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The short list of fitness hacks for REAL results

It’s depressing to me how much bad advice there is out there; no wonder people are confused about what to do and how to accomplish their fitness goals! Here, I’ve compiled some real tips for success to set you on the right path for your fitness journey. Everything on this list I have done personally and seen results. I hope you’ll find success in them as much as I have!

1. What gets measured gets accomplished. Invest in a fitness tracker to monitor progress, set goals and track caloric burn. Good ones adjust goals as you get stronger to keep you challenged.

2. … but don’t take your tracker as the Bible. Meaning – don’t help yourself to another serving if you really only want it because your tracker told you that you burned extra calories. While still intelligent machines – and far more accurate than what your treadmill is telling you – most overestimate. Listen to your body and make a note of which devices are more accurate than others:

(Those to the left of the vertical line underestimate caloric burn while those to the right overestimate by the caloric amount detailed at the bottom, on average, per day). I intentionally purchased the Garmin Watch after reading this for myself so that I wouldn’t run into the “why not have an extra brownie? I earned it!” problem.

Buy Garmin Watch

Read more here: Accuracy of Fitness Trackers

3. Surround yourself with a supportive environment. Friends or loved ones who intentionally distract you from being the best version of yourself are going to slow your progress. (e.g. That co-worker who won’t let you turn a piece of office-purchased birthday cake away). Those who act as your fitness cheerleader will support you on your journey and encourage healthy eating goals even when it’s ‘inconvenient’ for them.

4. Mix it up. Doing the same thing over and over will only get you so far. To finally say “sayonara” the last 5-10 lbs you will likely have to alter your workouts, your eating habits, or both.

Ex: instead of running the same 4 mile route, 4 times a week, mix up those 4 workouts with:

  1. Hill ladders
  2. Fartlet run
  3. Time ladders
  4. Long run

You will get faster and stronger, while also reducing boredom. More here on these and other running variation workouts.

5. Make a plan. It’s hard to get to a new destination when you haven’t mapped out how to get there. Meeting your personal goals is no different. Firm up your workout schedule with those you live with, just like you would any other appointment or priority. You’ll be more likely to make it to your group class after work if you know your spouse already made plans to take the kids out for pizza and you’re free from normal weekday obligations for a few hours.

6. Do more with less. We’re all busy, and in today’s world, combining activities is a necessary component to accomplishing everything on the to-do list. Being efficient in your exercise routine allows you to maximize every minute. Find exercise classes that combine strength and cardio elements to reap the rewards of both types of exercise, and burn calories for hours after your sweat session. My favorite? Orange Theory Fitness – literally transformed my thoughts on what ‘being in shape’ actually means.

7. Do more with less – Part 2. Again – you’re busy! Combine activities, but this time, as a social component. Changing up your weekly wine night to weekly spin-class night is a healthier alternative that still maintains your social life. As an added bonus, you are more likely to stick to your fitness plan with a friend. Reward yourself once a month with a glass of wine post-exercise. Mental, physical and emotional balance? Check!

8. The 10 minute commitment. There are plenty of days that I don’t feel like exercising, and it’s typically something I enjoy doing. But we’re human – it doesn’t always sound fun. On days that its hard to get motivated, make a commitment to yourself to work out for 10 minutes. Chances are, you’ll keep going after you’ve made it that long… I’ve had this conversation with myself numerous times, and never opted to stop and go home. You’re already doing it – you may as well continue!

9. Reward yourself with something other than food. One of the painful realities of living a healthy lifestyle is that food is about 70% of the equation… and when we reward ourselves with food, we often negate all the positive benefits we just gave our bodies through exercise. (I learned my own lesson overdosing on granola while training for marathons). Rather than resorting to the “I can eat as much as I want because I ran today” mentality, reward yourself with something equally satisfying, but not food related – like a new pair of shoes, massage, or a subscription to a clothing delivery service like fabletics so you can enjoy that new bod in some new digs.

