Sweatcoin

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Imagine getting money for walking. I know right, it sounds crazy but you can actually make cash by doing such a normal everyday thing. Sweatcoin is an app that PAYS YOU to get fit. With Sweatcoin you can track & verify your outdoor steps using your phone’s accelerometers and GPS location. Those steps get converted into their currency — Sweatcoins. Goods, services & experiences ranging from anti-gravity yoga classes to high-tech shoes, to iPhones and Apple Watches. You can also donate your Sweatcoins to some of their amazing partnering charities, making for an easy way to help others around the world. You can download the app on the App Store or on Google Play.

Happy Walking!

Who Knew Dieting Like a Caveman Would Be the Next Health Trend?: Tiffany Jiang

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If you have stumbled across a health junkie’s Instagram post, you probably have seen them following a new (and, quite possibly, extreme) diet trend that is blowing up on the Internet. The two seemingly popular diets that are invading mostly everyone’s Instagrams are the Paleolithic diet, which is also known as the paleo diet. 

I happened to come across the paleo diet during one of my lunches at the Whole Foods’ hot bar, which specifically had a paleo-friendly section that was labelled with a few trays of hot foods. Based on what was displayed, nothing about the paleo-friendly foods seemed to be quite different from the other hot bar selections. The lack of contrast has definitely intrigued me to look more into what the paleo diet really was. 

So, what is the paleo diet? The paleo diet is based off of the Paleolithic or “caveman” diet that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate from. Compared to our modern diets, the paleo diet consists of foods that were readily available for humans to eat that dated back to millions of years ago such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds. Rather than our regular consumption of processed foods, followers of this diet are limited to whole and healthy foods that range from salmon and tuna to fruits and vegetables to grass-fed animals and wild game. The paleo diet is all about cutting out all sugar and fat that are commonly found in processed foods because of the little nutritional value and the high caloric count provided by these processed foods. With all diets, it is surprising how we take for granted the little things that we eat regularly. In this case, the paleo diet strays away from grains, dairy products, refined sugar, salt, and even potatoes. 

Why should anyone follow this diet if it cuts out salty potato chips? Following a paleo diet is claimed to be linked to a lower risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In fact, studies show that a paleo diet hold many short-term benefits such as increased weight loss, better blood pressure control, and better appetite management. 

Although this diet may limit many foods like ice cream and potato chips, the paleo diet is, overall, a great diet to follow for those that are willing to take on a challenge in curbing weight gain or to try a new lifestyle that may provide many health benefits! 

Skin Care Routine: Elizabeth Nacion

I’ve noticed how recently, it’s become trendy to have these skincare threads and instagram pages with tips.  When reading them, I’ve found that most of the “hacks” and “natural ways” to care for your skin actually have broken me out in the past!  Not to say these ideas wouldn’t work for everyone, but when you have sensitive, acne-prone skin like mine, trendy skincare isn’t the way to go.  

I struggled with acne and texture since my freshman year, and tried multiple different skin routines.  It wasn’t until I had an appointment with an esthetician at the Acne Clinic in NYC that I was able to find a skincare routine that truly saved my skin.  I highly recommend it to anyone with acne prone skin who has given up on trying to fix their skin, because there is hope!  Here’s my personal skin routine and all of the products I use:

  • face reality face and body scrub
  • face reality gentle toner
  • face reality mandelic serum
  • face reality hydrating balance
  • face reality sunscreen
  • Acne Med benzoyl peroxide (dime size amount, only at night)

Some skin tips!

  • hydrate. hydrate. hydrate.
  • have a consistent sleeping schedule!
  • avoid foods that contain iodine, dairy, and high sodium
  • work out! it can help release the toxins from your skin
  • always end your showers with cold water to close up your pores! this can help with body acne.

Final advice: listen to your skin!  Go to a trained professional who can properly diagnose your skin type and how you should be taking care of it.  You’ll be glowing in no time :)

Ambassador Profile: Tiffany Jiang

This summer, VarCity has a fleet of super cool ambassadors! Each ambassador profile will teach you a bit about each new team member.

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Hi! My name is Tiffany and I am a rising senior at Brooklyn Technical High School. Currently, I am on my school’s varsity soccer team. I have been playing soccer in Tech and have been involved in Tech’s wrestling team since I started high school. Ever since then, I have been exposed to a whole world of fitness routines and health junkies that have inspired me to delve deeper into dieting and working out. I am now committed to working out once a week as well as maintaining a holistic diet (and yes, I am that person that actually looks at nutritional labels). 

 

Follow her! @jiang_tiff

Summer Tips: Tips for Running at the Beach

Beach Running Tips

Running on sand—while it definitely has lots of benefits—can be tricky.  On the plus side, the unstable surface provides extra strength training for your lower leg muscles, which have to work harder to stabilize your feet.  And when you sink into the sand, it makes it even tougher for your body to lift up for each step, amping up the intensity of your run. 

Thicker sand exaggerates each step making you feel like you’re climbing, so your calves are working that much harder to propel you forward.

But like any new activity, using your muscles in that different way can leave you super sore. Follow the below tips to enjoy your surfside run—and still feel good the next day.

Pick the Right Pack
Tighter, more packed sand (or even better, wet sand) is preferable to a dry, looser surface.  It’ll still be soft, but you’ll sink in less and be less likely to overuse your muscles while trying to stable.

