Zumba: Dance Your Way to a Healthy Lifestyle

“Zumba fitness!!”

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase exclaimed in a high-pitched, almost-maniacal voice at least once in your lifetime.

Get that beach body by this summer! Enroll in a Zumba class ASAP!

Get that beach body by this summer! Enroll in a Zumba class ASAP!

Well, the fact is, Zumba is something everyone should get excited about — it’s one of the liveliest ways you can stay fit! With a lively beat, your body can do wonders, and your overall health will increase tenfold.

First of all, Zumba burns a lot of calories. We’re not talking a measly 200 calories per session. We’re talking from 800-1,000 calories per 30- to 60-minute period. By dancing, you can lose that unwanted weight, just as though you were working out on an elliptical or treadmill.

Zumba tones your whole body. Not only do you burn a ton of calories — and I mean a ton — you also allow muscles all over your body to be contoured. The amount of movement you do and the regulation of moves that occurs allows for an even muscle tone that you will absolutely love.

Zumba is addicting. In a good way. Unlike many other addictive things that could be detrimental to your health, Zumba is a fun activity that helps you maintain a healthy weight and increase your muscle mass. You will never want to miss a Zumba session once you start. You’ll build lasting friendships, and your Zumba class will become a family away from home. At least, that’s what I experienced.

Zumba works for all age groups and body types! You don’t have to be 21 and stick-thin to participate in an upbeat, lively Zumba class. The truth is, you can be any age and really any weight and still do Zumba. There are classes of varying levels, and they help you feel comfortable with where you’re at and increase your ability to advance to harder, more complex choreography.

Zumba is a great way to release stress! Dancing in itself is known to be a great way to alleviate stress. Zumba not only utilizes dancing, it also comprises fitness techniques that help release chemicals in your brain that keep you happy and stress-free. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, join a Zumba class! It will make a huge difference in your life.

Lastly, Zumba makes you a better dancer. Let’s face it. Good dancing is almost always a desired skill set. Well, enrolling is a great way to make your dreams of becoming a better dancer a reality! So get out there and enroll in that Zumba class. You will not regret it!

Stay healthy, my friends!

How to Stay Moderately Healthy this Thanksgivukkah

A week from today, we will experience something extremely rare — the intersection of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!

Budget your calorie intake this Thanksgiving!

Budget your calorie intake this Thanksgiving!

So how are you celebrating this holiday anomaly?

Whether you’re having a romantic, candlelit Thanksgiving for two or you’re enjoying the company of your jubilant extended family, one thing’s for sure — this Thanksgiving has to be celebrated on epic proportions.

And no, I don’t mean pig out. This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to control your portions and eat smartly.

This doesn’t mean miss out on your holiday favorites! It just means that you’ll make a few adjustments that shouldn’t affect your overall Thanksgivukkah experience.

Follow these eight steps for a healthier Thanksgivukkah celebration:

  1. Practice portion control: Even though Thanksgiving only comes around once a year, and you might have this raging urge to just eat and eat and eat some more, don’t. Take a little bit of everything at the Thanksgiving buffet, and eat with moderation.
  2. Use low-calorie substitutes: If you’re making any sort of sweet delight this Thanksgiving, cut back on a lot of calories by using a sugar substitute or honey! Any way you can cut back is beneficial to your health, even if it’s as simple as a sugar substitute.
  3. Eat a meal early: Most people think that if they starve themselves all day and “save” up for the big Thanksgiving meal, they will somehow be budgeting calories in an efficient way. This couldn’t be more false! Make sure to eat a meal before the huge feast. That way, you won’t binge later. High-fiber meals in the morning are highly recommended.
  4. Avoid eating seconds: Yes, I know this one may be hard, but try your hardest! Even though everything is going to taste so good, you don’t need more than one serving in one sitting.
  5. Go for the veggie options: Be sure to eat your veggies! Whether they’re boiled, steamed, baked or fresh, eating veggies as part of your Thanksgiving meal will only make your diet that much more balanced.
  6. Try to stick to water as your primary drink: Thanksgiving is one of the many holidays with delicious drinks everywhere, and whether it’s an aged wine or a nice glass of sparkling apple cider, be careful not to drink too many calorie-filled drinks. In fact, if you can stick to water as your main drink, you will be even healthier in the long run. Think of this as calorie budgeting.
  7. Savor your food: Really take your time when chewing. Research has shown that when you chew slower, your digestive processes work better. So be sure to slow down and really enjoy what you’re eating.
  8. Stay away from turkey skin: Turkey skin is a huge no-no! While it may taste delicious to some, it is extremely high in fat. Instead, you should eat the white meat of the turkey.

