Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Five-Step Plan to Get in Shape

It is no secret that the quality of life is much better if we exercise and eat healthy... But how often have I promised myself to stock up the refrigerator with veggies and to sign up for a yoga class? How often have I gone for a late dinner, instead? And even worse, how often have I felt guilty for eating too many fries or ordering another martini?! Agh! Do you feel that way too? 

Okay, beating ourselves up for eating too many fries is never a good idea, but taking charge and finding the right balance is. 

Staying in good shape requires discipline ~ control of what goes into the body at all times ~ and there is no reason why we cannot do it. Are you with me?!

Here's my plan of action: 

1. Calculate how many calories you should consume daily

When I plan to lose weight, I always make sure I do it slowly, without feeling deprived, and consume just a little less (about 1/8th less) food than what I needed to maintain the desired weight. If I cut any more, I will starve and, naturally, drop the diet and overeat. I firmly believe in small and steady steps forward, and not in quick-fix-bound-for-failure-diets. I also should step up on my exercise routine, so that I would not have to completely cut myself off of occasional nights out (got to have them!).

2. Inventory what you eat
I use My Fitness Pal smart phone app to record what I eat. This app also gives me calorie count of each food. I love that I can scan the packaging and, voila, the entire information of this item is in my log. Brilliant! 

After two days of logging in what I ate, I confirmed that eating a home made food is so much healthier than eating out! He-he. No, seriously, night and day difference. It also became pretty clear where my problem lies ~ sweets and cheeses. To me, stopping at one small cookie is hard. Thankfully, I don't eat much breads or oily junk food. So my main job will be to control the cheeses and deserts portions!

What is your favorite food you can't stop eating? Don't say salad... or else...

3. Put together a few delicious go-to recipes
These recipes should taste delicious and should be made from whole non-processed foods, full of fiber and nutrientsThis way not only I won't be hungry, but also I will set myself for great healthy eating habits. 

Make sure to include a small portion of your favorite food, though. Otherwise, you will feel deprived. 

4. Exercise We need to exercise at least every other day. Every time I feel like skipping my yoga class, I remind myself that after every workout (with no exception!)  I feel happier, more energized, and ready to take on the world. 20 or more minutes of any of these exercises would do:
 ~run in a park, dance, jump on a trampoline
 ~core exercise like planks, crunches, push-ups, yoga, pilates

5. Don't give up and beat bad habits
A few years back, I got addicted to Starbucks' Caramel Machiato.  Well, before I knew, I quickly gained quite a few pounds, and then had to ween myself off the drink. It was so hard! To motivate myself, I bought a pair of skinny jeans a size too small and hung it at the most visible spot in my closet. Well, whatever works! No judgement!

                                                                         ____ ♡____

Are you going to join me in this journey for sake of health and skinny jeans? This can be an amazing lifestyle change! I would so love to hear from you ~ how many calories do you need to maintain your weight, what did you learn from your two day inventory, what helps you to stay focused on such goal, any recipes, tips and ideas?!

xo, Zuma A.
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Tips on How to Look and Feel Great After a Long Flight

A few years ago (quite a few years ago!), after I graduated from law school, I, naturally, started working for a law firm. I was shown to a spacious office with a heavy desk, bookshelves, and a fireplace. The fireplace! I was on cloud nine... Starting the next day I reported to work at 7AM, and quickly got buried under the paperwork... for 13 hours straight. The next day was no different, and the office soon stopped looking so appealing and cool. 

Well, I am a firm believer that I could live my life as beautiful or as miserable as I would make it to be... I am also a pro when it comes to avoiding the reality of life... So, to my mother's horror, five months after I started the job, I turned in my resignation letter - sorry mom, I just was not built to live a monotonous routine, I needed some variety and action. So I went on my own, a terrifying path, not any less exhausting or less stressful, but much more satisfying... to me.

Fast-forward ten years, I certainly got the variety I wanted ~ some days I work from home, some days I'm at hearings or meetings, and some days I travel out of town for business.

