Tag Archives: exercise

Time-Saving Tricks for the Busy Lady: Exercise, Cooking & More

25 Oct

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I’m a big fan of doing things that save me time. After all, my time (and your time) is precious so why complicate life any further by doing things that are going to take away our time? When you find yourself saying, “Now if only I had more time in the day…” ,”I just have no time to_____” or “I’m soooooo busy with my new job. I never have any time!” first of all, stop. You are being annoying, and it’s not true. You do have time; really I promise you do. And second of all, maybe it’s time to reconsider how you are are spending your time and do something about it! If you’re anything like me, you want to relish every waking hour, minute and second of your day, so here are some time-saving tricks for the busy lady who “doesn’t have any time”. 

Save Time During Your Workout: This is something a whole lot of people struggle with. “I don’t have time to go to the gym, so I just won’t go,” is something I hear every day. Do you really not have any possible time to squeeze in a workout, or do you just not have time to take two hours out of your day? News flash: workouts don’t have to be marathon sessions! In fact, short and sweaty wins the race in most cases.

Take today for example. I had a lot to do, but still wanted to give my body a good workout, so I incorporated strength training with cardio intervals into one quick, 45-minute workout. The entire round trip (including transportation) took less than an hour. Now, that’s what I call efficient. I used to think I had to live at the gym for two hours at a time (including an hour just for cardio alone) to see results, but now I’ve transformed my routine drastically. Today I did a metabolism-boosting workout I tore out of Women’s Health magazine that you can find here. (I like the Tabata method best.) With quick movements and little resting time, I was dripping in sweat in no time, a feeling that I absolutely adore. I love, love, looove challenging my body in new ways, and that’s exactly what this workout did for me. I concluded with five fast ‘n’ furious minutes on the step mill, with 10 minutes of intervals (15 second sprint followed by 30 seconds moderate) on the elliptical. I was in and out of there in 45 minutes. How’s that for time-saving? 

Save Time in the Morning: You know when you wake up for work and you want to smash your alarm clock then go into monster-mode for the next hour? Well, what if I told you you could have up to 60 additional minutes of sleep? Sounds pretty tempting now, doesn’t it? There are a few things you can do in the evening to shed time off your morning get-ready scramble:

  • shower at night (-up to 30 minutes if you let your hair air-dry)
  • pack a lunch before bed, something my roommates are experts at (-5 to 10 minutes and hundreds of calories from buying lunch at work)
  • set your coffee pot on automatic the night before (-3 minutes OR 15 minutes if you’re one to stop on the way to work…the lines at Starbucks these days are insane!)
  • take it back to middle school days and lay out an outfit (-up to 30 minutes on “I look fat” / “Nothing looks good on me” days)
  • make a quickie breakfast, instead of stopping for bagels, like oatmeal ‘n’ organic nut butter or a healthy smoothie with banana, berries, soy milk and protein powder. (-15 minutes from bagel detour, -150 calories, + a whole lot-o’ energy) 

Save Time in the Kitchen: I know a lot of people who moan that they don’t have time to cook, and end up settling for take-out or frozen meals. But guess what, you do have time to cook if you cook it right! The biggest misconception people have is that cooking has to be complicated and time-consuming. But it most definitely does not. I am living proof of that because most of my (extremely healthy meals) take less than 15 minutes to prepare! Nothing painful about that. Some of my faves?

  • Chop up a bunch of veggies like zucchini, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and asparagus, put them in a baking dish, drizzle on salt and olive oil, pop ’em in the oven and roast for 30 minutes on 400 degrees. 
  • Bake a sweet potato and top with agave & cinnamon (for sweet) or olive oil, cajun and red pepper flakes (for spicy). Pair with brown rice or a big, fun salad.
  • Speaking of salads, jazz up a boring salad with avocado, walnuts, tomatoes, feta cheese, apple bits, pear, and even tofu! Buy whatever is in season in the supermarket, then have fun with your salads…get creative!
  • Sauté chicken or salmon with a little olive oil, lemon, dill/rosemary/other herbs you have on hand. I also LOVE topping salmon with plain greek yogurt mixed with dijon mustard and dill. The greek yogurt is a perfect substitute for mayo! 
  • Sauteed veggies in garlic! Garlic makes any dish extra delish. Add the veggies to a salad, some brown rice or whole grain pasta or enjoy on their own!
  • Breakfast for dinner: Make an egg white omelet with 2 egg whites whisked with a little water, mushrooms, onions, spinach and some low fat cheddar or feta cheese. Serve with a piece of ezekiel toast with Smart Balance butter , some grapefruit wedges and even some turkey bacon! (Mmm)
  • Take a trip to Trader Joe’s! They always have delicious, ready-to-go healthy meals. My favorites are their packaged rissotto (takes about 5 minutes to cook), frozen mahi burgers (you can grill or saute stove-top), and ready-to-go sushi & salads. 
  • Have fun with lean ground turkey-form into burgers or cook in with zucchini and onion and cajun seasoning for a zesty dinner

