7 tweaks to make your mornings healthier

By Heather Foley

UntitledMornings are the worst. If you’re anything like me you hit snooze about a million times then grumpily roll out of bed, pour some coffee down your throat and run around like a nut. Not the best way to start your morning, now is it? One of my goals is to start my day healthier and in a better mind space. Easier said than done, but after giving it some thought I’ve come up with a few relatively painless ways to make our mornings healthier.

Get a good night’s sleep. You can’t have a good morning without a good night’s sleep, that’s just science.

Don’t hit snooze. Okay fine, hit snooze once, but hitting snooze for an hour does not help you out at all, it really just makes things worse. During that hour, you don’t get into a deep enough sleep for it to really make a difference. Plus, getting woken up so frequently causes stress to your body. So, if you go to bed feeling like you might actually need that extra hour of sleep instead of hitting the saddle at the HB, take it. But don’t make it a habit :)

Replace your first cup of coffee with hot water with lemon. Don’t worry, I’m not a monster who is going to tell you to shun coffee completely, but try replacing your first cup with hot water with lemon. Hugh Jackman swears by it and have you seen Hugh Jackman?

Drink a healthier cup of coffee. Your cup of coffee should not taste like a mug of melted coffee ice cream, it should not be a pale shade of beige. Try to wean yourself off of tons of cream and sugar. And don’t use the fake stuff. I use coconut sugar in my coffee and I either drink it black or with coconut creamer or almond milk. Baby steps.

Take a high quality multivitamin. In an ideal world we would all get all the vitamins and minerals we need from the food we eat, but this really isn’t an ideal world. If it was I would have Jessica Simpson’s Dukes of Hazard body.

Eat some breakfast. Duh guys, just duh.

Take a few minutes to focus your positive energy. I don’t want to sound all hippy trippy, but take a few minutes to sit in the quiet and meditate, focus your energy, visualize, do some affirmations, whatever you want to call it, just take a couple minutes to put some good vibes out there. And no, hitting snooze eight times and having a nice half dream does not count.

I don’t know about you guys, but I feel healthier already. Have a tip for healthier mornings? Let us know in the comments!

More than a moustache

movemberWho would have ever thought that a moustache, a pink ribbon, or a bucket of ice would become symbols for causes so much greater than themselves? Once everyday objects, these symbols have helped spread awareness for some of the most pressing health challenges and diseases faced worldwide. Ever since Movember began in Australia in 2003, growing a moustache has become so much more than a facial hair feat. It represents over $559 million dollars raised in awareness and prevention of prostate cancer and four million “Mo Bros” (the guys that grow moustaches during November) that have used their moustaches to start a conversation about prostate cancer and men’s health.

As The HB community, we are huge supporters of Movember. We believe that all it takes is a conversation to  get our riders, friends, husbands, and fathers thinking about their health – in terms of more than just a calorie burn. Many of our riders, family members, and friends have been affected by prostate cancer. That’s why this Wednesday, November 19, The HB is hosting a charity ride to raise money and awareness for the Movember cause (5:45pm in Fenway with Lena and 7pm in Southie with Rachel). All proceeds from the ride will go to research and prevention of diseases that impact men specifically. Riding unlimited? Don’t fret – we’ll still donate the discounted cost of your ride ($10), but we highly encourage you to give more. We’ll have a live DJ ride, a photobooth, moustache props, Georgetown Cupcakes, and a pop-up shop from oOo Tie, a Boston-based bow tie company, selling their bow ties for 20% off.

For our oOo Tie rep, Eric Stout, who will be manning the bow tie booth on Wednesday, the Movember cause hits close to home. A two-time testicular cancer survivor, Eric is an organizer and member of the local BellissiMo team, whose goal is to raise $150,000 in support of the cause this Movember. Eric is now cancer-free, but retrospectively, wishes he would have gotten checked out sooner. He uses Movember as an opportunity to encourage young men to take charge of their health and move more.

So guys, if you’ve been hesitant to give The HB a shot for fear of indoor cycling being “just a girl thing,” our Movember ride is a perfect opportunity for you to show off your ‘stache and raise awareness for your fellow Mo bros. Sign up here!

