Self.com

The adult pool at the Marriot Harbor Beach Resort and Spa; Fort Lauderdale, FL

Our friends at SELF.com like to remind us how important being active is — and how important it is to eat healthy, too — even when you’re on the road. So when they let us know about their new Jump Start Diet Plan, created by uber-trainer (and former Biggest Loser star) Jillian Michaels, we were happy to jump on board (pun intended). The plan features some kick-ass workout moves that mesh toning and cardio to save time while burning mega-calories, plus easy-to-follow diet tips that making shaping up a cinch. But what we loved the most about the plan is, that if you join SELF and sign up to Jump Start online, you’ll be entered for a grand prize trip to the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa in super-sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Not only is the total package worth over three grand, but the hotel also has a well-earned, 4-pearl rating from us here at Oyster.com.

If we won, we’d start our day with a killer yoga class — or just a great workout at the sleek 24-hour fitness center — and then lounge on the beach or poolside in the quiet adults-only area. To cap the day off, we’d stop by the spa for a luxurious treatment. We recommend the Harbor Beach Signature Tropical Tiki Bliss massage (80 minutes for $225), designed to soothe even the achiest of muscles while still Zen-ing you out. Check out more photos of the hotel after the jump, or read the full review now to see why we love this spot.

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Coolest Hotel Kitchens

by Hilary on September 5, 2011

When it comes to kitchenware, the pots and pans we use to cook our food may have a powerful health impact. And with the ongoing rumblings about possible carcinogens in non-stick pans, many of us are ransacking our cabinets wondering what’s good and what’s evil.

When traveling, there’s nothing like waking up to the smell of eggs or having a hearty, home-cooked dinner in your hotel room. These kitchens are not only fully equipped with all the appliances you may need, they’re trendy, new, and beautiful.

Our friends from SELF found out the best pots and pans to be using, and we’re telling you where the coolest places are to use ‘em.

Cool Kitchen #1: The Fabulous Flat at The W Fort Lauderdale

The Fabulous Flat at the W Fort Lauderdale

The Fabulous Flat at the W Fort Lauderdale

Nonstick pans (Calphalon, Circulon, etc.):Nonstick pans are made by adding a layer of a polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene (or PTFE) to the surface. PTFE provides an easily cleaned surface, but sacrifices browning and cooking performance. Another drawback: When overheated, PTFE-coated pans can result in production of volatile fluorine-containing compounds that are toxic. Heating at excessively high temps can even melt the PTFE layer. Before you freak out, consider this: Studies have not shown a concern to humans at the levels of toxins formed. But it still makes sense to avoid overheating nonstick pans. Never deep fry in a nonstick pan or heat the pan to high temperature without food in it.
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Best Date Hotels

by Hilary on August 22, 2011

If every Friday is set aside for the same ho-hum dinner-and-a-movie, “date night” will repeat like Groundhog Day and eventually become a grind. That kind of drudgery can derail even the most starry-eyed-in-love couple (think Prince William and Kate Middleton).

The good news: It’s not that difficult to turn up the heat. The trick, experts say, is finding new and exciting ways to bond with your honey — and trying to be a little spontaneous about it.

Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco

Our friends from SELF asked Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (aka “Dr. Romance”), psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again, for five ways to bring back the spark. Oyster experts picked the best places and environments to rejuvenate your relationship, whether you’re on vacation or it’s just another night.

Get nostalgic. Think back to when you were first dating. Go back to the place where you first met, watch a DVD (complete with popcorn) of the first movie you saw together, hit Happy Hour at the bar near your old job or wander through the park with a picnic lunch.
Where to do it: Picnicking in New York’s Central Park is something special, anyone who has done it will tell you. The beautiful escape in the middle of a bustling metropolitan city has a unique and exciting feel; the setting ignited an appreciation for life’s simple things. Perfect for surfacing old memories that make you both smile, Central Park has got it all. The Excelsior Hotel on the city’s Upper West Side is just a block from the park, located in a quiet, residential neighborhood.

Central Park, New York Central Park, New York

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A Sweet, Budget-Friendly Treat

by Hilary on August 15, 2011

Craving something sweet but don’t want to break the bank? Whether we’re talking food or hotels, we’ve got the perfect solution for you.

Our friends from SELF found the treat: satisfy your sweet tooth without guilt with these Plush Puffs fat-free marshmallows from DylansCandyBar. No fat, just flavors: Vanilla or caramel-swirl marshmallows step up s’mores; lemon meringue enhances tea. Or enjoy them plain for about 70 calories. (And you get five per serving.)

And as for hotels, the list is endless. But, we’ve picked our favorite budget-friendly hotels that will make you feel like a million bucks.

Hotel: Grano De Oro, San Jose, Costa Rica
Price: $130/avg. night
Pearls: Rating: 3.5 Pearls
This former Victorian mansion turned intimate, 40-room hotel features large, homey rooms, a rooftop Jacuzzi, and a renowned fine dining restaurant. Antiques, tinkling fountains, wood floors and artful flower arrangements make it feel like you might be staying in the home of a wealthy colonial-era plantation owner. But it lacks the features a larger hotel — there’s no business center, fitness center, pool or spa.