To save even more time in the kitchen, try cooking your meals ahead of time and storing them in the freezer. That way, you can have a meal ready to go for you and your family instead of worrying about cooking all night long. I understand, you’re tired and not in the mood. Also look into places near you that make pre-packaged healthy meals, like my recent post on Healthy Habits Kitchen. 

What do you do to save time throughout the day? Do you hear yourself saying, “I don’t have time” more often than not? 

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Let it Out: Exercise is the New Drug

12 Oct

I have a confession: I don’t get angry much but last night I was fuming. I won’t go into details about why/who/what caused my anger, but let’s just say my blood was boiling. I guess anger wouldn’t even really describe it; pissed, shocked, stunned, steaming may be better words. I was actually shaking…literally. All I wanted to do was go for a run (but I had already done that before the anger came on and it was now too dark outside). Then I thought about kickboxing and realized that too was not rational at the moment. 

So I took a deep breathe (or 15), stood in the shower for a loooong time just thinking, made some hot tea, heated up my corn bag (it’s this homemade heating pad I’m obsessed with) and went to bed. Everything would be fine in the morning, right? Wrong. I had one of those *good* dreams where you wake up and realize shit, it was just a dream, hence already started my morning on the wrong foot. I woke up still feeling on edge (to the max), and that’s when I decided it was time to let my aggression out. No, I didn’t punch anyone (although I coulda) or down vodka (wayyy to early for that).

Instead, I booked it to the gym for an early morning cardio strenth training class. If this doesn’t help I don’t know what will. When the extremely ripped instructor told me to grab two sets of weights, a weighted bar, four stacked blocks for stepping, resistance bands, and sliders, I knew I’d come to the right class. This was going to be one long and sweaty session…right up my alley! I lunged like I’d never lunged before, I grape-vined like it was my job, I challenged my body, and I pushed myself to the limits. I was sweating, out of breath and in the zone. 

Once the class ended, I felt like a brand new woman. The power of exercise is unreal. It’s like a drug, one that’s extremely good for you! I walked out of the gym feeling terrific, shaking my ass down the street, admiring my toned arms and feeling good. It’s funny because when I woke up this morning I was feeling quite the opposite (even though I was the same old Rachel), but just 60-minutes of exercise gave me a brand new outlook. 

The anger has now passed and I’m feeling absolutely fabulous, ready to take on the day! Lesson learned? Next time I get all angry and fuming, I’m going to sweat it out, blast some Paula Abdul or Madonna and punch, kick, crunch, jumping-jack, lunge my anger away (even if it is midnight and the rest of the apartment building is sleeping). It’s so worth it. 

Hidden Benefits of Running: It’s More than Burning off that Cake

11 Oct

I have to admit: up until this year I absolutely hated running, but I did it. I ran to lose weight, to burn off my dinner, and to look good in my bikini. I’d force myself to go on group runs with my roommates, even though every stride was absolutely painful. I hate this. But I have to keep going, I’d think to myself.

It wasn’t until this year that I began to enjoy running. The weekend of my grandmas funeral, I was filled with a bajillion emotions: anger, confusion, pain, rage, and I don’t know what got into me but I laced up my sneakers and hit the road. It was a beautiful spring day in Boston, and the temperature was in the low 70s. While normally I’d want to quit before the first mile, I simply couldn’t stop this day. I ran and I ran and I ran, letting out all my emotions on the road. I ran three miles that day, and never felt so alive.

