Tips for Grilling Steak

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The last article I shared was all about alternatives to barbecuing burgers and dogs, which is great for sure.  But if you’re not looking to try to Grilled Fish Tacos or you want something to go along with the Chipotle Lime Sweet Potato Fries, nothing beats a classic steak, and the grill is a great was to cook one.  Here are some tips for getting the perfect steak out on the grill.

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Getting Into Fitness: 10 Tips

Today is a day for turning over a new leaf; like so many Americans, I struggle to maintain a heathy weight.  While exercise is super-important, nutrition is the key to making an impact and living healthfully, so for the next 21 days I’m going to make some drastic changes to the way I eat.  Coupled with intense workouts, I’ll be feeling great inside and out in no time.  I’ll be posting plenty of recipes, but I also wanted to share 10 tips for making the necessary lifestyle changes to become fit.

  1. The Starting Point weighing yourself has always been the standard, but taking other measurements is important too.  Not seeing the scale budge can be disheartening, but using a tape measure to see how many inches you’ve lost is another indicator of progress.  Take a picture of yourself in a bathing suit on day 1 and you’ll have before-and-after pics to see how well you’re doing.  Set solid goals and write them down.  I like to use pairs of pants as benchmarks, trying them on periodically until they fit comfortably.
  2. Arm Yourself with Knowledge there are many conflicting theories out there (no-carb diets vs. the food pyramid, for example) and it’s important to approach health and fitness from an educated standpoint.  Talk to personal trainers and nutritionists (insurance may cover the costs of visits), read credible sources, and figure out a plan to save time and maximize your benefits.  (Personally, I will be eating a modified version of the Paleo diet that my Crossfit gym planned for me–it’s an interesting concept that you can read about here.)
  3. Find Your Sweet Spot hate running?  Try a kickboxing class instead.  Working out doesn’t have to be a drag.  There are so many ways to get your cardio in, and many gyms offer fun classes like Zumba or dance (look here too).  Read a book on an exercise bike or listen to music while you jog.  Don’t forget about strength training either.  Many classes incorporate strength training aspects, plus there are a variety of machines and variations so see what works for you.
  4. Have Healthy Fun working out in the gym is a good way to structure your routine, but theres’s so many great outdoor activities to get yourself moving that won’t even feel like exercise at all.  I like taking long walks, kayaking, hiking, biking, rock climbing, tennis, and swimming, just to name a few.  It’s always great to try something new.
  5. The Buddy System Works exercising with a friend not only makes it more fun, but you can challenge one another and push yourself more than you might have alone.
  6. Use Social Media letting your friends know you’re making healthy lifestyle changes is a great way to get support.  It’s also a way to hold yourself accountable, and you’re less likely to get swayed into unhealthy activities if people know you’re giving them up.  Check-in when you go to the gym, tweet links to healthy recipes you find, and follow fitness pages on Instagram.  Plus you may even inspire someone else.
  7. Remove Temptations get rid of as many junk foods and unhealthy snacks as you can from your house (and office, if possible).  It’s easy for your will power to go out the window with those cookies calling your name, but you’re much less likely to go out to the store to get them when a craving strikes.  Try to get support from the people you live and work with and ask them to stop buying chips (or cookies or whatever your weakness is).
  8. Cook in Advance have healthy snacks and meals ready-to-go so that when you do get hungry, a good choice is right at your finger tips.  I like to make a large pot of turkey chili or soup for my go-to snacks and just pop them into the microwave when I want a snack or need something quick.
  9. Log It All using a food journal is a great way to increase awareness of your eating habits.  The best way is to track your foods and activity with an app; I use LoseIt! but I’ve also used Fooducate in the past.  You can find more info on those and 62 other great fitness apps here.
  10. Plan a Reward despite all the benefits you’ll find in how you look and feel in a fitter lifestyle, it’s nice to give yourself a gift every once in a while.  Set milestones along your path to your goal and do something extra for yourself when you reach them.  Pamper yourself with a massage or pedicure, or get a new pair of jeans now that your old ones are too big.  I’m going to get myself to a new pair of running shoes if I keep on track for 3 whole weeks.  You can treat yourself with forbidden foods too–but only in moderation.  Cheat meals are actually very beneficial, you can read more about them here.

If you’re on the fence about making lifestyle changes, it can be hard to get started but once you do, you’ll pick up momentum.  Over time you will adapt to the changes you made and find that the fit life is fantastic!  #fitlife

Great Resources for Quitting Smoking

Happy 2014 everyone!  Like so many of us, I have some pretty cliché New Years Resolutions this year–but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to make them happen.  At the top of my list (and most other people’s) is quitting smoking.

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One thing I’ve found comforting and helpful during this process is that I’ve quit before.  There’s some very high average of times that it takes a person to quit for good because many people don’t stay quit after the first try.  A little over a year ago I quit cold turkey and stayed quit for 9 months–I know that I have my own dumb reasons (*cough*excuses) for starting up again, but the first time was so much scarier because everyone always talks about how hard it is to quit; that terrified me.  This time, I’m armed with the knowledge that I’ll have a few days of mild to moderate discomfort and then be back on my merry way.  It’s not actually that bad.  And I’m not some casual or light smoker saying this, I smoked for 11 years, some times up to 2 packs/day.  So if I can do it, so can you (or your mom or boyfriend or cousin, or whomever you’re supporting in this–anyone can do it!)

