Balance, Learning to Bring it to Life

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Balance. Such a simple word, yet a word with so much meaning behind it. What is it to have balance? To live life not in extremes, but in steadiness. Why do some of us struggle to live a balanced life? We all have areas in our life where we find maintaining an equilibrium is hard. For some of us it is with work, where we find ourselves always connected. It is Saturday morning, the first day off from a long work week. You tell yourself you are going to log into work just for a minute to check e-mail really quick, 2 hours later you are still at it. For other’s it may be spending money. The newest tech gadget has launched. You did just buy something similar 6 months ago, but you want the latest and greatest.  Even though you may not have the  money to buy it, you somehow find a way to justify the purchase. For some it is balancing a healthy life with exercise and eating. You find when you are committed to a diet you are on track. You workout everyday, eat right, you have control. Then you miss a day, then another, next thing you know it has been weeks and you are eating everything you want, regardless of your original goal.

Why is balance so hard to not only have but to maintain? Over the last year I have been trying to learn how to balance my healthy lifestyle more. For those of you who know me well it is no surprise to know I have been extreme over the last few years with health and fitness. Actually let’s be more accurate with that statement, obsessed. It was all encompassing in my mind, body, and soul.

From the moment I woke up in the morning it was all about my workout, which was always pre-scheduled the night/week before. There was no deviation from the plan. If this meant getting up at 5:00am on a Saturday morning in order to fit it in, then that is what would happen. I could not miss a day of working out. If I could not workout first thing in the morning then it would be all I would think about during the day. When was I going to get it in? I would not be able to enjoy time with friends or loved ones. I was only thinking about my workout. I needed it, had to get it over with. In  my mind a missed day meant my body would drastically change, fall apart.

After my workout, came food. I fixated on calories, a tool I could not have done my weight loss without, but was it really needed with maintenance? Time spent with friends at restaurants lead me down a dark path of stress. What would I eat? I would not know how foods were prepared and thus the calorie intake. This then lead to me over exercising during the day to be able to preemptively  counteract any food sabotage. A 5 mile run followed by an hour spinning class might just be enough to allow me to enjoy a night out.

Next all of my freetime was spent reading books on food, diet, and nutrition. What were the new diets out there I could try? Maybe I needed to be gluten free or paleo. If I ate a certain way would I feel even better? What knowledge could I gain from others? Learning every last detail I could made me feel empowered, in control.

Now is the part in the story where I am suppossed to come and say through lot’s of hard work I have now found the balance. I no longer obsess about food, working out, and health. I go out to eat with friends and never once worry about the calories because I am listening to my body. I wake up on Saturday morning and decide to skip the gym to spend time with my boyfriend instead. I have found the secret to live a life perfectly balanced.

Well sorry folks, I am still working on it. Like most, finding balance is hard. For me I honestly did not attempt to find balance until I got a wake up call over a year ago on how my intensity was hurting my relationships with the ones I loved. I have also hit a point where my body is tired and it just can’t do what I forced it to do for so many years. Through this I can say I have become way more balanced. I still workout everyday, a schedule pre-planned the week before. I have learned to except there will be days where a long hike or just a barre class is good enough. Although I do have to fight the demons in my head pushing me to work my body more. I still constantly think about the food I eat, but again try to remind myself a glass of wine and a cheese plate with a friend will bring me more pleasure then roasted vegetables at home in my sweat pants. Why work so hard on a body if you are not able to enjoy it? Some days I listen to my own advice, other days I dont.

I love working out and eating healthy. It is now part of my DNA. It brings me joy, self esteem, self love, energy, and overall happiness. However so does being social, resting, relaxation, food, and alcohol. In order to truly be the person I want to be it is continuing to learn how to balance between the two. So for anyone else out there who is struggling with balance, you are not alone. All I can say is keep working on finding that perfect point right in between. Changing behavior and routine is hard, even scary. But just getting a glimpse on how a balanced life can be is all the encouragement I need to keep going.

 

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 10/22/15

Crossing the Finish Line 25 Pounds Lighter– I love reading personal stories about health and fitness. The struggles people go through, how they overcome them. There is something so comforting about knowing you are not alone out there. To hear others face similar struggles as yourself just makes you feel connected. This story is just that, a personal struggle with re-finding the inner athlete.

