Tag Archives: healthy

7 Healthy Ways to Get into the Holiday Spirit (& Burn Some Cals)

9 Dec

The other day, I went to the Prudential Center to tackle some Christmas shopping. When I came out with nothing but some makeup for myself and a couple trinkets for my family, I was a little bummed. Of course, I was happy with my new Sephora goodies, but for all the efforts I went through in the mall, you’d think I’d at least get to cross off half of my Christmas list. Yes, I said efforts…my trip to the mall was more of a workout than a shopping spree. From dodging moms with strollers to running around like a mad woman (I was sweating after just 20 minutes of shopping), my annual Christmas shopping felt like 60 minutes on the treadmill. “Welp, guess I don’t have to work out today,” I said joking to a friend. But really, maybe I was right. With a little research and a little help from Health Discovery’s calorie calculator, I learned that many of our holiday activities are actually burning lotsa calories. So what I’m sayin’ is if you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day baking double-fudge brownies, skip that cardio and do a little butt toning instead ; ). Alas, here are 7 ways to burn the cals* big-time this holiday season, while having a bangin’ time while you’re at it! 

*all calculations are for an average, 150-pound woman 

1. Lend your hubby a hand with the snow shoveling for once. He’ll appreciate it so much & then you have an excuse to down some hot cocoa after when your hands are numb. > 30 min, 216 calories burned 

2. Veg out with a holiday classic like Elf, Love Actually, The Holiday or The Grinch. We even burn calories resting, ladies! >90 minutes, 102 calories* burned (*Note, our bodies are always burning – even when doing nothing – so each additional activity only burns MORE! Neat, huh?)

3. Clean the house for this weekend’s holiday shindig. Blast Christmas tunes & light wintery candles to make the time fly by faster. >60 minutes, 252 calories burned 

4. Grab your best friend, bundle up in your cutest holiday gear, and go ice-skating > 45 minutes, 378 calories burned 

5. Brace the streets or the mall for your annual holiday shopping spree. Warning, wear layers so you can take them off as the time goes by…it gets HOT in there! > 2 hours of moderate walking, 576 calories burned 

6. Head North & hit up the slopes for a skip trip with the entire family! There’s nothing that gets me in the holiday spirits than a good ol’ escape to the mountains! >2 hours downhill skiing, 864 calories burned (cross-country comes in at a whopping 1,152!) 

7. Let’s Get it on…to Christmas tunes, under the mistletoe or by the Christmas tree, perhaps? >45 minutes, 81 calories burned (and that’s at a moderate level, ladies!) 

Happy holidays all! 

Tame Holiday Stress the Healthy Way

29 Nov

[don’t be a Grinch!]

As I’m sitting here in my cozy apartment with a “Warm Baked Apple” candle lit listening to Christmas tunes, I couldn’t agree more with Andy Williams when he said, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I’m absolutely obsessed with the season, and kind of turn into an overly happy, overly energized, overly joyous Santa’s elf around this time. I’m one of those girls who wants to listen to Christmas music 24/7, decorate the apartment with snowflakes and pretty tinsel, and glitter-ize everything! 

So I guess I don’t understand that when I go to the mall I see so many grinches out there. Mothers screaming at their children, people fighting with sales clerks and billions of people walking around with the most scary looks on their faces. What gives? It’s the holiday season, after all! SMILE! But I get it…I really do. While the holiday season brings lots of joy to many, it can also be quite stressful. After a trip to the mall, it’s very tempting to want to pound a few spiked ciders or vodka on the rocks. But let me tell you: that’s not the answer. 

That’s why I went out and asked my friends (Twitter & real life) how they handle holiday stress, and many people got back to me with some great answers that don’t include screaming at your husband or punching a hole through the wall. So I’ve taken what other people have said to me and thought up a few ideas of my own to help YOU handle holiday stress this year…and make it through the season alive. 

Sip On Tea Throughout the Day: Seriously, never doubt the power a cup of tea can do for your stress levels and inner balance. Head on over to your local supermarket or specialty tea & coffee shop and pick up some caffeine-free teas of choice. I love chamomile, peppermint and ginger this time of year, but the flavors are endless! Oh, and tea is calorie-free so you can enjoy it absolutely guilt-free all day, every day if you so wish.

