apps, self-improvement, Habitica
App Review: @Habitica – Improve your Life with this #RPG
App Review: @Habitica – Improve your Life with this #RPG 175 175 admin

Whether it be by writing to-do lists or by keeping a calendar, we all try to find effective ways of staying on track with our schedule and daily habits. However, this is easier said than done, and it can be easy to slack off and let things slide. Fortunately, Habitica offers a solution to help us improve our lives and keep us on track.

Essentially, Habitica is a role-playing game that takes a new approach to keeping yourself and your friends accountable. It “gamifies” tasks such as exercise and personal to-do’s. After completing these tasks, you receive experience points and gold that you can use to level up or buy items to customize your avatar. To keep the user accountable, if you start to slip up in real life and forget to do some tasks, your character will begin to regress in the game as well.

Another unique aspect of Habitica is the way it promotes accountability across users. Additional features of the game such as “boss fights” and challenges are available when you play with friends, and promote social accountability as well as competition between peers. It is worth mentioning that these features of Habitica are only available when interacting with others, so blowing through the game by yourself is not the ideal experience.

Habitica, app, RPG, application, self-improvement

For all those who are fans of RPG’s or video games, this game is must-try. Habitica also offers an accompanying “app”, which helps players stay on track of updating their avatar. Here is their website if you would like to learn more!

things to do, jersey, weekend, getaway, activities, camping, flea market, lambertville, new hope, princeton
Spotlight on the Sunlight: Jobs that get you Outdoors
Spotlight on the Sunlight: Jobs that get you Outdoors 960 635 MPatton

One of my first real jobs out of college had me sitting in a cubicle (yes, the dreaded cubicle) facing a wall that was painted a bright, cheerful yellow. The sunny yellow of the wall didn’t do much to mitigate the fact that I wasn’t  seeing actual sunlight.

If that weekend itch to get out into nature, go hiking, kayaking, or just hang out with friends around a bonfire starts to become a week-long sting, a career in the great outdoors may be calling you. A lot of outdoor careers are in the sciences or recreation but you don’t have to be field botanist or a survival expert to find a career that incorporates the outdoors and your interests.

Sports Instructors:

Ski and snowboard instructors usually work in the hospitality industry or for a sports complex or training center. Instructor roles tend to rely more on history and experience than educational background. Ski and snowboard instructors generally also assist with trail maintenance and ski patrol and instruct people at all levels of ability. IMG_0135Instructors will need a good skill level and a working knowledge of gear, environment, and terrain, as well as weather patterns.


Gardening, landscaping, and running a nursery or greenhouse can get the sun on your back and the dirt under your fingernails. If you’re interested in running your own small business, this could be the opportunity you’re looking for. Owning and operating a landscaping company or a nursery gives a people person with a natural sales talent the opportunity to work outside, be creative, and work with people.

Nature Guides:

If hiking, trekking, and camping is your thing look into being an outdoor or recreational guide. Outdoor guides may require certification in certain areas like white water rafting and wilderness first aid. Nature guides work in a myriad of businesses: hospitality, travel, scouting, summer camps and with corporate outing ventures, much like United Eventures, to get groups of people from all walks of life engaged in outdoor activities.


Nature and art are closely entwined. Nature and wildlife photography can take you outside in a variety of landscapes and environments. Photography can be a dynamic and adventurous complimentary career; it’s not uncommon for guides and sports instructors to use body cameras to capture film and stills of their stunts, guide trips, and treks for promotional purposes. If you’re more of a people person, wedding and family photography can give you the opportunity to see new and interesting locations while helping families create memories to last a lifetime.

Environmental Impact:

Working in the green industry can take you outside for a cause. Surveying, forestry, and Ranger positions can keep you poised to make an environmental impact. A career in forestry allows you to help manage and clear forests in a sustainable and restorative way and promotes conservation, restoration, and stewardship of public and private lands. Some jobs in forestry require a Bachelor’s Degree or two-year certification. Some ranger positions require a background in law enforcement while others are geared towards educating the public on things like wildlife, outdoor safety, and environmental impact.

Better than a sun lamp.

Better than a sun lamp.


Not everybody can just ditch their day job and run off into the sunset after going all Office Space on the fax machine. Find a project or nonprofit agency that gets you outdoors and giving back. Volunteer for a team clean of your local park, or assist with trail maintenance on popular local hiking trails. If you’re interested in finding volunteer opportunities by you, check out VolunteerMatch or with your state or local parks and recreation department for what volunteer opportunities are available.


If the mountains are calling and that sunlamp on your desk isn’t doing you any favors, get out there. The world is waiting.

fitness, lose weight, exercise, healthy living, breakfast, habits, eating window, circadian rhythm
Get Fit Quick with These Simple Life Changes
Get Fit Quick with These Simple Life Changes 960 639 Emilie

Here at United EVENTures, we highly value an active lifestyle. We believe in getting outside and being active as often as possible. For many of us, however, it is incredibly difficult to lose weight and get as fit as we’d like, despite regular exercise. What happens when you feel like you’ve tried everything, but your exercise doesn’t seem to pay off? Here are three easy and simply changes to lose that weight more easily, without extreme dieting or other major life changes.

Know How to Rev Your Metabolism Early in the Morning

As we all know, one of the most important keys for burning fat is having a fast metabolism. That’s why it’s so important to rev your metabolism early in the morning. By kicking your metabolism into gear early in the AM, this will allow your body to process food better the rest of the day.

