5 Tips For Staying Healthy In A New City

I originally posted this as a guest post for Megan at Skinny FItalicious. When I saw that this week’s topic with Jessica and Jill  for The Fit Dish is “HEALTHIFY Your Vacation”, I had to share this post about how I stayed fit when I first moved to Glasgow back in March.  Moving to a new city is different than a vacation, obviously, but the breaking of your routine and familiarity is all the same.  These tips really helped me stay in shape and on track, so I’m going to share this post on my blog today with the Fit Dish Fam!

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So, a little fact about me, ever since I was a little girl I thought I was supposed to be British. Yes, I faked a terrible “Brit-ish” accent (not quite English, Scottish, or Welsh).  I loved Mary Poppins.  I loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  I would recite my nursery rhymes with said terrible “Brit-ish” accent.  I think I’ve made my point, right?

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So, naturally, I also always dreamed that one day I would marry a handsome British man and we would live happily ever after in a kingdom far away.  Ridiculous, right?  Well, this past November 28th, my dream came true when I married my Scottish boyfriend, Luke, and decided to move to the (United) Kingdom, far away from America!

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my prince charming.

However, not everything about my move was fairy tale-esque, as you can imagine. According to HealthStatus, moving is the third most stressful situation a person can go through in life.  In my case, moving was extra stressful, because I relocated to an entirely new country.   The good news is, one of the best ways to work through stress is to implement your regular routine as soon as possible.

One thing that has been super important to me has been re-establishing my healthy lifestyle.  I also knew that getting back into a routine meant I wouldn’t get out of shape or fall into a fitness rut.  (Who needs that stress?)  I ‘m going to share with you the five things that made getting back to normal possible and (easy breezy) for me. With these tips, I’m sure you’ll adapt quickly and stay healthy too, whether you’re heading out of town for the week or moving to an entirely new place!  I’ve adapted to my new digs quickly by making staying healthy a priority!  It’s a lot easier than you may think it is!

5 Tips For Staying Healthy In A New City

Tip # 1:  Find out where the (healthy) food is.  One thing I immediately did, on my new phone, was install a Healthy Food app to locate the nearest shops for all things health related in my neighborhood.  Also, using an app like HealthyOut, is a great way to locate cleaner eats nearby and  to help keep you on track!  Healthy food apps are not only a great way to learn your new street map and keep your healthy food choices in check, but they are also a great way to sample some amazing local treats!

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Also, by using an app to tell me what is nearby, I learned within just days that there’s a freakin’ Whole Foods a mile and half from my apartment! Bonus!

good eats

good eats

Tip #2 :  Learn your new surroundings by taking daily walks or runs.   Another great way to keep your fitness levels up, while learning your new surroundings, is to commit to taking long walks (or jogs, if you fancy) around the area.  The Google Maps app is a great way to explore (and not get yourself lost). Google Maps also includes tons of nearby attractions so you can discover those little gems in your city you might not have found before!  Just an hour or two a day of that (or a few times per week) will keep you burning calories and making you feel at home!

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Tip #3:  Figure out the appropriate workout dress code!  One of the most disorienting things about my move was leaving a replica of Antarctica to move to a milder (much more overcast and rainy) climate.  For instance yesterday, on my walk, I literally experienced all four seasons in one mile!  I now know that if I’m heading out for a run or a long walk, I better wear layers and a waterproof coat!  Get to know what the climate is like where you’re at, and you’ll always be able to plan your workouts and activities accordingly.

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Tip # 4:  Find out where the fitness is at.  This tip is twofold for me, as I am currently a displaced personal trainer and fitness instructor now looking for work.  However, fitness professional or not, a key component of keeping healthy in a new city is finding the right mix of workouts to get in.  Using an app such as, Gym Locator Proon my phone, I was able to find the fitness centers in my city according to proximity.

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Another great tip is to sign up for a service like Groupon to find deeply discounted fitness classes (and attractions) around your new city. Groupon is a great way to try out different popular spots for a fraction of the cost and a great way to get more familiar with all that’s available locally!

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In addition to the many fitness centers and studios nearby, you may also have a number of local parks and trails to run, walk, and bike through.  The Map My Run and AllTrails websites and apps are fantastic for getting an insider’s perspective on where to run, bike, and hike in a new area.

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In Glasgow South, we have Pollok Country Park and Queens Park, both world class parks complete with miles of running and cycling trails open to the public!  Taking advantage of local parks and trails will also get you more familiar with your surroundings while exposing you to other active people in your neighborhood via local fitness clubs.