Ever since then I’ve used running as an outlet, a way to explore and understand myself. I’ve realized running is so much more than looking good in that tight dress and burning off the extra cookie you snuck at lunch. While it doesn’t hurt that running helps burn off some fat, I’ve come to realize that running is so much more than that. Alas, I share with you some of my secret running benefits

1. Admiring Other Active People: When I’m running, I love checking out all the people I stride by. I constantly find myself thinking, “Damn, her arms are nice,” “I love that top,” or “Boy is he cuteeeee.” It’s fun to observe other athletic people like yourself hitting the pavement, especially in the city of Boston where I swear people run outside from sunrise to sunset. 

2. Discovering Hidden Gems: I can’t count the number of amazing places I’ve discovered while on my long runs. From mom & pop shops, spas and trendy cafes to beautiful farms and parks, there are a number of hidden gems I never would have known about if it weren’t for my love of running. 

3. Mental to-do Lists: While running, I mentally jot down all the things I need to do, whether it be grocery shopping lists or little goals I have for the week. It saves time and paper when you organize things out in your head! (Need: apples, peanut butter, trip to the bank, new fall outfit) 

4. Creativity Spark: On that note, my creative juices tend to flow best during a good, long run. I come up with some of my craziest, most inspiring ideas while on the road, and then I write them down as soon as I get home so that I won’t forget. Sometimes I wish my brain would write everything down for me so I wouldn’t have to do all the work! (It’s hard to multi-task!) I’ve come up with most of my blog posts while on the run, including this very one you’re reading right now. 

5. Erasing a Bad Day: Whenever I’m having a bad day/stuck in a rut/feeling sorry for myself/feeling lonely and “extra-single” I go for a run, and by the time I get back I usually have an entirely new mindset. Running is refreshing and can give you a new perspective about things that may seem like THE END OF THE WORLD, when in reality they are just trivial issues. 

6. Familiarize Yourself With Your Pod: When I put my iPod on shuffle, I discover tons of music I never knew I had! From oldies and country to rap and reggae, I like to run to all kinds of beats. Today my faves included “Satisfaction” (Benny Benassi), “Ridin’ Solo”  (Jason DeRulo), “There Goes the Fear” (Doves), and “It’s the Same Old Song” (Four Tops). Told ya, I like random! 

7. Post-Run Glow: I LOVE how I look after a run: glowing, red face, healthy, sweaty, strong. 

8. Appreciating the Outdoors: Before running, I’d go on walks occasionally, but that was pretty much my only dose of fresh air for the day. Now I’m outside nearly every day, soaking up the beautiful weather, feeling the breeze blow through my hair and smelling the fresh scents of fall. 

Do you enjoy running? What are some of the reasons you absolutely love lacing up those sneaks for a nice, sweaty run? 

Get Rid of That Guilt: Why Skipping a Workout is OK

9 Sep

This morning, I got up early and headed out to meet my friend at Starbucks for…wait for it…PUMPKIN SPICED LATTES! Yes, they are indeed back and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Not only do I love the flavor, but it makes me ecstatic for the fall season: pumpkins, running outside, not sweating in my 100+ degree apartment, kettle corn, hayrides, apple picking… Seriously, I could go on forever. 

Anyway, as we chatted over our absolutely delicious “fall in a cup” lattes in the park, my friend admitted to something: she felt guilty for skipping her morning run. “I woke up early so I could run before work and then just laid around the house and didn’t do it. Now I’m going to feel guilty the rest of the day.” As I took another sweet slurp of my latte, I reflected on how I’ve been there a million times in the past. Whether I wasn’t “in the mood” to go for a run or skipped a cardio class at the gym due to pure laziness, it’s hard not to feel a little guilty when you skip a workout. I remember in college if I didn’t go to the gym for an hour each day or missed out on my weekly cycling class, I’d completely beat myself up over it. I’m lazy. I’m fat. Now I’m going to gain weight. I may as well not eat for the rest of the day. I should have just gone to the gym. Negative thoughts would haunt me for the rest of the day. Therefore, I’d force myself to exercise on days my body wasn’t feeling it, and skip out on fun dates with friends in order to go to the gym. Looking back now, it’s completely pathetic that I put so much emphasis on my psychotic workout plan.