Grano De Oro, Costa Rica

Grano De Oro, Costa Rica

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It’s beach season! Who doesn’t love a day in the sun, lying out in the sand and playing in the ocean waves? The only thing that makes it better is getting lost in a juicy page-turner. And new research finds that reading makes us happier. Reason is, we get attached to the characters and feel a genuine connection to them. A book is no replacement for real-life friends, of course, but it can expand your horizons and let you get lost into a rich fantasy world. And that’s exactly the kind of escape you want on a lazy beach day.

To make your beach reading experience a social one, try what my family does and read as a group. Bring a few novels on vacation, then pass them around so you can all be on the same page and discuss them together. Instant book group! I’m currently loving Piper Kerman’s gripping memoir, Orange is the New Black: My Year in Women’s Prison and Jennifer Egan’s gorgeous Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Visit from the Good Squad.

Don’t know which book to stash in your beach bag? Our Facebook friends from SELF couldn’t put down these hot picks. Oyster helps you pick where to read them.

To really embrace the summer feeling
Read:

  • Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume
  • Summer Rental, by Mary Kay Andrews
  • The Island, by Erin Hilderbrand
Where: The Setai, Miami
Miami is the perfect destination for a getaway without going too far. These light summer reads don’t require complete seclusion, as you’ll want to share some stories with your girlfriends or dip your feet in the waves every now and then. The Setai’s clean, quiet patch of beach is as posh as it gets in South Beach. If you’re feeling a bit too hot, attendants deliver luxurious loungers and spritz guests with Evian on request. How’s that for a summer read?
The Setai, Miami The Setai, Miami

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It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes, put on a bikini and jump in the pool. Even if you’re not a swimmer, you can still get a full-body workout with these water exercises from Mark Hendricks, Group Fitness Manager at Greenwich Equinox in New York City. Plus, working out in the pool is so much fun, you’ll forget all about the scorching temps. Just don’t forget your sunblock!

So grab a noodle (floaties if necessary) and jump in! Our friends at Self.com helped us pick the most effective pool workouts to look your best in that new, stylish bikini.

Bonus: Find the most flattering swimsuit for your figure here.

Cross Country Ski

  1. Mimic the cross country skiing action: while one leg moves to the back the other moves to the front with opposing arms (if your right leg is back, your left arm is forward), allowing your spine to rotate.
  2. Do 16 reps touching the bottom and 16 suspended (feet not touching the pool floor) for a total of 3 sets.

Muscles used: Total body with focus on lower body and spinal rotation
Best hotel pool:  The Beverly Hills Hotel, LA
The huge, beautifully landscaped, full-service pool is one of Beverly Hills’ best. Attendants seat guests around the serene pool (no traffic noise here) and bring free water and menus for poolside dining from the Cabana Club Cafe.

Bevery Hill Hotel, LA Bevery Hill Hotel, LA

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Walking on water is an uncommon ability. I think we can all agree on that.

However, ever since Stand-Up Paddling (that’s “SUP” to you!) hit the scene, the sensation of gliding along a liquid surface is more accessible.

Everyone who is anyone — and many of us who are not featured regularly in tabloids — is climbing atop these big boards and paddling her way towards blissful serene summer moments, not to mention an amazing total body workout.

From our friends at SELF.com, here are 5 reasons why you should run — don’t walk (even on water) — to the nearest SUP session to try this surfing/canoeing hybrid:

1. Celebs Love It:
If Kate Hudson jumped off a bridge, would you? Well, maybe if there was a bungee attached. This new water sport has an insane amount of A-list traction: Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Garner, Owen Wilson, Matthew McConaughey, Cindy Crawford, Adrian Grenier, Rihanna, Denise Richards and Ben Harper are just a few of the hard-bodied celebs spotted getting their SUP on.

Where to SUP: The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii

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Work Out Like a Local

by Hilary on July 21, 2011

Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you need to give up everything you’ve worked for. Leading a healthy lifestyle takes commitment, and showing it off on your next vacation is the cherry on top of your fit sundae. Find out which areas to work on according to which travel itch you’re having.

Traveling to: South Beach
Focus on: Belly
Where to stay: The Setai

South Beach is all about the bikinis, so having a toned tummy is ideal when strolling on the beach. The Setai, one of Miami’s most luxurious beach hotels, has three pools — each a different temperature — and a prime beachside location. To get those toned abs that’ll turn heads, try planking, side crunching, The Hundred (an amazing Pilates move), and bicycle abs. Watch your 6-pack form in no time!

The Setai, Miami

The Setai, Miami

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Let’s tackle a problem we all face: the travel lull. Airports, busses, taxis, subways… everyone knows that travelling can be taxing – especially on your waistline. In all our angst over arranging the big trip, sometimes we forget to schedule time for ourselves and our bodies. Well for those of you travelling to New York, problem solved! With the help of SELF, we’ve found the top five hotels with fantastic gyms in New York City. Read on to find out where to book your next stay!

Affinia Dumont, Gramercy and Murray Hill
Want to be sure to work out while away? Well, this motivational atmosphere won’t take no for an answer! This hotel is completely fitness themed, with fitness tips on the TV sets in the elevator, a complementary “Experience Kit” in every room, equipped with a yoga mat and videos, and a concierge who is also a personal trainer! The gym has LifeFitness equipment, weight machines, cardio machines with personal televisions – the whole nine yards.

Affinia Dumont New York

Affinia Dumont New York

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