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You may also have heard that you should eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. That’s because breakfast is one of the best ways to rev your metabolism, and eating within the first hour of waking allows you to kickstart it quickly. However, certain breakfast foods will rev your metabolism more than others. According to eating a fiber-rich breakfast can boost your metabolism by 30%. Additionally, meals with protein can boost your metabolism by 35%. Thus, if you’re looking for a good metabolism boosting breakfast, try going for that extra dose of fiber and protein.

So what should you have for breakfast? For some extra protein try: high protein cereals, eggs/vegan eggs, yogurt, sausage/veggie sausage, or high protein oatmeals. For fiber try: bran muffins, fruits and veggies, high fiber cereals, or some oatmeal with almonds. Try mixing and matching to get a metabolism boost from both ends! A good sample breakfast includes eggs and a bran muffin, or some yogurt and fruit. And remember not to skimp on your breakfast, or your metabolism will think it needs to conserve energy instead.

Your ideal breakfast doesn’t end with the foods you eat. Luckily enough, our morning tea or coffee does more than give you energy to start your day. In fact, both do a marvelous job of boosting your metabolism. If you’re running out the door late and don’t have time for a breakfast, do your metabolism a favor and at least remember to grab a cup of joe when you first wake up.

Know How to Burn Fat, Not Just the Carbs 

So you may now be convinced to eat your breakfast within the first hour of waking. However it may be better for you to eat breakfast after you exercise. A recent article by Men’s Fitness called attention to a study in Belgium which analyzed this very question. Because many people understand the benefit of eating breakfast early, they were surprised to find that participants were healthier and gained less weight when they exercised on an empty stomach, and then ate breakfast.

So why did these results occur? It may be because both exercise and eating breakfast effectively jump start your metabolism. However, if you start your morning with a workout, your body has not yet received food that it can use as energy. Thus, during your workout your body will pull energy from fat cells instead of carbohydrates, causing you to burn fat more rapidly.

So what’s the takeaway? When should you exercise and when should you eat breakfast? The most important thing is to somehow boost your metabolism within 30 or 60 minutes of waking. Ideally, this means waking up, starting your day with a workout, followed by breakfast and coffee, and then heading off to work. However, if this does not fit into your schedule, make sure you either workout or eat breakfast first thing in the morning. If you choose to workout before leaving the house, grab a coffee and breakfast on your way to work. If you instead opt to eat breakfast first thing, try working out before lunch or dinner.

Narrow Your Eating Window

Most of us know that late night snacking is bad, but few of us have heard of the “12 hour window.” The New York Times and Peak Fitness recently called attention to several studies which demonstrated the impact of restricted eating times. A restricted eating window refers to the number of hours between the first food you consume to the last. So if you eat breakfast at 7 AM and have your last snack around 9 PM, you have a 14 hour eating window.

These studies showed that when mice were given a 9, 12, 15, or 24 hour eating windows, those with the 9 and 12 hour windows were significantly thinner. Some of the mice that were allowed to eat whenever they wanted (in the 24 hour group) were switched midway to these restricted windows, and actively lost weight following the switch.

So why does sticking to a 12 hour eating window help? There are a couple theories, and it is likely a combination of the two. The first is that when your body is constantly consuming food, it never has to dip into fat stores to fuel its energy needs. So instead, it continues to use energy from the foods you are eating. The second is that by restricting yourself to a shorter eating window, it improves your body’s circadian rhythm. The stronger your body’s natural circadian rhythm, the faster your metabolism.

Believe it or not, the 12 hour window begins and ends the second you consume any food product. That means that the second you have coffee with milk in the morning, your clock starts ticking. Even that evening tea with honey impacts your restricted window. In order to narrow your window, stick to water, or black tea and coffee. Take note of the moment your window starts each day, and make sure you are finished with dinner and all evening snacks by the time your 12 hours have elapsed. I.e. if you start breakfast at 7 AM, you should be done eating for the day at 7 PM.

Take-Home Ideas

Overall, remember these three main ideas. Sometimes we can’t lose weight because we don’t even know what habits we need to fix!

  1. Eat a breakfast rich in protein, fiber, and coffee or tea to get an optimal metabolism boost.
  2. Make the first thing you do each morning either exercise or eating breakfast. If you exercise first, make sure to eat breakfast right after. If you don’t have time to exercise in the morning, try exercising before lunch or dinner when you haven’t eaten very recently.
  3. Narrow your eating window to 12 hours, including snacks and cream or sugar in your coffee.

Do you have any other ideas or suggestions? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below!

exercise, fitness, healthy living, enough exercise, 30 min a day, cardio, muscle tone
How to Know if You’re Getting Enough Exercise
How to Know if You’re Getting Enough Exercise 960 640 Emilie

We all know that exercise is important, but how much exercise do we actually need? The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that all adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic exercise, with 2X a week strength training. Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities that get your blood pumping like speed walking, hiking, casual biking or gardening. Vigorous aerobic activity refers to activity that is more demanding such as running, fast paced tennis, dancing, or fast paced swimming. Nearly any exercise can be light or vigorous, depending on how difficult you make it. Even walking can range greatly: anything from a casual stroll to walking on an incline while carrying a heavy load.

