Blog Posts by Sarah McColl, Shine staff

  • A $3 answer to the eternal "what's for dinner?" question


    In our efforts to eat healthy, failing to plan may indeed be planning to fail. Because who hasn't forgotten to think about what's for dinner and then, in a fit of hunger, found herself hitting the speed-dial for Szechuan Garden? That's why these printable weekly meal planners on Etsy are so great. They come in three pretty color ways, and allow you to print out the breakfast, lunch and dinner plan for every day of the week. Did I mention there's a Spanish language version, too? Buen apetito!

  • From knowledge to action: how to stop dwelling and start doing

    We live in an age of self-awareness. We know the reasons why we overeat or sabotage our own success. I, for one, am tormented by my closet clutter. On a daily basis I think about the tops that are unflattering and dream about a streamlined wardrobe with fewer items that are each beloved. And yet everyday I don't touch the closet mess with a ten foot pole. At this point, not only is my closet filled with junk, but that mess is now encroaching on my psychic space. So how do you go from knowledge to action? That's the hump that can be hardest to get over. Here, some ideas on putting our awareness into action.

    What's stopping you? Sometimes what keeps us from doing the thing that we know is best for ourselves, say, stopping after that first bowl of ice cream, is a deep desire to self-sabotage. Maybe we think we're not worthy of being fit and healthy or any of the things we associate with physical greatness: drawing attention to ourselves, attracting suitors, even achieving our goals. If

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  • Make over your cardio workout so it's easy on the knees


    Sometime in the past several weeks, either while while running at the gym, skiing on a frozen lake, or just walking weirdly, I managed to hurt my knee. Not being able to exercise in the usual ways has been devastating, but it turns out that female athletes are between two and eight times more likely to injure their ACL knee ligaments than men. Studies have found that hormones associated with a women's menstrual cycle may affect the laxity of the knee joint. For those as addicted to the mood-boosting effects of exercise as I am, here are some ways to exercise that aren't as tough on the knees as pounding the pavement.

    Stationary bikes
    Even though you're not going anywhere, there's something transporting about riding a stationary bike. You can put on your favorite music, close your eyes, and just pedal in time to the music. Make sure your seat is high enough so that your knees are not bent beyond a 90-degree angle, and your knee should be slightly bent when your leg is fully extended

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  • iPhone apps to help make your life healthier and happier

    Okay, so your phone isn't going to magically transform you into a model of good health and spirits, but it can provide the tools you need to make a change. You still have to make the time and effort, but with streamlined, user-friendly interfaces, these technologies can make your journey a little bit easier. Here are some of the most beloved iPhone apps to improve your quality of life.




    Get more life-improving ideas on Real-Life Makeover:



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  • Real-life expert: 1 woman, 3 jobs, and how she makes it work


    I love me an expert with a best-selling book to back up their claims, but sometimes I want to know how the regular folk do it. You know, the woman with four kids who always looks French lady chic or your girlfriend who squeezes more productivity out of a 24-hour period than you can eke out of a week. For matters of time management, I turned to real-life expert Kimberly Rae Miller. In addition to one full-time gig and two part-time jobs, Kim also runs two blogs, The Kim Challenge and Forkful of News. Here's how she makes her nutty schedule work.

    What are your top 3 tips on how to get so much done in one 24 hour period?
    1. Schedule around your style: I'm a morning person in regard to brain-function. I hate waking up early, but I'm cognitively sharper in the early hours, so I wake up at 5am Monday-Friday to put in three hours of work on freelance writing projects before I head to the office. As much as I prefer to workout in the morning, I know that I don't really need too much
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  • How to deal with negative people and still stay upbeat



    "Hell," wrote Jean Paul Sartre, "is other people." Be that as it may, living in the real world requires us to peacefully exist with all types, including Ms. Debbie Downer and Mr. Doom and Gloom. Whether the negativity is coming from your spouse, your co-worker, or your best friend, here are some ways to rise above.

    Remember that it's a process. Like anything, your response to negativity isn't going to instantly change. Unfortunately, there's not a switch we can flip to make ourselves less susceptible to bad vibes. But by staying engaged with proactive solutions, our dealing-with-negativity muscles will grow stronger over time.

    Place limits. When a co-worker corners you and wants to mouth off about the boss, many of us have a natural desire to be empathic. Empathize with the gripes of your colleague too much, though, and you could feel yourself dragged down by complaints that aren't even yours. Listen to your co-worker and be polite, but be firm; remind them that you're busy and only

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  • Seriously, are you having enough fun?

    Playtime is getting short shrift, and while children might be the ones most obviously suffering the consequences through slashed recess, obesity, and a slavish attention to resume-building activities, adults need to whoop it up, too. Studies show that a break from work can lead you to take fewer sick days and be more productive and inventive when you're back at your desk. But long weekends and bona fide vacations are like a Nessie spotting for most of us -- incredibly elusive and possibly just a myth. Even still, scientists insist that, much like exercise and drinking all those glasses of water a day, we need to find a way to make fun happen. And really, I can think of worse prescriptions than, "Go play!"

    The National Institute of Play
    takes play as serious business, calling good old-fashioned fun vital to our health and relationships: "A life or a culture devoid of or deficient in play exists as a heightened major public health risk factor. The prevalence of depression, stress related

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  • Easy moves to turn your daily dog walk into a bona fide workout

    You already have to step out with Snoopy in the rain, snow, wind and fog at least twice a day (you and the mail carriers deserve some kind of medal), you might as well make the most of it. When you're both feeling up for a little more activity, crank up the intensity and you could see real results. Tricia Murphy Madden, creator of the workout DVD, My Best Friend's Workout, shows us how to make over our dog walk into a workout.

    • Walking lunge: With your dog next to you on a leash, begin with a step forward with your right leg. Lower your body to 90 degrees at both knees -- try 45 degrees if you're a beginner. Don't step out too far. There should be between 2 to 2.5 feet between your feet. Keep your weight on your heels, and don't allow your knees to extend beyond your toes. Inhale as you bend into the lunge, and exhale as you come up. Your dog should walk beside you as you lunge. Repeat this 10 times per leg, then rest at a comfortable walking pace. Repeat up to 3 times per walk.
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  • 25 things to enjoy about winter today

    We're deep into February, buried in snow (or just freezing our butts off), and for now at least, spring is way out of sight. What better time to think about the aspects of winter that are actually pretty grand? Bet you can add at least 25 more reasons in the comments. And yes, that is a dare.

    1. dogs in sweaters
    2. getting sweaty outside: snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, snowball fights…
    3. renewed resolve
    4. slippers (especially the anthropomorphized ones)
    5. babies in fuzzy hats
    6. wearing the deepest, darkest, muskiest perfumes
    7. a big, wrap-it-around-three-times scarf
    8. using that posh, ultra-rich moisturizer
    9. stews & soups
    10. sun reflecting off the snow
    11. blood oranges
    12. fireside brunching, napping, smooching…
    13. big, bold red wines
    14. big, sweeping epic novels
    15. bubble baths (they just don't hold the same appeal in summer)
    16. the perfect blush color, naturally
    17. hot tubs
    18. flowering bulbs
    19. holding hands inside your
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  • 10 really great tricks to get your portion sizes under control

    We all know that restaurant portions are totally out of control and that we've lost sight of how much food it takes to sate our hunger. The bridge between knowing and changing is crossed with small steps. Here are 10 simple tips to keep in mind to help scale back your super-sized portions. Some are

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