5 Tips for Exercising Outdoors in the Dark

5 Tips for Exercising Outdoors in the Dark

We’re already competing with the sun as to who gets home from work faster. It’s doubtful we’ll ever win that race once the clocks roll back this Sunday. (If you haven’t already, mark your calendars for Daylight Saving Time on Nov. 2nd.) However, darkness doesn’t mean you need to take your evening workout indoors. In fact, preserving that fresh air facilitation could be the key to warding off any early winter blues. Research published in the Environmental Science & Technology shows outdoor exercise can significantly increase your energy while decreasing tension and depression. Plus, with temps beginning to cool down, there’s no better time to smile in the name of a mostly sweat-free workout.

From glowing apparel to safety tips and ticks, we’ve got your guide below for keeping your workout al fresco, so no need to head indoors just yet!

Run against traffic

1.  Move In the Right Direction

When you’re pumping those legs alongside moving cars, the general road rule is to bike with traffic and walk against traffic. This applies to all times of day, but is particularly important for non-daylight hours when drivers will have even more difficulty seeing you. Running against traffic allows cars to see you from afar, and for you to also see when they’re coming so you can move out of the way. To be on the safe side, you should wear reflectors on both sides of your body, but attach an extra one if possible to the front side of your shirt.  With biking, you’re generally moving a lot faster than you are when walking/running, so the reaction time for the driver to see you is shortened. This makes it better to move in their same direction, which means, be sure to have a reflector on your bike’s back side.

Running shoe reflectors

2.  Glow from Head to Toe
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Meatless Monday: Curry Harvest Soup

Curry Harvest Soup

Fall has fallen upon us, which means sweater, sweet potato, and soup season have all officially arrived! We love all three, especially that latter one, which we encourage you to add into your eat-clean-toolbox.

With the temps cooling down, it’s easy to slide away from light summer fare into heavier winter territory. However, jumbo sweaters are no excuse to add another layer to your diet or your tummy. Luckily with an arsenal of soup recipes on-hand, you can stay warm and satisfied without needing to take that path.

This particular recipe from our food blogging LifeVester Grace calls on an array of hearty harvest veggies to create a soup that’s both robust, yet light. That’s exactly the combination we recommend employing to stay slimming down and feeling good all throughout the season.

Perfect for both Meatless Monday and late October days when you want something a little warm and brothy, head on over to Grace’s blog for the recipe.

Then, as you continue to add more soup recipes to your eat-clean-toolbox, please share them with us! We’re suckers for soup, and would love to hear what’s filling your bowl.


14 Soup Recipes to Jumpstart 2014

“Lose weight.” Year after year, this remains the top ranking resolution made by goal-setters across the nation. Perhaps you’ve made that goal once or twice yourself. Maybe it tops your list every January. As part of the process towards becoming your healthiest self, it’s not a bad aspiration to lay out on the table. But lay it out, and spread it out, you must.

The hard truth is, 35% of us who make New Year’s resolutions break them by the end of the first month. And only 23% of everyone who makes a resolution will fully see it through to completion. So what’s the solution to sticking with your resolution? If you want to avoid putting the same goal on repeat every New Years, you need to break your objective down into small, achievable steps.

When it comes to losing weight, that means drawing up specific plans geared towards both your diet and exercise routine. What better place to start than in your soup bowl? We’re calling it your healthy eating soup-lution.

Whether striving to slim down or not, soup can be a great way to detox without feeling like you want to scream “more ice cream please.” We could all benefit from eating a bit healthier, and nowhere in that goal should depriving yourself be included. Juice diets? No thank you. At LifeVest, we’re all about drinking our juice, and having some soup, too. Check out these 14 soup recipes to jumpstart your 2014 in a warm & healthy, satisfying style. Consider making a plan to cook up one per week. Small steps like this can help you stick to your health-based goals, and make your big picture ideas come to life.

14 Soup Recipes to Jumpstart 2014

Soups to Jumpstart your New Year

Coconut Sweet Potato Spinach Soup via Many Kitchens

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Home Exercises for the Coldest of Days

Exercise at home

By Lizzie Meyers

About half the country has experienced record low temperatures in the past week. Chances are that these areas of the country are experiencing record low gym visits as well for this time of year. Unless you’re a penguin or some sort of snowshoe enthusiast, braving wind chills and icy roads to get to the gym is far from pleasant. Rather than calling it quits until the temperatures rise, keep up your fitness routine without even leaving the house. If you happen to live in a warm part of the country (lucky you!), and simply can’t stand the epic post New Years crowds, these tips will do you well, too.

Try these easy ways to stay active and toned without any equipment at all.

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Literally! Where better to jam out as wildly as you so desire than in the privacy of your home? Throw on your favorite tunes and dance for 30 minutes. Before you know it, you’ll be drenched in sweat and full of energy. Just make sure you really get into it for more cardio benefits, and of course, for more fun. Sometimes, the best workout is that which you’d never call “exercise”.

Lunge It for Lustier Legs

Find some open space in your house and do a few sets of lunges. Start with one set of 10 if you’re a beginner, as lunges can be quite a strenuous workout at first. Then, as it gets easier, work your way up with each additional workout.

For this exercise, you essentially will step one foot in front of the other as far as you can and bend the front leg without letting your front knee bend further than your front foot. I.e., when bending, strive to keep your front leg towards a 90-degree angle. The other leg stays straight behind you. Alternate legs as you lunge across the room. For muscle toning, hold weights in both arms. For more of a cardio fix, pick up the pace and lunge in place.