10. Take advantage of a good deal. Still looking for an exercise that you LOVE? Take advantage of Groupon deals in your area. Most of the fitness/exercise class deals involve at least 3-4 classes for several weeks at a highly discounted cost. This gives you time to try several instructors, or a different activity to see if you really do like hot yoga, crossfit, barre3, etc. As an added bonus, changing up your exercise routine every 6 weeks keeps your body challenged and burning more calories even when you aren’t moving. Bonus!


11. Plan for spontaneity. (Only a type-A person would write that). But seriously, leave a workout bag packed in your car with a seasonally appropriate outfit and multipurpose shoes at all times. You never know when you suddenly find yourself with an extra hour you hadn’t planned on. Having something ready for a hike/walk/run is a great way to enjoy these ‘free’ moments.

What other fitness hacks have worked for you? Please share and comment!


The Short List of Food Life Hacks


  1. When reheating rice, drizzle a couple tablespoons of water on the top, cover, and microwave until warm. I make rice once a week and my kids have no idea. Tastes like you just made it!
  2. Have a hankering for dessert, but on a diet? Freeze bananas. Slice frozen bananas, add your favorite fixings to a blender and whirl. Instant ice cream that you don’t feel bad about and is super-creamy.
  3. Too much salt in what you are cooking? Include a peeled potato – potatoes soak up salt and solve the problem!
  4. Eat the protein on your plate first – it will fill you up and make you less likely to consume the other items on your plate, saving calories.
  5. Peel a banana from the end – monkeys eat it this way, and there’s a reason for it. Waaaaayyyy easier.
  6. Eating tomatoes reduces your sensitivity to sunburns.
  7.  Weight loss tip: allow yourself only to have seconds of vegetables and protein options. You’ll feel satisfied and will not have just consumed 500 calories of french bread.
  8. Speed up the weekday breakfast: Make extra pancakes on the weekend, and pop in the toaster for a very quick, midweek breakfast. Tastes just like it came off the griddle.
  9. Cottage Cheese and Sour Cream will last twice as long if you turn the containers upside down in the fridge. Doing so creates a vacuum and prevents bacteria formation.
  10. Didn’t drink the whole bottle of Champagne and now its flat? (Well, shame on you). To revive, drop a raisin in and behold the magical powers of the bubbles.
  11. Have ingredients but looking for recipe inspiration? Check out Supercook. Perfect for nights that you are tired of thinking and making decisions.  

Hope these hacks make your life easier this week! Give them a go and let me know how they work for you!

Looking for other categories of life hacks? Let me know what you are interested in!


Have a highly sensitive kid? Me too. Here’s what I learned about it. 

The tears. Oh, the tears… it happens so frequently you don’t know if you should scream, seek therapy or resort to old school ‘toughen up’ strategies. 

It’s hard to know what to do, how to react, how to best support your child when you have on one hand, a very emotionally intelligent child and on the other, the child that’s the first one to cry on every playdate.

Psychology Today describes highly sensitive  children as 

deeply affected by what others say to them, the images in their mind and their surroundings… come with deep talents but can be “trying” if you seek to raise them in the regular way…

My son cried at dinner the other night because his plate wasn’t ‘organized’ (shrimp, tortellini and Parmesan segregated in a linear pattern inside the bowl).

He cries at the moment anyone raises their voice in the family.

Getting dirty, sticky, or messy is not an option. I don’t even want to talk about sunscreen application.

But he’s also the first one to recognize when anyone is out of sorts, and ALWAYS manages to say or do exactly what that person needs to hear in order to have their spirits lifted. It’s an amazing gift, and one that cannot be taught. He touches the lives of everyone he interacts with in a positive and unique way because of his gift. So, I am choosing to celebrate his talents and not fall prey to the idea of pigeon holeing him into a mold that doesn’t fit. 

After reading Growing Happy Kids: How to Foster Inner Confidence, Success and Happiness by Maureen Healy, I learned some good parenting strategies to set me on a positive track that I hope benefit you as well. 

