This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!
It feels wonderful to find a great cause in a big city. For some, giving back may be as simple as writing a check. For me, the experience of working with an inspired team has been irreplaceable. And while I may not have an excess of money to donate, I do have time. Recently, I volunteered with Project Angel Food. Their mission is “to nourish the body and spirit of men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses.”
Founded in 1989 by Marianne Williamson, Project Angel Food offers weekly meal deliveries and nutritional counseling to those with life-threatening illnesses and their dependent family members. The kitchen, based in Hollywood, serves as the center of their operation. Day after day, volunteers come in to help cook, package and deliver meals. In 2013, they were able to deliver over 600,000 meals!
Their clients have varying levels of mobility, and include a woman on chemotherapy, a mother with a chronic illness and a couple battling their HIV diagnoses together. For some, the meals are crucial to everyday life. For others, they are a resource, should the effects of treatment prevent them from providing for themselves and their family members.
Aside from the cause itself, what’s wonderful is that Project Angel Food offers a variety of opportunities to get involved. Of course, donations are accepted, but there are other ways to contribute:
It takes $5 million a year to keep Project Angel Food running. Eighty percent of the budget goes directly to programs with only twenty percent going toward staffing and overhead. Have $5.00 to share? That will provide one meal. Project Angel Food’s giving is transparent -- making it easy to see how your contribution will be utilized.
If you are down for Project Angel Food's cause use the buttons below to show your support! Or tweet at them at @projangelfood!
Don’t have time to volunteer, but you’d still like to contribute? Check out Project Angel Food’s Dine Out Night on April 23rd. When you dine in at any of the participating restaurants below, Project Angel Food will receive 20% of the proceeds.
The Abbey Food & Bar (West Hollywood), Connie and Ted’s (West Hollywood), Locanda Del Lago (Santa Monica), Meals by Genet, Pace, SUR, Hedleys, Cafe La Bohem, Bloom, Taste on Melrose, George’s Greek Cafe, Jar, Blue C Sushi, Malo Cantina Suavecita, Taste at the Palisades, Chic Wine Bar, Tortilla Republic Grill & Taqueria, Pizzeria Il Fico, Off Vine
Go on Safari. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Lounge on the beaches of Zanzibar. Two years ago, if you’d asked, “What are you going to do in Tanzania?” I likely would have cited those three activities. When I finally visited Tanzania this past August, those items weren’t even priorities on my list. What was? Filming.
For fourteen days, my biggest adventure was filming One Day I Too Fly in Africa, a documentary following five African students at one of the U.S.’s premier technological universities. The purpose of our production trip was to follow our student, Sante, home. As expected, her reunion with family was emotional – but so was our visit to a new country. In addition to adjusting to an entirely different culture, my producing partner and I had to navigate foreign production laws. There was no time for jet lag. Nearly every day, we were up by 5am, out by 6am and home close to midnight. We researched a ton before leaving, but our trip ended up being mostly trial and error. My knowledge of Swahili has grown exponentially – though many people in the city of Dar Es Salaam understood and spoke English.
Four days of our schedule were spent in Sante’s family’s village of Kirua Vunjo. Within moments of arriving in their village, a squirrel and a large spider attacked me. I quickly realized that we were in Mother Nature’s arena. Located in sight of Mount Kilimanjaro, Kirua Vunjo’s primary source of water comes from the tippy-top of the mountain. Read: glacial shower water. For a chick who’s used to taking two hot showers a day, this was quite an adjustment. I can honestly say that those four days made me completely rethink my routine in the U.S. My luxurious 20-minute showers now seem over-indulgent. But despite missing certain creature comforts, Kirua began to feel like home.
For four lovely days, we embedded in Sante’s family, made new friends, and got our behinds kicked playing soccer with local kids. Our experience was one that we never could have had on a “vacation” in Tanzania. We witnessed lifestyles in the city and in the villages, saw the landscape of a vast expanse of the country, and learned stories that only locals could tell.
