Fitness // January 12, 2015

Once the new year begins, usually the first thing on people’s minds are to make New Year's Resolutions. Maybe you’re making resolutions to spruce up your home or declutter your personal life, but more than likely there’s a resolution in there about fitness. People everywhere are pledging to do a little bit more with their workouts – go on a hike, buy a yoga mat, maybe even visit that fabled land they’d heard of where people put on spandex and run on hamster wheels. You know… the gym. Normally, the resolution involves the same old tricks and tactics that might pump you up for a few weeks but don’t genuinely fit your lifestyle, and eventually are as much a memory as the New Year’s confetti.

Instead of just adding a new (but doomed) routine to the mix what would you say if I told you I had discovered a whole new way to work out? Recently, I tried a game changing fitness system called IOBELLA. IOBELLA is a 30 minute workout in a heated pod followed by a relaxing spa treatment. Tucked away amid the shops and stores of Santa Monica, the new, luxurious Iobella day spa and exercise studio isn’t easy to spot. A pretty name and location, the spa boasts futuristic fitness pods (which look like something out of a SyFi movie I know, but we’ll get to that later), a welcoming environment and a warm sense of community.

IOBELLA is owned by December’s Made Woman of the Month, Roxana Lissa, who invited me to try it out after I had interviewed her. Roxanna says she discovered the 50 year old fitness method after traveling home to Argentina. “IOBELLA – means I’m beautiful in Spanish. I was in Argentina and I tried it and I loved it… The whole idea is to tone and to lose inches. The whole concept is to really shape your body.” I was excited to try the work out. A cross between Bikram yoga and Pilates, it seemed so intense, but I wanted to try it out - I had to see what media outlets like Shape, Marie Claire and E! News had all been raving about.

When I arrived at the spa, I changed into my workout clothes in their fancy locker room. It felt like I was about to get a high-end spa treatment rather than get an intense workout. After check-in, I was offered cucumber water and led into the room that housed the huge IOBELLA pods. Let me tell you, those things are intimidating at first. It looked like they were going to beam me up rather that work me out - but I was determined. I climbed up into the pod, heated to a warm 98 degrees, and another girl climbed into one beside me. Our trainer wasted no time jumping right into our warm up.

What I liked about the workout was that it used resistance and isolation to really hit those hard-to-reach-but-in-desperate-need-of-toning areas. My biceps, glutes and calf muscles were all burning in the days after my work out. The tight space of the pod meant that the workout couldn’t be too high intensity, but the smooth, defined movements I could do still made me feel the burn. A note about the pod: it is a small space. If you get claustrophobic, the Iobella method is for sure not for you. Small space and all, I found it to be effective. I really appreciated having the personal trainer right there next to me to help me get the exercises right since this was my first time.

When the 30 minute workout was over, we showered using a special detox body wash to open our pores and then were lead to the O3 lounge for our 15 minute skin renewal session. They use “triple oxygen” to detoxify, hydrate skin and diminish the appearance of cellulite. We relaxed in the small, heated cabins with headphones on our ears and cucumbers on our eyes. The experience left me feeling refreshed, clean and relaxed; and let me just say, I’ve never left LA Fitness feeling that way. (No shade.)

The IOBELLA experience is not cheap but if you have the funds it is a new, exciting way to invest in your body and your state of mind. More than a simple workout the folks at IOBELLA will help you track your progress toward a healthier you. Owner Roxana says, “We give you a whole plan. We take your measurements every six sessions. So there is a follow up and there is tracking of your body, of your weight and how you are doing, are you losing weight, how are your eating habits? We really hold your hand in this process.”

Intended for all women, there is even a “Bella After Baby” package for you Made Mommy’s out there! To get more info about IOBELLA visit!

