Bring On the Echinacea

When I arrived home on Sunday evening from my long drive home from Kentucky, I noticed that my throat was scratchy. I assumed it was because I socialized nonstop while I was gone and spent half of my time inside with a wood-burning fire and half outside in the cold wind. Alex and I decorated the tree (or at least the top half) and I woke up on Monday ready for the week.

Christmas Branches

Christmas Balls

Christmas Ball Adjustment

Christmas Balls on the Floor

Around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, I realized that the scratchy throat was developing into something more. By 2 p.m., I was in my car headed home. It wasn’t until after I time traveled to my couch that I realized how sick I was becoming. After discovering Gossip Girl on Netflix, I convinced myself that a few hours on the couch (and my ever-growing adoration for Blake Lively) would cure all. Unfortunately, when 9 p.m. rolled around, I was desperate for sleep. So, now are you ready for a good report about how it was a 24 hour thing and I’m still going to be able to run my 5K this weekend? Well don’t hold your breath. Thanks to my ever-growing ailment, it appears that even if I rest up all this week, I probably still won’t be able to run my very hardest this weekend, making me a very, very unhappy Bailee. I have become a walker.

Best case scenario: I feel good enough to at least attempt the 5K, but lose major time, and basically pay $20 for a mediocre workout.

Worst case scenario: I can’t run at all, lose out on a great time, and..oh yeah, fail a MAJOR goal.

Cat Hair in my Coffee moment?

In light of all of this sickness, I must say I had a great time visiting my family in KY. It’s nice sneaking away somewhere where neighbors still stop by to borrow pumpkin pie spice and you don’t have to worry about checking your email. Mental cleanse achieved!

Now I’m back in the real world, gearing up for Christmas, and hoping I can resist the urge to buy the ingredients for Puppy Chow and then proceed to eat it all. Hope everyone had a nice holiday!

Healthy Tip of the Day: Instead of finishing a workout with a hard push, try a 10 minute cool-down, including slow walking and stretching. Cooling down is just as important as heating up!

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Vegan Truffles

A few months ago, my vegetarian boss decided to follow a strict vegan diet. (You may remember me mentioning her here.) Since that time, she has accepted a job in a different department and will making that transition in a few days. When we all found out about the change, a member of the communications team decided to put together a surprise going away party for her. I immediately volunteered to bring a dessert, thinking vegan cupcakes would be easy (and cheap) to come by.  I was wrong. Very wrong.

After searching high and low for a good deal, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to attempt my first vegan dessert. I hopped online, did a quick search and found these bad boys. I headed out to Kroger and grabbed these basic ingredients to create this simple recipe.

Use any vegan ingredient you want to give these truffles a little extra flavor.

 

The coconut flavor was my favorite!

After I started putting everything together, I realized that this was quite possibly one of the easiest desserts I’d ever made. Plus, the little wrappers made them look fancy. I highly recommend these, vegan or not, and definitely add the coconut and almonds. They really kick the flavor into high gear.

Healthy Tip of the Day: To get a real feel for what processed foods actually do to your system, try eating clean for a few days. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll start to feel!

Next 2 Weeks

With the 5K now two weeks away, shockingly, my “training” will be lightening up a bit. This is partially because of the holiday and partially because I’m not supposed to do much two days before the race. Although I’m scheduled for two rest days before the 5K, I may try to squeeze in some Pilates so my body isn’t totally shocked on Sunday. Anyway, if you’re interested, below is a rough outlook of what my next two weeks will look like. The pink shading means I can switch around any of those workouts to accommodate my schedule, but shouldn’t be removed completely from my schedule.

 

I’m actually really glad that Thanksgiving is falling on the week before the race, because now I will have to make more of an effort to refrain from downing an entire pie. This will also save me from looking like this.

Hungry Walrus NOAA

So what will be my go-to strategy for avoiding the holiday gorging?

  1. I read somewhere once that if you approach a high-calorie food with the mindset that you are going for your second helping, you will trick your mind into actually believing it. (It takes a lot to trick this noggin when it comes to homemade cookies!)
  2. I plan on snacking on the veggie tray before dinner. This usually helps fill me up before I fill my plate.
  3. Sometimes when I know I’m going to be surrounded by my favorite foods, I’ll do a quick assessment before filling my plate. I’ll rate the foods I won’t be able to have again until next Thanksgiving and I start eliminating options from there.
  4. Believe it or not, the “putting your fork down between bites” trick works. It forces you to slow down and enjoy your food and also makes you more aware of how much you’re actually shoveling in.
  5. Water, water, water. I usually start filling up my glass an hour or two before dinner and keep it going.
  6. If possible, I’ll try to have a cup of coffee after dinner. It helps fill me up and usually occupies me long enough for my Grandma to get the desserts packed away.

