Your Best 20-Minute Workout

Ready to get in shape but not sure you’ve got the time? Between long workdays, packed weekends and family obligations, it can seem impossible to fit in an hour of exercise several times a week. Fortunately, there are a variety of routines you can add to your schedule that will help you get (or stay!) in shape in just 20 minutes. Bonus: You can do them anywhere.

We’ve asked Lesley Mettler-Auld, a running, triathlon and fitness coach in Seattle, to share a 20-minute workout she does. The exercise routine she gave us can be used as a supplement to your current routine or as a primary workout if you’re crunched for time. “It’s designed to use all the major muscles of the body in a different way [and is] very efficient,” she says. “Start with light weights until you get the motion down, then increase weight as your muscles are ready.”

Repeat each exercise for 50 seconds, taking 10 seconds to move on to the next exercise. Repeat the entire circuit twice.

Get Started:

Equipment needed: one set of dumbbells or a resistance band

  • Burpies: Begin in a plank position, with legs extended and feet hip-width apart. Rest your weight on your hands or forearms. Jump to a squat position. From there, reach your hands over your head and jump as high as you can. Return to a squat, step or jump back into plank pose and repeat.
  • Squat Combination: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart and weight on your heels. Lower into a squat while keeping your knees behind your toes. As you rise, curl the dumbbells into a biceps curl, then extend your arms and press the weights over your head with your palms facing inward. Lower and repeat.
  • Mountain Climbers: Begin in a plank position with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your right knee to touch your left elbow, then return to plank position and repeat with your right knee to left elbow. Continue alternating sides.
  • Narrow Hand Push-Up: Begin in a plank position on your feet or with your knees bent on the ground. Lower your body down into a push-up while keeping your elbows in and along your sides. Return to plank and repeat.
  • Boat Pose: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Raise legs to a 45-degree angle from your torso. Keeping your back straight, lean back slightly, forming a “V” shape with your body. Bring your arms out in a straight line, parallel to your legs, and hold this position.
  • Bicycle Crunch: Lie on your back with your knees bent and abs pulled tight toward your spine. With your hands behind your head, extend one leg out while lifting your shoulders off the floor and bringing the opposite knee toward the opposite shoulder. Switch sides and repeat.
  • Shoulder Press with Leg Extension: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend your elbows to hold the weights at shoulder height. Raise your right leg to 90 degrees and, with your leg raised, exhale and extend your arms up with palms facing inward. Lower your arms and leg at the same time and repeat on the other side.
  • Bent-Over Fly: Bend at the waist, letting your arms hang down with a dumbbell in each hand. With a straight back and moving only your shoulders, lift the dumbbells up and out to the side until they’re even with your back. Slowly lower and repeat. 
  • Biceps Hammer Curl with band or dumbbell: Keeping your arms at your sides and bent at the elbows, raise and lower your arms into a curl.
  • Crunches: Lying on the floor with a flat back and bent knees, place your hands behind your head and use your abs to lift and lower your head and shoulders.

Got an exercise ball? You can incorporate it into your quick workout with exercises such as crunches and the “Superman” stretch (lying face-down on the ball, lift your right arm and left leg; hold and switch to your left arm/right leg).

Completing exercises like these in a circuit format allows you to do more with your workout in the same period of time, making the most of your routine.

At-Home Solutions for Summer Health Woes!

Summer is a time for days at the beach, pool and park -- don’t let itchy rashes or burned skin be a wet blanket on your fun. But before you run to the pharmacy for a standard over-the-counter remedy, give your home cabinets a gander.  That’s right: A bottle of apple-cider vinegar or a gallon of milk packs surprising healing powers. Check out these natural remedies for six common summer skin problems. (Note: If any of these don’t appear to be working after 24 hours, or if your symptoms worsen, consult your doctor.)

Prickly Heat

Mild cases of this heat-induced rash tend to disappear on their own. In the meantime, to relieve the intense itch, try swabbing the area with a cotton ball soaked with equal parts apple-cider vinegar and water to kill the bacteria that causes the rash. For additional comfort and to prevent future breakouts, wear loose-fitting clothing, shower or bathe immediately after exercising, and dust your chest, thighs and other rash-prone areas with cornstarch baby powder.

