This podcast is totally rad

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In a recent article I wrote about surviving the morning commute, I mentioned my new-found love of podcasts. Shortly after, I learned of That’s So Retrograde, a health & wellness podcast, and I exploded with happiness. Here’s why:

TSR is hosted by two admittedly clueless women who dig the wellness scene but couldn’t find good resources for reliable answers to their health questions. So they decided to start a podcast that features a wellness professional on each episode; interviews that range from serious to seriously hilarious.

Elizabeth Kott has her own consignment fashion brand while Stephanie Simbari is an actress, comedian, and yoga enthusiast. Both transplants to LA, originally from Detroit and New York respectively, Elizabeth and Stephanie will tell you that they don’t know much of anything but are interested in everything about wellness.

A few shows I’ve listened to included convos with the Sakara Life founders, a health coach, a raw foods advocate, and a hydro-colonic therapist. That’s right: poop is not off limits for these ladies, and their bowel movements (and private parts) are often a topic of discussion.

The best part about this duo is that they orchestrate these helpful discussions while admitting that they had gnocchi and French fries for breakfast. Elizabeth and Stephanie are totally relatable, which makes listening to their interviews entertaining as well as educational. They admit green juices aren’t always their thing and they are still trying to create the perfect morning routine. So basically they are just like the rest of us who ache to be the epitome of health, but still binge drink on weekends.

Give a few episodes a try cause you know, it requires close to no effort.

Image Source: Well + Good

I tried all of these trendy fitness classes so you don’t have to

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These days it seems you can’t pull on your $90 dry wick tee fast enough without hearing about a new workout trend. Gone is the time of simple gym memberships. It’s a new era of boutique studios with higher prices and ambiguous names, like Hard Core Power Training Fitness Sculpt.

To take advantage of these studios, you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic. Even clocking in two-three classes a week can be highly effective for both weight loss and health goals.

Here’s a roundup of some of the popular fitness class in the district and what you need to know before picking your poison. (Some, to be honest, you may actually prefer poison to.)

Barre3

While this is one of the many barre companies in the District, each has their own unique approach to the dancer workout, which typically combines ballet, Pilates, yoga movements, and light conditioning. This class is broken into four sections: cardio and light weights, core, butt, and legs. For each section, you should expect wide range and small range motions, helping to tone the tiny muscles you didn’t know existed.

Who is this best for? Those who want to tone with low impact.
Time commitment? One hour.
One word to describe this exercise: Tightening.
Sweat level: Glistening. You can go back to work without showering.
Most sore the next morning: Your behind.
Say what? ‘Pulse’ means tiny bounces using your leg muscles, usually while balancing on your toes. These are harder than they sound.
Cost: $25/class, $225 monthly unlimited, and five-30 class packages.
New client special: Three classes for $45.

Flywheel

The nation’s capital is not short on cycling options these days. Zengo, Biker Barre and SoulCycle already have a cult following, but Flywheel is the newest addition to the spin class scene. Similar to SoulCycle, the riding is coordinated closely with music, with encouragement to ride with the beat. Flywheel has an extra special feature of displaying your bike resistance and power as your ride, a welcome addition for the more competitive crew.

Who is this best for? You love a good cardio workout but need to take it easy on the knees.
Time commitment? 45 minutes.
One word to describe this exercise: Energetic.
Sweat level: You will be dripping from some part of your body.
Most sore the next morning: Quads.
Say what? Torq = Resistance. The higher, the harder.
Cost: $28/ride, $250 monthly unlimited, and five – 20 ride packages.
New client special: First class is totally free. You have no excuse not to go.

CrossFit

A CrossFit couple generously answered some questions about their workouts and what you can expect:

“CrossFit is intended to be an all-body workout, all the time. The movements are functional; working the whole body as it translates back to everyday life. A typical workout may look like this: 10-15 minute warm-up, a 10-15 minutes of strength powerlifting, such as back squats, strict presses or skills work (think gymnastic or Olympic weight-lifting movements such as handstand pushups, handstand walks or holds, cleans, snatches).” – Husband

“Everyone who walks into the gym does the same workout all day. Times (or scores) are written next to each individual’s name, typically on a big whiteboard. It might sound intimidating, but it’s both a good motivator do your best and to see how you stack up with the rest of the gym.” – Wife