Feel free to steal these tricks if you plan on being mindful of your intake this holiday season, and also feel free to laugh out loud at these if you plan on thoroughly indulging.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: Can’t break your butter habit? Switch to a light spray to better control your calories. Parkay and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter both make a delicious spray version of their product.

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins

This is a Women’s Health magazine recipe that popped up in my email a few weeks ago. I thought this might be a great morning-after recipe for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins

· ¾ cup organic whole wheat flour
· ¾ cup organic spelt flour
· ¼ teaspoon sea salt
· 2 teaspoons baking powder
· ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
· ¼ cup agave nectar
· ¼ cup maple syrup
· ¼ cup apple juice, almond milk, soy milk, or filtered water
· 2 teaspoons lemon zest
· 2 tablespoons lemon juice
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
· 1 cup organic blueberries

Crumble Topping

· ¼ cup raw almonds
· ¾ cup organic spelt flour
· ¼ teaspoon sea salt
· ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, fresh ground is best
· 2 tablespoons and 1 to 2 teaspoons grape seed oil
· 1 tablespoon agave nectar
· 1 tablespoon maple syrup
· ½ teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Directions

Muffins

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
2. Line mini muffin pans with unbleached paper baking cups, silicone baking cups or brush muffin pans with grape seed oil.
3. In a mixing bowl: Whisk together flours, salt, and baking powder. In another bowl: Beat together grape seed oil, agave nectar, maple syrup, apple juice (or almond milk, soy milk, or filtered water), lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar.
4. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix just until nice and smooth. This can be done by hand or with a mixer.
5. Fold in blueberries gently.
6. Fill muffin cups half full with batter.

Crumble Topping

1. In a food processor, grind almonds into a fine meal. Add flour, salt, and cinnamon and chop until well mixed. Add grapeseed oil, agave, maple syrup, and lemon zest, and pulse just until mixed and crumbly. The texture should be like pebbles and sand. If it is too moist, add a bit of flour. If it is too dry, add a touch more oil. Distribute topping evenly over muffin batter.
2. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each muffin comes out clean. Let cool before serving. Makes about 24 mini muffins.

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Healthy Eating Plan Lifecycle

As a new member of the business world, I’m constantly learning new things about the way things operate. Sometimes I get stuck on certain topics and for the life of me can’t connect the dots. Today, I managed to relate one of these topics to an area of personal interest.

**A typical Project Lifecyle goes something like this: Idea –> Charter (or a document issued that formally authorizes the existence of a project)  –> Project Management Team  –> Statement  –> Plan  –> Baseline (time phased plan –> Progress –> Acceptance –> Approval –> Handover

Below demonstrates (with a few minor modifications) how this plan can be used for maintaining a healthier diet.

The Lifecycle of Healthy Eating

Idea: Maintenance of a healthy diet

Charter: N/A

Project Management Team: Yourself, family members, friends, and whoever else might be involved in your new effort.

Statement: Draft something in writing (a note on the fridge, or perhaps the first page in your brand new food journal) that holds you accountable for your new effort. This statement could come in the form of a mantra, a famous quote, or just something that keeps your eye on the prize. Just make sure it supports your overall goal.

Plan: Sit down and think about how you plan to stay on track. Start by tracking your usual meals in a food journal and then deconstruct your weak areas. If you are new to the world of healthy eating, refer to outside resources, such as Livestrong.com, or try an easy to follow plan in a health magazine. Most plans include a variety of low-calorie filling options that won’t leave you feeling deprived. Plus, planning meals weekly can help save on grocery bills and will free up the time you usually spend contemplating your next meal.

Baseline: Since healthy eating should become a lifestyle, not a temporary phase, only baseline the first few weeks or months of your plan. Start off by integrating healthier options into your diet before eliminating the bad stuff. This will make the transition much easier and again, won’t make you feel like you’re on a strict diet. Your plan should have an ultimate goal, so set a deadline for your total healthy eating transformation.

Progress: This is where the food journal will come in handy. By recording your meals, you’ll easily be able to see when you slip up, what could be your “trigger foods” and can help you better gauge when you can allow a high-calorie treat.