We’ll see you – and your ‘stache – in the saddle on Wednesday!

oOoTie and Movember: Give a gift that gives back

Next Wednesday, both Fenway and South Boston Handle Bar locations are hosting a charity ride benefitting The Movember Foundation. All proceeds from the class will support research for illnesses that impact men specifically – prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and heart disease among others.

We’ll be hosting a kick-ass ride lead by a live DJ, with high energy and intensity and to the sound of all male artists. Along with the ride, Boston based bow tie company, oOoTie, will be hosting a pop-up shop dedicated to The Handle Bar riders. They’ll be selling their ties at 20% off for the Handle Bar community and featuring designs like their ‘Boston Strong’ tie and the ever-so-fitting bike-printed bow tie!

The ties make for a great holiday gift for a special man in your life (guys, feel free to treat yourself) – and we’ll be offering complimentary gift wrapping for anyone who purchases.

Support The Movember Foundation by rocking out this Wednesday, and get a head start on a super sleek holiday gift by oOoTie!

bike tie


Drink your greens

greensSo this green juice thing has kind of exploded over the past few years, I mean who saw that coming, right? Certainly not me. If five years ago you told me people would be lining up to pay $10 a glass for liquefied spinach and apples I would have thought you were crazy. Actually even today I think it’s crazy because spinach is not that expensive. I know not everyone has a super fancy, high powered, cold press juicing system and luckily you don’t need one to drink your veggies. You are going to need a decent blender though, and they’re available in every price range if you don’t have one already. If you do have your blender ready to go what are you waiting for? Oh, you need some recipes? Well here you go:

Super Greens

1 cup each kale (ribs and stems removed) and spinach

1 pear

1 banana (preferably frozen)

1 ½ cup cold almond milk

Blend kale, spinach, and almond milk. Add banana and pear and blend.

Honeydew For You

½ English cucumber, peeled and chopped

½ honeydew melon, peeled and chopped

1 cup cold light apple juice

Juice of 1 lime

A few mint leaves

Blend all ingredients.

The Cold Kicker

1 cup ice

1 banana, the riper the better

½ cup frozen pineapple

2 cups kale (ribs and stems removed)

Blend all ingredients.

Islands in the Green

1 cup coconut water

1 cup spinach

1 cup frozen pineapple

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Blend spinach and coconut water, until smooth, add the rest of the ingredients and blend till smooth again.

The Sinus Clearer

1 cup cold water

1 cup spinach

1 cup pineapple

1 jalapeno (2 if you like it spicier) seeds and membrane removed

A few ice cubes

Blend all ingredients.

Ginger Apple Snap

1 granny smith apple, chopped                 

1 cup spinach

1 piece of ginger, peeled

1 cup cold almond milk

A few ice cubes

Blend all ingredients.

A few notes, feel free to add some yogurt to any of the recipes if you’re looking to bulk them up a bit (take them from more of a juice to a smoothie) and if you need to sweeten them up feel free to add more fruit or a touch of honey. Once you starting drinking your veggies regularly, you’ll be able to play with the ratios and increase the greens, but do it slowly.

So are you ready to crank up the blender? Of course you are! Do you have a favorite green smoothie or juice recipe? Share it in the comments!

-Heather Foley

Welcome, Heather!

We are SO excited to announce Raising The Bar’s first ever guest blogger, Heather Foley, of Glamourous Baggage. Heather frequents The HB, but has been looking for a way to step up her fitness game. This can be tough, especially as winter slowly creeps in. Although sneaking a few 60 degree days in every now and again, winter will soon be here to stay. But with Heather’s relatable humor and motivation, you will be off the couch and into the saddle in no time, no matter the weather.
Photo courtesy of Deb McCarthy, another HB regular.

