Exercise for an hour each day, limit reality TV time and cut alcohol intake in half? Let's not kid ourselves — it's less than two weeks into the new year, and we've already broken those lofty resolutions.

But the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association have come up with one that we can get behind: The Sodium Swamp Challenge, a program for reducing your salty habits for good in just 21 days.

Although it may seem like just a fleeting commitment, the organizations say that participants should be able to notice a difference in the taste of their food and in their overall health by the end of the month.

"To get started with the association's challenge, we ask that consumers get familiar with the food labels and nutrition facts for the foods they eat and track their sodium consumption over the first two days to get an idea of how much they are eating, which I'm sure will be surprising to many people," said Nathalie Sessions-Fye, registered and licensed dietitian and AHA volunteer.

Find more information here, and check out the chart below for fast facts on sodium.

  • When we workout, we like to listen to an eclectic mix, including "All FallsDown" by Kanye West.
  • To motivate yourself, buy a new pair of headphones. Even Michael Phelps wearsthem to practice.
  • Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" made our playlist.

From Kanye West to the King of Pop, pump up your workout with the CultureMapfitness playlist

Health Kick

After a long day of work, we struggle to get on our running shoes and to the gym. We figure it's easier to sit on the couch, watch our favorite TV show and indulge in something fatty. But spring is right around the corner, so it's time to get back into a fitness routine.

Need motivation? Buy yourself a pair of headphones — even Michael Phelps wears them to practice — get the juices flowing and start the music.

To get our hearts pumping, we like a mix of genres, from metal and classic rock to pop and hip-hop. These are some of our favorite workout tunes that get us on our feet and out the door:

CultureMap Workout Playlist 2013 (YouTube Version):

  1. Cobra Starship — "You Make Me Feel"
  2. Scissor Sisters — "I Don't Feel Like Dancin"
  3. Kanye West — "All Falls Down"
  4. Band of Skulls — "I Know What I Am"
  5. Passion Pit — "The Reeling"
  6. Delorean — "Stay Close"
  7. Crystal Castles — "Baptism"
  8. LMFAO — "Sexy and I Know It"
  9. Michael Jackson — "Man in the Mirror"
  10. Greenday — "Nice Guys Finish Last"
  11. Led Zeppelin — "Kashmir"
  12. Ozzy Osbourne — "Crazy Train"
  13. Led Zeppelin — "When the Levee Breaks"
  14. Fun —"Some Nights"
  15. Haley Reinhart — "Free"
  16. Post Physical — "Pictureplane"
  17. Matisyahu — "One Day"
  18. Mastadon — "Colony of Birchmen"
  19. Pelican — "Angel Tears"
  20. Bonobo — "Recurring"

Start the new year on a fit foot: Ballet Austin's GetFit! offers a free day ofclasses

New beginnings

We know that even though a new fitness regimen may be at the top of your resolution list, it can still take a little motivation — or a special incentive — to get moving.

Perhaps you're not ready to invest in a new program, or maybe you want to explore a new fitness venture in a judge-free zone. If that's the case Ballet Austin has the golden ticket for you this weekend.

Ballet Austin's GetFit! 2013 is a free day of fitness and exploration at the Butler Community School, taking place on Sunday, January 13 from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

During the afternoon, you can try a variety of fitness, dance fitness, conditioning and Pilates classes. Ballet Austin offers classes for free as a chance to forward its community mission of making "health and fitness a priority in 2013."

Classes offered during GetFit! 2013 include Intro to Pilates Machines, Pilates Mat Workout, Body Sculpting, Ballet Fit, Barre Cardio, Zumba, Bollywood Fitness and more. There's also a new Kids Zone, with special activities geared toward the youngest fit generation.

In addition to fitness classes, Ballet Austin's GetFit! event will also include healthcare screenings from Seton, BMI testing and blood pressure checks, as well as healthy snack options from Mel's Meals.

While there's no need to register in advance, Ballet Austin does suggest signing up for the event.

