Love the Skin You’re In!

Hey Friends!

I wanted to use this post to share something very close to home, and communicate an important form of wellness that many of us forget to practice, especially in the summer months.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. While skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, it’s estimated that one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. And of those, some may develop Melanoma, from which one American dies every hour. Skin cancer is so prevalent, so dangerous, and SO preventable – and I think it’s hugely important for people of all generations, but mostly our younger generations, to understand how they can protect themselves and their skin.

10409505_10205028724342144_4570787903455191593_n

Where’d I get this tan? My Instagram filter. #Valencia

When I was growing up, I knew the risks. I just had that whole “invincible” feeling that all teens and young adults have. Yes, I knew my mom had been diagnosed with Melanoma in her lifetime, and yes, I understood that my blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin made me even more susceptible to contracting skin cancer. But….I liked how I looked with a tan. So starting in my junior year of high school, to prep for my job at beachy retail store Hollister Co., for junior proms, and for my summer “base tan,” I began “fake baking” in UV tanning salons near my parent’s house in Queens. I kept that bronze skin through my college years at the University of Miami. Beach trips, pool-side study sessions, and endless time in the sun kept my skin looking sun kissed – and I loved it.

10399084_1010958598584_9860_n

Me in May 2008, just after high school graduation. That skin color = AHH!

I loved it until last February, when I went for my yearly dermatologist exam. I’d been back in New York almost two and a half years and my skin was back to that Northeastern, soft and fair color I grew up with. My dermatologist stopped over a spot in the middle of my back – one that I obviously couldn’t see myself. A quick biopsy determined that it was, in fact, melanoma. Luckily for me, it was T-level “tis” (melanoma in situ), a form of skin cancer that lives on the surface level of the skin, and is very easily treatable. My doctor was able to remove the entire affected region through a small excision surgery a few weeks later. Once the spot was removed, I was cancer free.

 

12631342_10206003064220032_2022084824039004045_n

Me (and Daniella, hi Dee!) this past January – any slight color is from a spray tan prior to this trip, and some bronzer (duh).

 

I got off easy. I know that now. For the amount of time I spent in the sun, slathering on oil to get that “Miami tan,” the amount of 10-minute sessions spent lying in a UV bed, the amount of times I skipped applying sunscreen for the first hour or so at the beach to get some color – I did more damage to my skin than I can even fathom. For me, skin cancer was one small scare that truly could have been much worse. And for many, it is much worse. That’s why I’m urging everyone to read about the risk factors associated with skin cancer, and learn the little things that can be done to prevent it. These things are as simple as wearing a light sunblock every day  (you can get face and body lotions with SPF in them), covering your skin when in the sun (wear a cute hat, stylish sunglasses and shirts that cover your shoulders), examining your own skin each and every month (look for strange freckles or weirdly-shaped moles), and visiting a dermatologist every year for a full skin check.

 

ABCDE

The “ABC”s of Skin Cancer – How to Identify a Potentially Cancerous Area or Mole

To be frank, I still like how I look with a tan. So I’ll spray tan before big events, apply tinted moisturizers to my face and legs, and don’t go anywhere without bronzer in my purse. (Need a recommendation on any of the above? I got em – tweet me!) It’s true – I think I look better with a tan. But at the end of the day, I KNOW I look better with clear, fair skin than covered in scars from skin cancer excisions. Even though it shouldn’t be about appearance, I know that was my downfall – and will likely be others’ as well. So remember, you can always #SprayThePaleAway!

Skin cancer is easy to treat, but it’s even easier to prevent. Do yourself a favor: take care of your skin, and you will be healthier, look younger, and live longer.

For more information on skin cancer, visit www.skincancer.org – or ask me any questions you like!

Click here to download a PDF on skin safety in the sun!

See you guys on the beach.

Advertisements

My Favorite Bars (Protein, that is)

There are just simply not enough hours in the day. Between crazy work schedules, social commitments, necessary family obligations, daily errands, rigid workout regimens, and then squeezing in a few hours to sleep, we often run out of time to plan our meals out the way we’d like to. In an ideal world, we’d all have time to prepare our breakfast, lunch & dinner ahead of time, ensuring highly nutritious plates and healthy snacks all day long. But the reality is, a lot of us end up having to grab-and-go when it comes to satisfying those mid-day hunger pains, or even settling for a quick lunch or dinner on the run. Enter the star of this post, keeping you from simply dying of hunger: the protein bar!

HungryKitty

Me, every day, approximately 2:30 PM.

It’s important to remember as you chose your snack or meal replacement – not every protein bar is created equally. Some are more like glorified candy bars, or just big chunks of solid peanut butter. Which – yes – sounds amazing. But you aren’t doing yourself any favors by choosing these brands. Usually very high in sugars and low in nutrients, many protein and granola bars will do little to satisfy your cravings, and lead you to eating again a few hours later. So although you are on the go, take an extra minute or two and check out the ingredients. Here are are five tips on choosing the best protein bars for your snacks.

