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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Yoga, Sake, and a Night Club, Equals A Workout Party

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A couple of weeks ago I had a friend send me a link to a pop-up yoga event in the city wanting to know if I would be interested in checking it out with her. Upon looking at the title I saw pop-up vinyasa yoga followed by sake tasting and in less then a minutes I had already RSVP yes! My two favorite things in life, sweating and drinking together, well how could I resist.

The event was run by a VinyaSF, a group who hosts pop-up yoga events at various bars around the Bay Area. As their website states they are “An underground pop-up power yoga movement in San Francisco. Our goal is to create balance, fun, and community through awesome power yoga classes that change locations throughout the city a couple of times a month.” Personally I love this concept. There is something very liberating about bringing fitness to an unexpected place you would usually not associate with health, aka a dance club or bar. It reminds me of events my girlfriend back home used to do where she would teach yoga classes in Breweries. Which we named”Bend and Brew” after a night of brainstorming on good micro-beers.

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The event was on Wednesday night, which was perfect for a mid-week pick me up. Usually by Wednesday I am itching to do something with friends, but don’t always want to go out to dinner or drinks. Doing a yoga event with a friend was that perfect balance of still being healthy, but also getting some social time in. The class started at 6:30 at a bar in the SOMA district called Audio Night Club. I made sure to arrive a little early to get a spot and have time to catch up with my friend. Upon arriving I was greeted by a few very friendly ladies who signed me in along with giving me some free swag from Luna (chapstick and granola bars.) I am a sucker for free stuff and took this as an omen the event was going to be good. I headed up the stairs to the night club section with my girlfriend as we picked out a cozy spot on the dance floor to setup our mats.

The yoga class was 1 hour and 15 minutes, which I was nervous might feel like an eternity. We started off in typical fashion on our mats as the DJ started to get the music going. I have to say I ended up loving the music in this class. It was not the typical yoga mellow music where the goal is to make you relax and focus on being stress free. Instead it had an upbeat to it, which made you feel more suited to be in a dance club. The lighting was also a big selling point as they kept the red flashing lights going, so not the full on party mode of the club, but a nice change of pace.

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The class itself ended up being a pretty good yoga class with a perfect mix of strenuous moves balanced out with stretching. After having already worked out on the morning, I was not looking for a workout to completely kick my butt so this ended up being exactly what I had wanted. Our instructors were a couple of different girls who alternated giving us instructions throughout the class. Every now and again they would throw in a joke or something light hearted to make sure everyone was having fun and not taking themselves to seriously. As they said “In a few hours someone will be drunk right where you are doing your downward dog.”

I also really enjoyed the sense of community which was built throughout the class. The teachers did this by having us at one point reach out to one another and put our hands on each others shoulders as we lifted one of our legs behind us while trying to stay balanced. Something not typical, but it did make you feel connected to everyone around you.

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As we wrapped up I felt relaxed and at ease, however also ready for a drink! We made our way downstairs to the bar and proceeded to get our sake tasting on. Of course with everyone coming down all at once it ended up taking a while for us to get our drink. So by the time we were done with our first round of sake we were ready to call it a night and go home to eat dinner. I was starving and had started to fantasize about food during our last bit of stretching.

All in all I loved the experience! There is another event in May, which I might have to attend. One of my favorite things about living in San Francisco is exploring the new. Hopefully this is just one of the many new fitness experiences to come.

Yoga Sculpt followed by Spinning, Good Morning!

I had originally been signed up to go to Barry’s Bootcamp for my morning routine today, but due to an old back injury starting to flare up I decided running and jumping around would not be in my best interest. In the spirit of me trying to listen to my body more I decided to be spontaneous and try two new places this morning which would be more low impact on my back. Yes back to back new studios!

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First up was Yoga Sculpt at Hot Yoga Ocean Avenue. Class started at 6:00 am, which meant a nice 5:15 wake up call for me. Half asleep I got myself up and ready, then by 5:35 I was out the door and on the road. What I love about working out early in San Francisco is there is no traffic on the roads. You can zip from one side of the city to the other in no time. In a city only 7 miles by 7 miles you can get anywhere in about 15-20 minutes.