Tip # 5:  Prepare for different water!  Everywhere you go, overseas or not, has different water than you’re used to.  Water quality can potentially pose threats to your health, though most are less than super serious (aggravated skin conditions, hair buildup, etc.) some can be more serious (gastrointestinal issues).  Shower filters like PuraStream, faucet filters like PUR, and container filters like BRITA are essential for keeping your skin, hair, and body hydrated, balanced, and acclimated to your new locale.  Believe me, nothing can throw you off more than a change in water quality! Obviously if you’re only on a short stay, installing filters might not be best, but filters are now available in loads of different convenient forms and relatively inexpensive as well!   In Scotland, the water is SUPER hard.  In fact, all the times I had been over visiting before moving here, I would always gripe about how the water made me feel.  My husband (probably just because he didn’t want to hear it anymore) bought a water filter for the shower and it made SUCH a difference.  We chose PuraStream for our shower filter and at a reasonable price — it is absolutely worth it!

 

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All these tips may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but they will absolutely make life easier.  I feel really spoiled, actually.  I don’t know how I ever moved or traveled before all this amazing technology!  Seriously.  I hope that my tips help you no matter where you live or where you’re at on your health and fitness journey.  Who knows, maybe one of these tips will help you out where you are right now!

What helps you keep healthy when you move or travel? Are there any apps you love that you would recommend?

 

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One Small Change For Lasting Weight Loss

Everybody loves to hear this, right?  One change that could help you conquer your weight loss struggle, once and for all?  This is one small change that I did that helped me lose weight and it didn’t require me to cut out any major food group OR do a single extra burpee.

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Here it is.  It’s not award winning psychology, but it works.  One small change for lasting weight loss.

I know, I know.  You hear this/read this ALL the time, huh?  Stop obsessing about the number on the scale.  You know why you keep being revisited by this mantra?  Because you NEED TO FORGET THE SCALE AND MOVE ON.  Period.  I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t already know somewhere inside of you.

For instance, that regular scales only dictate a single mass reading and don’t actually include the parts of you which are fat, muscle, or water.  OR that your weight can fluctuate due to the simplest of things like stress, illness, or hormonal changes.  OR that most scales aren’t entirely accurate.  OR maybe, simply, just like the scale can’t measure your muscle mass, adipose, and water precisely– it also can’t measure your worth as a human being.  

You want to know the real secret to measuring weight loss?  It’s believing that you are losing the weight.

I’m serious.

Just that shift in your thinking will make things happen.  It’s been proven time and time again.  In my professional capacity, I have simply asked people to just take the next seven days of their life and “believe they are thinner“.

And just like you’re probably saying to your computer or phone screen right now, “bitch, please” — just hear me out.

THIS HAS WORKED FOR PEOPLE — I HAVE SEEN IT HAPPEN.  The positive catalyst in their cognitive approach to their body image not only made them happier, but also improved their ongoing weight loss results.

We create our own reality.  Our minds are VERY powerful and just a simple misfire upstairs can make you see the world around you differently.  I won’t get all quantum theory on you right now, but I will say this, you are absolutely 100% a slave and victim to your thoughts.  If your thoughts are defeatist and stagnant, then guess what? Your reality will be too!

Reflections of your thoughts are more powerful than what’s actually there.

I know this sounds too good to be true that all you need to do is believe yourself to be thinner.  It probably sounds easier said than done.  Well, it is easier said than done, but, then again, it isn’t.  In order to “believe you are thinner” you need to have a few things working in your favor.  Making the decision to change your thoughts toward any goal needs a solid framework to keep you in check.  Here’s a guideline to help keep you motivated and progressive during your weight loss journey!

Have realistic expectations.  Losing weight is super frustrating, but what can make the process so much more painful is how we visualize it and expect it to be.  If you have a habit of being a black and white thinker (like I’ve been MOST of my life) you want those results right away.  You must keep your eyes on the realistic prize.  It has taken me literal years to come to grips with the fact that my body just isn’t going to look the way I want it thought it “should look” no matter what I do.  I am what I am, and knowing what the best version of me is has helped me make peace with it.  Thinking forward, please be real with yourself.

Setting small goals for yourself.  You may lose a significant amount of weight the first week or two of your program, but alas, this is not the norm.  You may have heard the saying that “if you set smaller goals, you accomplish more”?  This is true.  Again, this ties in with having realistic expectations. By setting smaller goals, you will be able to tackle a larger goal in smaller to swallow bits, and I can’t tell you how much better this is on your mental attitude towards weight loss.

Reward yourself every single day.  Most of the time, people tell you to reward yourself only when you’ve reached a goal.  I think that taking control of your health and wanting to feel better about yourself deserves daily recognition.  I’m not suggesting you celebrate every evening with a margarita or buy yourself a new pair of shoes each day, but you can be kind to yourself and recognize your strengths and beauty each and every day.  Take a little more time on your walk home or getting ready in the morning for work.  Simple things that you may have failed to allow yourself in the past.

sorry. had to.

Which brings me to my last point.

Address yourself today.  One of the things that keeps people from reaching their weight loss goals (and most definitely in keeping their weight off) is the lack of addressing your issues in the here and now.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, losing weight isn’t a magic solution.  You will still be you mentally and emotionally, just less of you physically.  I think you’re great the way you are, but let’s face it, losing weight is a journey that requires so much more than increased cardio and balanced nutrition.  So please, please, PLEASE start to address the feelings, issues, and relationship you have with yourself right now while you’re losing the weight.  It’s one of the most surefire ways to keeping the weight off and staying healthy for life.  