Neurogastronomy 101: The Science of Taste Perception-I loved this article, very fascinating. “This new science, called neurogastronomy, merges the science and culinary worlds by studying the human brain and the behavior that influences how we experience eating and drinking. Essentially, neurogastronomy shakes up how we look at food and taste: Instead of investigating how researchers can alter the taste of food by re-engineering what we eat, this science concentrates on how we can re-wire the brain to perceive food differently.”

How Agriculture Controls Nutrition Guidelines– “For the first time ever, the expert panel had included in its recommendations some mention of sustainability, acknowledging that questions about human nutrition cannot be divorced from the logistics of how this nutrition is procured. It is impossible to keep politics out of nutrition, as long as nutrition is still received via food, and food is still a good that is produced and consumed.”

McDonald’s just committed to 100% cage-free eggs– I came across this article last month and thought it would be a great one to post. Alas life has been a bit busy and because of that I have not posted as many articles as I would like. However I thought this article was still relevant and worthwhile to read. I am a big advocate on big companies making changes.”The super-sized chain announced that it would fully transition its Canadian and American egg supply to cage-free eggs over the next 10 years. The chain attributed the change to consumer preferences.'”

 

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Dailey Fest- A Morning doing Barre in the Sun

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I first started incorporating barre into my fitness routine about 2 years ago after having a lower back stress fracture. Up until then running and body pump had been my two main workouts. Over the years as I started to continue to increase my intensity with these two workouts my body could no longer take all of the excessive pounding and forced a break on me, literally. At the time it was one of the scariest places I had ever been mentally. How would I survive 6 months without running? What if I gained weight? How could I tell people I was a runner if I was not actually running? Like anything in life you learn to survive with what you can control. For me that was finding new ways to keep active without pounding on my body. It was with this break I found my obsession, barre classes.

The first studio I went to in the city was the Dailey Method in the Mission-Castro district. For me it was love at first site. The class was hard, while also being fun. The music was current and up beat,  the teachers were helpful while still providing adjustments. It was a great workout, but one I always looked forward to. I found I never dreaded it like I would some days with running or spinning. I was always excited to go, the more classes in a week the better. For the last couple of years barre has become a huge part of my everyday life. So when I received an e-mail with a barre event in the city I knew I had to attend!

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Last Saturday in celebration of the Dailey Method’s 15 year anniversary Jill Dailey the founder had a barre celebration in the Presido Park. There were several fitness and health vendors there along with various teachers from all of the Dailey Method studios across the bay area. The morning started with Jill Dailey leading a 60 minute mixed class at 10:00 am. I was wondering how the class was going to be structured considering usually a good chunk of the class is done with the barre and several different props. I was impressed with how creative Jill was with the class. For instance when it came to barre work barre work everyone had to team up with their neighbor for stability and use them in place of a barre.

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After the first class was complete there was a 15 minute break before the 45 minute interval class started. The interval class was lead by 5 of the different studio owners taking turns on the microphone. What I liked about the interval class is it was fast paced and really got your heart rate going. This is something I find hard to achieve in barre classes. So when it does, I know it was a good one. I am not going to lie, but the end of the almost 2 hours of barre I was a sweaty mess! All in all it was an amazing morning. I loved being outside in the sun practicing something I love with others, feeling like part of a community.  I had hoped to bring a friend to join me in the festivities, but alas my fellow fitness pals were all busy. I deiced I wanted to go to bad to let going alone stop me. Sometimes it is good to push ourselves, to not let obstacles get in our way, and if you want to do something go do it. I had no regrets on my morning date with myself and the other 100+ barre fanatics in the city.

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 09/08/15

What Science Can Teach Us About Flexibility– A friend of mine sent this article over  to me the other week and with how busy life has been I am just now getting around to reading it. It is a rather long and science based article, but has a lot of really good information on stretching and flexibility. “In yoga, “flexibility” is an attitude that invests and transforms the mind as well as the body. But in Western, physiological terms, “flexibility” is just the ability to move muscles and joints through their complete range. It’s an ability we’re born with, but that most of us lose. “Our lives are restricted and sedentary, so our bodies get lazy, muscles atrophy, and our joints settle into a limited range.”