Ultimately, it’s about sacrificing a little in order to be your healthiest this Thanksgiving. Making a few of these small changes will benefit you immensely! So try them. Give them a shot and notice how much better you’ll feel.

Well folks, now you know how to have a healthy, happy Thanksgivukkah! Follow these eight steps and you won’t feel bad when you’re trying on that new pair of jeans on Black Friday!

Happy Thanksgivukkah – make the most of this special time!

Healthy Ways to Snack When You’re Always on the Run

When life is a whirlwind of academics, jobs, relationships, gym memberships and other commitments reaching top speeds and giving you few to no breaks, it can become very difficult to make healthy choices.

Avoid these at all costs!

Avoid these at all costs!

Oftentimes, this is where bad eating habits develop, simply because with everything else going on in your life, eating just isn’t a priority. It becomes more of a chore, especially on weekdays when going out with your friends might not be an option.

This is where many of us fall victim to unhealthy but oh-so-enticing snacking. We get so caught up in our daily routine that a bag of Cheetos or quick soda is simply a means to an end.

But it has to stop. Our bodies deserve better fueling, and it’s up to us to make that happen! So, instead of grabbing a few Oreos on the way out, grab a granola bar!

Invest in your health by choosing snacks off the following list. They’re quick, satisfying and healthy.

Granola bars: Full of fiber and with a little kick of sugar, granola bars can keep you going for hours. I highly recommend Fiber One bars – they make a great in-between snack or quick breakfast.

Carrots: You’d be surprised how full you can get by eating carrots with any sort of dip or just plain. They are a great on-the-go snack! Just pack a few in a baggie and you’ll be good until your next meal.

Almonds: Almonds are fantastic. They help keep you filled up and they are also a very good filler between meals. They also have a lot of folic acid in them and help promote digestion.

Grapefruit: Grapefruit is known to help you manage appetite and lower insulin levels, making it an ideal diet snack. Sprinkle a little brown sugar on your grapefruit and enjoy!

Avocado: Also known as a “super food,” avocado benefits your health in countless ways. Whether you make a quick dip or just eat it plain, avocado is one of the best veggies you can eat when you’re in a bind.

Yogurt: Full of probiotics and fiber, yogurt is a very good on-the-go snack. Top your yogurt with granola or fresh fruit and you should be full for a couple hours at least.

Kale chips: We all get urges to eat junk food. Outsmart your urge to munch on something crunchy by eating kale chips! Top them with a little sea salt, and you will satisfy your chip craving and maintain your health.

Hard-boiled eggs: With only 70 calories, hard-boiled eggs are a great option. They are protein-rich and promote eye health.

Milk: Believe it or not, milk fills you up. It’s a good source of protein and Vitamin D. It can also be a really good post-workout drink.

Whole-wheat cereal: Cereal is one of the best snacks you can eat between meals, as long as it’s whole-wheat and low in sugar content.

Smoothies: Sometimes, all you need is a properly blended smoothie to hold you over until your next meal. Blend up some kale, blueberries and almond milk on your way out!

The list goes on and on; these are just a few healthy options that can change the way you snack forever.

But you have to make the first step. Don’t be lazy and grab the first packaged thing that comes within your reach!

Putting an extra five minutes into making a nutritious snack is definitely worth it in the long run. Do yourself a favor and put more time and thought into your daily snacking.

Stay healthy, my friends!

How to Combat Allergy Symptoms without Medication

Allergies are never a convenient addition to your daily activities. Especially not now, when school and work are picking up right before the holiday season arrives! Severe allergies sometimes force us to resort to various drugs and steroids to suppress annoying sniffles, coughs, sneezes and more.