Most of life feels like mind games, and, well, it pretty much is.  There are plenty of times where giving up feels like the only definite thing out there, but you can get the results you want if you keep a positive mind, a compassionate heart, and a determined body.

Remember, the only person standing in your way — ever — is you.

When it comes to weight loss or fitness goals, do you believe that your thoughts dictate your progress?  Have you ever been a “slave or victim” to your thoughts?

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Lately I’ve Been… #TOL

I love surveys.  Do you?  Emily at Sweets and Beets posted this survey the other day called, “Lately I’ve Been…” as a way to catch everybody up with what’s going on in her life right now.  I love reading other people’s answers, because let’s face it, we’re all a bit “blogging” voyeuristic.  Well, at least I am!

Also, it’s Thursday, and Amanda let’s us think out loud, so why not?

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Making: connections and plans for building up my coaching business, Coached by Erin.  I’ve already picked up some personal training clients and hoping that the efforts I’m currently making will pay off in a big way!

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coming soon to a vacant Internet space near you…

Cooking:  Soups!  I know, I know it’s summer, but in Glasgow it really doesn’t feel anything like it.  I made a pretty kick ass mature cheddar and sweet potato soup the other day, if I may say so myself!

souper delicious

souper delicious

Drinking:  Water and gingerbread tea.  Like, bucket loads.  I’ve been trying to abstain from alcohol and coffee this month, and besides the weekend at my in-law’s and a glass of red wine Monday night, I’ve not been too bothered.

tea

Yeah, so, I’m turning 35 next month.

Reading:  The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood.  I’ve been reading this all month, because I have been having life ADHD.  It’s a great book though, and if you’ve ever wondered how you would handle an emergency life and death situation, then this is the book for you!

survivors club

Wanting:  To have a gym somewhere in this city call me back about being a Spinning instructor.  My goal is to at least be a sub at a gym by the end of the summer!  #TotalWithdrawls

Wasting:  My youth.  There, I’ve said it.  I need to do something carefree.  Just, you know, not get deported.

living life to the fullest.

living life to the fullest.

Enjoying:  Training people again, running in the mornings with my hubby, anything and everything with chickpeas, and living in Scotland!

lochoich

Liking:  Halt and Catch Fire — this show is REALLY good.  I also really like the song, “The Breach” by Dustin Tebbutt.  

Wondering: If I could become a vegan.  I think I may do one of those challenges, because after watching the documentary Vegucated I was in tears and wanting to never eat an animal product again!  Seriously, “Free Range” “Organic” and “Humane” are VERY subjective terms when it comes to the animal products we consume! Not to mention, our animal consumption is literally melting the atmosphere.  :/

Loving:  I will probably sound SUPER corny here (like, I don’t always?) — but I’m LOVING being married to a man who is as passionate about living a minimalist and healthy life with me.  It’s so freeing to share your life/space/goals/future with a person who wants the same things you do, eats the foods you cook, and gets up rain or shine to run with you.  #LOVE

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Needing:   To call members of my family and mail them items that I’ve been buying for them.  And send something to my friend, Abby, who just had her baby early and could probably do with a nice baby gift while her son is still in the hospital.

Wearing:  Too much.  I wish it would be warm enough for a summer dress and open toe shoes.  It’s SO cold in Glasgow.  I’m used to hazy, warm New England/NYC summers, and the one I’m currently experiencing ain’t anything like that!

first day of summer.

first day of summer.

Noticing:  I need to read more, and get a tan.

Knowing:  You never know where you might end up in life, and that every time something bad happens — you can be sure that if you take that challenge and kick it’s ass, — better things will be on the horizon.

Thinking:  I would like to go back to school for nursing or speech pathology at some point, but also that I want to have a baby soon.

Feeling:  Very lucky and loved.

I’m linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons for Thinking Out Loud!

What have you been up to lately?

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Spiralized Butternut Squash Caprese Salad

There’s nothing I love to order more at an Italian restaurant or deli than a caprese salad.  I love the combination of fresh basil and tomato — it’s so delightful!  It’s such a fresh tasting salad that instantly makes me think of summer.  Adding butternut squash into this traditional salad packs it with extra nutrition and really fills you up. Sprinkle on a bit of fresh grated Parmesan cheese and prepare to be in food heaven!  

caprese1One of the things I miss about living in New York has to be the Italian eateries.  I miss going into a small delicatessen and looking behind the glass counter at all the amazing pastas, meats, cheeses, and salads.  I loved getting a caprese salad whenever possible.  

The smell of fresh basil has a special power over me.  It’s an herb certainly worth growing.  

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Did you know that basil is one of the healthiest herbs in the world?  Basil, also known as St. Joseph’s Wart, belongs to the mint family.  What makes basil so healthy?  Basil has antibacterial qualities, provided by its volatile oils — such as, estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene.  Basil also has important antioxidants such as, orientin and vicenin, which, have been found to protect cell structures.  Plus, it tastes beautiful and makes margherita pizza, salads, soups, pastas, and sandwiches taste fantastic.