Traveling for business can be awesome ~ it gives opportunity to get away from the routine, to learn about different cultures, meet new people, visit great places, eat new foods. I mean, if I take just an hour flight from Los Angeles in any direction (except for West where there is nothing but ocean), the scenery,  the architecture, and the people of every place are so different. 

Having said that, traveling for business can also be draining (especially that I am not getting any younger), and it keeps me away from the family I can't live without. Thus, the trips' itinerary is always as tight as humanly possible. 

And in order to keep myself feeling fresh and looking zbeautiful after a long flight, I follow a few rules and pack a few things in my carry on.

Rule #1: Dress fabulously, but comfortably, and vice versa.
Remember the times of sneakers-sweats-tee-and-pillow outfits? Thankfully, the sweats and pajamas are no longer the only comfortable clothes in our closets!  

When I pick my travel outfit, I look for soft, loose and stretchy clothes ~ depending on the season, I pick soft cotton or cosy cashmere, a tee with a stretchy blazer (during warm weather, dress up in layers!), and for the bottom I pick either a stretchy tube skirt, or boyfriend jeans. To complete the outfit, I prefer booties or oxfords, an oversize shopping bag, and a necklace or a bracelet. 

Rule #2: Drink plenty of water and limit alcohol or caffein. 
The cabin air is very dry, so hydrate from the moment you wake up ~ glass of water before breakfast is a good start... Obviously, cannot get water through the airport security, and while waiting for my flight, I go for a cup of tea - I cannot make myself to buy a bottle of water at the airport,  just can't do it. $4 for a bottle of water?! But once in the airplane, every time a flight attendant walks through the isle with a bottle of water and plastic cups, I take two. Every time... whether I want it or not.  

Rule #3: Pick your seats at the time of purchasing the ticket.
You don't want to get stuck in the middle seat... No one wants to get stuck in the middle seat! But if you won't pick your seats at the time of ordering the tickets, you will be assigned a random seat, and middle seats are not off limits. And don't assume that you can pick the seats later, because the chances are the middle seats are the only ones available. 

Rule #4: Get up and walk up and down the isle.
If in a long flight, I get off my seat every hour at the very least. Especially after all the water I drink! But this also mean that I've got  to give up the window seats - it's just not fair to my neighbors who almost never seem to get off their seat... they just haven't read this post yet... 

Rule #5: Pack the carryon essentials

Compression socks.  It is not a secret that I am a neurotic person, and my worries about developing blood clots may or may not have ground. So the compression socks for a long flight are a must. 

Entertainment. I always bring my nook with me - sorry book lovers - I love my nook. It's lightweight  and it has all kinds of books under my fingertips to pick from. If the flight is long, my smartphone comes to the rescue - I can never stop being amazed how much this little device can do. For my flight I always have my iPhone to listen to music or... play candy crush (thankfully, I get only five lives and can't go on and on and on!). 

Eye mask or sun glasses.  Some people do bring with them noise canceling headphones. Interestingly, noise does not bother me, but light does. So for a red eye flight I always bring my eye mask. During the day time flight, I put on my sun glasses, even though I look snobbish (not cool). But what can I do? Got to have my zbeauty nap. 

Healthy snacks. Everyone snacks during a long flight. But if you don't have your own snacks, you are stuck with salty peanuts or sugary cookies. So bring your own snack ~ almonds, raisins, grapes... 

Blanket or shawl.  I don't know why pilots turn the thermostat down to a freezing temperature, but they do! If it really gets to me, I ask a flight attendant to ask the pilot to turn it up. Often it works, but sometimes it does not... I got a lot of heat when I wrote Instagram Deceptions a few months back - apparently, since I got upgraded to the first class, I had no right to complain that it was freezing and that I could not sleep even one minute during a red eye flight.  Well, I respectfully disagree. And, to avoid a chance of a miserable night, I always bring a big, warm, and cosy shawl on board. And, since the airlines do not provide blankets in coach, bringing a blanket or a warm shawl is a must!

What are your travel rules and carryon essentials? Would love to hear from you!

xo, Zuma A.
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Few Random Things I Learned This Week

Monday, September 8, 2014

Breakfast Under 300 Calories ~Ten Easy Ways to Dress Up Oatmeal