Acceptance/Approval: All those involved in your plan agree and accept your newfound lifestyle.

Handover: Since there really isn’t a “product”, your deadline established in the baseline step would act as your handover.

Apply this basic model to any goal (work or personal) and you’ll be amazed at how on-focus you’ll stay.

In other news…

Today was yummy food day for this girl. I started my day with one egg and one egg white and an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin toasted. For a snack, I had one of my coveted Luna bars. By the time lunch rolled around, I was starving again (the downside of eating five and six times a day). So I decided to load up on veggies, a piece of cheese, and dark chocolate!

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I love to get Wholly Guacamole in these packets. They are so great for dipping my veggies!

Seriously, are you seeing the size of those grapes? Let me put it in perspective for you.

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I have baby hands, but this is crazy.

A coworker of mine had similarly large grapes for a snack one day and declared they were so shot up with steroids that they had stretch marks. (Juice Head Gorilla grapes?) After my usual Wednesday rendezvous with the great staff at Advantage Health & Wellness (30 minute massage, workout, AND an adjustment) I came home to whip up a modified version of Happy Kat Soup.

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t willing to wait, so I whipped up this delicious Cooking Light recipe.

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I added tomatoes for a sweet flavor.

AMAZING. It’s now time to finish the night with the X Factor (Go Drew & Astro!!!) and American Horror Story.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: Stretch every single day. I made the mistake of skipping my daily stretches Monday and Tuesday and now I’ve got the world’s tightest hamstrings and calves. Big mistake!

Mantra Clipart

**There are a variety of types of lifecycle models out there, but this is one that I find to be particularly easy to adjust.

 

Christmas Coffee

Today’s rainy weather seemed to have everyone craving soup. Well, at least that’s what happened with me. I picked up a carton of V8 Potato and Leek soup from Walmart several weeks ago and decided to keep it in my cube for days just like this one. Always a soup-in-a-can (carton) skeptic, I began microwaving with caution.

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With two giant Wasa crackers in hand, I dove into this simple lunch. V8, you now officially have me sold. I will never again settle for other name brand soups. You win. Not only was this soup full of flavor, it was only 100 calories a serving! I had one cup at noon and finished the other cup off at 3:45pm, after a long online lesson about decision making. (Don’t ask.) I highly recommend you pick up this soup if delicious, low-calorie foods are your thing.

In other exciting food news, Starbucks (or at least the one in my area) released their Christmas Blend coffee today. This coffee is by far my favorite. I get it EVERY SINGLE YEAR and have no problem paying the outrageous price I pay every time. This coffee has a syrupy/cedar-y taste to it (sounds gross, but I swear it’s great) and literally tastes amazing black or with cream. Although I’m a huge fan of the flavor, I have a sneaking suspicion that I covet this coffee so because of the memories attached to my first few encounters with it. Allow me to explain.

Starbucks Christmas Blend

Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee is also available to order by the cup in stores.

When I was a sophomore in college, I traveled home most weekends to visit my parents. At the time, they were building a new house, and were forced to live in the one-room apartment above their garage. This left little, to no room for me. Thankfully, our amazing neighbor Greg offered me his daughter’s old bedroom for the duration of the construction. I gladly accepted and moved what little stuff I had left behind into his home. As Thanksgiving was ending that year, I had discovered that Greg was a serious Christmas decorator. His ceiling-high Christmas tree was completely decked out and he put up the most amazing village in his dining room that grew to be my absolute favorite part of his collection. He had even put up a special WVU miniature tree in my room to make it extra cozy! It was the perfect house to come home to for the holiday break.

Occasionally on the weekends, Greg would leave the house to visit the office, allowing Mom the girl-time she needed with me. One morning, she buzzed up to visit, bringing with her the amazing, fantastic Starbucks Christmas Blend. As soon as she opened the bag, I knew this would be one of those scents I’d always associate with that first and only Christmas I lived with my neighbor. Thanks Greg!

Oh and it must be noted that our Christmas tradition lives on. Every time I’m in, I go see his tree and revisit that tiny village in which I’ve always secretly wanted to be a part of…even if that means being a 4-inch tall glass figurine.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: Having that second bowl of soup before my evening run to ensure I’d be full and focused.

5K Countdown: 19 days

Mallrats

Several weeks ago, Brianna and I made a plan to travel to Pittsburgh for an all-day shopping extravaganza. We planned for the weekend of Veteran’s Day and began devising a shopping strategy so we could hit the places we wanted. That plan got scrapped, so we decided to wing it.