While I love fresh out of your own garden basil, you can easily buy a basil plant to keep in your kitchen or home to add flavor and nutrition to your every day foods.  

Basil is even good in a cocktails; basil gimlet, basil lemon martini, and basil was also used at a bar I used to go to in NYC for their mojito recipe!  YUM!

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I’ve been neglecting my spiralizer lately, and I feel really guilty about it.  In fact, Luke and I have been eating way too much meat lately and have both realized — since my recent nutritional therapy certification — that we need to abstain from wheat.  However, that’s a whole blog series in itself (and may become one)!

You don’t have to own a spiralzer to make this recipe, because it would be just as delicious with chopped or sliced butternut squash.  This is a chilled salad, however, so you will be refrigerating the squash after it is fully cooked.  I prefer spiralizing butternut squash, so when I can, I will take advantage of that over chopping any day!

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With the 4th of July coming up (wow, that makes me homesick) this salad would be a wonderful addition to any BBQ or get together.  Spiralized butternut squash caprese salad is so colorful, flavorful, and simple — you really should give this recipe a try.

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Spiralized Butternut Squash Caprese Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Chilled spiralized butternut squash caprese salad. A colorful and fiber rich version of the traditional Italian classic.
Ingredients
  • 1 Medium butternut squash (spiralized or chopped)
  • 2 cups of freshly chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of fresh basil leaves, chopped (and two full leaves to garnish)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp of healthy oil (I used hemp, you could use any healthy oil of your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp of grated parmesean cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. You will want to cook your butternut squash noodles or cubes and let them cool in the refrigerator ahead of time (minimum of 90 minutes)
  2. Preheat your oven to 400 (ovens vary).
  3. Prepare and peel your butternut squash for spiralizing or chopping. If you're going to spiralize your butternut squash you should use your "C" blade (for thinner noodles).
  4. Cook the squash until thoroughly heated (mine took about 30 minutes)
  5. Place cooked squash in the refrigerator to cool.
  6. To prepare the rest of your salad:
  7. Chop up your tomatoes into chunks
  8. You will want to roughly chop your basil leaves, and depending on how strong your want your basil flavor to be, you may want more than ¼ cup!
  9. Finely chop the garlic.
  10. Once your squash is cooled, place the chilled noodles (or chunks) into a giant bowl and add in the tomato, basil, and garlic.
  11. Add in your 2 tbsp of healthy oil and combine all the ingredients.
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Place the salad mixture back in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  14. Once the entire salad mixture has chilled thoroughly, add in your 2 tbsp of grated parmesean cheese and garnish with two full basil leaves.
  15. Mangiare!

You could cut down on the cooking time by serving this salad cooked, but during the summer don’t you just love a pasta salad or chilled veggies?  I know that I do.

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Do you like basil?  What’s your favorite Italian dish?

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Abroad City: An American Living in Glasgow #5

Happy Monday!  Hope your weekend was amazing and wondrous.  I spent the weekend at my in-law’s, which gave me some inspirational thoughts for my fifth installment of Abroad City:  An American Living in Glasgow!

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The Long and Winding Roads

So, this past weekend, Luke and I drove up North to visit his parents and our niece, Lara. She’s the cutest kid, seriously.

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Driving from Glasgow to any place is an adventure for me, because the views are breathtaking and spectacular.  I often find myself feeling like a dog hanging out the window while looking up at the mountains and mystic scenery that is Scotland.

But seriously though, this is why.

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Pretty, huh?  My phone camera doesn’t do it justice, really.  However, just because the ride is beautiful doesn’t mean there isn’t an ugly side to our travels.  Whenever we travel by car off the highways (or motorways, as they call them over here) I tend to get car sick.  The roads are SO, well, long and winding in parts, as Sir Paul McCartney sang.  You would have thought, by now, that I would be better prepared for a road trip.  However, this past weekend, I was not prepared for a road trip.  Luke is such a trooper, he listened to the following for hours on end:

“OMG why are the roads like this?”

“Is this the way it’s going to be the entire drive?!”

“You’re probably going to have to pull over!”

“I can’t.”

ugh.

Yep.  Luke is a trooper.

Moral of the story?  Take motion sickness meds or bring earplugs for the driver.

Chippy Tea

In the UK french fries are called chips.  Fish and chip shops sell battered and deep fried foods served with (and without) french fries.  Shops that sell fish and chips and other deep fried foods are called “chippies”.  When you decide to buy your dinner from a chippy it’s called, a “chippy tea”.

Last night, Luke and I stopped in Kinross to visit his adorable grandmother, Min, and his uncle, Martin.  Min and Martin weren’t sure whether or not we were stopping through on our way back to Glasgow — so, because Min hadn’t prepared any food for us — she suggested we get a takeaway for our tea.  I immediately said, “I want chips!” because, let’s face it, I always want chips.  So, we walked over to grab us a chippy tea takeaway.

everything.  deep.  fried.

everything. deep. fried.