Go natural!

Go natural!

However, it doesn’t always have to be like this.

There are other ways to treat your allergy symptoms without getting loaded up on prescription drugs. And no — these aren’t just old wives’ tales! They are legitimate ways to treat your allergy symptoms without the harsh chemicals found in prescription drugs.

  1. Probiotics: The probiotics found in yogurt and other dairy products are beneficial to your body in more than one way. Not only do they strengthen your immune system against foreign invaders, they also help regulate digestive processes.
  2. Cardamom: Despite its bitter taste, it’s a keeper! Cardamom has been used over the centuries to clear sinuses, and boy, does it work. Grinding up some cardamom and tossing it on top of your tea is sure to clear up a stuffy nose and prevent future congestion.
  3. Honey: Buy local honey! Local honey arms your immune system with the tools it needs to combat allergens that are around you. It’s one of the few ways to prevent allergies as a whole. It’s definitely worth buying!
  4. Herbal teas: Nothing soothes a throat sore from coughing and nasal drip quite like a hot, steamy cup of herbal tea. Green tea, black tea, red tea — you name it! Herbal teas are full of antioxidants and will calm your allergy symptoms within seconds upon consumption.
  5. Cherry juice: Quirky, I know! But it’s true. Cherry juice has actually been shown to decrease allergy symptoms because it is so tart. Much like cardamom, cherry juice opens sinuses and clears your throat, making breathing much easier.
  6. Assorted nuts: A mixture of a variety of nuts has shown to strengthen the body’s reaction to allergens. Aside from being filled with lots of beneficial proteins and fiber, nuts can really help prevent certain allergy symptoms.

Well, there you have it! Avoid going to the pharmacy this winter unless you’ve tried these six options. Unless you’re at risk for pneumonia or bronchitis because of worsening allergy symptoms, these home remedies should help you through the rough patches you may experience this winter!

Make sure you’re ready for the holiday season by frequenting the six options above! Even if you don’t have allergy symptoms, these six options will fortify your immune system and prevent any pathogen from ruining your plans!

Stay healthy, my friends!

10 Ways to Stay Healthy this Halloween

It’s almost Halloween! Have you thought about how you’re going to keep those candy corn calories off?

Make moderation key this Halloween.

Make moderation key this Halloween.

If not, you need to follow these 10 steps so you can successfully stay healthy this Halloween!

Every Halloween, thousands upon thousands of people fall prey to synthetic fillers and high-fructose corn syrup as they enjoy their Halloween candy. They fail to realize how much damage certain Halloween candies can do!

Don’t let Halloween hijack your fitness progress or make future fitness goals even harder to achieve. Follow these 10 steps, and you’ll be golden.

10 Ways to Stay Healthy this Halloween:

  1. Eat three distinct meals. Eating distinct meals, especially dinner before trick-or-treating or attending a party, will help you refrain from binge-eating items that have less nutritional value than a balanced meal.
  2. Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will not only help you stay alert this Halloween, but it will also fill you up to an extent.
  3. Provide healthier treats if distributing snacks to the trick-or-treaters. They say it takes a village to raise a child — they’re not lying! It starts with you.
  4. If you’re throwing a party, have a few veggie trays as snacking options. You’ll be surprised how far munching on veggies instead of chips or other salt-filled munchies  will take you.
  5. Serve low-calorie drinks at Halloween parties. Everyone knows there will be drinks at a Halloween party. Do yourself a favor and indulge in lower-calorie options — and drink with moderation.
  6. If you’re going to eat a chocolate Halloween treat, eat dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.  Dark chocolate is actually full of antioxidants, unlike its lighter counterpart.
  7. Buy Halloween candy at the last minute. That way, you aren’t tempted to eat it before distributing it that night. It’s also cheaper when bought closer to Halloween.
  8. If you’re trick-or-treating, take the long route around the neighborhood to get in a few extra strides and ultimately more exercise for a healthy heart and fit body.
  9. Set boundaries as to how many candies you or your loved ones can eat a day. Fun-size candy is always a good option!
  10. Never, ever fill up a whole pillowcase with candy. That’s just asking for trouble.