Published in Health
Thursday, 06 February 2014 23:43

Fitness | It's The Quality That Counts

Fitness // February 10, 2014

It’s a commonly accepted myth that you have to read Jane Eyre cover-to-cover (although, who’s reading books on paper nowadays?), in one workout session on the treadmill, to get a Beyonce-esq tight a$$. Women everywhere are spending hours of their precious time in the gym and are still not reaching their fitness goals. Let me tell you, you can burn all the rubber off a treadmill belt, but it really isn’t necessary if you put in some Q-T workout time.

If you seek improved cardiovascular health, improved muscle tone, and overall improved fitness, you will get there faster by power walking over hilly terrain versus strolling aimlessly for an hour or two. The ups and downs of a hilly road or trail builds in low, moderate, and high intensity intervals to your workout session.

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How do you add intensity to your workout without hiking up hills, going to a trainer, or paying to participate in a fitness class, you ask? Well, you can do that by changing a couple variables—speed and resistance. To add speed, you just move faster. Adding resistance requires adding incline, weight, or other opposing force against your direction of travel. For example, if you are strength training, add more weight to your effort; if cycling, running, or walking, add hills to your tour. If you decide to add jumping or sprinting to your routine, wear a weight vest or do it in soft sand. There are various ways to add intensity to your workout. A good rule of thumb to follow is that the more intense an interval is, the shorter that period will be. These high intensity intervals should be interspersed with low to moderate intensity exercise such as walking, jogging, or other less physically intense activities to give your body a chance to recover.

More challenging intervals increase your breathing and heart rates, fatigue some muscles, and make you sweat. By adding them into your workout, you burn more calories in a shorter period of time, elicit a positive cardiovascular response (read: healthier heart), “tone” and “firm” skeletal muscle (Michelle Obama arms, anyone?), and increase your recovery metabolic rate (that means you’ll burn more calories while you’re relaxing or going about your business, post-workout, while your body returns to normal resting rate). Bottom line is that a workout that incorporates high intensity bouts can do more for you than a steady state workout, and in a shorter period of time. More bang for your buck there, sister!

Published in Health

Made Mommy // March 11, 2013

So, you’ve heard that you can’t exercise anymore once you’re pregnant? Well, that’s a big, fat myth. In fact, if you have a healthy pregnancy (one without complications such as a “compromised” cervix, or previous difficulty carrying to full term, etc.), you are encouraged to stay active. Of course before you start running laps or going for bike rides, you must consult with your OB regarding how active you can be since the doc is one of the few people who can determine the state of your pregnancy.

If your pregnancy is without issue, you are encouraged to exercise whether or not you did so prior to the positive-resulting test. You may have heard differently -- that if you didn’t exercise before, you shouldn’t start. That, too, is old news. The new news is that exercise will benefit your baby post-partum, with a stronger heart, lean body mass, and lower body fat (meaning a lowered likelihood of childhood obesity). What does an active pregnancy mean for you? Read: shorter labor time, fewer fat pounds gained, faster return to your pre-pregnancy size, and sound mental health. Exercise benefits both you and your miniature human.

Now, if you didn’t exercise prior to your pregnancy, I’m not sayin’ you ought to start training for a marathon. Walks (let your body tell you at what pace and how much you feel like you ought to push yourself, if at all), modified yoga (no twists or inversions and be sure to find an instructor with experience working with pregnant clientele), swimming and/or aqua aerobics (you’re virtually weightless, for crying out loud!), recumbent bike or elliptical machines at the gym, and light strength training are all great get-fit options for the mommy-to-be.

For those of you workout queens, continuing your training routine will likely be fine, if you have a healthy pregnancy. Your growing baby will get the oxygen he or she needs. But be mindful and listen to your body. If you start to feel nauseous, reduce your intensity (stop if it persists, and contact your physician). With any pregnancy, you will experience a loosening of the joints due to an increase in a hormone called relaxin, which is most prevalent in the third trimester and is responsible for making ligaments more flexible. That said, you are more prone to injury during this time, so be particularly mindful of the activities that you choose to participate in, as you don’t want to get hurt before labor (that will hurt enough…).

