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New Favorite Snack ALERT! January 27, 2015

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Cross Training for Life, Food/Dining, Health and Fitness, Review.
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On the rare, (or at times, not so rare) occasion, when hunger strikes but there’s nothing yummy in the fridge, I’ve turned to a snack that’s both exceptionally delicious and nutritious! My latest favorite in-between-meal-craze has become Granny Smith Apples and Blue Cheese.

In my opinion, the fresher the better, so I always buy organic apples and I’m a huge fan of Marzetti blue cheese dressing. It’s a higher quality than something that comes out of a bottle or arrives with your hot wings. It has a great balance of chunky blue cheese pieces to creamy dressing, so it’s ideal for dipping (I also use it for carrots…or really anything. I’d probably drink the stuff if I could).

20141227_162536I cut my apple into quarters, and then slice those up into thirds or quarters again. Pour some dressing into a shallow little bowl and I’m all set. The best part is I’ll often eat the apple right off of the cutting board, so it’s fast to make and easy to clean up! The sweet, sour apple plus the saltiness and creaminess of the blue cheese makes it an awesome sweet/savory!

I usually pair it with a green tea, which is my next big dietary fan favorite. I’ve always had green tea but just lately realized it has properties of relaxation – Livestrong posts a great article explaining the hows and whys

…and before you go worrying about the caffeine, we’re way ahead of you! Green tea has significantly less caffeine than a cup of coffee or a glass of soda (Mayo Clinic, ya’ll!)

I’ll typically have a mug right before bed, Chamomile tea gives me a “pollen allergy” like reaction, so green tea has provided an awesome alternative. Not to mention, it has so many other life long health properties. I’ll drink any green tea, pretty much, but I especially like those with jasmine in them.

So, if you have the munchies but you’re trying to cut back on the Fritos try this, or your own version of it! Yum!

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Cleanse: Mind, Body, Spirit – The Post May 7, 2014

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Around Chicago, Cleanse Mind Body Spirit, Cooking, Cross Training for Life, Food/Dining, Health and Fitness, How To, Medical, Review.
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Cleanse: Mind, Body, Spirit

Yes, I’ve been doing a juice cleanse. Read my pre-cleanse and juicing experience here

So here I am, at the end of my juice cleanse! Hooray! And when I say I couldn’t wait to start eating solid food again, I really couldn’t wait. Still, I did what JuiceRX recommended and started slow, and I learned why the system works, very quickly.

I started the morning light with food that my body was used to, fruits. I also had a cup of plain Greek yogurt, as the company recommend it. I held off on all other dairy for another day. For lunch and dinner I stayed with fruits and veggies and started to reincorporate small portions of other things like carbs or condiments. The second day, I started eating cheese again and small portions of meat and fish. It wasn’t until the third day that I went back to my “normal” diet.

The first time I had meat, my stomach really felt like it was going to explode. It was as if the smallest portion made me so full! However, I took this as a good thing, I had definitely gotten used to over eating and now was a good time to kick that habit. The other thing I noticed was that I was much more conscious of my food combinations, I had some soup with my meat or a huge side of veggies with my fish. Prior to the cleanse, I found it really easy to just eat one thing and one thing only. The first time I had dressing, coffee, and tomatoes my body felt like it was a machine in a factory. Churning some kind of industrial waste. If it sounds like a weird, weird sentence, understandably so. What I mean is that my body definitely can tell what is natural and what is not. More so than being refreshed and rebooted from my cleanse, I felt that it made me so aware of what I was putting in my body.

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Tuna with Kale, Salad, Sweet Potatoes with Avocado, Kale Chips – Look at all that green! Yum!

When I started eating again, I found it easy to make better decisions. These are the food choices I used to make, years before I fell of my healthy eating bandwagon. When traveling, I’ll opt for a fruit cup or veggie platter and granola bar instead of a Subway sandwich and chips. I also started reading the ingredients in things, working to eat clean and only buy happy meat and dairy products (pasteurized or free-range). I also switched to all organic produce, I now exclusively shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes and watch how much fat and processed goods I am putting in my body, rather than how many calories. This lifestyle doesn’t just make me feel healthier, it makes me feel better as a person, like when you get into college, you feel like your taking a step in the right direction.

I don’t think I’m going to give up everything – baseball games are for beer and hotdogs, movies are for popcorn, weddings are for cake, and late nights are for chips and chocolate. It’s not really about cutting all these things out for me, it’s about making good choices 85% of the time so that 15% of bad choices don’t win the battle of the cholesterol. I might not feel this overwhelming feeling of being refreshed from my cleanse, but just because I don’t feel on top of the world doesn’t mean I don’t think what I did wasn’t beneficial and it hasn’t given me a good boost to be healthy again. It hasn’t just affect my eating, it’s made me more motivated and conscious about working out, walking instead of driving, taking the stairs, over all healthy habits that are easy to fall out of.