  1. Fiber: Shoot for bars that have a minimum of 3 grams of fiber. This will fill you up more and prevent you from snacking mindlessly later, and also helps with digestion. Bars with less than 3 grams just won’t do the job if you’re looking to replace a meal or even satiate hunger between meals.
  1. Protein: Aim to choose a bar with at least 5 grams protein, for obvious reasons. More protein in your snacks means you’ll have more control over your appetite later int he day. You always want to have a good balance of both protein and fiber in every snack.
  1. Number of Ingredients: Rule number one: “The less ingredients, the better.” Rule number two: “The more ingredients you can pronounce, the better.” Avoid heavily processed bars, as they have additives with little nutritional value. If you can’t read it, don’t eat it!
  1. Calorie Count: Try to stay around 150-200 calories for bars that are snacks, and around 250-300 for meal replacement bars. Some protein and granola bars can have upwards of 500 calories!! Save your calories for full meals that you can savor for longer, and with more nutritional value.
  1. Sugar: This is probably the hardest for me, with my peanut butter obsession. Look out for added sugar in the ingredients list. For a little extra help finding those artificial sugars, look for  words that end in “-ose” and any “syrups.” Too many of those ingredient, and you should probably throw that bar back on the shelf. (*Note- bars with fruit in them will naturally have a higher sugar content. This is okay, but make sure there are no extra sugars added to these bars.)

 

So those are the golden rules of choosing a protein bar. Don’t even have time for that? Here are my three favorites for you grab and go if you only have a few seconds!

  1. Health Warrior Chia Bar – Dark Chocolate Coconut Sea Salt
  • 200 Calories
  • 10 grams protein
  • 5 grams fiber

HealthWarrior

  1. QuestBar Protein Bar – S’mores (Although all flavors are delicious!)
  • 180 Calories
  • 20 grams protein
  • 13 grams fiber

QuestBar

  1. Strong and KIND Bar – Thai Sweet Chili
  • 230 Calories
  • 10 grams protein
  • 3 grams fiber

KindBar

Snack smart and enjoy!

Originally written for Better Body Bootcamp Newsletter. 

Eat Healthy While Eating Out

Thanks to Leap Year, we’ve got one more day of February. Yay!

February is the month of love, and regardless of your relationship status, we all have someone that we should care deeply for and give a big, warm hug to – ourselves!

Hug Yourself

Love yourself!

As we all know, it can be a struggle at times to stay true to our fitness goals, and to stay steadfast on our journey to the healthiest, happiest version of ourselves. The easiest way to put it – sometimes life gets in the way. How many times have you committed to a workout or healthy eating regimen and had it interrupted by an unhealthy corporate lunch, a heavy dinner out with friends, or a few too many indulgences at parties? We’ve all been there, and it’s dangerously easy to get down on yourself when you slip up.

But the important thing to remember is that, the same way we can get over small obstacles that appear in our relationships with others, we can easily overcome these hurdles in our relationships with ourselves and get back to where we start. Forgive, but don’t forget. Instead, move forward.

Salad

Today, I want to tackle our relationships with the food we eat – and how to let our health goals and our social goals coexist without hindering each other. Going out to eat at restaurants can prove to be a very big challenge in keeping true to our healthy-eating habits. But following some simple tips will allow you to enjoy going out to eat instead of dreading or fearing it.

  1. Do a little stalking.
    If you know the name of the restaurant where you’ll be going out to eat, check out the menu beforehand. Go through the different sections of the menu and the options in each, and make a mental note of potential items to order and any substitutions you can easily make so that your meal is a little healthier.
  2. Talk to your waiter.
    He or she is your biggest ally here. Don’t be ashamed to ask if you can make substitutions. Choose veggies over starches for sides, opt for grilled protein over fried, and try appetizer-sized dishes over full-sized entrees to help with portion control.
  3. Place your order first.
    Before you hear “bacon cheese burger,” “mashed potatoes,” “fried cheese sticks” and other items that may cause your mouth to water and your mind to change, place your order. Don’t allow distractions to get in the way of ordering the healthiest meal for you.
  4. Eat half.
    If you order a large portion size for your meal, ask for a box from you waiter right away. Bring the other half home for your significant other, your kids, your dog, or your lunch the next day. This way, from the beginning of the meal, you are only looking at half of the normal portion size. Another way to divide and conquer is to share a meal with someone else at the table. Sharing is caring when you’re looking to whittle your middle! 😉
  5. Slow down.
    Take your time with your food. Put down your fork between every bite, and take some time to fully chew your food. This not only helps with digestion, but means it takes longer for you to finish your meal. Often, our hands move faster than our minds, and we shovel down our food completely before realizing we’re full. Slowing down will allow some time for your body to trigger you’re mind that, “We’re done! You can stop for now.” Saving you from overeating!
  6. Strive, not deprive.
    Remember that eating out should be an enjoyable experience. If you are absolutely dying for a margarita, get one, and sacrifice your appetizer. If you’ve been craving a brownie, split it with the rest of your table. Allowing yourself small indulgences will leave you feeling more satisfied, which will prevent binges later.

So go forth, grab some friends, and dine socially, healthily and happily! You can be well rounded without becoming too, well, rounded, after all! :p

Originally posted in the Better Body Bootcamp newsletter, February 2015.