Make Lists: You’d laugh if you saw how many lists I make, but there is a reason to it. And that is they help me organize my days and my life in general. I make all kinds of lists from goals & dreams to groceries and to-do lists. They are all over my apartment, so that I can visually see what it is I need to get done. Make lists for upcoming events, items you need for the sweater you’re knitting, who’s left to buy presents for, and the ingredients for that new recipe you’ve been dying to try for your best friend’s holiday party. Trust me: lists solve all problems.

Fake It: Even if you’ve had the most stressful day ever, fake a smile and move on with it. After all, smiles are contagious, so smile and smile big. It’s so much more difficult (and much more effort) to be angry and mean to someone. If the line is long or the new coffeepot you purchased doesn’t work, take a deep breath and don’t yell at the cashier. She didn’t do anything to you, so don’t bring her good mood down in the dumps too! Instead, realize it’s not worth it to sweat over the little itty-bitty things in life. Instead, move on with it and you’ll be much happier in the long run! 

Make Your Own Gifts: If the mall stresses you out, make your own gifts to save time and money. Homemade gifts are also more special and will be a lot more fun to put together. Get creative this year with your gifts, even if you just design your own holiday cards. I’m planning on making homemade corn bags (heating pads) for my friends, and also printing a few more copies of my recipe book to give away to friends and family for the holidays. You also can’t go wrong with anything involving pictures, liquor or yummy food! 

Get Your Rest: Don’t stay up all night long to get things done. Our bodies and minds need a rest, and you need to give your body what it deserves. So even if you have to save some stuff for the morning or sacrifice your late-night TV watching, it’ll be worth it when you wake up bright ‘n’ energized. Hey, us women need our beauty sleep after all.

Get Away: Sometimes it can be stressful when you get wrapped up in your daily routine. So go on a mini vacay even if you just take a day trip to go ice skating or wine tasting. Little things like this get us through the holidays easy and breezy. I’m taking a four-day road trip to Florida in a couple weeks with a pit stop to Disney World and couldn’t be more excited! I urge you to do the same…even if it’s just a mini getaway. Anything helps. 

What do you do to cope with holiday stress? Any suggestions and ideas to add? 

Have a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving!

25 Nov

Thanksgiving is Just Around the Corner…

18 Nov

[source]

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but let’s be honest: I’ve been thinking about it since early October, and I’m already thinking about Christmas. Hey, it’s the malls fault for being all decorated and pretty with lights and Christmas trees. But when it’s all said and done, Thanksgiving is and always has been my absolute favorite holiday. The delicious smells, the wonderful feeling of family and the fact that I go into a turkey coma every year (no matter how much I tell myself to slow down) is all part of the joy of Thanksgiving. 

But even though I almost always have to unbutton my pants come dessert, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to keep my Thanksgiving just a bit healthier. After all, I’m not trying to gain 10 pounds in one sitting and feel like absolute crap the next day. That would be doing my body no good. So this year in particular, I’m working on adding a little extra healthy oomph to my favorite holiday, and that I will share with you…

#1 I’m running my first ever Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day: I’ll be running the 5-mile Manchester Road Race, but these types of Turkey Trots are all over the place, so I suggest you sign up to0! They are fun, packed with people and it takes the edge of the actual running part of it. To make it even more exciting, my sister and I are dressing up as elves with green tights, elf hats and all! To prep for the race, I’ve been running 3 miles a day with Core Fusion Body Sculpt twice a week, so it’s keeping me in shape before Turkey Day as well. 

#2 I’ll be making a side dish that actually tastes good: Last year I tried to go all, “healthy, healthy” on everyone and ended up making the most disgusting side dishes…ever. My family of course ate them to be nice, but even I could see they had little to no flavor. My gluten free stuffing I tried to invent tasted like dog food. It was that bad. This year, I’m going to concentrate on making wholesome, nutritious food instead of low-cal, “healthy” crap. I’m definitely going to trim down the classic sweet potato pie that everyone knows and loves, and am definitely going to dabble in concocting some gluten free savory cupcakes from the BabyCakes Cookbook I got last year as a gift. Red Velvet cupcakes [see above] are at the top of my list to try this year! 