If you’re considering a juice cleanse, I highly recommend it. It’s going to benefit you in the long run, and you won’t regret it. Sometimes you need a kick in the pants to get where you want to be, this did it for me!

Cleanse: Mind, Body, Spirit – The Juicing! April 29, 2014

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Around Chicago, Cleanse Mind Body Spirit, Cooking, Cross Training for Life, Food/Dining, Health and Fitness, How To, Medical.
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Cleanse: Mind, Body, Spirit

DAY 1
I woke up and I was HUNGRY! I started with just some water. The juices are supposed to be spread out every 2 or so hours after your breakfast drink. I didn’t want to start too early and then feel hungry at night. I had my first drink around 9am – Spicy Lemonade. It was so good! I couldn’t help myself from downing it in just a few minutes. Of course, when you start something like this you think it won’t taste good or it’ll be hard to not drink them all from hunger, but honestly, once I had one I felt very comfortable and didn’t want to eat or drink anything else. For every juice I had, I refilled the bottle with filtered water so I would be sure to get plenty of water. This helps clear out toxins and the natural sugars that the drinks may contain (Yes, you will go the bathroom a lot!). Around 11:15 I felt hungry again, so I had my Liquid Lipo. I don’t like cinnamon, so I didn’t love it at first but after a pic20140427120924few sips it became more familiar and I had no problem getting it down. I was surprised with how not-hungry I was throughout the morning and afternoon. I wouldn’t say I felt full, but I was very content and I didn’t feel like I was watching the clock, waiting for my next juice. I also felt very alert and awake, contrary to how I thought I’d feel, lethargic and tired. I had loads of energy! Go figure! I didn’t really need my next drink until after 1. I didn’t like my Lunchtime Detox at all. It was likable enough to drink and get down, but it definitely took me about an hour to drink the entire thing. The whole day had been great until about 4, that’s when I got my first whiff of food. UGGGH, hamburgers, chips, BBQ, macaroni and cheese, I wanted it all! It was tough, really, really tough. I hurried home to basically hide myself away from sights and smells of yummy food. I wouldn’t say I was hungry, I was just tempted by all the goodness around me. I was also tired, at this point, of consuming sweet tasting things and just wanted a taco, full of salt and sodium and spice. sigh. I pushed through and once I got home, had my fourth drink of the day, Cucumber-Mint Electrolyte Boost. At this point, I was pretty “hungry” and by “hungry” I mean that I was craving all sorts of things – hamburgers, pizza, chips, soup, even just things like crackers, but I didn’t actually feel hungry, my stomach felt full. My fifth drink was The Evening Green – as green as it sounds! That held me over until about 10sih. My final drink was Strawberries ‘n Cream Cashew Milk and it was so super yummy! Like a strawberry milkshake! I couldn’t finish the entire thing, so I left some of it as a snack for the next day.

DAY 2
Day two went much the same as day one. I kept the order of my drinks and continued to drink lots of water. I found that the busier I kept myself the easier it all was. I even went out to a bar, with food, and was able to just have water. Towards the end of the day, I found that I was less and less able to finish the drinks. Part of this was probably attributed to the fact that I was simply tired of drinking juice and would have rather had a V8 or something not so sweet, the other part was probably due to the fact that my body had gotten used to it’s digestive hiatus and didn’t require as much liquid to feel full. I also noticed how some of the drinks I wasn’t crazy about the day before, I liked today, but then some of the others that I felt were okay I really didn’t like anymore. My tastebuds were definitely more aware, which was an interesting affect I didn’t now the cleanse would have.

DAY 3
I’ll admit, by day 3 I was tired of doing this thing! But I didn’t want to just stop. When I was reading reviews and doing research about juice cleanses, the one overwhelming thing I read was that people felt so much better, different and energized while doing the cleanse, especially by day 3. I felt the same, the same as I always do. I had no doubt that what I did was great for my body, and the reset I needed, but it also made me confident in my daily diet, to know that I was eating healthy and balanced enough that my body didn’t need a huge restart, just a little kick. When you’re not feeling this overwhelming difference, it’s hard to keep going, but but by day 3, your body and your mind are already used to what’s going on, so it’s worth getting through it. While I was finishing my last round, I made a healthy shopping list and went to Whole Foods to get my post foods. I also wanted to buy more healthy food, if this cleanse taught me anything, it’s that going back to my old healthy ways was worth it!