I got a sausage dinner.  Holy baby heyzeus, it was a whole lotta dinner.  Also, it’s an hour back to Glasgow from Kinross, so yeah, that was an even better portion of the trip for my husband than the previous leg of the journey home.

“OMG why did I eat that dinner?”

“How much longer until we’re home?”

“Do you still love me?”

“I’m dying slowly.”

Just look at this beastly meal.

just. wrong.

Good thing I am working out with two clients today and doing a run.

It’s a loccccchhhh, not a lock loch.

In Scotland, words are pronounced with a lot of throat clearing sound effects.  I am forever being mocked and laughed at, in a loving way (he claims) by my husband about how I pronounce words.  For instance:

Helensburgh is not “helens-berg” it’s “helens-burra”.

Giffnock is not “giff-knock” it’s “gif-nuck”.

A loch is not a “lock” it’s a “locccchhhh”.

say it. don’t spray it. Photo Credit

Bring your own bag or pay 5 pence.

When you go to a grocery store in the UK, you must bring your own shopping bag or else you will be charged 5 pence per plastic bag.  I personally think it’s a great incentive to get people to go the reusable bag route!

I think the encouragement to bring your own carrier bag should be mandatory everywhere. Seriously.  Plastic is festering on our planet and destroying the environment with each passing day.  Plus, you can get such cute tote bags these days that it’s like a fashion statement to use your own bag!  This is the tote bag I use! :)

Also, I miss my family dog, and this Instagram picture my lovely sister took pretty much says it all when it comes our Maggie May.

how cute, right?

how cute, right?

Do you get motion sickness?  Do you have a reusable grocery bag?  What did you do this weekend?

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The Saturday Spin – Indoor Cycling Workout #1

Happy Saturday, everyone!  I’ve decided to do a new series of posts dedicated to one of my absolute favorite workouts of all time:  Spinning.  I am a Spinning certified instructor and a huge fan of the program, because it really gets people in the best shape, both mind and body.

Maybe you don’t want to get up super early Saturday to take a cycling class at your gym, but you do have access to a bike and would like to get a planned out, structured, kick-ass workout without having to think about it.  If this describes your Saturday morning, I have made this with you in mind!

The saturday spin

I will be adding new rides to this page for you to take the gym with you on Saturday (or any day of the week).

Check out this awesome infographic from All About Being Healthy to see how an indoor cycling workout can change your body and your life.

I personally love indoor cycling, because it’s literally what saved me and made me LOVE fitness and health again.  When I attended my training to become a certified Spinning instructor, the group I trained with had over 25 people and every single one of them said, “Spinning has saved my life”.

Five things you need to STOP thinking about indoor cycling!

  1. “My butt always hurts on the seat.”  Your butt will get used to the seat.  Yes, it will.
  2. “Indoor cycling makes me feel self-conscious.”  Indoor cycling is practically incapable of causing self-consciousness.
  3. “I’m not coordinated enough.”  Even the most uncoordinated of us can rock indoor cycling.
  4. “People in those classes are like a cult.”  Those of us who love it are not crazy.  We’re actually badass, and always love people who join us.
  5. I tried it and hated it.”  I did too.  But listen, if you can stick it out to three workouts, you will begin to like it and by five workouts you will LOVE it.  

I will let the workouts speak for themselves.

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Suggested playlist

Do you like indoor cycling?  Do you workout on Saturday?

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Abroad City: An American Living in Glasgow #4

Hiya!  I know it’s been a few weeks since my last installment of Abroad City: An American Living in Glasgow, but things have been a bit cray cray this month.  That’s not to say that I haven’t been discovering new oddities and having adventures, however.

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No Fridge For Eggs

As you can probably guess from the heading of this section, the Brits do not refrigerate their eggs.  That’s right, in a British grocery store you will not find eggs next to cottage cheese and butter — you will find them in an aisle far, far away.  This is the European standard, apparently.

There’s a reason.

Egg storage conditions come down to the different ways that eggs are farmed and processed in the U.S. compared to the U.K. and other European nations.

In fact, in the US, the Department of Agriculture eggs destined to be sold on supermarket shelves — called “graded eggs” — are washed and sprayed with a chemical sanitizer before they are sold to the public to “reduce the risk of salmonella infection”.

In the U.K., Grade A hen eggs may not be washed because the process is thought to “aid the transfer of harmful bacteria like salmonella from the outside to the inside of the egg”.

Awesome.

Luckily, I think eggs are one of the most revolting things on the planet.  However, if I did eat eggs, I would find a friend with a hen, or give them up knowing that little tid bit!

eggs in a box.

mmm. room temperature.

“Way Out”

If you’re confused how to leave anywhere in the UK just look for a sign.  By sign, I mean, like, a sign that literally says, “Way Out” with a directional arrow.

I like it.