Anything described as ‘Olympic’ doesn’t personally translate as functional but you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Who is this best for?
“It really is for everyone, but is particularly useful for three types of people: (1) those who need to be held responsible by others in order to stick with a workout routine (2) those who are looking for a community of peers that value health and fitness as an integral part of their lifestyle; and (3) those with a competitive streak that want to be pushed to the next level in their fitness.” – Wife

“I have seen as young as five year-olds doing workouts in the gym, and some older than 75.” – Husband

Time commitment? Typically an hour, but can vary by gym since they are individually owned and operated.
One word to describe this exercise: Empowering.
Sweat level: On a scale of 1-5: five. On days when the exercise was mostly strength, you could end up a little less sweaty and little sorer.
Most sore the next morning: Everywhere.
Say what? WOD: workout of the day. If you don’t know what this means, you’ll be branded as new before you can say “what’s a sumo deadlift highpull?”
Cost: These can range from $150 -$250 per month for unlimited sessions. You’re paying more (than a typical gym membership) for the attention from certified trainers that make sure you’re working out properly.
New client special: Most locations offer your first session for free at a designated time. Contact the gym directly for details.

305 Fitness

This high intensity DJ powered dance class is more about moving and having fun than nailing the footwork. But you’ll probably find yourself desperately trying to master the steps in order to look less awkward. After 30 straight minutes of dancing, there’s a five minute sprint of high knees, side shuffles and the like; which will remind you how much you hated doing suicide exercises in high school when your basketball team lost the championship.

Who is this best for? Let’s just say it was recently featured as one of NYC’s best bachelorette party workouts
Time commitment? One hour.
One word to describe this exercise: Intimidating.
Sweat level: Did you know your shins can sweat?
Most sore the next morning: Your back and maybe areas of your feet; wear tight sneaks!
Say what? ‘Beyonce’ = Give it attitude
Cost: $24/Class, $99 monthly unlimited, five and ten class packages.
New client special: Three classes for $29.

Elevate Interval Fitness

Elevate’s method is based off of HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training, which is alternating periods of intense exercise with brief recovery periods. There’s a featured workout like rowing, mixed with two other types of exercise: floor work with kettle bells, planks, and burpees; and treadmill exercises like running with incline and sprinting.

Who is this best for? Those who like endurance and strength in one fast-paced class.
Time commitment? One hour.
One word to describe this exercise: Intense.
Sweat level: The instructions suggest an extra change of dry clothes for post workout, and they aren’t lying.
Most sore the next morning: Arms.
Say what? Tabata: a style of exercise where you do 20 seconds intense movement with 10 seconds rest continuously for four minutes.
Cost: $28/class, $174 monthly unlimited, eight and 15 class packages.
New client special: One free intro session.

While not quite as outrageous options as NYC, which has an underwater cycling class and yoga with cats, DC is holding its own with these workout options. You can use services like ClassPass that make it easier and cheaper to add some variety to your workout, or can join a club you love. This guide is a good starting point, but new studios are popping up like restaurants on 14th street so get moving.

*This post was originally written for industree DC

The smoothie that changed my life

BrightGreensIt’s not because of how many greens are in it or how clear this might make my skin, it’s because the smoothies by Bright Greens, a local DC company, are pre-packaged time savers that require no chopping, blending or purchasing of seven vegetables and fruits to make one drink.

The creator of Bright Greens, Brian Mitchell recognized how inconvenient it can be to stock your fridge and blend healthy smoothies on the regular. He came up with the amazingly simple solution of creating a frozen version that only needs hot water and mason jar to come to life.

There are four flavors to choose from and Bright Greens can ship directly to your door in fancy freezer packs. I especially like the Mintergreen; fresh summer mint with apples, oranges, spinach and OJ. You can also purchase the smoothie packs at Glen’s Garden Market, Union Kitchen Grocery, Good Food Market, and the P St Whole Foods. Yeah, they are that popular.

Try these delicious drinks and never clean kale bits out of your blender again.

Order Bright Greens online now through end of August and get 25% off.
Use code: NotAboutKale 

Asparagus + pork = yes

asparagus

Asparagus is all the rage these days and with good reason; asparagus in the spring is an entirely different vegetable compared with its evil nonseasonal twin. The latter is typically composed of shriveled tough stalks that a T-Rex couldn’t break through. When picked at its peak, asparagus is plump, softens easily when cooked, and has a nice sweetness that pairs particularly well with lemon and, as you’ve probably noticed on Pinterest, also tastes great with lots and lots of egg yolk.