For a full listing of Ballet Austin's community classes, view the online schedule.


GetFit! 2013 takes place Sunday, January 13 from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Free parking is available at Austin City Hall.

  • Find a new fitness movement at Roamfit.
  • The roamfit site.

Work out for free with Roamfit, Austin's newest fitness app

Get fit

“We live in Austin, one of the most outdoor/nature-oriented cities in the world, yet folks are paying $150-plus a month to do fitness indoors,” says Drew Bridges of what is most accurately described as Austin’s free fitness plight.

To combat the Capital City's indoor fitness identity, Bridges and friend Ajay Mody developed Roamfit, a web-based app whose mission is to make fitness “fun, accessible and transparent.”

“I had just moved to Austin and didn’t know where the best places to workout for free were,” Bridges says. At the same time, Mody, who was injured in a taxi accident, was transitioning from rehabilitation programs to creating a fitness program of his own. The two joined forces on an innovative fitness platform that could meet their varying needs.

“We both put our heads together to create a fitness discovery web application,” Bridges says. Mody and Bridges launched Roamfit in September, a web tool where locals can find fitness options (free and paid), then register for classes and review the experience to benefit others. “What we’ve created is like a hotels.com, but for the fitness industry,” he says.

Roamfit is a one-stop shop for fitness opportunities, where you can filter results by type, location and cost. To use the tool, create a free account at roamfit.com, then start exploring the many fitness options — from sport climbing and paddling to yoga and dance. The site is relatively new and blends user-generated content with merchant data, so results will become more refined as more people start reviewing.

While the central focus of Roamfit is a web hub for fitness, founders Bridges and Mody also host free workouts three times a week that anyone can join.

“We wanted to motivate more people to work out,” says Bridges, “so we created a free workout series that meets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday before work at 6:30 a.m.” The workouts take place at different locations downtown, each offering high intensity interval training that can benefit athletes of any sport.

Each week starts with a Hill/Obstacle Run on Monday, followed by a Sieze the Garage workout (read: run stairs) on Wednesday and closes out with Capitol Circuits on Friday. Roamfit Movement workouts are cost- and signup-free — the only requirement is your commitment to getting up and moving first thing in the morning.

Whether it's helping you discover an empowering new class in town, or providing you with a free chance to start the day with some serious calorie burning, Roamfit might be just your ticket to fitness discovery in 2013.


For more information on free workouts, visit roamfitmovement.com. To sign up for the Roamfit app at roamfit.com.

  • Nike Training Club offers myriad exercises and workout routines to kick you intoshape this year.
    Photo by Jonathan Rienstra
  • It'll probably take you a while to get to this pose, but Pocket Yoga guides youalong the way with routines that require some real effort.
    Photo by Jonathan Rienstra
  • Fooducate analyzes your food intake, helps you find healthier alternatives andcounts calories to help you lose weight.
    Photo by Jonathan Rienstra
  • Fooducate keeps track of your daily intake and grades each thing you put in yourmouth. No cheating.
    Photo by Jonathan Rienstra

Keep your fitness resolutions with these handy exercise apps

Body innovation

With the new year come new resolutions. Most of them involve things like “getting fit” or “losing weight” or “not eating an embarrassing amount of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for breakfast.”

However, most of us will not keep our resolutions because we’re not ready to change; we focus on the punishment aspect of our resolutions or we’re too ambitious in our goals. To help, we’ve put together a list of apps that will get anyone on track to a healthier body, one mile/pushup/apple at a time.

We covered RunKeeper in our foodie apps —and for good reason. This is one of the best exercise apps out there, with its in-depth analysis and wide range of activities to measure. It even gives you realistic goals to strive for on a step-by-step basis. Suddenly “losing 25 pounds” isn’t a pie-in-the-sky notion, but something tangible to work toward with a game plan. (Free for iOS, Android)

Not everyone is comfortable in a yoga studio, so Pocket Yoga brings the studio to your place.