Why Are Millennials So Obsessed With Food?- It is true, my generation loves food. Living in San Francisco it is part of your DNA to have food be a major part of your life. Now I am not just talking about any kind of food. I am talking about organic, natural, flavorful, unique food. We are spoiled to live in a city where there is a million in one amazing places to eat at. Everything is an experience, from the taste to the way a dish is plated. “In a digital-first era, many people latch onto food as something that engages all of the senses and brings people together in physical space.”

5 Ways to Think Yourself Skinny: The Harvard Study That’ll Shock You–  Being mindful is important. It not only helps you to be present, but it helps to make sure you are really in tune with your body. “Your mindset mediates the connection between exercise and health — that you may not be reaping the full mental and physical benefits of the “exercise” you do each day, but that, with some mental practice, you can totally lower your BMI, blood pressure, etc.”

6 Things To STOP Doing If You Want To Lose Weight”– I read this article and throughout it kept thinking to myself, “Yep this is all true and makes perfect sense. Why dont I do more of this?” It is good to check in sometimes with yourself, great tips!

5 Ways to Pack a Better Work Lunch– I bring my breakfast and lunch every day to work, well 95% of the time. It does get tough figuring out ways to spice it up and keep it healthy. Once you get into a routine though it does make it a lot easier. This article has some solid tips in it.

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Sunday Afternoon, Time For A Nap

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Life can be chaotic. It can be fast, stressful, busy, and tedious. However what makes it all worthwhile are the moments in time when you pause, step away from all of the noise, and appreciate just being present. Taking the time to sit and be still. Today was just one of those days. After grabbing coffee Dustin and I decided to walk to a neighboring park. The sun was beaming down, the grass green and inviting, so for almost an hour we just laid there. We enjoyed the live music at the neighboring bar echoing over the fence, watching the father and son running around, and just having time with one another. Sunny Sunday naps in the park may need to start becoming a weekly ritual. Hopefully everyone else had just as an enjoyable one!

Colorado Let’s Get Physical!

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A couple of weeks ago Dustin and I were able to go back to my home state of Colorado for a 5 day trip. It is amazing how you can grow up in a place and never really experience all the city has to offer. I am not sure if others feel this way, but for myself coming back home as an adult is different compared to how it was in my youth. I have grown to appreciate my hometown in a way I never did when I was younger. Home used to just be a place to come and see family and friends. Now home has become a vacation. It has now become a place to not only enjoy time with the ones I love, but to also spend that time doing things I love with them.

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So what did 5 days of activities and fun look like in Colorado? Well Day 1 started with a 3:30am wakeup call to get ready for the airport. Now I am one who will stop at no cost to get a workout in the morning. I mean I have been known to get up at 4:00am to get a run in before a really early flight or work meeting, however we all have our limits and 3:00am was mine. If I am being honest I thought about working out all morning. When was I going to be able to get it in, how could I balance spending time with my family while also doing what I needed for me? Once the plane touched ground and I saw my parents waiting to eager and happy to see me, I decided being with them was way more important than any workout I could get in. So I just made this day my “rest” day for the week. Now this might sound like nothing to most, but for me it was a big step. One of many steps I am slowly making to learn how to balance my life more.

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Day 2 started with a morning at the gym. I went to an hour spinning class while Dustin hit the weights on the gym floor. Afterwards we headed home, ate some breakfast, and got ready to play golf with my parents. This was the first time I had made it out to the golf course this year and boy did it feel good. I forget how much I enjoy playing. I love being outside, being completely engulfed with concentration, almost into a meditation at times.  For me when I  play golf it is a true  mind-body connection. When I am out on the golf course I am thinking about nothing else but what I am doing in that very moment. If your mind is off then your game will be too. There are few opportunities we have in life to fully be present, to not have our minds wander. When I find an activity that allows me to do just that I love it.

