Sometimes when I can’t get to the gym or am feeling too broke to hit up a yoga studio, I like to have a backup plan. After researching some of the best health & fitness apps for the iPhone and asking fit friends for suggestions, I identified five apps that I wanted to try. I went with the free versions to start, just so I could test the waters.
Here is a breakdown of each app I tried and the verdict on each.
Yikes. This app is really elementary and I would not recommend it. The sound and picture quality resemble an old home video, and the free version only offers one 20-minute workout. I also found that you can’t resume your workout if you want to go back to the home menu – it just starts it over every time and there is no way to scroll through. I honestly couldn’t even get a whole yoga session in using this app.
Verdict: Don’t bother
I liked this yoga app better, but it still wasn’t great. I do like that it provides whole sequences instead of requiring you to scroll through and keep selecting different poses. For each series (Yoga for Back, Yoga for Abs, Yoga for Butt, etc.) you can select a 10, 15 or 20 minute session to customize the length and style of your workout. The app also includes pretty background music.
The main issue with this one is that you have to download each workout individually after downloading the app itself. I have very little patience, so this bugged me.
Verdict: Try it if you have no other option for an at-home yoga workout
I really like this little fitness buddy. MapMyRun acts like a GPS and also gives you verbal cues along your route to help you reach your desired mileage. It saves routes, counts calories and tracks your pace. I am not an expert runner, so it was fun to have the guidance.
There is also a great Nutrition section of this app that logs the food you eat and the calories you consume, which is really helpful to track eating habits and setting health goals.
Verdict: I recommend this app. The upgraded version for $2.99 provides a ton of cool features, including music, training plans and ad-free access.
Fitness Buddy is a strength training app. It is nicely organized by muscle group and type of exercise, and offers extensive exercise suggestions. Unfortunately the demos are like pictures in a flip book and you have to spend a lot of time scrolling on your phone instead of just working out.
Verdict: Pay the extra $0.99 for the Pro option, which will offer a good strength training workout without the constant menu surfing and bad demo quality.
I thought it would be fun to try an app that manages healthy living habits. Lift is an app that connects you with your social media channels and allows you to follow “habits” in several categories such as fitness, productivity, health & wellness and many more. It shows other users’ activities for group support.
I decided to get myself in check by signing up for a few habits:
• Wake up by 6:30
• Eat more Fruit
• Drink more water
Truthfully, there is just no point to an app like this. If I need to drink more water, I’ll carry a full bottle around with me. If I need to wake up at 6:30, I’ll just set my alarm.
Verdict: If you really can’t remember your own wellness habits and need to see other people’s check-ins to help motivate you, this might be a useful app. Otherwise, forget it.
My fitness app experience wasn’t the greatest, but I am also a newbie at the app thing. What are some of the apps you recommend? Do you go for free versions or do you pay the small price to upgrade for a better user experience? Tell us in the comments below.
Whether it’s a girls’ get together, a poolside soiree, or a group of close friends coming over for game night, most of us find ourselves racking our brains for the perfect party appetizers when it’s our turn to host. And while most of us love to impress, we don’t want to spend hours agonizing over food preparation. I’ve come to rely on a few easy snack staples that always seem to please a crowd and allow me to have some fun, too.
Crostini – I love crostini because it is so simple: Just slice up and lightly toast a baguette, then top each piece with almost anything you can imagine. Try any of these combos:
The options can go on and on. Remember this go-to party snack the next time your girlfriends pick your place for wine night.
Cheese board – This is my favorite party platter because it doesn’t require cooking and most people like to sample different cheeses. Pick at least 3 or 4 good cheeses, and go with a variety. The cheese counter at your local grocer may have some suggestions, but typically it’s best to go with a mix of hard (like cheddar or asiago) and soft cheeses (like brie or bleu). Pair with some dried cranberries or apricots and fresh grapes, along with almonds or crackers for some crunch.
“Sausage en croute” – My husband had one simple request at our wedding: Pigs in a blanket. To class it up, the caterer called it “sausage en croute.” Grab a pack of Hillshire Farms Lit’l Smokies and a pack of Pillsbury crescent rolls. Cut the crescent roll in half, roll the sausage into it and bake according to Pillsbury package instructions. Serve with a tasty arrangement of dipping sauces, such as spicy mustard or chipotle ketchup. It may not be the healthiest or fanciest snack ever, but it will certainly win over the crowd!
Frozen Baby Quiche – I am not a huge fan of frozen foods, but it’s nice to have small bites on hand that don’t have to be made from scratch. I know quite a few ladies who throw a package of frozen baby quiche into the oven and serve them to guests, and they get snatched right up. Try a few brands, pick your favorite, and be sure to always have your freezer stocked. Easy!