In my early cooking days (last year), I prepared asparagus by roasting it in the oven, but recently found out that I instead prefer a few minutes of steaming and then a drizzle of olive oil and Maldon sea salt. For this meal, I topped the veg off with a poached egg, grated aged pecorino cheese, and crispy prosciutto ‘chips’, a recipe from Nom Nom Paleo that proves just how little effort it takes to create something magical.

Bonus for me: asparagus is one those gut healthy foods filled with prebiotics. So basically, this meal will cancel out the enormous fried chicken and waffles I ate this weekend and heal me forever.

 

The microbiome diet: A real pain in the gut

meatballs_squashFor someone who really loves food, being on a gut cleanse this past month has been pretty rough. And as much as I love eating everything, it was finally time for me to heal my poor stomach from the damage caused by years of taking acid blockers. Research is only now surfacing that proves prolonged exposure to these drugs can lead to all sorts of digestive problems, namely dysbiosis; when the bad bacteria trumps the good bacteria in the gut and results in poor digestion. I’d like to pause here and curse the GI doctor who felt it was a good idea to put a 19 year old on Prilosec indefinitely, forever ruining my digestive system. Ugh.

There is a silver lining though.

Integrative medical professionals such as Susan Blum and Raphael Kellman work with patients to restore gut health, ultimately preventing or reversing many autoimmune diseases and digestive problems. Both doctors have written books on the topic that guide readers how to 1) remove the bad bacteria 2) restore the good bacteria 3) strengthen the lining of the intestinal wall 4) sustain balance through a gut-healthy diet.

On March 4, I decided it was time to commit to stage 1: remove the bad. This meant taking supplements that help ‘kill’ off all the bad stuff in my belly, while avoiding any food that can cause sensitivities: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, and corn. I also had to avoid most beans, and non-gluten grains (peace out Quinoa), potatoes and peanuts. Perhaps worst of all: I severely limited sugar (bacteria feeds on it!) and alcohol since it generally upsets the microbiome. And just to do this right, I only allowed myself coffee once a week since I know that hurts me. Note: coffee with coconut milk isn’t anything like coffee with cream and sugar.

Here’s the rub: the first two weeks were pretty terrible. I was basically hungry all the time from changing my diet so dramatically, I had a headache more days than I didn’t, and one was an all night migraine. While these are considered normal symptoms when detoxing, there is nothing about those first few weeks that felt normal. Try cooking every single one of your meals with a constant throbbing pain in your head. Oh, and I can write an entire article on the mood swings that come along with food deprivation and hormone stabilization. Sorry, boyfriend.

The food? Actually very good. I pulled recipes from both doctors’ books: The Immune System Recovery Plan and The Microbiome Diet, and also grabbed some from the most wonderful recipe app ever: The Whole Pantry. I focused on including fermented foods to increase pro-biotic consumption along with vegetables known to be higher in pre-biotics (that’s the food for the healthy bacteria in your gut). Two of my favorite recipes were meatballs over pesto spaghetti squash and an oat-free chocolate and cinnamon granola. I also learned that I don’t hate celery after all, especially when covered in almond butter.

This most important part of this experience is that I went from my stomach being in pain 95% of the time to more like 10% of the time. Workouts feel more effective, I don’t sleep with the heating pad every night, and I’m not bloated for the first time in 10 years. The other benefits are pretty good as well: lost 5 pounds, exponentially enhanced my cooking skills, and became even MORE aware of which foods trigger my discomfort.

This program is not easy. It involved more cooking than I’ve ever done in a month’s time and had to train myself to crave snacks like jicama in sunflower seed butter. I was truly only 90% compliant; took ‘breaks’ for a wedding and Passover (matzoh ball soup, come on), snuck in some sugary treats, and decided 3.5 weeks in that wine should will be allowed in moderation. Being slightly less strict is part of how I stayed sane on this diet and how people realistically sustain healthy lifestyles. I’m looking forward to the repair stage now which allows for a little more leniency and much less cooking.

If you suffer from digestive distress, consider reading about gut-healing diets and see if it’s right for you. The dramatic shift in routine can lead to a dramatic shift in your health, and honestly, a few months of disruption to your normal life is 120% worth feeling like a normal person again.