While I can’t give you the “traditional” must do’s in Tanzania, here’s a list of things to do and try, if you’re interested in sampling the life of a true Tanzanian:
1. Take a drive down Bagamoyo: This road connects Dar Es Salaam to the city of Bagamoyo, which used to be the center of slave trade. Bagamoyo means “Lay Down Your Heart. ”It’s believed that the name could be tied to slaves who were separated from their families, or perhaps to sailors who left for long trips from port.
2. Make a friend: This is very broad, but the best moments of our trip were spent over tea or dinner with people we’d just met. If you make a friend, they may just invite you over for dinner. Since returning home, I have decided to be equally gracious with my home and food.
3. Drive, drive and drive some more: If you’re going to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, or on a safari, it’s easy to catch a flight from city to city. But, if you can, find someone to drive you between cities (driving in Tanzania is 10 times more intense than driving in NYC, so you’ll want a driver). While passing through, slow down and observe as much you can. You’ll miss out on a lot if you opt to fly.
4. Go to Mblamwezi Beach Club: Have you ever dreamed of an open-air bar on the beach with late night Karaoke? This is it! The D.J. is great, but please note that we left the club as Karaoke legends – you have big shoes to fill.
5. Dance the night away at Club Bilicanas: Located in Dar Es Salaam, this club is a popular spot for locals. I now have an entire Spotify playlist dedicated to songs discovered at Bilicanas.
Our next production trip for One Day I Too Go Fly is to Rwanda, in December. If it’s half as amazing as Tanzania, it will be a success.
So you have a great idea but you don’t have funding? Aside from begging your parents, skipping meals, and buying a Mega Millions ticket, crowdfunding is the most accessible way to fundraise. I’ve recently completed a Kickstarter campaign and thankfully, we successfully raised over $30k. It was a tremendous learning experience, and I've compiled a few tips on how to stand out from the crowd while crowdfunding.
1. Pick a Platform
Everyone is familiar with Kickstarter, but there are a variety of crowdfunding websites available. It’s crucial that you find the site that aligns with your project and its needs. Some platforms only allow you to collect funds if you reach your goal. Others allow for flexible funding. So whether you raise 100% or 20% of your ask, you’ll walk away having benefitted. Among the top crowdfunding sites are: Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, WeFunder, Startup Addict, Piggybackr and Quirky. Each aims at assisting different types of projects. Startup Addict targets fundraisers for up-and-coming businesses, Piggybackr is for youth fundraisers, and Quirky aims to help inventors.
So once you have your idea, identify which platform will help you reach your intended support group.
2. Determine Your Core
This part should be easy, because if you’re creating something, be it a business, film, or product, you’ve already determined who’s going to be interested in your creation. Those with an immediate connection to your project are going to be first money in and will likely encourage others to contribute. Figure out who and where they are and start contacting them!
3. Inform Without Exhausting
Crowdfunding isn’t new. By now, most people have probably gotten an email or Facebook message informing them of a Kickstarter campaign. It will be important to let people know about your campaign without exhausting them. No one wants a million emails about your project. Be tasteful and timely when making contact with donors. And remember, all help is good! Sometimes people won’t be able to make a monetary donation but they’ll be willing to spread the word. Take advantage of this offer! It is equally important.
4. Contact Social Media Tastemakers
Social media will be crucial to spreading the word outside of your immediate family and friends. Blogs and online magazines are constantly looking for content. Contact outlets that will be interested in your project. When I was in the midst of my own campaign, a blog helped us reach our goal within 12 hours of posting about our film.
5. Show Gratitude
Whether you’ve reached your goal or not, give thanks to those that have supported your cause. Not only is it important to show how people have impacted your project, saying thanks for each contribution will also help you stay encouraged. You will have tangible proof of how much your circle believes in your vision. Plus, once people know that you’re grateful for every penny you drum up, they’ll be more willing to help, financially or via word of mouth.