Now, my mindset has completely changed. I don’t let myself feel guilty anymore because if I decide not to work out, I don’t think of it as a bad thing. The phrases skipping or giving up have such negative connotations to them. It’s not like you gave up on eating healthy forever or decided to drop out of school. It’s one workout for Pete’s sake! Therefore now when I choose not to do a workout, I think of it as just that. This was my decision. My body wasn’t feeling it at the time. I’m going to go with what my body tells me to do, rather than meeting my expectations. 

Once you have this mindset, you’ll never feel guilty about missing a workout again. In fact, I decided to skip  opt out of my morning run yesterday, and ended up having the most fabulous, healthy day because of it. I was able to make a hearty breakfast, do 20 minutes of morning yoga, and go for a long walk with my friend later in the afternoon. Sure I didn’t sweat a bunch or torch hundreds of calories, but I felt good about it and made the right decision for that day. On the other hand, I will be going on a 5 mile run this evening and couldn’t be more excited about it. I’m excited to challenge my body, see what my time will be and run in this gorgeous fall weather. However, if I happened to not be feeling it at the time of my run, I’d chose to do something else and would move on with it. It’s all about listening to your body. 

After all, working out shouldn’t be a chore; you should feel motivated and inspired by it! Whenever friends complain about going to the gym or talk about “forcing” themselves to go, I tell them to stay home and do something else, or go for a long walk to sort things out. If you’re feeling miserable and dragging yourself to exercise, it’s NOT going to be a good workout. And let me tell you: 25 minutes on the elliptical at a slow “I-don’t-want-t0-be-here” pace is going to do nothing for your body or overall weight management efforts. Our bodies need a break once in a while after all. And if you’re someone who exercises nearly every day, the occasional rest day is more than OK; in fact it’s good for your health. We don’t want to overwork our bodies now, do we? 

So to wrap things up: next time you find yourself feeling guilty about “skipping” a workout, try to listen to your body and think about what’s right for you. If you really are just being lazy, give it a few minutes and see how you feel, or start by just going for a walk and begin running if you feel like it (not ’cause you HAVE to). However, if you really do just need a day of rest, take one guiltlessly. There is always tomorrow and one little missed workout is not going to make the slightest difference on your overall healthy lifestyle (I wish I had known this in college). Trust me. 

How to Charge Through a Morning Workout (Or Any Workout) Pain-Free

1 Sep


I’m a morning person. I always have been. My roommates in college used to envy the fact that I could wake up right when the sun came up perkier than ever. They also used to loathe the fact that I’d stomp around the apartment with my sneakers slamming cabinets and shuffling around pots and pans to make my morning omelet, as they tried to get their beauty sleep (sorry girls!) So yes, I’ll admit that getting up in the morning is a tad easier for me than the average human being.

However, I am not Superwoman and I too have my days where I want to throw my Blackberry out the window as the annoying alarm rings in my ear. Take this morning for instance. I set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. because I wanted to get my morning run over with before the horrendous 100-degree weather hit. However, I was angry when I heard my alarm go off this morning. Not only did it interrupt a good dream (don’t you hate that?) but I also was not ready to get up. So I sat there for a few seconds debating whether I should go back to sleep or not, and decided to rip the Band-Aid off. Yes, the first few seconds are painful, but once I sprung out of bed I was good to go. Then when I put on my running outfit and sneaks, I knew there was no turning back!

So, no I wasn’t born with super powers, nor do I have any magical advice to give you on how to get yourself going in the morning. But I do have some motivational tips that’ll help you make it through a tough workout painlessly.

1. Spring Out of Bed: As I already mentioned before, getting out of bed is the hardest part, then the rest is a piece of cake! Do whatever you need to do in order to move your body from your comfy cloud-like mattress to a standing position. I use the “rip the Band-Aid off” method, where I give myself a few seconds of recuperating then just jump up before I can talk myself out of it.

Thinking about how great I’ll feel AFTER my workout also helps me get through the initial doubts. Just think: if you go back to bed you’ll already waste a few hours of your day, and probably won’t end up achieving your goals for the day. Just take the day on my friend…really you won’t regret it!

2. Fuel Up! Confession: I didn’t listen to my own advice this morning, and boy do I regret it. Before you set out, make sure you’re properly fueled. First things first: drink a good amount of water before you head out. Then, eat something small yet substantial that’s going to get you through your workout. An apple with some natural peanut butter, Greek yogurt, piece of toast, protein bar, or half of a fruit smoothie all work. Eat something small that you know your stomach can handle. Then when you return from your workout, you can dive into something more filling.