Weight Train with Household Items

Who needs weights or fancy machines? Likely you’re surrounded by tons of everyday items that vary in weight, so you take your pick as you see accordingly. Grab a bottle of laundry detergent, the orange juice carton in the fridge, or any other item that feels like the weight you are used to lifting and tone those arms the way you usually would at the gym.

Do Some Good Old-fashioned Crunches

I strongly believe that simple crunches are more effective than any abs machine at the gym. Crunches, sit ups, planks, the whole sha-ab-ang can really be done anywhere – all you need is a floor! So park your booty, and get to it.

Don’t let nasty weather conditions hold you back from staying in shape. At LifeVest, we’re not ones to love excuses, weather-oriented ones included. Try these simple, at-home exercises and by the time you get back to the gym, you’ll be able to easily pick back up from where you started. There’s no having to re-work back up your endurance when you don’t let yourself fall out of shape.


Staying Healthy in the Winter Months

The temperature slips, the layers start multiplying and the only thing taste buds crave are warm, heavy and hearty meals. Not to mention it’s dark before you even leave work so running outside is no longer an option. Staying active, happy and healthy in the colder months can be a real challenge but where there is a will (and a little bit of warmth) there’s a way.

Diet

The foods we eat are culturally defined and sure enough in the holiday seasons, our culture boasts about creamy desserts and salty, satisfying meals. We like to curl up with our hot chocolate by the fireplace because we were taught that is a treat, and we enjoy rich, baked goods with the entire family because that is what the holidays are about. But to every situation, the other side lies in the sciences. Are we eating because our mammalian bodies think they have to hibernate? Perhaps that’s part of the problem, it makes sense: store up for the cold winter months! But how does that even work? Fatty foods high in calories are harder to digest, meaning all that energy expenditure is keeping us all warm and fuzzy inside (well at least warm.)  So whether we crave Christmas cookies or mac and cheese every winter night, it’s probably due to the convenience, the culture and the carb craving mammal inside of all of us. Here are a couple of suggestions we have to stay healthy and hearty this winter.

  • Going for hot chocolate? Try dark hot chocolate, it has antioxidants that will keep you heart healthy.
  • Legumes are a great winter fruit that is full of fiber and you can make a nice hot meal out of it! So when its brisk outside and you need something to warm you up, try making soup with low sodium stock and use lots of legumes! It’s also a great way to add in spices and herbs that can keep you healthy. Lentil soup anyone? To stay healthy this winter, say ciao to chowder and welcome in the less creamier soups.
  • Breakfast! You know how important it is and there are great warm options like egg white omelets and steel cut oats with fruit! If you skip it, you might pick bad, convenient options later in the day when your metabolism has gone into ‘save’ mode. We know bagels are quick easy and awesome, but save those bready calories for a dessert cookie maybe? Idea- breakfast for dinner .
  • Must we say it again? DRINK YOUR WATER!
  • Lastly, winter offers amazing meals from winter veggies we don’t always get enough of and traditional holiday meals. Remember to make sure you are getting a variety, i.e, you’re getting more broccoli than cream in that broccoli cheddar soup.

Exercises and classes

There’s nothing better than when the sun has finally warmed the earth up enough to go for your first spring run outside in 5 months! But the time goes quickly and before you know it, the summer is over and it’s starting to get too dark for the outdoor runs. Winter offers a good time to get inside- inside to a gym! Fitness classes are finding their way onto refrigerator schedules, everywhere. Jump on the bandwagon and try something new! Classes like Zumba and ariel yoga are fun ways to get exercise in without it feeling like an obligatory work out. How about crossfit, it’s all the rage right now! If you aren’t into the whole group/instructor workout, pick up that article you marked months ago about ‘2 weeks to a better butt’ and finally try it out! Gyms have space available for you to squat, stretch, dance and dart around so you can do exercises without machines. And as always, we suggest fitting in those at home when-no-one-is-watching workouts like lunges while you’re brushing your teeth, or inclined push ups while you’re waiting for that whole grain pasta to boil.

Staying healthy 

Eating well and staying active is a great way to stay healthy, but when the incurable common cold is floating around at the gym, it may be hard to stay healthy. Vitamins are a good way to keep your immune system ‘fit’ as your body, so you can keep your winter sick days for a really great ski trip.

  • Vitamin D may be an important supplement for the winter months, since you don’t see the sun as much. It can be found in fatty fishes like salmon and also things like eggs and cheese. With the sun hiding behind the clouds all day and everyone trying to stay inside, it is hard to get vitamin D naturally in the winter so try getting it in your meals or take a supplement.
  • See Zinc pop up in medicines around winter time? It’s because zinc is the closest thing to a cold diffuser as we’ve got. The vitamin works by enhancing your immune system, so once again- you’re going to want these to stay well in the sick season.
  • Vitamin C is also important for a healthy diet. Remember getting sick and having orange juice shoved at you? It was for the vitamin C! Your body loves this supplement for it’s antioxidant benefits.

Activities 

The cold months offer plenty of activities that some of us don’t always think of. Take advantage of things like apple picking or haunted corn mazes. Big winter events like skiing and snowboarding are a lot of fun and a great work out- plan on being sore. Ice skating is another fun event you should make time for. Then after a cold day out on the rink or up on the mountain, you have a well deserved, guilt free, hot dark chocolate waiting for you.