I mean “exit” is so subjective — exit to where?  I want to get out, after all.  I want to find the way out, and then boom, there’s a sign telling me how and where I can do this.  Brilliant.

oh good. I was confused.

Midges

In America there’s a ton of obnoxious summer insects.  In Scotland there’s midges.  I had never experienced a midge before this week.  I started personal training some clients by their office near a wharf.  Friday afternoon I started to notice little itchy bites on me, and I immediately thought, “BED BUGS”!

I know that I put bed bugs in dramatic all caps/quotation marks, but I didn’t mention it to Luke, because I thought surely if we had that issue he would be complaining of the same thing.

These bites cleared up really quickly though, so I totally forgot about it.  Then Monday I was training a client again, and I noticed these horrible little bugs that looked like an oversized flea had sex with a fruit fly.

Me:  “What the hell are these bugs?”

Client:  “Oh those are midges, they’re awful and they bite”

Yes, they are awful and they do bite.

However, the bites aren’t nearly as bad as a mosquito bite.  I’m also assuming they aren’t as much of a threat as mosquitos are, but f’n yuck.

No thanks, midge.

No Swedish Fish

I love Swedish Fish. I used to get a Costco sized box of them for Christmas every year.  Also, right before my wedding, I discovered the candy store in my town had chocolate covered Swedish Fish — and they are seriously delicious.

omg. i need.

While, I do realize that I do not need to eat gummy candies, because they are probably the most nutrient sparse food product on earth, I like them.

British gummy candies are really not good.  Well, at least, I don’t think they are very good.

hell no.

I keep looking everywhere for Swedish Fish.  I am going to try the American Candy Co. in City Centre, but they will probably want £8.00 for a box of them.  I had a good laugh when I noticed the Coffee-Mate creamer in the “American Foods” section of Tesco was £7.99.

I wonder if anybody ever buys it?

Okay, that’s enough random musing from yours truly!

Stay tuned for the next installment of Abroad City:  An American Living in Glasgow.  

I’m linking up with Amanda at Running with Spoons for Thinking Out Loud.

Exit or way out?  How do you feel about non-refrigerated eggs?  Who wants to send me a box of Swedish Fish?

 

The Fit Dish Interview

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Wow, it’s been, like, almost two months since my last linkup with Jessica and Jill for #DishTheFit.  It’s been a jam-packed time for me lately with just completing my nutritional therapist certification and starting up my personal training business.  But when I saw that this week was an interview, I thought it would be a great time to share some thoughts AND get back in touch with the amazing people who #DishTheFit weekly (probably much more regularly than I do)!

This week Jessica and Jill did something a bit different, they have turned the topic into an informative and interesting set of interview questions.  Answering interview questions is not only a great way to share our thoughts, but also, it gets us all thinking deeply about topics we don’t always work into words.

With that being said …let’s dish!

The Fit Dish Interview

 

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

I would have to say my proudest achievement to date would have to be waking up in 2012 and deciding that I needed to take control of my health.  Since the day I made that executive decision about my life, I have made one good choice after another.  I have to believe that I wouldn’t be where I am now (both physically and mentally) if I had not taken the initiative to make getting fit and healthy a priority.  I wouldn’t be a personal trainer, fitness instructor, blogger, or nutritional therapist if I had not made this choice.  I wouldn’t be here answering this question on my BLOG if I hadn’t made that amazing decision (and stuck with it)!

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proof that one good decision leads to many more

 

WHAT KEEPS YOU PASSIONATE?

I believe our passions are born from our motivations.  You know when people say, “fear is a great motivator”?  Well, for me, that’s very true.  I fear going back to a place mentally where I don’t feel good about myself or that I’m worth the effort of staying healthy.  What truly keeps me passionate is knowing that I deserve to treat myself better than I ever did before.  You know that feeling you get after you finish a challenging workout, fit into your old jeans, or can help others reach their goals?  Well, that feeling can’t be topped by money or all the possessions in the world — it’s born from motivation and maintained through passion!  Oh yeah, and having this blog DEFINITELY doesn’t hurt when it comes to keeping passionate either. 😉

 

new banner3WHAT MAKES YOU THE MOST PROUD TO BE A WOMAN?

Um, we’re badass!  Seriously though, we are. The things that make me most proud to be a woman are our strength, empathy, leadership qualities, and yeah, did I mention we’re badass?  #IAmWoman

Photo Credit : Pinterest

WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S SO IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN TO UNITE AS A SISTERHOOD AND EMPOWER EACH OTHER?

Let’s face it, women feel more pressure than men.  Despite the fact that it’s 2015, women are still faced with so many bullshit labels and expectations.  The truth is — with all the pressures we have placed on ourselves — we need to build each other up and know we’re in this together!  Mean girls never prosper, and you want to know why?  Because they are so broken down from breaking other girls down.  If you want to feel strong, capable, and empowered love yourself and love other women with the same fierceness.

 

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF SOME SMALL WAYS WE CAN EMPOWER THE WOMEN AROUND US IN OUR DAY TO DAY LIFE?