Typically it is easy to tell how vigorous your exercise is if you are being honest with yourself. Good indicators of vigorous exercise includes heavy sweating and increased breathing effort. However, a more concrete way of looking at your exercise is by analyzing your heart rate (HR). When exercising, your HR should reach 55%-85% of your maximum HR. The closer to 85% you are, the more vigorous your exercise. An easy way to calculate your maximum HR is by subtracting your age from 220. You can also use Active’s Target Heart Rate Calculator to calculate what 50% and 85% of your maximum HR is. And luckily, there are now many free smartphone apps that will now identify your HR, without the need to pay for a new gadget.

Of course, different exercise goals necessitate different exercise requirements. suggests that if you want to lose weight, your exercise goal should actually be 300 minutes per week. In this scenario, you should still be strength training twice a week. Of course, you can strength train even more frequently if your goal is to improve your muscle tone. So how much is enough exercise? It depends on what you’re working towards! Below are some example exercise plans that you can use, depending on your exercise goal. Please note that all cardio assumes moderate aerobic activity.

To Be Fit and Active:

  • Plan 1: Monday: 30 min cardio, 30 min strength training. Tuesday-Thursday: 30 min cardio. Friday: 30 min strength training. Saturday: 30 min cardio. Sunday: rest day.
  • Plan 2: Monday: 45 min cardio. Tuesday: 30 min strength training. Wednesday: 40 min cardio. Thursday: 30 min strength training. Friday: 45 min cardio. Saturday: 20 min cardio. Sunday: rest day.

Total: 150 min per week aerobic exercise, 60 min per week weight training.

To Lose Weight:

  • Plan 1: Monday: 1 hour cardio, 30 min strength training. Tuesday-Thursday: 1 hour cardio. Friday: 30 min strength training. Saturday: 1 hr cardio. Sunday: rest day.
  • Plan 2: Monday: 1 hour cardio. Tuesday: 30 min strength training. 30 min cardio. Wednesday: 1 hour cardio. Thursday: 30 min. strength training. 30 min cardio. Friday: 1 hour cardio. Saturday: 1 hour cardio. Sunday: rest day.

Total: 300 min per week aerobic exercise, 60 min per week weight training.

To Improve Muscle Tone:

  • Plan 1: Monday: 30 min cardio. Tuesday-Thursday: 30 min cardio and 30 min strength training. Friday: 30 min. strength training. Saturday: 30 min cardio. Sunday: rest day.
  • Plan 2: Monday: 45 hour cardio. Tuesday: 30 min strength training. Wednesday: 1 hour cardio. Thursday and Friday: 45 min strength training. Saturday: 45 min cardio. Sunday: rest day.

Total: 150 min per week aerobic exercise, 120 min per week weight training.

Remember that all of these programs are just examples! Keep in mind how many minutes you should be exercising per week, what your goals are, and how vigorous your exercise is. By tracking your HR, improvement from workout to workout, and overall fitness levels, you will be able to design the perfect program for you.

Digiulio, Sarah. "How Much Exercise Do You Really Need?" Prevention. N.p., 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 26 July 2016.
"Target Heart Rate Calculator." N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2016.
Laskowski, Edward R., M.D. "Exercise: How Much Do I Need Every Day?" N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2016.


Moves, iphone, fitness, app, exercise, healthy, lifestyle
Fitness App “Moves”: App Review
Fitness App “Moves”: App Review 484 1024 Emilie

Most of us are always looking for ways to be more active. New fitness gadgets and watches, like Fitbit, give us quantifiable fitness measures that motivate us to get moving. But not all of us want to spend lots of money on a Fitbit! So what about free fitness app options? This past week I checked out the fitness app Moves, which is designed to track your daily activity. Take a look at Moves in the AppStore here.


Moves is basically a glorified pedometer. It tracks a steps, mileage, length of time exercising, and even calories burned. It aims to track 3 types of exercise: walking, running, and cycling. The cool thing about Moves is that it shows your exercise in an easy-to-read, timeline format. The timeline shows your general location, and the time periods during which you were exercising.


Moves is aesthetically pleasing and incredible easy to read. The app shows three main circles: the green one showing your “Walking” information, the blue one showing your “Cycling” information, and the purple one showing your “Running” information. The default of each circle shows the number of steps you have taken (except for the “Cycling” circle, where the default is mileage). However, by simply tapping on each circle, you can see mileage or length of time you performed the activity. You can also see calories burned if you turn on the calorie setting.

The app appears to be fairly accurate with distance and step count. I compared it with my iPhone Health app, and sometimes the Moves step count was slightly greater, and other times it was slightly lower. Each day, the two apps always had a similar step count. Additionally, if you keep your Moves app open it will show your step count increasing in front of your eyes. I did this for awhile while I was walking, and the step count seemed very accurate. The first 20 steps or so may not be incredibly accurate (which is common with pedometer-style apps), but once you have taken about 20 consecutive steps you will see high accuracy.

Unlike some step counting apps, Moves does a good job of not counting transportation as exercise. Instead, your timeline will show your starting location, then “Transport,” followed by your destination location. It also does a great job of tracking your location and routes. This is cool because you can go back and see the path that you took while exercising. This gives you a much better sense of where you exercised, when you exercised, and how long you exercised: making you much more aware of when you are being active and when you are being stagnant.