Speaking of losing 25 pounds, this writer was able to do just that using Pocket Yoga. Not everyone is comfortable in a yoga studio, so this app brings the studio to your place. Choose from three types of workouts at varying lengths and then enjoy the most strenuous, relaxing, sweaty, peaceful workout out there. ($2.99 for iOS, Android)

PushUps PRO was also mentioned in our foodie apps round-up, and it’s apropos here too. This is the ultimate step-by-step attitude. Doing 100 pushups (the real ones that they do in the military) might sound daunting, but PUP goes day by day to get you from wobbly elbows to steel pipes in 54 levels. It almost doesn’t even seem like work at that point. ($1.99 for iOS, $.99 for Android)

Nike Training Club is designed for women, but any guy that can’t get a workout out of this app is making excuses. NTC sports multiple workout plans for cardio, toning and muscle growth with difficulty levels depending on how much you exercise. It also tracks your progress and offers workout plans from elite athletes like Serena Williams. (Free for iOS, Android)

Some people respond better to competition. Nexercise makes working out a game with friends and family by keeping track of your daily exercise and putting up your score with everyone else’s. The motivation of keeping up with your old college friends or making sure that your little brother isn’t leaving you in his dust might do more to get you off the couch than any amount of self-guilt could. (Free for iOS, Android)

So far, so good, right? Exercising daily leaves you feeling better mentally and physically. But our sedentary lifestyles can overwhelm us sometimes. StandApp breaks the monotony of our desk jobs by reminding us to do a few stretches and move around every now and then. Nothing here gets you in shape by itself, but it gets your muscles moving during the day and reminds you to work out later. (Free for iOS)

Coming full circle on food apps, we have Fooducate. This app helps you keep track of what you eat each day and offers healthier alternatives to the foods you already enjoy. Fooducate also shows you how to get the best out of your meals and demonstrates how all that idle munching can add up with its calorie counter. (Free for iOS, Android)

Remember that getting fit isn’t about some quick fix or temporary routine. A slow and steady approach, along with a realistic attitude, can do wonders, while fixating on the end result may only increase the distance to said result.

The goal isn’t just to lose weight but to keep it off, which means that resolutions don’t have end dates. If you’re doing them right, they will work their way into your daily routine for good.

  • Honest Company co-founder Jessica Alba wanted to provide parents with safe,sustainable and affordable products.
    Photo courtesy of We're A Big Deal
  • Build your own nutrition bar at Elementbars.com.
    Element Bars/Facebook
  • Greenling delivers fresh local produce to your home.
    Photo courtesy of Greenling
  • YumUniverse has free gluten-free, dairy-free and meat-free recipes.
  • Klutchclub is like the Birchbox of the health world.

5 websites to feed your health kick, from build-your-own energy bars toeco-friendly bath products

A healthy start

The start of a new year often inspires a renewed interest in wellness. And because we also value convenience, we turn to online resources that we can explore from the confines of our cozy home. From eco-friendly home and bath products to gluten-free meal plans, these five websites help us satisfy the the need for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.

The Honest Company
Co-founders Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan started the Honest Company to provide parents with eco-friendly, affordable and safe home and baby products. Sign up for a Discovery Kit (free plus shipping) to give the goods a trial run, or shop the store for things like biodegradable and plant-based disposable diapers and organic bug spray. The Honest Company manufactures all of its own products and promises the highest health and sustainability standards.

Greenling supports local and sustainable farming and provides Texas residents with the highest quality foods, delivered straight to their homes. Here's how it works:

  1. Choose your products online.
  2. Greenling picks up the goods from local producers.
  3. Your box arrives on your doorstep.

Opt for the local box, which includes an assortment of produce, or a recipe kit tailored to diet meal plans and juices. The website also has recipes and information about the "farmer heroes."