With these 10 steps in mind, you’re sure to have an amazing Halloween your body won’t regret partaking in!

Get out there, be active, make good choices and have a great Halloween!

Hot yoga: Is it just a fad?

You’ve probably heard the illusive term “hot yoga.” What comes to mind?

Do you envision a crowded room filled with artificial light and sweaty people simultaneously engaged in poses that stretch convention?

Or do you envision something more private — perhaps a small group that practices in a low-light sauna, each bead of sweat produced a testament to their commitment to health?

Om.

Om.

The truth is, there are many different ways to engage in hot yoga. You can do it in classes with more than 200 people; you can do it with 10 people. The lights can be recessed lighting or candles — the options are endless.

But one fact remains constant: hot yoga is one of the best things you can do for your body.

Doing hot yoga in a room that’s anywhere from 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit increases your pulse and metabolism. This, in turn, allows for better circulation throughout the body.

So when you sweat a lot, that means you lose more weight, right? Not necessarily! Studies have shown that the fact that you sweat more in hot yoga does not mean you will lose more weight than you would at standard room temperature. However, more harmful toxins are released during hot yoga through the greater amount of sweat than with yoga done at standard room temperature.

By far the greatest advantage to doing hot yoga is the fact that your body will surpass the expected level of flexibility that currently defines how you pose. The heat loosens up tight muscles and knots, also lubricating joints that would normally inhibit your body from reaching its full potential.

However, while there are many advantages to doing hot yoga, you still need to take certain precautions. Staying hydrated is essential! It’s recommended that you drink at least 2-3 liters on top of the required eight glasses of water daily if you plan to commit to hot yoga as a fitness routine.

Also, food intake needs to be monitored. It’s recommended that you eat a small snack before doing hot yoga — too empty or too full of a stomach is detrimental to the hot yoga experience.

But, the most important thing is to listen to your body while doing hot yoga, and be careful not to overexert yourself. Oftentimes, you want to ignore the minor things you feel in a workout routine, but with hot yoga, the risk of passing out is higher than normal. It’s vital to take breaks when needed.

But, holistically speaking, hot yoga is a great fitness routine to get into. Not only will you burn calories and increase your flexibility, you will also put your mind at ease and keep your mental health in check! So, the verdict has been passed. Hot yoga is not just a fad. It’s arguably the best way to practice yoga because of all the added benefits. So get out there! Grab a buddy and sign up for a hot yoga class. The experience will be unforgettable, and your body will love you for it!

The Health Behind Spa Days

At this point during the year, a lot of students and professionals yearn for some sort of excuse to just kick back and take a break from the swamp of work piled up around them.

Treat yourself!

Treat yourself at Hotel Palomar’s Repose.

The vision of the spa atmosphere might seem extravagant to some — candles, aromatherapy, oil massages? Who really needs all that?

But the truth is, there are health benefits behind that luxurious visit to the day spa. Everybody needs a break, and a spa day is the ideal way to spend your day off.

So, how exactly do spa treatments benefit your health? Well, the explanation is actually quite predictable.

Many of the massage options at day spas release knots in your back that can worsen your posture and soothe sore muscles and inflamed joints by targeting areas that are tight or swollen. Additionally, services like bath soaks, mani-pedis, facials and other skin services can alleviate a lot of stress and tension that is built up throughout the school or work day.

It ultimately boils down to the “power of touch.” It’s been proven by multiple psychologists that being touched is essential to our sanity! Being touched releases endorphins which ultimately make you feel happy.

The following locations are full-functioning spas that include facials, wax options, makeup application, hair design and mani-pedi stations.

The Roose Parlour and Spa: Nestled in the historic district of downtown Phoenix at 918 N. Sixth St., this location is known for its charming, friendly staff and hip feel.

Repose Spa and Salon: Tucked inside CityScape between Washington and Jefferson streets and First Avenue and First Street, this location is affiliated with the Hotel Palomar and is known for its upscale, unique lay out.

Inner Radiance Spa: Though it’s not downtown, this spa at 4503 N. 32nd St is close to the esteemed Biltmore Hotel. This location is known for using all organic products and specializes in skin care.