Keep it Short (and Less Frequent)
Even though your muscles are working extra hard, you might not feel the impact of an hour-long beach run until the next day…when you wake up achy and barely able to enjoy your vacation, let alone fit in another run.  Start with just 20 to 25 minutes at a time (or even less) to make sure you don’t overdo it.  And if you live near the ocean, don’t start doing all your runs at the beach.  Once a week would be ideal.

Go Barefoot (if You Want)
If you’re prone to injury or require a very supportive shoe, you might want to keep them on.  Not sure?  Try walking a mile on the beach.  If your calves hurt the next day, you probably shouldn’t run barefoot.

Go Flat—and Out and Back
Shorelines are sloped, which can mess with your form.  Run on the flattest part of the sand that you can, and make sure you run back on the beach the way you came to even out any imbalances.

Stay Safe!
Wear extra sunscreen, since water and sand reflect rays.  And check the tides so you don’t get stuck in a situation where you’re far from home and can’t run back.

Ambassador Profile: Elizabeth Nación

This summer, VarCity has a fleet of super cool ambassadors! Each ambassador profile will teach you a bit about each new team member.

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Hi everyone!
My name’s Elizabeth, but most people call me Liz. I’m from New Jersey but I commute into Manhattan for high school.
This summer I’ve been trying to commit myself more to fitness, whether that’s going on a morning run, doing ab workouts on my yoga mat, or attempting a better diet. Since I’m only 16, I don’t have enough money to afford a gym membership. Varcity gives people like me an opportunity to attend fitness classes for an affordable price, without the struggles of keeping up with an expensive monthly membership. I truly believe anyone can become fit, it just takes a little push and motivation!

 

Follow her! @nacionelizabeth

Ambassador Profile: Eliza Doles

This summer, VarCity has a fleet of super cool ambassadors! Each ambassador profile will teach you a bit about each new team member.

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Hi everyone. My name is Eliza Doles and I live in upstate NY, which is only an hour away from NYC, with my Mom, dog, and two sisters (I’m the first of a set of triplets). I play A TON of different sports, like softball, rowing, swimming and basketball, just to name a few. I love to hike with my dog ( @bernie.intraining) in the catskills, and I enjoy kayaking on the lake where I live. I am very excited to be a part of this summer’s “Brand Ambassador Program” at VarCity.

 

Follow her! @aaelizaee

Think Twice Before that Morning Juice

Sugar Juice

Starting your morning with fruit juice is often perceived as a healthy way to start  your day.  That's understandable, given that it is natural and has the word "fruit" in it.

However, what many people fail to realize is that fruit juice is also loaded with sugar.  In fact, fruit juice contains just as much sugar and calories as a sugary soft drink... and sometimes even more.

Even if juice is labelled as "100% pure" and "not from concentrate”,  after being squeezed from the fruit -- the juice is usually stored in massive oxygen-depleted holding tanks for up to a year before it is packaged.

The main problem with this method is that it tends to remove most of the flavor, so the manufacturers need to add so-called "flavor packs" to the juice, to bring back the flavor that was lost during processing.

So even if you're buying the highest quality juices at the supermarket, they're still far from their original state.  Some of the lowest quality ones don't even resemble fresh-squeezed fruit juice at all...they are basically just fruit-flavored sugar water.

BOTTOM LINE:
Fruit juice isn't always what it seems, even the higher quality types have gone through processing methods that remove the flavor, making it necessary to add "flavor packs” (whatever those are!) to bring them back to their original state.

VarCity Lifehacks: Breathe Away Your Anxiety

Tips for Dealing with Anxiety

Anxiety.  We all feel it and when we do it can paralyze us in the most important of times.  Aside from working out, there are a few techniques that can significantly improve anxiousness.  One technique that is used by a lot of professionals in high pressure situations is “box breathing”.

Benefits of box breathing

According to the Mayo Clinic, there is sufficient evidence that intentional deep breathing can actually calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system. This system regulates involuntary body functions like temperature. It can lower blood pressure and provide an almost-immediate sense of calm.

Box breathing can reduce stress and improve your mood.  It can also help treat insomnia by allowing you to calm your nervous system at night before bed.

What is box breathing?

Box breathing is a technique used in taking slow, deep breaths. This can heighten performance and concentration while also being a powerful stress reliever.

Also called four-square breathing, this technique can be beneficial to anyone, especially those who want to meditate or reduce stress. It’s used by everyone from athletes to police officers, nurses, and yoga practitioners.

The steps of box breathing

Before you get started, make sure that you’re seated upright in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor. Try to be an a stress-free, quiet environment where you can focus on your breathing. Keeping your hands relaxed in your lap with your palms facing up, focus on your posture. You should be sitting up straight. This will help you take deep breaths.

Step 1
Sitting upright, slowly exhale, getting all the oxygen out of your lungs. Focus on this intention and be conscious of what you’re doing.

Step 2
Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. In this step, count to four very slowly in your head. Feel the air fill your lungs, one section at a time, until your lungs are completely full and the air moves into your abdomen.

Step 3
Hold your breath for another slow count of four.

Step 4
Exhale through your mouth for the same slow count of four, expelling the air from your lungs and abdomen. Be conscious of the feeling of the air leaving your lungs.

Step 5
Hold your breath for the same slow count of four before repeating this process.

Tips for beginners
If you’re new to box breathing, it may be difficult to get the hang of it. You may get dizzy after a few rounds. This is normal, and as you practice it more often, you’ll be able to go longer without the dizziness. If you get dizzy, stay sitting for a minute and resume normal breathing.

To help you focus on your breathing, find a quiet, dimly lit environment to practice box breathing. This isn’t at all necessary to perform the technique, but it can help you focus on the practice if you’re new to it.