Truthfully, I think this starts with ourselves.  Making ourselves feel content and worthwhile enables us to share that empowerment with other women.  It’s so easy to give another girl a compliment or tell her she’s capable, but make sure you believe that about yourself first.

Be kind.

Be compassionate.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

See why it’s so important to start that empowerment cycle from within?

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH THE FITFAM? 

Work on the inside as much as the outside.  Exercise your soul, not just your heart.  It’s the only way we can maintain our passion, compassion, and accomplish our dreams.  It’s what’s within you that creates what you give to others.

I can’t wait to see what others have shared and thanks to Jessica and Jill, this was an excellent week at #DishTheFit  — Super #FitFamLove

How would you answer these questions?  Join the conversation!

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Nutrition and Illness (Part Two & Conclusion)

nutritionandillness

Hey friends!  I apologize for this post being a little bit later than I had planned for.  I was set on taking my final exam for my nutritional therapy certification last week, and I’m happy to say that I’m officially a nutritional therapist!

That being said, this is just the first step in a long line of education I plan to receive regarding nutrition and health.  While a nutritional therapist is not a registered dietitian or nutritionist, they can work with individuals struggling with health conditions to help alleviate and prevent ailments through dietary recommendations.

But, that is another blog post in itself.

Nutritional Therapy

In part one of my series, I discussed my father’s experience with nutritional information during the diagnosis and treatment of his advanced stage cancer.  I mentioned that, in all of his extensive visits to the hospital, in addition to visits with his oncologist (and even oncology nutritionist) he was given only one session and little other guidance on the power of nutrition.  I also discussed where I feel some shortcomings are when it comes to standard cancer treatment; mainly the lack of nutritional guidance to complement traditional medical treatment.

Nutritional therapy is a complementary medicine — meaning it can be used alongside conventional treatments offered through healthcare professionals.  I am not writing this post today to tell you to fire your primary care doctor and start eating barrels full of vegetables and you’ll be able to live until you’re 100.  I am writing this post to talk about the basics of how our bodies work and how we can change our health (for better or for worse) through the foods we do (and do not) put in our bodies.

Part Two:  Nutrition and Our Genes

We’re all born with a genetic makeup that’s uniquely ours.  For example, all the cells in your body have the same DNA code.  However, that same DNA, in different conditions, results in different types of cells.  In comes epigenetics, or changes in the regulation of the expression of gene activity without alteration of the genetic structure.

Epigenomes are chemical compounds of which are not part of the DNA sequence, but are on or attached to DNA.  Epigenomic modifications remain as cells divide and in some cases can be inherited through the generations (for instance, during pregnancy).

In layman’s terms, although our DNA cannot be changed, there are forces outside of our genetic makeup — such as our environment, stress on the body, and the foods we eat — which contribute to the silencing and activation of our genes.

In fact, environmental signals can also affect the genomic imprinting process itself. Genomic imprinting is genes which are expressed in a parent-of-origin specific manner. For instance, if an allele (variant form of a gene) inherited from the father is imprinted, it is thereby silenced, and only the allele from the mother is expressed.

That’s a bit more in-depth and believe me, I’m no scientist, however, one of the most accessible (and studied) factors on epigenetics can be found through the study of nutrition.

Basically, when we eat food, the compounds of that food are manipulated, modified, and molded into resources our bodies can use. through metabolic processes.  And within these modified metabolic processes, one in particular is responsible for making methyl groups, which are the epigenetic tags that silence genes by being attached to our DNA.

However, it’s not just our diets that affect our genes.  Chemicals that are released into our bodies, during times of psychological stress, interact with our epigenome, which are believed to promote aging and disease.  Whereas, chemicals released into our bodies during exercise can reduce psychological stress and therefore help to reduce aging and disease.

In short, it’s not necessarily that we “are what we eat” but more that we “become what we eat”.

Think about a nutrient such as folic acid — which is highly recommended to women who are planning on becoming or are pregnant — a key component in the methyl-making process, and diets high in methyl-promoting nutrients can rapidly alter gene expression.

The connection between nutrition and genetic expression is still being deeply explored and studied.  However, there are many nutrients that have been proven to influence and improve our epigenome for the better.   Vital nutrients such as folic acid, Vitamin B12, and choline all play important roles in our formative and ongoing health.

In short, it’s not necessarily that we “are what we eat” but more that we “become what we eat”.  Obviously none of us are going to wake up with a tail tomorrow, but our DNA (the very stuff that makes us who we are) is being impacted (for better or worse) with each bite we take.

Take control of what you can.

It may seem like life is just a big game of roulette.  My father was a reasonably healthy man; he didn’t eat lots of meat, he was an avid hiker, non-smoker, and didn’t drink.  How often do you hear a conversation about a person who lived until they were nearly 100 and ate cheese, drank gin, and smoked all day long?  I know I hear stories like that all the time. However, I also can name a bunch of people aged 60 and under who took decent care of their bodies and still died relatively young.