The app is so simple. It doesn’t have any crazy functions, and instead sticks to the basics. It doesn’t try to do too much, and thus it does its simple functions well. It is easy to find information, and even your exercise routes are simply color coded and easy to read.


Because one of the app’s main functions is tracking your step count, it’s perplexing that there is no step count total. The app shows number of steps taken while walking, as well as the number of steps taken while running, but does not add them together (at least anywhere I could find). This seems like an obvious flaw since many people most likely use the app to set step count goals for themselves. Thus, if you are using Moves to track your step count, you will have to manually add your running and walking steps.

It does not differ greatly from the iPhone health app, already built into your phone. The primary difference is that your Health app will show a total step count, whereas Moves shows the breakdown of your exercise activity. Both show your activity over previous days (although the Moves app shows a more detailed analysis and is easier to read). However, even on the Health app you can see a timeline of your exercise. For instance: 93 steps at 4:03 PM, 136 steps at 4:21 PM. Overall it is simply less comprehensive, and more difficult to read and make sense of.

Sometimes the app inaccurately represents your activity. Although the step count appears quite accurate, the app does not always understand what activity you are engaging in. For instance, at one point I was walking and Moves thought I was actually cycling. At another time I was kayaking (which Moves is not supposed to track). Most of the kayaking it denoted as “Transport” (aka driving-type activities), but the last five minutes of my kayaking Moves believed that I was walking (despite the fact Moves showed my exercise route to be in the water)!

There are a few other drawbacks of the app that make it less appealing to use. First of all, it rapidly kills battery life. You can turn on a battery saving mode on the app, but it will decrease the step count accuracy. Overall, the app was designed with the idea that users will charge their phone every night. Although the designers are aware of the battery-draining problem, they believe your phone should still make it through the day without dying. The other main problem is that you must have your phone on you at all times. That means that if you are getting breakfast ready, or generally moving around your house or office, you will only see the step count increase when your phone is with you. For me, this can be annoying because I rarely carry my phone with me except for when I absolutely have to.

Would I Recommend it?

Despite some obvious drawbacks, I think Moves succeeds at accomplishing its two primary purposes: 1) making you more aware of your typical activity habits, and 2) giving you easy to read information to set goals for yourself. For those without a FitBit, its a great way to be aware of your exercise and get more active!

daily, exercise, fitness, workplace
How to Squeeze Extra Exercise Into Your Day
How to Squeeze Extra Exercise Into Your Day 960 640 Emilie

In today’s world, so many of us work 9 AM- 5 PM with very sedentary lifestyles. It’s hard to feel like we are active enough when we are forced to spend most of our days sitting down. Here are 5 great ways you can get moving, despite your hectic schedule.

1. Bike to lunch. We’ve all heard of people who bike to work, but for many of us this simply isn’t possible. Instead, try grabbing a bike rack and bringing your bike with you to work. That way, you can bike to a lunch spot nearby! If you want, you can bring a spare change of clothes with you in your car in the morning, and that way you don’t even have to bike to lunch in your work clothes. Or, if you prefer, find a lot to park in between home and work. That way you can drive most of the way, but you can bike whatever distance to work that you’d like!

2. Have an hourly “Stagnancy Check.” Some fitness watches already have a feature for this specific purpose- lightly vibrating whenever you haven’t moved for an hour. The more you pay attention to how much time has passed since the last time you walked around, the more you will realize how much time you have spent sitting. To do your own stagnancy check,  take a short walk around your building once an hour. It doesn’t have to be long, just enough to get you moving. You can even use your walk to grab coffee, or take a detour when visiting another room or office. Or if you prefer, climb up and down a few flights of stairs, just to get the blood flowing!

3. Book exercise into your schedule. Often when we’re really busy, the hardest part about exercising is that the day just gets away from us. Plan your exercise into your schedule, and block it off just like you would a meeting. When meetings and other commitments arise, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of moving your workout in order to make room for that commitment. But when you make this into a habit, it doesn’t take long before exercise is rarely in your schedule. Avoid rearranging your daily exercise slot to make room for other commitments. When you do have to rearrange your workout schedule, treat it the same as any other meeting, and only rearrange it if you have time to put it elsewhere in your schedule for the day.

4. Change your morning routine. When you have to get to work early, it’s incredibly difficult to wake up any easier than you absolutely need to. However, there are so many benefits to exercising in the morning. In general, working out in the morning will rev your metabolism, and keep it boosted throughout the day. Additionally, by exercising before you eat breakfast, this forces your body to reach into your fat stores for energy, instead of simply using energy from meals you have eaten earlier in the day. That means more fat loss! So if you don’t have much time in the morning, try exercising before you leave for work in the morning, and then grab some breakfast once you arrive at the office. If you are trying unsuccessfully to wake up earlier, force yourself to wake up 5 minutes earlier each day. Sticking to these small increments can be challenging, and it won’t be easy at first, but it will slowly adjust your body to waking up earlier each morning.