Insect Bites

For most bites or stings, Prevention magazine suggests rubbing peppermint essential oil into the center. This cools the bite and increases blood flow, bringing relief. Just be sure to wash your hands afterward. If you don’t have peppermint essential oil, try rubbing an ice cube or holding an ice pack on the area for a similar effect, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban from the TV show The Doctors. For mosquito bites, dabbing on rubbing alcohol or ammonia also helps, Shamban says. (If you don’t have access to either, a small dab of hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol also works.)

For tick bites, Shamban recommends making a paste for the bite with equal parts apple-cider vinegar and cornstarch. The vinegar tightens the skin, acts as an antiseptic and contains antibiotic properties to help prevent Lyme disease, Shamban says. However, if you notice a red bullseye-shaped rash forming, see your doctor right away.

Sunburn

Mix equal parts whole milk and cool water and apply gently to the sunburn with a washcloth to remove the sting, according to Ranella Hirsch, M.D., a Boston dermatologist.

Swimmer's Ear

The Mayo Clinic also suggests adding 1 tsp. (5mL) of a homemade mixture of equal parts white vinegar and rubbing alcohol to each ear to promote drying and prevent bacteria growth. Tilt your head to the side after each application to allow the drops to drain, then dry the outer part of the ear with a soft cloth or towel.

Poison Ivy

Renowned integrative-medicine pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil says that rinsing affected areas with lots of cold water immediately after exposure, as well as washing with rubbing alcohol, can reduce the symptoms of poison ivy. Another easy remedy: making a thin paste from baking soda and water. “It’s good for a lot of itchy things,” says JoAnn Chambers-Emerson, a registered nurse and educator for the Florida Poison Information Center-Tampa.

Blisters

If walking in sandals or flip-flops leaves your feet blistered, head for the medicine cabinet. Apply hemorrhoid cream to relieve itching and burning, and swab the area with an antiseptic mouthwash to accelerate drying, according to Prevention magazine. (Never try to pop a blister.) To protect your feet in the future, swipe them with a little antiperspirant or pat them with foot powder.

How to Kick the Sugar Habit

Trying to cut down on sugar? Maybe you’ve heard all the health warnings from doctors and government officials, or maybe you’re trying to look better in your swimsuit.

Whatever the reason, you’re on the right track -- Americans are still eating and drinking two or three times the amount of sugar recommended for optimal health. Scientific studies have linked sugar overloads to obesity and health concerns including diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease, stroke, pancreatic cancer and cognitive decline. 

Sugar, which can fuel the brain and temporarily boost energy, occurs naturally in many nutritious fruits, vegetables and dairy products. But it also gets added to a number of foods we may eat every day. The American Heart Association advises women consume no more than 100 calories’ worth of added sugars per day, which comes out to about six teaspoons. But we often get more of the sweet stuff than we realize; manufacturers inject different forms of sweeteners to heighten taste and improve texture in a surprising variety of products.

To gain more control over your own sugar cravings -- and your family’s -- try these health tips from registered dietician Elisa Zied, mother of two and author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips.

Learn Label Language 

Sugar takes many forms, but all of them work in the same way on your body. And even if you skip dessert and take your coffee black, you may still be eating extra sugar in items like pasta sauce, ketchup, salad dressings and frozen dinners without realizing it.

When you shop, check labels closely for things like corn syrup, honey, molasses and nectar, as well as words in the “ose” family:  sucrose, fructose, dextrose, lactose, maltose and glucose. The higher up these words appear on the ingredient list, the higher the sugar content. (Check what’s in your family’s favorite foods at the USDA Database.)

Be Skeptical of “Health” Foods

Don’t assume that products touted as “low-calorie” or “fat-free” are good for you: To make them more palatable, many manufacturers compensate by boosting their sugar content. For instance, one particular brand of “light” whole-wheat bread boasts that it has just 45 calories a slice, but if you look at the ingredient list, you’ll see it contains not only high fructose corn syrup, but also honey, molasses, brown sugar and sucralose -- hardly a dietary bargain! Watch the labels and choose fresh foods as often as possible.