Roasted chickpeas – Have you ever tried this!? If not, just trust me.
Roasted chickpeas are a unique, easy munchie for a party, and bonus -- they are a relatively healthy option. Toss a can of chickpeas in olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin. Then roast at about 425 degrees (adjust according to how hot your oven runs) until crispy -- usually around 30 minutes. The result? A savory bite -- a bit crispy and a bit creamy -- that packs a flavorful, satisfying punch. People don’t expect this snack, but they usually love it, so go with this if you’re looking for a twist on classic party snacks.
Pulling together food for a party doesn’t have to cut into half your paycheck or cause a day’s worth of stress. Just select a few easy appetizers that will look good, taste great and appeal to your guests. The easier the food, the more fun you will have as a host. Isn’t that the point of a party, anyway?
A couple of weeks ago during California’s cold snap, I was looking for a lunch recipe for the week. The winter temperatures had me craving something warm and filling. I like to make a large batch of something healthy yet tasty and bring it to work with me – it makes it easier to have a week’s worth of lunch ready instead of throwing it together every morning when I am inevitably running 15 minutes late. I love chili, but I didn’t think meat would store well for more than a couple of days, so I decided to make a vegetarian version of my own chili recipe. Enjoy!
1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow squash, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney or pinto beans (your choice), drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
¾ cup vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth if you don’t have the veggie on hand)
1 tsp. cider vinegar
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
In a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Be sure to lower the heat if the onions are browning – they should just soften. Add garlic, stir for one minute. Add bell pepper and squash to the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften.
Once veggies are cooked, add chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic salt and pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly,then add both cans of beans, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, cider vinegar and Worcestershire. Stir well. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a low boil. Lower heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes (I let mine simmer for about 40 to bring out the flavor). Adjust seasonings to taste.
This is a pretty quick way to make a healthy chili, and it will last in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Feel free to play with the recipe – add mushrooms or carrots or another favorite veggie, add or substitute the spices according to what you like, and swap your favorite can of beans.
Bring along a whole wheat roll or some corn tortilla chips to help fill you up. If you like chili you are sure to enjoy this recipe – coworkers were telling me all week how good it looked and smelled!
Driving home the other day I listened to a blatantly ignorant phone call on my local radio station's broadcast of the Tom Sullivan show, during which a caller stated that Millennials were not well-informed and were not knowledgeable about politics. I am a Millennial. I am married to a Millennial. A majority of my peers and colleagues are also of the millennial generation. (Millennials, in case you’re wondering, make up the generation of individuals currently between the ages of 18 to 29, though there is some debate on the official age range.) So yes, I took offense to this broadcast. But those who call in to the Tom Sullivan show aren’t the only ones beating up on Millennials. Articles like this one that suggests Millennials can’t handle the “real world” or a real workplace.
Most -- if not all -- of my friends and acquaintances have careers, educations and a vested interest in this country and in the direction our lives are headed. We are productive members of society, and we have vision. Some of us travel around the world volunteering, others obtain advanced degrees, and still others put in forty or fifty-plus hours per week at the office and are raising families. We work hard, we own homes and cars, we raise pets and babies, we take care of ourselves. We are blazing trails and setting values and changing societal standards for the better. We are not the, “pampered, over-praised, relentlessly self-confident generation...flooding the workplace,” Emily Matchar spoke of in a 2012 Washington Post article.
If you read and listen to what's being said among politicians, the media and our elders, Millennials are a hopeless generation that will drive society into the ground. We are all technology-obsessed, sloppily-dressed hipsters who can't formulate a proper sentence or sustain an intelligent conversation. Supposedly, since we all voted for Barack Obama, we all expect a handout and live in our parents' basements. Watch out!
Reality check: The individuals that make up this generation are much more colorful. What about the sixty-plus percent of Millennials pursuing or possessing bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees? What about some of the young, visionary entrepreneurs who have not only started successful businesses, but have set a standard for social responsibility? What about those who are starting families and own homes and have secured solid retirement funds before the age of thirty?
Take, for example, the fifteen outstanding Millennials who won grants as part of the Millennial Impact Challenge. These leaders are taking on issues such as healthy eating, under-served students and safe, clean energy.
Or how about Adam Conner, a George Washington University ‘06 graduate and the first Facebook staffer in Washington, DC? He helped bridge the gap between traditional political outreach and a more progressive, digital approach to reach the Millennial generation through social media.
Another incredible Millennial role model? Check out our very own Made Woman, Eve Torres, or many of the other women highlighted on this very site.