#3 Or Fake it if you can’t bake it: Not everyone loves to cook, and there is no shame in that. Lots of places allow you to pre-order Thanksgiving sides and desserts so you don’t have to touch a pan. For instance, Healthy Habits Kitchen in Wellesley, MA is running an “Everything But the Turkey” Package, which includes 3 appetizers, 3 side dishes and 2 desserts. How’s that for easy and efficient? Pick ‘n’ choose between tasty apps like Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomato & Olive Spread, Spinach & Feta Triangles and Pumpkin Chipotle Hummus. Side dishes include a Butternut Squash Casserole, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, and Traditional Stuffing. Oh, and you can’t forget dessert, with favorites like Chocolate Bark and Gingerbread Spiked Pumpkin Pie. View their full menu here. Small servings for 4 cost $59 and full servings for 8 is $99, extremely affordable in my book for the amount of food you’re getting. 

#4 Eat Slowly: Sometimes I forget that the food is not going to fly away on me. I think we all could use a few deep breaths and short breaks throughout the feast. Enjoy your food, chat with aunt Sally who you haven’t seen all year and savor every bite. This meal only comes once a year, after all. Why rush it? 

What are your healthy Turkey Day tips? 

Sweetie Pie “Spaghetti” & Meatballs

27 Oct

 

 

           What? That’s NOT spaghetti??!

 

This healthy dish is a wonderful substitute for your traditional spaghetti ‘n’ meatballs. Eat one of the all-time favorite comfort foods with absolutely no guilt at all. Serve with a side salad or small piece of homemade garlic bread! Trust me: it’s so darn good that your guests won’t even know it’s not real spaghetti. Note: this recipe is GF- gluten free AND guilt free! 

 

*serves 4

For squash:

-1 spaghetti squash

-2 TB extra virgin olive oil

-1 tsp. cinnamon

-1 TB ground pepper

-1 TB red pepper flakes

-1 TB oregano

-1 TB parsley

For meatballs/sauce:

-1 package lean ground turkey

-1 c. of fresh Marinara sauce

-1 clove garlic, crushed

-1 tsp. salt

-1 TB red pepper flakes

-1/4 c. red onion, chopped into small pieces

-1 tsp. pepper

-1 TB basil 

-Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

 

 

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cut squash in half (lengthwise). Scoop out the insides, and set on a large baking sheet. Coat squash with olive oil, along with the dry ingredients “for squash” listed above. Bake for 45 minutes.

 

2. In the meantime, mix ground turkey in a large bowl with 2 TB olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped onion. Once mixed, form small meatballs with hands. Place them on a large skillet coated with olive oil on medium-high heat. Saute the meatballs until crispy. Add in the Marinara sauce, basil and garlic and let simmer on low heat.

 

3. Remove squash from oven, and scrape with fork to pull out all of the “spaghetti” onto 4 plates. Top with a dash of Parmesan cheese.

 

 

 


No You Don’t HAVE to go on a diet: Cleaning Your Body & Soul

18 Oct

The other day, I decided I want to dedicate one day a week to cleansing my body. No, this doesn’t mean I’m going to fast or go on one of those crazy cabbage soup/grapefruit diets. I don’t do diets (anymore). Every day I hear/see/read of young women who “have to go on a diet” and it makes me go crazy. No, you don’t have to go on a diet. Fueling with healthy foods? Yes. Devoting more time to exercising for the mind and the body? Sure. Cutting out carbs and sugary treats once a week? Fine. But saying you have to go on a diet sounds miserable.  

I’ll let you in on a little secret: diets don’t work. Seriously. Sure, you may lose a couple of quick pounds to look slightly better in your too-tight dress…for one night. But wouldn’t you rather live a healthy lifestyle where dieting isn’t a part of it, and you look and feel good all of the time? If you say no to this, then sorry I can’t help you, but if you are nodding your head yes, then stay tuned. 

I used to be one of those girls who “had to go on a diet.” I’d have to go on a diet to look stunning for sorority formals, to look like a knock-out on spring break in front of the frat guys, and to impress friends and family when I’d go home for Christmas break. Sure, I’d lose weight and fast…but it was all for the wrong reasons and the wrong way. I’d eat 1,000 calories or less per day, spend hours in the gym, and never treat myself to anything. It was straight up torture. And of course the weight would come back on eventually because a lifestyle of torture is simply not the way to live. A lifestyle of dieting was completely miserable. 