3. Set a Goal… It’s always good to have some sort of goal in mind, whether it’s going a certain distance, doing a certain amount of reps at the gym, or trying a new yoga class. Today my goal was to run another 5 miles, as I hit the 5-mile mark last week and wanted to see if I still had it goin’ on. Alas, I mapped out a route and set off to see where my legs would take me…

4.…But Don’t Take Your Goal Too Seriously: Goals are always great, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve what you set out to do. Today was HOT out. Yes, even at 7:30 a.m. the temperature was already nearly 90 degrees. (So much for beating the heat). Anyway, midway through my run I had to re-access whether running the full five miles was right for my body. I thought about stopping and walking the rest (around mile four) but realized that my breathing was in control and another mile was definitely doable, so I simply slowed down my pace.

Sure, I didn’t run the five miles in record-breaking time, however I DID IT and felt amazing afterward! Had I felt faint or dehydrated, I would have stopped and felt OK about that. It’s all about listening to your body, and not pushing yourself beyond what you’re comfortable with.

5. Take Advantage of Mind Tricks: I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes exercise can be strenuous and downright painful. That’s when I start playing tricks with my mind. If you know you still have another three miles to go (or another 30 minutes in a challenging group fitness class), thinking about it (and looking at the clock every 10 seconds) is going to drive you absolutely crazyyyyy.

Instead, play mind tricks. Today I blocked out any discouraging thoughts, and instead started thinking about what I was going to do the rest of the way. All the sudden, I was half way around the loop again without even thinking about it. I also like to look at the smaller picture; that is when I’m running a far distance, I’ll use street signs or telephone poles as different benchmarks. That way, instead of thinking about an ADDITIONAL THREE MILES, I’ll take it one sign at a time. Music also helps get your mind off the struggle, which leads me to my next point…

6. Jam Out: Seriously, I don’t know how people exercise without amazing tunes to go with it. But I suppose if you aren’t an Ipod person, chatting with a friend, watching the TV at the gym, or listening to the surrounding noise helps—any distractions really! But if you’re like me, I like my jams, and lately I’ve been really feeling my newest playlist, “Workout Baby.”

I recently downloaded “I Like it” by Enrique Iglesias (feat. Pitbull) and absolutely love it. Actually that’s an understatement. Confession: I played it THREE times during my run this morning; that’s how obsessed with it I am. So, download some new tunes, have your hip, music-obsessed friend burn you a few CD’s. I’m telling you: new, upbeat songs can make all the difference during your next workout.

Hope this helps! Please share your personal motivating tips that help you charge through…

The Healthy, No Fuss Guide to a First Date

18 Aug

So, I’m going on a date tonight and I have to say I’m quite excited. Hey, dates are fun. While some of my friends (whose names I won’t mention) get nervous, sweaty and, well, gassy, before a first date (HA), I think about other things. “What do I eat? What will I wear? What do I order? How much do I drink? I’m a “light weight” these days…what if I get too drunk? Will I look OK? He’s older then me…what will he think of me?” Seriously, that’s what is going through my mind right now and it’s not even 9 a.m. OK, I’m exaggerating a tad, but really these are things you need to think about ladies. Alas, here is my quick-fix Healthy Chicks guide to a first date. Hope you enjoy!

What to eat the day of the big date:
Yes, what you eat the day of a date really does affect the way you look and feel that evening. Let’s just put it this way: today is definitely not the day to try out that sugary coffee you’ve been eying, or order the burger at lunch. No, no, no. Today you must be cautious so you feel like a complete babe later on. This means cut back on sugar, sugar substitutes, refined starchy carbs, extra salt, sodas or other fizzy drinks, hefty meals, and even sugar-free gum. These are all things that make you feel BLOATED and no one wants to feel bloated right before a night out in the city. I packed my bag for work accordingly so that I can feel extra-good tonight.