We headed to Pittsburgh on Saturday around 10:30am and made it to Washington traffic-free. Unfortunately, due to fate’s wicked sense of humor, we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic right before the Bridgeville exit. We saw the cones, we saw the merging, but we couldn’t see what the actual construction was. We discovered 30 minutes later that the cones were clearly leftover from work during the week and that we were wasting our day in the car for no real reason. Terrific. Brianna vented about everyday happenings while I contemplated risking our lives to drive down the median at 90mph in a black out-rage.

When we finally arrived at the mall (and finished stalking a young couple and their small child for a parking spot), we made sure to walk in by the Cheesecake Factory entrance. Earlier in the week, I had mentioned to Brianna that I had never been to one, so she immediately declared that was where we would be dining. That changed as soon as we spotted the California Pizza Kitchen. We immediately made a plan to hit both for a well-rounded meal of pizza and cheesecake.

We proceeded to the shopping portion of our day and had decent luck finding cute clothes. We tried on a dozen outfits, but eventually walked out with less than five purchases each. It must be said that Brianna is great to shop with. I actually gave this a lot of thought and wanted to share what makes her such a great shopping buddy.

1. She doesn’t waste time. Brianna, a fast-paced gal, walks in a store, assesses, and starts her shopping immediately. If she can tell she isn’t going to find much, she’ll do a quick run through and then she’s out. She’s definitely not a shopper who spends a lot of time combing through racks of clothing.

2. She isn’t on my heels.Although we normally start off in the same section, Brianna will usually venture off to a different part of the store. This allows us to cover more ground and avoid bumping hangers.

If only I could shop like this...

3. She’s an objective shopper. I have to try stuff on because what I think looks good on a hanger almost never looks good on me. Brianna is also like this and lends an objective opinion when I’m trying to stuff myself into an outfit. She’s great about saying, “Do not buy that,” and “No Bailee, that turtleneck doesn’t scream ‘come and get it.’”

4. She’s fashionable. I have a pretty conservativeclassic style. I generally don’t venture outside of my comfort zone, so this when Brianna helps me the most. She’s great about showing me how to pair things (even though I waste money every few months buying Vogue and In Style magazines) and convincing me that I’m not the chunky B I think I am.

5. We wear the same size shoe.This is great for trying on stuff at shoe stores. We can pick out a few shoes, ask the clerk for one size, and then trade off. It makes life much easier.

Unfortunately we have one flaw: it’s easy to lose each other in stores due to our pint-sized physiques. Brianna’s solution: wear a hat!

After we finished shopping, we headed to California Pizza Kitchen for lunch. The menu was a lot bigger than we had expected (24 types of pizza), so we settled on splitting a roasted vegetable salad and a wild mushroom pizza. We had to pace ourselves, because we knew we had gigantic slices of cheesecake left to devour. We boxed up the remaining slices of the pizza and headed over to the Heaven, I mean Cheesecake Factory. We got our slices to-go, since there was an hour wait and picked out three slices each. I got two slices of Snickers cheesecake for Alex and his sister and nabbed a delicious slice of Chocolate Coconut Cream cheesecake. Oh em gee. Brianna opted for the Lemoncello Cream Torte and Pumpkin cheesecake for herself and got a slice of Red Velvet cheesecake to take home to her sister. We could only manage half of our designated slice and took the rest home for what became my breakfast the next day. (Can you name each piece?)

CCF--Choc-Coconut-Cream-CC-CongratsGP-Pumpkin-CC-Slice-2007

menu_Lemon_Cream_TorteRed Velvet

All in all, I’d say this was a very successful trip. Oh except for the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way home that resulted in more road rage and the further consumption of the Lemoncello Cream Torte.

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Blazer and tee from H&M and hat from Forever 21

First Practice 5K

Today I did my first practice 5K with my running coach, Alex. I usually let him go at his normal pace (for every stride he takes, I take three) and follow behind, running hard to keep up. This works so well for me because I probably wouldn’t normally push myself as hard.

Yes Dear

 

 

 

 

 

 

My pace was ok, but I now know I have to work a little harder to get ready for this race. It’s not that I’m planning on trying to be the fastest, but I definitely want to challenge myself. So in spirit of working harder, I decided tonight that I would have a healthy dinner in place of my usual Sunday Funday feast.

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Alexia Foods Sauté Reds have potatoes, mushrooms, and whole green beans.