Now I don’t do diets. I hear the word diet and cringe. It just sounds God awful. Diets? Maybe for models and movie stars but helllll nooooo are diets for me (nor are they for you). Instead, I practice a lifestyle of healthy eating and living, where I eat well (not perfect) every day of the year, and diets never cross my mind. This kind of lifestyle allows for eating one too many brownies every once in a while and skipping the gym here and there. It allows for carbs and fat and wholesome food. There are no restrictions in this kind of lifestyle…you just live

Of course, there are still times where I want to crack down a bit (whether it’s for an upcoming vacation or big event) to look and feel my ultimate best. But instead of dieting for these types of occasions, I’ve learned that clean eating is the way to go! Of course I try to “eat clean” every day, but that doesn’t always happen. But let me tell you, when you do eat clean you see all the difference…in your hair, skin and body. When I went to New Zealand six months ago, I lost 4 pounds simply by eating clean: no preservatives, no packaged foods, no crazy dressings, no fried anything. Simply all-natural, fresh, local meals. And I didn’t even have to try! How’s that for a diet? HA! 

But I have to admit: I haven’t been eating so clean lately now that fall is here. I have an addiction to baking, and have been indulging in maybe a few too many pumpkin muffins. Then when I went home this past weekend, my mom bought some kind of apple fritter type donut. They were warm, they were freshly baked…I couldn’t resist. While I’m not going over board, all these little bites here and there are bound to add up, and a bloated tummy is no fun for anyone. 

So while eating clean may not be feasible all of the time, I’m going to try my best to do so throughout the week, with one day dedicated to cleansing. During my “cleansing day” (I have yet to decide what day it’ll be…perhaps Tuesday?), there will be no processed foods allowed. No coffee. No dressings. No dairy. No meat. No baked goods (not even a bite). Instead, I will load up on lots of water, caffeine-free tea, whole grains, nuts, veggies in olive oil, and fresh fruit. 

The Perfect Cleaning Day 

breakfast: 1/2 c. oatmeal or quinoa flakes with 1 TB all-natural nut butter; 1/2 grapefruit; water; herbal tea

snack: fresh fruit salad with flax seed oil, or sliced cucumber in olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon 

lunch: 1 c. spinach with cucumber, canned tuna (no salt added, plain),  avocado, olive oil and lemon juice 

dinner: lots of steamed veggies (spinach, broccoli, kale) with garlic, olive oil and lemon (w/ a side of brown rice-optional) 

*snack on frozen berries, fresh fruit, raw veggies, edamame, and raw nuts 

*avoid salt (causes bloating) 

*drink lots of water

*take yoga to relax the mind & body!

*take a bath/ looooong shower 

*treat yourself to a facial (I love mixing warm water with oatmeal, leave on for 10-15 minutes) 

*avoid caffeine, sip on herbal tea 

This is my personal “cleansing” plan, which may not work for everyone. Do you do body cleanses or healthy one-day detoxes? What works for you? 

Calling All Boston Fit Chicks: A Fabulous Giveaway!

13 Oct

[source]

If you remember Legally Blonde, Elle said “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” While she may have been a tad ditzy, she was absolutely on point with this one! I think we can all attest to the feel-good high we get after a nice, long sweaty workout. If you like being happy (who doesn’t?) and love a good deal (um, hello) then this is the giveaway  for you!

The kind folks at CoupMe are giving away one of four fitness deals for…wait for it…free! 

Choose between these four fab Boston/Cambridge offers: 

* 4 belly dancing classes at Johara Snake Dance Productions in Brookline or Cambridge, MA ($60 value) 

*4 Zumba classes at Shape Up Personal Training in Cambridge, MA ($60 value)

*3 Pole dancing classes at Boston Pole Fitness in Boston, MA ($75 value) 

*3 weeks of boot camp PLUS nutrition plan at Durbrow Fitness Training in Cambridge, MA ($348 value) 

Just leave a comment on my blog (bonus points if you make me laugh) with which fitness deal you’d love to win and why! Also, tweet about the deal to friends on twitter & leave a comment here saying you did so for better chances in winning! Good luck : ) 



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? 