5 healthy dinners for busy people

Bean_SaladBoxed, canned, and frozen foods don’t elicit the same health factor as a fresh kale salad. But let’s not kid ourselves; most of our weeknights are hectic and the only acceptable options are fast and easy meals that don’t require a stop at the market. I share this struggle and have a few pantry staples that help me stay healthy during even the busiest weeks. Take a break from take-out and pick up these vegetarian foods now:

Healthy Choice Country Vegetable Soup
This one is pretty specific, but it’s such a cheap and convenient option. This particular soup is high in fiber and protein, low in fat, and surprisingly tasty.

Frozen Mixed Vegetables
Avoid the ones that come in sauces and opt for adding your own condiments post microwave. I’m particularly fond of truffle oil and Parmesan cheese, or spicy chipotle sauce. I also keep frozen peas around and toss them with whole wheat pasta on carb-craving nights.

Dr. Praeger’s Frozen Veggie Burgers
I know. You’ve been eating these since 7th grade. But there’s a good reason they’re still around. They don’t have any of those highly processed fillers that many veggie burgers contain, and taste distinctively of actual vegetables. I sometimes bring these to work for lunch as well since they’re easy to grab & go.

Boxed Organic Tofu
Yea, they don’t all need refrigeration. To add some protein to your meal, tofu can be tossed with veggies in a stir fry, or blended into dips with some crudité.

Canned Beans
Speaking of protein, BEANS. It’s just silly if you don’t always have a few cans on hand. Heat black beans over quick-cook brown rice, create a soup with cannellinis and broth, or toss a few different varieties together with dressing for a bean salad.

I’m not pulling your chain; these “recipes” are as easy as they come while keeping your waistline in check. Try them out and save the calorie splurge for when you’re relaxed and can enjoy it.

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5 Pumpkin puree recipes to shame your #PSL

Pumpkin_daveyninMy favorite dish on Thanksgiving, you may be surprised to learn, is not a locally sourced wild turkey or raw no-bread stuffing; it’s good old pumpkin pie. And more than likely, it’s not made with the freshest of pumpkins plucked from the patch. This delicious Thanksgiving treat is typically prepared using the canned (gasp) pumpkin puree you find at the local grocery store. So not locavorian of me. Did you know, though, that pumpkin puree is quite healthy and can be used for lots of other recipes? We’re not talking Pumpkin Spice Lattes either. You can get that delicious pumpkin pie flavor in a healthy breakfast or interesting snack any time of the year.

Let’s start with the health benefits. Pumpkin puree has about 7 grams of fiber and only about 80 calories a cup. The recommended daily fiber amount for women is 21-25 grams, so one cup of pumpkin gets you a third of the way there. Do you remember learning that eating carrots are good for your eyes? Your mom wasn’t lying. That would be from all that Vitamin A found in both carrots and pumpkins at fairly high levels. A decent amount of iron is also a characteristic of the pumpkin, making it a well–rounded member of the squash family – no pun intended.

While I’m not encouraging you to eat a pumpkin pie each day and claim it’s healthy, there are tons of other recipes you can easily make with the canned goodness. Here are five!

Pumpkin Spice Dip
You’ll find a few versions of this on the interwebs, but if you want to keep it healthy and simple, mix one can of puree with a few cups of low fat Greek yogurt, then add cinnamon or nutmeg. Sweeten with brown sugar and pair with fancy crackers. If you’re not a yogurt person, check out this alternative recipe made with chickpeas and almond butter.

Pumpkin Soup
For any pumpkin soup recipe you desire, two cups of fresh pumpkin can be replaced with one can of puree. For a great Thai version, Food Babe has a 30 minute recipe that looks amazing.

Smoothies
Yup. You can add pumpkin puree to create an autumn breakfast treat.  There are more recipes for this than you’d expect. So I’ll let you find your favorite on Pinterest here.

Pumpkin Breakfast Parfait
Tired of the same old fruit on your yogurt in the morning? Add a scoop of pumpkin puree and top with drizzle of maple syrup and pumpkin seeds. If you’re feeling dangerous, spice up those seeds with some paprika or chili pepper for a kick.

Pancakes
Just add that puree right into the batter along with some cinnamon. Doesn’t get much easier than that!

What are your favorite pumpkin puree recipes?

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Fresh pressed juice delivery in DC

AliveJuiceThere are two types of people in this word: those that do juice cleanses and those that don’t. However, I’m starting to see a trend for a third type of person; she likes juices and wants to incorporate them into a regular diet, but doesn’t necessarily want to live on them for 3-7 days at a time. I MIGHT be speaking from personal experience.