There’s nothing like a good weekday workout. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend the Jamba Juice Fit Trends Expo at the Annenberg House in Santa Monica. The Fit Trends Expo is part of Jamba’s Team Up For a Healthy America campaign, aimed at combating obesity and encouraging healthy living. Venus Williams, professional tennis player, designer, and Jamba Juice franchise owner, was the keynote athlete at the event. Trainer, Samantha Monus, and nutritionist, Tara Gidus, also provided their insight on taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle. On a local level, the Expo’s goal was to encourage community fitness, health and nutrition, as well as to expose people to workout opportunities in their area.
Our day was jam-packed with great activities. From 9:30am-1:30pm, Jamba Juice held an array of fitness classes and nutritional samplings. Among the local fitness studios present were: Broadway Bodies LA, Piloxing, and LA Blast. Fitness guru Tony Horton of P90X even stopped by the event and took a lucky few through an impromptu exercise outside. I did my best to keep up with the routines, but as a girl who usually runs and lifts weights, I felt super uncoordinated! Despite this, the atmosphere was fun and relaxed. It was quite inspiring to be around a group of people dedicated to getting fit and staying healthy. In between each class, Jamba gave everyone the opportunity to try their array of juices, smoothies, and food products.
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Overall, the energy at the event was extremely positive. Jamba Juice did a great service for the community by generating increased awareness of local health and fitness outlets. Venus Williams, Samantha Monus, and Tara Gidus had some extremely helpful information to share. For those of you seeking guidance on how to stay disciplined with your workouts, Williams insists that you keep it fun and not worry about perfection! I think I can abide by that! I hope everyone in attendance was activated to carry the spirit of the day beyond the event and incorporate what they learned into a healthier lifestyle.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jamba Juice’s commitment to healthy living, check out their health campaign website: MyHealthPledge.com. My Health Pledge encourages everyone to make a pledge to change their daily habits. It’s free to participate, and for each pledge, Jamba donates $1 to local schools and organizations to support their athletic and fitness programs.
We’ve reached 2013 and I’m sure the one common resolution on most people’s list is to get in better shape. Having been a NCAA Division I athlete, I promised myself that I’d never pay to workout. Why pay to workout when Cal was footing the bill? However, when I graduated, I finally saw what everyone else was doing. They were signing up for Yoga ($35/class), Barre Method ($25/session), and Equinox memberships ($225/mo). I couldn’t believe that people were paying to kick their own butts. $35 for a class isn’t too expensive if you’re just taking the class once. But like anything, to really get results, you’ll need to stick to a routine. That means that you should be following your regimen at least 3 times a week. 3 times a week x $35/class x 4 weeks, rounds out to a cool $420/mo! If you’re like me, you’re not-so- keen on paying big bucks to stay in shape. Free is where it’s at, so here are a few free workout routines.
I do my best to stay long and lean. That means I do a fair amount of cardio work, combined with short explosive movements. Hill work is perfect for this. Usually I run/warm-up for 30-40 min before starting my hill routine. Once warmed up, I do the following: 2 sets of five, 40 second hills (run as far as you can for 40 seconds, jog back to the bottom, and repeat. Adjust your rest and intensity as your fitness increases. Beginners should walk down and rest at least 90 sec in between each rep. Take 5-8 minutes in between sets.) 2 sets of five 30 second hills and a cool down. I keep my heart rate up, and my tush in shape.
The beach is amazing if you’re prone to impact injuries or if you just want a little extra resistance. If you’re near the sand dunes, I highly suggest putting in an hour of work on them. No sand around? Go to a park and run on grass or dirt. There’s not a ton of resistance, but they are both easier on the joints than concrete.
Find a bench that’s about 2 feet off the ground and start some circuit work. Rotate between dips, step-ups, burpees, box jumps, push-ups, wall sits, and core. Keep moving for at least 30 min.
Grab a pair of sneakers and head to a local trail. There are many great things about hiking. 1. You can control the intensity of your workout based on your trail, 2. You get the added benefit of enjoying the scenery, and 3. It’s easy to convince friends to come along. Everyone loves a beautiful hike.
If you’re in L.A., you can go to the Santa Monica or Culver City Stairs. If not, head to your local high school. Beginners should walk the first few times, but as soon as you’re ready, start running. I do 3 sets of 10 continuous up/downs. Fill your rest in between with core work.