Downtown Salon Phoenix: At 101 E. Monroe St., this location mainly caters to hair care but also offers massage, nail, and skin services.

The Spa at Pilgrim: Again, a bit outside downtown, but right off Jefferson Street, this spa at 1401 E. Jefferson St. focuses on massages, including Swedish and hot stone massages. But for “total indulgence,” the Caribbean Therapy Total Indulgence package is a must. It’s comprised of a bath soak, body scrub and body cleanser all done in flower water with candles.

As you can see, there are some pretty nifty places downtown or nearby where you can really treat yourself after a long day. So do it! The next time you’re extremely stressed out or just need a breather from whatever is going on, go to the spa! You won’t regret it.

Not only will you have the ability to completely unwind, you’ll also benefit your physical and mental health through various spa treatments. It really is a win-win situation. An investment in your comfort is an investment in your health. Don’t delay!

A Farmers Market: The Ultimate Organic Pharmacy

When I think about farmers markets, I envision the bustling, happy experience I had when I was in small-town Washington.

Flowers from farmer's markets are among the best...just look at these peonies!

Flowers from farmers markets are among the best… just look at these peonies!

Orange leaves were scattered across the semipaved dirt ground as families went from table to table buying anything from arugula to artwork. Boy, was it a surreal experience.

I relive this pleasant experience every time I’m at farmers markets around the downtown Phoenix area.

I see the same vision, only with slight modifications. I see the vibrant downtown community composed of ASU students, young professionals and families engrossed in the urban lifestyle, all intermingling in the name of consumerism — but there’s something different about this consumerism.

Investing in items from farmers markets is very different from investing in items from your average grocery store. Not only do you buy veggies and other organic products that are naturally grown without the perils of preservatives, you also nurture your community and your neighbors by supporting them financially.

In the downtown Phoenix area, the Phoenix Public Market provides the most accessible farmers market for students and has quite a few key items that could enhance your health greatly.

Here’s a list of healthy items you can find at the Phoenix Public Market farmers market:

  1.  Free-Range Eggs: Eggs produced from chickens that are allowed to roam have less fat and cholesterol than the average egg and also provide extra vitamin A, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Local Honey: Honey produced from bees in your local area contains pollen specific to your area of residence, providing increased defense against seasonal allergens that could hijack your winter experience. Downtown Devil’s HERBan Explorer even did a feature on local honey you can find at the Public Market farmers market.
  3. Organic Produce: Studies have shown that organic fruits and vegetables contain more vitamin C, trace minerals and antioxidants than the average spread of produce. Also, less pesticides are used on these vegetables.
  4. Organic Dairy: Organic dairy is known to contain higher levels of vitamin E, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and beneficial fats.

While investing in items from the farmers market can be slightly more expensive at times, it’s definitely worth it when it comes to the health benefits they provide. The most profound benefit you can reap from products produced and grown locally is the significant lack of extra chemicals and preservatives masking the produce in the grocery stores.

So get out there! Go to the local farmers markets around the Phoenix area. The Phoenix Public Market is a great place to start due to vicinity. But, definitely branch out! There’s much to be experienced at farmers markets, and they truly are an organic alternative to some of your pharmaceutical needs.

Fall is Here!

All over the country, leaves are turning from green to orange, temperatures are dropping, boots are rocking the runway, the flu shot is available everywhere and the holiday season is upon us. Fall is here!

If you think morning runs are limited to open skies, you're wrong. Run next to skyscrapers and get on a whole new level.

If you think morning runs are limited to open skies, you’re wrong. Run next to skyscrapers and get on a whole new level.

What are you doing to gear up for fall? The activities you can do downtown now that it isn’t a scorching 105 degrees outside are infinite. Go outside! Explore your options!