Stay tuned for my Post Cleanse write up, in the meantime, read about how I got here!

Cleanse: Mind, Body, Spirit – Prep Days April 26, 2014

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Around Chicago, Cleanse Mind Body Spirit, Cooking, Cross Training for Life, Food/Dining, Health and Fitness, How To, Medical, Review.
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Cleanse: Mind, Body, Spirit

Believe it or not, doing a cleanse does not mean you can chow down on Taco Bell the night before and devour a pint of ice cream the morning after it’s done. Similar to putting a gold fish in a new fish tank, you have to ease your body into it so it doesn’t go into shock. If you’re eating funions one night and then green juice the next, your digestive system is going to flip out! The company I ordered from, Juice RX, was really great in both prepping you for your cleanse and also helping you come off it. I followed a lot of their tips and combined some of my own knowledge of nutrition.

I started to give up things in a tier format; the first day I gave up caffeine (coffee and otherwise), all meat and processed cheeses,any bottled drinks or brand name juices, sweets or junk foods. I had very limited dairy and very limited carbs, either of which I only ate in healthy forms. Throughout the next couple of days, I gave up more and more of these processed things, opting for things like Almond Milk and Olive Oil instead of milk or dressing. One of the things I had a really hard time with the first day was that I wasn’t dieting, or starving myself – I kept feeling really hungry and kept denying my body food because I thought I was prepping it. Then it clicked, that as long as I was eating lots of raw fruits and veggies, and other healthy things, I didn’t need to be hungry. I drank a lot of water all throughout the day which helped me feel less hungry and got ride of toxins, plus helped get my body ready for more liquids and less food.

Another thing it took me,until day two of prep, to realize was WHY I kept feeling so hungry. I remembered a couple years ago I was told by my nutritionist that, because of my height, weight, and the healthy food I was eating, my metabolism was burning food fast so I had to eat every three hours. When I eat a bagel and coffee, soup and salad, and then Chinese food for dinner, it takes hours to digest everything, however, when I’m eating these smaller meals of leafy greens, fruits, chia puddings, and water, everything is burning faster. Again, the goal wasn’t to not eat, it was to monitor my healthy food intact. After I realized this I started having my three normal meals and then 3-4 small healthy snacks when I got hungry i.e. A 1/2 cup of rice, granola bar, trail mix, apple, carrots and hummus. The entire Juice RX website advocates that you shouldn’t stop your normal routines or force yourself to do things you don’t want to, it’s just about making better choices.

I’m human, so, I cheated. I wanted to mention this specifically because I didn’t want people out there to think this was easy, like I could just sit next to my co-workers eating Cheetos and not want one. I got one Starbucks coffee, I was just craving it so bad! After I got it, believe it or not, I felt a lot better. Know what your body really needs and know what it simply wants. It was the only time I fell off of my prep routines and I made the choice, then and there, to not beat myself up about it.

That night, my juices arrived via delivery. I checked them out, and then set them up in the fridge.

Even my cat loved the juices from Juice RX!

Even my cat loved the juices from Juice RX!

I will be honest, the night before I started my juice cleanse, I freaked out. After all, when was the last time I didn’t eat AT ALL for THREE DAYS! I was scared it would be hard, I’d feel uncomfortable, or that I wouldn’t like it and want to give up but not want to feel defeated, like I failed. I was really nervous but then seeing my actual juices made me feel more excited than anything else and ready to get this show on the road!

Tomorrow morning I start my actual juice cleanse, let’s see how it goes!!!

 

Cleanse: Mind, Body, Spirit – Pre Day 1 April 20, 2014

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Around Chicago, Cleanse Mind Body Spirit, Cooking, Food/Dining, Health and Fitness, How To, Medical, Review.
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Cleanse: Mind, Body, Spirit

Everything they’ve ever told you is true – it’s harder to lose weight as you get older, your metabolism slows down, it’s harder to find the time to workout, significant others change your schedule, and your habits. Whether we’re excited about it or avoiding it, we are getting older, even though we’re still young. It was about one year ago that I started to be really bothered by the differences in myself. Before I started dating my boyfriend, I was super healthy. I was only cooking for myself so meal portions were small, and only what I wanted to eat, I ate out less and, when I did, I drank less and only ordered enough food for one, no appetizers or desserts. I was less tempted to eat chips, popcorn, or soda because it was never around. When I started cooking for two, I had to factor in what he liked or what he was eating, slowly but surely, my super nutritious diet disappeared to something that was healthy, but lackluster. Every time I’d try to get back on the wagon, I’d fall off in a couple of days or a week. When I noticed the changes, they weren’t really in my weight or figure,I hadn’t gained, but rather, my once toned muscles had redistributed to something other than their former glory, and my clothes just didn’t fit right. I was getting tired faster, my stamina had gone down, and overall, I just felt blah. To everyone else, I looked great and I was a ball of energy, but I know my body better than anyone. The kicker was a couple of months ago when my body just started to give up on me. First, I started to breakout like I was 14. My forehead was a connect the dots work sheet. My sleeping schedule would be on one week, off the next, some days I was so exhausted I’d fall asleep on the couch and others I couldn’t get to bed until 2am. Nothing was really helping and with my work schedule doing nothing but speeding up, I knew I had to make my body reset, it was in the middle of a quarter-life hiccup. The only way to do this was to force myself, and my organs, to do it.