Ok, so you really want to take a class, but you aren’t sure that you want to invest the money? Many classes offer free trials. Dirty little secret: Right out of college, a friend and I class hopped, just taking the trial class of each fitness routine. I don’t necessarily suggest doing that, but remember that you can always try a class before you buy.
No matter how you choose to get your workout in, the most important thing is that you have fun and safely test your limits. Keeping your workouts fun will ensure that you stick to your plan. Be sure to keep track of your heart rate. If you're aware of your resting heart rate, and heart rate during workouts, you'll be able to appropriately manage your intensity. Once you’ve gotten into your routine, don’t be afraid to bump up the intensity every once in awhile (with your doctor’s blessing of course). Your workout will get easier over time, but don’t just settle in your comfort zone. Mix it up!
As children, our parents read to us and immersed us in fantastical worlds to lull us to sleep. My mother would read “Where the Wild Things Are” to me. Growing up, we learn that stories can take on many forms, and that sometimes, the most inspirational and uplifting stories are true.
A year ago, fellow USC film grad and friend, Arthur Musah, approached me about partnering on a documentary, One Day I Too Go Fly. Arthur, a Ghanaian, came to America to study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After years of working at Texas Instruments, his desire to share stories with the world brought him to USC. One Day I Too Go Fly, originated out of his need to show the world a new Africa and how foreign students, like himself, adapt to a new culture and find ways to contribute back home. The film would document the lives of 5 African students pursuing their undergraduate degrees at MIT.
I’m not African or an engineer, but this story definitely resonated with me. Unfortunately, I was sure that if I asked any of my friends what they knew about Africa, they’d definitely make a comment about the turmoil and hardships. I wasn’t sure, however, what they could tell me about youth in Africa, what their educational needs were, or what the future of Africa would look like with a booming young population looking to have influence. One Day I Too Go Fly struck me as an opportunity to tell a small part of this story.
This documentary is not going to be a rags to riches tale. Each of the students we are following has a varied background. They hail from Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Tanzania. For some, they are the first in their families to pursue higher education. Others are continuing in the footsteps of relatives before them. The one goal they do share is the desire to make a difference in their communities.
One Day I Too Go Fly is a living, breathing story. It continues to change as the undergrads grow in Boston and take what they’ve learned back home. In our first year of production, we’ve seen our students struggle through new classes, make new friends, and we’ve even had the opportunity to go back to Nigeria with one freshman, Phillip. Our project is unique in that it spans the students’ entire undergraduate careers. We won’t complete production for 4 years. As a producer, that’s an obstacle. Our costs are relatively low, but we have to be prepared to fund our project through post-production, which could make this a 5 year endeavor. We may not be able to secure firm partnerships until our story is more flushed out—at the two year mark.
On top of all of this, both Arthur and I have full-time jobs. We’re forced to balance the needs of this project with other responsibilities. Thankfully, we have a wonderful team of advisors: Mark J. Harris, an Academy Award winning documentarian, Helen Elaine Lee, a Professor of Fiction Writing at MIT, and Kate Amend, a Sundance Lab Editing Advisor. Our advisors have provided a tremendous amount of knowledge.
As independent producers, we’re tasked with finding funds for our project. We’ve managed to raise over $22,000 on a crowdfunding site thus far. We’ve applied to countless grants and will continue to do so. Festivals have been kind enough to show our teaser, we’ve reached out to the press in an effort to share our story, and when the time comes, we’ll follow through with our outreach plan, seek distribution, and submit to our finished film to festivals. For now, we are growing as filmmakers while we witness our students pursue their dreams.
For more info about One Day I Too Go Fly:
KICKSTARTER LINK: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1820684617/one-day-i-too-go-fly-documentary-production
Every Olympic year the media highlights the athletes and the debauchery associated with the Olympic Village. The press weaves tales of baskets overflowing with condoms, cups overflowing with liquor and athletes who are in dire need of release after dealing with stress associated with the games. But there's one thing they rarely discuss: the camaraderie. Obviously sex, drugs and partying are far more sensational, and the media is notorious for sharing delicate information. Unfortunately, over the course of London 2012, the media’s spotlight took a decidedly negative glare with the release of financial information about Gaby Douglas's mom and Ryan Lochte's family, and viewers have made hurtful commentary, ranging from talks of poor performance to the bashing of hair styles. However, given that the Olympic Games are about dream fulfillment, competition, and inspiration, there's no reason that the positive aspects shouldn't be brought to the forefront.