5. Help out your kids. When your life consists of being a constant chauffeur for your children, when do you find time to exercise? Try participating in some of the same sports as your children (or at least sports nearby). Finding ways to be active while your children are at practice is a good way to get in some extra exercise, and the more you learn about your kid’s sports the more you will have something in common to talk about and enjoy! While your child is at soccer practice, see if you can get a soccer lesson from someone local in nearby fields. You can also grab a yoga mat to do some yoga at the park nearby, or simply bring a change of clothes and go for a walk or run while your kid is at practice! Search for nearby tennis courts, pools, golf courses, racket ball centers, and other ways to be active right nearby.

lose weight, cardio, weights, dieting, healthy living, eat right, fitness, exercise
Why You’re Working Out But Not Losing Weight
Why You’re Working Out But Not Losing Weight 960 639 Emilie

We all know that exercise is important, and provides a long list of health and medical benefits. But at the end of the day, many of us exercise with one clear goal in mind: to lose weight. How is it possible that we can work out multiple times a week (or even every day!) and still not lose weight?

I know this pain all too well. Most of our bodies have a comfortable size and body shape, and it takes a lot for us to change that size from where our body wants it. I have felt like no matter how active I am, no matter how hard I push myself in my workouts, I see very little change. But believe it or not, there still is hope! Take a look below for common reasons you aren’t losing weight, even though you feel like you should be.

You’re not pushing yourself in your workouts. I talk to a lot of people who are frustrated with weight loss, because they exercise every day and still see no results. You may be frustrated because you are using a workout program that originally helped you lose weight, but is now showing no benefits. The problem is that any time your body becomes used to a workout, it makes it easier for your body to find its way back to it’s desired shape and size, despite your regular workouts.

Let’s take running for example. If you are going for a run every morning, you may not lose any weight because your body is never hitting the fat burning zone. Based on your age and baseline HR, each person has a different “fat burning zone.” That means that unless you are hitting a certain BPM during your workouts, it may be good exercise, but you are less likely to start burning fat. Without hitting this fat burning zone, your body will only chip away at the fat that is easy for it to take away. That means the areas on your body which are already slim may lose weight, but you may not see a difference in your problem areas, like your thighs or tummy.

So how do you fight against this? Of course, many people will say to shake up your workout routines, and this is a great idea. However, even doing different things each day (legs one day, cardio another, etc) is not enough. Instead, every time you do each of these workouts, you should be mixing up your exercises. Personally, this sounds exhausting to me, and if I had to put that much creativity into each workout, I would simply never exercise.

Instead, there are several ways you can accomplish this without having to design creative workouts. The first that I like to suggest is fitness apps. There is a huge slew of free apps which will give you a list of workouts to choose from. This steps you through new workouts each day, without the need to create workouts yourself. The second suggestion I like to give is to push yourself in your current workouts. If you run each day, set goals for yourself to make yourself run faster. If you don’t like setting goals, try doing it only 3 times a week. Just make sure your goal is enough to push yourself: not so low that you continue to see little difference. That being said, don’t make it so high that it’s impossible to reach!


Your workouts are one-dimensional. Whether you only weight train or only do cardio, you are creating a recipe for poor weight loss. Let’s start with people who only weight train. By googling “best ab workouts” you will probably find tons of suggestions: from crunches to planking. However, while this will help strengthen your ab muscles, it will do very little to actually burn fat in those areas. That means that while your abs are getting stronger, you will only see so much benefit unless you pair these exercises with cardio, which will burn off that top layer of fat.

However, this does not mean exercising without weight training is effective. Let’s return to my previous example about running. Whenever people only do cardio, your body falls into a comfortable routine, and it becomes a lot more difficult to whittle your middle. Weight lifting is exceedingly important in burning calories, and you will actually end up expending more calories the more muscle you have (which helps you lose weight all day long!). To see even more benefits to weight lifting, check out the article by here.

Overall it is very important for both genders to partake in cardio and weightlifting. Just because you haven’t used the big weights at your gym before, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t now! If you feel like you will look foolish, learn how to use weights and various machines a few times with a personal trainer or a gym buddy. Soon, you will be able to apply what you have learned even when you aren’t working out alongside a pro.

Your diet doesn’t reflect your weight loss goals. A lot of us make the mistake of seeing weight loss as a calorie exchange. In other words, if we run 2 mile (losing about 200 calories), we believe that we can have a 100 calories snack throughout the day, and we will still come out ahead (because we burned off 200 calories while running). Technically, this is absolutely true: if the only difference in your diet all day is that 100 calorie snack.

The problem arises because typically the more we exercise, the more we crave heartier, more filling food. That means each time you eat, you might eat a slightly larger meal. You might eat slightly more of the sauce on your plate (adding calories without even realizing it). Whether we want to admit it, it is so easy for us to gain back the calories we have burned just through normal eating throughout the day. That means that each time we choose a small snack (with the idea that it still doesn’t cover our new calorie deficit) we are likely incorrect, because we have already used up part of that deficit through regular eating. Each small snack and meal we choose actually does matter.

The other way this harms us is when we forget how much everything we eat adds up. I fall into this trap a lot: if I am regularly exercising, I believe I should be able to reward myself. That means sometimes you may grab a small latte instead of a black coffee. Or you may choose to split a dessert with someone. Every now and then, this is true. But when “a small reward” becomes our constant mentality, we end up exceeding the number of calories we have burned. Soon, we are back at our normal weight once again.