After much research and discussing it with my family, I decided I would do a juice cleanse. (* I don’t believe in all cleanses. There are a lot of fads out there that do nothing but harm your body. I had always been interested in detox but never found a system that I felt comfortable trying, or bought into. To reset your body you have to clear it of toxins but you also have to fuel it with the good stuff, only now are there programs out there that have these options). I was feeling so yucky inside and so bothered by myself that I was willing to commit and excited to start. I also knew it wouldn’t be easy and I’d probably hate it, and everyone else, after not eating for 24 hrs, but I also trusted that what I would be putting in my body was good for it, so even if I was hungry and irritable, I would find comfort in the fact that I was doing something really beneficial.

This is something I’ve wanted to try for a while, so I want to of document my journey, to show others that a juice cleanse is possible and healthy if you do it right.

Pre- Day 1

I looked up a lot of different juice cleanses in my area, after settling on one, I read reviews, blogs and instructions about it. Everyone said that pre and post cleanse, you should begin to take certain foods out of your diet and move towards vegan eating so your body doesn’t feel shocked. I use Noom to document my food intake, it’s a weight loss app but I use it to monitor how many greens I eat a day. Using this, I knew I’d be able to, progressively, get closer and closer to a clean diet in the three days prior to my cleanse. This would give me a totally of 9 days, 3-pre, 3-cleanse, and 3-post. I went online and found super healthy, detoxing recipes which I could incorporate into my diet. I picked ones I knew I would A. like and B. eat and made a shopping list. I shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s since they ensure the most variety of organic and healthy foods. After I was done planning my grocery list, I made a second list, a list of everything I wanted to eat/drink/consume today since it would be my last indulgence for a while. It included all sorts of things; chocolate cake, Taco Bell, coffee, processed meats and cheeses, Chinese Food, alcohol. While having my final indulgences throughout the day, I prepped the food I needed for the coming days and planned what I would be eating when.

Finally, I finished the night by starting my detox with a detox lemonade to get my system going. I drank an entire 8 oz glass of this 1 hour before bed. This way, it didn’t keep me awake and it also ran through my system so I didn’t need to keep getting up in the middle of the night. I made myself get in bed at a reasonable hour, even if I wasn’t tired, I was in bed, forcing my body to calm down and get back into a normal body clock.

Keep reading to find out how the rest of my detox/cleanse journey goes!…

New Year…Same Old You Being Better January 14, 2014

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in 21st Century/Technology, Around NYC, Cooking, Education, Food/Dining, Health and Fitness, How To, Review, Tips and Tricks.
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New year, new you, right? Or maybe just new year, same old you trying to be the you that you wants to be? Well, that’s a mouthful but chances are January 2014 is the time when you save up all the promises you made yourself to actually take action on them. Go the gym more, finally finish that book you started writing, eat healthier, call your grandparents more, stop spending so much money, meet new people, starting to sound familiar? We always start the New Year off with kick in the butt to get stuff done and then bits and pieces of it fall away as the year goes on. To make something stick, you’ve got be committed, you’ve got to stop making excuses, and you’ve got to learn to love it. Sure, some things are easier than others…so here’s two that aren’t hard at all 😉

There seems to be a huge fad on the coasts of the US (NY and LA, primarily) about green juice. That sweet elixir that comes from the freshest and finest veggies out there. I remember the first time I had one, about four years ago. Everyone stared at me like I had my head on backwards, here I was with a see through cup and straw, drinking what looked like a glass of sludge. Today, everyone has a big mug of gack and it’s normal to mix kale and blueberries now. So, when I moved out to Chicago and realized that the Midwest isn’t as “Green” as the Big Apple, I had a mild heart attack. Green juice isn’t just a “thing” for me, I don’t eat nearly enough vegetables and this was how I got my leafy greens in, it replaced coffee and milkshakes when I had cravings, and it kept me hydrated when I was tired of drinking water all day. Devastated, and not having $500 for a nice home juicer, I surrendered. Enter Mom: who saved the day! If you’re needing your fruits and vegetables in liquid form like me, or just want to give health a new kick, the hand blender is your friend! A cup or two of your favorite antioxidants and proteins , about five minutes of your time and some water and you’re in business. I make my green juice almost every morning while drinking my coffee and by the time I leave for the office I’ve got my green slush in a water bottle. Fair warning, blending does make it thick and at times a little chunky, but if texture doesn’t both you, it tastes just as good as the 18 year olds at the gym juice bar make it! One a day gives you the amount of veggies you need!