A few weeks ago over at my blog Glamorous Baggage, I talked about how my waistline has kind of gotten away from me over the past year. I talked about my waning motivation and needing to get my fitness mojo back. Next thing you know, I’m chatting with Jess from The Handle Bar about doing some health and fitness blogging for her. BOOM. Sometimes the universe gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. For me, there’s no bigger motivation to get back at it than doing some fitness blogging, since I can’t really write about it unless I do it. Now I don’t know what motivates you, but consider just reading this post a sign from the universe to kick your fitness up a notch, and believe me, The Handle Bar is the place to push yourself. Still not convinced you might need to join me in taking fitness more seriously? Well, here are a few signs you might (definitely) need to meet me at The HB:

Your favorite oversized sweatshirt is now tighter than a Kardashian bandage dress.

The last time you worked out consistently, Step Aerobics was the next big thing.

You were all excited to bust out the over the knee boots you bought last year only to find they don’t even go over your calves.

You get out of breath watching The Biggest Loser.

For all the ladies – your boobs look amazing. Every cloud has a silver lining.

You’ve eaten more than one sub in the past week. Seriously, who eats subs on the reg? Well, besides you.

You found a loose Nerd in your bathrobe pocket and you ate it, without thinking twice.

You watch My 600 Pound Life and whenever someone orders three cheeseburgers, 2 orders of chicken nuggets, and a small fry you think “What’s wrong with them? Why did they order a small?”

Do any of these sound familiar? Of course they do – you love subs! If at any point while reading this you though for even half a second that maybe you kinda sorta need to step up your game, I can pretty much guarantee you that yes, yes you do need to put a little more effort into your fitness. But that is OK! You need to step it up. I need to step it up. We all need to step it up. So what are we waiting for? Let’s step it up already! I’ll be posting here regularly, so suit up (in your workout clothes, not an actual suit) and join me, figuratively here and literally at The Handle Bar.

-Heather Foley

Retox & stay balanced with KEEL Vodka

It’s that time of year again – when our diets and best efforts to stay healthy and balanced are thwarted by pumpkin spice lattes, the office candy corn jar, and soon, cookie swaps and champagne flutes. This season of indulgence proves challenging for many of us who like to keep a balanced diet year-round. With endless friend and family gatherings, it is difficult to keep moderation in mind. Sometimes “just one cookie” turns into three or four, and before we know it, we’re in a sugar coma. It’s happened to all of us at least once, and it doesn’t help when alcohol is involved, making it easier to justify cookies two, three, and four.

Not only is it challenging enough to keep track of how many fun-size Twix and Reese’s Cups we’ve had, but it’s even harder to keep track of drinks as we hop from party to party. I personally hate wasting calories on sugary cocktails, mixers, and mimosas, but when put in social situations where not everyone may be conscious about their personal health and food choices, it often proves impossible to say no or opt for a healthier option. That’s one of the reasons why we are so excited to have KEEL Vodka sponsoring our 2nd annual Glo-Cycle ride this Thursday! 

Women's Health I KEEL GOOD

KEEL’s “I KEEL GOOD” cocktail was featured in the October issue of Women’s Health.

KEEL Vodka is a new, premium light spirit, meaning each shot (1.5 ounces) contains 58 calories, zero carbs, and no harsh bite as compared to its higher-calorie competitors like Grey Goose, Kettle One, and Belvedere, which average about 120 calories per 1.5 ounce serving. Similar to light beer, KEEL gives you a much better caloric “bang for your buck” than its heavier counterparts. We found KEEL’s mission – helping us stay balanced – so aligned with The HB’s work hard, play hard culture that we just had to share. KEEL will be providing a post-ride “retox” after Thursday’s Glo-Cycle rides (sign up here!).

To hold you over until then, here are a few smart cocktail ideas from the folks at KEEL:

Keel + Spiced Blackberry

  • Muddle blackberries
  • Add ice
  • Add 3 parts KEEL vodka to 1 part ginger beer
  • Garnish with mint and fresh blackberry

 Keel + Tangerine:

  • 2 parts KEEL over ice
  • 2 parts fresh squeezed tangerine juice
  • Top with soda water
  • Garnish with an orange slice

Don’t forget to follow KEEL on twitter and like them on Facebook for cocktail ideas and exciting new products. From KEEL & the HB, stay balanced – we’ll see you in the saddle on Thursday! 

