• Responding to Reader Questions

    September 9, 2009

    I get a lot of questions from readers. Most of them are easily answered by my FAQs or Weight Loss Q & A, but sometimes they require more detailed responses or a little research on my part.

    Last week, I received 2 great questions that I thought other blog readers would benefit from reading as well.

    My Morning Routine

    A few months ago, I wrote about my morning routine and provided a sample schedule and tips for getting your butt out of bed for morning workouts, but aΒ reader recently asked me for tips to streamline her mornings at the gym before work. She also wanted to know what I packed for my quick and easy beauty routine in the locker room. So, here you go!

    Tips for Streamlining Morning Workouts


    • Have a plan! I always have a rough idea of what my workout will be. For example: 30 minutes on elliptical + 30 minutes strength training. Before strength training, I always write down what exercises I plan to do– usually on a small piece of scrap-paper. (I save the good ones for future use!) This way, I stay focused on my workout. I hate leaving the gym without finishing what I said I planned to do.
    • Reserve your place in class. Along the same lines as having a plan, if your gym allows you to reserve a spot in a group exercise class online (or over the phone), make sure you do it! It encourages you to actually attend the class and not make an excuse to skip it. And, most importantly, it reserve your place in class– it’s the worst when make the effort and the class is full!
    • Organize your locker. Most gyms have “day” lockers where you can stash your stuff while you workout. Before I exercise, I make sure to organize my things for easy access. For instance, I put all of my shower stuff on the top shelf of the locker, so instead of digging through my gym bag to find everything or possibility forgetting something I need for my shower, it’s all together in one place to grab and go. A shower caddy helps with this too.
    • Time Your Shower. Most group exercise classes end on the hour or half past the hour. If there is typically a wait for a shower at your gym, plan your workout around these times. For instance, during the work week, a large group exercise class at my gym ends at 7:00 am, so to avoid the crowds, I end my workout at 6:45 am or 7:15 am. I rarely ever have to wait for a shower.
    • Use the 5-minute Blow-Dry: Most days, I only blow-dry my bangs and the top section of my hair. No one sees the bottom part, so I leave it semi-wet and pull it back into a low-bun or ponytail. It takes 5 minutes and doesn’t look half bad!
    • Multitask on Cardio Machines: Of course, listening to music makes the time pass faster, but why not multitask why elliptical-ing away? I watch the news (which saves a newspaper later), listen to podcasts or audiobooks– typically about subjects that I want to learn more about. I love learning!

    What to Pack

    • Work clothes— including socks and undergarments! I’ve forgotten one or the other way too many times!
    • Shoes. I keep a pair of black and brown heels at work, so I often don’t need to pack dress shoes.
    • Sample-size products. I pack a mini bottle of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc. in my gym bag. It takes up less room that regular-size products. I’ve also purchased some of my favorite products in a travel-size just for the gym.
    • Moisture-wicking towel. I bought a small one for the gym that gives me a head-start on drying my hair. They actually work pretty well!
    • A small box with simple jewelry. I have a couple of necklaces and bracelets and 3-4 pairs of earrings that work with most outfits. That way, I don’t have to think about coordinating with my outfits.
    • Flip-flops for the communal showers.
    • Tinted moisturizer with SPF. This 2-in-1 product seriously speeds-up my morning! And it makes my skin look great!
    • A small gym-only make-up bag with minimal products inside. My gym make-up bag has tinted moisturizer, an eyelash curler, mascara, blush, a comb, mini shampoo, condition, lotion, and body wash. (I keep a toothbrush and toothpaste at work, so I brush my teeth there.)
    • Sneakers. Well, I don’t actually pack them. I wear them to and from the gym since they take up most of the room in my gym bag. And there’s no way I can forget them!

    Gluten-Free Dining

    Another reader recently asked me for suggestions for gluten-free dining in Boston. I really had no clue what to say since I eat plenty of gluten, but I didn’t want to leave her hanging. I did a little Google searching and found this great link: Gluten-Free Registry. It has a whole slew of gluten-free-friendly restaurants, bakeries, caterers, and grocers that you can search by city and state.