Unplug: Trust, It Won’t Kill Ya (in fact it’ll keep ya healthy)

7 Oct

[ew, looks like I need to dust my plugs too!]

I have a confession: I’m utterly, entirely, 100% addicted to my BlackBerry. Actually, addicted may be an understatement. I’m addicted to peanut butter, love, and writing. But that doesn’t mean I’m sitting clenched to a jar of peanut butter all day long, fantasizing about love with a pen in my hand. No, that’s not how it works. But with my BlackBerry it’s a complete different story. I’m literally with it day in and day out that you’d think it’s like my child or something. I’m one of *those girls* who texts someone something sassy (or bold, or daring, or just plain stupid) then puts my phone on silent and checks back every minute to see if I got a response. I’m one of *those girls* who freaks out if I forget my phone at home, like it’s going to be the end of the world and Rachel can simply not go on without it. Really, I left the magical, ever-so-worthy Blackberry at home once and had a pitty party the entire cab ride to the bar. Turns out, no missed calls when I got home anyway! I’m one of *those girls* who tweets all day long from the phone, who can email with my fingers faster than many people can type (on a real computer) and who googles…everything.

But the BlackBerry is just the start of it. I usually don’t leave the house without my pink Mac (yes, it’s pink), even though I’d probably get in trouble if I left the house without it ’cause, um, my job kinda depends on it. I also BBM, text an unhealthy amount (drunk texts/playful texts/silly texts/ “I’m bored” texts/miss you texts, and Facebook stalk like it’s my job (but sometimes it really is…I do work in social media after all). So yes, I guess you can say I am just a tad addicted with technology. My mom once told me I was going to hurt my thumb (her excuse to make me stop texting) and in high school by dad dubbed my sister and I “finger talkers” for the unnecessary about of IMing we did. (Remember those days?)

Anyway, the truth of the matter is, I’m not the only one with this sort of addiction. Every where I go people are glued to their phones/their laptops/their gadgets. Take riding the T for example. People don’t even look up at each other anymore, and instead play “games” on their phones or pretend to be texting…or really are texting. It’s sick. And I’m one of them.

An old friend from high school (who I admire greatly for his AMAZING movie-making talent) reached out to me the other day about the matter through…dun dun dun…a Facebook message. I had told him a while back that if he ever had any advice for me on my writing/blogging/life journey to please shoot it over. And that he did. And I must admit what he said left quite the impression on me.

” I started a Facebook group once for the hell of it to “unplug” and disconnect, sign off, and go out to the real world and live the analog, acoustic lifestyle. I think that’s important everyone once in a while. From putting down the cell phone to telling stories around a bon fire, life seems to have more meaning when it isn’t computed into 1’s and 0’s to be sent over a digital network where meaning is lost because the human element is missing.”

He then admitted that we’re all guilty of “digital acts,” but that every once in a while he tries to unplug and enjoy it. Unplug. The sound of it is refreshing in itself. Ahhh. Unplug. Me unplug? Sure, I’d love to! But how?

How do you unplug when your job/your social life/your every move is run by technology?

Well, my friend here gave a few examples including reading a book (hey, even if it’s just 30 minutes before bed), writing a book (something I myself am working on at the time, but I guess I could do it on *paper* every once and a while), or buying a disposable camera and forgetting all the pictures you’ve taken (I used to LOVE getting pictures developed because of this, but it’s sadly lost it’s excitement through the years).

Still torn on how to “unplug” throughout your daily life? Write a letter through snail mail to an old friend. Talk to a stranger in the coffee shop. Put your phone in your purse text time you take public transportation and *smile* at someone, or compliment someone’s shirt. Go to a museum and get lost in all the beautiful art. Go to a recital/a play/a performance. Turn off the TV. Put your favorite album on and just be. Cook homemade pizza with your roommate/your boyfriend/your sister/your husband. Savor every bite. Make muffins from scratch. Write a poem. Write in a diary. Go for a long walk or hike on a trail you’ve never traveled before. Go leaf collecting! Visit a farm and taste some homemade fresh apple cider. Go pumpkin picking! Join a book club/a sports club/ a single’s club. Make new friends (but keep the old). You get the point. And do all of this without your beloved BlackBerry/laptop/iPhone/iPod/i-whatever. Do it with just you.