This may sound depressing, because it feels like you can never indulge yourself. However I am definitely not suggesting something so extreme! Instead, try taking a few days to journal everything you eat (that includes the sauces and items used to cook each food). This will make you far more aware of what you are eating, allowing you to make better, healthier choices with each meal and snack. That way, when you choose to indulge yourself (with some chocolate, an icecream cone, etc) it’s not a big deal because you are eating well throughout the rest of your day.

rio, olympics, 2016, athletes, mikaela mayer, boxing, april ross, volleyball, kerri walsh jennings, steele johnson, diving, david boudia, simone biles, gymnastics
Top 5 New U.S. Athletes to Watch in Rio
Top 5 New U.S. Athletes to Watch in Rio 960 640 Emilie

With the 2016 Rio Olympics just around the corner, we can’t wait to watch some of our most impressive athletes. With a huge variety of sports, we have a large number of athletes that will be competing in their first ever Olympic games this summer. Here is our top 5 list of new Olympic athletes to keep your eye on during the Rio games.

Simone Biles: Gymnastics

Although the Olympic Gymnastics team has not yet been officially selected (the Women’s team trials will occur on July 8th and 10th), Simone Biles is a complete lock for the team. This past weekend Biles won the United States Nationals all around title for the fourth consecutive year. She has also won the World all around championship for three consecutive years, and has been decorated with World floor and beam championships for years. Not only is she considered the best gymnast in the world today, many consider her the greatest gymnast of all time. Rio will be Biles’ first Olympics, although she is likely to be accompanied by returning Olympic athletes Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. Powerful and consistent, she is quite a sight to watch. Check out her floor routine at the 2016 P&G Championships here.

Steele Johnson: Diving

You may recognize the name David Boudia, as he was the first U.S. male to receive an Olympic gold medal in diving, which occurred just last year at the 2012 London Olympics. Rio will be Boudia’s third Olympics (in 2008 and 2012 he was with synchronized diving partner Thomas Finchum). However, this is the first year Boudia will be diving alongside Johnson. Johnson and Boudia actually grew up diving together in West Lafayette, Indiana (with Johnson a few years behind Boudia). Not only are Johnson and Boudia a force to be reckoned with in synchronized diving (easily clinching the position as our Olympic team during the recent trials), Johnson will also prove to be very competitive in the individual 10 m platform event. During the semifinals of trials he actually led in front of Boudia, and by the end of trials he was not far behind his synchronized partner. Check our Johnson and Boudia’s third round Olympic Trials semi dive here.

April Ross: Beach Volleyball

Yet another old teammate with a new partner is Kerri Walsh Jennings, who used to partner with Misty May-Treanor. The two of them were considered by many to be the best beach volleyball team of all time. The moment Walsh Jennings grabbed the gold medal with May in the London Olympics (with Ross and her partner at the time, Jennifer Kessy, grabbing the silver), Jennings immediately talked to Ross about continuing with her after Misty’s retirement. She identified Ross as the next best athlete in the sport, and the two have been working tirelessly in preparation of the Rio Olympics. Since London, the new pair has managed several impressive wins: including gold medals at the Fuzhou Open in China and the Moscow Grand Slam.

Morgan Craft: Skeet Shooting

At only 23 years old, Craft has been shooting since age 14 and will be heading to her first Olympics in Rio. Craft’s success has rocketed over the past few years. In 2013 she won the Junior National Championships and the Bronze medal at Nationals, and by 2015 she was the World Champion (also winning the 2016 World Cup Cyprus). She grabbed the spot to Rio by beating fellow teammate Caitlin Connor, who was the previous reigning National Champion. Craft has just been getting more and more successful, and could very easily scoop up another medal for the U.S.

Mikaela Mayer: Boxing

Heading into the 2012 London Olympics, Mayer narrowly missed out on making the Olympic Team. Ever since she has proven to be more and more successful, until she eventually scored a gold medal at this year’s Olympic Trials. She was the National Gold Medalist in 2012, 2014 and 2015. She will be sure to keep fighting as the Olympics gets closer to be the best athlete she can be.

fitness, walking, step count, 10000 steps, exercise, weight loss, health , weight management, pedometer
10,000 Steps a Day: Everything You Didn’t Know
10,000 Steps a Day: Everything You Didn’t Know 960 539 Emilie

We all know what it means: walking 10,000 steps is the recommended daily step count to prevent obesity or prevent regaining weight after a dieting or weight loss program. 10,000 steps is approximately the same as 5 miles a day for the average walker. This level of walking has a load of tremendous benefits, from weight management to lowering blood pressure, from reducing stress to improving sleep. Here are 4 ways the 10,000 step goal might have different effects than you knew.

10,000 might not be enough for weight loss. Most people that google calorie loss information will find that walking burns 100 calories per mile, meaning that 10,000 steps a day burns about 3,500 calories per week. This, however is based on the false assumption that walking and running a given distance burns the same number of calories. A study cited by Runner’s World demonstrates that depending on how strenuous your activity is, 10,000 steps a day may burn anywhere between 2,500 calories and 4,300 calories per week. A pound of fat requires 3,500 calories to be burned (more than the number of calories you are likely to burn in a week if all your steps are accomplished through walking). So if you’re walking 10,000 steps a day and treating yourself to some icecream at the end of the week, odds are you are only maintaining your weight. In order to achieve weight loss, some of those 10,000 steps need to be achieved more strenuously (through running, speed walking, hiking, or playing games). Or, you can try to increase your daily step count to increase that calorie burn. Research has shown, for instance, that overweight adolescents should actually be aiming for 11,700 steps a day to reach moderate-to-vigorous activity standards.