Who raised the bar in October?

Andrew Ruggiero!

As one of our most loyal HBers and an avid Summer Share rider, Andrew always exudes positivity and determination. Whether he is riding solo or with his wife, Melissa, Andrew motivates everyone in the pack. His passion for finding a cure for ALS brought him to The Handle Bar – every year he rides a 270-mile bike ride for the cause. We are proud to call Andrew one of our own!

So, Andrew…

Everyone has their own unique fitness journey. What has your experience/journey been like with indoor cycling? In short, it’s been great!  Most importantly, indoor cycling enabled me to train for a 3-day, 270-mile bike ride I do annually to raise $$ for ALS-TDI with TEAM FRATETRAIN and their research to find an effective treatment for ALS.

Fitness was much easier in my younger years.  Playing college football, 2 hours+ in the gym 5 days a week to train in the off-season was a no-brainer.  Now, as an aging 29 year old, I don’t have the time or the drive to stay with a consistent strength training regimen.  Spinning at the Handle Bar has been the solution.  I know that I’ll be in and out within 45 minutes and makes it much easier to schedule my workout in to my week.

Besides cycling, what other activities do you do to keep fit? Pick-up/Men’s League Hockey, the occasional free-weight session, outdoor cycling.

Tell us an unknown fact about yourself.
Hmmmm…. If it is “unknown” do I know it?  I’m not a man of many secrets…. I guess it might be unknown that I have a goal in life to master the sweet sweet dance moves from Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” music video…. Especially the knee spin!

What’s your “big kid” job? How do you schedule a ride into your daily routine?  I am the Director of Business Development at a financial services firm for the Northeast.  The app allows me to schedule my rides around my varying daily schedule.  Having the multiple class options works well for me.

Why do you come to ride at the Handle Bar? I originally came to train for the ALS-TDI Tri-State Trek.  I keep coming because it fits my schedule and lets me be active without feeling the need to train like a football player.  My fiancé loves to spin to, so we can go together.  She’s persistently asked that I run with her for years…. I don’t run…. We can do this together and both enjoy it.

Do you have any advice for other guys looking to get started with indoor cycling?  It’s a no-brainer.  It’s annoying at first when you’re panting and exhausted and there’s some 110lb girl crusing along without breaking a sweat…. or you can’t possibly understand how the instructors legs move that fast… but you get over it quickly and then it’s awesome!

What did you do for fitness prior to joining the studio? I haven’t abandoned anything I did in the past.  I relied on the gym a lot more before getting in to spin.  At spin class, i never need to wait for the guy/girl using the squat rack to finish doing some exercise they have no business doing in a squat rack (ie. curls) when i’m trying to do cleans!

What goals has The Handle Bar helped you achieve? Prepare for the ALS-TDI Tri-State Trek first and foremost.  Shedding a few lbs before our wedding has also been a big bonus.  Those photographers are pricey! Can’t spend all that money to look like a beach ball in all those pics!

What drives you more – working out solo or with a friend? Solo.  I have always disliked having a “partner” to workout.  A go-to spotter or group setting works.  As far as having a gym buddy, not even remotely a possibility.

What’s your favorite way to end a long ? Steak and Beer

Rihanna or Beyoncé? Who?  Which one does the Na na nnnaaa song?

If there was one obscure artist whose music you wish you could ride to, who would it be and why? Well, Jess worked the “Cranberries” in to her 90’s playlist… so I don’t know if there is room to be more obscure.  I want some good, ole fashion drums for a hill climb.  Get up to a level 9+, and do the marching drum beats from marching soldiers in old movies.

What motivates you? The desire to always be better.  If you are going to put the time and energy in to something, whatever it may be, you owe it to yourself to put forth the best possible effort.

What words do you live by? No Regrets – Learn from your mistakes and move on.

Creating and crushing goals – a how-to guide

Have you ever questioned what you want from life?