    Question of the Day

    If you have a blog, what’s the strangest question you have ever received?

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    { 40 comments… read them below or add one }

    Sandhiya September 9, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I also set up a repeat alarm on Lotus Notes that would notify me to reserve a spot in the group class. The strangest Q I have received is ‘Why/How do you eat so much and so often?’


    Nicole September 9, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Tina, you are the queen of organization! Thank you for this insightful post. And although it’s tough to do a morning workout and we are usually pressed for time, I would have to say that taking 5 minutes to stretch, relax and take deep breaths post-workout is essential to having a calm day and having a smoother transition into your often busy and stressful workday.


    Mellissa September 9, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Great tips- I leave my gym bag packed and have it ready to go the night before. After a day that I forgot pants and had to run to Target when it opened at 8 I always double check now. I have a bag that holds shampoo, conditioner, brush etc and that never leaves the bag and it makes it easier to get ready.

    Strangest question- Why my food was always so far apart on my plates (I hate my food touching!)


    haya September 9, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    super useful! i thought i had streamlined my swimming mornings (the only times i am at a gym-like facility before work) as much as i could, but i think i can be more efficient and end up looking prettier (and smelling lovelier) at the end. might just have to try it out tomorrow.


    brandi September 9, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    great tips!

    I haven’t gotten any strange questions yet! Some day πŸ™‚


    kirsten September 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Tinted moisturizer is life changing πŸ™‚


    Mara @ What's For Dinner? September 9, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Someone once asked me if I made my own pet food. I guess its not that weird since I cook a lot and have pets, but that would be SO MUCH extra work!


    Pam September 9, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks for caring about us readers Tina and the gluten free info. since I do gluten free!


    Cynthia (It All Changes) September 9, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I like having a list too of what to do. I always forget something if I don’t write out my weights plan so I always remember to bring it with me so I can go down the list.

    I’ve just started blogging so no strange questions yet. The only question I’ve gotten was “What is a technical shirt?” on my post about what I pack for traveling. I just assumed everyone knew…ooops.


    Lynn (The Actors Diet) September 9, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    i’m only 3 months old and haven’t had any weird questions, though sometimes i do get advice that totally goes against my eating philosophy!


    Sarah September 9, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Great post Tina! For any of your readers who saw our video, they should check out the other videos on DietHealth – http://youtube.com/diethealth – if they are bored or need ideas to do at the gym. They can also download them to their iPods if they have the video kind or just jot down the exercises.


    Sara September 9, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I like to write my workout on a post-it and attach it to my water bottle, that way I don’t loose it.


    foodcents September 9, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    No strange questions yet, but then I am a newbie…


    Nicole (dishin') September 9, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Great tips! Seems like a lot of effort but I guess once you’re into a routine it works out well. I go home to change and shower after working out in the morning but I know a lot of people who find it easier to shower/change at the gym.

    A few places that have gluten free menus in Boston are Stone Hearth Pizza, Burton’s Grill, and the Elephant Walk. My dad has Celiac so I’ve been to all of these places and all are great options. I believe Maggiano’s has gluten free options too!


    Morgan (lifeafterbagels) September 9, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    It pains me so much to workout before work. Since I work in the beauty industry, the whole minimal makeup bag is not an option, I must be fully primped before work (I refuse to tell you how many pieces of makeup I wear on the job, don’t worry, it still “looks” natural)


    Heather September 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Tina – I love your ways to streamline your morning routine. I would recommend using travel sized reusable bottles for shampoo/conditioner – you can buy them pretty inexpensively and then fill them with your favorite products. Cheaper and greener!


    Carly September 9, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Great tips! I’ve got another quick hair drying idea. If you use a paper towel to dry your hair before you blow dry, it takes about half the time. The paper towel is much more absorbent than regular towels. My stylist used this on me. I thought she was crazy, but it really works and really cuts down the amount of time spent blow drying!


    Allison September 9, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I typically workout after work…but I’ve been thinking of switching my routine, so these tips are very helpful.

    Two other resources for healthy restaurants — Eat Well Guide (eatwellguide.org) and Local Harvest (localharvest.org). They don’t have a gluten-free search, but I bet the restaurants are more likely to have alternatives.