-Sensitivity is a strength. It can be very tempting to tell your child to toughen up and stop crying. Rather than taking this approach, Healy suggests embracing your child’s inherent sensitivity as a strength versus a problem. This is a critical point for most parents; it enables you to release the idea of pushing your son or daughter to be “more like the other kids” but appreciate him or her for who they are — deep feelings, sensitive responses, gifts, unique perspective and all.

Different is good. Not unlike adults, a lot of children naturally seek the approval of others and want to fit in. Allowing your child to see him or herself as an individual though, and appreciateing the talents that come from their uniqueness is liberating! They are no longer held captive to the judgement of others and can embrace what they offer the world. I found this advice something we could all learn from.

Self-Care and awareness is key. Consider a situation that could be upsetting to many kids – a classmate teasing the outfit, backpack, or choice of shoes. Rather than “shaking it off”, the highly sensitive child needs to learn how to recognize when to walk away, when he needs to care for himself, and how to re-enter a situation to handle it when he is feeling stronger and capable.

At the end of the day, Healy talks about teaching your kids a sense of confidence that allows them to look beyond external approval. The type of confidence that allows all of us to define accomplishment within ourselves. It’s this sense of self that allows kids, or anyone for that matter, to have the wherewithal to believe in themselves and not let the world around them affect them de-rail them from their goals and ambitions. It’s a great read, and I encourage you to check it out:

What other strategies have you learned that work for you and your kids? Please share! 


Fun For All – Make it a “Yes Day”

Sometimes it feels like the only thing I say all day is ‘NO’… do your kids feel that way too?

If you’re up for an adventure and break from routine, its time to consider a Yes Day!

A Yes Day is when you let your kids set the day’s agenda, and you get to say Yes! to nearly every request.

Why on God’s Green Earth is this a Good Idea?

It’s fun.

It inspires creativity and teamwork for your kids.

It requires kids to prioritize and negotiate within limits.

It encourages self-confidence and empowerment.

It’s fun for parents because we get to let loose too (within established limits).

This will take some pre-planning and boundary setting so the little planners understand what they have to work with. Feel free to modify the rules – after all, this is your day too!

  1. Set a budget. Tell your kids how much money they have on “Yes Day” to spend. This teaches them financial responsibility.
  2. Determine the day’s events in advance. Ensures everyone’s expectations can be met within the bounds of a 24-hour period.
  3. Establish frequency. Is this is a once-a-year privilege, or can the kids earn a Yes Day through good behavior, exceptional grades or another major accomplishment? (Just make sure it’s a true reward so the excitement of earning one isn’t diluted.)
  4. Rules. Yes, limited rules still apply on a Yes Day. Some suggestions:
  • 3 good meals required (you can still have pizza for breakfast, just not Halloween candy for B, L & D).
  • Nothing can be planned that’s considered dangerous or illegal.
  • Agree on how far you are willing to drive/travel for the day.
  • No future tense requests. A Yes Day is a single day.
  • Limit screen time – let’s make this fun, people!
  • Agree on a bedtime in advance.

It’s fun to introduce the idea to your kids by sharing the book with them, available On Amazon (like all good things)! 

Thoughts? Have you had a Yes Day? What worked for you? Or, are you ready to schedule one?  I’d love to hear about your Yes Day adventures!


The “school is out” panic attack is upon us – strategies for a sane summer

It’s a tough time of year; the kids are super-excited for a break from homework and have fun camps to look forward to every week, and as parents we’re wondering how the hell we will survive without the hot-lunch fallback option for 3 months.

To make matters worse, we have to survive the next 73 days (but whose counting) with the most inconvenient drop off and pick up times conceived breaking up our normal routines, try to remain employed and somehow attempt to enjoy summer in the process. How on God’s green earth do we make all this work?

I scoured my resources and came up with what I believe to be a pretty comprehensive list of survival tips. Please share your thoughts on your plans or what’s worked for you too!