Here are some ideas of ways to stay active and explore this fall:

  • Healthy Picnic in Civic Space Park: Here’s an idea — actually go to Civic Space Park with your gym buddies, and chow down on some healthy sandwiches and fresh veggies after that morning workout. I mean, what’s there to lose?
  • Morning Run Around Downtown: Instead of painstakingly forcing yourself out of bed and onto an elliptical somewhere, put on those running shoes and trek around downtown Phoenix before 8 a.m. You won’t regret it.
  • Phoenix Public Market: Walk to get your groceries! Go to the Phoenix Public Market instead of driving to your local grocery store. The walk to and from the market will do you good, and you’ll have locally grown, healthy food in your pantry.
  • First Fridays: No longer does makeup have to run on the first Friday of the month. It’s officially fall, and the sweat glands that ruin your makeup job are inactive upon stepping outside of air conditioning! Take advantage of the exercise you can get from all the walking around while you’re not collapsing onto the sidewalk from the heat.
  • Shopping: When I go to the mall, the two places I spend the most time at are Urban Outfitters and Charming Charlie. So if you’re like me, don’t drive to some crowded mall! Walk to CityScape, shop ‘till you drop, and walk back to your abode. You’ll get cute clothes and you’ll feel even cuter in them with the added bit of exercise. Also, use those walking shoes to explore a few local shops downtown, like some of the vintage stores recently featured in Downtown Devil’s A Tailored Place.

Seriously though, now that it has cooled off, you have no excuse! Staying active and healthy is so much easier. Going to an indoor gym is no longer your only way to work out. Switch it up. Go for a long bike ride, walk to breakfast with a friend or do my favorite and go for that early morning run with the skyscrapers towering over you. Take advantage of this cool weather before the heat is upon us again!

The Sun Devil Fitness Complex: A Diamond in the Rough

The Sun Devil Fitness Complex that just opened on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus has done nothing but ‘wow’ Downtown students who were relying on the YMCA previously.

Night swim, anyone?

Night swim, anyone?

While the downtown YMCA was a pretty good place to work out, it definitely doesn’t compare to the new SDFC in terms of enhancing the relationship students have with the greater ASU community.

Not only does the new center have four floors full of equipment and fitness class rooms, it also has a rooftop pool that overlooks the greater downtown area. If the rooftop pool doesn’t cut it, I don’t know what does!

The first floor of the facility is home to an array of workout machinery, including but not limited to elliptical trainers, treadmills and other core-enhancing machines. The second through fourth floors house various fitness classrooms, multipurpose rooms and even a track.

While the amount of workout equipment is nice and all, I’m more of a fitness class junkie. Whether it’s Zumba or yoga, fitness classes appeal to me a lot more than treadmills or ellipticals do. So, if you’re like me, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex has just what you need! You can start off by doing a little cardio on the machines on the first floor and then make your way upstairs to one of the many fitness courses offered.

Generally speaking, there are three different types of fitness courses available: strength classes, cardio classes and yoga classes.

The best way to get in shape and do so with the most variability in workout style is to go for the strength/cardio combination classes. This category includes “Power Hour,” “Insane Intervals,” “Total Body Blast” and “Mix.” Each of these classes are high-intensity total-body workouts.

If you’re looking for just strength training, the classes offered are “Totally Toned,” “Raise the Bar” and “Awesome Abs.” Strength training is good if you’re already in shape and you just want definition.

Cardio classes are best for people who want to lose those extra pounds and get back into shape. The classes offered in this category are “Zumba,” “Cycle, Rise and Ride” and “Total Knock Out.”

My personal favorite fitness class — after kickboxing, that is — is yoga! The yoga classes offered are “Flow Yoga, Sunrise Yoga,” “Gentle Yoga” and “Power Yoga.” These yoga classes will help calibrate your body in physical and spiritual terms.

But, of course, we can’t forget the highlight of the fitness center — the rooftop pool! I don’t know what it is about rooftop pools that gets me. Whether it’s the elusive party scene that normally takes place around rooftop pools or it’s just the ability to see huge skyscrapers on either side of you as you backstroke down the length of the pool, having a pool on a roof in downtown is a very cool thing, and the complex deserves a standing ovation for such a brilliant setup.

With such a wide variety of fitness options and placement in the heart of downtown Phoenix, the Sun Devil Fitness Complex truly is a diamond in the rough that all ASU students should visit. With the multitude of fitness courses, the high volume of workout equipment, the track and the pool, this fitness center offers one of the most well-rounded workout routines a downtown Phoenician could ask for.