imageSo for those of us that are all juiced, gymed, and junk TV’ed out, here is something that requires little effort but huge returns. Lumosity. I’ve been seeing the commercials for years and always meant to try to out, but didn’t actually jump on the bandwagon until late last month. The site is exactly what it claims to be, games that exercise your brain. Most are fun…the math ones are not (but that’s just me!), the same way some people favor cardio over lifting weights. It takes about 15 minutes a day to train the brain and the site measures your progress based on goals, markers, and a point system. But does it really work? That’s the question I was asking myself. It says I’m improving but can you really prove it? Story time! When I was in second grade, we had an in-class spelling bee. I rock at spelling…but not out loud. I was the only one who could spell butterflies, because five people before me got it wrong and I had enough time to scribble it out on my desk with my finger. I probably wouldn’t be able to spell my name out loud if it wasn’t only five letters long. I transpose letters, stick extra vowels in, and overall butcher words. So, imagine my shock, the other day, when I spelled out an entire 18 letter e-mail address out loud, letter for letter, without even as much as a mental stumble. Coincidence? Sure, could be, but I can not reiterate to you how much I CAN NOT spell out loud. So, maybe there is a method to the madness. I figure, if I really need to be on the computer, I might as well be doing something useful rather than refreshing my Facebook feed.

Being a better you comes slowly, and your priorities change with age and life experience, but there are things we can do that will benefit us all our lives, these are just two. Doing it everyday, or almost everyday teaches our minds and our bodies that it’s normal, and when something becomes normal, it stops being something we have to try at. So, try it out, make a commitment, and maybe these two baby goals will benefit you too!

Holidays Not-So 101: The Holiday Diet December 16, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Cooking, Cross Training for Life, Food/Dining, Health and Fitness, Holidays, Holidays Not-So 101, How To, Tips and Tricks, Traveling.
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If you’re anything like me (or you’ve been to this site a handful of times) you know that I’m pretty much committed to my relationship with working out. Whether it be going to the gym, taking a dance class, or running outside. I’m all about the treadmills and the kale chips. Which is why I have some sad news, I hate to tell you this but…health and I are taking a break. It started sometime around Thanksgiving, the relationship just wasn’t the same anymore. Even though, in my head, I still wanted to be faithful, I always felt like I was cheating. There was a night with mashed potatoes, and then that time with the starburst. Yesterday, Eggnog and I watched Home Alone together, and while it wasn’t meant to be a date, it sure felt like one. The bottom line is, I wasn’t giving health what is deserved. We stopped seeing one another at the gym, and slowly my friends stopped hanging out with health too; my sneakers didn’t call him, my Athleta pants blocked him from Facebook,  and when my i-pod ran into him on the street, it pretended not to know him. The truth is, we need to take a break until the holidays are over so we can sort out our relationship.

image Well…you get what I’m saying. The truth is, this happens to the best of us. Holidays hit and the gym takes a hit. I feel like I have zero motivation to workout, and likewise, zero motivation to eat health. So, once a week I’ll have a kale salad, or bring an organic soup for lunch, but for the most part I’m pigging out on brownies, piggies in a blanket, and shopping around for dessert recipes for Christmas eve. So, I could beat myself up for not carrying my lazy behind to the gym…but I’m not. I learned a long time ago when you force yourself to do something that you really don’t want to do, you’re only going to give it half the energy and time you would if you wanted to do it. There is a theory, that some workout is better than no workout at all, and if you abide by that theory then you are a far more disciplined person than I am! Go for it! However, for many of us, the reality is that the time we’re going to waste isn’t worth it. So, if you are like me, I can tell you: 1. You are not alone! Stop feeling bad and just take this time to enjoy the holidays, make it your new year’s resolution to get back in the gym as soon as your hangover dies out, and 2. Here’s how to pig out without feeling like your losing everything you’ve worked for.