1. Work from home from time-to-time

Set up playdates with your children’s friends when you are working from home, and return the favor to others. When your kids are at home and you have a deadline, set them up with a project and use a timer to bargain for uninterrupted working time. If they give you an hour, you give them 50 water balloons and let them have a free-for-all outside. If they give you two hours, promise to take them to the park to play.

2. Part/time Nanny

Consider hiring a part-time sitter/nanny to give yourself a break. One with a drivers license can be a life-saver if camp gets out at 3pm and work requires you put in a real workday. High school students are generally reasonably priced and have the energy to keep things fun for the kids. Try care.com if you need access to a sitter network; this option also has background and driving checks that can be purchased for additional fees.

3. Pay attention to camp details

You want camp to be fun for your child, and preparation is critical. Make sure your kids know the schedule – who is picking them up and when, where the lunch & snack are located in their backpack, where the bathroom is at camp, etc. Similarly, pay attention to sunscreen. Getting a sunburn on day 1 will make for a painful days 2-5 and start the week off on the wrong foot.

4. Figure out your new commute

For yourself, map out traffic patterns so you are aware of when you need to leave work to pick up the kids on time. Waze is awesome for this, and will send you a reminder 15 minutes before you need to leave to arrive on time based on the day’s traffic patterns.

5. Pick the right outfit

The right clothes can make or break the experience – be certain your child is dressed appropriately for weather and activities. Summer camp often involves water, mud, sand, watermelon and/or pie eating contests and more, hence, expect messiness. One of the best tips for parents is to visit your local second hand store and buy 6 or 8 outfits that are “camp only” clothes. This relieves everyone from worrying about stained-beyond-salvage situations, and no one feels bad about tossing them at the end of summer. Alternatively, you can be lazy like me and utilize our friends at Amazon:

Boys Shirts – Multiple Color Options

Boys Shorts

Girls Shirts – Multiple Color Options

Girls Shorts

6. Grandparent Camp

If you are lucky enough to have grandparents who are willing and able to spend time with the kiddos, take advantage of it. Kids benefit from multi-generation influence, and you gain back some sanity knowing your kids are in good hands.

7. Juggling Vacations

If you are part of a two parent family, consider taking separate vacations so each parent can cover kiddo duty while off work. You have the opportunity to bond with your kids in a new way, and save $ compared to an expensive camp option.

8. Tap into your community network

Hopefully you’ve scheduled some camps with your children’s friends – if so, take turns with drop off and pick up to allow other working parents to stay late one night while you take another night that same week.

Pay your friends’ generosity back with an easy and appreciated gift – Alcohol delivery via Saucey in 30 minutes or less! Get Saucey! Use code “Try21” at checkout for some savings.

9. Make lunch in bulk

I often make lunches for 2-3 days in one setting to save time and energy. Some easy, yet palatable and fun ideas:

For the “I only have time to make lunch once” family: 1 week of lunches in 1 hour

For the kid who only eats snacks: Lunches for the snacker

For the “I don’t want my food to touch each other” kiddo*: Mason jar recipes

This lunchbox set is perfect if you want to avoid the glass mason jars:
Perfect Tupperware
*Use the same concept to segregate hummus/veggies, nut butter/apples, ranch/carrot sticks, crackers/ meat/cheese slices, etc.

What did I miss that saves your sanity in the summer? Please share your tips!


Mommy Guilt

There are moments that I wonder what it would be like to swap roles with my husband (who also works Full Time+some and travels like I do). I don’t wonder about the split of the chores, that seems equitable. I wonder about how our role and contributions as working parents affects our psyche. 

I wonder if, generally speaking, men feel guilt like working mothers I know do. And, if so, is that guilt self-imposed, or is it a societal expectation that hasn’t gone away? Do we expect more from moms than dads? I know, at minimum, our kids do. About a year ago, I counted the number of times my boys said “mommy?” In a 10 minute interval. I kid you not, it was 102 times between the two of them. How many times did they say “daddy?” 3. Three frickin’ times. We were both in the room the entire time.