There’s a gender difference post childhood. This same study that Runner’s World calls to attention demonstrated that the same number of calories burned for women were on average lower than those for males. More specifically, males burned an average of 124 calories per mile when running, and 88 while walking, whereas the females burned an average of 105 calories while running a mile and 74 walking. This difference may easily exist due to weight and BMI differences between the average male and average female. However, another recent study also demonstrated a difference in step count between the genders: showing that although both genders tend to have a lower step count as they age, this step count reduces much more steeply in females than in males.

Having a sedentary job isn’t the end of the world. Recent research analyzed groups in terms of both their job style (sedentary or non-sedentary), and their physical activity level (active or non-active). Believe it or not, those with both non-sendentary jobs and an active physical lifestyle did not have a significantly higher step count or lower BMI than those with a sedentary job yet active physical lifestyle. The only difference seen in BMI and step count was for those that have both a sedentary job and are inactive. So remember that just because you have to sit at a desk all day, you can still be appropriately active!

Using public transportation helps your step count. Not only does public transportation help the environment and decrease wear and tear on your car, it has been shown that people who use public transportation actually have a greater step count than those who use private vehicles. This shouldn’t seem surprising, as those with public transportation often have to walk to their bus or subway stop. If you are unable to use public transportation to get to work, try using public transportation whenever possible (like going out to dinner or running errands). Otherwise, try parking your car in the back of parking lots, and always take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or if you have street parking, try parking your car further down the street instead of right next to your house, forcing yourself to walk to your car each morning. Small changes like these will quickly increase that step count.

Overall, the 10,000 step goal is a great one, with a wide array of health benefits. So get walking!

Adams, Mark A., Susan Caparosa, Gregory J. Norman, and Sheri Thompson. "American Journal of Preventive Medicine." Translating Physical Activity Recommendations for Overweight Adolescents to Steps Per Day 37.2 (2009): 137-140. Web.
Tudor-Locke, Catrine, Nicola W. Burton, and Wendy J. Brown. "Leisure-time Physical Activity and Occupational Sitting: Associations with Steps/day and BMI in 54–59 Year Old Australian Women." Preventative Medicine 48.1 (2009): 64-68. Web.
Barreira, Tiago V., John M. Schuna, Jr., Emily F. Mire, Stephanie T. Broyles, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Catrine Tudor-Locke, and William D. Johnson. "Normative Steps/Day and Peak Cadence Values for United States Children and Adolescents: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006." The Journal of Pediatrics 166.1 (2015): 139-43. Web.
Burfoot, Amby. "How Many Calories Are You Really Burning?" Runner's World. N.p., 18 July 2005. Web.


physical, activity, exercise, motivation
Why Your Exercise Motivation is Low: And How to Fix It
Why Your Exercise Motivation is Low: And How to Fix It 960 685 Emilie

Exercising more is one of those things that we all know we should do, but is difficult for many of us to follow through on. Even though we may want to exercise, finding the motivation to actually do it can be a challenge. But the key to motivation starts by first understanding the reasons behind your lack of motivation. By understanding exactly why it’s difficult for you to get moving each day, you will soon be able to hit the gym with far more ease. The best part? Not one of these methods gives you a time duration or number of reps you must hit each day.

1. Gender Differences. Research has shown that males tend to report greater exercise motivation than females. After devising various motivating reasons for exercising, it was shown that this gender difference results for primarily two reasons. Although males and females find similar motivation for reasons like improving body image, males find greater motivation to exercise with the goal of 1) improving their sex life, and 2) having more energy to do chores around the house.

How to Fix it: Identify multiple reasons you want to be in shapeIn order to close this gender gap, try trading some chore roles with your SO, so that both of you are engaged in more physically demanding chores that might encourage you to exercise. Additionally, both genders can try writing out different reasons for exercising: improving quality of life, decrease risk of disease, controlling weight, lowering blood pressure, sleeping better, improving your sex life, having fun with family and friends, feeling relaxed, feeling happier, etc: and identify which are the most important to you. Finding several important motivating factors makes it easier to self-motivate than simply exercising because your doctor told you to or because you want to fit into that bikini. It is easy to lose motivation over one goal, but more difficult over several strong and varying goals.

2. You’re only intrinsically motivated. When it comes to exercise, most of us are fueled by intrinsic motivation. On the surface, this seems like a good thing. However, while this intrinsic motivation encourages us to exercise for several important reasons, it decreases the amount we care about exercising the second our intrinsic motivation goes away.

How to fix it: Increase your extrinsic motivation. There are several ways to do this, the most obvious may be setting external goals. Take out that pedometer or Fitbit and challenge your friends. Or agree to take that new kickboxing class with someone. By doing these activities with friends, you are more likely to follow through. If you like exercising on your own, use personal motivators: for instance, make yourself run to Starbucks for your next coffee run (using a latte or frappe as a reward). There are now Craft Beer Races: 5ks which reward you with craft beer and live music once your run is complete. Whatever motivates you, use it as a goal for yourself! Any goal that rewards you for exercising will act as external motivation. Another way to increase your external motivation is by focusing on the disease diminishing effects of exercise. This is an incredibly important aspect of exercise, but we often forget about it, focusing instead on our physical appearance or ability to feel happier post-exercise.