Whether we realize it or not, there are a lot of things we do during the holidays that are similar to a workout, without actually putting our sweat bands on. For many us, holidays are a time of visitors and with visitors come cleaning. Make it a point to get down and dirty with all the dirt in your home, a day of cleaning will definitely burn those calories off. Additionally, traveling is a huge stressor and one that involves lost of bending, heavy lifting, and walking. So, if you’re going somewhere this holiday season, rest assured that you will get your workouts in, even if they’re only here or there. Lastly, set a goal for yourself. Buy gifts, sending cards, baking, and making it to all your holiday parties (which inevitably have more food and alcohol to make you feel like a flubber), take time away from things like being healthy and active. So once the crazy subsides, remind yourself that they’ll be a sliver of time where you’ll have virtually nothing to do but sit back and watch TV. While rest is important, this is also a perfect time to put 30 min on the treadmill! My goal? To have my body and my healthy habits back by New Years; there is no other holiday, other than Halloween, where girls can go out looking like they lost some of their outfit along the way. I know I’ve got to fit into that dress by the time Dec. 31st rolls around, so the second Christmas day has ended, you know I’m going to be racking up those miles on the bike!

Even if your goal isn’t New Years, it can still be Jan. 1st, or by the time you go back to school/work, even Valentines day. Get yourself as excited for getting back to your habits as you were to forget about them. In the meantime, enjoy the holidays and everything that comes with them.

Intro To…Owning Your Own Business December 1, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in 21st Century/Technology, Around NYC, Education, Finances, Food/Dining, How To, Intro To, Jobs and Work, Real World.
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Intro To…

Starting your own business can be both the most exciting and the most stressful endeavor many people will ever pursue. Most will find themselves working longer hours than they had ever imagined. This is something that should not be taken lightly, and considering the great investment, be it time and/or money, required,, should be fully thought through before making the leap.

The first step is to make sure you’re doing something you enjoy. It will not be uncommon to work 16+ hour days so if you’re miserable from the start…you can expect a short-lived endeavor. At the same time, the satisfaction you’ll feel at the end of the week knowing all the work you put into growing your own business. This will become your child. It will supplant many relationships. It will have you tearing your hair out. You will ride the highs of landing the big contract. You will suffer the lows of balancing your bills until invoices come due. But succeed or fail, you will learn more about business, and more about yourself, than in any other undertaking you will attempt.

Build a business plan. I cannot stress enough the importance of a business plan. Your business plan is your bible. It tells you what demographics to target in your marketing. It gives your mission. It outlines your vision. It is the guide you reference to make sure you are staying true to the company. A basic business plan has an executive summary, company description, market analysis, management and organizational structure, product or service, marketing and sales plan, funding request, financial projections, and an appendix with financial statements, yelp reviews, whatever. If you want to start to get fancy with it, you can do a SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) Analysis, investor exit strategy, and milestones. This business plan should, in essence, detail exactly how the company is going to conduct business. It should describe your product or service, what resources are needed to make business function, what your expenses will be through the first 3-5 years, how your staff will be made up, who your main demographic is that you’ll be targeting, what advertising mediums you’ll use. You should know how much revenue you’ll need every week/month/year to pay your expenses and keep the doors open. To complete your business plan, you must answer all of these questions and more. You can hire a professional to help you out (a quick google search returned one that starts at $395, but remember that you get what you pay for), or you can go at it yourself. There are tons of free resources online that you can use, and most cities have free private and government resources you can access as well. I would say this is especially important for the financial section. If you don’t have experience with financial statements, projections, etc., it can prove to be a quite daunting task. Luckily, however, a cheap option can be just reaching out to people at a local university that are in the finance program. While their model likely won’t be as comprehensive as a CPA’s or an Investment Banker’s, it will likely do the job for what you need it.

business-plan-cartoonI’m a big fan of shows like Kitchen Nightmares, or Bar Rescue, and it kills me when I see an owner that has no clue what his expenses are. I studied finance in college so I might be a bit biased, but I view it as the base of every company. If you don’t know what your expenses are, how can you track your trends, see if you’re spending too much this month? How do you know if you’re actually making money? How to you plan for the future? As soon as you start working on a business, you need to start tracking your money. You should know where every last penny went. The easiest way to do this is to hire an accountant/bookkeeper, but we’re going to assume you’re like me and can’t afford one at first. The next best option is to purchase a program like Quickbooks or Peachtree Accounting. While I believe Peachtree is the better software, Quickbooks is the more popular one so it will be easier to get help when you have issues. There will be more message boards, more references, etc. But either way, these softwares are made with small business owners in mind. They are very intuitive and really make your life easier. Then, at the end of the year, your accountant has a well-organized presentation to work off. You will also be able to generate charts and reports that can help you maximize your profit. I would suggest taking a couple of classes if numbers, and more specifically bookkeeping/accounting, are foreign to you, but the hardest part tends to be putting things in the right accounts. Just fight through this process, and in the future, when you can afford someone on staff, you will be able to look over their work with a knowledgeable eye.