I sure hope it’s not societies expectatation, but not because it’s wrong. I sure hope not because I know kids do better with a balance. My husband does an amazing job teaching our boys life skills they need to know – how to use a power tool, mow a lawn, ski, treat women respectfully, make homework seem reasonable and pee standing up, to name a few. I don’t have near the level of patience he does and I’m not nearly as good as he is at any of those things (especially peeing standing up).

He also appreciates the stage our kids are in better than I do. He’s always made time for early morning snuggles, even if it means starting the morning off later than he wanted. I suck at living in the moment and struggle with appreciating the current ‘phase’ our boys are in, particularly when it means I’ll be late for something or someone…. and then I feel guilty about it later.

Now, this isn’t a pity party. I’m good at a lot of things, and share those teachable moments with the kids. My point is, one person can’t be expected to do it all, and to do “it” all well. So why does society (or we as individuals) expect that of moms? And then why do we feel guilty about juggling too many things? Shouldn’t we celebrate what we are good at, and what we can do for our kids instead of focus on what we aren’t good at, or aren’t doing?

Enough of the diatribe; what can we do to cope with the guilt?

1. Commit to what’s reasonable and take pride in meeting that commitment

I tend to get a healthy dose of mommy guilt around Valentine’s Day when my children come home with perfectly handcrafted/scrapbook worthy Valentines that are individualized to each child in a room of 30 classmates. Instead of falling into ‘craft mom’ guilt every time I see this, I’ve opted to make a different commitment to my kids that is important to them. I’ve obligated myself to making my children one pretty phenomenal birthday cake every year. It ends up being about an 8-12 hour commitment, but I can plan ahead for it and I know it makes their day that much more special. I’m spending time and energy on something that matters to my kids. Pick something that matters to yours, and deliver.

2. Put your phone away (and other distractions) when around your kids.

The painful reality of the importance of being present to my kids when we did have time together set in about 2 years ago. My 4-year old at the time told me to ‘wait a minute’ because he ‘was busy doing some work’ (on a first generation iPod). Okay! Message received kiddo. Let’s face it, we don’t have a lot of minutes to spend together, so genuinely enjoy each other’s company when the opportunities are available.

3. Make a daily commitment to do something for you.

I am 100% positive that when I take care of myself (my outlet/’me time’ is exercise), I am a far better person. I’m more patient, empathetic, caring, relaxed, and confident. The benefits of my ‘me time’ shows up in all my relationships. Sometimes life gets in the way and it’s not possible – your spouse is out on business and you have a kid with croup home from school for 3 days. Cut yourself some slack when life throws you the lemons, and jump back on the ‘me’ wagon as soon as you reasonably can.

Would love to hear any tips you have to deal with ‘mommy guilt’. Comment and share!


The power of ‘because’…

Ever wish you had the upper edge, that last morsel of influence that allowed you get something you had otherwise thought impossible? Look no further.

Enter the word: ‘because’.

I recently learned about a classic Harvard study that tested how providing a reason ‘why’ led to obtaining your desired end state; I decided to test it out. It worked like a charm- with my kids, at work and with a total stranger over the phone getting a refund on a non-refundable transaction. It actually became almost a fun game to see how many times I could use it successfully. My results were pretty consistent with the Harvard study:

The study involved a common office scenario – the line buildup and negotiation of ‘who first’ in the line at the Xerox machine. The objective was to get to the front of the line, bypassing those already waiting to use the machine.

A test subject was told to try to cut to the front of the line – and tried different excuses to accomplish the goal:

Test #1: ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the photocopier?’ His request was granted 60% of the time.

Test #2:  ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the photocopier, because I am in a rush.’ The test subjects’ success increased to 94%.

Test #3: ‘Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the photocopier because I need some copies.’ His success rate was 93%.

The study concluded that use of the word  ‘because’ influenced the behaviors of those we interact with, even if the reason provided is blatantly obvious (‘because I need some copies’)…

Simply put – if you give people a reason – almost any reason – to comply with your request, they will do so. 

Try it – let me know how it works for you!