Since this new group of folks is optionally choosing to drink the juices and aren’t solely relying on them for weight loss, health cleansing, or any other reason, the drinks need to be tasty. Enter Alive Juices, a new fresh pressed juice delivery service in DC.

What I found to be unique about Alive Juices is that each one contains “the big 4” in addition to the other ingredients; lemon, ginger, apple and sprouts. These add a nice flavor to all the drinks, even the ones with collards(!) in them. I also loved the unique juice and veggie combinations like red cabbage, parsley, watermelon, and carrots, red bell peppers and mint.

I need to fully disclose that Alive sent me the sampler pack in exchange for my honest review of the product. And I honestly love them! I had one a day as a meal or snack replacement and thought it was really neat that they came with a pack of Ayurvedic herbs that have powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. None of them were too sweet and let’s not overlook the super cute mason jars they come in.

Alive has a few different juice plan options and deliver right to your door. There are no additives, just fresh pressed fruits and veggies. Try them out with the introduction plan and let me know how you like it!

Take Back Your Health

TBYH-giveaway-graphicI have amazing news: a fabulous health and wellness conference is coming to DC and I have two tickets up for grabs, a value of $197. The details for the Take Back Your Health Conference and raffle link are below.

Take Back Your Health Conference
A responsible, happy and healthy lifestyle for reversing disease

 

Where: The Arlington Capital View Renaissance Crystal City, Virginia
When: November 1-2, 2014 Saturday 8am – 6pm | Sunday 8am – 1pm
What: Join hundreds of health enthusiasts for two days of informational seminars, whole foods and super food demonstrations, our favorite healthy exhibitors and product giveaways!

Featured speakers include:

  • Stacy Toth of Paleo Parents, blogger, cookbook author
  • Sarah Ballantyne, Ph. D., The Paleo Mom, blogger and author
  • Alexis Baden-Mayer, Political Director for the Organic Consumers Association
  • Susan Blasko, DC Liason for Polyface Farms
  • Teresa Fuller, MD, PhD, Integrative Pediatrics Doctor
  • Robin Shirley, Take Back Your Health Founder
  • Chas Gant, MD, PhD, Functional Medicine Doctor
  • Teresa Tapp, Exercise Physiologist

Featured content includes:

  • Learn how to move into a healthy and happy lifestyle even after a recent diagnosis.
  • Hear updates on effective holistic protocols for cancer, autoimmune disease and diabetes.
  • Explore thoughts on our current world health crisis and how we can change our fate.
  • Learn how to protect yourself from modern agriculture and farming techniques.
  • Rediscover life in alignment with our biological design and our role in the ecosystem.
  • Learn how to incorporate superfoods, wild foods and traditional foods into your diet.

Enter to win 2 free tickets here: Two free tix to Take Back Your Health

For more information on TBYH, check out the links below:

Conference website: http://www.clubtbyh.com/the-conference
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TBYHConference
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TBYHConference

 

DC’s funkiest breakfast sandwich

Breakfast_sandwichI’ve never met a breakfast sandwich I didn’t like. A favorite from my hometown is called the Hobo: an egg & cheese with either bacon or sausage that’s elevated with a perfectly crispy layer of hash browns. What it has to do with a homeless person, I’m not sure. But it’s a pretty stellar sandwich.

Glen’s Garden Market in DuPont has quickly become famous for its $4 craft brews juxtaposed their steeper price tag of actually food shopping at this local-focused grocer. Only recently did I discover that it also has a small, yet amazing weekend brunch menu.

Their newest sandwich, I learned, was somewhat of an experiment and I would be one of the first lucky patrons to try it. It interestingly featured kale chi, a fermented kale product form Number 1 Sons, which I immediately asked to be swapped with arugula due to my low-fermentation diet (don’t ask). I ordered the unfortunately named ‘Sweet Funk’ sandwich, but without the funk, and thought about how I seem to have a propensity for breakfast foods with off-putting names.

Besides the arugula swap, the rest of the sandwich remained as listed with two fried eggs, fresh peach jam, and an insanely spicy but delicious smoky jalapeño sauce on soft Ciabatta bread. Not a ton of ingredients but more flavor than perhaps any breakfast hoagie I’ve ever had. The sweet and spicy combo won me over, and coupled with their featured iced coffee, this meal made its mark as one of my favorite breakfasts in D.C.  And there’s nothing funky about that.

 

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