Do Sugar Swaps

When sugar cravings hit, satisfy your sweet tooth with healthier substitutes. For instance, top oatmeal with half a baked apple instead of brown sugar, and freeze banana slices or grapes for a sweet snack.

If you’re baking cookies or cakes for the family, use unsweetened applesauce to replace some of the sugar in the recipe. And when you serve ice cream, spoon a small portion into the bowls and then top them with lots of fresh berries.

Serve Better Beverages

Sweetened beverages -- including fruit drinks -- are the No. 1 source of added sugar in our diets. Just a 12-ounce can of regular soda packs 8 teaspoons of sugar, or 130 calories, while adding no nutrients. Stock your fridge with healthier options, such as water or seltzer with a squeeze of lime, or a blueberry-banana smoothie straight from your blender.

Leave Yourself Some Wiggle Room

It’s okay to indulge in an occasional sweet treat as long as you’re watching your total calories and filling up with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat proteins. “Sometimes it’s okay to have something simply because you want it and it tastes good,” says Zied -- whether that means a glass of low-fat chocolate milk for your kids or an ice pop on a hot summer day for you.

Mediterranean Diet Recipes Your Family Will Love

You’ve probably heard the recent news about a study focusing on the Mediterranean diet, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It basically confirmed what doctors had suspected for years: Eating the foods popular in Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy can help people at high risk of heart disease avoid strokes, heart attacks and even death.

The Mediterranean diet -- often referred to as the “heart-healthy diet" -- is known to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of LDL cholesterol, or the “bad” cholesterol that’s more likely to build up deposits in your arteries, says Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, founder and president of Nutritious Life and author of The New You and Improved Diet, notes that . Studies show that a Mediterranean-type diet is advantageous across the board for cardiovascular risk factors, including total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar levels

More than that, “it incorporates the basics of healthy eating, with a focus on small portions of high-quality foods that are fresh, seasonal and local,” says Glassman. The Mediterranean plan is much more than just a diet, she adds; it’s an overall approach to healthy living that emphasizes getting plenty of exercise and enjoying meals with family and friends.

Even if your heart is healthy, you and your family can still benefit from eating the foods typical of Mediterranean cuisine. Among them: olive oil; nuts; oily fish like salmon and mackerel (all rich in omega-3 fatty acids); garlic (which can lower blood pressure); herbs and spices such as cinnamon and rosemary; and legumes like peas and beans (rich in protein and fiber).

These recipes from Glassman will help introduce your family to the benefits of Mediterranean eating. Each makes one serving, so increase the ingredients accordingly for delicious meals that will be popular with everyone.

MEDITERRANEAN SHRIMP PITA

This recipe is a fun meal to make together. Line up the ingredients as you would with tacos, and let everyone fill up their own pita!

Ingredients

•  3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

•  2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

•  1 teaspoon chopped garlic

•  3 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 3 ounces)

•  1/2 cup baby arugula

•  1 tablespoon chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves (about 2)

•  1/4 teaspoon dried basil

•  1/4 teaspoon dried parsley

•  2 tablespoons hummus

•  1 mini whole wheat pita 

Directions

1. Combine the lemon juice, oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Transfer the mixture to a zipper-lock bag and add the shrimp, tossing to coat. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

2. Coat a nonstick grill pan with olive oil cooking spray. Preheat over medium-high heat. Toss the arugula and tomatoes in a small bowl.

3. Remove the shrimp from the marinade. Sprinkle the basil and parsley on both sides and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Cook 2 minutes per side, or until opaque throughout, flipping halfway through. Let cool 1 to 2 minutes and cut into 1/2″ pieces.