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On the side of my delicious meal, I sipped some cinnamon spice tea, or as my friend calls it: “Christmas in a cup.” I also flipped through the latest issue of Oxygen magazine, which featured my fave blogger Julie Fagan of PB Fingers. Yay Julie! This magazine isn’t my usual selection because it focuses so heavily on weight lifting, but every once in a while it’s good to add something new to the rotation. It’s often hard for me to remember that weight lifting is actually a vital part of a good workout routine, so this magazine works well to put me on track.

“The Walking Dead” is starting right now, so I’m going to leave you all with an excerpt from the Oxygen article about Julie.

Re-define Yourself:

By thinking of yourself as a “runner,” “tri-athlete,” “fitness competitor” or “Sister in Iron,” you can use language to make an active lifestyle a part of your identity. This can be especially helpful if you’re just starting out in fitness, or facing a new challenge. By assuming that you’re already successful, you’ll feel like you belong in the gym, at the running track, in the weight room or on the fitness stage, and will feel less intimidated to tackle your fit tasks. In addition, by making your daily language and interaction with others, reflect your new identity, you’re a lot more likely to have confidence in your ability to achieve your desired result.

YOUR PLAN: Start by defining your fitness goals. What do you want to accomplish? Next, research to see what people who have been successful in achieving this goal call themselves, or think of a new term for yourself. Assume the identity.

Zombie Karen

I Think There Are Abs Under There…

One of my biggest fitness problems is finding the motivation to work my abs. I am fine to do 40 plus minutes of cardio, can crank out low weight high reps with a set of dumbbells, but for the life of me can’t get motivated once I hit the mat for some crunches. I usually try to get my tummy warmed up with some planks, but by then I’m bored. After several failed attempts at tightening my gut, I figured out I had to get off the floor.

We all know that supermodel Marisa Miller has a smokin’ bod. She’s tall, lean and very healthy, however she looks this way for a reason: she’s works out hard. So if you want abs like this supermodel, try these ab-exercises that she shared with Shape magazine. I’ve done them and I must say they really work. It’s just a matter of getting up and doing them!

The Plan

How it works Do 2 or 3 sets of each move three times a week. Rest for no more than 30 seconds between sets.
You’ll need
A set of 3- to 5-pound weights, a Bosu balance trainer, and a mat (optional).

1. Triple Delt Duty: Hold a dumbbell in each hand out to the sides at shoulder level. Circle arms forward 15 times, then back 15 times. Next, bend elbows 90 degrees. Rotate forearms down so they’re parallel to the floor, then back up. Do 15 reps. Finally, bring elbows together in front of you, then back out. Do 15 reps.

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2. Plank Progression: Get in plank position on forearms on the round side of a Bosu. Hold for 30 seconds, then turn to the left and balance on right forearm, feet staggered and left arm up. Hold for 30 seconds, return to center, and switch sides to complete series. Repeat entire series once.

3. Standing Crunch: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your chest, elbows bent and palms facing each other. Pull your abs in and lean forward and to the right, using the same motion as you would when doing a regular crunch. Repeat to the other side to complete 1 rep. Do 15 to 25 reps.

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4. Burpee: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then squat and put hands on floor in front of feet. Hop feet back, then forward again. Jump up, catching air and raising hands overhead. Continue for 1 minute. (Add a push-up while you’re in plank pose for more of a challenge.)

5. Balance Squat: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart on the flat side of a Bosu (or use the round side if that’s more comfortable for you) and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Squat as low as you can, maintaining your balance and keeping your knees aligned with your toes, then rise up and repeat. Do 15 reps, then step onto the floor and do 5 to 8 jump squats.

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Images courtesy of Shape.com.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: It takes 3,500 calories to gain a pound. If you want to lose a pound per week, reduce your calorie intake by 250 calories and incorporate daily physical activity that will burn 250 calories. Hitting the gym not your cup of tea? Crank up the stereo and dance while cooking dinner, cleaning, or in place of your usual 30 minutes in front of the television.

Staying Motivated

Setting the clocks back can mean after-work trips to the gym might  *ahem* fall to the wayside. Case in point: my scheduled run after work. After being on my feet all day, the last thing I wanted was to spend 40 minutes pumping out sweat just so I could get home after the sun has set. So I decided to come home instead. Big mistake.  (Things might be different if I had a great gym bag to keep in my car.)

Although I love resting on my couch after a long day at work, I do love the feeling I have when I’m fresh off a workout. Tonight, the only high I’ll be riding is from the three pieces of dark chocolate I wolfed down after dinner.