I dare you to go ahead and unplug, even if it is is just for a day, a few hours, hell even a few minutes. Unplug yourself. It’s the healthy thing to do.

What do you do to “unplug” from a world that seems overdosed on technology?

Don’t Be Afraid to Give Advice (Or Take it)!

6 Oct

When I was younger, I used to take advice (even kind, constructive criticism) extremely bad. I hated when people offered me “lessons,” different perspectives or new ways for me to do things. What was wrong with the way I was doing things? When I was in Elementary School (heck, probably up to when I was in high school), I’d throw fits at my dad for trying to teach me how to play basketball better. Poor guy. Being the high school basketball star he was, he was just trying to throw his daughter a few innocent pointers. Little did he know I’d throw a temper tantrum and scream at him because of it. Yeesh, you’d think I’d at least say “thank you.” After all, I was terrible at basketball. I couldn’t make a lay up and I’d lob the ball full-speed at the backboard. All he was trying to do was help, but I wouldn’t let him. Ever. (sorry Big Guy) Needless to say, I never became star of the basketball team in high school. But maybe I could’ve?

Now, I definitely take advice a little more openly, as we should. Imagine if we all treated people who offered their words of wisdom as I treated my dad with basketball. It’d be a scary world, huh? 

Today, I witnessed this kind of constructive advice at it’s best. I was at the gym for my first day working out at Benefitness, an all women’s gym in my area. I know, all women’s gym, weird huh? It was actually surprisingly refreshing! I didn’t have to worry about big macho muscle men “working in” for a set or staring at themselves in the mirror, and I didn’t have to worry if I looked *pretty* as I sweat away (OK, I never really look pretty at the gym anyway). AND I had no distractions as I sped away on the elliptical machine, although this may be a bad thing as good-looking men usually make me run harder (I’m crazy and hormonal, I know). 

Back to the point. In the midst of all my non-distractions, I let myself drift away into a workout high, that I almost didn’t realize the woman next to me was trying to get my attention. I was dumbbell squat thrusting like I’ve never done before and nothing was going to stop me. Then I realized the woman next to me was still staring at me, this time with concern (and hesitation). “Excuse me, I’m sorry, I usually try not to say anything, but I just have to tell you something.” Shit. At first, I thought I was in her way or I was breaking some sort of gym “rule.” But indeed it wasn’t that at all. “You’re really going to hurt your back the way you are doing that exercise because you’re using your back to pull up. Maybe try a lighter weight. What you’re using is quite a lot for your size,” she continued. She stared at me in fear, waiting for my rebuttal or annoyance of her “interrupting” my workout. But instead, I was thrilled she spoke up to me, and shout out a sincere “Thank you.” And I really meant it. I was so happy that someone was brave enough to tell me what I was doing wrong, and then further advise me on how to improve to do it right. 

I went on to tell her to please not apologize as I was truly thankful of her tip. After all, it is my back we are talking about here (something I want to be strong and in place when I’m older) so of course I don’t want to be doing anything that’s going to hurt it. Of course, it also had to do with how she said it. If she came over to me and ripped the weights out my hands and told me I was inexperienced and shouldn’t be in the gym, I wouldn’t have been too happy. But she offered me some advice, then gave me a solution. What’s the harm in that? It’s a shame that we feel nervous or wary to give other women advice, because they may go all Monster on you (like I did on my dad). If you have a different perspective to offer someone, say it. If you know someone is doing something harmful to their bodies, tell them. If you see a coworker doing something incorrectly, help them. Really, we need to learn to be more open to one another, and learn to help other women. At the same time, please be open to advice when it’s coming your way as well. It’s not an attack, it’s a different way of doing something and we need to learn how to accept that. A personal attack is a whole ‘nother issue, but constructive criticism should be praised, not shunned. 

Do you get touchy when someone offers you advice? Are you ever afraid to speak up to other women? How do you handle constructive criticism? 

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