Now you’ve got the low-down on the exercise part of a fit pregnancy. And, if you are more active during your pregnancy, you will need a few extra good quality calories (calm down, hungry tigress, that means an extra 100-500 calories, which equates to a large apple--100 calories--or a chicken and cheese on whole wheat toast--500 calories), depending on the level of your activity. Read up on the diet part of a fit pregnancy if you haven’t done so already. Lastly, work that Made Mommy glow!

Published in Made Mommy
Monday, 19 November 2012 05:30

Fitness | Gym Bag Must-Haves

Fitness // November 19, 2012

What’s in your gym bag? Do you have what you need to make your workouts effective and maybe… dare we say it, fun? Here are a few items that we never leave home and head to the gym without:

I love my glass water bottle, great for the environment and doesn't leach anything into the water. – Lindsey E.

My ShowerPill athletic body wipes. A friend founded the company. I work out every day-- and sometimes I have to run somewhere quickly after. Shower Pill makes me feel better about post-workout appointments.  –Brook

Waterproof mascara. After a workout, and shower, I splash cold water on my face, to really cool off and feel refreshed. Then, I curl my lashes and put on my black waterproof mascara, so I look extra alert and refreshed, despite just getting done at the gym. – Christine

Flip flops! Whether working out in the gym or going for a swim at the local pool, I don't trust those shower floors. I keep my flip flops handy for all occasions. That, and deodorant lol. – Lindsey D.

iPod and a towel. These are absolute musts. If I'm not sweating at the gym, then I shouldn't be there. - Beth

Besides the fact that my gym bag is my Made Woman tote, the coolest thing I keep in it is my plastic, elastic bands. They are great for stretching things out and resistance training. – Serena

What are your gym bag must haves? Tell us in the comments below!

Published in Health

Fitness // October 22, 2012 

You really don’t want to be that person at the gym who gets a wrinkled nose pointed at her because her clothes might not look or smell so fresh. You might be thinking, “I’m just gonna work out. What does it matter what I wear?” But I say, “You’re a put-together woman and your clothes—gym, work, or otherwise—ought to always convey that message.”

Spending a little extra cash on high quality and durable workout clothes is worth it because they’re designed specifically to stand up to all that you’re going to put them through -- sweat, those awkward yoga positions, etc.  Since they are a bit more expensive than your old ratty tee and sweats, you’re going to want to take extra care of them to make sure they last you as long as possible.  What’s the best way to do that?  Try this:

  1. Avoid letting your sweaty clothes sit around in an unvented bag. This allows bacteria to grow while the sweaty clothes fester, which will cause that repulsive stink (and, really, do you want to even think about bacterial growth on fabric touching your skin?). Many gym bags have vented compartments where you may store your post-workout clothes.  If possible, lay them out flat or hang them to air out before you throw them in the wash.  
  2. Machine wash with like colors, in cold water, on the gentle cycle.
  3. Do not use fabric softener, especially on clothing with sweat-wicking, reflective, or any other technical functions. Fabric softener will make all of those fabric promises null and void.
  4. Line dry the clothes made with the technical fabrics listed above.
  5. After a few weeks to months, it’s inevitable that your fave workout clothes’ function, feel, and fragrance (wrinkled nose here) may falter. This is when you enlist the help of a sports wash, which you can find at most sporting goods or other sport-related shops. Soak those articles of funked-up and/or function-failing clothes in a couple gallons of water and a capful of sportswash (the bottle of sport soap should have instructions). Swirl it around and soak for a few hours—overnight if the clothes really need help. Often rinsing then drying will do. I prefer rinsing, then throwing in with my regular wash. You’ll discover what works best for you.

Those are the fab five tips to keeping your workout gear lasting long and staying funk-free. It’ll keep you looking fresh at your workouts too, so everybody will know that you are that girl—the Made Woman.

Published in Health
Saturday, 16 June 2012 17:51

Fitness | You Can Do It! Goal-Setting 101

June 18, 2012

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.