This is one of the most diverse generations in history, not only demographically but socioeconomically and politically. We cannot be summed up in a single phrase or stereotype.
Instead of generalizing, perhaps members of the media, in Congress and in our families could take some time to talk to us and find out what we’re doing with our lives or ask us about some of our dreams and goals. For those who have, we appreciate you listening to us and believing in us (our parents, especially). In return, I promise to try not to make generalizations about those of Gen X and Baby Boomers, either.
I am a huge pasta lover, and I am always looking for new ways to jazz up pasta dishes with hearty, healthy ingredients. Last week I needed to make a “clean out the fridge” dinner. I had a half a can of white beans from an earlier meal, collard greens that needed to be eaten up and leftover canned tomatoes. And of course, I always have pasta and an open bottle of red wine on hand (healthy food = more calories available for wine consumption, right?).
Typically you see kale or spinach in pasta dishes, so substituting collard greens really makes this recipe stand out. It was a bit of an experiment, but I thought the collard greens turned out to be a great complement to this dish. They hold up well to cooking and add a vibrant color and plenty of nutrients. White beans add great texture and heartiness, so they are delicious in meatless dishes like this one (though my husband claims I use them too often!). This is an easy, healthy meal that will definitely fill you up but won’t make you feel guilty. If you want to add meat, use turkey Italian sausage. Just add in and brown after the collard greens have started to cook.
1 package whole wheat spaghetti or pasta of your choice
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 small yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how much garlic you like)
2 cups coarsely chopped collard greens
7 oz. white beans (half of a standard 14 oz. can)
14 oz. whole canned tomatoes with juices
¼ cup red wine
Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and salt and cook for 5-7 minutes or until onion is softened and translucent. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add collard greens and red pepper flakes. Once collard greens are tender (3-5 minutes), crush whole tomatoes with your hands and add along with the white beans. Turn to medium-high heat until sauce begins to bubble, then stir in wine. Continue to cook at medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, then reduce heat so the sauce is lightly simmering. Stir occasionally.
Continue to simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5-10 minutes (or longer if desired). Using a slotted pasta spoon or tongs, add cooked pasta directly to the sauce pan (this will allow some of the good, starchy pasta water to work into the sauce). Mix pasta well with the sauce and serve with a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese on top.
Enjoy with guiltless pleasure, and preferably a glass of wine.
Six months ago, my husband and I began shopping for our biggest purchase yet: a home. No pressure, right? We ended up choosing an open concept, new construction house and became proud, first-time home buyers. But while our new place is spacious and offers good bang for the buck, it lacks the character that some older homes have. But we (I!) looked forward to decorating and adding our own personal touches!
Well, decorating our little love nest has also proven to be a challenge. New furniture and décor means major bucks and a great deal of time and patience. I always enjoyed decorating before buying a home, but it was different when I had one room out of a whole house, or a small apartment. There wasn’t a lot of space to fill, and when I knew I was renting for a limited period of time--typically one yearlong lease at a time--it was tough to invest myself in extensive decorating. I feel differently about our first home, though. It is a place that I want to reflect our lifestyle and interests, and I take pride in it. We want it to be a place where our friends and family enjoy spending time.
I’ve quickly realized that turning a big, empty house into a home requires a lot more than a new couch. It requires a vision, hours of work and planning, and creativity.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned so far:
Decorating a home is a fun process, and it shouldn’t become be a burden. My husband and I now understand that while it is an important part of owning a home, it’s not the only part that matters. If you’re in the market for a new house or condo, keep in mind that despite your grand plans, it may take some time to furnish and fix up!
Do you own or rent? How do you feel about home and apartment decorating?
Ah, spring. The flowers, the sunshine, the cute shoes. But wait – springtime also conjures up a dreadful childhood memory: Spring cleaning. Fear not – you are a Made Woman! Not only does that mean you’re smart, independent and stylish, it means you know to keep your space clean. Well, hopefully. ;-)
Now I know cleaning is not first on everyone’s list of fave weekend activities, but let’s get real. Who wants to come home to or entertain in a place that isn’t tidy? Roll up your sleeves girls, because you have some cleaning to do.
Here is our fab five list of spring cleaning tips to get you started:
Bonus Tip: Before you invest 100 bucks in cleaning supplies, do a Google search on cleaning with vinegar. White vinegar is an old trick that the home-and-garden folk swear by. It gets things uber clean and it’s really cheap.
This is just a shortlist to get you started. There are more obvious cleaning items like cleaning blinds, cabinets, refrigerators, windows and the yard or garage, too, so make a list that works for your home and lifestyle. Turn on some tunes and get cleaning!
What other spring cleaning tips are there? Tell us in the comments below! Sharing is caring…