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Day 3 was a day of running and hiking through Garden of the Gods. I grew up with this magical place practically in my backyard, well a 15 minute drive. In my adolescence I never enjoyed any of the outdoor beauty that Colorado Springs had to offer, so I am only grateful I have learned to love it as an adult. I try to make it to the beautiful red rocks every trip home I can. My run for the day was 5 miles, followed by a couple miles of hiking/walking. For me every time I go home to Colorado I never know how my body is going to react to the altitude.  The longer I have lived at sea level the more I feel a difference when I go home and attempt to run. Some trips are easier than others. I have found if a trip happens to be a hard one for me to acclimate then I need to listen to my body. This typically means a shorter run than usual, a slower pace, and if a break is needed in between miles then that is ok. What is important is I am out moving my body.

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Day 4 was maybe my favorite day of them all. I started the day with a 4 mile run around the neighborhood. I love this run, for the sole reason of every time I do it I get flooded with memories. I see the house of my best friend in 3rd grade where I had more slumber parties then I could ever count, the friend’s house where in high school on summer nights we would sit around a big outside fire pit, playing guitar, talking, and just hanging out. I run by the neighborhood pool where for countless summers I spent sun bathing while my friends had their first summer jobs as lifeguards. Then to bring the run home I end right in front of my elementary school where I spent years learning and growing. After getting home Dustin and I grab my parents bikes and do the 10 mile bike ride on the Santa Fe Trail to downtown Colorado Springs for breakfast and coffee. This trail is amazing. You go through the whole length of town seeing a vast array of views. You cross over multiple bridges and get waved at by every biker/walker/runner you encounter. It is a true heart of Colorado Springs in my mind. After breakfast Dustin and I saddled back up and rode the 10 miles back home.

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Day 5 was all about the Manitou Inline.  I am pretty ashamed to admit this, but I had never heard of the Manitou Incline till this past Christmas when chatting with my uncle. Even though I was not into fitness growing up, it feels like this should have been something I at least knew about. Either way once Dustin and I learned about it we decided next time we were out in Colorado it was on! Let me tell you a little about the incline. It is located in Manitou Springs, a quick 20 minute drive from my parents’ house. “Since its closure as a railway in 1990, the trail has steadily grown in popularity as a hiking trail and fitness challenge. The base of the Incline sits at 6,600 feet (2,000 m) and the trail climbs 2,000 feet (610 m) in just over 3⁄4 mile (1.2 km). Parts of the trail are extremely broken and steep and will require even the fittest of hikers or trail runners to scramble over the broken rocks and steep trail.”

I have to admit, I was nervous. Seeing pictures of how steep the trail was and just knowing how my lungs had not been cooperating with me on my runs all week, I was not sure how this hike was going to go. However regardless of my fear I knew I was physically capable of doing it and had a great partner in crime to do it with. We arrived at the trail head early Friday morning. We looked at the trail, looked at each other, smiled, and started our walk up. Was it steep, yes. Hard, yes. Did moments of rest have to occur, yes. But overall I would say it was a breeze and by the time we reached the top we were excited and marveled by the view. It is good to remind yourself from time to time you can do anything. We hung out for a bit and then hiked the 3 miles down the Barr Trail instead of hurting our knees trying to go back down the incline. All in all it was a perfect start to my Monday and a great way to end the trip!

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 08/08/15

Stunning Photos From Around The World Bring Yoga Poses To Life– If you are like myself you are fascinated with beautiful images. Obviously with the popularity of social networking apps like Instagram, people are a fan of sharing and looking at photos. I for one love photos of people doing beautiful fitness poses. This article is all beautiful images of stunning yoga poses around the world.

The Makeup Tax-I have never paused to sit and think about how makeup affects my life. I really enjoyed this article for making me think about something in a new way. “Makeup, in short, is a norm, and nothing ruins a first impression like a norm violation. Some women contend they only wear makeup to “boost their confidence,” but the reason they feel less confident when they don’t wear it is that there’s an expectation they will. Makeup, in short, is a norm, and nothing ruins a first impression like a norm violation. One study found that participants were more likely to award “prestigious jobs” to women who were made up than to the same women when their faces were unadorned. Male (but not female) restaurant patrons tip morewhen female waitresses wear makeup.”