Thankfully, a very good friend, and member of the Croatian Track and Field Team, invited me into the Olympic Village this year. I was excited and honored to make the trip across the pond to see with my own eyes what really goes down when a city is flooded with Olympic athletes. I was astounded to see clusters of brand new, luxury apartments, their balconies adorned with the flags of the countries they represented. And, despite the varying ideals and values of each country, the Olympic Village truly felt like a community of supportive peers. Granted, in the end, many of these athletes would be competing against each other in pursuit of the Gold; however, for the few calm moments they had within the village, these athletes were in a very exclusive global fraternity.
From the moment my friend walked me into the Village, he was greeted by other athletes and coaches. They chatted, caught up on performances and were sure to find out when each other's next rounds of competition were. In an effort to make athletes comfortable, the community housed the following: a Dining Hall, with everything from Mediterranean to Caribbean cuisine; a Hospitality Center, complete with Wii's, pool tables, computers and a Beats by Dre recording studio; a Fitness Center; a Health Center that included dental as well as general medical care; and a Wellness Center with free massage. I'm sure that the list could go on but, as a visitor, I didn't have time to view the whole campus. These amenities did more than just create a 'cool' environment for the athletes, they provided a common space to bond. Sprinters from Brazil and Judo competitors from Russia played pool, while a Jumper from Trinidad recorded in the Beats studio. Regardless of everyone's country or sport, competitors mixed, mingled and made friends.
As far as celebrations went, teams had their own rituals. For example, every time anyone from Croatia won a medal, the entire team would stand at the entrance of the Village to cheer and welcome the medalist back. If there was any room for doubt that the athlete's hard work and performance had gone unnoticed, this was erased.
Olympic games are all about competition but somehow there was a spirit of camaraderie in the air. While inside the Village, I was given a ticket to the Evening Track and Field session along with a shirt that read: Iran, E Haddadi. Haddadi would be competing in the discus final that evening. I, along with a few competitors from other countries, proudly donned the shirt and cheered Haddadi on. The Iranian discus thrower went on to win a silver medal, no doubt with help from his cheer section's intensity.
Now, not all of the athletes stayed in the Village. Some chose to remove themselves from what could be too distracting, instead opting to stay in flats or hotels. In fact, the USA Men's basketball team stayed off site (the beds may have been a touch too small). Of course, when it comes down to it, an athlete must do what they need to to be as comfortable as possible, so that they can perform well.
While I’m sure that the sex and partying that the media glorifies does happen, my trip to the Olympic Village showed me an entirely different scenario. I saw a group of talented, gifted and hardworking people bonding, unwinding together, and cheering each other on through each of their respective competitions. It was an inspiring insight into their world, and I’m thankful to have gotten a glimpse.
Hollywood studios consistently feed us ‘commercial’ fare. They think that all we want are big explosions, action heroes, supermodels and a source of escapism that requires little thought. But after you’ve gone deaf from explosions in movies like Battleship, what’s next? For those of you with a hankering for stories with far less Hollywood ‘glitz” and a different perspective, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite foreign films of all time. None of these films are for a lazy night in. They’ll make you think, learn, laugh and even cry.
So now, in no particular order:
1. A Separation (2011, Asghar Farhadi)
A Separation addresses issues surrounding family, loyalty, faith and justice. The actors are phenomenal and it’s no wonder that it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. Its win was a huge victory for Iranian cinema.
2. The Seventh Seal (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
You have to be in a very special mood to watch anything by Ingmar Bergman. You’ll have to read subtitles and interpret subtext. This film might be difficult to find on Netflix, but the Criterion Collection is sure to provide a beautiful copy. Watch this on a night you’re interested in exploring existentialism… you know.. like a Wednesday.