5. Spread the hummus inside the pita. Fill with the arugula-tomato mixture, then add the shrimp.

WHITE BEAN & VEGETABLE SOUP

Ingredients

•  8 ounces low-sodium vegetable broth

•  ½ cup water

•  2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

•  2 tablespoons each chopped carrot, broccoli, and onion

•  ¼ cup mushrooms, sliced

•  ⅓ cup frozen green peas

•  1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

•  ½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

•  Salt and pepper, to taste

•  ½ cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained

•  1 tablespoon walnuts, finely chopped

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrot, broccoli, onion, mushrooms, peas, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables release some of their juices, about 3 to 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated.

2. Add broth, water and white beans; bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables and beans are tender.

3. Remove from heat, add walnuts and serve.

SNACKS & SIDES

  • Mediterranean Mix: 8 chopped olives, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, 4 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon capers, ¼ cup celery chopped and spread on endive

  • Mediterranean Tomato: 1 large tomato slice with 1 ounce goat cheese, drizzled with fig vinegar

  • Mediterranean Dip: 2 tablespoons hummus with 1 cup red and yellow pepper

How to Style Hair Without Heat

You may never be fully dressed without a smile -- and the same goes for great hair. Beautiful tresses are a powerful thing for women, and many of us turn to blow-dryers, straighteners and curling irons every day as the path to a polished look.

However, these hot styling tools can damage healthy hair if they’re used too often. Break out of your heat haze, find your new go-to ‘do (no matter your hair type) and commence a little mane damage control to keep your lovely strands, well…lovely! Here’s how to style hair without heat.

Hair Solutions: Braids, Buns, “Born” (a.k.a. Natural)
Always look to the three B’s: Braids. Buns. Born (and by “born,” we mean natural):

  • Braids: The braid is the new black, figuratively speaking. This ever-versatile style lends a certain boho-chicness to an ensemble, plus it requires little to no effort (and especially no heat!) and can be worn in a variety of ways. Try a messy side braid for a casual look, a crown of plaits for an über-romantic vibe, or a partial side-swept version to tame unruly bangs.
  • Buns: Be it a low chignon or a high topknot, buns are the instant-chic answer to the persistent “what to do with my hair” question. This style beautifully transitions from office to happy hour, is flattering for every hair type, and, to top it off, works best with locks that have a little texture on them (read: not freshly washed or styled). Try gently teasing a high ponytail before twisting your hair up and bobby-pinning it for a fuller look that is special-event worthy without doing any damage.
  • Born: Many women have a bad habit of wanting what they don’t have, especially when it comes to hair. Instead of using heat tools to force your hair to do what it doesn’t do naturally, embrace what Mother Nature gave you -- with a little help from styling products.

“Air-drying, especially if your texture is curly or wavy, is a great way to style without heat,” says Luca Blandi, senior stylist at the Oscar Blandi salon in Manhattan. “A little extra conditioner after a shampoo will make it beautiful.”

Vaso Spirou, owner of Salon Vaso in Miami Beach, Fl., and her team at the salon agree: “Depending on the event -- work or play -- a simple styling product to add wave and movement is all you need for beautiful hair without the heat.”

Undo the Damage
How much heat is too much? Spirou recommends turning to heat styling tools no more than once a week. “Especially in sunny climates, you really want to limit your use to keep your hair healthy. Use an at-home deep conditioning treatment to recharge your strands and bring them back to health.” To get the most out of a conditioning hair mask, cover your strands with the mask, then cover with a shower cap and let your body heat do the work while you do chores for half an hour.

You can also make the styles you achieve with heated tools last longer between washes, says Blandi. Sprinkle your roots with a dry shampoo to keep your hair looking fresh. And, of course, never underestimate the power of a trim. Since your tips show the most wear-and-tear, snipping them off every few months will keep your tresses fresh and healthy.

Use Heat Wisely
When you do use curling irons and straighteners, “look for tools with ionic capabilities and titanium plates, which are less damaging,” says Spirou. Good tools should also have temperature-control options so you can keep the heat on the lowest setting. Lastly, don’t forget to reach for hair prep before heating things up. “A heat-protecting treatment or spray before styling will shield your hair and make it less vulnerable to damage,” says Blandi.