It’s no wonder why so many people think, “well, if I’m going to die anyway, I’m just going to eat what I want/smoke/drink/etc.”  And you may be right to think you should enjoy yourself to that extent, but just because you live a long life doesn’t necessarily mean it will be one free of disease or discomfort.  Nutrition is one of the ways we can have some control over our health.  I guess that’s why when nutrition isn’t at the forefront of fighting (and more importantly, preventing) illness, it really gets to me.  We can have chemicals and pills galore at our doctor’s disposal when we’re sick, but the truth is, perhaps the “cure” for it not happening in the first place has always been at our fingertips.

Revisiting the example in part one with my father’s oncologist — her disregard when it came to my father’s diet — knowing now what I didn’t know back then, really made me think about nutrition education in general.  I think there is simply not enough emphasis on nutrition at any stage of health care.  I can count on one hand myself how many times I’ve been asked about my diet during a visit to my doctor, and thankfully, I’ve been a relatively healthy person my whole life.  However, I’ve only ever have one doctor recommend a dietary approach to a chronic condition I had, but it was only after traditional chemical medications wouldn’t help me.  I don’t know for certain, but I’m sure many of you can relate to this scenario personally.

I want to stress again, I am not saying that traditional treatments and medications are not important when it comes to serious illness.  I am suggesting that even in the face of chronic illness there should be guidance given to pursue a natural and nutritional alternative based route in addition to traditional therapies.  Maybe nutritional guidance will never come from a general practitioner or cardiologist, but the fact that nutritional specialists and therapists are out there should provide some peace of mind to those who would like to take control of their dietary health.  It is for that very reason is why I have pursued a nutritional therapy certification.  And this is why I will continue to learn and educate people about the vital importance and role of nutrition in their overall health profile.

If you have any interest in meeting with me (virtually, unless you’re in the Glasgow area) and going over your own nutritional profile, please feel free to contact me directly (my email is in the “about me” section in the menu on the right sidebar).

**I am a recent graduate of the Health Sciences Academy with a natural therapist certification in Nutritional Therapy.  The educational information I have included in this post is directly from the curriculum I received and recommended resources from their Nutritional Therapist certification program.

Can you think of a time when a nutritional therapist could have been of benefit to you?

 

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Awesome Dill Pickle Hummus

Do you love dill pickles?  I do!  Do you love hummus?  I do!  Does the idea of the two together make you want to do a happy dance?  No??!!  Well, that’s because you haven’t actually tried dill pickle hummus yet — trust me — once you do, you’ll be hooked!

awesome dill pickle hummus

what’s the “dilly” yo? wow – I did just write that.

Hey err’body!  It’s been a while since I posted something edible.  Apologies.  My life is sort of crazy right now.  As I stated in Monday’s post, I’ve been trying to back off on how much time I spend of the computer AND social media.  This is also pretty hilarious  — for those of you who know me personally — because I am actually TERRIBLE at social media and do not even have personal Facebook or Twitter accounts.  For the month of June, one of my many goals was to do a technology detox and start being more present.  Well, I am happy to report, that I have actually been doing practicing the art of being present, but I kind of missed blogging, so I had to get over myself and get back at it.

dill pickle hummus

“dill”icious – are you done with my punny quips yet?

I also had my final exam for my Nutritional Therapist certification this week — so I was busy plugging away at studying — as well as also getting SO entirely enthralled in my studies.  (I will do a full review on the Health Sciences Academy after I complete my certification!)  I should note that chickpeas — the basis for the greatness in my hummus — are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals essential for good eye, immunity, blood, and heart health!

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Vitamin C
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Zinc

dillhummus2

It’s been really wonderful learning so much about the connection between wellness and the foods we eat.  As a nutritional therapist, I will be able to help educate people about the connection between their current diet and health conditions they may be suffering from. I’ve already helped Luke almost completely clear up his eczema — which has been plaguing him for years — in a matter of days.  Just by assessing which essential nutrients he was deficient in and choosing foods which have reintroduced them into his daily diet!

awesome dill pickle hummus

It’s so wonderful to continue to learn what we’re passionate about and to keep the information coming in.  I always despised school (even most of college), but now that I am so interested and passionate about things, I feel like if I won the lottery the first thing I’d do is go back to school full-time!  Life is crazy, right?

awesome dill pickle hummus

Seriously, if you love dill pickles and hummus, then this is the snack for you!

Awesome Dill Pickle Hummus
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Dill Pickle Hummus combining chickpeas, dill, garlic, and vinegar for a tangy and satisfying healthy snack!
Ingredients
  • 18 oz cooked chickpeas OR 2 cans unsalted and drained
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp your favorite healthy oil (I used hemp)
  • 1½ tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp dried dill
  • 1½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1¼ to 1½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients into your food processor or high powered blender. Believe it or not, I made my hummus with a hand blender in under 60 seconds! You can refrigerate up to 4 days for freshness!

 

Happy snacking!

What’s your favorite hummus flavor?  Do you also love dill pickles (or any type of pickle)?

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