Parking was easy, I pulled right on up and was in the door with 5 minutes to spare. I setup my mat, grabbed my set of weights, and waited for the class to begin. The class was 45 minutes and it went by super fast! It was a great combination of stretching, yoga poses, cardio bursts, and weight lifting. I dont know if it was the workout or the fact I was moving around in a very heated room, but either way by the end of it I was sweating all over! Class was done at 6:45 and I quickly grabbed my mat to run out the door to head over to a spinning class which started at 7:00. This class was 8 minutes away so I was cutting it close on time.

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At 6:55 I pulled up to Fit Glen Fit located in Glen Park, a cute neighborhood I had never spent much time in. I was able to park right out front again, which was the only way I was able to pull this double workout off. I jumped out of the car and made my way into the studio. I had only been here once before back in November so I was excited to give this place another try. What I love about this spot is the neighborhood vibe it invokes. If there was a Cheers Bar of gyms this would be it.

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The spinning room is located in the back of the gym, a bright and warming space. There are only a handful of bikes, but it was the perfect amount for a pleasant and intimate class.  The instructor Claudine had a bright smile and a demeanor making you feel like you had been friends for years. Instead of setting her bike up in front of us, she jumped on a bike in the middle, a rider like the rest of us, guiding us through our ride. I appreciated the change and felt like I was riding with a group of friends instead of just sitting in a class being instructed on what to do next.

The spinning part of class was 45 minutes. Claudine had a good mix of music and varied up the routine from sitting, to standing, to hills, and sprints. It was a perfect sweat, not too hard, but not super easy either. The last 15 minutes of class was devoted to ab work on the floor, which was a nice active cool down.

Upon finishing my morning I walked over to the neighborhood market to explore what it had to offer. I could walk around a grocery store forever if I had the time. Next I grabbed coffee at the little shop around the corner, again another local neighborhood spot I was proud to have found. Although I was still in San Francisco, being in 2 completely new areas made me feel like I was on a little pleasant vacation. It is amazing how rejuvenated you can feel just by switching up your workout routine, trying a new studio, and being in a new area.  All I know is this routine might just have to be duplicated next week!

A New Love, Perhaps an Obsession….

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Yes it is true, I have a new love, well maybe more of an obsession. I might even go as far as to say it could become an addiction. What is it? Well my first hint is it deals specifically with group fitness classes, however before I reveal  I am going to be honest here. There was a small part of me that was debating on whether to share this new amazing site out with everyone. I felt this small inclination of protectiveness with what I had just recently found and a small part of me that wanted to be selfish, to keep it all to myself. I felt like I had this special secret no one else had, I wanted to protect it.  After some quick internal debate however I decided this is something too good to not share with my fellow health and fitness enthusiasts. Plus anything that will help others to be more active needs to be shared.

So again what is it? Well it is a website called Class Pass which for $100 a month you can go to a huge variety of different fitness studios in your area and try all sorts of various types of workout classes. As the website says “ClassPass is an alternative to a gym membership. With ClassPass, you get access to the best boutique fitness classes in your city. There are over 1,000 classes available to ClassPass members, including cycling, pilates, yoga, strength training, dance, martial arts, and more.  For $99 a month, ClassPass members get unlimited classes to use at studios in the ClassPass network. While a member can take as many classes per month as they’d like, they can only visit the same studio 3 times per month.”

At dinner with a girlfriend last week she told me about the site and I of course went home, slightly tipsy, and immediately joined. My girlfriend had warned me that when you ask to join they will first do a little teaser where there is no open spots and you have to get on a “wait-list.” Once they have space they will let you know. Well then a few days later you get in. You have 48 hours to accept the invitation and join. Once you do, then you get to let the fun begin. I got my invite to join Monday morning and of course by the early afternoon I was already signed up for a yoga class to try. Had I already been to a spinning class that morning, yes. Was I going to let that stop me, no. Of course I also had my workout’s planned and already booked for most of the week, but how could I pass up going to more classes for free? What is a girl to do. Well this girl ended up doing a little bit of double dipping, one class in the morning and one at night. I made sure to focus my night classes on more stretching and less vigorous activity. It needed to compliment what I was doing in the morning, not add on a lot more working out, otherwise that would not be sustainable.