This is more than a website for free recipes focused on delicious meat-free, gluten-free and dairy-free meals. Founder and recipe developer Heather Crosby sells eBooks — including meal plans, a holiday survival guide and a dairy-replacement guide — a three-month meal plan subscription and a lifetime subscription. When you sign up for life, you get access to the YU library of eBooks, and you receive meal plans, members-only discounts and more. Joining Crosby are other food and fitness experts, from trainers to chefs and drink enthusiasts.

Klutchclub is like the Birchbox of the health world. Subscribe for one, three or 12 months and receive a box filled with a variety of health and fitness products. There are different packages for men and women, but if you sign up for the Best of Box, items are gender-neutral. What's inside? Fitness DVDs, health bars, body butter, acai energy chews, blueberry juice and more.

Element Bars
On this website, you can build your own nutrition bar or granola. Select the core (chewy, crispy, oaty, datey, fruit and nut), then add fruit, nuts, sweets and boosts. As you pick the additions — from whey protein to apricots and almonds — the nutrition facts get tallied. For the cereal, choose from regular granola or gluten-free granola and add fruit, nuts and sweets. Once you customize your bar, create a name, order a box of 12 and wait for the goodness to arrive.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Dip your toes into these 7 Austin pools with passes, snacks, and summer events; plus more top stories

hot headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From hotel pools, to museums, to a show-stopping Hill Country rental, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Dip your toes into these 7 Austin pools with passes, snacks, and summer events. The city is getting unreasonably hot again; It's time to start planning poolside hangs, which are even better with a cocktail.

2. Breathtaking Hill Country hideaway is one of Vrbo's top 10 vacation homes in the country. The retractable floor-to-ceiling glass windows are a nice touch in this $400-a-night house.

3. 6 Austin museums are offering free admission for military families all summer long. These organizations want to help military families spend more time together without breaking the bank.

4. Space-inspired screenings invade Austin Film Society ahead of Wes Anderson's upcoming release. Austinites looking forward to the June 16 release of Asteroid City can soak up the inspirations and watch a sneak peek screening.

5. Texas ranks No. 2 best state to start a small business in new report. The state's tax framework makes the finance side of running a business relatively easy.

4 Austin-inspired cocktail recipes to whisk you away from the Texas heat this summer


Now that summer weather has arrived in Austin, we can tell you’re thirsting for some new drinks to try. And with World Gin Day coming up on June 10, we’re sharing a few recipes from local Austin restaurants (and Austin’s favorite Topo Chico!) we hope you’ll enjoy.

The following recipes feature some of our favorite ingredients or mixers we’re loving at the moment. Whether your drink of choice is a cocktail or mocktail, we’ve gathered four bright and bubbly beverages to help whisk you away from the Texas heat. And if you prefer to drink them rather than make them, three of these lovely libations can be found on the seasonal summer menus at their respective restaurant.

Aba’s Rhubarb Rose Gin and Tonic
This cocktail was created by Senior Beverage Manager Thomas Mizuno-Moore.

½ oz lime juice
¼ oz honey syrup
½ oz Fruitful Mixology rhubarb liqueur
¾ oz Brockmans Gin
¾ oz Hendrick’s Flora Adora
2 oz tonic water
Rosebud tea, for garnish


  • Combine lime juice, honey syrup, Fruitful Mixology rhubarb liqueur, Brockmans Gin and Hendrick’s Flora Adora in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake until cold.
  • Add tonic water to the shaker, then strain over fresh ice in a double old fashioned glass.
  • Garnish with rosebud tea and enjoy!

Blueberry Sparkler Mocktail by Topo ChicoBecause everyone needs a good go-to mocktail recipe in their life.Photo courtesy of Topo Chico

Blueberry Sparkler Mocktail by Topo Chico
This beverage might not be gin-themed, but it does make a great refreshing mocktail. If you don’t have Topo Chico Sabores on hand, you can substitute it with sparkling water.

1 Blueberry Topo Chico Sabores
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon slices and additional blueberries, for garnish

Blueberry Syrup Directions:

  • In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the blueberries are soft and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the blueberry mixture to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Once cooled, use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the blueberry mixture into a bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the solids and set the blueberry syrup aside.