3. Saving Face (2012, Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy)
This must watch film won the Academy Award for best documentary short in 2012. It explores acid attacks on women in Pakistan. I cried for the entire film. It’s always refreshing to have a real, visceral reaction to a film. Everyone should see this.
4. El Abuelo (1998, Jose Luis Garci)
The first time I saw El Abuelo was in my 11th grade AP Spanish class. At the time, I wasn’t aware that it was nominated for an Oscar. The film explores heavy issues surrounding war and family, but I must say El Abuelo made me fall in love with foreign cinema. A must see!
5. 8½ (1963, Fredrico Fellini)
The Criterion Collection will come to the rescue once again if you search for 8 ½. This film is a little avant-garde so you may have to take a leap of faith. Trust, this 2-time Academy Award winner, about a film director’s creative struggle, is worth the watch.
6. Biutiful (2012, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
I’m not embarrassed to admit that Biutiful made me cry. Without giving too much away, the film follows one man as he fights to provide for his family in the moments leading up to his death. It’s incredibly well acted and directed.
If that’s not enough to satisfy your craving, here are other foreign films to consider: Breathless, Circumstance, Sin Nombre, Abel, Fanny and Alexander, Like Water For Chocolate, Chico & Rita and the list could go on.
I hope you enjoy these selections! And please, post below if you have a suggestion of your own.
I’ve always lived my life on the run. As a former collegiate athlete, I would run from class to class and then to practice and back. Everything was go, go, go. When I finished school, I still hustled, but I noticed the people around me were so busy working and networking that they didn’t take time for themselves. After starting full-time work, many of them gained upwards of 20 pounds, felt sluggish or were faced with health concerns they never expected.
Some things in college tend to stay with you. For me, maintaining a balance between staying busy and staying fit has remained a priority. Others may struggle to find time to workout between an 11-hour workday, lunches, drinks and endless networking functions. Despite these constraints, there is a way to set and achieve manageable health and fitness goals. And, even if you don’t think finding time is necessary right now, consider this upstream prevention. You’re far less likely to face health concerns, like Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes, if you take small steps now.
Here are a few suggestions to consider when setting and following through with your health and fitness goals.
It’s great to have lofty goals (i.e., losing 20 pounds, finishing a triathlon etc.). But sometimes these goals are too far off and can become overwhelming. Create benchmarks for yourself. If you note your progress along the way, it will make your end goal seem more achievable. The concept of dropping two sizes won’t feel so overwhelming and you can bask in the success of your positive day-to-day decisions. Plus, you’ll be more aware of what is and isn’t working in your routine. This will allow you to make changes.
Remember the ‘Why’
Make sure that you’re invested in your goals; you’ve created them for a reason. Maybe you wanted to lose weight, train for a half marathon or simply lead a healthier lifestyle. There’s an emotional weight behind accomplishing each of those tasks. No one wants to run a half marathon just to do it; they’re proving something about their physical and emotional capacity. Remembering why you picked this goal will help when your “self-motivation” starts to wane - that moment when don’t know why you’re waking up at 5 a.m. or why you’re passing on that slice of strawberry cheesecake. Having a goal that you’re connected to will help you answer the why. And, before long, your choices will become habit.
I work out 6 days a week. Some of my friends claim that they can’t find the time. Curiously, they find time to watch The Good Wife or Game of Thrones. Let’s be honest, we make time for what we want to make time for. When it comes to creating health/fitness goals, time management is a must. I find time to watch my favorite shows but I’m never just watching TV. While I watch, I’m doing abs, push-ups or an interval workout on the treadmill. No one says that you have to workout for 4 hours every day. If you take a serious look at how you spend your time and what those activities add to the essentials in your life, I promise you’ll find time for your health.
Birds of a Feather…
Flock together, yes. Look, it’s much easier to maintain goals if you are surrounded by people with the same values. I’m not saying to totally switch out your friends, but I am saying that it could be helpful to join a gym, a recreational league or bribe a friend to join you on your health quest. Your support system will help you stay accountable. If you’re already having a hard time staying motivated, there’s nothing worse than being surrounded by people who encourage you to veer off track. The little devil on your shoulder will give you plenty of reasons ‘why not’ to work out or skip McDonalds.