Breakfast=2 pieces Ezekiel toast with 1 TB smart balance butter; 1 egg mixed with 1 egg white, cup of black coffee (I wanted my breakfast to be filling, so I went with 2 pieces of sprouted grain toast served with an egg+ egg white for ultimate protein, then obviously coffee for my caffeine fix)

Snack=ANOTHER iced coffee+ banana (The first coffee didn’t quite do it for me so I picked another one up at Dunkin’ on my way to work for an extra kick (iced with a little skim, no sugar)…and gotta love fresh fruit in the morning, but this would be even better topped with all natural peanut butter or almond butter!)

Lunch=Lemon Zest Luna bar with Clementine (I chose a light lunch today because I know I’ll be drinking and probably eating appetizers later, plus the Luna bar is great for protein. Not to mention, it’s packed with calcium, folic acid, vitamin D, and iron, all super good nutrients for women.)

Afternoon snack=large bowl of pineapple topped with Greek yogurt and cinnamon (for a sweet ‘n’ fresh afternoon pick-me-up)

Dinner*=large salad with fresh spinach, feta cheese and lots of fresh veggies drizzled in olive oil and lemon (skipping the salt this time in my salad so I can feel bloat-free) *If you are going out to dinner, order what you want and eat until you’re full. If you loooove salads and grilled chicken, get one. If you’re a steak girl, go for it baby! Just take into account how it’s going to make your body feel later on, and if you’re having lots of cocktails cut down on the high-cal dinner options. For me, I usually get a fresh salad, grilled chicken or a seafood entree and skip the fried or carby entrees because they upset my stomach due to my gluten intolerance. So, eat what you know your body can handle…do your body good.

How to Make Sure You Have Enough Time:

If you’re like me, I like to get in a kick-butt sweaty workout session the day of a date. It not only makes me feel fabulous, but it also works wonders on your confidence. Since I knew I wouldn’t have time nor want to exercise after work, I decided to get it over with in the morning. Yes, I woke up at 6 a.m. and forced my butt to the gym. While getting out of bed was a little bit of a struggle, I couldn’t have felt better once I was there. I went for a quick yet sweaty workout since I knew I only had 45 minutes, an hour at most. I started with 25 minutes of intervals on the elliptical, alternating 30 second full-out sprints with a minute of steady paced jogging. Once I was dripping in sweat, I knew I did something right. After all, that’s the goal. After I spend the next 20 minutes or so doing weighted lunges and squats, mixed with shoulder exercises (overhead press, shoulder presses, etc). I then jogged home to end my workout the right way!

Also, if you have time in the morning, pick out your outfit ahead of time. Yes, I know it sounds a little Elementary school-ish, but no one likes to be running around last minute like a chicken with their head cut off. I mentally decided what I’m going to wear tonight so it’s in my mind. That way, when I get home from work, I can eat dinner and get ready without all the last minute hustle bustle.

What to wear:

It’s always good to be aware of what kind of place you are going to before your date. Luckily this time I know exactly where I’m going, so I’m going to dress accordingly. The place is nice and on the waterfront, so I’m planning on wearing a bright-colored dress with nice flip-flops. Classy yet not over the top (i.e. no high heels). However, sometimes you have to make a judgment call when you’re not exactly sure where the date will be held. I always say go classy over tight and skanky and wear something YOU’LL feel comfortable in. That’s the most important thing for me.

One time, I was completely UNDERDRESSED on a date and couldn’t have felt more awkward. I was under the impression that we were doing something low-key and chill (i.e. going out for ice cream) so when the guy I was going out with told me to meet him at Eastern Standard last minute and I rolled up in jeans and a tee, I couldn’t feel more of an outsider. He was in a collared button down and nice pants, women were dressed to the nines in jewelry and cocktail dresses, there were white tablecloths and candles on the table, and there I was in my girl-next-door t-shirt. YIKES. Never again…never again. I guess I learned my lesson to always dress a little bit above average at least.

What to Drink:

Typically, I go for a glass (or two) of red wine or a vodka seltzer with a splash of pineapple or cranberry juice. These are great choices, especially during a hot summer night by the waterfront☺ However, use your best judgment and drink what you want…just know your limits…don’t want to get sloppy!

When I want something more indulgent, I usually go for a margarita on the rocks or a vodka pineapple…mmm!

To Kiss or Not to Kiss…
Well, this one’s up to you!

Well, that’s all for now. Enjoy your date!

XoXo,

The Healthy Chick

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