Choosing the Right Running Shoes– I for one know the importance of having the right running shoes. Shoes that do not fit well can very easily cause injury. I know this from first hand experience. “Perhaps most unexpected, running shoes designed to somehow “fix” someone’s running form turned out often to be ineffective and even counter-productive. In a series of studies, when military recruits were assigned running shoes meant to control their particular level of pronation, those soldiers were as likely, or even more so, to sustain running-related injuries than soldiers given shoes at random.”

The Evidence Supports Artificial Sweeteners Over Sugar– The sugar debate is one that is very interesting. This is the first article I have read supporting artificial sugar over regular sugar. It is hard to know what is true when there are so many articles out there contradicting one another. What I gather from it all is to just limit my added sugar consumption. “The available evidence points to the fact that there appears to be a correlation between sugar consumption and health problems; none can be detected with artificial sweeteners.”

Whole Foods Launches Store For Broke People– Business and Health, two of my favorite topics to read. This article is short, but interesting on how Whole Foods is looking to re-gain sales and marketshare. “Walter Robb, co-CEO wrote, “[W]e are excited to announce the launch of a new, uniquely-branded store concept unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace. Offering our industry leading standards at value prices, this new format will feature a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection. It will deliver a convenient, transparent, and values-oriented experience geared toward millennial shoppers, while appealing to anyone looking for high-quality fresh food at great prices.”

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Transforming My Home, It All Starts Now

 

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It was a little over a year ago I embarked on my journey of becoming a home owner in the city of San Francisco. Let’s not exaggerate though, a home in San Francisco is really a 1 to 2 bedroom apartment and if you are lucky perhaps a single family home with 3+ bedrooms. Buying a place in one of the most coveted cities in the United States, maybe even in the world, all by myself, was a huge personal accomplishment. One I am still very proud of to, but also very frustrated by. When you dream of buying a home you envision certain “must have” criteria for your house. I knew buying in San Francisco would be tough, but still imagined I could find a 2-bedroom home, with maybe some outdoor space, and in a lively neighborhood I would want to live in as doable.  I never expected my first place to be over half a million dollars, come with 1 bedroom, and I would be lucky to have gotten it.

From the moment I bought my house I have had nothing but a constant rollercoaster of emotion. Let’s  start with the fact that I do love my place. I love it for its location, central to everything in the city. It is an old Victorian built in 1893 with nothing but that San Francisco charm we all know so well. I have loved older homes my entire life. I have vivid memories of my grandparents old Victorian with the skeleton keys to unlock every room, the large mantels over the fire place’s, a hidden back stairwell, and an attic to escape to. I always wanted a home that held a secret. And yes if I could I would build a secret passageway behind a book shelf, I am just that kind of girl.

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When I first moved into my place I fantasized what the house was when it was first built. How it must have looked standing tall and vibrant in an area surrounded by trees and fields. Who were the original owners? What was their day to day life in the house. How did it all look before it was broken out into 5 separate apartments.  All the stories it must hold. The character is by far my favorite attribute to my home. I love the original hardwood floors, the tall ceilings, the brass door knobs, and the trees standing right outside of all of the windows.

What saddens me about my place is really just a few things. My place is rather large for a 1-bedroom at 800 sq. feet, but it has an awkward layout where the bedroom and bathroom are massive and the kitchen and living room are on the smaller side.  This makes it harder to entertain, which is by far one of my favorite past times.  I always imagined as an adult I would have a home where I could have people stay the night at when they came to visit or after having one too many drinks. I would have an open kitchen and dining room with a large table to throw dinner parties, I would have a patio to enjoy an after dinner drink in the summer or a cup of coffee in the morning. I guess when you live in the city by the bay your home cant have it all because your city already does. You are forced to sacrifice space for your environment.

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With all of that said one of the best parts of being a home owner is if you want change you can do it. You don’t have to settle. All you need is time, resources, and an imagination.  From the moment I placed a bid on my place I knew I wanted to redo the kitchen. I have always seen the kitchen as the heart of the home and although mine was not “awful” I knew it was not what I wanted at all.