    Deva (Voracious Vorilee) September 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I haven’t gotten any reader questions yet, but hope to soon – I like to ask my readers questions, though πŸ™‚ I like your gym routine. I tend to go to the gym in the evening, and write down the exercises I’m going to do in a notebook to have for later reference, and to see what gains I’ve made in strength or endurance throughout the past few months.


    Meghan@traveleatlove September 9, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I haven’t gotten weird questions but looking forward to reading others’! πŸ™‚


    kay (eating machine) September 9, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    tinted moisturizer is fantastic! easy way to look a little less red after a workout πŸ™‚


    Lizzy September 9, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I love these tips Tina! I don’t workout in the mornings befor work, but i do during the day and these will def help πŸ™‚


    April September 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    PF Chang’s has gluten free options as well…not sure if there is one in Boston though.


    maya September 9, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    great tips! although i dont/ am not aloud to work out at the gym..boo..haha..but anyways, the strangest question i got a few days ago..it was kinda funny though “do nuts get soggy in oatmeal?” umm..NO πŸ™‚ its amazing, love nuts in oats. and once someone asked if i was in NYC that weekend because they thought they saw me..



    Denise September 9, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I haven’t received any weird questions yet. I did have someone send me a “meal plan” and tell me if I keep eating the way I do, I’m gonna die before I see my son graduate!


    Sassy Molassy September 9, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I loved your tips on maximizing that morning time. It’s definitely a challenge to make it to the gym with everything you need (in a short amount of time), get a GOOD workout in, and shower and get ready. I like the idea of having a gym specific makeup bag. THat would def help me.


    Cara September 9, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    No questions, but two comments! Only one week in, and loving the blog thing!


    Emily September 9, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    My husband has celiac disease so that link will be very useful. Thanks for sharing!! πŸ™‚


    Emily September 9, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Oh, and I haven’t received any weird questions, but I’ve gotten a couple rude comments. I did not approve them. Do you ever get those? I can’t imagine you ever getting any rude comments!


    Tina September 9, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    @Emily: Hahaha! I get TONS!


    Marisa (Trim The Fat) September 9, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Those are great tips, Tina!

    No weird questions for me…yet πŸ™‚


    Joelle (The Pancake Girl) September 9, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Thanks for answering my gym question TIna!


    rhodeygirl September 9, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    hmmm weird question…. probably the time when someone emailed me asking what kind of oats to buy to make steel cut oatmeal.


    angieinatlanta September 9, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    GREAT tips! I always want to workout in the morning but I find it so stressful because I end up inevitably running late and staring at my watch the entire time I’m working out! I’ll have to implement your tips and see if that helps!


    Meredith (Pursuing Balance) September 9, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    This is great! Sometimes I think the hardest part is setting the alarm early. Once it goes off I’m very likely to get up, but the night before I always think “do I really want to get up so early?”


    Meg C. September 9, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    man i’m so glad i have a locker at healthworks so i can leave my shower stuff and sneakers there… otherwise i’d be logging tons of junk!


    The Healthy Apple September 10, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I am Gluten-Free and use the Gluten-Free Registry all the time..it’s a wonderful resource for people such as myself who are on the look-out for gluten-free friendly foods/restaurants! Thanks for spreading the word, Tina….
    Also, yummy steak salad last night..looks great!


    Melissa September 11, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Nice organization tips!!! I’m a new blogger so I have received any strange questions yet…I look forward to my first. πŸ™‚


    Georgia September 12, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks for these tips!

    Mine weren’t strange questions since few people “follow” me. But under my “account” settings for google searches that lead people to my site I think I see some pretty weird stuff.

    One of my biggest hits was/is “Jiggers” which are worms that get in your feet in Africa. One post- two years ago- and it’s my biggest hit. Classy.

    Also- Ugandans sometimes say something is “choot” for cute.. I used it a few times and it is my SECOND biggest search hit… Weird.


    Lisa May 12, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I adore sample size and travel sized products. I hoard them from travels and use them for the gym.


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