So far I love the concept although I will be honest their website has a few little flaws. The one I find the most annoying is it is not mobile optimized, so you cant actually book anything from your phone since they have a pop up you have to click to confirm and on your phone the screen is too small and the pop up does not shrink down. It is the E-commerce side in me coming out.  I also ran into a little issue with canceling one class to re-book another and had to e-mail the customer service. They got back to me the next morning, which was great. However I then ended up not being able to sign up for the class I wanted as it was full. I ended up actually calling that studio directly since you can try your first class for free with them anyways and got added in that way.

Now my plan is to report out on all of the different studios I try out and give the scoop on the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am not going to lie, it is a little intimidating the idea of trying so many new places and different types of workouts. But I am all about pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. This morning it was spinning in Oakland and tomorrow it is TRX in the city. Stay tuned!

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 9/21/14

Off the Drugs, Onto the Cupcakes– This article discusses how addicts when entering rehabilitation centers are comforted and eased off of their addiction through sweets and other highly palatable foods. Through this end up trading one addiction for another.  On the flip the article also touches on how when people want to lose weight  quickly they will start adding in stimulants like coffee in order to keep from over eating. With the new research coming out on how sugar affects the brain, some rehabilitation centers are looking at overhauling their nutrition program.  “But though sweets may have eased some people’s drug cravings, many ended up “transfer addicting” from their substance of choice to sugar.”

Walking, Biking to Work May Benefit Mental Health– This article is short and sweet. Essentially research is finding people have a much healthier state of mind when they either bike, walk, or use public transportation to get to work opposed to driving.

When You Can’t Afford Sleep– Personally I found this article very impactful. I think we can sometimes get so involoved with our own lives it is hard to stop and think about what some of America has to go through in order to just feed their family.  “Though Americans across the economic spectrum are sleeping less these days, people in the lowest income quintile, and people who never finished high school, are far more likely to get less than seven hours of shut-eye per night. About half of people in households making less than $30,000 sleep six or fewer hours per night, while only a third of those making $75,000 or more do.”

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose A Side– This video is just funny. It takes two workout’s that people have very strong affiliations with and talks about each of them. How does one choose which one to do? You are picking more then a workout, but an identity. Enjoy!

For Posterior’s Sake– Plain and simple this article focuses on the rear end, butt, or derriere along with the emerging popularity of enhancing it among women. Women are focusing in on their glutes like they never have before. “When I was growing up, everyone wanted to look like skinny, bony girls. Over time, butts have become a thing.”

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Photo from Huff Post

Things I am Loving- Colorado Edition

This past week for the first time in the 8 years I have been with my company I was able to go to Denver, Colorado for a work trip! Nothing like being able to fly home for free and see friends and family. My meetings were only for 2 days, so I took a day off and had a long weekend with my family.

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My meeting’s were held at the Denver Convention center just down by 16th street mall. It was so nice to be at a hotel within walking distance of where we were meeting. I have been in a lot of convention centers over the years, but never one quite as big as this place. Also did I mention the giant bear looking in. Not something you see everyday, but I have to say it put a smile on my face every time I passed by. The highlight of the meeting was a special guest performance from Leann Rimes, which was entertaining even though she is not my favorite artist out there.

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After my first day of meetings I went to dinner with my dear friend Kerstin at a restaurant called the Squeaky Bean. We split a cheese plate, a side of brussels sprouts, and an amazing seaweed salad. Overall the food was fantastic, but more like San Francisco pricing and portions. I left still feeling like I needed a little bit more to eat. Luckily the next place we grabbed a drink had a bread basket, so I went to bed feeling full and content.

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After my meetings were complete my longest and closest friend Kristen made the hour drive up to Denver to pick me up before heading back home to Colorado Springs. We did our usual tradition of breweries and salads. On this sunny, summer afternoon we made it over to Great Divide my favorite brewery in all of Colorado, along with the Denver Beer Company. I really wanted to try the Graham Cracker Porter at the Denver Beer Company, but alas it was not on tap. This place had a great vibe and ambiance. It was just a shame their beer was lack luster.

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The following day I went to lunch with my parents at an  adorable restaurant in downtown Colorado Springs called Shuga’s. Now I am going to be honest here…….Colorado Springs food is not amazing. After living in San Francisco for so long, I have become more of a food and beverage snob. Yes I hate to admit it, but it is true. At least now being in my thirties I can accept where I have become picky. Food is one of those things, if I am going to pay to eat somewhere I am going to love it.