We moved into our home in August of last year. We immediately un-packed and then life got busy, which meant little focus on our home after those initial first few weeks.  Now that life has slowed down for a moment and I can breathe I am taking advantage. I decided my goal for Q2 (can you tell I am always focused on business) is to make my home a priority.  I want to nest, to build, and to make it the place I envision in my head. Maybe it will not become a 2 bedroom, but it can be a place to entertain, a home I am proud of.  This last couple of week’s I have started the steps to redo the kitchen. I feel excited and overwhelmed at the same time. Right now plans have been built, almost all of the bids are in, which means hopefully in the next week or so I can sign off and let the work begin! Biggest change? Bringing down a wall to make an open kitchen and living room. I can hardly wait!

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 07/14/15

Shoppers Buy More Junk Food When They Bring Their Own Bags– Of course living in a city where you are pretty much required to bring your own bag everywhere you go, seeing this article sparked my interest. There are some pretty interesting facts in this short article. “They found that people are 13 percent more likely to buy organic products when they bring their own bags—and they’re also 7 percent more likely to buy junk food, such as chips and cookies.”

Too much to drink? Apps, devices could help-We use our smartphones for everything. Tracking our steps, how much we eat, where we are, so it only makes sense we would start to use them to track our booze intake. This article showcases some of the new technology and apps related to tracking alcohol consumption.

No More Red 40! General Mills Gets Rid of Artificial Coloring From Cereals– Just a quick article on how companies are moving away from artifical coloring and starting to use more real ingredients. It is about time.

In Defense of Fruit for Dessert-I really enjoyed reading this article. It takes the authors past and show’s how we can think about dessert outside of the normal cookies and cakes. I for one probably eat more fruit a day then a human should, but I just love the stuff!

How to make fruits and veggies last-Now that we go to the farmers market almost every week it is important to know how to store and take care of fresh produce. This article has some great tips, I for one am going to start practicing some of these when I get home.

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Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 07/05/15

Why We Get Sick and How To Get Well– I found Chris Kresser from my incredibly knowledgeable boyfriend. The more I read his stuff the more impressed I am. I for one started to see a holistic doctor last year as I felt I was not getting what I needed from my western doctor. Regardless of your opinion it is interesting to read.  “The modern diet, lifestyle, and environment affect the expression of our genes and lead to pathology, which in turn cause disease and symptoms in the patient.” “In conventional medicine, the focus is often on diseases and the symptoms; it works “from the outside in. In functional medicine, however, we work “from the inside out”.

How Caffeine Is Removed from Coffee– It was about 6 months ago I switched from drinking regular coffee to decaf only in an effort to help support a loved one kick the caffeine habit. I for one have never felt much of a “jolt” from caffeine. I could have a cup of joe right before bed and fall asleep just fine. Moving to decaf was not a problem, as long as I was able to continue to get that taste I loved so much then I was good. One thing I did find when I swapped though was how much better I started sleeping through the night. I used to wake up multiple times throughout the evening, but once I made the switch I woke up minimally. Currently after hearing some research that decaffeinated coffee might not be the best I am re-thinking, however I stumbled upon this article and thought it was interesting to share on how decaf becomes decaf.

Trick your brain to avoid ‘portion distortion’– Learning proper portion sizes and how to indulge appropriately are easier said then done. This article gives some tips on learning how to do proper portions. “Portion control isn’t about depriving yourself — it’s about eating just enough to stay fueled and full. The key to success: Don’t follow every tip about portion control that you hear. It’s really about finding the select techniques that fit your personality, sticking with them and enjoying the benefits.”

Don’t Worry So Much About Whether Your Food Is ‘Processed’– I for one even get confused on what “processed” food technically is. This article is just matter of fact, eat more fruit regardless. It is simple and easy to get. “I think it’s interesting, even the question ‘fresh versus processed’… as though they were opposites,” he said. “You can have something that’s fresh and processed and something that’s fresh and not processed.”

This Is How Your Face Changes After 30 Days of Drinking Water– I for one have been trying to drink more water. For my body and how much I work out I need 2-3 liters a day. Some days it is super easy, other days more challenging. I find if I am not keeping track then it is easy to not get enough. Not sure how credible pop sugar is, but after seeing this article it is making me become more religious about trying to drink more water.

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