3. Your exercises are focused on weight loss/shape. A lot of us fall into this trap. When we exercise, we focus on exercises that focus on our physical weight or shape so that we feel better about our physical appearance. But research shows that although exercise normally increases positive body image, this is hindered when our exercise is focused on physical appearance. This can make it more and more difficult to exercise the next time around.

How to fix it: Change your focus. Even if your main goal is to alter your body weight/shape, stop focusing on this in your workouts. It will make it more and more difficult to workout each subsequent time, and overall, you will achieve the appearance benefits you want more quickly by being regularly active than sticking to a specific, unenjoyable workout schedule. Instead, choose exercises that you enjoy and get your blood pumping. There are plenty of more enjoyable activities you can pursue that help your cardio or strength, without focusing on a certain number of reps.

4. You’re not working out hard enough. This is probably the opposite of what anyone will tell you when you’re trying to get the motivation to workout more. They will tell you to start small, and that any activity is better than none. And this is absolutely true! Perhaps counter-intuitively, however, motivation for your following workout session will be higher if you worked out more intensely last time. Perhaps this is because vigorous activity leads to more enjoyment benefits than lighter exercise: such as release of endorphins.

How to fix it: Focus on fun. I’m not about to tell you to have a really hard workout every day with tons of burpees and push-ups. In fact, that’s the exact opposite of what sounds enjoyable or motivating. Instead, I will tell you to focus on what activities are fun, because the more you are enjoying yourself, the harder you are going to workout. Go play tennis or some ultimate frisbee with a friend. Go outside and play with your dog, or have a water gun fight with your kids. Just the other day our Director of Technology, Brian, put his Fitbit on his young son, and he proceeded to rack up over 20,000 steps that day! If you’ve ever seen a child outside playing, you will see them run around, then stop when they’re tired, and then get right back to running. Start focusing on fun instead of how long you “have” to be doing the activity for. You will break a sweat in no time and end up being more active. Choose activities you want to do or learn, not a 30 minute block of time you have to be active.

5. You’re choosing the wrong exercise program or activity. A lot of trendy exercise programs aren’t sustainable. This is because people participate in them because they’re simply the latest craze, not because they actually enjoy the activity. When choosing a new activity or program, several key factors have been found to be motivating: that the activity is 1. Interactive, 2. Challenging, 3. Competitive, and 4. Social.

How to fix it: Find an activity that is interactive, challenging, competitive and social. This is certainly a long and difficult list to meet. However, it is not impossible. Challenging does not necessarily mean physically demanding, it could simply mean that the activity encompasses difficult skills to master. These other attributes: interactive, competitive and social, are best met through different games. Try getting a few new heart-pumping games for your wii fit, or join a nearby casual sports league. If these don’t appeal to you, just grab some friends or family to play a game at a nearby park. Any activity that has a competitive aspect built in (no matter how casually competitive) it will make the activity more fun and engaging.

6. You’re comparing yourself in the wrong way. Comparing yourself to others or valuing innate athletic talent is a surefire method to decrease your motivation. We already know the negative emotional effects of comparing yourself to others, but it also drastically harms your motivation. This is because the more we compare ourselves to others, the more we look at athletic ability as innate (thinking someone is just naturally faster or stronger than you). But in reality, we can greatly improve our athletic ability if we are motivated to do so.

How to fix it: Work towards your own goals. Focus on improving upon your personal goals. Set a step count each day, and slowly try to increase it. Work towards exercising within your optimal heart rate zone. Work to increase the time, intensity, accuracy or skill level of your workout. Whatever you do, stop comparing your own workouts or your physical appearance to others. Remember that everyone has a different athletic background, and other people have played more sports or spent more time on cardio or weights than you. Start looking at being active as a skill to achieve instead of something some people have and some people don’t. The more you work at it, the better you will become.

So get out there and start sweating! Remember to stop focusing on how long your workout is or the number of reps you’ve accomplished, and start focusing on the fun of the activity. From setting goals and rewards for yourself, to being aware of your reasons for being active, these suggestions are sure to get you more and more active with each day!

Lowenstein, J.A.S., K. Wright, A. Taylor, and N. J. Moberly. "An Investigation into the Effects of Different Types of Exercise on the Maintenance of Approach Motivation Levels." Mental Health and Physical Activity 9 (2015): n. pag. Web.
Homan, Kristin J., and Tracy L. Tylka. "Appearance-based Exercise Motivation Moderates the Relationship between Exercise Frequency and Positive Body Image." Body Image 11.2 (2014): n. pag. Web
Al Kubaisy, Waqar, Mariam Mohamad, Zaliha Ismail, and Nik Nairan Abdullah. "Gender Differences: Motivations for Performing Physical Exercise among Adults in Shah Alam." Procedia- Social and Behavioral Sciences202 (2015): n. pag. Web.
Moreno, Juan A., David Gonzalez-Cutre, Alvaro Sicilia, and Christopher M. Spray. "Motivation in the Exercise Setting: Integrating Constructs from the Approach–avoidance Achievement Goal Framework and Self-determination Theory." Psychology of Sport and Exercise 11.6 (2010): n. pag. Web.
Breland, Hazel L., Hon K. Yuen, Laura K. Vogtle, Katy Holthaus, Diane L. Kamen, and David Sword. "The Process Associated with Motivation of a Home-based Wii Fit Exercise Program among Sedentary African American Women with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus." Disability and Health Journal 6.1 (2013): n. pag. Web.
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