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.33.15 AMAs kids, we were always dreaming. I was almost always wondering what life would be like when I was 29 (why 29? I have absolutely zero idea…). Would I be a professional figure skater, a chef, a veterinarian? The choice was mine. But as most of you can probably relate, these dreams and visions have been clouded over time by pressure from work, school, and just plain life. Sure, by going to school and work each day, we’re on a path going somewhere. But my question is where – and more importantly, why?

Forgive the heaviness or for sounding corny, but this question was something I never seriously considered until this summer, when I took on a part-time job at lululemon athletica down here in DC. As part of our job training, we are coached and taught how to set goals for ourselves. When I tell people this, it usually garners one of two responses – an “oh, that’s cool…goals? Who sets goals?” or a more delighted, “I wish my job taught me how to set goals”. These lukewarm reactions leave me wondering, why are we not taught how to set goals for ourselves while we’re young – like, in grade school?

 Left without an answer to this phenomenon, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned about goal setting, and provide a few different strategies, regardless of where you want to be in life.

Create a vision for your life in 10 years – establishing a clear picture of where you see yourself this far in the future will give you a pretty good idea about what matters to you, and will inevitably answer the looming question – what do you want from life? This vision isn’t dependent on whether you’re happy with your life right now. You very well may be, but taking a moment to dream and see what you want to add to or subtract from your life is an effective way of identifying small goals that will drive you towards your ultimate happiness.

Think about who or what you value most in your life right now—Does the future you value the same things as the present you?

Think micro – What are the parts of your vision that are not present in your life at this very moment? What things do you need to remove from your life to make your vision a reality? Pick actionable items – things you can change with a concerted effort.

 Be SMART – I’m going all grade school with you right now, but, the best goals are SMART goals. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-frame specific. To give you a quick example, one of my one-year goals, set in August 2014, was to complete a Tough Mudder by November of 2014 (crushed it at the end of September 2014!). This goal directly relates to my vision, as I visualize myself in 10 continuing to be fit and healthy.

For many of us, weight loss or “getting in shape” is a common goal. I get it – look good, feel good. Feel good, look good. I’m in the same boat. So, if that’s your goal, here are some steps you can take to help you achieve exactly what you want. First, pick a measurable goal – shoot for a certain number on the scale, a pants size, or a body fat percentage. Don’t make it crazy – 20 pounds in one month might be a bit too ambitious. Don’t worry – if your goal is 20 pounds, it is totally achievable, just make sure to give yourself adequate time. Sounds like one SMART goal to me…

Now we challenge you. Create a vision for yourself, and create some goals to go along with it. If your goal is weight loss or getting in shape, I encourage you to download the Pact App to help keep you accountable and on track. It’s free to download, but you commit yourself to a dollar amount per week. If you meet your goals for the week, you keep your money and get paid by other users who have failed to meet their weekly goals. Getting paid to workout and crush goals? Sounds good to me.

 The Pact App is hosting a ride at the HB Tonight. Reserve your spot here, and come out for more info, swag bags, and a great Thursday night sweat sesh. See you in the saddle!

Turn it up Tuesday! 10/21

Each week our beloved instructor and play-listing connoisseur Sarah C is adding songs to our ‘Turn it Up Tuesday’ collection on Spotify. Starting today, you can rely on these brand new jams to add to your rotation each week. Work your magic Sarah…

Listen, we love a good throwback as much as the next person. And yes, we still happily sing along to “Shake It Off,” which has already played 32 times today. But man, there’s something about waking up on a Tuesday, knowing your music collection is about to get just a little richer – it gives us an extra spring in our step.

New Music Tuesdays are magical for us. And we’d like nothing more than to share that magic with you. Here’s a little taste of the musical treats that are gracing our earbuds and studio speakers this week.

A little bit of hardcore work music, plus a few melodies perfect for cooling it down. Let us know which one’s your jam next time you check in to HB!

We threw together a playlist on Spotify, but some of them are so hot you can only currently find them at the links below….


Banks – “Beggin for Thread (Griffin & Hotel Garuda Remix)”

Anna of the North – “Sway (Chainsmokers Remix)”

Drake – “How About Now”