fiber, 1g of protein, 56% of your Vitamin A for the day, as well as 14% of Vitamin C and 5% of iron.

1 Cup of raw iceberg lettuce has 10 calories, only 7% of Vitamin A, 3% of Vitamin C and 2% of iron.

I now use spinach on my sandwiches instead of iceberg lettuce and my salads are generally spinach-based (or another, dark green leafy veg like Romaine lettuce or baby greens). There is a slight taste difference, but only because iceberg doesn’t really taste like anything to begin with.

Popeye was really on to somethin’!

My Run Playlist

2 Jun

I NEED to listen to music when I go for long runs – I have to focus on something other than my brain’s comments of, “Really? We’re still running? Aren’t you tired? Yeeaahhh…you’re tired. This is boring. Stop running for no reason now.”

I’ve found a few songs that really help keep me motivated when I start to lose focus and I thought I’d share them with you.

First, I like to listen to songs I know the words to because if I can focus on the lyrics, I’m not thinking about how long I’ve been running (or how long I think/feel like I’ve been running). These include:

  • N’ Sync – It’s Tearin’ Up My Heart
  • Kelli Pickler – Red High Heels
  • Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA
  • Ke$ha – Tik Tok and Blah Blah Blah

Then, I like to mix in songs by artists I wish I had the body of (extra motivation, you know?) Such as:

  • Britney Spears – Do Somethin’ (or any of her pre-head shaving dance songs)
  • Jennifer Lopez – Play

And the third type of songs – hip hop/rap. I’ve noticed that I can run forever(ish) listening to Eminem, 50 cent and Will Smith. I haven’t decided if it’s because of the beat, which helps keep my pace steady, or if it’s the lyrics that talk about how awesome they are and make me want to be awesome (and gangster) too! My favorites:

  • Will Smith – I’m Comin’ or Who Am I or La Fiesta or Can You Feel Me
  • 50 Cent -Disco Inferno or Just a Lil Bit
  • Eminem – Without Me or Lose Yourself or Real Slim Shady
  • Usher – Yeah!

What are your most motivational songs to work out to?

How do you get past the 30-minute mark? I’ve found that I’m not necessarily tired or out of breath after 30 minutes, my brain just gets the best of me at that point. What are your tricks?