If you’re opening a business it should be because you have a talent that you can leverage as the owner. Maybe you knit well, are a chef, studied music, managed retail stores, read a lot and want to sell books, love being outside and want to landscape, or have any other skill that you think can turn into a business. No matter your skill, it is important to realize your limitations. If you are a great cook at home and want to start a restaurant, fine, but realize that your lack of experience will likely end in ruin if you don’t plan accordingly. Hire people around you that fill in the spaces you’re lacking. Hire a co-chef who has substantial experience under his belt. Bring in an experienced manager for you jewelry shop who has retail experience and can understand the daily workings of a shop. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you need to run everything. Do what you do best, and allow everyone else to do their jobs as well. You will, ultimately, have to oversee everything, but if you hire quality employees you can at least know they have the experience to carry over their previous business practices that proved efficient in the past.

Trekking out on your own can be a scary experience, especially for someone who has worked for other people their whole life, but it can be one of the most rewarding as well. There is no shortcut to success in this world, it takes hard work, careful planning, and a little bit of luck, but anyone can do it. If you’re really interested, make sure to do your research and get ready for the ride.

So, how do I know all this? Well, some of it was part of my major, B.A. in Business Administration – Finance from Morehouse College, but most was a learning experience. I’ve worked with multiple start-ups and early stage companies in sectors ranging from financial services to international luxury goods. Today, I stand before you as a Senior Consultant for Philippe Consulting, a boutique small business consulting firm, and a partner in Seasoned Vegan, the first full-service vegan restaurant in Harlem, NY. Look out for both, on DLIH and the business stage of the world!

– Pascal

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Holidays Not-So 101: Holidays with the Other Family November 27, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Cooking, Dating, Family, Food/Dining, Holidays, Holidays Not-So 101, How To, Life Lessons/Growing Up, Relationships.
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We all, at some point in our lives, reach the inevitable point where we stop having holiday dinner with our family…and start having dinner with our significant other’s family. On one hand, congratulations on the great achievement and milestone in your relationship, on the other hand…shit. Your own family is hard enough, Thanksgiving or holiday dinner with another family is like a minefield times ten! Even if you, or your significant other, have the best relationship with his or her parents, holidays are like a permanent marker, one false move and it’s branded on your for life, all because it was Thanksgiving. How do you navigate the field of “oops” bombs?

To begin, do your homework. There’s nothing wrong with being a little prepared. What are the general traditions for this meal or holiday? Will you be expected to say what you’re thankful for at the dinner table? Will it be a formal evening or should you be prepared to hang out in sweatpants? Does everyone help out in the kitchen or stay put in front of the TV for the game? So on and so forth. Also, communicate your traditions to your man/woman. People always want you to feel welcome and will often do something that is important to you, like make your favorite dish, or a special tradition like having mimosa’s as a cocktail. Every family is different and when you start celebrating holidays with a significant other, those traditions start to combine.

Credit: NBC Universal

Credit: NBC Universal

It’s better to be safe than sorry. For the most part, you’ll be expected to show up, say thank you twelve zillion times, and not insult anyone. However, it’s always good to make a nice impression. Bring flowers, a dessert, or a small gift like a holiday themed candle to show your appreciate for the invite. Volunteer for things you wouldn’t normally do if your mom were slaving away in the kitchen like loading the dishwasher, helping cook, or uncorking the wine. 9 out of 10 times they’ll say thanks but no thanks. It’s awesome to be comfortable, but remember that you’re a guest here so even if this is the eighteenth holiday with the in-laws, you should still be on your best behavior.

Don’t be a weirdo. Spending a holiday with the boyfriend/girlfriend’s family is lots of fun, but it can also be a stressful situation. No one wants to feel awkward, so don’t make it that way! “Just be yourself” is perhaps the most annoying but also truest phrase in the book. If someone tells a joke and you’re a loud laugher, just laugh. Trying to stifle a laugh or make the joke better by being inappropriate won’t give people a good impression of you and a false idea of who you are. It’s better to be who you are and maybe end up a little embarrassed instead of feeling stupid for doing something out of character and then trying to rectify it. If you’re a relatively quiet person, don’t try to be outgoing; if you’re a lively character, make sure you’re stepping in at the right times.