Other helpful tidbits:

  • Clean your house, car, etc. Get the lighters and ashtrays and smell out of there so you don’t think about it (as much)
  • Avoid people, places, and things that trigger you, or make you want to smoke the most.  Don’t go to the bar the first week or 2 of quitting (if that’s a major issue, maybe cigarettes aren’t your only addiction, seek help), don’t hang around your smoker friends for a little while (just stay home and read or get something accomplished), do things that you couldn’t smoke while doing anyway (like going to a movie theater)
  • Exercise will make you not want to smoke and you’ll feel even better about yourself
  • Food is a tricky reward for some people (like me); not only will I want to eat everything all the time, but then I’ll feel guilty and sad about gaining weight and slacking on my overall goal of getting healthy, and plus I’ll be so full that I’ll want to smoke more after ’cause I’m stuffed.  Food might work as a reward for you if you can keep it in moderation, but if not just stick to chewing gum or pen caps or straws.
  • Vacation – the first time I quit, I was on a trip to my aunt’s house where my boyfriend and I were the only smokers.  It seemed wrong to intrude on her nice, healthy lifestyle with our routine smoke breaks, and she lived in such a lovely area it even felt wrong to throw our butts out.  Not only did we not fit in there, but it was easier to stop while being out of our daily grind.  The triggers and cues weren’t there, so it wasn’t that bad.  Obviously not everyone can get away for a few days, or find an affordable place to stay that’s so lovely and peaceful that smoking feels wrong, but if you can it works.
  • Water … just drink it, a lot of it
  • It gets easier and easier with time!

It’s been 4 days for me now, and I can’t say it’s easy, but I’ve had some help.  Supportive friends and family members can go a long way.  Additionally, I’ve searched the web looking for help.  Here are some great resources I’ve found online in my battle with cigarettes:

“Quit Smoking” Timeline — Maybe you’ve seen this or something like it in a different form, but I find it fascinating.  It’s a timeline of the health improvements that occur when you quit smoking.

Become An Ex — I really liked this website; it’s all about planning to quit and what to expect.  It also helps you target a quit date, identify triggers, and other great tools.  Well done.

SmokeFreeTXT — this text messaging service from smokefree.gov (which is also helpful) was a pretty interesting idea to me, so I signed up.  They check in about how I’m doing and text me various times throughout the day with little inspirational messages, such as “Think about what you are gainign and why you want to leave cigarettes behind.  Stay focued – it will get easier.”  It might not be helpful to everyone, but I really like their little messages.  They send out a few throughout the day randomly (not annoyingly) and it makes me feel a little comforted.

I hope this was in someway helpful to your struggle with quitting smoking.  It’s a difficult time but it’s well worth the payout.  If you have any tips or resources, or a success story, feel free to share them below!

photo credit: http://www.quittingsmokingabc.com/about/

Resume Tips

It seems like just about every one has some advice to give on resume writing.  Some say objectives are outdated, others say they’re still necessary.  Some comment on what fonts to use, how to organize the layout, and the dos-and-don’ts of what to include.  Then some tidbits of information (like 86 the Interests/Hobbies section) can be found everywhere.

Here is my summation of the important things to do when looking for a new job (or, if you’re like me, applying to grad school):

  • Google yourself – that’s my favorite, because what good is saying that you graduated with honors and volunteer at an old folks home when they see the pictures of you on Facebook 1/2 naked and wasted or making a duck face in your bathroom? (Some people have no concept of what social media can do to a person’s reputation… Here’s a great example of how to really ruin your reputation on the internet, BTW).
  • Be concise!  Writing should typically be short, sweet, and to the point.  According to HigherNext “Brevity shows that you respect the hiring manager’s time” — I really dig that.  Besides, if you can’t make your resume clean and simple, what is your work going to look like?
  • Know Thy Audience: There’s a lot of talk about using “keywords”, or words and phrases that they’re specifically looking for.  Employers (and schools) already know what they want and what they’re all about, but do YOU know?  Show them you’re right for the position.

HigherNext also had a great “Don’t List” for Cover Letters in their short eBook, A Complete Guide on how to OPTIMIZE YOUR COLLEGE RESUME.  Don’t:

  • Blow it off
  • Recycle other cover letters
  • Repeat your resume
  • Waste Words
  • Make it about yourself

In there was “repetition gives the impression that you really have nothing compelling to say,” which is an excellent quote than can be applied throughout life.

I’m sure I could easily compile a list of the Top 100 Resume Writing Tips, but I’ll stop there for now.  Below is a great list of resume tips… Follow some, but also let yourself shine through.  There are rules to be followed and there are times to add a bit of your own personal touch.

Resource: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/resume-writing-tips/

Photo credit: http://jcdickerson.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/the-handshake-a-business-approach/