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So good.

So here are some tips on staying motivated after a long day at the office.

1. Don’t put away your gear.

From the moment she rises, Kristina Monét Cox, 26, has exercise on the brain. That’s because the first things she sees are her sneakers and workout clothes. “I’ve got them next to the bed in plain sight,” says Kristina, the CEO of a communications firm in Houston. “I’ve also got dumbbells right where I can see them in the bathroom, and a balance ball, a yogamat, and a jump rope strategically placed throughout the house.” Forgetting to exercise is never her problem.

Why it works:Visual cues are a wake-up call to your brain. “We all have competing priorities like work, family, chores. Sometimes we need a reminder to keep exercise at the forefront,” McGonigal says.

Do it yourself:If you don’t have the space to display your gear (or if it’ll mess with your decor), choose just one or two prime locations that you’ll never miss. Better yet, “pick places where you spend a lot of time and can use the equipment, like by the TV or the phone,” says Amanda Visek, PhD, assistant professor of sport and exercise psychology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

2. Invest in more workout clothes.

For years, Gina Cancellaro, 36, a paralegal in Bronxville, New York, owned only one sports bra. “I didn’t want to spend the money,” she admits. Then one day she realized that this was a barrier to her working out: “My usual excuse was that it wasn’t clean.” So she went to the mall and loaded up on bras — and cute tops and shorts. Now she exercisesfive days a week.

Why it works:“Having the right clothing doesn’t just remove a hurdle; it reinforces your identity as an exerciser,” McGonigal says. “And when exercising is an integral part of your identity, it isn’t optional anymore. It’s just part of your life.” Plus, you’ve got to wear those adorable new workout clothes somewhere.

Running skirts are so much cuter than shorts. Photo courtesy of fitnessmagazine.com.

Do it yourself:Stock up on at least a week’s worth of gym outfits to eliminate any last-minute hand washing in the sink. Think of it as spending now to save yourself grief later. To truly simplify your life, you may want to get several of the same tops and bottoms. “There’s no time-consuming decision making that way,” says Patricia Moreno, a FITNESS advisory board member and body and mind coach for the Web site SatiLife.

“Look for basics that are comfy and show off your assets — whether that’s your shoulders or your abs — so you feel good just suiting up.”

3. Log your workouts online.

A surprising thing happened when Michelle Busack, 38, started to post her exercise routines on Facebook: Old friends from high school whom she hadn’t seen in years began writing comments. “At first they just congratulated me,” says Michelle, a nurse in Columbus, Indiana. “But now we’ve bonded over this and they’re my biggest cheerleaders.” In fact, if she doesn’t post a workout update for a few days, they’ll demand to know what’s going on.

Why it works:Social networking sites like Facebook and DailyMile offer an extra layer of social support. “You’ve got potentially all of your online contacts holding you accountable,” says Michele Olson, PhD, a FITNESS advisory board member and professor of exercise science at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama.

Do it yourself:Choose a social platform or online fitness tool (check out ours at fitnessmagazine.com/fitnesstracker). Then get in the habit of chronicling your progress after your workout every day so that your friends know when you usually exercise — and when you’ve slacked off. Post your minutes, your miles, or whatever motivates you most.

4. Make friends with class regulars.

The thought of spending time with her Spinning buddies pushes Marie Bruce, 24, a coach and events director in Austin, Texas, to her morning class three times a week. “We’re a tight-knit group,” she says. “If I’m grumpy when I walk in, they don’t let me stay that way for long.” During the past six years, she’s grown close to her extended gym family; in fact, they’re invited to her upcoming wedding.

Why it works:It’s smart time management. “You get your social fix while doing physical activity,” Fortier says. Both boost health, and the better you feel, the likelier you are to want to exercise.

Do it yourself:Some classes foster friendships more than others, so you’ll have to do some sleuthing. “Arrive early and observe,” suggests Moreno, who teaches IntenSati, a mix of aerobics, dance, yoga, and kickboxing. “Are people staking out their places in silence, or are they chatting and laughing and flitting around the room?” Another good sign: The instructor seems to know everyone’s name.

For a complete list of motivating tips, visit http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/motivation/habits-of-effective-exercisers/.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: Can’t wait until you get home for a snack? Try keeping granola bars or mixed nuts in your car to keep you from hitting a drive through on your commute home.

Cinnamon Rice Chex

A baggy of cereal is also a great stash to put in your car.