Gifts can potentially be the biggest stressors of the holidays. Really, what do you get your not-so-soon to be sister-in-law whose husband just bought her the world? Or the nephew that you met once when he had the flu? Or the mom that’s still trying to figure you out? Something with the best intention but the smallest commitment. Unless you know there is something specific they want, a more generic gift will let them know you thought about them this holiday season. A nice candle with their favorite store’s gift card, a zip-up sweater and a scarf from Gap or Express, a moderately price doll and one of her cool accessories, or a Tonka truck and a git certificate to Lego Land. Always include gift receipts and let them know it’s “just a little something”. Don’t go overboard, or pay too much, just keep it simple and classic.

While the holidays make everyone anxious it’s important to remember why you’re going through all this. You’ve met someone awesome and they like you enough to bring you home for the holidays. Bonus points all around! So remember to have a great time, and treat it like what it is, a holiday.

Your Summer Weekend in New York July 6, 2013

Posted by doinglaundryinheels in Around NYC, Food/Dining, Holidays, Review, Uncategorized, Weekend with DLIH.
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A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have a guest join me for the weekend. When you live in New York, the options about where to go, what to do, and what subway you need to take can be daunting but when you have someone to entertain, you suddenly become re-invigorated with the possibilities. Here are some of the new and favorite places we hit. If you’re looking for some summer fun in the heat, but want to avoid the main stream places, theses are DLIHers top choices:

MANHATTAN

01The Frying Pan – If you haven’t been, you’re missing out on this NYC summer staple! Located on the west, west, west of the mid-twenties the Frying Pan is a barge and boat turned happy hour extravaganza! It’s not a great place if you’re not into crowds or want superior bartending, but if all you’re looking for is some drinks in the hot summer weather you can find it here! Sitting on the boat or the outside of the barge will allow you some relaxing time by the water. The Frying Pan serves both liquor and beer and has a decent selection of outdoorsy food. If you’re in the mood to party, sit on the inside, covered by a large overhang, where the mood is more upbeat with music and young people. Fair warning, the place can often times have a collegey factor, so be prepared. Rule of thumb is that the closer you sit to the water, the more chill it’ll be. It’s all about what you want! When you arrive, don’t be stifled if there’s a line to get in, it moves faster than any other line in NYC. On a hot summer afternoon, this is the perfect spot to be!

02Chelsea Brewing Company – Just south of the Frying Pan is another outdoor spot, right inside Chelsea Piers. The Chelsea Brewing Company is a restaurant perfect for lunch or even dinner. If it’s cool enough, sit outside, right on the docks. They also have a spacious inside portion if you’re more into a/c. The menu is simple but tasty and they have a nice selection of brews. It’s a great place to pass the time when you need a little break from the heat, or even a perfect pit stop if you’re walking along the Hudson. Plus, there is plenty to do in Chelsea Piers, so check it out while you’re there.

03Doc Watson’s – Located on the upper east side, don’t judge this book by its cover. From the outside it looks like your typical dive and while the inside maintains this appearance, the bar is actually a hot spot in this part of town. If the bar seems a bit crowded there is a spacious back area with tables. As a first-timer, the service was great! Our waitress was on top of everything and even dropped by just to talk because we happened to be discussing one of her favorite shows. I found the drink I ordered to be a little light, but I don’t worry, in the least, that if I’d asked them to kick it up a notch, they would have. Overall, a great spot for an afternoon or evening drink away from the crowds of summer but not away from the action

BROOKLYN

04Momofuku Milk – Find this spot in Williamsburg (although, there are many different locations all over, check them out!) just off of the L/G Metropolitan stop. This little nook is a creative desert and snack shop focusing on the delicious! Some of their highlights include cereal flavored shakes, “crack” pie, and pork or veggie buns. Everything is delicious and just enough food to soothe your cravings, but not leave you on dessert or lunch overload. The space is small, with a couple of benches, so if you’re not dying to eat in, it’s a great idea to take out. However, the food there is so dainty that you wouldn’t need to sit for more than ten minutes to savor every bite!

QUEENS

05Locale –Off the beaten path, Locale is a DLIH frequent flyer. Near the N/Q in Astoria this cafe/bar is a perfect place for brunch! They offer a little bit of everything on the menu and throw in a twist here or there. The food is filing and very good. Mostly, the atmosphere is your quintessential brunch spot. Surrounded by pre-war style buildings and plenty of dogs walking by, you almost forget you’re in a borough. They have both inside and outside seating in the warm months but be prepared that the inside doesn’t offer the a/c you need if you’re escaping the heat. The cute decor and bistro-esque tables are what make meals there worth it, in addition to the full bar. Service isn’t necessarily perfect every time but the prices won’t make you wonder why you came. If you’re looking for something different, it’s DLIH highly recommended.