Mocktail Directions:

  • In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 ounce of the blueberry syrup, and lemon juice. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well until chilled, about 15-20 seconds.
  • Fill a glass with ice and strain the mixture into the glass. Top off the glass with Blueberry Topo Chico Sabores (or sparkling water) and give it a gentle stir to mix.
  • Garnish with lemon slices and additional blueberries, if desired. Enjoy your refreshing Blueberry Sparkler!

Tillie's seasonal summer cocktailThis colorful cocktail is a lively take on a gin martini.Photo courtesy of Tillie's at Camp Lucy

Empress Gin Martini by Tillie’s at Camp Lucy
This martini recipe was developed by Paolo Lazarich, the mixologist for Abbey Row Restaurant at The Old Bell Hotel in the United Kingdom. Fun fact: Camp Lucy owners Kim and White Hanks also own The Old Bell Hotel, which is rumored to be England’s oldest hotel.

3 oz Empress 1908 Gin
1 oz dry vermouth
Splash of lemon juice
Lemon and rosemary for garnish


  • Add the Empress 1908 Gin, dry vermouth, and lemon juice to a glass and stir gently.
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge and a sprig of rosemary. Enjoy.

\u200bSummertime Spritz by Dean's Italian Steakhouse There's nothing like a summer spritz.Photo courtesy of Dean's Italian Steakhouse

Summertime Spritz by Dean's Italian Steakhouse
This recipe is geared toward a mixologist who enjoys the little details that make a cocktail so unique, such as making their own oleo saccharum or curating the perfect flower as a garnish.

½ oz lemon juice
½ oz strawberry oleo saccharum
¼ oz Aperol
¼ oz Giffard Abricot
1.5 oz Zephyr Gin
2 oz Brut champagne
1 each cocktail flower


  • Combine all ingredients except Brut champagne into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously, about 15-20 seconds.
  • Fill a wine glass with ice and add the Brut. Fine strain the cocktail into the glass.
  • Garnish with the cocktail flower

Extravagant estate in West Austin hits the market for $4.25 million


An imperial estate in the Lost Creek neighborhood of West Austin has become the latest addition to the city's stabilizing real estate market. The property was listed at $4.25 million.

The magnificent three-story home was originally built in 2009, making great use of Austin's Hill Country views that can be seen from every single room. The home spans 8,215 square feet on just over two acres of land, surrounded by lush trees and enclosed with a private gated entrance.

Natural light floods the inside of the home, highlighting intricate details and complimenting the high ceilings. The home boasts five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and three half-baths. The primary suite is reminiscent of an upscale resort, containing its own spa-like bathroom, walk-in closets, and access to a private balcony.

In the kitchen, the 60-inch wolf range is an aspiring chef's dream. The area has plenty of space and storage with its rich brown cabinets, a sub-zero refrigerator, a cabinet-mounted wine rack, two sinks, and more.

8105 Talbot Lane in AustinThe 60-inch wolf range is an aspiring chef's dream.Photo courtesy of JPM Real Estate Photography

A few other highlights of the home include a game room, media room, terraces, and a resort-style pool deck with an accompanying hot tub, kitchen, and fire pit. The two-car garage also includes a guest suite above it, with a single bedroom, kitchenette, and half bath.

Looking into the property's history, it was listed in June 2022 for $4.9 million, which was reduced to $3.9 million by September. The home was reported as sold in October of that year before being re-listed for its current $4.25 million price in 2023.

8105 Talbot Lane in Austin

Photo courtesy of JPM Real Estate Photography

The estate is located at 8105 Talbot Lane in West Austin.

The estate is located at 8105 Talbot Lane, which is a brief 10 minutes from downtown Austin, and is zoned for the highly-esteemed Eanes Independent School District. The listing is held by agent Wade Giles of Douglas Elliman.