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With all of that said, I have to say Shuga’s is amazing! And not just for Colorado Springs. If it were in San Francisco I would say the same. Walking into the restaurant you automatically get this hip, throw back vibe. Who knew there was such a young, eclectic crowd lurking around. My mom and I split a cuban sandwich and I got a cup of the spicy brazilian coconut shrimp soup. My dad ordered the tomato soup with the Brie and Apple bruschetta toast.

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Just one bite of the cuban and my mouth immediately was enthralled by all of the different flavors. It had roasted pork, black forest ham, swiss cheese, dill pickle, garlic citrus mustard, and all of this deliciousness grilled on a french loaf bread. Lastly there was some sea salt sprinkled on top just for that extra flavor pop. This is one of the best sandwiches I have eaten in a long time. In fact I am still thinking about it and craving it.

Image-0Of course while on my trip I had my daily workout routine still in motion. One morning Kristen and I did back to back yoga classes at Core Power Yoga. We started off with an hour long yoga sculpt class where you use free weights while doing your poses and add in blasts of cardio in between sets. Think jumping jacks, burpees, and high knees. All of this is done in a hot room just in case you were not going to sweat enough as is. The class was awesome, hard, and you would have thought you had just done 2 hours of spinning after walking out. After yoga sculpt Kristen and I did an hour of regular vinyasa yoga, still challenging, but nothing compared to what we just had done. The best part is since it was my first time my classes were free and I received a week long pass. They have locations in the bay area, but nothing close to where I live so unfortunately I was not able to go again.

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All in all it was a great trip for work, friends, and family. I came home feeling re-freshed and ready to start a new week. Although I am already looking forward to my next trip home.

Wanderlust- A day of bending, stretching, and yoga in the park

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Saturday one of my dear friends Jaclyn arranged a day of fun and yoga in the sun at the Wanderlust Yoga in the City Festival down on the Marina Green in San Francisco. Now you might be asking yourself what is Wanderlust? Wanderlust is a yoga festival where the core mission is to create a community around mindful living and leading a healthy life. This is done through focusing on practicing yoga first and foremost, eating well, building purpose, mindfulness, and self awareness while also enjoying music and art. The festivals are offered in 4 day retreats, single day retreats, or the city experience where it brings a taste of the festival to us city dwellers for an afternoon.

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Jaclyn and I decided to do the first class of the day which started at 12:30. Two local yoga teachers alternated teaching through the hour long class, with one instructing the first 30 minutes followed by the second.  Staring across the green grass yogi’s and their mats were lined up in rows upon rows facing towards the front of the stage.  The instructor would speak into the microphone overhead giving out commands and directing us into the desired poses. Tranquil music played in the background creating a relaxing environment.

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Now it has been a little while since I have practiced yoga and with the wind from the bay stronger then ever it created a whole new challenge. Let’s just say I found holding my poses to be not as graceful as I would have hoped.  Our teacher kept encouraging us to be in the moment, to embrace the outdoors, and be one with our environment. I tried my best, but when your mat keeps flying up and hitting you in the leg it makes mindfulness a little more difficult.

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When the hour class was all said and done and I was lying on my back, my arms and legs spread out, eyes closed, and was breathing deeply in the marina air, I finally felt relaxed and one in the moment. So ultimately I think I achieved what Wanderlust had set out for it’s intention, a day of focusing on myself and enjoying being outside.

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After we finally made our way up from Shavasana we decided to go check out the vendor’s and sponsor’s booths. Now let me just say I love swag. Any kind of free stuff whether it is a key chain, t-shirt, or sample of food it will always makes me happy. This event had some great sponsor’s who really went all out. Kashi was offering bowls of cereal and milk (which we know I am addicted to) along with granola bars for an after yoga food fix, Health had free magazines of their latest issue for everyone to take, and resource water had huge bottles of water and very soft and stylish t-shirts. All in all I made out like a bandit!

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Wanderlust in the city is not exclusive to San Francisco, so I highly recommend going and checking their website out to see if there is an event coming near you. It is a free and you cant beat a day in the sun with like minded people, all serving a purpose of connecting with yourself and nature.