Monday, March 14, 2011

For the Love of Biking

What do you get when you fuse smashing music, interval training, sprints, hill climbs, epic mountain climbs and non judgemental camaraderie for one hour?  An astounding workout, of course, topped with a good dash of mental therapy.  RPM™ is an intense indoor cycling class formulated by New Zealand based, LES MILLS™. I've taken my fair share of stationary bike classes in the past, but there's no going back once you've experienced RPM™.

The brilliance of RPM™ is in the unequivocal, rhythmic program lead by highly trained instructors.  I love the certainty that I'm going to get an excellent workout every time I attend a class.  There's something comforting in knowing, for example, that Track 5 is always interval training or that Track 7 is consistently a challenging mountain climb. Don't get me wrong, it's never monotonous. The upbeat and methodical music is the central component to the class which boasts perfectly timed choreography.  LES MILLS™ introduces new music to the mix every three months, so the workout always stays fresh.

"RPM's™ benefits are innumerable," says Tamara Pitard and Linda McShane,  RPM™ instructors and fitness gurus at Lynne Brick's in Baltimore, MD. "It provides you with a platform to train for anything from a marathon, mountain bike race to a triathlon.  You can tailor your own workout, since you control the intensity.  We have people that come to class to just lose weight, while others are more concerned about increasing their VO2 max. Whatever you need, RPM™ can deliver."

For me, RPM's™ intensity allows me to stay in shape by burning 500-900 calories in just under an hour. I would say, "that's a good bang for your buck."  I absolutely love being able to squeeze that much intensity into such a short amount of time.  RPM™ has become my time to decompress and get lost in the rhythms, comforting patterns and instructor guided imagery.  Where else can you beat Lance Armstrong on a mountain climb or Tyler Hamilton in a time trial?  Go ahead, get on a bike, even if it's stationary!

Monday, March 7, 2011

DIY Beauty Treatments

had to smile as I was cleaning a splattered cocoa concoction from my bathroom sink, floor and walls that I dutifully share with my three daughters (aka--"The Female Zone"). I realized that this is what you get when your mom's a wanna-be alchemist. My girls have seen me creating food elixirs in my kitchen since they were little. It's to be expected that they would want to try a little skin alchemy on their own; and you should too.
In the past, women would turn to their kitchen when they wanted to look their best. The kitchen offers an array of natural, inexpensive ingredients such as rolled oats, honey and milk that can revitalize skin and hair. There are some amazing, simple recipes that can be whipped up in minutes and have been used for centuries.

Here are some of my favorites:

Foaming Hot Chocolate Milk Bath
(Cleopatra would have loved this one)

Soak in this delicious milk bath to soothe and soften your skin. Heat 3 tablespoons of dry bath mix with 1/2 cup water and two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and bring to a boil.  Add the hot mixture to bath water while the tub is filling.

1 cup of instant dry milk
1 cup unsweeted cocoa powder
1 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients in a covered jar. Keeps for up to 6 months.

Rejuvenating Hair Mask

Apply this mask to hair and cover with plastic wrap for 15 to 30 minutes.  Rinse thoroughly with warm water and shampoo as usual.

1 banana
3 tablespoons mayonaise
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Mash the banana in a small bowl until completely smooth.  Add mayonaise and oil and blend until creamy. Use immediately.

Moisturizing Avocado 
Honey Face Pack

Apply this mixture to your face for 10 minutes.  Gently remove with cool water.

1 ripe avocado
2 teaspoons plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon raw honey (I love the Trader Joe's raw honey)

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and mash into a paste using a fork.  Chill for 30 minutes and use immediately.

Clarifying Lemon Facial Toner

Smooth toner over face with a cotton ball to help even out skin tone.

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon
2/3 cup witch hazel

Combine all ingredients in a clear bottle and seal.  Shake well before use.  Keeps for a month in the fridge.

Stock up on some glass canning jars and bottles to store your treatments and make sure you refrigerate your leftovers.  Bon Appetit! For the skin, of course.