Manageable 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.

Time Management

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.

Be Selfish

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.



Published in Health
Sunday, 20 May 2012 22:33

Health | Best Workout Clothes

May 20, 2012 

Comfort, dryness, durability and style are important characteristics for women’s workout clothes. The best workout clothes are designed to work with the natural curves of a woman’s body for ease of movement during all styles of exercise. Bright colors and different fabrics can make workout clothes more appealing than the traditional T-shirt and shorts. Ladies, it’s OK to be cute while working out. In fact, I suggest it. Here are 10 of the best workout clothing items.

  • Brooks Viva Jacket- One of the latest fitness trends is the short-sleeved performance jacket. They're perfect for covering up when going to and from the gym and they're also great for layering when it's chilly outside, but you don't want to get too hot from your workout. This cute, sporty version is made of soft moisture-wicking nylon and it has a ribbed waist and cuffs.  It's comfortable and --get this--even has an interior MP3 chest pocket.

  • Nike Seamless Half-Zip Top for Women- This long-sleeved pullover is a must if you're exercising in cold weather. Made of Dri-FIT fabric, it keeps sweat away from your skin, which makes cold weather exercise more comfortable. Are you ready for an “I love it moment”? Besides the fact that it's comfortable and flattering, it even includes thumb holes to keep your hands warm. It's almost like having built-in mittens, but you can easily fold them over if you don't want to use them. This could easily become a favorite for chilly workouts.

  • Brooks Pacer Support Tank-This lightweight, flattering tank is perfect for warm-weather workouts or a low-impact class at the gym. The T-shaped back offers great support, along with the built-in support bra, and the light, breathable fabric keeps the sweat away from your body. There's an invisible pocket in back for your ID or keys. This bra is perfect for smaller-chested ladies involved in moderate-impact workouts.

  • Yoga Capri Pants - These comfy, drapey capri pants are perfect for yoga class or for almost any light exercise.  They're flattering and they stay in place during almost any yoga pose.
  • Adidas Supernova Running Skort- Running skorts are one of the best inventions for women's exercise in my opinion.  They're comfortable, flattering and you get to exercise while feeling stylish. They're light and the inner shorts don't ride up, which can be a problem with some skorts.  The moisture-wicking fabric keeps you cool and dry and there's no uncomfortable chafing.

  • Smarty Pants- We've all had moments in the gym or during outdoor workouts when we wished we had a little more coverage. Enter Smarty Pants, underwear made specifically for exercisers to provide comfort and coverage.  Their lightweight, and can fit under just about anything and help keep sweat away from your body.

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  • Merrell Savannah Sandals- These lightweight, sporty sandals will make you fall in love. They're comfortable and can handle just about any activity you can think of - walking, post-workout dinner or even light hiking. In fact, any Merrell shoe is a good choice because they last a long time. And they are super cute!
  • Avia Women’s Running Shoes- Avia running shoes are consistently rated number one when it comes to supportive running shoes for women. Avia makes these shoes specifically for a woman's foot, so you won't have as many problems with slipping heels or gigantic toe boxes. If you've had trouble finding comfortable running shoes, try a pair of Avias - it will change your workouts. I promise!

  • Thorlo Socks- Aside from your shoes, socks are the second most important thing you'll wear during your workout. Thorlo makes some of the best, high-quality socks out there for any activity. These socks are pricey, but that last for years and through thousands of washings.
  • Brooks Viva Capris- If you like form-fitting workout pants, these capris are both flattering and comfortable. Made of moisture-wicking nylon, these capris are light enough to wear during almost any outdoor workout. The fabric holds its shape, so these pants won't sag no matter how active you get. I love the comfortable, flat waistband and find they're great for running or walking on cooler days.

The saying is true: no pain, no gain. But nobody ever said you have to look dumpy while working out. Try some of these stylish yet functional workout looks and you’ll turn heads while you tone up!

Published in Health