Don’t forget who you’re kickboxing or cutting back on milkshakes for. It’s YOU. You are the most important element in setting your fitness goals. Don’t set goals or hold back pursuing this change based on what others think, want or need. Invest in yourself! YOU are important, YOUR health is important and YOU are in control of your body.
Good health is essential to a happy life. If you want to increase your chances at functioning longevity, you’ll need to make your health a priority. This means eating healthy and staying active despite the pressures and time constraints of life. You can do it! Step by step you will reach your goals.
In 2004, I left my hometown in Ohio for California. When I arrived to UC Berkeley for school, I always found myself daydreaming about leaving class and heading directly for the beach. Unfortunately, I was in for a rude, cold awakening... San Francisco, while beautiful, isn’t exactly the epitome of “Sunny California.”. So once I moved to Los Angeles, I vowed to make it to the beach whenever possible.
Some Californians may take it for granted, but I always find a reason to sit on the sand in the sun. My list of beach activities includes running, yoga, stretching, reading, writing, lounging… basically, I use any excuse I can to fit the beach into my schedule. Given that I’m a certified beach worshiper, I’ve become a pro at packing my beach bag. Here are some essentials for a fun, safe and productive time by the surf.
Frozen Grapes: You know how tasty grapes are normally? Well, just multiply that by a million. Basically, you’ll have a delicious mini Popsicle. And, as an added bonus, you’ll have regular grapes when they defrost.
Buffalo Jerky: Do yourself a favor. Head to Trader Joe’s and grab some buffalo jerky. A hamburger virgin, this is the only red meat I eat, and it’s delicious. Plus, buffalo provides a leaner source of protein than beef. Have some protein, stay full longer and you won’t have to leave the beach early for a snack.
Pellegrino Sparkling Water: If you’re going to be at the beach all day, you need to stay hydrated. We all know that regular H20 can become boring. Jazz it up with some bubbles. Maybe even pick a flavor like lemon or lime.
Trader Joe’s Pretzel Crisp: Be careful, these are addicting! Tasty but light, you’ll love to relax and munch all afternoon.
Mimosas: If drinking is allowed at your beach destination, toss a mini bottle or two of champagne in your bag -- you can usually buy these at a local grocery store -- and add Simply Orange to make mimosas. But be sure to stay hydrated with your Pellegrino!
Volleyball: OK, maybe your beach bag isn’t that big, but carry this along, especially if you’re going to the beach with friends. Every time I go to the beach I either spot an open court or am invited to join a game. It’s always best to be prepared!
Vibram Five Fingers Running Shoes: I’m a big runner. Some people use these shoes on concrete; I’m not quite in support of that. However, they’re great for running in the sand.
Portable Speakers: Who doesn’t want to listen to Spotify while you chill on the beach? I prefer ECO Extreme iPhone Case/Speakers. Now, maybe this case is too intense for you. I’ve destroyed seven iPhones, so it’s important for me to have a waterproof case. There are plenty of other options, but the key is to make sure that you can jam.
As an added bonus, since you’ve brought along your iPhone, you can check out Made Woman Magazine in your downtime!
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick SPF 15: Keep your lips soft and protected. This stick is a little pricey for a balm, so if you want to spend a little less, I suggest Burt’s Bees Lip Balm SPF 8.
The Ultimate Beach Towel: Bringing a beach towel is a given. Now, I don’t actually own an Ultimate Beach Towel, but I’ve had my eye on it for a while. What’s awesome is that this towel has a pocket. I figure I can hide my wallet inside while I head to the water. When it gets really hot, no friend wants to babysit phones and cameras while everyone else goes for swim.
Beach days are great, but don’t get caught out there without the essentials. And please make sure you are suited up! [Link to swim suit article] Of course, these suggestions are tailored to my beach needs. So, sound off! What else would you throw in your bag?