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my kids’ clean room, employees taking on additional projects at work, and my non-refundable refund. 


Turning lemons into lemonade… what to do with leftovers

Sometimes I get so frustrated with the boys when they get beyond picky with their food. They’ll shun certain yogurt flavors or brands, only eating the exotic fruit from the fruit salad, only want specific cuts of meat, extra sharp cheddar, etc. And I only need one of them to have a “picky” moment before the other one quickly follows suit. 

How did these kids get so privileged? 

Well, being the good food hoarder that I am, I’ve decided not to put up with it anymore. We’re making lemonade out of lemons starting this week and not turning back! We’re reclaiming our leftovers!

Today’s “food repurpose” opportunity came in the form of leftover breakfast. We’ve been picking off fruit salad for two days and the only thing left was droopy blueberries and pineapples stained purple from – yes, the blueberries. The beautiful strawberries, mango and kiwi had disappeared after day one.

Checked the fridge – ah, the Chobani Greek yogurt section of the fridge that has gone untouched for several weeks and is nearing expiration. (Kids don’t like the texture of Greek yogurt all of a sudden — see note above about ‘privileged kids’).

My mind immediately goes to popcicles. I mean, who doesn’t love a popcicle for goodness sake?

Droopy blueberries, stained pineapple and undesired yogurt have never been in a happier combination and all it took was a 2-minute whirl in my blender. Here’s a picture of them enjoining the undesireables:

Ha! Winning! 

I’ll be blending up more undesireable combos in future posts. 


We’re celebrating the wrong things

Watching part of the Today Show this morning, a headline story was being broadcast about a mother being celebrated for giving up her own life to care for her 3 children. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this woman is a saint, and probably a better mother than I’ll ever be. But why is giving up your life the tag line, and not actually what she contributed as a mother to these 3 kids? 

We see this same tragedy in other aspects of our lives too – at work, employees are celebrated for working all night to finish a project – celebrating the sacrifice of sleep. Since when did sleep deprevation help anyone in their career and enhance their ability to perform or drive results?

Why don’t we celebrate the individuals who managed their time carefully, completed their work and were able to go away for the weekend with their family?

We need a paradigm shift – one that celebrates the results of our impact, not the steps leading to the end goal.

This starts with us as individuals, mothers, bosses, spouses. And it starts with the little things:

  • Acknowledge others for their effective time management
  • Encourage those around you to take care of themselves – and they’ll have the energy to then care for others
  • Celebrate the ability to unplug and take time away from the daily stresses of life

In doing these things, it’s my goal that we teach our children that sacrificing yourself isn’t the end goal – but taking care of yourself, and defining your own path to happiness will free you to be the better mother, employee, spouse and friend. 

Until then, you’re just running on empty.


Limits are self-imposed

I’m watching #Breaking2 with the world’s 3 best hopefuls trying to accomplish the impossible – running a marathon in under 2 hours. The world record is currently 2:02:57.  For a non runner, ~3 minutes may not seem like much, but for world class athletes, it’s been a 2-year journey just to try to beat it. It’s the equivalent pace to a 13.6 on the treadmill, or a 4:34.7 min mile average.

What can we learn from this? These athletes likely understand these limits better than the rest of us mere mortals. They realize how hard that 3 minute gap is to overcome.

What I think about is:

  • Mental health is as important, or not more, than physical health once you reach a certain athletic level
  • Confidence in your abilities and coaching allows you to foresee your dreams are possible
  • Achieving our goals takes time, focus and energy

These are lessons we can easily apply to our own lives. Are we taking care of our mental health? Do we believe in ourselves, or are we prisoners of our our thoughts? Are we listening to the coaches we have in our lives? And, are we being patient enough to achieve our goals?

And while I write this post, Kipchoge just made history and broke the (unofficial) world record.

26.2 miles in 2:00:25

Not sub 2, but pretty freaking impressive.

What are you capable of when you remove your self-imposed limits?

My goal is to run a sub 6 min mile. What’s yours?